Monday, February 28, 2011

Your kid's birthday is ruining my MRI

Today is a lesson about the Earth. And parades. And balloons.

I hope you never need an MRI, or want to see a rocket blast off…or need to breathe underwater, or see through a telescope, or need to cool off your nuclear reactor. Most importantly, I hope you never want another LCD screen TV again. Because if you do, you need helium.

What it took the earth 4.7 billion years to make, we’re depleting in 100 years thanks to parades, birthday parties and a short sighted American government policy in 1996 (called the "Helium Privatization Act of 1996"to sell off the planet’s largest helium reserve in Texas. Everything’s bigger in Texas? Yeah, everything except the world’s most important helium field.

In about 25 to 30 years, we’re out of floaty balloons pals. And we’re out of luck if we want valuable medical testing because MRI machines use helium as a coolant for their superconducting magnets...and NASA? Well, shut that little venture down completely. Helium is non-flammable so it’s pretty important in places like SPACE or tiny tubes where you’ve been put to see your insides, or in the tank attached to your back when you're trying to breathe underwater.

It’s a non-renewable resource made by the radioactive decay of “terrestrial rock”, or by processes that take place on the sun. Last time I checked, we didn't have any settlements there yet. There is no known way to make helium in any commercially viable manner. Isn't that crazy? Did you even know that about helium?

The next time you’re thinking you want to see a ginormous SpongeBob floating over 5th Avenue, or think you NEED some cheap helium balloons to celebrate turning five or 95, just don't need or want those things. It's not a necessity in life to see the Macy's parade (and I'm pretty sure the organizers of that parade are reading this and will heed my advice), or release balloons that eventually kill whales and sea turtles who think they're jellyfish (and that's an entirely different lesson). Remember that helium is going away forever.  FOREVER.

Ominous, huh?

Happy Birthday!

P.S. You know, just like everything else on this planet the hippy-dippy reduce, reuse, recycle missive applies to helium, but it's expensive.  If helium cost more based on its scarcity, recycling it would make financial sense because it can be used 100 times or more.  Once it's released into the air, it's gone forever dude. Betcha didn’t know that.

*And my picture today came from foxnews.com.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Slap Your Face Friday- Part 4, unrelated to parts 1-3

THIS ONE’S NEWER AND BETTER THAN 2 DAYS AGO!!!












I like what’s next, I like what’s new and I’m a huge supporter of innovation and moving forward.  However, there’s an up tick in the impatience for “new” that's messing with my head. 

With the computer revolution and now technology “hyper-jumping”, we seem to be spiraling towards the inability to be happy with ANYTHING.  I used to be amazed that for less than fifty cents, I could put a piece of paper in my mailbox and in less than three days it could be across the USA.  Before I sound too geezer-y, please remember that our country is MASSIVE.  Texas is roughly the size of Germany, in my opinion. 

I adore the Internet and my Droid2 phone; my laptop has now become an extension of my arm, but when I see Verizon advertising that they have not the phone of my dreams but the one after it, I pause.

I hate that I’m being wooed by the notion that what’s NEWEST isn’t new enough. 

And when companies can bamboozle us into thinking we’re getting something new when all they’re releasing is a different ROM or a battery that’s more realistic for the product they released last year, or adding a blur we couldn’t get before, is it really new?  Small feature changes alone shouldn’t fool us into a buying craze, or what’s worse:  the feeling that we’re not keeping up.

The jump from land line to cell was big.  That was an innovation.  The leap from simple cell to walking micro-laptop was an innovation.  But the jump from my Blackberry to my Droid2 wasn’t much of an innovation odyssey; it was like trading in my fabric sofa for a leather couch, and there were 14 versions of each in between! (*not really, I'm exaggerating.)  The Kindle came out and as soon as it got a mainstream handle, it got smaller with a light to show you it was charging and some better buttons...and therefore new.  Now the one you were so excited about as an early adopter is done.  Old news. 

 iPad users are about to feel the same way.  “Is that the NEW iPad?”  Nope, it’s the one from seven months ago, so….it’s the dino-pad.  And in a New York Times article shared by a friend, I read that “blogging” itself is perceived to be a thing of the past because Tumblr is the newest “innovation”.  It’s just a site that people are putting pictures on, instead of words.  Is that really what we are convinced is a NEW thing?

Here’s a devil’s advocate position:  our main commodity these days seems to be etoys, so if we’re not buying the latest and greatest every 6-9 months, what does that do to our economy?  Verizon, apple, hp, and a host of others depend on our need for what’s next, even if all they’re offering is a change in font sizing, to spur their growth.  If I’m not buying into the latest screen size or car jack then am I responsible for someone being downsized?  I can’t live with that guilt!

I find a struggle between keeping one foot planted in the days of yore (1980), when cursive and letter writing were relevant skill sets, and wanting to jump right into toda-morrow (since today isn’t good enough anymore) where I can be an avatar in a cyberworld:  everywhere at once. 

I’ve been known to make fun of Buddha; however I do try to live with a peaceful sensibility.  I strive for the balance between external influences and the calm that my psyche craves.  When I’m bombarded continually with the pressure to want more, better, bigger, next…there is a disconnect between the life I want to live and the life I’m informed that I need to live.  You wouldn’t be reading this if I was firmly entrenched in the pen and notebook days of 20 years ago, but is it really so pressing, so vital, that you need it delivered to you on your mobile device in a feed?  I say yes, because I want you to read…but come on.  It’s really NOT.

What’s the balance then?  How do I live with contentment when my society and everything in it constantly yells at me that what I have is one step off from what I should have?  How do I jump into Twitter, StumbleUpon, HootSuite and RSS feeds but then shut it off when my family comes home? 

I don’t have the answer.  The world doesn’t stop for my desire for the quiet and connectedness that comes with one on one face time.  And when I do turn my back on it for an evening, or (GASP!) a week end, I’m left feeling like I’m missing out on some intangible “better thing” because I can still hear the noise of the blur going on behind me. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Twenty Questions












In the February issue of the Bible, by which I mean Oprah Winfrey's “O” magazine, writer and life coach Martha Beck posits that if we ask ourselves her prescribed twenty questions our lives will be changed.

Easy enough, I can ask myself twenty questions in twenty seconds.  But it doesn’t take Martha long to lose me ENTIRELY when she sneaks in that true transformation will occur should I ask myself all twenty questions every single day.

Good golly Oprah, I can't believe you approved this article.  Who has time for that?!  If I can’t completely transform my life in one sitting (or less) then why bother?  General Hospital isn’t going to watch itself, and yesterday's wedding between Sonny and Brenda was a real nail biter...not to be missed.

If you're new here, you might not know that I don't do stuff for people, so let me tell you:  you're only getting all twenty questions if you go read them in the aforementioned February issue.  People who've been around this block once or twice know I’m only going to tell you the five I already ask myself every day and I’ll just hope they can rustle up some "A-ha", "light bulby", metamorphic change. 

Honestly, I’m not all that committed to this, so here are the questions I like.

“Why do I like {cupcakes} more than I like {people}?”   Martha says we can switch out the words in brackets with other words, but I think the question is fine as-is.  And during my day it’s not a question, rather a declarative statement.  I like cupcakes more than I like people.  Why question it?  Cupcakes taste good.  They’re light and fluffy, with icing.  People are…not that stuff.  (I don’t feel any different yet.  Do you?)

“Are {vegans} better people?”   Again, Martha says to switch out the bracketed word, but I say we answer it.  Yes, vegans are better people.  I can’t help it, they just are.  Am I one of them?  No.  And maybe that’s where I can transform!  But sadly I love bacon, cheese, and the pelts of kittens to keep me warm in the winter.  The other options Martha gives for the brackets are “ultra-marathoners and mothers who never raise their voice” and she says they’re not better people.  But they are.  I say face it and move on.  You might metamorph.

“Where am I wrong?”   What a silly question!  The answer is NOWHERE.  There is no place or time where I am wrong.  And even if I were to be wrong, I can skew the data to make myself right.  Let’s not spend anymore time here.  What a dumb question!

“Where could I work less and achieve more?”   Well pals, you’re lookin’ at it.  I’m already doing less!  I can’t possibly do less than I am!  Wow.  I am so close to total transformation I could touch it if I felt like moving my arm out that far. 

And the final question I’m asking is the first question she asks. 

“What questions should I be asking myself?”   She says this seemingly redundant question really isn’t because without it we won’t ask any questions at all.  To that I answer:  so what?  That’s a question, so it counts.  And anyway, I question her methodology, which I’m not following.  I don’t feel much different.  Maybe it takes a few minutes.  Maybe it’s a total scam.      

There is one other question I find myself asking frequently, which Martha glosses over, and that is:  what’s for lunch?  Answer: kitty bacon.  Am I a lesser person for it?  You betcha, but I’m cool with that.  Maybe I don’t need twenty questions.  Maybe….maybe a person just needs cute breakfast meats.     

*Picture today brought to you by cafepress.  You can put that on a t-shirt people!  How great is that?

Monday, February 21, 2011

D&D Help.












I know how hard it can be when you have a new character on Dungeons & Dragons and you just can't think of a good name.  Names are EVERYTHING.  When you meet a foe, your name can inspire quaking in boots or trembling mustaches.  When meeting a friend, your name can convey a sense of protection or welcoming spirit. 

I don't care about any of this, because I haven't played D&D since the angsty days of early high school when I played two or three times to impress a boy I thought I liked.

But you can't say I don't care about YOU.  So here are some names I've taken from trademarked products advertised on TV.  The ancillary bonus for you is that I'm ruining your TV watching from now on, because you won't be able to watch a single hour without thinking of me...and that's really a gift I give myself.  I'm neat that way.

So here's the scene:  You, the main character, who you have to name for yourself because that's WAY too personal...are on the move in the land of Plavix.  You encounter the evil cleric, Lortab who carries the staff of Nexium.  (All trademarked names, remember?)

After defeating Lortab by casting the Lunesta spell, you decide to find friendlier shores, so you hook up with the exotic trader named Orencia.  Orencia is way cool, because he knows a Viking warrior, named Norvasc.  And DUDE...Norvasc takes you for a sail on his bad-ass ship, the Welbutrin.  While we're dealing with warriors, let me warn you:  don't get mixed up with Cymbalta.  She's a crazy warrior who carries the mighty sword of Zoloft, and she will MESS YOU UP.

But it's okay, dear one.  Because along the winding paths of Mirena I know you can find your dwarf guide, Flonase, who can take you to the elfin ranger, Lamasil.  If you give Lamasil your Viagra potion, good things will happen, I promise.  Because he knows the fairy queens Lyrica and Allegra.  And they will help you to meet your next guide along the road:  the cleric Pristiq.

Now, why on Earth do you even need to meet all these people?  I thought it would be clear by now.  You need to get to the WIZARD!!! 

Oh my...when you get to the wizard, don't forget to bring him the Singulair crystal, which you should have bought from the trader Orencia.  Wizards like Stelara are tough stuff.

He doesn't have a lot of time; he's super busy casting his Abilify spell...you know trying to kill the dragon in the hills, named Bactroban.

See pals?  It's not difficult to name your characters.  Big pharma has done all your work for you! 

Happy Monday!  And next time we'll talk about how it is that drunk college girls name all the nail polish colors.

*Remember all brand names are trademarked, so don't be making any money off this.  I'm not, and neither should you.  Picture today from Cool Stuff Inc.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Slap Your Face Friday. It's a trilogy now!


Happy Friday peeps!  You know the drill...get over here for a dose of tough love.

Today I’d like to talk to you about the state of the Union, over lunch at The Golden Corral.  Don’t worry, I’ll pick up the tab.  We can stuff our gullets till we’re burping bacon bits on my dime.

After that, let’s head over to the grocery store and walk down the cereal aisle.  Followed by the pet food aisle.  We’ll look right and left and see all the choices we have not only in our own breakfast meal, but in the meals we serve our pets. 

Did you know there are actual places on earth where they don’t have pet food aisles?  Their cats do NOT eat things made of organic compounds using cold-press technology, or tins of things called Fancy Feast...because any feasting that’s going on is damn well going to be among the PEOPLE, not the kitties.  And get this, there are places on the planet that do NOT offer 125 different formulations of wheat and sugar for a person’s morning meal.

Welcome to America.  We entertain ourselves with reality shows dedicated to making our morbidly obese citizens skinny by restricting them to double the caloric intake of millions of people on the globe.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m on board with cat food aisles and cereal galore.  I’m certainly no slim-jim, and I have absolutely no interest in living anywhere that my cat doesn’t have 30 or 40 different things to eat.  Quite frankly I don’t even want to VISIT the place that doesn't.  But here’s my thought:  in a country where we spend $36.3 billion dollars annually on pet food...

IT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TREASON THAT WE HAVE A HOMELESS POPULATION.

...or children who go to school hungry or poorly clothed.  Or a mentally handicapped population slipping through the cracks.  Or a veteran needing ANYTHING.

I don’t profess to know the answers that will solve the world’s issues, or how to make it fair among the hard workers of our society to eradicate the plight of those without such luck, ability, or access.  But I think we can all do better.  I think we can donate $5 a month to our local food bank, or $10 if we already donate $5.  The World Food Program is itself starving for funding.  And soup kitchens and homeless shelters need our help more often than Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A random Tuesday is just as needy and important as Christmas if you're ten years old and hungry.  

Some nights, when I find myself staring at my full cupboard of food, internally wailing that, “None of this is what I WANT!” it occurs to me that somewhere in the world a mother is holding a child who will draw their last breath...because they’ve starved.  Dramatic?  Yes.  But you know, suddenly my great tragedy of chips vs. pretzels vs. cookies is a little less hand wringingly sad.  

I have so many choices that I can’t choose.

In my own city someone’s belly is grumbling and I can’t decide which snack to eat.  Therefore, my resolve has been to give more than I am.  For now, that means going through my family’s closets with a razor sharp eye and sending to the homeless shelter and free store every piece of clothing my family simply chooses to not wear.  

Consider how many children in your town might have gone without a warm coat this winter, which has been brutal in most of the lower forty-eight.  In any so-called “First World” country children shouldn’t suffer cold or hunger.  

Hey Canada, UK, I see your visits here; I know you’re reading...you have a bit of poverty too.  It’s not just the pork-bellied Americans who can do more, and I like International Face Slapping as much as anyone else.  

So.  I leave it to you now, the Internet privileged masses.  Oprah references Maya Angelou all the time, and I’m practically the same as Oprah:

“When you know better, you do better.”  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do You Need Therapy? YES.


Don’t worry...I’m talking to everyone. Not JUST you. Pretty much everyone alive should be in counseling, and if you’ve ever met anyone (except your family who you already know needs some serious therapy) then you already agree with this.

If you’re one of the few people who haven’t met other people, and don’t share this view, then get to counseling, because you’ve got issues I can’t even touch on this blog.

Take a gander at this opinion I just made up:  most people walking around are messes. Hot messes. You might see them at work, at a holiday gathering, or in the bar you frequent far too often and they look normal and happy. They look GREAT!! Their hair is nicely done, their clothes match, they may be clean shaven in places visible and not, but they’re sporting the perma-grin that should let you know:  things is messed up somethin' fierce.  

Even if you're positive that you're just fine:  happy, centered, calm and mentally stable...why not head on over to a therapy couch? I’m betting with just a teensy bit of investigation, you’d find that you’re covering up a veritable fount of messiness.  

Lest you think I’m a wicked cynic, with no faith in happiness or well-adjustment, let me say this:  we are one of the only societies sporting a fundamental belief in the RIGHT to happiness. I blame the founding fathers. They were an alcoholic, work-a-holic bunch (see history of slavery and plantation ownership) who might have been a skoshe off their rockers. Not many other "peoples" feel the entitlement to happiness and fulfillment that we, as Americans, feel. Most cultures expect life to be hard and, well...that's pretty much their only expectation of life. But not our homeboys, the founding fathers. We got ourselves some unalienable entitlements. They could write. I’ll give them plenty of credit and thanks for that. But it is at their feet that I lay blame. And I’m working on it, you know...in counseling.

Incidentally, if you feel all put together mentally, and think you’ve got something to offer the poor messy masses, why not BECOME a counselor? I mean, for real...what better way to stay sane than to surround yourself with crazy? It’s a bona fide growing field, which you can learn more about at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That site has all sorts of “fun” facts and figures, which if you find them fun, get to a couch. STAT.

Finally, I’d like to answer what I know is your most pressing question. Where do I get off advising YOU to go get brain shrunk? Duh. I’ve been an ardent seeker of couch time my entire life.  

I ADORE THERAPY.  

Where else can I go and get a full hour of someone’s undivided attention? Who else validates every feeling I have, and tells me that nothing I’m thinking or feeling is wrong?!? It’s a sheer delight to sit in a dimly lit office, on a comfy couch and let it ALL out.... Sure it costs $50 a pop with my newly upped copay, but that’s a real bargain when you weigh it against the feeling of lightness, happiness, and self-worth with which I'm entitled to leave.

And honestly, if I’ve pissed you off in any way, talk to your counselor about it. I promise...it helps.


Picture today courtesy is of: A History of New York

PS- Earlier when I referenced " a veritable fount of messiness", I want you to know I spent considerable time checking whether or not to use "font" instead. FYI, there's no consensus. Font is a basin, fount is a spring...either way, you got messiness. Just sayin'.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Faux-Spring Brain Drain


After what feels like a literal EON (which is “an indefinitely long period of time” and therefore exceedingly useful in a LITERAL sense) the weather in my fair city has turned mild.  Sudden temperatures of 55 degrees and higher make my brain go on pause.  Here’s why.

The rebirth of society during this dress rehearsal for Spring  makes me squeamish, and even though I want to be out in it, I really don’t want to have to TALK to people.  I like the park as well as the next guy, or gal if it’s 1950, but I’m a little put off by all the communication that is required of an emerging Spring.

Just at the time when Mother Nature is restoring my very will to live, society zaps me of it.  Yes, yes, I’m out, you’re out.  I DO have an adorable dog...that’s why we got her.  It IS such a lovely day...yes.  That’s why we’re all here.  We’ve never met; why do we have to talk so much?

And by the way, make your kid get off the slide, because mine wants a turn.  I’ve had all I can handle of my two little hellions and now that everyone can get out and be in the sunshine, and therefore in each other’s eyesight, can you get out of the way?

So here’s the deal.  I have spent my week end doing yard work.  And being at the park.  And walking my dogs.  Honestly, I've nothing left for the blogosphere, because this nice weather has completely zapped my brain of any and all ability to communicate beyond my own inner monologue, as written in small part here.  

Plus it’s Valentine’s Day, and quite frankly that’s too much pressure!!  I neither love nor hate the concept of romantic love, I don’t feel pressured to buy into or opt out of the grandeur of the day, and I’d just as well leave it to you to slog out.

So Happy *Almost* Spring,  Happy Valentine’s Day, or just Happy Monday!  I got nothing.

Post Script:  The picture at the top is the “glory hole” in Monticello Dam, in California.  Of note, glory hole also a different meaning, but you’ll have to find that somewhere else, because I've listed this blog as devoid of "adult content"...consider it a Valentine's Day Internet scavenger hunt.  ;-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Slap Your Face Friday

 
It’s Friday!!  Come a little closer so I can slap your face!!  Last week you read about my mom.  This week I won’t be morbid, I promise.  

People all around us are wandering through their days, in and out of nights, waiting for their real lives to start.  In the worst cases people have forgotten that they’re waiting for life to start, and they’re automatons...just getting through each day till the next.  Are you one of those people?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  If failure wasn’t possible, if money wasn’t an issue and you KNEW whatever “it” is would work, what would you do?   

Maybe you've always wanted to knit a blanket, bungee jump from a bridge, take a trip to Europe, or go back to school for forestry.  What’s the THING you’d do if there weren’t ANY constraints on your doing it?

Pretend there’s no way to talk yourself out of it.  Every contingency that you can think of has a positive outcome.  Every time you think of the reason why you can’t, remind yourself, “No, that won’t happen”.  Allow yourself the luxury of not talking yourself out of it before it even grows legs.  

Here is an example;  let’s say that a person has always wanted to write, but squandered the opportunities during college and just got the English Lit degree with no real backing.  No yearbook or school newspaper experience, no internships anywhere...theoretically speaking.  Then let’s say that same person got out of college and never once got a job using said degree, or said desire for writing.  And now it’s a couple of years later, and by a couple we mean two...two times eight.  So fine.  It’s sixteen years later.  

SIXTEEN YEARS LATER!!  There’s some schlub out there who’s been waiting sixteen years for a thing to just happen.  Idiotic right?

And then I (oops, I guess now you know it’s me...) read a book where the character is waiting for A SIGN FROM GOD that he should make a change because he’s miserable in his seemingly successful life.  And as he drives under an overpass a homeless looking man is standing up there holding a sign that says:  WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?  And if that wasn’t a sign enough, literally, for this poor fool, the homeless man drops the sign and it lands directly on his windshield.  (The book is At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life by Wade Rouse.)

Check it out readers:  all you can see right now is the same question.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?

Here’s what I did:  I quit a super comfy job.  It was close to home, flexible in hours, reasonably well paying, and it really served its purpose.  I was a fool to quit.  However, I knew for sure that there was no way I was ever going to make a go of writing unless I was ready to take a giant leap of faith and TRY.

Now I’m doing this, and I’m sort of still waiting for the right person to read this and think, “Wow!  That chick can write!  And I’ll pay her to write some stuff for me.”  (Actually one person already said the first part of that, but not the part about paying me.)  The point is I’m taking the leap, and I’m getting myself out there in the wide world.

Initially, when I was scared and thinking I was making a huge mistake, I did it anyway.  I decided that I had to take at least the first step and ASSUME I CANNOT FAIL.  I have that luxury because I’m not the main income of our home and my husband is ridiculously supportive.  But what’s happened since is that I’m disgustingly happy.  

Honestly, I don’t even LIKE myself anymore because I’m so happy.  I mean, really...who wants to hang around someone like that?!

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Decide that a dream that’s tucked into the very back corner of your brain is worth getting a little sunshine every now and then.

Let your brain be still for two and a half seconds and let the thing, whatever it is, come to you.  See what you’ve been squelching.  You know, little boys who are now fathers with very big jobs can still be volunteer fire fighters....and little girls who are now moms with wages can still take ballet lessons.  Sometimes they can even go buy a plasma cutter and start making a living.  

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dance around and giggle, because I just did the one thing in this whole world that makes me deliriously happy to be myself.  I really really hope you feel this way too...or are about to take that first step towards it.

BECAUSE IT ROCKS.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making Buddha Work for You.




Since the beginning of time, or at least since 8am when I started thinking about it, people have pondered the meaning of religion and what role it has in their life. There are so many choices.   Which one is right for you? Which one satisfies the deep seated longings and questions you have?

I don’t have those answers. I’m no sage. I forgot to brush my teeth this morning….

There is a book I’ve read a few times however, called The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD.  (Penguin Putnam Inc, 1998) and it details how to be happy. There are so many valuable lessons that Buddhism teaches about simply being happy, and here’s my take on one of them.

You can choose to use it or not…I’m just writing something so certain people (you know who you are) won’t be disappointed with the volume of material going up here.

In the aforementioned book my homeboy, The 14th Dalai Lama, says that in order to be happy and content we must cultivate our ability to feel compassion for each individual. In every case, a person is a soul looking for happiness and serenity in their own life and if you can tap into that shared search, and thus the shared suffering of the world, then you are one step closer to enlightenment.

If you want to know from exactly where I’m drawing this in the book, you should probably go read it for yourself. Who has time to find the exact passages? Remember my teeth still need some attention here.

What I love about Buddhism is that it teaches us to broaden our outlook, to remember that everyone experiences suffering and that those people who are mean or spiteful…aggressive or rude, are most likely in some state of suffering or trauma. When we remember this, it’s easier to let things go.

Because when I realize that someone who’s being shitty is actually suffering, it makes me happy. And I can walk away from my experience with them a little lighter, and feeling better about myself. This is the greatest gift Buddha can give, right? He’s just sitting there, all big bellied, cast in gold…reminding us that assholes are really just broken souls. And what’s more personally uplifting than remembering that??

The next time you encounter someone truly vile, completely morally empty, remember that inside there is deep suffering. Then let a smile spread across your own face with the knowledge that they’re in debilitating spiritual pain. It’s what Buddha wants.

Unless I’ve missed the point entirely about Buddhism…but I sincerely doubt THAT.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I'm getting MARRIED!!!

Something old, something new...something borrowed, something blue.  I am surprisingly in love with this blog.  So with these words, I it wed. 

SOMETHING OLD:  I wrote this in the fifth grade.

"Family Binds”...the book actually says “copyright 1984”
CH 1-
  A couple of years ago, Carolyn Swansen and Adrian Swansen were having a terrible fight.  Adrian kept running around the house screaming bloody terror!  Of course they were disagreeing on their house, garden and everything they owned!
  Carolyn blurted out, “Calm down, our house needs something new Adrian!”  But Adrian kept on blabbing, “No, no, no, it’s just fine the way it is!”

CH 2-
  “No! You are way wrong.  Get out of my house this instant!”
“But Carolyn where shall I stay?”
“You can go anywhere you want Adrian Francesco Swansen!”
“But what shall I do for food?  BEG?”
“I DON’T CARE!” Carolyn boomed, (but she really did care.)
So Adrian packed up and left sadly crying (at the age of 35) saying, “It’s just fine the way it is.”

CH 3-
  (But Adrian didn’t get very far, going two steps an hour!!!!)
But before Adrian left, Carolyn packed 6,000 dollars in his bag!
Adrian was very happy and got a job!  After a while he was back on his feet!
So finally years later when Adrian and Carolyn were 45 years old they reunited, hugged and kissed, and lived happily ever after.

**Of note:  The only names changed here were the last names.  Otherwise, this may be a published transcript of one of my parents’ actual last fights before getting divorced. I got a "B" because the teacher found the characters shallow.  Personally, I found my parents shallow.  It was a fair representation and I stand by it.

SOMETHING NEW:  This has a copyright of 2011.

Sometimes when I go into a public restroom and I’m alone, I become terrified that as I’m squatting in my stall a scary witch head will appear over the stall wall.  The witch has just a floating head.  There’s no body attached, which is why it’s nigh impossible to detect her before going into your own doomed stall.  My fear is that as I’m going potty (because even though my children are out of the potty-training speak, I still go potty...) I’ll look up and see that scary, laughing head.  She’s laughing because she’s caught me unawares...and let’s face it, she’s not right in the head, if you know what I mean, which is sad, because that’s all she’s got.  Although, I guess I’d laugh if I were her, scaring someone when they use the potty.  Really, she should just be at home on her computer, because that’s where all the good pee-pee cam footage is.

You don't get a picture because she's better left to your imagination.  Things are always scarier there than in REAL LIFE....you know...where floating witch heads reside.

SOMETHING BORROWED:

This is one my very favorite passages from Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence.  I am taking it from pages 356-357 of a Book Of The Month Club edition, circa 1987.  I like the 80's today.

“After a little while he did not regret Dallas’s indiscretion.  It seemed to take an iron band from his heart to know that, after all, someone had guessed, and pitied....And that it should have been his wife moved him indescribably.”

You have to read the novel to understand how powerful this passage is.  The full story is remarkably deep and Wharton knits together words with a richness that makes you FEEL the words in your mouth.  So read it, unless you’re some kind of communist, socialist, Marxist Nazi.  Or a hippie.  

SOMETHING BLUE: Skip this part.  It's just a recipe because I ran out of ideas.  Try doing this yourself if you think you can do better....

Blueberry Drop cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated fresh lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed and drained)
Directions:
In a mixing bowl, beat margarine and sugar until fluffy texture.Add eggs, lemon rind, and vanilla; beat until combined.
In another bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to combine. Beat flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in the berries. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
 
There you go.  It’s official:  I’m married to this blog.  We’re registered for cash because as I stated in the first entry, I’m pretty sure that’s the only way to make any money off this albatross.  So start sending it in peeps.  My electric bill isn’t paying itself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

~Carolyn~

I’ll start with my mom’s death, because if I can get that out of the way, then maybe I can start thinking about her life again.  For the past six years, what I think about when I remember her is:  illness, dying, death.  It’s very hard to remember what came before...but there must be a story before that, because she was 54 when she died.

Her illness and death go EXACTLY like this:  Constipation, stomach ache, bloating...maybe it’s just a big poop...but laxatives don’t work.  Finally go to the doctor instead of the mall, then go to the hospital from his office, get a CAT scan.  Oh God, please don’t let it be an obstructed bowel!!  Lots of prayers for no bowel obstruction.  Prayers are answered....it’s ovarian cancer, and it’s everywhere.  Surgery two days later and the dr says:  we couldn’t get out nearly the amount considered optimal.  Spleen is fused to lung because of cancer involvement, bowels are covered, can’t even remove all of uterus...it’s fused to abdominal cavity.  Sutures from pubic area to breast bone, and fluid building up threatening to burst the sutures open.  No time to think, do chemo.  Do it now, in the ICU.  Don’t stop.  EVER.  Even tho it never works month after month, keep trying.  Do five different ones, six, seven, eight....get sicker and sicker from chemo (not cancer) but never stop trying....surely the next one will work.  Thank God for answered prayers. 

Finally, she went septic from an e coli invasion, took a chemo break, went to Hospice and died a tragically undignified death complete with "terminal agitation", because she never got the chance to be .......still.......to blessedly BREATHE, and accept what was happening to her.    

She never got the chance to make peace with her body.  The Hospice nurses said no one lets go until they’ve made peace, and presumably she was no different, but it would have been nice to see her at peace.  The nurse didn’t even move her back into a more natural position for us to see her dead body for the first time.  She was contorted to help what used to be her breathing.  

And there I was.  A baby boy growing in my belly, desperate for her to see my second child born to this world.  There I was...standing in a hallway, then sitting on her bed, then lying in her lap, apologizing for what had happened to her and how unfair it all was...how her body had completely betrayed her.  

Most people like to say that a loved one’s death taught them grace and dignity...about how to LIVE.  I’d love to say that, and I did  say that in her written eulogy; written because I was rendered utterly speechless after her death.  But what I actually learned is this:  there’s no guarantee.  

I have no control, and a doctor can never be trusted to do anything other than that which will bring him or her the bigger insurance reimbursement.  He will never tell you to stop killing yourself because he gets paid only when he gives you poison.  I learned that things go terribly wrong without warning and that, about the really big things?  The really terrifying things?  We’re powerless.  

Since that day in September when my prayers were “answered” I have not been the same person...and since that day in May, when her twisted body was lifeless and she was truly honestly GONE, I haven't been anyone I even recognize anymore.  The person I remember being is rarely in control of my thoughts, feelings, or reactions.  

I’m held together with wisps of spider threads so delicate I can’t even see them for myself.

I guess it’s true that a mother and child are inextricably twined together, because this is supposed to be her story but now it’s mine, and yet it’s still hers.  My whole life is seen through this prism of my mother’s death, and I can’t see what happened before those awful twenty months.  It’s like a wall went up and I know there is a scene on the other side, but I can’t get to it.  

I can’t climb over and, so far, I can’t make a hole to even look through.  I think it would be nice to see and remember what happened before my fervent prayer was answered...before the diagnosis clouded my memory of the years before it.  

The memory I do have of the time before serves only to show me just how long she’d been sick and leaves me wondering what the future may have been had we known six months earlier...had we pressed her to see a doctor sooner.  

I should be at the part now where I can look over the wall and see the past.  I've told the bad part of the story, I've purged that memory.  

But I get here, and I still see nothing.