The Longest Blog

Happy New Year.  And what are the top ten stories being clicked on at MSNBC?  Amanda Knox’s deadly exchange.  Who’s Who Student murdered in Italy.  Photos:  Terror at home for Connecticut family.  Who killed Stacy Peterson?  To catch a predator.  The reals story behind “Alpha Dog.”  Phil Spector evidence photos.  Predator goes to Kentucky.  Palladium murder photo gallery.  Photos:  Death in the Hollywood Hills.

Seriously?  Is this seriously what Americans consider the most popular pages on MSNBC?  Does MSNBC do something to market these murderous stories and photos so everyone is so interested in them?  Shouldn’t we all be disturbed that the top stories grabbing American attention are all about killing and mayhem?  Jesus.  Something is really messed up about that.  There must be something at the site that encourages people to choose these stories.  I cannot yet fathom that these are the top story views by choice.  I would think a more accurate measure of what people are searching for would be the top ten google searches.  Then people would, of their own accord, be entering the information into the search engine and not having it flashing in their faces begging them to click.  Google is good that way, with its lack of ads and fanfare.

Well.  So I did a google search for the top ten google searches and came up with an interesting page analyzing the year 2007 and the searches done throughout the year and the top searches, both by U.S. and by the world.  They calculate the top searches as rising and falling.  For the world, the top risers are iphone, badoo, facebook, dailymotion, webkinz, youtube, ebuddy, second life, hi5, and club penguin.  The fastest US risers are iphone, webkinz, tmz, transformers, youtube, club penguin, myspace, heroes, facebook, and Anna Nicole Smith.

Well.  There are many searches on these lists for things I have never even heard of, so I must not be in line with the rest of the world population.  I’m not “with it” if you will.  However, I can count myself among the top US searchers on youtube and myspace.  Myspace I use so I don’t have to type it in the URL.  Pure laziness on my part because from google’s response I can click right into wherever I want.  And Youtube needs no explanation.  I’m shocked Club Penguin is on here.  Milla loves it.  I have to convince her not to play it after she’s been to visit non-Waldorf friends.  I would not have known it was so popular.  I do not know what badoo, dailymotion, webkinz, ebuddy, second life, hi5, or tmz are.  I am going to have to search those, thereby increasing their search popularity, just so I can find out what they are.

There are fallers from the list as well.  World Cup tops this list, followed by mozart, fifa, rebelde, kazaa, xanga, webdetente, sudoku, shakira, and mp3.  I do not know what fifa, rebelde, kazaa, and shakira are, although I think shakira might be a singer.  My goodness, I’m frighteningly out of touch, aren’t I?  I’m surprised mozart is on this list, not because it’s going down, but because he is on the list at all.

For anyone who cares, I found this information at:  http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2007/

Well it is officially 2008 on the west coast so I can now head to bed.  This blog has the notoriety of having been started in one year and completed in another.  Makes it sound as if I spent a good deal of time on it, rather than about 21 minutes.

Pointless Rambling

After all of my ranting on racism in the last few days, I feel drained of words.  I have a fabulous idea for (another) book though. I seem to have more books in my head than I have time to put them on the page.

I slept without drugs last night.  I think I should get a One Day Pin for this.  I’m quite proud of myself.  I haven’t slept without drugs in weeks now.  Heavy drugs too, like codeine and dextromethorphan.  God, I love that word….dextromethorphan.  But even though I love saying it, I need to stop taking it.  It can be habit forming, and I don’t want to form that habit.  I can see, though, why one might want to form that habit if their cough lasts for two months.  It gets so old.

One thing I will not miss about this job (among dozens) is the constant paging over the intercom system.  Oregon PC on zero five!  Oregon PC on zero zero!  Eric please call Nicole at ten!  Scott please kill Monica on eleven!  (Oops, I don’t think they say that!)  You’re sitting at your desk, trying to attempt some work (or typing on your blog) and the pager squawks some summons.  Gads.

Oh my God.  My dog is sitting on my lap and he just farted.  That is so gross.  Piper!  Seriously.  You couldn’t wait to do that?

The Great Debaters

I saw The Great Debaters last night.  I spent a good deal of the film feeling even more fired up that we need to continue to fight racism in this country, only lately the racism is more obviously against middle easterners and Mexicans.  It is as if racism against these groups is acceptable, as racism against blacks was not so long ago.

I feel so strongly that as a white person, the thing I can do to fight racism is to call it when I see it.  Racism is racism is racism.  I will not accept racist emails in my inbox clothed in the mask of righteous indignation about how our tax dollars or spent or sent as some deceitful public service message claiming to be about “protecting” me from terrorism when it is really bigotry, and not even much disguised bigotry.

I get SO angry that this continues.  As I watched The Great Debaters last night, I got even more fired up about the email I had received on Christmas day.  I came home and felt that fire and wanted to DO something and wondered, what can I do?  I can write.  I lay in bed unable to sleep with the desire to write something, anything more than just an angry response to a bunch of bigots.  As I did this, I conceived a novel.  I have all of the characters.  I have the location.  I have the basic premise of the story.  And I am going to write it and hope that ONE person reads it and THINKS and gets as fired up against racism as I did when I received that racist bullshit bird poop email and as I watched The Great Debaters.

It is time for those who hate racism in this country to stand up against the racism that is allowable now, racism against middle easterners and Mexicans.  It is time to say that racism against these people is NOT okay.  Ever.

How Comfortable Would I Be With My Words?

On Christmas morning I received an email from a friend that I am sure she did not write, but passed on because for some reason she agreed with the sentiments behind its words. The email was undisguisedly racist and sounded like something Bill O’Reilly or one of the other hate radio mongers would write. I, being the sort who has no compunction about speaking up at emails like that one, wrote my own diatribe against it. I was pretty angry when I wrote it, and the force of my anger is behind the words.

This morning another friend who commented on my comments said when he writes something when he’s angry, before sending it he asks himself if he would mind his words if he read them a year later. That’s probably a good policy, especially for someone like me who can be a bit, mmmm, unrelenting when on the offensive.

So for the email I responded to yesterday, if I ask myself how would I feel about my words if I read them a year from now? Just the same. And I would probably get just as mad.

Racism is Racism is Racism is Racism

So Christmas morning, I got this lovely little story in my inbox from someone I work with.  It tells how she hung a bird feeder in her yard and the birds came and set up nests and pooped on everything so she couldn’t enjoy her yard anymore, so she kicked out the birds and got rid of the feeder and now everything is all wonderful again. She then likens the whole thing to undocumented immigrants and how wonderful life would be without them.

Fuck that.  And I got this shit on Christmas.  I couldn’t believe it.  So I wrote this in response:

I read the nice little informative story that is going around to the “good taxpaying American citizens.” What a friendly Christmas reminder how far from anything Christian anyone who believes this shit has become. Do you think Jesus would approve? I highly fucking doubt it. Jesus was like the undocumented worker, his parents searching for a barn in which to give birth. Or how about the story of Good King Wenceslas. Did you ever hear that one? You all probably hum the tune once or twice a Christmas season. I seriously doubt any of you know the words to the song and if you do, you clearly ignore them. You certainly do not know the true story behind the Good King. Good King Wenceslas was a king who took care of the poor. For this, his brother murdered him. How dare he share his riches with those who have less than he? But of course we don’t sing about that part; we sing about the good king who shared his riches with those less fortunate. We wouldn’t want to sing about the brother because he reminds us too much of ourselves.

How many of you, if actually faced with someone who needed something, would turn them away and say, “No. You didn’t fill out the proper paperwork so go starve. And by the way? We aren’t going to give you the medical care you need either. Who cares if your kid is dying of pneumonia because your kid is a little brown Mexican.” That’s what you are arguing for here. I don’t hear any of you screaming about the tax dollars that paid for me on the Oregon Health Plan when I had cancer (but of course, I am white and blonde so it’s okay to spend money on me). Your anger is displaced, and your argument is just plain stupid and wrong. You just want someone to blame because of your own unhappiness and it would be too hard to look in the mirror. You think shipping off some undocumented worker you never see is going to change anything for you? Get a clue-it won’t. Because the problem isn’t with the undocumented worker, but with this entire system. You sit there on your computer sending out your email in your warm house after eating your big, fat Christmas meal. How dare you? What on earth have you to complain about?

If you want to complain about how your tax dollars are spent, why not do something productive like helping to feed and clothe the immigrants who need it?  Do this instead of going shopping. Why don’t you lay your hatred at the feet of those who really cost you your tax dollars? Why aren’t you protesting this useless, lying war that costs us billions? Why aren’t you protesting the spending of billions on contractors to go and rape and kill Iraqis (oh but that’s okay too because they are Iraqi and don’t know any better. They’re just going to turn into a bunch of terrorists anyway so we might as well rape and kill their children).

Of course you won’t protest the real problems because it is easier for you to sit and point fingers at the Mexican family whose values are different than yours than it is for you to place the blame at the feet of capitalism or this administration or the Reagan administration, or hell, even the Eisenhower administration, whose actions are all more responsible for the financial state of this country than the minuscule dollars spent on a few undocumented immigrants. It is so much easier to blame them because you see that they live several families in a house and have lots of children and you don’t like that because it is DIFFERENT from you. You see that as somehow disgusting instead of seeing it for what it is: a better situation for people who had NOTHING thanks to their government and ours. But that would require too much thought on your part and thought is not part of the equation, now is it? It is easier to write some hateful fucking diatribe against these people on CHRISTMAS than to actually DO anything about it. Why don’t you admit what it really is that bothers you is that these people are different than you are? Why don’t you admit your racism instead of couching your hatred in some sort of moral outrage at how your tax dollars are spent? Be fucking honest, if nothing else.

I hung out a bird feeder last spring. The birds didn’t come and build nests and sing and poop like your happy little metaphor. Squirrels tore down the bird feeder and ate all the food. I’d say that is a more apropos metaphor for what is really going on.

Merry Fucking Christmas

Bacterial Update

I went to the doctor today to investigate whether I have been invaded by viruses or bacterias.  As I suspected, I have been invaded by viruses.  Fortunately the doctor gave me lots of wonderful drugs to combat the symptoms brought on by these nasty little bits of protein.  I am normally the anti-drug.  I’m like a commercial or something:  Keep those drugs away from me!  Advil?  No.  Aspirin?  No.  Tylenol?  Definitely not.  But my brain and body have reached a place where the desire to sleep and feel no pain outweighs my desire to remain free of chemical toxins.  So it is with anticipatory pleasure that these drugs will become part of my physical makeup tonight prior to laying my head upon my pillow.

Actually, some drugs already have.  I discovered in my medicine cabinet some acetominophin-codeine I had been prescribed at some point in the past and which I did not take because I avoid narcotics of any sort.  You know, codeine resembles morphine in its makeup because it is an opiade.  It is a weak opiade, but when one is as much a lightweight as I am, it does not take much to put me on my ass.  Alas, I digress.

So last night I took this acetominophin-codeine, as well as a hefty dose of Robitussin DM.  This choice blend put me into a pleasant drug-induced stupor and succeeded in effectively blocking a significant portion of the suffering I was experiencing in my ribs.  Of course, when it wore off at 3:30 a.m. I woke to a pain the likes of which I have never experienced, including the compound fracture in my left arm at age nine, the severe ankle sprain nearly three years ago, or natural childbirth.  But for five hours, I was blissfully unaware of anything.  When I awoke to such severe pain, I simply popped a couple more acetominophin-codeine killers and some more Robitussin DM and was back in la la land within a half an hour.

Will Smith has this new movie out where he is the last guy on earth because some virus killed off everyone else or turned them into a zombie or something.  I have not seen it yet.  However, having experienced this viral infection of my own, it is not beyond the capacity of my imagination to see a virus of this magnitude taking over our little planet and rendering us all helpless or dead.  If everyone were in the state I am in right now, we wouldn’t need to be dead because we would all be useless.  THANK you narcotics for helping me through this.  THANK you cough suppresant for making it all more bearable.  Seriously.

I am glad I’m not bacterial.  I could have kissed my acquaintance who was abducted by aliens and they would have had nothing further to examine on him because there would have been no bacterias.  But being viral is not much better.  And perhaps it is worse.  Bacterias can be wiped out with antibiotics (although that may be going by the wayside with super-bacteria).  Viruses can’t be wiped out by anything except my immune system.  In either case, whether I’m bacterial or viral, I hope to be free of any of the little critters that cause pain and suffering sometime in the very near future.  Perhaps with the aid of the super drugs my physician has supplied I will be able to sleep well enough to allow my immune system to kick a little ass.

Diversions

Lara sits at her desk at work and has quite a difficult time focusing on the tasks at hand.  She does not want to be there.  She wants to be snuggled in her bed taking a nap attempting to drive the cold virus from her poor, tired body.  She wishes she were wearing thick socks and flannel jamma pants with a couple of warm t-shirts instead of the nice dress shoes, slacks, and turtleneck that look attractive but are binding and uncomfortable when the body isn’t well.

As she sits at the desk, she keeps checking her email, kind of like checking the regular mail at home, hoping someone in the world besides advertisers wants to chat or say hello.  But no.  Everyone else is busy living their own lives and doing their own thing on this rainy and cold afternoon.

Every so often she turns to the file she is working on and puts in some effort, but cannot do so without difficulty.  The sun has just peeked through the clouds and touches her head through the window next to her desk.  She looks up and sees the droplets sparkling in the light and wishes it were warmer and that she were out of doors.  But this is wishful thinking.  The tree next to the window is leafless and moves ever so slightly in the wind.  It is cold out there.  Even the light is cold.

Daydreams fill her thoughts as her head drops to her hand, her elbow on the edge of the desk.  Her eyes close slightly.  She imagines a spa, a spa in the desert of California.  She’s going to have a massage. After the massage, she will lie in the sun and relax, drinking warm tea.  Later she will soak in a hottub, tendrils of damp hair curling at her neck.  Warm hands press into her aching should …..RRRRIIIIIINNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGG!!

The phone in her office rings, slamming her back into reality.  Crap.  The phone. She does NOT want to answer the phone. She wants to pretend she’s getting a massage from a beautiful man at a spa in the desert.  She does not want to speak to some unhappy client who is pissed off that another attorney in the office did not return her call.  “Yes, I’m sorry he did not call you back.  Oh yes.  I would be angry too.  Of course.  I KNOW you paid us eight hundred dollars and that IS a lot of money.  You are correct.  Yes.  Well, that really isn’t an emergency, although I can see how you would think that it is, but it’s not.  I can assure you.  All you need to do is tell that creditor you filed for bankruptcy.  Give them your case number and the date you filed and they will leave you alone.  Yes.  Yes.  I promise.  Believe me.  In 99 percent of the cases they go away.  Yes.  I know.  I know.  Well make sure this is one of the 1 percent of cases before getting all worried about it.  No.  Yes.  I know.  Give them our number then.  Yes.  Of course.  No.  Yes.  Yes, we’ll be out on Christmas.  I know.  I know.  Okay.  Happy holidays to you too.  Yes.  Goodbye.”

Fuck.  The vision of warm desert air and beautiful male hands lovingly massaging her shoulders is gone.  She coughs, pain wracking her chest.  Reality.  Yuck.  No wonder people take drugs.

I Know What I Want

So I’m at work and I brought my puppy and he’s rooting around on the floor, spinning in circles, being completely silly.  He loves rubbing his tummy on the carpet like that.  He grunts and makes goofy noises.  I love him so much.

So I’m reading this book, well, listening to this book being read to me in my car.  I’m really enjoying it.  It’s John Irving and he’s always great.  Anyway, as is often the case with me and books I enjoy, I can see the movie as I would direct it.  How I would tell the story, who I would cast in the various parts, what part of the book I would keep because it’s rare to be able to include an entire book in a movie.  Often there are smaller side stories in books that work in books but don’t in movies because of the nature of reading versus viewing.  For instance I thought the first Harry Potter tried to include too much.  One book made into a movie where I think the movie did better than the book was Sideways.  When I read Sideways, it was as if the movie makers saw the book exactly as the author and as the reader, yet they left out some sensationalized side stories that almost seemed like they were written as over the top movie scenes.  The movie was better having left them out.  I digress.

Anyway, I’m reading this book and I can REALLY see the movie.  It’s a great book and I can feel the entire atmosphere of the thing.  Then at some point, I hear the name of a chapter and it is the name of a movie and I realize that this book has been made into a movie and I would not have conceptualized it as the movie maker did at all.  I hate the movie version.  The actors they chose for the leads.  Ick.  Wrong.  And as is often the case with movies turned into books, they took the most sensationalized parts and chopped them together with none of the connecting tissue from the book and just made this big mess.  I remember when I saw the movie that I did not like it and feeling like something was missing.  Now I know why.

I know movies are different than books, that they are their own creation and I don’t think they should be compared in many cases because they are what they are.  But I also don’t think you should try to pretend a movie is the book if it loses so much of what was originally there.  Like The Shipping News.  Puke.  God, I couldn’t even watch it.  They fucking butchered the book.  Why didn’t they just call it something else and leave the book alone?  Get an idea from a book, then go make your damn movie, but don’t pretend it’s the book when it’s not even in the ballpark.  I have read The Shipping News so many times.  It is easily my favorite book, and that is saying a lot because you can’t pin me down on a favorite ANYTHING.  Seriously.  This book, I know it inside out and backwards.  I know its characters.  I can SEE its characters.  When I heard the book was being made into a movie, I had to read the book again.  I could SEE that movie, see how I would shoot it, the angles, the light, all of it.  And NONE of the book made it into that movie except a few pitiful, over the top plot lines and the names of the characters and that was IT.  They didn’t even make the characters look like the characters in the book and the looks of the characters in the book are almost characters themselves.  HOW could they?  Ack.  Gags me.

So I’m reading this John Irving book now and hearing it and having to force out the characters and story as envisioned by the screenwriter and director (one and the same in this case) as I try to enjoy this book.  The story is actually quite fascinating.  I love it.  And now I have Jeff Bridges’s face looming in to take over one of the main characters when he’s not even CLOSE!  He doesn’t even inhabit the character of the character, let alone the looks.  Looks in a movie can be different from the looks of the character in a book if the actor can BECOME the character, but he didn’t.  Remember Sandra Oh and Virgina Madsen in Sideways?  In the book, Maya looked like Sandra Oh and Stephanie looked like Virginia Madsen, but they are switched in the movie and it doesn’t matter because the actors so inhabited the characters.  It just doesn’t detract in any way.  But in this book I’m reading now, Jeff Bridges is not the character he plays.  Maybe he never read the book.  Maybe he just read the screenplay that butchered the book.  Because as I conceptualize the character in the book, not only does he not characterize the character, he does not look like the character looks.  And Kim Bassinger…I won’t even go there.

Why would John Irving let this happen?  Why would Annie Proulx?  Maybe they don’t get a choice.  But John Irving and Annie Proulx are HUGE authors. They have to be able to maintain some control.  Why couldn’t the movie makers just say that the movie was “inspired” by the book and not pretend the movie is the book come to life when it’s not?

Well that’s enough of my film/literary snob rant for the day. What do I know?  I just know I can’t stand that movie and it is interrupting my enjoyment of this book.

The Circle of Life

This man I know told me he could not kiss me because I am bacterial (A cold, you know. It may be viral but I’m beginning to suspect bacteria may be the culprit.) He sent me this message on yahoo messenger, then he disappeared. He wasn’t there!

I asked, Did you go away? He did not answer.

I realized then that he had been officially stolen by aliens. They grasped him by his collar and YANKED him into the spaceship in one deft lift. Off! He’s gone. “Good bye!” I cried. “We will miss you! We will have a funeral for you with an empty coffin.”

But then I thought perhaps he would return to us someday, anally probed and brain laced with bits of metal and ice. But that would be okay. We would still be glad to have him home. “Look everyone!” I would cry. “He’s home! Don’t mind the drool. Here. I’ll just wipe it with a little towel.” And just imagine, the drool is bacteria free because he did not kiss me! I tell him that I wish him well as he sits drooling. I hope his brain and bottom aren’t too sore from his trip to the aliens.

Don’t you love how the story came full circle? A kiss that did not happen, a death, a rebirth, and back to kissing. It’s the circle of life, you know.

I truly enjoy sitting here and typing to no one. The imagination runs wild. Don’t remind me what a pitiful imagination it is.

First Do No Harm

So my mom is a member of Kaiser.   American Cancer Society guidelines recommend a mammogram and an MRI for women whose mothers, sisters, or daughters have had breast cancer.  I had breast cancer.  Her sister had breast cancer.  Her mother had breast cancer.  Yet her docter at Kaiser told her an MRI was not warranted.  On what planet does this doctor live?  Where is his brain?  Who does he work for?  Duh.  Kaiser.  He wants to keep from costing Kaiser money.  Who gives a shit if my mom gets cancer and DIES.  That’s cheaper for them than paying for a fucking MRI.  Damn insurance companies.

Well, too bad for them that Mom’s daughter called up and figured out how to go around Mr. Hippocratic Oath (not!).  We’re going to appeal AND get a second opinion.  So there. Dumbass.  Would have cost less just to get her the MRI.

“First do no harm.”  Yeah, unless it costs some fucking insurance company money.  Do no harm to insurance companies.  We’ll change the oath to “Thou shalt protect thy insurance company’s ass at all costs, even if a human being dies.”

Revolution

I have been thinking a lot about change. I am beginning to understand, on a more than superficial level, why we end up in revolution. Change can be so damn slow. It’s actually more remarkable when things change quickly because deep, fundamental societal change takes generations.  Revolution may be our only method in many instances to institute change, whether the revolt be violence or Ghandi. I have been seeing this on a micro level, which has made me it more obvious to me on the macro level.  Change takes damn forever. I have been working in an office where nothing really changes. It is such a dysfunctional place and has been that way for over a decade.  Nearly two, actually. There are people there I call the “institutional toxins” because they are part of the institution and never go away. The place stays completely and utterly dysfunctional. And office procedures and systems do not change either. Occasionally new systems come in, but the movement towards them is reluctant and gradual.

When I began working there in 2003, they were still using a DOS-based word processing program that I knew from personal experience had become Windows-based in 1993. That year they switched to the latest of that program, but they are still using it even though it has had two further incarnations. And they use a 1988 DOS-based client management program. Change to a system from the current decade has been promised for over a year, but there is always an excuse why it doesn’t happen.  By the time they put in that system, it will be 2015 and we will have moved onto an entirely different platform.

I suppose I should not be surprised at any of this because it is the owner of the company who refuses to change, and as long as he refuses to change, it will continue to trickle down. He pretends to modify some things, but the behavior doesn’t follow, and neither do real modifications.

But this got me thinking about societal changes. I am actually amazed we are where we are with racism and sexism and all those other ‘isms. People comment and question and remark how unbelievable it is that racism still exists. Lately I’ve begun to feel it’s amazing we’ve come this far in somewhat eradicating it. And no wonder there had to be riots and violence to get to this place. Humanity seems genuinely not to want to change much of anything.

Oh there are the few who are willing to do so, but look how backwards we have gone just in the last few decades. Forward and back, forward and back. Grinding into a different thought process. It’s like evolution. It seems like things are different because we have the ability to see how things were only fifty or so years back. But underneath, there is still that current of prejudice and bias that was there in 1955, even in people born twenty years ago.

I have a total non-sequitur…I heard a conversation on the radio yesterday with a plastic surgeon who performs laser hair removal. One of the radio hosts said she had heard scientists say we were “evolving towards hairlessness.” I got to thinking about that, and I do not think that is possible. I don’t think we will evolve towards anything anymore because there is no more human natural selection. We don’t let the so-called evolutionary “failures” die or stop procreating, so those “flaws” will continue. We may develop new features and breed those new features into each other, but the old features won’t go away if the humans with those old features do not die out or stop breeding. I am not advocating anything here; I’m just observing that evolution will be stopped from occurring on some level. Actually, I would advocate for stopping Paris Hilton from breeding, but that’s another matter entirely….  Hirsute people unite!  The hairless ones seek to eradicate you from existence.

Evil Guerrilla Virus

These can be addicting.  I sit here and have these random thoughts and want to write them here instead of my journal.  I carry around this notebook to write my strange random thoughts and to draw pictures.  Sometimes I’ll have a dream and write it in there thinking it’s profound and I should make a movie out of it.  Then I’ll go back and read the dream later and realize it WAS profound…profoundly dumb. Now I’m experimenting with background color.  Yes.  My time is well spent.  Well spent indeed.  (:I had a cold in early November.  A nasty wicked cold that kicked my ass and left me in bed for days.  It lasted about 3 1/2 weeks.  It started with a wretched, mind-blowing headache that just hurt no matter how much caffeine or ibuprofen I poured on it.  Then there were two days of sore throat that hurt so badly I could not speak and swallowing was pure hell and torture.  After that cleared, I suddenly had snot gushing from every available orifice in my head.  That started to clear and I began to feel the rumblings low in my lungs of a cough that rattled every joint in my body.  I attempted to stave off the cough, but to no avail.  I would lie there, feeling it humming in my chest.  I would breathe slowly. In. Out. In. Out.  Please god, don’t make me cough.  Then it would happen and it would hurt and it would not stop.  This went on for days.  I had to pile pillows high on my bed to prop myself up so I could sleep because anytime I was horizontal the cough would creep up and kick my ass.  I would be in that lovely place right before sleep, drowsily imagining flying or that I had three arms, when that cough would smash me right back into reality.  I remember lying there with my eyes dry feeling like I would never sleep again.  I finally succumbed and took four of Milla’s triaminic cough strips.  I don’t like taking those kinds of drugs because they drug me so completely I have a hangover for days, but even a hangover was preferable to that shit.  Only it was like the cough sat and waited for the exact SECOND the dextromethorphan wore off.  I love saying that word, dextromethorphan.  I would lie there and say it over and over to take myself into that sleepy place knowing the cough couldn’t get me.  ANYWAY.  The SECOND it wore off, the cough would return with a vengeance worse than anything prior to the attempted cough murder.  I finally started popping the dextromethorphan like some kind of an addict just to sleep.  After about a week of this, my head hurt constantly and I was a walking zombie from lack of non-drug-induced sleep.  That’s about when the tickle began.  I didn’t have any mucous left.  There was just that fucking tickle in the back of my throat.  I’d be sitting there on the computer or reading a book or trying to work and feel that wretched ass tickle.  Tickle.  Tickle.  And have to cough.  And then I could not stop coughing.  I even stuck my finger in the back of my throat in an attempt to stop the tickle.  It didn’t work.  I looked up the tickle on the internet and found many a distressed sufferer lamenting on various medical websites about the wretched ass tickle.  Some had suffered for years.  These were people with chronic conditions, asthma and the like.  Thank GOD I did not have that. I had the tickle for about four days.  I probably would have found a huge bridge from which to fling myself had the tickle continued much longer.  I pity those people who live their lives with the tickle.

ANYWAY.  What was my point? I had one.  The POINT is that I had this bitch of a cold that lasted nearly four weeks, then I began gradually to heal.  There was a period of about five days where I sneezed, but had no other symptoms, but that faded as well.  Even Milla’s aftercare teacher would say, You are doing better. Then the next day he would say, You seem 10 percent better today.  Finally one day he said, I think you are 98 percent better.  Does that mean the cold is all gone and you are well?  I would say, Yes!  I am so much better.  Thank you so much for thinking of me.

Well.  We were both wrong.  I woke up yesterday and the damn headache, lung ache, face snot, sneezing, sore throat, and cough are all back and all at once.  No more of that systematic one at a time shit for this cold.  No.  It’s all back and it’s all back at once.  And you know what is really strange?  My friend Britta had this same crap about the same time I did and in the same order.  And yesterday her shit came back exactly like mine!!  It’s like some miracle virus that tricks you into thinking you are well when you’re not!  It’s so cruel.

So this is what I’m contemplating as I sit here not doing much work because my head hurts and I’m tired and my lungs hurt and I’m WHINING.  Wah wah wah!  I guess I will see now if the pretty orange color stays when I actually post this thing.

DAMN!!  I just typed in Evil Guerrilla Virus and in the process sneezed the biggest grossest sneeze of ick I’ve sneezed in years!  Thank god for tissue and thank god more for soft tissue with lotion in it!  Yikes!

Why We Celebrate Birthdays

I love the movie Waitress.  I saw it twice at the theaters and now I own it.  It’s an amazing movie.  So well-written.  So funny and sad at the same time.  That moment when she says to the nurse, Give’er to me.  Then looks at that baby and the rest of the world fades from view.  Nothing else matters.  I have never seen a movie capture that feeling, that moment when your child is looking at you for the first time and you know in the marrow of your bones that you have fulfilled your life’s biological purpose; you know why you were born.  There is nothing like it.  When Milla was born, the doctor put her on my stomach, I laid my hand on her back, she lifted her head and looked at me and I told her Hi Baby.

I will never forget that moment for as long as I live.  It was the best moment of my life.  I know now why we celebrate birthdays.

Glug

Have you ever gone swimming somewhere noisy, boats roaring, children screeching, just the sounds of summer and wetness…then you dive under the water and it’s silent and thick, the water fills your head?  You might can barely hear the other sounds, but they are muffled and far away.  You are present only in the moment of being there under the water by yourself.

Well, that’s like writing can be for me.  I start writing and lose any sense of time.  I don’t notice the sounds.  I’m gone.  I love that place.  It’s better than any substance designed to obliterate reality and there isn’t a hangover, although there can be some disorientation upon returning to consciousness and having to deal again with reality.  That can be somewhat of a shock.

I love that this blog thing tells you that no one reads what you say.  That’s all good though because I might be tempted to edit myself if I thought anyone was looking at this or gave a damn.  I probably do anyway because it’s not my journal.  Oh well.

Confessions of a Fraudulent Cancer Patient

Ever since I received this diagnosis, I have been feeling like a fraud. Cancer? Cancer means sickness and oozing, smelliness and hair falling out. That’s not me. I’m young and healthy (knock on wood).  I feel like a fraud walking through the halls of the cancer clinic. I know I look good. I am not being vain; it’s the truth. I have all my hair. I’m thin. I’m attractive. I dress well. I just don’t look like a cancer patient should look, or feel like a cancer patient should feel. Yes, that’s my judgment, but it makes me feel like I don’t have the right to call myself cancer’s victim.  My therapist asked if my feeling like a fraud is a way to feel safe. I told her it does not. And I wasn’t lying. I’m in therapy because of all the other shit I’ve been through, and being in a relationship that pushes my buttons to the brink. Cancer? Cancer is cakewalk. And who would ever dream someone could say those words?

Notes from my journal, January 15, 2007

I consider myself a fraudulent cancer patient…continue reading here.

More on my cancer experience can be found here.

Craigslist Ad for the Misogynistic Lawnmower I Needed to Get Rid Of

Wearing its Wifebeater T-Shirt

I have an evil lawnmower that needs a new home. It is possessed by a demon, so the new owner would need strong exorcism tendencies. It does not like women, so the new owner would best be male. In the alternative, a female who can seriously kick its ass would also work. I’ve tried. I’m done. I bought it brand new from Sears. Paid like 400 bucks or some ridiculous amount. Says right on top, EASY START. Well, I can tell you that unless you are a man, that is a bunch of shit. It has a mean streak, for sure. I bring it out to mow. I push that little red button three times that brings the gas up from its bowels. I wait a bit. Then I pull the string. Do you think the bastard easy starts? No. Of course not. Then the nice male neighbor across the street, or my brother, or the other neighbor down the road happens to notice my kicking and screaming at the useless misogynistic piece of crap and offers to help. One pull. One damn pull and the fucker starts right up. I’ve tried being nice. I go out there and promise I will not get mad, I will not get mad. I bought it nice new spark plugs. I changed its oil. I give it fresh gasoline. But does that work? Noooooo, of course not. I’ve had it with it. Years of this. Years! I can’t stand it anymore. I would like to sell it and buy another, more woman friendly lawnmower, one that does not take pleasure in making me look like a helpless female. Or I would like to get one that doesn’t use gas or electric, one of those old-fashioned push along mowers that just clips the grass. I don’t mind raking clippings. That would take less time than I already spend trying to get the current evil piece of spiteful junk to start. In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that the plastic cover thing on the outside does have a crack in it. That is because I kicked the shit out of it one time when it would not start. This does not affect its running capability, but it does give it a scarred look. Makes it more manly, I think. So if you’re interested, and want to give the evil thing a whirl, email me and we’ll set something up. Make an offer on the price. Like I said, I just want to get something that doesn’t make mowing the lawn an angry experience.

The Path

Once upon a time there was a lovely little path that ran north and south along a cliff.  The cliff dropped to the edge of the ocean.  The path was covered with ashy, pea-sized pebbles.  The sky above the path connected the ocean to a grassland that grew between the path and the horizon.  The grassland swayed back and forth in the gusts and breezes that blew in off the sea, rhythmic and habitual, keeping time as it had for centuries.  The cliff’s edge scalloped in and out, rising up to one hundred feet above the waves.  The cliff walls were sheer and precarious, plunging deftly into the foam.

The space between the path and the cliff was close; too close for some.  Periodically, a rock wall appeared in this margin, moss bathing the stones in its ancient, curly tendrils.  The cliff below the places where the rock wall stood was particularly steep and rocky, cascading directly into the water below, with no sandy shoreline dividing the face and the water.

In places, hardy trees fought the wind and coarse soil to make a home for themselves along the path.  During winter, the trees were cold and skeletal.  In spring, blossoms burst forth with luster and strength, giving birth to lush foliage that lasted well into fall.

The path ran for miles.  It began randomly off the coast amongst several run-down cottages that overlooked the shoreline.  It concluded at the berth of a hill overlooking a quaint, little town.  Every year different townspeople took it upon themselves to care for the path.  Men would lug bags of gravel to fill the thin places.  Children would plant lupines and sweet peas.

Citizens of the town used the path for various purposes.  Some ran.  Others strolled.  One old woman walked down the path and back every Saturday, no matter the season, no matter the weather.  Couples sauntered hand in hand, sharing the sunset, bundling together against the breeze.

One such couple walked daily along the path, if the weather suited them.  Depending on their schedule, they would walk for a short half hour or spend the day walking to the path’s end and back.  Some days, the fellow held the woman close, her head laid gently on his shoulder, their stroll languid, contemplative.  Others, she would bounce ahead, while he followed more sedately behind.

Regular path walkers knew the couple.  The woman had walked the path since she was a small child.  She had developed a routine whereby she walked its entire length once a week on Sunday if the weather was cooperating.  The man was not much of an exerciser, but he loved to walk the path as well, and gradually adapted to her habit.  When she jogged, he would walk along behind, waiting until she returned, the two walking back together while she cooled off.  Or sometimes he would ride his bicycle, the handlebars unsteady on the gravel, as she ran beside him, her ponytail bouncing to the rhythm of her steps.

One elderly woman, Mrs.  Mettle, often followed them while they walked together, hand in hand.  She eavesdropped on their conversations, wishing her life was more like theirs.  She was not certain of their names, but she had taken to calling them Martin and Beth in her mind.  She felt the names suited them.  She knew the two were not married, but thought perhaps they were planning to do so soon.  Martin worked as a schoolteacher in town, teaching math.  Beth wrote children’s books and sold vegetables and flowers from her expansive garden.  Mrs.  Mettle also knew that Martin owned a rambling, delightful bungalow with an enormous front porch that overlooked the cliffs to the sea.  She longed to follow them into that bungalow and learn more about the life she was sure the two must lead.

Ah, if she could.  As is often the case, Mrs.  Mettle would soon discover that things were not as sanguine as the surface would have the world believe.  Although the two appeared connate, if Mrs. Mettle had spoken to one of the pair, each story would be quite different from the other’s, much more so than either of the two could contemplate.

Both of them had remained unattached for quite a long time before their inadvertent meeting in a bookstore one rainy morning.  Martin had a family who adored him, decent friends, and a good job that, although it did not pay a lot of money, allowed him enough for a comfortable living.  But he had been terribly lonely for a long time.  He had longed to share his life with another.  He dated women and had a few girlfriends, but nothing ever panned out.

Then he met Beth.  She was a wild, fearless, energetic woman who rearranged his every aspect.  Her life was so different from his; she had four dogs and three cats, her work was sporadic, and she often had a million things going at once, which overwhelmed his sure and steady single-mindedness.  But overall, she liked things mostly tidy like he did, she enjoyed art and theater, she cared about the environment, she loved to travel and relished studying other cultures, she had principles and lived her life accordingly.  And she was so beautiful.  Devastatingly so.  His heart ached each time he imagined her pristine complexion, the golden hair she wore casually pulled back from her face, her luminous eyes, whose color matched the ocean below his house.  He felt certain that he was truly in love.  Beth completely captivated him; she was perfect and everything he had ever dreamed of.

Martin knew he had never loved a woman as he loved Beth, and not long into their courtship, he realized he would ask her to marry him.  Even though they had only been going out for a few short months, he had no doubts that she was exactly what he wanted, and he began to plan how to convince her to accept a proposal so early in their relationship.

Beth was not as immediately enamored of Martin when she first met him.  She had a busy life and liked the way things were.  Although she was not in the market for a boyfriend, she welcomed the diversion.  She thought that even though his hair was thinning, he was attractive enough.  He wasn’t conventionally pretty, but she enjoyed the way his eyes crinkled at the edges like he always had a laugh waiting, and his calm and easy smile made her feel secure.  There was an allure in his manner that made her unusually active mind sedate.  He was frankly earnest, and this made her laugh.

Still, she spent their first few dates debating with herself whether she really wanted to go out with him.  He was much too interested in science fiction and sports cars to suit her tastes.  He insisted they watch all of the credits in the movies they watched, which drove her to distraction; she hadn’t the patience for it.  And even though he had worked at his job for a number of years, he complained incessantly about the place when the subject came up, but would take no steps to change things.  She wondered whether he was a pessimist in disguise.

Over time, though, these things seemed to matter little.  He was so attentive, she could not help but react positively.  He brought her bundles of flowers on a regular basis.  He took her to dinner at fine restaurants and refused to even consider allowing her to pay.  Beth had girlfriends who would have found this offensive, but Beth did not.  She actually thought it was quite sweet.  Martin wasn’t pushy or aggressive; he simply wanted to offer her a nice time.  And she liked that, rather a lot.  In time, she was certain she would grow to love this man.

Gradually, Beth stopped questioning her interest in Martin and allowed that she was utterly in love with him.  She accepted the characteristics of his that were different from her, to the point that she found them deeply endearing.  She noticed acutely his absences.  When they spent even one night apart, she found that she could not focus on anything.  When they were together, she felt complete, content.  It did not matter if they were on a date at a fancy restaurant or digging plants in the garden.  In any case, she wanted him there with her.

But Martin had begun to notice what he perceived as Beth’s flaws.  She was irritated by small things and this drove him nuts.  For instance, Beth would swear and complain during nearly every walk about the roots that poked into the path and tripped her when she was not paying close attention.  Why couldn’t she just pay closer attention?  The roots weren’t going anywhere and it ruined their walks to have her bitching about it all the time.

And she was shy.  He would take her to functions at his school and she would stand off to the side, avoiding conversations with anyone she did not know.  Why was this?  She said she felt uncomfortable talking to people with whom she was not acquainted.  But Martin knew them, so why couldn’t she just step up and start talking?  And if she would talk to them, she would become acquainted, thus eliminating the concern over not being so.  Why did she have to make such a production out of it?

Reality was sinking in:  his lover was human and this humanity scared him.  He did not want to feel the distress of heartbreak.  He did not want her to either.  But sometimes he could not stand how she was.  He was also concerned that their being together would eliminate who he had been without her, a perplexing problem for which he saw no solution.  He could not bear turning into one of those meager, simpering men who crouched at the call of their spouses, rushing off to do their “chores” with their tails between their legs.  Castrates, thought Martin.

He was terrified of arguments.  They did not have many, but each time one occurred, he was certain it represented the state of the relationship’s future.  The subjects of these arguments were most often trivial, and usually occurred when both were overly tired, not feeling well, or both.  Yet he was unable to shake the feeling that argument was their destiny.

With time, he began to ignore all of the things about Beth that had seemed so marvelous, and looked longingly into his past at the days he spent alone, wondering how those days had gotten away, forgetting how lonely he had been.  He blamed her for the time he was not spending by himself, for the choices he had made in letting things go too fast.  Oh, he blamed himself too, but he really felt that she was the problem because she was no longer what he had dreamed.  He began to wonder and worry again and again how to eliminate their courtship without the wretchedness that was guaranteed to ensue.

Of course, Martin could not tell Beth these things that bothered him.  To do so would solve nothing.  He did not want to hurt her feelings.  He hated conflict and speaking to her about such matters would bring considerable conflict.  And most of the time, he really felt he loved her.  He would take one look at her immaculate cheekbones, her delicate, slender neck, her impossibly long legs, and swoon.  Could he give this up?  Never.

One morning, Martin decided to take the day off to spend with Beth.  They went to breakfast at a lovely café.  They went back to Martin’s bungalow and made love in the late morning.  Afterwards, they walked hand in hand through town, to the bookstore, and ate lunch at the local delicatessen.  That night, they attended a play together, laughing over its silliness as they curled together in bed, nestled in one another’s arms.

Beth yawned in contentment as she snuggled deeper into Martin’s shoulder, falling drowsily into sleep.  She felt so safe with this man she adored.  Martin lay with his arms around Beth, wondering when their next struggle would develop.  He forced these thoughts from his mind.  He would not think of them.  He would not.  He held Beth close and fell determinedly to sleep.

The next morning, as Beth kissed Martin goodbye on his way to work, she asked if he would like to take a walk down the path on his lunch break.  Martin liked the idea.  He enjoyed getting away from the school during the day, and the path always worked to clear his head.  He readily agreed and Beth offered to pack a picnic lunch.

Later that morning, Beth held Martin’s arm as they strolled away from the town.  No other walkers were out.  It was early spring and winter still held sway over the temperature.  The air was cool and still, a mist hanging over the edge of the ocean, hovering lightly on the tranquil grassland.  They settled onto one of the rock walls overlooking the ocean and spread out their lunch.

Neither spoke as they finished their sandwiches and potato salad.  Beth brushed bread crumbs from Martin’s chin.  He flinched.  She patted his hand and asked if he was okay.  He smiled, but did not answer.  She turned and began to pack the cloth, utensils, and plastic cups back into the basket.  They stood and began to walk down the path.  Beth traveled slightly ahead of Martin, as was often the case where the path narrowed.  As she headed towards town, Beth stumbled over a root in the path.  She stopped and bent to rub her foot, complaining bitterly at the root’s existence, at the fact of its being exposed.

Thoughts flooded Martin’s mind, overwhelming him.  Beth was so exquisite.  In some respects, they got along marvelously.  But she was also frustratingly picky, had an obnoxiously quick temper, and he would never understand her sense of humor.  And most of all, he was losing himself.  He had no idea where his fundamental self had gone.  Who was Martin?  Who was this man who would spend his life with a woman who complained about roots?  He no longer knew.  If he broke up with her, he would break her heart.  If he stayed with her, he would smother.  He would disappear.  Martin would cease to exist.

Martin reached out.  He saw his hands, disembodied from his arms.  He saw his thumbs.  He saw each of his fingers.  He saw the two hands like the plaster hand impressions taken as a child, hanging in memorial on his mother’s kitchen wall.  Together his hands pushed Beth in the back, shoving her hard from the path into the water below.  He did not look at her.  He did not look over the edge.  He did not look down.  He kept his eyes up and walked back to town.

I Miss Autumn

February 9, 2006: I had a dream about her two nights ago. In most of my dreams about her, she is fat and healthy, the way she looked before the disease took over. But in this dream, she was skinny and frail, skeletal and weak. There was a little girl in the dream who was scared of her. She wasn’t scary; she was pathetic. It pains me to remember her this way.

I went to acupuncture again yesterday, and realized that all my physical manifestations lately are of grief: the wretched cough I suffered over a week, the boils, the pimple face, the areas of muscle spasm. I almost cried as I was needled.

I ask myself why this grief can return so fresh eight months after her death. Then I realize that if she had been human, no one would begrudge my feeling this way, and I’m questioning the depth of my feelings because she was a dog.

I sat on the floor last evening near the couch and thought of her and realized again that she will never be here. Ever. I hate the finality of that. I hate missing her so much. I hate the way it makes my heart hurt. I hate that I’m not allowed to feel this much pain because she is a dog and not a human. I loved her so much. I loved her more than any human until Milla was born. She was my first child. Of course I grieve. And I should not question that it has been eight months.

Maybe I should be glad that I get many weeks of feeling no pain of loss. But I realize that when I’m not feeling that loss, if I don’t experience it, I won’t feel much of anything else either. Maybe that’s my lesson. If you don’t let yourself feel the emotions that need to be felt, you won’t be free to feel anything else either.

Near the end, she was almost completely blind, but she was lively. I would take her to the dog park and throw frisbees and sticks for her. I would set her up and touch her muzzle with whatever I was throwing, then guide her head in that direction and toss. She would head out and look until she found what I’d thrown. Her sense of smell must still have been intact because she would find anything, no matter how far I had thrown it, as long as I pointed her in the right direction.