Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The State of the Prostate

Remember what I said about my father-in-law having prostate cancer and maybe being smarter than my mother about treatment? Well, no, he's definitely not. Apparently, his doctor recommended surgery, but instead, he's opted to seek treatment from some shamanistic healer type, because he truly, sincerely believes all disease is in your mind. Whatever. That vomiting you're doing? Not from the shrimp salad you ate for lunch, no, must be that anger you still harbor towards your first grade teacher. You have diabetes? Certainly not because your Islets of Langerhans burnt out prematurely, what unresolved issues do you have with your grandfather?
And what pisses me off the most is that he doesn't see it as a form of suicide, as an incredibly self-hating and self-destructive thing to do, he just thinks he's smarter than the whole medical community. People who go into the field of psychology are NUTS, and trying to resolve their own issues.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Opening Line

The first line of my autobiography:
"When I was four I tried to drown myself, twice."

Yes, it's true, it really happened; obviously, I wasn't successful. I think it's a pretty killer first line, gripping, makes you want to read more, don'tcha think?
I love to write, have for a long time, but this whole poking-around-in-the-past thing makes for sludgy going. It's not really very fun to dredge up old memories, even if they make for good storytelling, even if it seems somehow important that you write all of this shit down. It sort of feels like like cleaning out a closet, (not a very original analogy, I know) like you have to go through and sort out all of this crap before you can be done with it. And even if it's a closet full of Chanel couture (or maybe just knock-offs), a closet that might net you a lot of money, it's still not exactly a pleasant task. Okay, enough of the closet analogy, you get my meaning.
And then I worry about what's going to happen after the book is written and published, because there's a good chance that there will be controversy, or at least, scandal. I get waaay ahead of myself, I worry how my life might change and what unforeseen consequences will come my way, because if there's one thing I've learned, there are always unforeseen consequences. Boy, I guess I'm pretty good at hobbling myself, huh?
Anyway, all of this is to say that I'm not making the progress I'd like when it comes to my writing and I'm feeling frustrated. Boo-hoo for me. But still, a good first line, don'tcha think?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What I Would Miss If I Were Suddenly Transported To 1808

I spent the whole morning in a pointless meeting, I'm feeling crabby and irritable, so a little exercise in appreciating the here-and-now.
  • My husband, because he never would have survived his childhood in the 1800's. He was born in the '60's and is lucky to have survived then.
  • Refrigeration- even more than air conditioning, there are so many things we can keep, eat and do because of portable cold.
  • Air travel- Sure, I haven't done much lately, but the thought that I could jump on a plane and, in a matter of hours, be in Australia or Brazil, France or Japan, helps get me through.
  • Penicillin- I guess this an obvious one, but neo-Luddites like my mother really fail to realize how much modern medicine has improved our lives. I mean, I'd much rather take Tylenol than laudanum for a headache. And if I got an infection while stranded in the past, you can bet I'd be scarfing all the moldy bread I could find.
  • Entertainment- Yeah, yeah, I watch waaay too much T.V., I could be crafting or doing something productive, but fake Hollywood deaths seem far preferable to me than public executions.
  • Foreign cuisine- While I'm sure 1808 probably had some of the best buttermilk biscuits you could ever want, we have access to so much more now. Like sushi, and tapas, and really, really good Italian. And while I know that food safety has been a huge concern lately, you're not going to get typhoid or TB like you could have in the past.

I guess my point is that while people tend to romanticize the past, now really is the best time to be alive.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vivi the Greyhound

A tale to warm the cockles of your heart, if they need warming.
In my excursions around the neighborhood, I encounter many "lost pet" notices. Some have happy endings, like missing kitty Orian, who's owners wrote "Found!" in happy-colored marker on the notices when he was recovered safely. Others, I'm left to wonder about. Did Katie the parrot make it home okay? Did anyone claim the rewards offered for Baghdad the black cat or Molly the Yorkie? There are coyotes around, even in this urban environment, and house pets must make easy prey.
One Saturday morning, I saw a notice for a lost greyhound. It was colorful and looked almost professionally produced. Vivi went missing after having chased a cat and gotten away from her owners, something I guess greyhounds are wont to do, give chase. The notice said she was shy, not to approach her if spotted, that she might be hiding in someone's bushes or under a garage. I didn't think about it a lot, but I paid attention when I was out.
A few weeks later, the notices were tattered, and I wondered what became of Vivi. On the way home from working out one morning, I saw a middle-aged couple with a tall, brindled greyhound taking down the notices. I asked if this was Vivi, and they said no, but that she had been found, dehydrated, exhausted, but basically okay, hiding in a ravine. Missing for twenty days, she had made herself a "scrape" and was seen by someone from their back window. I said I was happy that she was home and safe, and walked away quickly because I was a little embarrassed. I wanted to talk to them more, but I was teary over these stranger's dog, and it seemed silly. Such a little thing, to be glad that someone has their pet back, that this commonplace story has a happy ending, and such a big thing too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

That Bitch Inertia

I haven't been posting much lately, like at all!, I guess because I've been falling into the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything" trap and I've been feeling whiny and complain-y mostly. I end up feeling so shallow and ungrateful when all I can do is bitch and moan. Yes, currently my life kind of sucks. Yes, there are millions of people in much worse circumstances than mine. Yes, I don't see a clear way to get to where I want to be, blah, blah, blah. I just want to tell myself, Christ, woman! Stop your pissing and moaning and DO something! And I do, and it doesn't seem to help much.

Part of it is that I'm coming up on the two-year mark (I hate to say "anniversary" because in my mind, anniversary implies something pleasant and I don't feel that way) at this job. What was supposed to be a temporary measure until we got back on our feet has become more permanent, and I'm hating it right now. It doesn't fulfill me in any meaningful way, there's a lot about it I don't like or agree with, and it's becoming harder for me to stuff my feelings and show up every day. This is dangerous territory, because historically, when I feel this way, I do something to sabotage myself and force the issue, which is a stupid way to live your life.

Part of it is that NSA's health hasn't been good. This has been true for quite a while, but in the past nine months, we've gotten more and more bad news. Yesterday afternoon was spent at the hospital getting a lengthy stress test on his heart, which should help his cardiologist decide if he needs surgery. Heart surgery. For my forty-four year old husband. So when he gets depressed and feels worthless and says he doesn't want to put me through all this, it's pretty understandable. And part of me feels resentful because it's all on me. If I want things to change, I have to change them, he's just not capable any more. It's a one-woman rescue team, there is no outside help coming, our asses need saving and I need to figure out how to do it, sigh.

I think I need to watch Touching the Void again, to remind me what human beings are capable of.

It all comes down to what I can and cannot do, or more like, what I am and am not willing to do. In college, I would wait to do my term papers until the week, sometimes the weekend, before they were due. I would rush to do research, find sources, write, edit and rewrite. And I got A's and B's. Got quoted by my professors. Was generally rewarded for doing what I considered a half-assed job. The trick was the deadline, the absolute must, the need to bring myself to task and focus. And I did it, consistently, successfully. The same thing applies in the real world, when there's a deadline I have to meet at work, I do, and with good results. Why do I find this so hard to do for myself?? If I disappoint myself, there's no immediate consequences. If I let myself down, I'm the one who suffers. And family and friends are no real help; they're not motivators, they're distractors. I need to find some way around this, this boulder on my path labeled "lacks self-discipline," otherwise I'll probably end up fat, unhappy, living in a trailer park and bitching about the neighbor's kids, with squandered gifts and a wasted life. Reminds me of Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Christmas in June!

Christ! An illustration of how my mind works, or doesn't. I wanted to write about my 14 things, but got busy (typical excuse), and then, I absolutely wouldn't allow myself to blog about anything else until that entry was done! End result: no posting for two weeks, while still regularly commenting on other's blogs. How fucked up is that?

I received a package of thirteen things from Susan on Friday the 27th, the "delightful thing" having arrived a few days earlier. I guess a large envelope is less threatening than a box, at least to whomever is responsible for making sure that American borders aren't violated by all sorts of unimaginable horrors.
The package and envelope were both beautifully wrapped in gorgeous red, handmade (I assume) paper. And my post office gives me crap every time I try to send anything that's not plain and brown.
  • The delightful thing was a print of Stephanie. I love the colors and the soft-focus, and Susan remembered that I had admired this photo when she posted it. Now I just have to find the perfect framing, something I'm pretty good at when motivated.
  • Beachy things- a lovely little collection of beach glass and spiral seashells, so delicate and yet so hardy.
  • Several papery things, including a hot-pink journal, a beautiful page from an antique, hand-printed Chinese book, and a book that sounds really good, Not Wanted On the Voyage, by Timothy Findley.
  • Thing that costs less than a dollar- A mix CD. Really like Breathe Me by Sia Furler and Must I Paint You a Picture by Billy Bragg, neither of which I'd heard before. There are also a couple of favorites of mine, Don't Speak by No Doubt and Your Latest Trick by Dire Straits.
  • The soft thing is a gauzy orange and grey scarf, filmy and lovely.
  • A once-useful Chanel stamp bought at the post office in the Eiffel Tower, attached to a wonderful post card. I'm kind of awed that there are Chanel stamps, how cool is that?, and this item means a lot to me, since I haven't been to Paris since I was twelve and would love to return.
  • The red thing is this polaroid. I love that Susan loves to share her art; it's so personal, intimate, and frankly, brings tears to my eyes.
  • Two traditional food items of Nova Scotia maple syrup, delicious!, and summer savory, an herb I've never tried.
  • Two favorite candies: A fish Ticklestick and a Canadian Cherry Blossom. Really enjoyed the Cherry Blossom, I love chocolate-covered cherries and usually reserve them as a special treat around the holidays when they tend to be on sale. Although the Ticklestick was pretty, I'm not a big fan of gummi things, the texture I think, but happily, NSA is and liked the break from his usual bears.
  • Something found at the back of a drawer- A beautiful pewter pin of two rabbits and a snail, absolutely lovely and makes me wonder what other fantastic things Susan has hidden away in the backs of drawers.
  • The once-living things are a mermaid's purse, which is the egg case from a whelk, I think, and the delicate shell of a small, male (fairly certain) crab. Lovely, lovely sea treasures from the Atlantic Coast, and reminders of a childhood visit to Cape Cod.
  • A favorite recipe for seafood crepe pie, printed on the back of a map of Nova Scotia. Sounds decadent and yummy, definitely a meal to blow your diet over.
  • With a middle initial of A, Susan includes a print of her "Red Dog, Yellow Dog" illustration, which I certainly think qualifies as art.
  • Just Us chai tea, a gentler version of what I like to enjoy in the afternoon.

The 14 things swap really was better than Christmas for me. There were genuine surprises, of the good kind, and many lovely things, without the stress that usually accompanies the holidays. Susan obviously puts a great deal of care and attention into the things she does, and I find her inspiring in many ways.