Monday, May 28, 2007

Houston, We Have a Problem.

Years ago, I was living in Los Angeles and had the complete L.A. experience: I lived in a cute little bungalow off of Melrose and La Brea, had work as a personal assistant to society-type people and celebrities, and had the quintessential L.A. lifestyle accessory: my very own stalker.

This is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. Actually, my worst enemy is my former stalker, whom I christened "The Troll" (no need for fake names in this post, dear readers; that's just what I named the bitch), so I would wish a stalker on her, except she'd probably like it.

After leaving Los Angeles to escape The Troll, I had nightmares for years. Literally. The Troll reigned supreme in my nocturnal dramas, showing up in unexpected places, engineering evil outcomes to situations, sneering, laughing, conniving. You can imagine my joy, visiting with The Troll every fricking night, for three years after escaping from Los Angeles.

Well, that was twelve years ago, and dreams of The Troll have been dormant for a long time. What a relief.

However, something else came up last night and I'm fairly concerned.

Leaving a BBQ at about 10:00 p.m., GWH was across the street waiting for me.

"Hey purdy lady," he slurred, unsteady on his feet. "I was waiting for you."

"You were? How'd you know I was here, GWH?"

"Weelllll... I jes'... a little bird tol' me that there was a purdy lady up there at a BBQ, so I thought I'd come by an' see if I could escort you home."

Jesus Christ. Was he messing with me? Was it coincidence he saw me leaving (most likely) or did he really know where I was? I tried to think quickly and not panic. I had one clear thought: DO NOT LET HIM KNOW YOU'RE AFRAID.

"Well, sure GWH. If you want to walk me to my place, that's fine."

So we walked (rather, I walked and he staggered) down the street. He had been in Nebraska fishing over the holiday weekend, just got back this evening, was down at the local tavern where he "heard" I was at the BBQ. I told him nothing about my weekend, naturally. Anything I said was delivered in a neutral tone.

We reached my house.

"Oh! This's your place?" he asked. "Yes, it is," I answered, even though he knew full well where I lived. "Thanks for walking me down," I added.

"Oh, sure. Hey! I wanna tell ya that there's talk around the shop that I fried your cat. I dint fry your cat. I'm jus' a l'il 'lergic, thassal."

I said adamantly and firmly, "I NEVER said that to anyone. Never."

He replied, "Oh, well then-- they mus' jes' be teasin' me 'bout it. Can I have a hug before you go up?"

Don't piss him off. "Sure," and I gave him a quick hug, my skin crawling. "See you later." I unlocked my door and went it, shutting the door firmly behind me.

I went upstairs, drew all my shades, closed my curtains and turned off my lamp, leaving my house in total darkness. I kept walking to the windows, peeking outside from the shade's edge, hoping he wouldn't be standing across the street. I locked my slider. I performed my bedtime ablutions in pitch blackness. I got into my pj's and under the covers. It was difficult to get to sleep.

It's hard to know if GWH is toying with me, teasing me, or if he's telling the truth about knowing I was at the BBQ.

As far as Nicole the cat goes, I assume I'll never find out what happened to her. But I'll let you know-- when GWH mentioned the cat and that he hadn't "fried" her, then mentioned the guys around the office had been "teasing" him about her disappearance, it sent a chill down my spine. It makes me wonder just what kind of person I'm dealing with here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Note of Thanks on This Memorial Day.

Each morning on NPR, I hear Rene Montaigne or Steve Inskeep announce the day's number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hearing this number, I think of the families and friends whose lives have been irrevocably changed by a late-night phone call (because those calls always come when you're asleep, while you're safe in your bed).

Every day I think, "What are we going to do?", and every day a reply comes: "I don't think anyone knows what we're going to do."

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of
the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a
manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes
me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;

it tolls for thee."

-- John Donne

Last Night I Dreamt of You.

"... And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth,
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face."

-Sara Teasdale

Saturday, May 26, 2007


A couple of years ago, I was having lunch with a man whom I'd just started dating. We were having a conversation about people and the possibility they may let you see only what they want you to see, and therefore, you will be unable to get to know them.

"Okay, here's an example," I said between bites of my sandwich. "If I'm feeling sick one day and have to go to work, I don't necessarily want people to know I'm not feeling well. Maybe it's for personal reasons or because of a work dynamic, but I don't want people at work to know if I'm sick. So when I get ready for work, I put on my armor."

He looked at me. "Your armor?" he asked uncertainly.

"Yes. I'll fix my hair, put on my makeup, and put on an outfit that makes me feel really good. Then when I get to work, they think I look terrific, and they don't know I'm not feeling well, because I have on my armor."

"So what you do to yourself to get ready for work, or to go out, or whatever, is a way of presenting yourself to the world that isn't necessarily truthful?"

Hm, I thought. He doesn't like this. "Well, I suppose that's one way of saying it," I said. "Don't you do that? Don't you have a suit you like to wear to certain kinds of meetings or doesn't the car you drive say something about you?"

"I guess what I present to the world is truly me," he answered, a bit frostily.

"Oh." I said, feeling abashed that I'd hit a nerve with him. "I mean, I'm being honest with you right now-- I'm not covering anything up from you. Just because I'm wearing this skirt and have my hair this way today doesn't mean that I'm trying to keep anything from you," I explained, smiling, afraid I'd hurt his feelings somehow.

But the damage was done, and he never contacted me again (which is okay).

Well, I still call it my armor, although I'm a bit more choosy with whom I share my theory.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lord, I'm So Tired. How Long Can This Go On?

This getting-up-at-5:00 a.m.-to-get-to-work-on-time bullshit is beginning to wear me out.

Q: Why do teenagers sleep until noon?

A: Because they can.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Terrible Suspicion.

Last week, Boss came over to my desk and said, "You want another cat?"
"Oh my God-- no, but thanks."
"How many do you have?" he asked.
"Three. They rule my life. If I got another cat to upset the balance, they would probably murder me in my sleep," I said. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, there's a cat that's been living under the shed out back for the last couple of months. She's a nice little kitty. I'll take you to see her." Boss and I stepped out of the office and walked out to the equipment graveyard. We stood by the shed and called out to the kitty.
She slunk out from underneath the shed-- a beautiful silky-haired ginger tabby, with enormous paws, a long narrow face, and a long fluffy tail. She immediately came to me, and started rubbing her sides and face along my legs. Back and forth, this way and that. Awww! So sweet! I fell in love, instantly.
I asked Boss, "Do we need a shop cat?"
"Well," he said, "We sure do have a lot of mice in the water department. That building is infested with them. We could use a mouser, because those humane traps don't work very well."
"If I got permission from Dick, could we keep her in the shop at night and let her wander around outside during the day? I'll take responsibility for her food and water."
"Sure-- I don't see why not. We probably could use her, that's for sure."
During my lunch hour, I went down to the grocery store to get our new cat some food. Kitty was very lean from living outdoors and could probably use a good meal or two. While on my errand, I decided that "Nicole" would be the perfect name for her-- after Nicole Kidman-- being ginger-haired, long and lean.
After my return from the store, I talked to Dick, the supervisor of that department. "Sure, I think it's a great idea," he said. "I can't do it today, but next week I'll make a kitty door for her in the shop, and she can come and go as she pleases."
Later that afternoon, a guy who works with Dick in the water department found out we were going to have a shop cat. I'll call this guy "The Great White Hunter" ("GWH") for reasons I'll explain in a moment.
"Aw, we don't need a shop cat," GWH complained. "The last one we had died because it ate poison, and it shit and pissed all over the place. Who told you we could have a cat here?" he asked me.
"Dick did!" I said, pointing to him standing nearby. "The cat's not going to eat the poison-- she's going to have a cat door-- she'll go outside to go to the bathroom. You probably won't even see her."
"Well, shit," he said. "We just don't need one."
Dick commented, "GWH is allergic to cats."
I explained, "Well, she'll be outside, so I don't think you'll even notice she's been there." GWH, however, was not happy about Nicole living in the shop.
Now-- GWH travels all over the world to hunt. The water department is plastered with photos of him with his latest kills-- bush bucks, warthogs, zebras, deer, elk, ducks, and even a monkey (which horrified me). In the shop, stuffed and mounted heads of his quarry line the walls. A warthog skull sits on the kitchen table of the shop.
The thought crossed my mind that GWH would hurt Nicole, but I guiltily dismissed that idea.
Saturday, I stopped by the empty complex to make sure Nicole had enough food and water for the weekend.
She was gone.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ding Dong

Jerry Fallwell died today.

I would be very interested to hear Jerry's conversation with God upon his arrival in Heaven, wouldn't you?

I have an idea that God is going to inform Jerry that while he was here with us on Earth, busy polarizing, preaching and pointing fingers, that he had been wrong to judge his fellow man; that same sex couples who love and respect one another are not committing a sin by being together; that divorces aren't sinful; that having a baby "out of the holy bonds of marriage" is not sinful; that indeed Jerry himself had committed many, many sins by stirring up hatred in those who refuse to understand the many subtleties of this life; that by his condemnation of sinners rather than letting God judge them, is in itself a paramount sin.

I hope that Fallwell, humbled, shaken and terrified in the presence of God, finally knows and sees and acknowledges his many mistakes. I hope he will finally know that he is not more important, more knowledgable or holier than anyone else populating that plane. I hope he realizes that now there is only a level playing field-- everyone equal, everyone equally loved, throughout eternity, and there isn't anyone there to impress or scare or bully or alienate.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I slept most of the day, being exhausted from the events of the last 48 hours or so.

If you want a cheery, funny post, you won't find it here! Gird your loins, readers.

The big event occurred Thursday evening. My girlfriend Hilly and I were sitting down to some wine that evening, both ready for a long-overdue chat. We'd barely finished our first glass when the phone rang. It was Mom's assisted living facility informing me that Mom wanted to go the emergency room, as she was experiencing pain due to (sorry to tell you this) constipation. The facility felt it was a good idea too.

Now, everyone gets constipated occasionally, but with Mom's particular affliction and her current physical state, constipation could be serious. So I told the nurse I'd be up there in about 45 minutes to take her to the hospital. Hilly thankfully understood that our visit would have to be cut short. I walked Hilly to her car, got into my own vehicle and drove up to Mom's.

After letting myself into Mom's apartment, I found her in the bedroom shaving her legs.

"Mom. Why are you shaving your legs?"

"Because they're hairy," she said.

I remember my few visits to the emergency room over the years and I have got to tell you, the condition of my legs were of the least concern to me. More on those hideous stories in a future post.

So I went about the business of packing an overnight bag just in case the doctors wanted to keep her there for observation. Mom interjected various suggestions (i.e., commands) while I was packing the bag.

"No, not that. I want the robe instead", "Don't forget to put my makeup bag in there." Apparently she was ready for a very glamorous visit to the ER. "I need a glass of water," she commanded. As an afterthought, she said "Thanks."

"My nails are a mess," she commented after finishing her legs.

"Who gives a shit, Mom?"

"I DO. Put the nail polish remover in my purse. I can take off the polish on the way down," she commanded.

"No. No, you're not," I said, envisioning her spilling remover all over my front seat. "I'll do it. Jesus Christ, Mom," I said, frustrated. 'Is she in pain or not?' I thought to myself. I knew that to refuse her would bring her easy tears, leave me feeling guilty and forever regretting that I didn't take off the nail polish as she wished, I would think about manicures for weeks, dream about nails, obsess about my SELFISHNESS and what a rotten daughter I am. So I removed the polish.

After about an hour and a half, with the night still young (hooray), she was in my car, seatbelt on, overnight bag and wheelchair in the back. Off we went to the ER.

Check-in, triage, then the wait. Poor Mom, sitting there in her wheelchair, hunched over, uncomfortable, practically starving to death because she hadn't eaten in a day or so, but not too excited about a snack or any kind of sustenance because she felt nauseous. Me handing her kleenex, giving her sips of water from the water bottle, engaging in chit-chat. Both of us watching the incoming patients, some crying in pain. FINALLY, a room and a bed in the ER.

Then... more waiting. Xray tech arrives with a cotton cover-thingy. "She needs to put this on," he said. "She can leave on her underwear and socks." Then he disappeared. I wrangled Mom out of her clothes and into the thingy. Wait, wait, wait. A young man came in. "I'm the vampire," he said, holding up a needle and vials. "I'm going to take your blood." "This is where I turn away," I said. While he took Mom's blood, I watched the crappy local news with the sound turned off. Boy, we have some unattractive people anchoring the news in this town.

The Vampire bade us goodbye and we waited for xray man to return. After a long wait, he came in. "You done your urinalysis yet?" he asked. Mom and I looked at each other. "No-- we didn't know about that," I answered. Just then a nurse walked in. "She needs a urinalysis," xray man said to the nurse. "Yeah, well-- she's not my patient, so..." she reached into a cupboard for a urinalysis kit and threw it on the bed. "Here you go." Then she left.

Xray man said, "Okay. I'll do xrays after the urine test. I usually don't do it this way," he said, all confused that his little schedule had been messed up. "Well, thanks for being so patient," I said to him. He left, saying on his way out the door, "I'll be down the hall and check on you in a few minutes."

Clearly, a nurse wasn't going to help us with Mom's pee test. In fact, we hadn't even seen our nurse yet. "Okay, Mom. I guess we're on our own," I said grabbing the pee kit and getting her into her wheelchair. I wheeled her over the bathroom down the hall.

The next 25 minutes were a test of my patience. Halfway through our visit to the bathroom, there was a knock on the door. I cracked it and looked out. A crying, fat lady stood there with her husband. "Nope, sorry," I said coldly, closing and locking the door in their stunned faces.

Finally we got the specimen. I got Mom back to the room, where we waited for the xray guy. He showed up about 20 minutes later. "Okay, ready for your xrays?" he said, wheeling Mom down the hall. They were gone for about a half hour.

Back into the room she comes. We wait. The nurse finally ambled in after another 1/2 hour or so. "Hi, I'm Bitsy (or whatever her name was) and I'm your nurse tonight. The doctor will be in soon to talk about your tests."

The doctor, young and energetic, came in an hour later. "Well, you bloodwork is terrific, your urinalysis came back great and your xrays are super! I'm going to prescribe you a laxative and I don't think you'll be staying overnight tonight."

He disappeared through the doorway. I got Mom into her clothes and we waited. And waited. Entrez Bitsy.

"Great news! We'll be discharging you in a few minutes!" She disappeared. We wait and wait and wait. I go out into the hallway looking for Bitsy and found her talking to some other nurses at their station. "Bitsy, my Mom is fading fast. We need to get her out of here asap," I explained. "Oh! Okay! Her paperwork is right here." She grabs the papers and accompanies me to the room. She asked, "Is she dressed yet?" "Yes, she's dressed," I say, between clenched teeth.

Bitsy went over the discharge papers with us. She went over the laxative we were to get for Mom. I took Mom out to the valet parking and there we waited and waited and waited for the car. Mom into the car. Wheelchair in the back. Buckle in Mom. Drive her up to Stepford. Take out the wheelchair, Mom in the wheelchair, take her upstairs, go to find the nurse to inform her Mom's home, she needs to get Mom dressed for bed and she also needs her meds. I go back in to Mom's apartment, hug her goodbye, run down to the car, light up a ciggy, and look at my watch. It's 1:30 a.m.

Oh good. I'll get a whopping 3 hours of sleep tonight. I'm so glad the ER doctor prescribed that laxative, particularly after all this effort. It really made the do-it-yourself visit to the ER worth it.

So Mom's "fine", I guess, until her next fit of constipation and the Nazis at the nursing home make us take her to the ER.

So after working the next day then meeting friends out for beers Friday night, I got home at about midnight. Needless to say, I spent virtually the entire day in bed on Saturday. I did manage to get to the grocery store Saturday night, so I did do something productive.

I've told both of my sisters, "Honestly. If I ever get as sick as Mom, I'm offing myself. Don't feel surprised or anything-- I'll just do it and there'll be nothing you could have done or said, I'm just not going to go through what Mom's going through. I won't do it." This comment isn't met with any kind of happiness, of course-- I'm their baby sister! They'll miss me because they love me. But I'm telling you... I won't go through it.

Friday, May 11, 2007


My new job is going really well, readers. This is a relief after my year of unemployed discontent.
There is a large cast of characters up here, mostly men. I'm certainly not complaining.

Is it an office filled with smug, know-it-all attorneys wearing golf shirts and Dockers? No! It's a warehouse filled with men who have rough hands, muddy boots, windburned faces and trucker caps. They drink, they cuss, they smoke. They know how to use tools. They can snake a toilet or fix a car. They can stop leaks, divert a creek, replace a fire hydrant, blow up boulders. Most of all, they are very sweet and solicitous, opening doors for ladies and fixing coffee for the crew in the morning.

These guys, particularly those who serve in tandem on The Hamlet's fire department, have seen it all-- wasp nests under park benches, public toilets clogged by vandals throwing rocks in the toilet bowl, dead bodies, floods, fires, holes in the street, downed telephone wires and poles and trees, car wrecks, enormous rock slides, drunks passed out in the park, and bears ambling around the neighborhood going through trash cans.

These guys know all the gossip, too-- like the former city hall janitor who used to show up drunk on the job and currently sits on our city council. They can give you the scoop on who wants to, has, or is still screwing who, who is getting a divorce or a separation, who is filing for bankruptcy, who has a dime less than God, who manufactures meth in their garage, who's been arrested for DUI, possession or domestic abuse.

Because of this love of gossip, the boss has police radios turned on throughout the day for information's sake, but also for entertainment value. The guys love this stuff-- the car chases, the accidents, the suspected drunk drivers. Yesterday the PD was led on a high-speed chase through The Hamlet, which led eastward to Next Door. The policeman radioed that the suspect had turned westward to evade the police, and a cheer rose up from the guys congregated in the boss's office: "HE'S COMING BACK!" they crowed. "FUCKING A!"

I'm certain that over the next few months I'll have lots of stories to share. Prepare yourself, readers. These are your public servants.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'll Put a Bug in His Ear

"Night Gallery" was a family favorite when we were growing up. My sisters and I would crowd in front of the TV to watch it, sitting really close to one another to keep from getting too scared.

One episode in particular left a lasting impression on the three of us. This guy goes on a trip and upon his return, he starts experiencing terrible headaches. He makes a trip to the doctor, who finds an earwig in his ear and explains to his patient, "They laid eggs."

Aaaaaccckkk! Oh, the thrill that coursed through us girls! How horrible!

A college friend, Linus, told me that when she was growing up in North Carolina, she awoke one night crying and feverish. Her mother took her to the emergency room where the doctor examined her and found in her ear canal: a cockroach. "It's not as uncommon as you'd think," he told Linus' mom.

At CNN's website today, they reported that a boy had two spiders removed from his ear. One spider had died, the other was still alive when they were taken out. Being a boy, he of course had the doctor put them in a jar and he now he keeps them in his room. The boy said when the spiders set up camp on his eardrum, they'd move around and they "sounded like Rice Krispies."

Another thing to add to my nighttime ablutions: "Put cotton balls in ears."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hideous Eruptions

I obsess about my skin. I stay out of the sun, wash carefully, use really good products, do the anti-aging regimen. I think it's paid off over the years.

Unfortunately, despite all the good things I do for my skin, once in awhile it rebells against me and I get a Vesuvi-zit. For me, one Vesuvi-zit cancels out every moment I have spent cleansing, moisturizing, fretting.

For the last several weeks I have a zit that's been gurgling under the surface for awhile and has finally surfaced. It's red. It's angry. It's on my jawline. Worst of all, it's not getting any better despite my best efforts to hold it at bay.

I loathe the Vesuvi-zit, those pimples that are so enormous and hard and refuse to come to a head. It's like a teeny-tiny silicone implant on my face. Worst of all, I keep touching it and I check on it in the mirror throughout the day.

If I were to leave it alone, how long will the Vesuvi-zit stay? I'll never know for sure because I try to perform surgery on these things before they get out of control. Would it stay for six months? A year? This one started forming two months ago. It's worn out its welcome. BEGONE!