Monday, January 30, 2006

Beware the wrath of the bookish

We haven’t talked since Thursday. Friday the Scorpio leaves a voice mail saying, “the weekend’s no good. I have to go now and I can’t leave details.”

I talk to his voice mail.

“Well, “that was warm and fuzzy. So….have a good weekend…I suppose…and we’ll talk Monday.” You big stupid…guy. I don’t say that part out loud. He is who he is. Rather like Popeye.

Monday. I check astrological transits and lord, lord, it’s one of those days when both of us will cling to our own opinions like they are the last rowboat on the Titanic. We will both volunteer to have our bones picked clean by buzzards before we will give up a single, solitary molecule of opinion.

Oh dear.

Don’t panic, I tell myself, forewarned is forearmed. Just keep your head. Do NOT under any circumstances engage in a power struggle. He has three planets in Scorpio. You do not. You will lose, lose, lose…

And so.

The first few minutes are pretty much sweetness and light. Or at least it’s light. We’re both laughing. But somehow, I end up telling him that I’ve written an angry letter on the weekend. To a man.
“I thought you weren’t writing him anymore.”
“Well, I didn’t think I was. I was really mean the last one. I was pissed.”
“What do you think is mean?” He’s laughing - not with me. “Come on. What is mean? What did you say?”
I tell him. I recite several very pointed and unequivocal key sentences from memory. By now he can hardly talk through the laughter.
“That’s not mean. Where I come from, ‘F-ck off you asshole. Don’t bother me anymore. I’ve had enough of your crap’ is mean.”
“I can be very mean.” I’m indignant now.
Gales of hilarity at his end.
“I’m going to say something that might make you mad now,” he tells me when he can catch his breath. He’s enjoying himself heartily.
“Oh god. What? Does it have the word ‘white’ in it?”(I’m harking back to our recent and rather combative conversation at his use of the phrase, “spoiled white woman.”)
“No. It’s doesn’t have the word white in it. But it’s kind of close.” Oh god save me.
“You get mad like a Librarian.”

And then I can’t stop laughing. Which is why I never win. I get mad like a Librarian?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Home. Mind. Body.

“If I want to know how you are,” my father used to say, “I only have to look at your room.” The walls of this place are my second skin.

This week has bitten a few too many pieces out of me. Nothing major. The limbs are still attached, but by Friday night, I feel drained and diminished, world-weary.

Saturday at 6:00 a.m., I begin convalescence by washing rocks to clear their energy. Six bowls of stones, two stone circles, an amethyst cathedral druse. A basin of very cold water. Rinse the stones…river rocks, three bowls of semi-precious stones, a huge chunk of aquamarine, a leaf-size piece of Labradorite. The ceramic and glass bowls are cleaned with hot soapy water and the stones left to drain on a towel.

I buy white Astromeria on long green stalks and backup butter and bread.

There are eight, floor-length curtain panels to wash and iron and windows to wash. One chore leads to another and the Red Devil Vacuum is hauled into service to suck dirt from the carpets. I rummage under the sink for the dusting cloth and lemon cleaner. I bundle garbage and truck it down three floors to the dumpster. There are endless trips back and forth putting away the debris of the week: hair elastics, earrings and books on the coffee table, dishes in the drainer, letters and papers on every surface. And then I notice the kitchen floor is dirty and while I scrub that, I see smudges and drips on the side of the fridge, on the stove and cupboards.

This is totally absorbing work. For the first time in days, I’m present.

It’s six p.m. when I stop. The curtains are snowy white and there are clean cotton sheets on the bed. Uncluttered surfaces gleam. I eat a quiet meal with lots of steamed vegetables and drink a glass of red wine.

And the bruised and prodded pieces of my psyche are healing. The swarm of gnats in my head have flown away, leaving only the thoughts they were feeding on.

I stand up stronger inside my first and second skins and imagine that now I can deal with those.

Prozac, move over.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Randomly number Thing #13

I can forget what year I left home, when I got married or divorced, when my next dental appointment is. I forget the date when the Berlin Wall fell, when my heart was first broken, when I first published something I wrote. I remember whole passages, though, from books and poems that really spoke to me.

"No one understood my wild and secret ways. They used to say Lulu Lamartine was like a cat, loving no one, only purring to get what she wanted. But that's not true. I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms. Sometimes I'd look out on my yard and the green leaves would be glowing. I'd see the oil slick on the wing of a grackle. I'd hear the wind rushing, rolling, like the far-off sound of waterfalls. Then I'd open my mouth, my ears wide, my heart, and I'd let everything inside. …

And so when they tell you that I was heartless, a shameless man-chaser, don't ever forget this: I loved what I saw. And yes, it is true that I've done all the things they say. That's not what gets them. What aggravates them is I've never shed one solitary tear. I'm not sorry. That's unnatural. As we all know a woman is supposed to cry."

Love Medicine
-Louise Erdrich

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cowgirl AND vamp

Age 8.

Dress up in lady clothes.

Left to right: Little bro, me, my friend Mary.

Background. A car that makes me wonder how old I really am. Bags of cement...front steps in progress.
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A Cowgirl even then

Note: Kerchief and puffed sleeves. Also chaps and holsters. No nose. Noses never looked right when I drew them, so I left them out. Isn't the hat to die for? Posted by Picasa

Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Overalls

Have camera smile, have overalls, have wagon. Will travel.
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Thursday, January 26, 2006


I’ve been tagged by Teri of Blueberry Pie. I’ve read a long, fascinating entry on Wikapedia on the subject of Memes (pronounce as in “themes”), thanks to The Daring One, who posted the link in Teri’s comments. The exact connection between memes and this little exercise is a bit vague to me (and here I must mention I can be a little thick upon occasion) – but hell, I’ve been tagged, so here goes. (I’ll get back to the 100 things later.)

Four jobs (of a possible sixty) I’ve had:

1. Factory line worker in an aerosol canning factory
2. Administrator of a modern dance school
3. Self-employed jewelry designer and producer
4. Booze waitress in a bar that required staff to wear high heels skirts the length of my index finger. (You’ve come a long way, Baby.)

Four movies (from a selection of nine hundred) I’d watch over and over:

1. Blade Runner
2. Crash
3. Brazil
4. Resurrection (if I could only find a copy)

Four places I’ve lived:

1. Toronto
2. Sudbury
3. Amsterdam
4. My head (Located between Las Vegas and Outer Mongolia. Take rubber boots and a map. Much good it’ll do you.)

Four websites I visit daily:

1. ALL the links posted to the right (I know that’s cheating)
2. Astrodienst – best astrology site, bar none.
3. The Gem Shop - fabulous cabs
4. “Next blog”

Four favorite foods:

1. Brie
2. Crusty bread
3. Coffee
4. Wine (Shut up. Is so. Grapes.)

Four places I would rather be now:

1. My coronation as Queen of the Universe, in Brazil.
2. Chicago
3. New Mexico
4. India

Four bloggers I’m tagging although it’s completely hopeless:

1. Anyone at Yottabite
2. The Coyote
3. Koru’s Daughter
4. Lucas and taking my very life in my hands,
4. Mr. Head
4. The other KD who keeps threatening to write something on I'm Waving Not Drowning, People I am merely reminding her that a template does not constitute a blog.

What? That’s four. Check the numbers.

Alright then, let’s see if Blogger will stop screwing up my html and let me publish.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Randomly Numbered Thing #12

12. I didn’t lose my virginity. I flung it away deliberately. I was curious and I got tired of it being such an issue. At 15, I met an actor and artist – an older man of 23 - and I feel in love with the romantic idea of the Suffering Artist. (The reality, I have since imagined, was probably pretty stupid or mundane.) One night, I was at his downtown Toronto apartment and deliberately missed my last bus home. He was doing his best to leave the jail-bait alone and planned to have me sleep safely on the couch. While he was getting blankets, I stripped to my underwear and stood by the window waiting for him to come back. I’m sure you can all imagine the limits of self-control possessed by a 23 year old man.

My reaction to the big event was: A. I can’t believe I’m doing this! and B. This is it? This is the big deal?

Since then, I have experienced sex as a much bigger and better deal. (For those of you who might be concerned.)

Footnote. I had an older girlfriend, who, “in my own interest,” snitched to my parents. My evil step-mother of the time sent me straight to the doctor to be tested for VD and my father, half-heartedly (I figure Evil Stepmother put him up to it) threatened to sue the guy for statutory rape. I assured my father I’d jump off the highest building I could find if he pursued that course.

And after that, I got sneakier and didn’t tell. Oh. And the VD test added about thirty layers of guilt I had to battle through for years. Not that it stopped me.

Randomly numbered Thing About Me #31

With thanks and apologies to Marigoldie, whose reward for inspiring me is out and out theft of intellectual property.

31. My earliest experience with religion was a one room Baptist church heated in winter by a wood burning stove. It was the only church for miles around our country neighborhood, so my mother, fearing that I’d grow up heathenish, sent me to Sunday School there. We sang hymns like Onward Christian soldiers and
The B-i-b-l-e, Yes That’s the Book for Me. The minister used to say that Jesus was with us in the room, but no matter how I squinted my eyes, I couldn’t see him.

I remember most of the bible stories I was taught. And can still clearly recall my Sunday School teacher turning the pages in a book of blank, colored, felt squares. Red is for the blood of Jesus. White is for Goodness. Black is for our sin.

I liked Sunday School. It was something different to do. One Sunday, my mother forgot (that’s how I saw it) to send me. I was about four and didn’t keep track of what day of the week it was. I was wandering the neighborhood and noticed that Sunday School was in progress. As usual, I was dressed in battered overalls and the sensible lace up shoes my mother forced me into so my feet would grow up perfectly. It didn’t occur to me to worry that I wasn’t in a little dress with my hair brush-bashed into temporary neatness. Sunday School was on and I went.

I remember my mother’s horror of what the neighbors must think – her child showing up in old play clothes with uncombed hair.

Later my parents went to meetings with other people and sat on stacking chairs while they fund-raised for a United Church. I taught Sunday School there and sang in the choir. The United Church didn’t have such good picnics and there was less potato salad involved in social gatherings.

Although the story of Jesus was inspiring, I always related more to Greek myths which I consumed with great appetite at about age 10 or 11. The Gods were just as cranky and unpredictable (how about that pillar of salt thing, for cranky, folks?) but they weren’t…well…quite as good. Quite as impossible to live up to. And they had more fun.

It was then I became Greek.

Just kidding.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The last sense to go is not hearing

He'’s fallen asleep on the drive home. His right arm and hand inscribe a repetitive motion. She glances at him, curious. This has happened before when he has dozed off in the car. When he wakes up a few minutes later, his wife asks, "What were you doing?"


He is in the intensive care ward of a small local hospital. Surgery has left him a souvenir infection - irregular heart beat, yellow eyes and fever. He wakes up not knowing where he is but knowing that he's been painting all night. He'’s distraught that the staff have taken the paintings away. "“I put them under the bed,"” he tells them. They're some of the best he ever did. It takes a lot of convincing to persuade him otherwise.

Today, I found a watercolor done in 1999. His vision was going, his hands shook by then. But he didn'’t stop. The painting is a forest scene, three broadly indicated Birch trees are the stars of the piece. There is little detail or finesse. The surrounding trees are little more than black lines, with blurs of yellow and green and sky blue towards the top. The ground is wide slashing ribbons of deep green and gold. The watercolor is thick and dull on the paper. Nothing about it is subtle.

I have read that in some Native North American cultures it's believed that an artist or artisan must never die leaving unfinished work. Someone must be found to complete the work of art. Otherwise the soul of the deceased will continue to stay with their creation.

I put the painting on the wall. It is vivid, breathing and alive. As if my father had internalized the essence of forest, of birch trees.

And even with senses failing, was compelled to speak of it through his brush.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Death comes to tea time

I am the death of the party. In the office, at three, when my boss emerges to make the tea and signal a break from the activities of the day, I am emanating poisonous clouds of forced productivity.

I’m working for god’s sake. Will you all shut up?

My boss asks JF what she’s reading lately and JF responds with a mind-bogglingly long list of titles and subjects. They chat back and forth. I slam labels on course reserve photocopies in deadly silence. There’s a polite air to this conversation. It’s forced and unnatural. It’s trying to beat it’s way around the black hole of my mood which is not only poisonous, but probably smells, on some psychic level, like stale perfume mixed with rotten milk and dog shit. The unspoken sentence aimed in the direction of my tomb is, “You can choose not to beat yourself up like this, you know. No one is telling you not to take lunch.”

The chat goes on. How little energy everyone has. How difficult the transition to the new system makes life. The attempt to normalize and civilize the atmosphere is adding thick oozing layers to the fatigue and resentment I’m trying to fight.

Have tea, for the love of god. Please. Enjoy. Just stop being so aware that my mood is radioactive.
Look, I want to say to my boss, what you need right now is not a human employee. You need a drone, a machine that labels and catalogues and adds things and gets them the hell out there before another student melts down or gets behind. What you need, unpleasant as it is, is a person with Attention Deficit Disorder who can obsess until the job is done. No lunches. No conversation. No looking up until the five foot high stack of files is done. Because, as everyone is pointing out, we all have personal interests and endeavors we’d like to get back to. We’d all like the job to stop sucking the life out of us. And my personal way, sisters, is to get it the hell done and over with so the crisis ends. The more time I don’t obsess, the longer it takes me to get back to my real life.

But then I’m enduring a nasty square of Mars to my Sun, which is making me less than my calm, obliging, underachieving (Okay, I’m only the last thing) self. This, non-astrologers, is not a time to mess with me.

Maybe they should have me work from home until I’m human again. Or maybe they should just shoot me and put me out of their misery.

Right now, my solution is Muddy Waters on ear splitting volume and another glass of red wine. Tomorrow, if the gods are kind, the Scorpio and me will give each other something to live for. Cheers!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Intemperate Rant

Locked into combat with the concept of “nice.” With the concept of “kindness.”

What is the correct response to that nice, sensitive, vulnerable person sitting opposite me, drinking ink-bitter restaurant coffee and pouring out the initimate details of their personal problems? (Again? Is this happening again? Can I go home now?)

Two of me respond.

Person One’s automatic first reaction is, What can I do to help? Person One, as an astrologer friend aptly said, “will hand over her heart on a plate and then be surprised when somebody eats it.” Person One is identified as me upon occasion and the adjective “kind” comes into play. Erroneously and to my eternal horror.

We, my various personalities and me, are sitting in this cheesy restaurant, by the way, with Vlad the Impaler. Vlad is a nice person, but he needs to consume me. He will call at midnight with another tale of woe, and he will arrive, hang-dog and sad-eyed to ask me to lunch. Lunch will be his problems with a side order of anguish. Vlad has no intention of seeking actual help or changing his behavior. Vlad is in a bad marriage he won’t leave, working a job he hates, suffocated by a mother who is crippling him, his children are on the Ten Most Wanted List and he has a crippling psychological condition that Prozac can’t touch. He is an artist, really, and suffers.

Person Two is aware that Vlad is in the room. Her system is ringing five alarms and she’s poking and prodding at Person One’s solar plexus to make herself heard. As Person One is misting over with empathy, Person Two is shrieking, “Trap, Trap, Trap! Bail out now! Don’t….” just as…

Person One says, “Call me anytime. No. Really. Call if you need to talk. Come over.”

Person Two flails in helpless fury. You dumb f-ck! she screams, Who died and made you Joan of Arc?

And what is this “kindness” other than a whoosy, weak desire to be The Nice One. To be the one who fixes it all and makes it right? A Good Person.

And what does it accomplish? Vlad goes on sucking energy from anyone who will hand it over. He – or she – will keep cycling through the same self-defeating, self-abusive patterns over and over again because…well, it works, doesn’t it? It’s easier to be a victim than change. It’s easier to be the wronged one than to stand up on our hind legs and accept that, much of the time, we make decisions that have consequences.

That bears repeating.

We make decisions. And the decisions have consequences.

And much as kindness is a virtue, it cannot even touch the ability to look squarely at the decisions we’ve made (especially the ones that make us look bad) – and accept that these have had outcomes.

And that’s the sin. It’s not about blame or unworthiness or looking bad. Everyone screws up. I know this from vast personal experience and a lifetime of screwing up. Big deal.

The sin is not having the courage to make a more life-affirming decision.

(She scribbles a note to her friends, "This is not about you. Then she climbs down from her soap box and pigeons flutter down to reclaim the square.)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sex with the recently deceased and a sudden outbreak of sanity


I am annoyed with The Scorpio. It is not logical to be annoyed so I’m in an awkward spread-eagle with my brain rattling out all the rational reasons why I have no right to be pissed and my emotions whining that they deserve a little attention now and then and, by the way, my brain is not the boss of them.

We talk on the phone and I try to explain how more than one of my personalities can operate at once. But, no. He just wants to know if we’re okay now.

“But are we okay now? When I come over tomorrow, will you be throwing darts at me? You got that Irish temper. You know how you are.” He proceeds to lecture me on the subject of how-we-can’t-control-life-and-so-when-something-doesn’t meet-our-expectations-we should-simply-adjust.

“You’re lecturing me.” I say.

“No. I’m not lecturing you. I just want to know if we’re okay now. I mean if you were coming to see me and knew I’d be upset, what would you do?”

I’m reasonably fine by this point, almost fine. Just enough pissed off left that I can’t resist the sound of trepidation and anxiety in his voice. Oh, the devil in my head says, this is fun!

“I’d come over. You know why?”

“Why?,” he asks miserably.

“Because I don’t have that stupid Y chromosome, so I’d just deal with it. And I don’t think there will be darts, you know, but we can’t control everything, so there might be darts.”

“Come on,” he begs, “are we alright?”

“Yeah. We’re alright.”


I sleep in until 7:00. Shower, shave legs, put on makeup, find something reasonably alluring that doesn’t involve underwear with the elastic hanging off and get dressed. I air the place out so there’s no tobacco smell, and go to the studio to work on my new piece.

9:50 he knocks on the door. I open it and hold my hands out, palms face up. He stares at them. I pull open my sweater for inspection. He stares at me uncomprehendingly. I notice his eyes are very bloodshot.

“No weapons. No darts.”

“Oh. No sleep.”

Best friend’s birthday party. Tequila going down by the bucket and no sleep.

I attempt conversation as I pump coffee into him. Just as I'm beginning to suspect actual brain death, he kisses me.

I attempt conversation again and he pushes me down on the sofa.

Oh, I think, it’s like that. We’re having sex. Not conversation. Just sex. I consider the facts at hand as his hand is sliding up under my camisole.

1. He’s been a little insensitive and emotionally unavailable just lately.
2. I figure he owes me a few niceties at this point.
3. When he’s too tired to remember his own name, he’s still fabulous in bed.
4. I like having sex with him. A lot.
5. No sense wasting the good underwear.

and really,

6. A man is just a woman with mutant chromosomes. They start out fine in the initial stages but then nature blunders and issues the Y chromosome. Still they’re kind of big and sweet every once in a while and the physical mistake of nature is pretty much a gas, if you just overlook the blockheaded behavior.


7. Ok.

8. This isn’t so bad, thinking like a man. And it leaves you time to buy a new red Dirt Devil vacuum, have lunch with your best friend and get back to the studio for the day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My religious vocation

Iris married to get away from home. I don’t think this happens as much as it used to when I was in my teens and early twenties, but forty years ago it was a respectable method of jumping from one leg-hold trap to another.

He was a mean son-of-a-bitch, Iris’s first husband, although she didn’t know it at the time she married him. He wasn’t her big love. Her big love was a soldier who’d been shipped overseas before Iris met husband number one.

Big Love came back to town after Iris discovered that her marriage was as much a soul-crushing, depressing fate as life at home had been. She had a brief affair with her soldier. There was a child. And Iris, until a year or so ago – the child a full-grown woman now - never told anyone who her first daughter’s father was.

A year ago, she told me. She didn’t come right out and say it. She tip-toed around it and whistled shakily by it and sketched in details of her history. She’s an evangelical Christian, so this kind of secret “sin” is a not a matter of small consequence to her. I listened, knowing exactly where the story was heading. Her voice was strangled and small, as if what she was about to tell me would bring a universe of punishment crashing down on her, as if she were the mythological Eve – responsible for a sin that would forever burden humankind.

Me, I claim to be of Lilith’s line. I'm just not having that other story. So I make a dandy priestess.

I meander into remembrance of this as I'm talking to Weedy tonight and we figure out that this is a function I serve for Iris. For Iris, who is a truly good, wise soul and shining light, I am part friend and part confessor. Iris also tells me lesser sins. She has a temper, which she occasionally loses. She swears, after promising not to because it is not pleasing to the Lord.

I tell her, “You were pissed. You have the right to be pissed when you’re treated badly. Just acknowledge it and move on. Besides, there’s no point in pretending to be loving and forgiving if you don’t feel it. You know perfectly well that God knows exactly what you feel. And besides, check your bible. There’s a long respectable history of people yelling at God.”

Iris, whose nature doesn't incline towards hypocrisy or trying to pull a fast one on herself or the Lord, is comforted by this analysis.

Bless me, Linda, for I have sinned.

Go my child and sin only when you really must. And don’t apologize when you do it either because you’re a damn sight better human being than most of us, Iris m’dear, me included.

And PS – loving someone or wanting to be loved is never a sin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The last gasp of an exhausted brain

A voice is buzzing waspishly out of the radio. I’m sitting at my work table, pricing a new shipment of crystals and pressed glass leaves and I’m generating a white wall of thought noise, trying not to pay attention. It’s been a rough day.

I catch, “The Constitution belongs to the people…” I don’t know who he is or what he’s enraged about but I know that voice. It belongs to The Outraged Citizen, to the cab driver who demolishes my attempt at a peaceful trip home ranting about political corruption. It belongs to callers on CBC’s Cross Country Checkup who wait an hour on phone lines to crab that they want something legalized or something else criminalized or someone thrown into a prison with no key. They want, mostly, to be heard.

But no one listens to those voices. As soon as I hear one, I know I’m about to be poisoned with someone’s rage and frustration. Sometimes the voice is mine – and I really hate that.

Be impeccable with your word. Whatever I might think about the book generally, The Four Agreements, overall, the agreements themselves are good reminders of how to live cleanly.

Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Do your best.

Number one means don’t use words – powerful beyond belief – to hurt, poison or discourage.

Review of the day. I have not been impeccable with my word. I’ve sworn at the stupidity of a new computer system with more bugs than working functions. I’ve sworn (under my breath) at people who apparently can’t see the staff are running around like lunatics on fire and blissfully ask reference questions god herself couldn’t answer in under a week. And by the way, their paper is due in two days. I’ve whined self-pityingly about having no lunch hours and becoming crisis central. I’ve bitched about my aching back and the fact that by two in the afternoon, information is bouncing away from me like my brain is made of India rubber.

On the other hand, I did moderately well with agreement number two.

Three. Nope. Bombed. I made assumptions and they weren’t very productive. Like assuming the young guy who showed up at two minutes to closing and ignored my terse shout, “We’re closing” was a pain in the ass. As it turned out, he didn’t need much and he was gracious and appreciative for the last second bail out.

I managed agreement four pretty well. My “best” might have been lame and my voice waspish, but that was my best today.

And there’s always the Scarlet O’Hara agreement, “tomorrow is another day.”

Or was that, “I swear, I will never be hungry again?”

I’d be happy to test the theory, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” I’m officially volunteering right here and now to accept large sums of cash and scientifically study my subsequent (job-free) level of happiness.

Anyone? That could be Agreement five.

Never go through life with less than two million dollars in the bank.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

How to start a red hot love affair

I’ve told you about the Scorpio in prior entries – what touches me, worries me, what I treasure about our relationship. My closest friends and (theoretically) thousands (stop snickering) of blog readers are the only people with whom I share these stories. But there are other moments in our history, not quite so romantic….
Insert strumming harp chord here to mark the scene change, as I take you to a day this week and…

Weedy and I are discussing a hypothetical scenario in which I am rushed to the hospital in some unnamed emergency. She wants to know if the Scorpio would come to see me.

(This is an inside-out version of the lottery win discussion that people my age engage in when our friends and loved ones start dropping like flies and we figure we might be next. I’ve had the same discussion with the Scorpio.)

“Yes. I told him if it’s ‘family only’ he’s to tell them he’s my brother. With a straight face.’”

“Well, who’s going to tell him you’re in there?”

“You are. Of course. He already asked me that – who’d tell him - and I said you would. Didn’t I mention it?”

“No.” I burrow for my address book out and dictate three different phone numbers she can try in the event of my imminent demise.

“Not,” I add, “that you’ll call him before you bring my makeup, of course.”

Now, this is patently ridiculous, isn’t it? Assuming I’m in serious condition, possibly with unattractive bottles of fluid running in and out of my body and large beeping monitors hooked up to broadcast my vital signs, wearing one of those cotton dust rags with the little ties, and drooling out of one side of my mouth, lipstick and mascara would almost superficial concern.

And it’s not as if the Scorpio hasn’t seen me with a naked face – and worse. Just before we became lovers, I had developed an interesting condition called, “Allergic Contact Dermatitis,” although it could be better described as “Galloping Eyelid Rot.”

It began as a small itchy red patch on one eyelid. I treated it myself, with vitamin E. “Always treat yourself first,” is my motto. The rot got red, itchier and bigger. My eyelids began to swell. I was having a little hissy fit about my own experienced GP and so I consulted a new Doctor in the practice. And my first warning sign should have been the fact that he consulted a book. And said, “It looks like a yeast infection or an allergy.” A yeast infection? “Or?”

My second warning sign should have been the pharmacist asking with an expression of horror, “Are you sure this cream is for your eyes?

I don’t like to brag, but nobody can ignore a warning sign like me. As the rot spread, from underneath my eyes to my eyebrows, as the swelling increased, I made a visit to my regular doctor, who prescribed another cream that didn’t work and then I turned to the internet. And sure enough! There was a yeast condition that could cause my symptoms. I was not allergic to anything, I knew that much. Yeast it was.

Evening call to the on-call doctor, in which I tell him the doctor’s diagnosis and my own. He’s pretty sure yeast infection is not likely but advises me that it won’t hurt to try regular over the counter vaginal yeast cream. Yada yada, please don’t phone again unless you’re dying. Click.

There’s a limit to how many days you can wear sunglasses after dark without people starting to think you’re a junkie. I had to do something.

Monostat here I come.

The next day, I wake up and open… No, uh-uh. My eyes don’t want to open. I feel my way to the nearest mirror and looking back at me is someone who just lost a prize fight. Although it seems to generally be my face, surrounding my eyes, are red and purple scaly balloons. My eyeballs are little slits, barely visible in the puffage. And that’s when I begin to laugh and laugh.

I shower, dress, and jam on the glasses. I call to say I won’t be in to work. I march myself to the doctor’s office, dramatically haul off the glasses and say, “I’ll wait.” My doctor lets me in after the shortest wait time in history and suddenly is able to give me an immediate referral to a dermatologist.

Makeup is a banned substance for three months. Lipstick, please? “Knock yourself out,” the dermatologist says. Makeup can only be smeared on the inside of the crook of my arm to see what causes welts and scales to appear.
“Meanwhile,” he informs me, “while you’re in the hot phase, you’ll have allergic reactions to things that normally wouldn’t bother you.” Hot phase. Doesn’t feel real hot to me.

And all this time, I’m on the bus, going to work, sitting next to a man who is my idea of a hot phase. I am wearing my bravest red lipstick and my matching red eye tissue is half-hidden by dark glasses.

One day, before I’m healed, I tell him the story, Monostat home remedy and all. I lower my sunglasses so he can see, but I doubt he remembers much because he kept laughing and saying, “Vaginal yeast cream? Vaginal yeast cream – and you actually did it?,” just a little too loudly for comfort.

Neither of us realize that we are about to become lovers in less than five days. This isn’t one of the more common signs of such a thing.

Okay. I guess she can call him if I don’t have makeup. But somebody has to get me something besides that cotton gown, dammit. And make sure you mop up the drool.

And check that they aren’t using anything in the hospital with topical Vitamin E, too. I’m allergic to that.

Monday, January 02, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things, la la

Sung to the tune of These are a few of my favorite things. Come on, big Julie Andrews enthusiasm here. A selection of the qualifications for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, with (you knew I had to) commentary:

An internal sense of anxiety.
I live on a big mud ball, which is traveling through space at 18.5 miles per second. The dominant species is insane and worships paper. Considering this, an internal sense of anxiety might be considered the ultimate sane reaction.

Impulsive spending habits.
We aren’t talking shoes here, right? Or the $130 worth of pressed glass leaves I just ordered?

Frequently misplace the car keys, your purse or wallet or other everyday items.
Apparently everyone I know has this condition.

Lack of attention to detail
Only at work. Whew.

Family history of ADD, mood disorders, learning disabilities or substance abuse problems.
What. You're saying this is a problem?

Trouble following normal channels or chain of command.
I think of this as my most outstanding virtue. The parade is obviously going the wrong way. Check CNN if you don’t believe me.

An attitude of “read the directions if all else fails.”
Direction from my hair-straightening iron booklet and I’m not making this up:
“Do not use while sleeping.”

Frequently overwhelmed by the tasks of daily living.
Only the part where I’m awake.

Inconsistent work performance.
Yes. But you have to remember I’m overwhelmed, internally anxious, have lost my purse and come from that family.

Sense of underachievement.
Those who don’t, stand up. No. Okay. Now, everyone who does NOT have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, sit down. Thought so.

Frequent Mood Swings.
The bi-polar express, you mean?

Trouble sustaining friendships or intimate relationships.
Friendship, no problem. Intimate relationships? Define “sustaining.” How long are we talking about here? What are the circumstances? Is he still able to hold a conversation with me outside of “Do I have a clean shirt?” Am I required to sustain it if he isn’t?

Tendency towards exaggerated outburst.
That’s what w-r-i-t-i-n-g is, you dolts.

Tendency towards being argumentative.
I’m not argumentative. I’m right.

Addictive personality towards food, alcohol, drugs, work and or gambling.
Only if it’s good food, alcohol, drugs, interesting work or gambling with lots of flashing lights and zippy noises. I apologize. I’ve admitted in this blog that I drink cheap plonk, so I withdraw the “good” qualification from “alcohol.”

Thin skinned – tendency towards quick or exaggerated responses to real or imagined slights.
Are you saying I’m imagining slights? Perhaps you should check your medication.

Stay tuned for my Adult Psychiatric Quiz Addiction Disorder entry!