Wednesday, August 29, 2007


composite photo: self-portrait & shadows on jute rug.

I wake up in a room I didn't rent. Where the walls once bore pictures, there are rectangles of unblemished paint. The wooden floor is bare and worn. The place is empty of furniture. I don't know what street I'm on, what city I'm in...

I haven't looked out the window yet. I'm just sitting on the floor, watching the shadows move across the wall. Calm.

Ghosts come and go.
I am not frightened.
This is a waking dream.
This is the mind telling the mind stories.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pox girl and the Phobic

Okay, he's truly, clinically phobic about germs, the new boyfriend. Nobody is perfect, right?
I tell myself I don't need to take this on. I really don't. Not my problem.

But he's phoned twice trying to make it up. The second call, I'm virally teary, offended and depressed and ask in a somewhat hysterical, quavering voice, what other phobias might be looming - homophobia? racism? Because those are real deal breakers I tell him. He assures me he is not a Nazi or harboring either of those peculiarities.

He asks if he can see me after I go to the doctor tomorrow. "After all," he argues, "I'm not going to get over the phobia sitting here alone." And he's proud that he's already made it past the discovery of a tattoo on my upper left arm - tattoos apparently being related to the germ-thing. He's thinking maybe he can conquer fear of germs and viruses next. "That's what you need alrighty, a tattooed, virus-ridden girlfriend for therapeutic purposes." He agrees enthusiastically. As if he can tell that I see his point and seem to be moving him out of potential ex-new-boyfriend to probationary-new-boyfriend status.

What can I tell you? What passes for my love life is, at least, not boring. And did anyone see "Aviator?" Because Howard Hughes was a pretty interesting guy before he went completely off his rocker. Okay. Never mind. Fire at will.

Monday, August 20, 2007

We are not amused

Day eight. See how much better this is looking? You don't. Well, admittedly, me either - but I haven't wept uncontrollably for two days and this, I assure you, is progress. Weeping and depression are two of the side-effects they don't mention in articles.

Today the Doctor actually issued me a corticosteroid ointment. To tell you the truth, I'm not confident anything will help, but I'm desperate enough to try and desperate enough to beg for anything that might. It's that or spend the next three or four weeks wearing high necklines and scarves wound around my neck. It's August, for the love of god. August.

Today was the new boyfriend's birthday. I'd rallied a little and planned to cover up suitably (I am not contagious) and take him out to dinner. However, it seems he is a little Howard Hughesish about rashes and wasn't about to take the doctor's word that he wasn't in danger. I believe that was sufficient reason to push him into the ex-new boyfriend category in my mind. Instead, I took Weedy and her husband out because, frankly, by this afternoon, if I had to stare at the walls of my apartment or go without human company a minute longer I'd have gone stark raving mad.

On the up-side, I can start the medication for the bladder infection just as soon as I finish the anti-virals! Party!

And P.S. I have decided that my immune system is not the only thing past its best-before date. The dating pool is, at best, a stagnant pond full of bottom dwellers and slugs. The good part is that I no longer care.

Thank you for allowing me to rant. Stay tuned for the huge spiritual realization that will follow all of this. I'm grinning. Really.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The blue pill makes you smaller

"It's Nancy from Spryfield Medicine. I'm sorry, I should have caught this while you were here, but the doctor needs to see you about your tests results. When are you available?" Half an hour ago. Half an hour ago I was sitting in the doctor's office, fully available.
"Well, Nancy, I'm just kicking back enjoying time off with Shingles, so my schedule is pretty open."
"Monday, at 11:00?"
"Nancy, she said the office wouldn't call unless something was wrong and I really would like not to wait four days to find out what. Else."
"Something with the urine test. I don't think it's urgent." Jesus, what now? Kidney failure?

This is what you get for letting your immune system kiss the dirt.

Turns out, in a rarely dispensed follow-up mercy-call, the doctor has the office advise me that it could be a minor bladder infection. Am I having symptoms? Nothing I can't live with. And besides, the doctor has just increased the dosage of antivirals from 1,000 mg. a day to 3,000 mg. and these are nasty little babies. I'm swallowing six blue horse pills a day and twice that many vitamins and I'm strangely put off the idea of adding a prescription for bladder infection.

I was hoping for a nice mild attack of Shingles if I had to have any at all, but it seems four or so nerve paths are involved in the party and I am beginning to look like a plague victim. The good news is that I am young for my age (the doctor's opinion) and very unlikely to have paralyzing pain for months after this clears. Good. And the lesions, now that I'm on the right dosage of drug, should start clearing up before I have to wear a burka.

Meanwhile, whether its the virus or the cure for the virus, I am operating like an out-of-sync film. Which is to say, my thoughts are trailing about five inches behind my body, my head feels like a floatation device, and my feet are not quite touching the floor when I walk.

But there's always an up side, isn't there? If I can still whine, I must still be here. I have zero appetite and my diet is solely small amounts of healthy food so there will be weight loss. Oh. And The Cat is very happy to have a private sofa with massage feature 24 hours a day.

Thanks everyone, for the kind comments on the last entry.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shingle me tivers!

I get up finally when The Cat gives up on purring and head bonking and bites the top of my head to wake me up. No coffee. Fasting-since-midnight tests upcoming. I drink three glasses of water, shower, scoop the litter box, feed The Cat, make the bed and get dressed without actually being fully conscious. Weedy picks me up at eight a.m.

Blood tests. Routine yearly blood tests that I regularly go for once every five or six years when the doctor suddenly says, "How long has it been since...?" Take a number. Wait. Maintain dull caffeine-deprived stupor. Try not to look at other number-clutching victims. When number is called, proceed to stall four. Sit down, hold out arm and be recognized by staff vampire who knows me from another lifetime and needs to list all common acquaintances of our youth and ask if I've seen them. Stupor is holding perfectly. Lucky I know my own name. Finally, we reach the grand finale and I pee in a jar.

Then we are directed to the third floor by a nice man who clearly doesn't know if that is where you drink barium. By a stroke of luck, we arrive in the right unit. A sign says "Barium enema, Barium swallows, Upper GI" - very warm and homey. I am "Upper GI" and thanking the gods for it when I consider the alternatives. I take a number. I turn to Weedy and say, "It's your fault I can't read a magazine."
"That's right. Germs." she says without any hint of remorse or apology.

Finally they call my name and we go to waiting room three of the morning and I am issued the standard cotton-tie raglets. Everyone has barium to drink but me, I am wearing only large dust cloths in unflattering colors and my sandals and I consider complaining about the service. Then I look at the faces of the people drinking barium and reconsider. A half hour after my appointment time has come and gone, I am ushered into a room with a slab and given my very own cup of barium. I don't think it tastes half bad and swallow as ordered while a machine studies my inner workings.

By noon, Weedy and I make it to food. We inhale eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes and I steal an extra piece of complimentary fudge for her as we leave.

On to the doctor. Who looks at the big nasty sore red patches blooming on my chest, shoulder and back and decides that I have Shingles. He prescribes large dark blue pills and assures me that they should help. Should? Should? I am running horror stories about people with shingles getting addicted to pain killers and being unable to function for six months. Should??? No way. I am not taking "should" for an answer. This virus WILL die and it will damn well do it fast.

I phone to inform the new boyfriend of my pox-ridden condition. And add, cheerfully, in a later email, "Well, at least it isn't an STD!" I know how to charm a man, by god.

Inside my head, however, a small high-pitched voice is whining, "Why meeeee?!"

And of course, you all know the answer to that one, don't you? Why not me?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This might be going well so far...

A trip out for ice cream and a walk includes a stop at the grocery store so I can pick up a few things and, it turns out, he's located the Tall Girl shop for me out in the Big Box ghetto. He takes me to the store and comes in to wait while I look for straight-legged jeans. He passes the time charming the salesladies.

This is nothing, right? Big deal.

Big Deal. Very big deal to have a man think of the fact that I don't drive and groceries have to lugged and the Big Box stores are so far away that it's a day's expedition to go there. Big deal for him to offer so casually that it seems like a routine thing. And he makes it fun. Coming out of the Superstore, we meet someone he knows and when the man introduces himself and his wife, HB smiles cheerily and says, "Nice to meet you. And this is my wife, Linda." I manage to keep a straight face until we get away, at which point HB says, "Well he had a wife." We snicker like children.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Athletic footware and interviews

A month ago, the final breakup with the Scorpio. A note under my door, followed by weeks of off-and-on snotty nosed crying. I'm puffy-eyed and feel like someone has taken a metal scoop and dug my heart out. The space that's left is sore.

And it's back to internet dating. My old rule is "you have to write me for a while before I'll meet you." Someone points out on their profile that what this method garners is a lot of history that may not be particularly relevant. Someone else says, "You write for ages and then you meet - and hey! You're still meeting a stranger." I have a new rule now. I will talk to you once or twice, briefly via email - and then we meet in a public place.

It's like interviewing. I had three interviews this weekend - one on Saturday, two on Sunday. As my friend D says, "it gets exhausting." Up until the third interview - when I meet HB.

He picks me up, and rather than suggesting a coffee, he spreads out a promotional poster advertising the events at the harbor this weekend. "I have an itinerary," he tells me. We locate the place the bands will be playing and light out for the harbor. He parks and is bewildered, when he comes to open the car door for me, that I'm already on the other side of the van. Good manners, I think. Not me, him.

We stroll, we locate the beer tent where the bands are set up, and we settle in to watch people and listen to the music. He's funny and he gets all my jokes. Never short of an answer. He won't hear of me buying a round. The music is great and we're both belting out songs along with the band before too long. I keep thinking, in total amazement, this is a real date. And I'm actually having fun.

By the end of the evening, we're in The Red Fox Tavern. There's painful local talent on stage and the place is jammed with regulars and it's a little like the bar scene in Starwars. He'd said we were going to another bar. "Bait and Switch" he grins at me.

The next morning, I get an email. "Do you have plans? Shall we go to brunch and for a walk?"
I have plans. My house is in shameful condition. I'm behind on my beadwork. "Brunch would be great" I email back.

Brunch starts at 10:00 and he leaves at 8:00 that night. It turns out that he's a bit of a lunatic. Attention Deficit, I think. He's very bright and his mind is going about 20 times the average human speed. We end up driving and he gives me a tour of auto body shops, indoor cart-racing facilities and remote factories, mostly because that's where the van pointed at a given moment, I believe. For some reason, I just relax and enjoy the pointless meandering. It's a beautiful day. Why not drive anywhere at all?

In the evening, he wants to show me a lake.
Now the interests on his profile were hiking, kayaking and swimming. When I answered his email I agreed to meet with him if he could settle for a woman who might hike, provided no bogs or swamps were involved. I am wearing silly jeweled sandals that consist of a thin sole and two straps over my feet. The path is less gravel than treacherous chunks of rock and root. It's narrow and the trees are closing in. There are boggy patches. We pick our way through what seems like a mile of bad walking and finally I say, "HB!" He continues walking merrily along. "HB!" He stops and turns. "HB, look at me. Have you noticed at all that I'm rather a girly-girl, as opposed to your basic outdoor athletic type?"
He beams at me. "Almost there."

The lake is beautiful when we arrive. He's promised me the sun will set for us and light the water, just wait. It hasn't quite when we arrive and he admits he hasn't come through on that but quickly points out a tree the beavers have almost felled. "Bait and Switch" he says again.

On the way back, it seems there are more paths than we noticed earlier. After tromping, in my ridiculous sandals for about ten minutes, he stops ahead of me and says, "Does this look familiar to you?"
"Does this look familiar to you?" I look around. It looks like forest and bush. All of it.
"Noooo. I don't think so HB. Why?"
"I don't think this is the way we came. See usually I go a different way and come out over there." He points to a jetty of land about four miles away and then perks up. "I'll bet if we took this path over here, we could still get to it - and it's on our way!"
"HB. Get me out of here." He looks surprised. He hands me a blueberry.
"Eat that. These are SO good for you."
And then, I'm not absolutely sure it was anything but blind luck, he got me out of there.
"I'm not forgetting you dragged me through bogs, HB." This does not diminish his cheer level in any way.

But I see the pattern shaping up already. We work different hours through the week and just before he leaves, he says, "I know! I'll come over Wednesday morning at 6:00 and wake you up and drive you to work."
"No you won't."
"I won't? Why?"
"Because I know what waking me up means and I'd be late for work."
"Noooo. I'd get you to work."
"You know you just might start to like that after a while."
"I will kill you if you show up here at 6:00 a.m." He smiles beatifically.

The pattern:
"No HB. I'm not doing that."
And then we do whatever it is he had in mind.

So we'll see. We'll see. You know it might not be half-bad to hang around someone who has announced, in answer to something grumpy and skeptical I've said, "I'll be the cognitive therapist for us." A Leo. Goddess help me.