“We all live in a house of fire. No fire department to call. No way out. Just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns down the house . . . with us trapped, locked in it.” ~ Tennessee Williams


“Untitled,” by Galina Lukianova


“I believe fervently in the nature, in truth and imagination, I believe in the blood, in life, words, and motivations.” ~ Gael Garcia Bernal
Dandelion, by Fastily on WikiCommons

Well, my computer is still broken. The part that Corey ordered did not fix the problem. Of course it didn’t because it cost less than $20. As is usually the case, the part that I probably need to fix the problem will cost much more. I don’t know for sure, though, because Corey cannot find the part I need (CPU fan) anywhere. 

Surprised? Not really. 

It’s Wednesday afternoon. The heat wave finally broke, and temperatures here are hovering around 90° F, about normal for this time of the year. Speaking of which, how did it get to be the end of July? The fact that I am constantly surprised by how late it has gotten never ceases to surprise me, but you would think that I would have grown accustomed to the incongruity of time passages by now. 

Anyway . . . the sun is shining with a few puffy clouds scattered about in the sky. The Jack Russells are currently asleep beneath the chair in which I sit, so I suppose that all should be right with the world, but it is not. 

This past Sunday night, Alexis called me to let me know that one of her best friends, Jennifer, with whom she works at the thrift store, had been admitted to the hospital. Alexis said that the doctors had found three brain tumors in Jen’s brain. I had to wait to write about this as it really threw me. 

“It is dark inside the body, and wet,
and double-hearted. There are so many ways
to go, and not see, and lose
the feeling of the thread…
and never reach the fabled center.” ~ Larissa Szporluk
Black and White Sunset by Sean K (Flckr Creative Commons Set)

Of course, this is not about me and my reactions, but at the mention of brain tumors in a young woman of 26, I found myself once again railing at the injustices of fate. Jennifer has a five-year-old son named Reilly, who she absolutely adores. She is a single mother who works hard. She is also one of the nicest people I have ever met. 

When Alexis was much younger, I was a bit wary of Jennifer because he family is so dysfunctional, but I realized that it doesn’t really matter what kind of family you come from as it matter more what you do with yourself on your own. I mean, I always thought that I would never have any problems with Alexis because we have tried so hard to give her a normal upbringing, whatever that is. I mean, a home, food on the table, values—but that did not stop her from unexpectedly running wild in high school and causing me endless heartache at the time. 

So I suppose that what I am saying is that I initially misjudged Jennifer. Now she is faced with a great unknown, and her biggest concern is not her own health, but her son’s reaction. Then earlier today, Alexis phoned me to tell me that the latest tests show five tumors, not three: three in her brain, two on her spine. 

Five tumors. Twenty-six-years old. A five-year-old son. No health insurance. To try to pinpoint the worst aspect of this situation is fruitless. It’s all bad, horribly, terribly bad. 

“Come stand with me
under the summer shower –
healed of world-madnesses” ~ Paul Reps
Black and White Study by RandyA38 (Flckr Creative Commons Set)

Alexis has been taking Reilly to school in the morning before work and picking him up after. Jennifer’s younger brother is taking care of Reilly in the evenings. I told Jennifer that Reilly can come over here anytime someone is needed. 

In the meantime, Alexis has diligently informed all of their mutual friends and kept them up to date. One of Jennifer’s dearest friends drove into town this morning. 

No word yet on when the big operation will take place. No idea on whether or not any or all of the tumors are removable as the neurosurgeon won’t know until he cuts her open. And then, of course, the wait for the biopsy results on each tumor. There was some confusion today about what kind of operation she was being taken in for, but I told Alexis that if the estimated time is only an hour, then it’s not the big operation; more probably, the doctors are inserting a shunt to drain of some of the fluid build-up in Jennifer’s brain. 

That I have this knowledge in my long-term memory is both a blessing and a curse. I can sit her on the sidelines and inform Jennifer and her friends and family about some of the things to expect. I can try to explain some of the tests to Jennifer so that she isn’t so stressed. But in the back of my mind, all I can think about is the day of Caitlin’s surgery, the hours and hours of waiting, taking Valium and hiding in a room away from all of the well-meaning people who had come to the hospital to support us. And more hours of waiting, only to be told the news and the prognosis. 

Five tumors. One tumor. Five times the chance of something going wrong.  

Corey reminds me that Jennifer is a woman, much stronger than an infant. But by the time the tumors were found, she was already in a much-weakened state. You see, Jennifer has been sick for months. She has gone to a few doctors about her headaches. One told her that she was depressed and needed to eat bananas. None of them did a CT Scan or an MRI. She also went to an oral surgeon to remove an infected tooth, which everyone thought might be the main cause of her health problems as she had put off getting the tooth fixed because of the lack of insurance. 

Eat bananas. I am reminded of other callous remarks tossed out so nonchalantly years ago by doctors denuded of compassion, and how I had enough rage to kill someone. There is rage again. 

“Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.” ~ Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
Tree Black and White Relief by doortoriver (Flckr Creative Commons Set)

There is rage at fate and rage at life. Rage at injustice and those things over which was have no control. But mostly, for me at least, there is a sense of emotional rage at the fact that on top of everything else, Jennifer is lying in ICU wondering and fretting over how she will ever pay for her hospital stay, her medicine, her operations. 

This young woman, who works for less than $9 an hour, who has no benefits, no sick leave, nothing, earns no money each day that she is out of work. Her job is not guaranteed, but I believe that the people for whom she works will hold her job. But the reality is not when Jennifer will be able to go back to work, but if. And then what? What does she do to exist if she is unable to work. She has no long-term disability coverage as I do. And as much as I bitch about how my coverage is menial, at least it is something. 

It’s hard not to be angry at the world, not to want to call someone and just scream at them. Perhaps a Republican Senator who cannot wait to repeal Obama’s healthcare reform. After all, healthcare is provided for members of Congress, as well as their families. It is not provided for people like Jennifer, people on the fringes of society who are not layabouts, drug addicts, or welfare moms who are supposedly living on the comfort of unemployment and government assistance, or whatever other derogatory term is being bandied about. 

Jennifer is one of those individuals who does not rely on other people or the government to provide for her, and look at where she is now. Try telling her and people like her how tax cuts for the wealthy are going to help. 

I’m sorry. This wasn’t meant to be a tirade on politics, but it’s hard not to think about the bigger picture when someone you know is being engulfed by it. Jennifer isn’t just a statistic; she is not someone who falls into category A or category B on some political demographic chart used to measure the invisible part of American society—the part that drives ten-year-old cars that are falling apart and are glad just to have transportation, the segment that lives in questionable neighborhoods because the rent is more affordable but pizza deliveries are not available because of the danger, or the people who spend money not on nights out on the town or designer shoes. 

Jennifer is a member of that group of single, working women who must budget one-fourth of her take-home pay for her son’s daycare in lieu of trying to get health insurance for herself and her son. And now she is part of that group that has the uninsurable pre-existing condition, that label that makes obtaining health insurance well-nigh impossible. 

So yes. There is rage. 

And so we all wait, each of us in our own fashion. We wonder what news the days will bring, and we try not to think of possibilities. 

More later. Peace

Music by Sia, “I Go to Sleep” (originally by The Kinks) 


If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers.


Walking on Broken Glass, by L. Liwag

Now I Know Where The Term “Frozen Shoulder” Comes From

So I finally made it to my appointment to the orthopedic doctor this morning who told me that contrary to popular belief, I do not have a torn rotator cuff. My rotator cuff is just fine. What I have is in fact a locked or frozen shoulder.

I know. How do these things happen to me? Apparently, this thing has been going on with my shoulder longer than I realized, about 14 months longer.  The good news is that there will be now surgery! The bad news is that now I have to undergo physical therapy.

I have gone through so much damned physical therapy already in my life that I have a very strong aversion to it. In particular, the last person with whom I had to undergo physical therapy talked down to me so much that, had I been in any kind of physical shape to do so, I would have tied her skinny little body into a pretzel. I do not take well to being talked down to—ever. Just ask anyone who has ever tried.

So I agreed to do some (in my mind that some is very limited, as in just enough to learn the exercises to do them at home) PT before going back in six weeks for a recheck.

My real question is this: How can so many people read MRI’s and x-rays so differently?

The Brake Job for the Trooper99isuzutrooper

Seems that my oldest son, when he started to drive my beloved Trooper Izzie, not only did not take care of her insides, he also did not take care of her guts and bolts. By the time we found out that the Trooper needed new front brakes, they were worn down past the rotors. We are talking calipers. So what could have been a fairly inexpensive brake job turned into a very expensive front brake replacement job.

Then, when we asked to have the oil changed while they were at it, we found out just how badly the oil situation was: the oil came out in clumps. Excuse me a moment. I have to take a few moments to recompose myself.

When I had my first car , I made my best guy friend teach me how to change the oil and the spark plugs. And I did it. Before my back became truly bad, I changed the oil in my last red Buick. Then when we got the Trooper, we actually had enough money to pay people to change the oil, so I handed over the responsibility.  I kept telling Eamonn that he needed to learn how to change the oil. His sister regularly changes the oil in her Honda.

But no. He has not the time for such trivial things. Hence we have sludge. So Corey picked up the Trooper, and what had looked like an inexpensive repair had ballooned into a bill nearing $400. Need I bother to tell you that this can be ill-afforded.

Second Missed Doctor’s Appointment

So, we are on our way to my doctor’s appointment with the orthopedic guy on Tuesday (my first rescheduling of the appointment I had missed on Friday—different story) when smoke begins to billow out of the engine. The engine cuts off, and smoke is pouring out.  We are sitting in a lane of traffic with our hazard lights flashing, and the hood is up, and of course, some total a**hole blows his horn at us to move.

pushcarIn my more limber days I would have jumped out of the car and asked him if he wanted us to use the wing options on the car. However, this not being an option, Corey proceeds to try to push the car out of traffic. Luckily, the man in the next lane does stop, but no one jumps to our assistance. We get it to the drive in of the gas station that is thankfully just one lane over, but has an incline. At this point, I realize that I am going to have to push as well. Corey is insisting that I not touch the car, that I just turn the steering wheel, this as the car is beginning to roll down the drive onto him.

One man in a truck slowly gets out after watching us and begins to help Corey, but not until after I have already pushed the car a few feet. I still haven’t told Corey this, but it was push or watch as my husband was flattened by my car, which would place an inordinate amount of guilt on my shoulders that I am not willing to bear. Fortunately, I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday with my back doctor. But that’s another part of the story.

Corey puts some more gas into the Trooper. Goes to the Auto Zone across the street and buys some oil treatment and some gas treatment just in the rare possibility that they might magically make the car stop smoking long enough for us to get home. They don’t. We drive home, and pull the Trooper into the driveway where it has been sitting ever since, and where I notice when I get out that the license plates expired in December of 08.

As with most unbelievable stories in my life, I am making none of this up.

But Why The Trooper, You Ask?

Good question. Normally we would be in the Dodge Ram as that is the auto that Corey drives. However, two days before, which would have been Sunday, when Corey was coming home from the store, he heard a loud pop and then snap and then he coasted the truck into a nearby church parking lot. (We are fortuitous in having nearby lots, at least). The universal joint in the truck had snapped.

So the truck was out of commission while the replacement piece that Corey had bought, which was not quite long enough to fit the truck, was being extended at the welding shop.

Does This Story Get Worse? Why Yes.

Now, there is another part to this story that takes it almost past the point of reality, but we’re going to go there. My mother had to go in on Tuesday to have a sizable piece of squamous skin cancer removed. This procedure is done as an out patient. I was quite freaked out by the very nonchalant way my mother called Monday night and left a voice message that said, “Oh you know that biopsy that they did. It’s cancer, and they are going to remove it tomorrow. But don’t worry.” This is how my mother tortures me for being an inconsiderate daughter.

We stayed on the phone for quite a while as I tried to determine if in fact I did need to drive her to the procedure, but finally, she said that no, it was local, and she did not want me to drive her. I told her that my own doctor’s appointment was going to be quite near hers at the same time so to please take her cell phone with her and turn it on (turn it on is the operative word), and if she felt the least bit uncomfortable, we would leave my own appointment and pick her up. This after several offers to cancel my own appointment and take her to hers.

However, as the Trooper blew up, it’s a good thing that my mother did not need a ride home as we would have been unable to pick her up, but I found out that she was safe at home from my daughter who had just received a telephone call from my mother telling her that all was well.

Is There Actually More?

Trigger Point Injection Sites

The next day, I went to my own doctor’s appointment with my back doctor where I had to admit that I was in extreme pain because of the little matter of helping to push the Trooper up an incline, to which my doctor could only stare back at me in amazement. (I’m sure that he was thinking the obvious: “This woman has lost her mind.”) To wit, he gave me 12 trigger injections in my lower, mid and upper back.

We left my back doctor’s office and traveled one street over to pick up the piece for the truck. Now if you have been following this saga closely, your real question should have been, “What were you driving?” (I will leave out the part about the wallets as it’s just too much)

Well, since my mother could not drive on Wednesday, my eldest son got a ride to her house and drove her car back home with many promises to drive her car very carefully, in other words, not like he drives the Trooper.

We picked up the part and went to the church where the Truck was still resting comfortably. I called my mother to see if she needed anything while we were out as I was going to wait for Corey to install the part and not tempt fate any further because I could just see it: I would drive off, and as soon as I did, Corey would need something from the automotive store or would need a tool, and I would have to turn around and go back. No thanks. My mother was fine, and I told her that we would be back with her car fairly soon, at which point the heavens opened and rain started to pour down.

The gods were laughing at us. Ha Ha. Tee Hee. It was not amusing.

About twenty minutes later, Corey finished installing the part, which went fairly well. His coat was soaking wet, but other than that, the truck was driveable. I would have gotten down and kissed the ground if I could bend.

Does Anything Else Bad And/Or Stupid Happen?

That depends. We make it home, drop of my mom’s car to her. Make sure she doesn’t need anything. And as we are driving home, Corey tells me an oh by the way, Eamonn smoked a cigarette in your mom’s car last night when he was driving it home. Perfect, just perfect. If he were two inches from me, and if I had any spare energy, I would loosen my motherly wrath, but as neither of these things exist, he will escape this time, even though at some point my mother will ask the inevitable: “Who was smoking in my car?” She has a nose like Cyrano when it comes to cigarettes.

We both walk in the door. Corey sits down in the chair at my desk. I fall out on the bed, and we both fall sleep. It’s 7 p.m. Brett, the only innocent bystander in this whole fiasco, wonders about dinner. Unfortunately, neither of us are conscience enough to answer. I think that he ate cereal. I made it up to him the next day.

And that, my friends, is another chapter of this is your life and I even left out some things. More later. Peace.

Do I Ever Really Have Random Thoughts?


Water-Lilies by Claude Monet, Oil on Canvas

Or Are They Always Just One Big Thought Without Punctuation?

1. I am a major Battlestar Gallactica nerd. I love this show. So when it ended abruptly almost a year ago with everyone standing on a nuked out earth, and no indications of when it was all going to be cleared up, I was bereft. I have the first three seasons on DVD. That’s how much of a BG nerd I am. So I was more than happy when they finally decided to show the remaining shows to end season four and end the show beginning a month ago that you would think that I would have been glued to my television. I set my DVD to record, but just got around to watching. Go figure the logic in my mind . . .

2. I got the idea for this post from David Bridger’s site, which I visit frequently because he usually has pretty bizarre postings. For example, he had a post about how his daughter’s door squeaked out the first five notes from the Addams Family, which of course, put the tune in my head. Couldn’t let that go, so I put the tune “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” in his head. The last I read, it had gotten down to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” Putting an earworm into someone’s head is pretty sneaky business. I would never do that to anyone. But does anyone remember the words to “Sweet City Woman”?


3. I’m addicted to hand sanitizer. I have little miniature bottles of it everywhere, in the cars, in all of my various bags, and I’ve made Corey addicted to it as well. He carries a miniature bottle in his carryall. Alexis carries on in her purse. And my sons are so used to using it before they eat fast food. I think that if you’re going to be addicted to something, hand sanitizer is a good thing. Have you seen what people do with their hands in stores? Think about it the next time you use a cart in a store.

4. I really love the color purple and its various shades, light purple, dark purple, lavender, lilac. etc., which is why I am probably so much in love with Monet’s Water Lilies.

5. I wish that I had more opportunities to wear my boots and sweaters, but now that I don’t go to work everyday, I don’t have to get dressed in real clothes everyday. Usually, it’s just sweats for me. It would be kind of silly to get dressed in boots and a skirt and sweater to sit here at my computer for five or six hours, although it might make me feel better about myself.

6. My dogs are unnatural. Tillie is just plain demanding, and vocal about it. I swear the dog talks to me, and gets louder if I do not acknowledge her. Shakes snores and will not let me out of his sight, and also talks; it’s just a different dialect than Tillie. If I stay up too late working on the computer, Shakes gets very impatient and tries to jump in my lap (an impossibility as he is very bottom heavy), and then starts bitching at me to try to get me to go to bed. And Alfie is just plain psycho. I say that with love in my heart, but I can be holding him and rubbing his belly, and all of a sudden, this small dog will start a growl deep in his throat, and it may be because one of the other dogs entered the room, or it may be because he doesn’t want me to touch that part of his belly. You just never know with him. He really should have gotten laid before he lost his manhood.

7. I’m currently using checks that have a misspelling in the imprinted quote beneath the total line. I know the misspelling is there. In fact, I made the check company reprint the checks because of the misspelling, but since I ran out of checks and ran out of money to reprint more checks, and thought of the trees and the waste, decided to use them anyway, even though they offended my sensibilities. The quote is by Albert Einstein, and it is one of my favorites: “Imagnation is more important than knowledge.” This is the quote with the misspelling. Did you notice? Jumped out at me as soon as I opened the box. Corey kept saying, “where, where?”

8. Speaking of which, I try not to be, but I’m one of those pain in he butt people who corrects things like menus, my children’s speech, and various and sundry other things. When I was teaching Editing to English majors at ODU, I used to have them keep an Anguished English journal, in which they had to collect examples of various abuses of the English language. We would share our collections, some of which were hilarious. I once corrected a memo that my Division General Manager had sent out company-wide; it was riddled with mistakes. He had not run the memo by me first for a proofing. The memo concerned a very large, multi-million dollar contract with the Air Force. His assistant had made mistakes such as using the word roll instead of role for the company’s role in the job. It was really quite embarrassing. Anyway, I corrected it and sent it back to him, and told him that he never should have sent it out without sending it to me first. Very few people could have gotten away with that, but when you are right, you are right.

9. I’m obnoxious when it comes to being right.

10. I do actually watch one reality television show: “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I started watching it when it first came on four years ago, and I became addicted. Those women are so far out there. Who spends $3800 in one day on hats? Certainly no one in my circle. That’s why I watch it.

11. I still have two metal pica/agate rulers from when I worked at the newspaper several years ago. These are the old style rulers that were used to measure headlines by hand if need be. They are made of metal, and they are very flexible but durable. I love these rulers. One is a 12 inch, and one is an 18 inch. I tell you, there are some things that I simply cannot let go of, and certain office supplies are among that category.metal-pica-ruler

12. I have Star Wars pencils with the original Star Wars characters on them. Not the prequel lame characters, but the good old characters from episodes 4, 5, and 6.

13. I still have in my possession my old teddy bear, who is named Mr. Higgins for the green grocer who was just down the street from our apartment in London. The teddy bear is quite worn, but Mr. Higgins was one of my favorite people when we lived in W6. He always gave me an extra sweet whenever we went in the store.

14. I have a tattoo on my right shoulder of a hummingbird sucking nectar from a trumpet vine. It runs down my right shoulder. I plan to have more of the vine added, and possibly a dragonfly. I like some body art, but not a lot of body art, especially when there is so much that you cannot tell where one picture starts and another begins. I believe that if you are going to use your body as a canvas, then you must have an aesthetic, look at it as a whole. I mean, I’ve seen some really weird things put together on one back, and then I’ve seen some beautiful things. Of course, it is completely up to the individual, but I think that some people get tats when they are high or drunk and don’t really stop to consider the final picture, as it were.

15. I believe that Dick Cheney should be punished for all of the ways in which he befouled the Constitution of the United States.

tax_filing16. One day, I will have a new used BMW X5 with heated leather seats for my back and a sunroof for my mental health, and Eamonn will not be allowed anywhere near it.

17. One day, I will get my stuff together enough to find a publicist and try to get this book published.

18. I have to do our taxes this week. That really sucks.

19. The islands are calling me. I keep telling Corey this, but he doesn’t believe me. But would I lie? Every day, one of the cruise lines sends me an e-mail offering me a new deal as a repeat customer, and they tell me that Belize is calling me, or Grand Cayman is calling me, or the whole Caribbean is calling me. It would be just plain rude of me not to answer, and I really hate rudeness.cayman-islands-beach

20. I hate rude people.

21. I also hate people who insist that they know what is good for me. No they don’t. That mantra: “It’ll be good for you.” Where did that come from, anyway? Unless someone is my doctor and he or she has just drawn my blood, put my through and MRI, or looked into my brain, no one know what is going to be good for me. What’s good for me is usually a cup of tea and a nap. I don’t want your best intentions to blow up in my face at some point, which has happened to me more times than I can count. Trust me, hot tea, nap, or maybe Southern Comfort, tiny bit of lemon, and some honey, warmed in a brandy snifter. That’ll cure what ails me if its in my chest. And a nap.

22. Wal Mart was created by the devil and it continues to be run by the devil’s minions, especially on Saturday afternoon when I have a migraine and I really, really need to pee because there is no way in hell that I will use one of their bathrooms (remember, hand sanitizer), and every child in the city is in that Wal Mart at that moment crying or screaming or begging for cotton candy or falling out of the cart because no one was watching and therefore will soon be crying and screaming.

23. Target, on the other hand, is nice and clean and is starting to have almost everything that Wal Mart has. Hooray for Le Target.

24. I have an original “Women for Obama” sticker that Corey ordered in the mail for me before the campaign really got underway. He ordered it because he knew that I supported Obama and he knew that I would want to keep something like that and because that’s the kind of guy that he is.

25. Did you hear? George W. Bush is not president and cannot be president ever, ever again, and that just makes my heart sing!

Those are my 25 random things. Do you think you have 25 random things in you? Of course you don’t have to be as wordy as I am. That goes without saying, but if it goes without saying, why am I saying it?

More later. Peace.