Monday, June 28, 2010


"This is Uncle Al, the kiddies' pal! Hello, little friends, hello!"

What ever happened to Alan Sues? The man was very funny. Instead, we've stuck with Goldie Hawn whose creative acme was Cactus Flower in 1969. And her progeny, the adorable Kate Hudson, just doesn't do it for me. (Aren't her eyes kind of squinty? Just asking...) I don't know, call me wacky.

I await to hear from Rich- the man who knows, whether including Since When Fran as a third character thread is a good or bad idea. I already have a mess of Fran pieces that I think would fit the book very nicely. You see, when I wasn't writing Since When, I just kept on writing- mostly the bad and the ugly. (C'mon, that's the good stuff, right?) Otherwise I'd go stir crazy, I think. (The other two threads we already know: my grandmother's loony Hungarian family and: my grandfather's loony Hungarian family.) I think amongst the three of us teams, they'll be more than enough juicy as well as ghastly vignettes to bring out the pathos and bathos in all of us. (Probably over poor Rich's dead body. And I'm absolutely sure he'd beat me in a death-cage match in a nanosecond.)

I am the princess of wussdom. I didn't ask to be. But it is my burden- inherited honestly. (Two stinking, lousy recessive wuss genes. Because how can a wuss gene ever be dominant??? Figure that one out for me, will you?) I'm a fucking marshmallow, and it really ticks me off.

Back to Since When, as a friend of mine has emailed, with much gravitas, "where's the plot? where are the vignettes? Fran, I hate to say this, but it's (beat) a tangle." (For full disclosure, when making these pronouncements, he had yet to read a page of it. This was his response to my, I thought well done, synopsis. He never made it to the book. He was already reorganizing it, without even giving it one teeny GLANCE. Somehow, I think that's rather presumptuous and nervy of him. But that's just me.)

And yes, my sweet darling, I can most assuredly promise you, a tangle it will remain. But with Rich there to guide me, an intelligible tangle. And anyone who knows me at all, knows full well there is nothing linear about me. Yeah, I admit, I did add the (beat)." The line works so much better that way.

I'm glad I'm a tangle. I'm infinitely more interesting this way.

Given my "weakened condition," as my evil sister-in-law has so lovingly described it, I will not go to my thirtieth high school reunion. (FYI, my evil sister-in-law is the one married to MY brother. I want no confusion about this.) I had agita just going up to Washington Heights to the chiropractor today. Reuning seems rather silly since my high school friends are either dead, disturbed, left me for dead (figuritively) or in mourning. (But she wouldn't go if her life depended on it. She'd only go if that would get her Jerry back. Now that, I understand.)

I know we really made the decision not to try to be "a part of things" in said high school. Why change now? And you know, if we had any desire to be "a part of things," our efforts would have failed like a bad recipe. It was somehow a bit more comforting thinking that we had made the decision not to be part of the high school hullaballoo. Truth is, it had not a thing to do with us. I don't want to be reminded of that. Not now, when I'm a gimp.

But the genuinely nice people who are putting the reunion together are also creating a thirtieth anniversary yearbook. I was a bad girl as I was prodded for my bio. (I guess this just isn't a good time in my life to ask me for my bio. So I sent in the following assuming I'd immediately get an email back telling me this won't cut it. Please come back with a real one. But there's no was in bloody hell anyone's taken a look at it. I just got checked in for being a good girl in submitting my bio. I sent the following:

Fran Lipman is alive in New York City. How long she will remain in that condition is anybody's guess. Regardless, she has decided that she will remain in NYC. Either in her home with her beloved husband and two cats or as an additive to mulch for the apartment house garden.

Shit, do you think they'll really print that? Oy gevalt.

FYI, fertilizer is not funny. But mulch is...

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Love Rich

It's Friday. I am feeling infinitely better. I actually had something wrong with me that made my blues the other day worse than they would have if I were feeling hunky-dory (in the Fran sense-in her gimp-like state). Its always good to know you're not falling into a deep depression. ("Oh darn, not again!") But I ain't! Hallelujah!

I'm not the organized person I used to be. (I was one of those with an enormous pile of papers on her desk. Someone comes in for some obscure memo. Hand goes into pile pulls out the correct memo.) I don't know if it's all the drugs I take or whether that portion of my brain no longer functions as it used to since The Event. But I hate this. With a passion.

My incredibly patient friend Rich (who actually may be close to jumping out a window) has had to put up with my disorganization. And as he is doing editing work for me and since I love him, I hate making his life harder than it should be. But I think- no I know- everything is in order now, and I will follow each and every one of his rules, so I don't misplace docs again. Oy. At least I suffered too. I was panicking going through doc after doc trying to piece together everything we've done.

This is a relief. A huge relief. and Rich's suggestions are fantastic. He gets what I was trying to do by writing my goddamned tome in the first place, and I get how he can and is making it better. Can't think of a better partnership. Now that my docs are- well not in a row (and that's a godawful pun, and I simply refuse to make it, so fucking there!)- where they're supposed to be, I'm much, much calmer. Rich, bless your heart for being you. I swear (and I do an awful lot), you are an angel in disguise. (That will probably make you laugh or perhaps, chortle a little, but that's fine with me.)

I received a really amazing note from an editor I found through LinkedIn (yeah, it actually worked!) who loved my synopsis. Loved the quality of my writing. (I send you love and happiness and whatever the hell else you want!) Holy Toledo, Batman!

All I can say is I must be getting better (at writing) with practice. At my last job (vile, awful), I relished when I had to send someone a memo on who knows what. That's completely irrelevant. But there was always someone to tweak, a need for extra subtlety...and all sorts of fun shit while played the dumb innocent. I loved when people came up draft in hand, "Fran. change this! Change that!" And boy were they bracing for a fight. But they didn't know who they were dealing with.

Did they really think I cared enough to fight about this? Did they realize that whatever, no really whatever, they wanted...I gave them "Sure, I can do that," "okay," "no problem." I think they were really disappointed they didn't get to argue. It really pissed them off. And oh yeah, I revised their stinking memos but despite the very important changes, those docs always said whatever I wanted them to say. And they never caught on!

This is what it's like living in a world with people who are unable to construct a sentence, misuse words, eat jargon as fast as their little jaws can munch. They think jargon makes them look smart, up to the minute, like they know what they're doing. It's silly subterfuge. So I lived in a hole of an office as a maniacal memo writer. Amusing only myself. Ah well. Maybe this time I'll be able to amuse others- in a more substantive way. I sure hope so.

Did I tell you I love Rich?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Hate That

Hello boys and girls.

I'm tired. It's only 5 p.m., but I'm tired. I know Jerry's death has been devastating for both me and Chip. That makes it hard to wake up in the morning. But I think, no, I KNOW I'm also tired whenever I come face-to-face with my ruined lungs. I should have had a wonderful day yesterday. I saw two of my very few and far between BFFs- one of whom was in from San Francisco whom I hardly ever get to see. And the other, my Brooklyn darling, has such a crazy-busy schedule, it's a treat just to see her at all. They arrived with kids in tow who are all very nice and were very well-behaved given they were in a new environment with a person they really don't know at all (me).

It was a pleasure to see my BFFs. A treat. But I'm so damned sad how I'm unable to participate in much of their lives or, frankly, any life at all other than my own. Thank god for the internet. That and the telephone are my only outlets to the outside world. (But the phone is often difficult if my throat isn't up for it.) (Okay, there is also TV.) And I hated sitting (yes, on my beloved doughnut) in the middle of the discussion about where they could go out to eat that was easy, close, and child friendly. I just CAN'T go out to a restaurant. That conversation made me internally weepy. I hated that this discussion was going on over me. Literally. And I just had to wait to (possibly) once again be part of the conversation. And entertaining people (even when they adamantly and vociferously tell me that they are not here to be entertained)- just happens no matter how hard you try not to. Maybe it's so subtle that no one notices I'm entertaining. But I get wiped out. And I fall asleep as soon as they head off to dinner. But in my former life, I would have headed out to dinner with them. Of course I would have. But now, it's just not possible. ever.

I'm sitting here in my spot typing away and suddenly I start coughing. It's not pretty coughing, but I know what it's about. I just need more air. Why- when I haven't moved a muscle? I have no idea. I just need more air. Period. But for people who don't live it, it can be scary. I know that. And they worry, "Are you okay?" I hate that. But I know it won't stop. Even my family get the concerned look. And they know better. But there are times when even I'm scared. (I had a doozy last night.)

Isn't this the most miserable post ever? Do I not want visitors? No! No! No! Be alone forever? No! The loony auntie in the attic? (Well, maybe.) But I now know for sure, one on one or two on one is best. More than that, it's all a mush of sound and energy, and I just can't handle it.

But yesterday just underscored my helplessness. So, children, I write and write and write.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Doughnut

I sit in the corner of the couch that I've appropriated since I came home from the hospital. (I've appropriated mainly the corner. But, yes, occasionally, I do, I admit it freely, I sometimes appropriate the entire couch.) Naps are a beautiful thing and now I've every excuse to take them. "Franny, have you taken your nap today?""Well, of course you're tired. You didn't nap today."C'mon y'all, keep it coming... It has become a real conversation piece in the Sleeper/Lipman household. It is an improvement over the discussions about gastroenterological issues which had been a family favorite for years on end. We always wanted to find out how much we'd have to give to Penn to get a small plaque on one of the bathroom stalls: "The Lipman Lavatory." (Still on the "To Do List.") There's only one source of contention with regard to the couch. Everyone has graciously relinquished that corner (my corner) except for one large cat.

When I got home from the hospital, I was all sticks and atrophied muscles. I had no idea that skin pulled taut over bones with a few organs here and there would weigh about 85 pounds. I'm not sure whether I was shocked that I still weighed that much. (Hell, during this whole escapade- or as my mother would say to me about something nonsensical and needed someone at whom to point a finger: "You mean that thing you pulled" while looking especially grim and full of anger. Oy. Well "during this thing I pulled," I did lose about 25 to 30 pounds.) Or was it a shock that this thing I'd become (skin taut on top of bones) weighed so little? We should ask the Baby Bear. It was probably just right. But Baby Bear, his parents, nor Goldilocks were lucky enough to have hair that looked like Buckwheat's. Except mine had the texture of extremely dry straw. Chip shaved the sides of my head (per my direction), so I had something that resembled hair that stood straight at attention. Like the Queen's Guard. I bet there are women who spend hundreds of dollars to get this look. Mine cost about a million and a half. Dollars. Not forints or rupees of bahts. Dollars, American. That's one hell of a haircut. Plus a fool-proof diet plan. Such a deal!

But without flesh on my bones, it actually hurt to sit. "Chi-ip, (fyi, indicates whining) could you get me a doughnut?"So Chip went to a medical supply store and bought me a doughnut. I love my doughnut. I don't need it anymore, because Lipmans have always been amply butted. It just feels good. The cat has figured this out too. Man, does that boy love that doughnut. And in his little cat brain he must be thinking, this is exactly like the cat bed you bought me except this one is on the couch. Why can't I have this one too. Or better yet, "Fran, please feel free to use my old bed. That nice green one you bought especially for me, and I'll just use this one if that's okay." So we play this game. He curls up on the doughnut. (That damned doughnut really fits him to a T.) He pretends to be deeply asleep. He makes sure you can't see his eyes. And to get him out, you have lift a completely limp, 14-pound cat who damn well isn't going to help you remove him from HIS spot. Once removed, he gives you this plaintive, yet dirty, look. Fuck it. when he sleeps with us, he manages to take up the entire bed, and we don't complain. Hey Conway, why not go sleep on the damned doughnut?

But I adore Conway, and he knows I hate to, god forbid, disturb him. It's simply a crime how these damned little mammals just take over your home. And we invite these in.

The photo above is my boy Conway loving on his doughnut. (Hey, I know who wears the pants in this family, and it sure ain't me.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

synopsis hell

I have spent my entire day rewriting and rewriting my book synopsis- a critical piece of the package to publishers (and I imagine agents too). Maybe I'm too close to it, but a friend tells me it's no good. I think he's told me it's no good three or four times. And he wasn't wrong. but I I know this last one is much, much better. (And yes, I do have my buddy to thank for this.) but he doesn't like it at all. So do I really know? No, I don't. And I just can't tell anymore. (If it's good, bad, worse than the earlier iterations.) But how come I think it's better? Am I an idiot?) Quite possibly. And given my illness considerably less charming than I used to be. Still look good though. Thank god for small favors. And I'm plumb out of ideas. I hate when that happens.

He (my buddy/synopsis mentor) is coming at said book a complete stranger to the work, so maybe I assume too much for it to make sense to someone coming to it cold. I've compared it to a couple of successful book proposals my incredibly generous sister-in-law's sister (got that?) sent to me. It seems to be of a kind. I know there are bits I most definitely want to edit out. But what he asks for really doesn't apply to what I've written. Am I in deep doo-doo? Is my book doo-doo? (No, don't blame the book. Poor thing. This has nothing to do with Since When. So chill, y''hear?)

Houston, I think we have a problem.

I spend my earlier part of the day getting up and about. Not really. But I am out of bed (But my actual, usable day sadly begins about 1:30. (I actually get up much earlier than that. It just takes so bloody long to get through my daily ablutions.) You really have no idea what a dance it is getting the buddha ensconced on her couch. If only it were the cha-cha.

I've already napped. (So the tranquilizer will have taken effect by the time I get up. Hot damn, works ever time. Anxiety no more.) But now it's 7 p. m., and I have yet to finish lunch. Do you know how amazing peanut butter and jelly is? It's fucking DIVINE. I tell you. Chip had recently switched to strawberry jam. Fantastic. (FYI, the man makes a kickass sandwich.) And surprise, surprise, blueberry, of all things works just as well. Just so you know. I'm not going to keep valuable tips like this away from you, you kidding me?

Hey, I just tried to reach my synopsis mentor. I got voice mail. 7 p.m. on a summer Friday is probably the very best time to call someone to avoid the inevitable dressing down or facing your issues or both. I didn't mean too. I was just such a colossus mess a few hours ago. And even that might not have made a difference. I'm dealing with a man who has a summer home. But if you wish to avoid me, call here in the morning. In the morning, you're totally fucked. Midday is also a keeper. Stay away from evenings. Unless I literally cannot speak, you're cooked.

I think I'll take a crack at writing chapter summaries. Woohoo!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh, the work never ends...

What now? I'm working through all the mechanics of getting Since When published. I am reviewing my query letter and synopsis. (I tore apart the synopsis last night and finished rewriting it today.) This latest iteration of the synopsis still needs more work, but I think I'm a lot closer than I had been. This damned book is massive jumble. (Like my head except it (my head) isn't massive. But I will take credit for jumbled.) Speaking of jumbles? To all of you who have ever worked with me, do you remember the state of my desk? It looked like a tornado had hung out there for a good few minutes. Every single day. Or perhaps several times a day. But I knew where everything was on that desk. (If I had filed all of it and had a pretty, clean white desk, I'd have been done for.)

I was damned lucky to begin to speak to family when I did. At the time (13-years ago?), I found that there were elderly cousins still alive descended from each of my grandparent's siblings. Cool. Trace their paths (and their long-dead parent's paths) from around 1900 - 1945- those who left Europe and came here and those who didn't.

Okay, I now have a plan. But it required calling all these people I'd never spoken to and many of whom my mother hadn't spoken to in eons. Maybe they didn't like Ma. If that were so, they sure wouldn't like me. (My saving grace was my father. He seems to have universally made a good impression with everyone. And everybody loved my grandmother.) But for the first time of my illustrious career, I had to make cold-calls. Granted, I wasn't trying to sell anything. In fact, I'm giving them an opportunity to talk about themselves. Who doesn't like to talk about himself? And hey, what's the worst these people can do to you? Tell you, chica, I'm not telling you shit. So get off my goddamned phone, to keep the line free for calls with people I actually like.

Well that never happened. I spoke to an awful lot of people who first had to tell about where their bodies were hurting and what diseases they had and how miserable they felt. After that, I usually ended up with a cheery person who was more than willing to share with me some very brutal stories. These cousins were actually quite remarkable. I'm telling you, Mengele would have sent me off to the gas in two seconds. But these people wend their way through the maze of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, forced labor in armaments factories, winter death marches, and live to tell me about them. For me, I really felt honored and humbled by their candor and courage. Okay, one cousin refused to let me buy her tape from the Shoah Foundation, but I could come out to Queens where she would show it to me in full. Huh? God, I never took notes so fast in my entire life. Shit, I needed steno. But she told me everything. I just had to play by her rules. I can do that.

Then I went through what I would call an emotional breakdown in 2002. We had our first "crazy Hungarian" reunion late that summer. I knew I had to be a little manic. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And it was all good. Damn. No wonder artists are nuts. When you've got the high (and mine was only a wee one), can you produce. and produce big.

I crashed sometime in September, so Since When was put on hold for a long time.(A person in the abyss really can't be especially productive.) I edited and re-edited what I had. The work got tighter and tighter. But I couldn't make myself finish it. Then...I became deadly ill. The first year or so after I left the hospital, I was busy. I had to relearn how to walk, go to the bathroom...basically everything. This kept me occupied for a good long time. But late fall of this year, I got the utz again. I was heading to Pittsburgh to check on the possibility of a lung transplant. (Bottom line: I've been invited onto the Lung list, but I don't want it and I never will.)

But those weeks leading up to my week in Pittsburgh in early December, I just started cranking. I rewrote everything. It had been written tastefully in the third person. It still is with exception of my new and exciting comments which pepper the whole damned manuscript. Anger seems to bring the best out of me. Because after doing that, I wrote caustic, profanity-filled stories from my life. And interspersed them with the historical chapters.

I think it works. But try and explain all this to a publisher. But I'm not even close to that stage yet, so I can just dabble with all the pieces necessary for a pitch. goodnight all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jerry, we miss you.

Last night, a friend died. Leaving his wife (my BFF) feeling dead. Oh my sweet darling, I can't imagine the hell you've just been through, and the hell to come. Not only did you find the "right guy," he was THE GUY. You two were one unit. You were each what you needed. And amazingly you found each other. You two are one of those great stories you hear about but rarely see. And that will always be. No advice. We're not going anywhere, and we will always be in close touch, because we love you. We are always here for you.


I promised a nasty work story, so I might as well oblige. Oooh, there are so many to choose from. I checked back. I said I would start at the end. (Always a fine place to begin.) When I was a mere innocent, I became Diane Rothschild's hero when I attacked the tedious job of entering every ad we ever produced in every awards show the day before the entries were due after the person who was supposed to do it had royally fucked up. I don't see how. It wasn't a difficult job to do, just boring as all bloody hell. She just hadn't done it. I can't see how uber-paperwork can be intimidating. It's just annoying. Well, all entries made it in for the too few awards we ended up receiving for the agency's ridiculous monetary investment. But that part (thank god) wasn't my problem. And Diane also found that I was clever. She was pleased as punch and as nice as nice could be.

Until, after three years of coupledom, Chip (the junior partner, the one without his name on the door) and I announced we were a THING. (I can hear my mother's friends now, "but are they serious? I can't add another invitation if they're not serious.") From that moment on, Diane loathed me. Hated my guts. Treated my like dirt. And I took it. And I tried to fix it. I still hadn't learned the lesson that crap like that isn't your problem, it's the other person's. Ohhhh...) Then Roy and Diane couldn't stand each other anymore, so they split the accounts between the two of them. Got tze danken, I worked for Roy. I liked working for Roy. Oh he could be an asshole all right. But there was always a reason for it, and he always got over whatever was bugging him quickly. I found him to be fair and to say that about a creative genius, that's pretty damned incredible. I frankly would have lived with much worse. But he was a pleasure to talk to, to watch in action. And he was hysterically funny. For those not in advertising reading this thing, he was the real deal. (I'm quite sure the smartest person I've ever met. By far.)

Then began the countdown to my Grace and Rothschild demise. My giganto account was Land Rover. That fucking company had hired yet another idiot marketing director. And this was one crazy motherfucker. And sick baby, he felt uncomfortable about my relationship with Chip and wanted me off the account. (But still working "behind the scenes." What's that all about?) Ouch. But there was an opening on Mobil. (I felt like a dog looking at Roy begging for a treat. Pathetic.) He wouldn't put me on fucking Mobil. (Oh Roy, you so blew it...well you blew it for me, and that wasn't relevant to you nor would it ever be. So never you mind. Once you learn your irrelevancy in this world, the easier life becomes. No joke. I'm all the happier for it.)

But I was back working with my nemesis. Sometime during that year, Chip and I married. (That was and still is a very good thing.) Now, even though Roy and Diane had been despising each other for months now, they still had lunch together every day and yacketed together all day long. Somewhere, in their foolish brains, they decided what Chip and I had DONE was a very bad thing. Roy got over this fairly quickly. Roy was very happy for us and he said so, to both of us. Diane said NOTHING. Nothing to Chip who she had worked with at DDB who she recommended for G and R? That's absurd. And that was that. And then many, many moons later, a gift arrives. From Roy and his wife Marcia. He acknowledged that he was sending this way too late (it really was), but Congratuations! They sent us the most gorgeous glass candlesticks. From Tiffany, naturellement. Thank you Roy and Marcia. They mean a lot to the both of us.

Never a word from my buddy Diane. I was back working on an old client, and I think I had the best year I'd ever had to date. It all clicked. I knew my shit. I was confident. Fran hath arrived. It was obvious. It was obvious to everyone. Even the client. (And I don't think my agency comrades- whom I love and adore and miss terribly- thought I was a slouch anyway...) I felt GOOD.

Come review time, my husband comes in my office and says to me, Diane and Roy have determined you have made no progress this year and therefore, you will not be getting any raise this year. I got all teary and said I was giving two weeks notice. I said, "Yo Chip, that's really a really nice thing to come in and tell me." And he says, "Would you rather Diane do it." Good point. I had absolutely nothing to say to her. She'd won. Yippee. When we dealt with work, we were cordial, otherwise nothing. Well that made sense, what could she possibly have to tell me?

Then we get the weird part. Aside from work issues, she's deliberately giving me the cold shoulder. Making sure that everyone sees her disgust as she walks by me then smiling jovially at whoever I'm standing with. It happens all over the fucking office. It happens in the elevator. What could she ever have been angry about???

I do go speak to Roy. I wanted him to know that I kicked major butt this year and that he should know. Bless that man! He said I can see that just by what you're saying now. "But what do you want me to do? She's my partner?" I didn't want him to a goddamned thing. I just wanted him to know. I felt real fine when I left his office.

A summer goes by, and G and R still haven't found a suitable person to work on Land Rover. would I like to do it on a freelance basis? My initial reaction is fuck them! Yeah, fuck that shit. Chip tells me, you idiot. You've won. Roy wants you back, and this will just eat Diane up. Fuck yeah I'll do it! eleven months of Land Rover fun with the client asking if I would stay.

Now that's an exit.

P.S. Since When is now getting its first edit. So far, it's holding up quite nicely. But we're early in the process. Was sent two successful book proposals. Good god! They're remarkable. As I put together mine, I'll just make believe I can write one as good as either of these.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oh my!

To quote an client from many moons ago at the start of a campaign, (said with real, but no question, carefully-maintained Greek accent), "It's really HAPPENING!"

I can't believe this blog actually exists. It's mine. People will read it. So I imagine, I should have SOMETHING of interest to say.

The reason for this blog's existence is the book I wrote kind of by accident. You ask, "How the hell can you write a whole fucking BOOK by accident? Puhleeze. Lipman, don't get cute with me."

I'm not, really I'm not. This whole thing began more than 10 years ago when it dawned on me that if I don't put my mother's family tales to paper, they'll disappear forever. I wasn't outwardly frantic, but there was absolutely an internal freneticism as I sat down with her again and again and again. (Well, I needn't have felt so pressed, she's still around, got tsu danken.) I remember telling my buddies at work that I was doing this. And that I had 6, yes, 6 pages typed SINGLE SPACE. I was very proud of my self.

But with each story, came more questions. Which my mother was unable to answer. Naturally she couldn't; she was only 6 1/2 years old when she emigrated from Czechoslovakia. (From a sea of rural Hungarians in Subcarpathia.) And she only knew stuff from my grandmother's point of view. Now, I would trust ANYTHING that came out of my grandmother's mouth. (She was just one of those rare people...) But she (and Mom) were not party to everything.
And I'm just one of those people who is COMPELLED to connect the dots even where I don't yet know they're there. (I guess kind of like writing a book and having no clue that you're doing it.) But they have to be. I just have to look harder, ask the right questions...

And my six pages of separate Tales of the Jews of Subcarpathia weren't linked. And relieved as I was to have recorded Mom's memories of the town of Kaszony in Czechoslovakia, I needed, wanted more.

And I also became painfully reminded that while I knew that my mother's family that had remained in Subcarpathia were sent to Auschwitz and that some survived, I was completely clueless as to when and how it happened. (I don't mean, "Gee whiz, you mean they were stuffed in a cattle car?") What actually happened to the Hungarian Jews? Huh? I knew infinitely more about what happened to Poland during the war than I did Hungary. And I just figured, I'll get the answers to all the questions I have and the ones that haven't come up yet. I made the assumption that if I wanted/needed to know, other people would too. I need to dot the i's, cross the t's...To understand Ma's stories, I needed context. So off I went looking for context. I love context.

Man, if were still at work...I bet those 6 single-spaced pages were written in 1997? I'll ask my husband when he wakes up. I sleep so goddamned late, that I keep him up to all hours. (No, not even doing anything interesting. That's a whole other kettle of fish.) And he wakes up at dawn no matter how late he goes to bed. Poor boy. He's starting a company and is my nursemaid. He's remarkable. But I really should cut him a break, and let him go to bed at reasonable time. He needs to function even more so now that I don't.

I got the word. Yup, 1997. God damn that was a long time ago! Back then, I was an ad agency account guy. I had worked at Grace and Rothschild for almost ten years until a nasty thing happened. (All will be revealed in another post, I promise.) I was then asked to come back and work freelance until they could find someone to fill my position. It took 11 months. A monumental 11 months. Auf wiedersein.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hey Yo

Yes, I will dress up this blog and make it real purty sometime when I damn well feel like it. But 'taint going to be now. I have so much left to do, and too little time to do it. Isn't that everyone's problem? But it shouldn't be for me. I sit like a Buddha and LOLL about on the couch for the greater part of every day. (FYI, bathroom breaks are allowed.) Oh, and sleep for an inordinate amount of time.

So what up with dat? I'm 48 years old, in pretty good shape... (with "abs of steel" says my chiropractor. God bless you Laurie. Oh if you (the universal ye) ever need a terrific chiropractor let me know. The only trouble is is that she's in Washington Heights. But she's worth every mile and the hideous amount of Bridge traffic. I love her.) All right, so I'm in pretty good shape and not all that long ago, I was dubbed by someone as the most well-preserved chick in NYC. (God, do I eat that shit up. Or rather, I used to.)

What turned me into Captain Pike (if you don't know, please google him yourself), was a cascading series of events. Individually, perhaps not life changing, but together, a nightmare.
Okay (deep breath- wait a minute, that's actually pretty funny in a cold, dark way), in late fall 2006, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease (Lymphoma) the best cancer a girl could ever ask for. Ridiculously treatable. All pretesting showed a body in perfect condition and ready to go. Hey my boy Mario Lemieux had Hodgkin's. He's doing just fine. So I begin chemo, buzz off my nice long hair, and begin what was to be six months (two treatments per month) of chemo. Then all done.

After one treatment (ONE!!! Woohoo, am I home free or what?) there is no longer any evidence of cancer. I react weirdly to the chemo...but who doesn't...??? and The Fifth Element while stoned is simply incredible. I'll do Milla myself; she's so hot. And weed eats up nausea instantly. That's what I call a miracle drug.

Well, during the second week after chemo, I'm feeling much more normal, so I work out, blah, blah, blah. Then I get a fever, late February, early March. I had been given my order: if I have a fever over 100 degrees, call doc, anytime day of night. This went on for several days. Chip (mein husband) left for a business trip. "Honey, what could possibly happen in a couple of days?" says I. So he left. Doc calls late. Fever hasn't gone down. He said "I don't like the sound of this. Meet me in the emergency room at 10 a.m." Okay. I expect IV antibiotics as I was promised.

I go, tell the triage nurse lymphoma, fever...get to the head of the line. Fuck open sesame. "Lymphoma, fever" gets you instant gratification. Trust me, I know. And we all love instant gratification, don't we? (Well I do.) I meet the doctor, give my girlfriend my phone. And the next thing I know, it's May. Yeah, I went in March 7 and became aware in May. (Sounds like a line from Tommy.) Seems I had a perfect storm of events...weird reactions to chemo drugs, pneumonia, fever such that my little lungs threw their hands up in despair (well they would have if they had them) and said, this is too fucking much! And those damned lungs hardened up so bad, I was on a ventilator for 8 weeks in medically-induced coma. I was supposed to die, because people who get this just don't live. My husband MADE me live. He made the doctors MAKE me live.

That's why I'm on disability with 24% lung function and there is no treatment for my condition. NOTHING. I think that's been the toughest thing to take. You get sick. then you get better. I had never heard, you're sick and we got nuthin'. Sorry.

Anyway, I'm on oxygen 24/7. I can't walk any further that the bathroom. Even with extra oxygen, I'm still out of breath. So it's the buddha or the wheelchair. I pretty much choose buddha and the couch.

But, since I can't do anything else, I've become a writing freak. I never said it was "good" writing, but it's writing nonetheless. My major opus has been a family history, and I think may end up being at least a good deal of the focus on this blog. But today, I just had to set the scene for what is. I just wish I could do it with fewer words.

So my next task, is to get a book published. It is called Since When and about my ancestors. Ha! Just to get an agent, you have to go through a ridiculous obstacle course. Fuck, if your margins aren't exactly as they want them, throw the whole damned proposal out. Do you think it gets any easier with publishers? They have you jumping through the same sorts of hoops. Now I can get margins right, but what about the query letter, the synopsis (sell! sell! sell!), the outline (who knew this was such a SINGULAR thing?) But what better things do I have to do? I'll tell you all about the book. If it piques any interest, I'll tell you more. We'll see if this piques anyone's interest. Period.

Hello, good night,' til we meet again