Saturday, July 31, 2010


Well it happened again. I didn't know it was coming. I didn't think I was building towards anything. My back is even behaving more like a back. Supporting my weight, allowing me to walk without pain (well not a lot of pain), and to do my daily ablutions without being a cauldron of pain after completion. (Of said ablutions.) Goddamnit. I despaired. I thought I was passed that. Why now?

There is nothing worse than despair.

The only other time I despaired was under completely different circumstances. It was the day after my first chemo, and the miracle anti-nausea drug Kytril was doing diddley. There is nothing worse than nausea with no end in sight. Pain is infinitely preferable. (I'm not joking.) And this wasn't any typical nausea.

You know, when you're ill, you feel often feel better after throwing up? This was abominably different. There was zero respite. I was shot up with poisons, and I'd remain nauseated as long as...? Chip wasn't home. (That was the last chemo weekend he didn't stay home.) This never-ending nausea had me on the floor lying there in tears. I was long past hysterical. I could only whimper and weep.

The next day, Sunday, I was still as miserable. But not alone. Company helps. I'm not sure who said it first, but the directive was "We need to get weed in here pronto." We called The Boy who said he'd take care of it. That evening, weed and paraphernalia in hand, I discovered how it lessens the hell of nausea immensely and instantly with one toke. One toke. Weed is a miracle drug. My body could relax, I wasn't panicked anymore, I felt much, much better.

The doc said next time he'll have me take a combo of the Kytril and steroids, all should be as originally promised. ("Fran, there are excellent anti-nausea drugs.") I told him about the weed. He never said ooh great! But he did- just not overtly. (Kytril and steroids worked like a charm. The only problem was I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, and I got intense cravings for burgers from the local coffee shop The Bon Vivant. (Who thought of that for the name of a coffee shop? He or she deserves a separate exhibit at The Coffee Shop Hall of Fame for that alone. The burgers would get them in, no question.)

We both agreed that the CIA idiots had it so completely wrong at Guantanamo Bay. Never-ending nausea would be our torment of choice. But since I (and my doctor) think all forms of torture (including those inflicted on my body) are dead wrong, and I don't think the CIA will be asking me any time soon for new, fun things we can do to Muslims.

Do you really think that if the suspects were all white and European they'd have done all the awful things that they did do? No fucking way. We all know that the atomic bomb was okay to destroy Japanese cities, but there was no way in hell we would have tried them out on the continent. "Others" aren't like us. You know, they don't feel pain the way we do? Psst. And you what Jews put into their matzoh.

I never heard of "water boarding" before this fiasco, did you? I think feeling like you're drowning comes awfully close to nausea in terms of getting your suspect to say anything to get the torture to stop.

But last night, I despaired. I looked backwards which is a very bad thing to do. I raised my voice about the stupid doctors, about Chip for not being tough enough with them...And I raised my voice because I am ashamed that my entire existence is dependent on whether I receive emails or phone calls from the outside world. I really am. dependent and ashamed.

Hey, I don't sit here like a latke waiting for calls and emails to miraculously happen. I'm not that narcissistic, lazy, or stupid to do that. If I get a person on the line, great. If not, I leave a message. How many times does no one call back? Too often. (FYI, I'm talking about people I know...who know me.) I'm not cold-calling anyone. I sent one "cold" email. For that one, I received a reply. I send emails that go unanswered. And goddamnit, this shit crushes me. Grinds me up into little bits. I despair.

I want to turn inward. So those things won't hurt anymore. Whatever goes on in these four walls with Chip and the cats, I can handle it. But I can't handle the other. It's too painful. For the first time in a long, long time I pondered suicide. I mean really seriously thought about it. Not in the abstract. Poor Rich. I sent him a note last night that after I sent it off sounded awfully like a suicide note. I showed it to Chip. (By showing Chip, I'm making it as difficult as I can to follow through on my "promise" to myself.) You can't share suicide with someone who's not going with you. We're not talking Adolph and Eva.

Chip got me to go to bed early. I awoke the second the Lunesta wore off. I was out of bed at 6:30 this morning. Met Chip in the living room. He gave me cereal. I ate. (That's big.) He's always said, "Honey, if nothing else, I can feed you." And he does, he does. I curled up on the couch going in and out of sleep. I know I spoiled Chip's long bike ride he had planned for the morning. (Like he's going to leave me by myself after last night's production.)

Now, I'm just beat. Exhausted. No longer suicidal, but I have to find a better way to live. Or find a way to live with the loneliness, the lack of control (just let it go off into the ether, baby that's right, that's right...)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Fran, get back on the Prozac."

Just woke from a nap and still a bit disoriented. I can't spell anything correctly anymore. I sometimes skip words, so sentences are unintelligible. I type other words that have no relation to what I'm writing instead of the one I want. It's kind of like writing "Captain Ahab" when all you really were looking for was the word "with." That's plain spooky to me.

Once I become fully awake, the word scramble remains the same. Perhaps later I'll get really annoyed at the phenomena. Right now its kind of strange, annoying, and kinda cool. What will come out of her fingers this sentence? Maybe this is my body compensating for lack of outside stimuli. By making typing an adventure. Aren't bodies amazing how they do that? Compensate for loss of limb or to help the fuzzy brain. Why not call it Brain Fuzz? Is Brain Murk better? Or Lazy Brain? "I'm sorry to inform you, Mr. Sleeper, your wife is suffering from an acute case of Lazy Brain." That works okay for me.

Chip has made an appointment with an orthopedist to see if he can figure out what's going on with my back. It made me feel really stupid when he said if this has been going on for quite a while, you need to get this checked out. Why didn't we make this appointment weeks ago? My friend David who has had a zillion back surgeries said they'll either want to cut you open or give you pills. try the chiropractor first. I've had a lot of success with them. Okay. Chip said let's go back to Laurie (my blessed chiropractor and soul soother. She really performs magic. Her mere presence is balm for my aching soul). I have no problems except she's up in Washington Heights, and I have to go up three ginormous steps to get to her 1st floor office.

The architect of the building where her office is located was a fucking sadist. These days, I don't think there's anything that scares me as much as those steps. (Except when I'm truly loco, the shower becomes my object of Dread.) Because once I climb those steps, the goddamned back pain rises to the rarified heights of hell. (Why does hell have to be down? Up may stink worse. Think about it. Can we really know?) And whether I'm having back pain or not, when I've finished my climb, I'm gasping for breath for the what seems like an eternity. (I think I may have improved a little bit in this arena. So now it takes half an eternity...) I try to avoid losing breath as often as I can. Inability to breathe has a high fear quotient for me. I must love Laurie. A lot. Who the hell else would I put myself through this crap for?

It took my therapist a while (this was years and years ago) to realize when I calmly discuss terrible things, I wasn't just some patient overstating her crap. I may very cheerfully say I'm really depressed. And I mean it. I am. I choose my words very carefully. If I'm feeling blue, I'm blue. Not depressed. There's a world of difference. One is illness and the other is a normal human emotion. We're allowed to be sad. And should be when appropriate.

Haven't you found that people often overstate whatever's happening in their lives? "I'm depressed" is a big one. "I've never felt worse in my entire life" when the person has a cold. To quote my uncle commenting on his younger brother who was about to say the bruchah over the bread, "He's going to make a BIG DEAL of this." (We have that recorded. It is priceless.)

For a short while, years ago, before we got to the psychopharmacologist, I was getting a blip of Prozac from my internist. That blip was enough to keep me on an even keel. My therapist, who didn't yet know me and had seen many, many patients self-medicating with antidepressants they received from their internists whether they really needed them or not. It was September, a few months before I crash from SAD (With my SAD, I'm as precise as an atomic clock.) My therapist asked me to stop taking the Prozac and see what happens. Well, I reiterate to her that I do get depressed but sure, let's try it.

I don't remember much about this one particular appointment. I think it was in November. I'm not sure if was able to make any sense. There was fuzz (oh no! fuzz again) between me and her and everything else for that matter. Her jaw dropped (literally or figuratively, who the fuck knows? But I do remember one thing. "Fran, get back on the Prozac." (That belongs on my FB profile page. I like it.) It should be someone's yearbook quote.

When I got back on my even keel (well even enough to function in the world), I said, "I told you I get depressed come fall." She said most people who say they're depressed aren't. They're sad, blue, angry and a whole mess of this they need to get off their chests. But depressed, they're usually not. She has learned no matter how calm I may appear, take my words seriously. And she, smart cookie that she is, finds ways to get around my placid or cheerful body armor. (Maybe my rope and pulley contraption- please see yesterday's post- may require body armor. Chip and I could make it a thing. How deliciously kinky.)

Back to my back. I think I'm very good at tolerating pain. But I have said, with relative good cheer, I am in excruciating pain. For me this means I feel really bad. Hey, this is coming from the girl who thinks that going off in the woods alone is the way to give birth to your children. (Psst, she's off her rocker, but she's harmless.) Next year, in Jerusalem. Bye for now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Springtime for Hitler

I am blue. I suppose I am for the usual reasons. I received a note from my wonderful friend from decades ago. It was right on the money. By that, I don't mean it was calculated. I don't think she's capable of being calculating. Not to me. It was right. It was good. It made me feel good. She is who she was. At least the important parts. And her important parts were damned spectacular. I never in a million years thought this would ever happen. I thought she was gone forever. My world just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

The people I love so dearly from G and R are spread out all over the country. And the ones who are here, I can't go and meet them at Old Town. They have to come to me. And they now have wives and kids. It's not so simple stopping by. And I haven't exactly made it easy for any of them to visit. I think I'm still ashamed of what I've become. It's just like wanting to go off by myself and lick my wounds. Why bother anyone else with my crap? That's not nice.

We first see Jack's native American wife in Little Big Man off in the woods by herself giving birth. When I saw that scene, it penetrated my little person in a huge way. I got it. That's the way I wanted to handle all of life's trials, go off by myself and fucking deal with it. I'm not sure that's what the director was going for. I think part of my horror of childbirth was how public it was. I wasn't down with that at all. A person on FB posted his fantubulous black and white photographs of his wife giving birth. On FB! I'm sorry, that's just not appropriate. I seem to recall a book where a character had a ginormous photo of his wife giving birth in living color as the centerpiece of his living room. I could be making this up. I don't know.

I hate my illness. I'm furious that the first pulmonologist and I believe my oncologist fucked up. I think if the latter had addressed my weird chemo reactions sooner and that I couldn't take a deep breath, perhaps we could have stopped the pneumonia in its tracks. (HE listened. He didn't hear anything. Goddamnit. I had fucking pneumonia.) Maybe ARDS was in the cards even if he had taken my complaints seriously sooner. And the first pulmologist just gave me the wrong information. She said "if you get a cold, it's just cold. a bug is just a bug, don't worry." That's exactly the opposite of what I should do. After an autumn of colds and "bugs," I found I lost so much of my lung function. I can't sue, because I don't have one of those cases with legal proof that she is to blame. But I know.

I have to move forward. When I dwell on that nonsense, I get beyond angry. woulda, coulda, shoulda. That's a very bad place to be. I just don't know how I'm going to get through ten years before the medical community develops any treatment for me. (No wonder I get weepy.)

Next step for the painful back...a call and then a visit to the orthopedist. He may just tell me to stay home. What can be done for me that isn't invasive? Yeah, I can get narcotics. I don't want narcotics.

The one thing I've done completely right was to stay home from the Paul D. Schreiber High School Thirtieth Reunion. In a room of wall to wall people, would it not be incredibly ironic if I caught a cold and dropped dead. The long, evil tendrils of Paul D. Schreiber High School stretching themselves to Roslyn to zap me dead of the common cold. But I foiled them. Ha! It would've served me right for hating the place so damned much.

But they did screw me in one way. In a way that was supposed to be really sweet. Well, it does win in the sweet department. But I don't want sweet. I hate sweet. Remember the "bio" I was to submit to get everyone up to date on what I've been up to for the past thirty years? Now I couldn't do that...c'mon I sent what I sent, assuming they'd never print it, but good for them! They did. Maybe they never really read it. I sent the very nice organizers 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.

But they fucked it up. I think since they knew my lousy tale, they were very sweet when they added a big, fat honking exclamation point at the end of the first sentence. Yes, they're happy I made it through and am able to live yet another day. (And so am I.) But that whopping bit of punctuation breaks the rhythm of the thing. A word to the wise, exclamation points are not funny. Don't question it just take my word for it.

Flow is everything. After finding the LP of The Producers at home. (Who knew it was there? I listened to it until the grooves wore out.) I was in high school. The song "Springtime for Hitler" was "sung" and Mel Brooks' little call out received the appropriate laughs. Another friend, but not one of the five (we were five weren't we?) found all this hysterical and tried to tell someone how funny this was. She said:

Don't be stupid
Be smart
Come and join the Nazi Party

That, my friends, is terribly unfunny. But poor dear, she didn't know the difference.

Its never going to be right, is it?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paean to Martha

All right. All right. This is not right. I begin to feel a little better about something, I find something that's all wrong. No, it doesn't help that I've had weeks of excruciating back pain. (That I feel so goddamned guilty about. That I am the cause of this pain. Yeah, I know, there's no hard and fast proof that this is so. I just have one big fat hunch.) Hey, I have to remember that my tragic illness hasn't healed my person. (I have no trouble with "tragic" in this context, do you? I think it's times like these we save it for. So it will have maximum impact. And I fucking want to make absolutely certain that you all know through to you innards that what happened to me is tragic and nothing less.)

And I'm not going to rehash this. But I could have easily gotten one bit of sinew off track, making other bits of sinew take up the slack. And it cascades from there. And you end up with one fucking mess. I'm listening to Syl Johnson. He's feelin' frisky and wants to have fun. Oh baby, if only.

I think there will soon come a time in the near future when I'll need to be lowered into bed with some sort of rope and pulley contraption. Did anyone ever watch the British "miniseries" The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth that ran about 30 years ago? In the Catherine Howard "playlet," poor, bloated, enormous, decrepit Henry- wearing full body armor- is lowered onto his horse using the kind of contraption I'm thinking about. I'm so much lighter than Henry. Nor would full body armor or a horse be involved. Chip could figure this out in a jiffy. (He's very handy.)

Which leads me back to being neurotic. I have to remember that my physical issues didn't cure me of all my shit. The only "positive" change I can identify is the I have found My Voice. Which simply means I'm no longer frightened of what people will think of me. Let's see how that strong that voice is when I'm dealing with people face to face. It is so easy to proclaim victory on the page. Let's see if I can really cut the mustard. (Thank you Dooie) But that's it. The Voice. I think all the rest of my varied and substantial shit is the same and in the same place they were when I last looked.

I don't know how I got this way, but I tend to go off into corners (figurative or literal) and lick my wounds. I also like to provide comfort. (No, no! Way too simple and not the way my gears work.) No, I hate for the people I love to feel bad. The hard part is accepting it back when I need it.

Sophomore year, a few of my smart girls came to visit me at school. Suzanne had come the year before, and it was fabulous. She brought two friends from school with her, and we had a blast. Naturally, we'd have the same great time a year later. Foolish girl. The beau (my beau) who hadn't become the beau until the spring prior, was already fucking anything that moved. And since I didn't get angry (no, genius-head tried to make all-better), he quickly realized he could treat me like a piece of shit because I settled for his shit. (And, yeah, I had the disease that I'd never ever find another man on earth who would ever love such a sorry I stayed.)

He chooses the moment my friends come to visit to be an especially vile asshole. Coincidence? I wasn't even that stupid. I didn't know what to do except try and make believe this nightmare wasn't really happening. My attempt was pathetic and my friends didn't know what to do. Finally, back in my room far away from the creep, I burst into tears. (That is not my modus operandi. Life has to be so bad for me to completely lose control like that.) I went in my bedroom (to lick wounds and such). The most wonderful thing happened. Martha went back to find me. Said nothing and put her arm around my shoulders and let me cry. Big heaving sobs. I will love Martha forever for her Marthaness. But that moment by itself is more than enough.

Martha I love you forever.

(Boy am I weepy.)

I didn't handle confrontation very well. It was sooo much easier keeping my anger to myself. If I had only asked one of my BFF's right at the time of her hostility, "What the fuck is going on?" I know, (right, I know now) what ever bullshit it was could have been put to bed right then and there. Not 30 years later!!! Ghastly!

I have to face myself with my old friend. With whom I'm taking baby steps. Why has she not asked about what the hell happened to me. The worst thing that has ever happened to me. The thing that could still kill me with a stupid upper-respiratory illness. I think it's plain weird that it hasn't come up. This is what's all wrong. I sent out my little emails because I'm focussed on her mishegoss. Which is completely real and terrible. But I'm living mine NOW. And there's not a fucking thing I can do to make it better. Why haven't you asked about me? At all? I know you need to explain yourself. But I'm suffering here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Apocalypse Now

One member of my group of high school (the smart girls in the bubble)- the one who severed ties, so long ago, asked to "friend" me on FB. There was no note on the friendship request. There was just a name I thought I'd never see again. There was no question I'd accept her friendship. I did. But then the most peculiar thing happened. I got angry. Good and angry. Sending me a friend request with no note, no promise of explanation for the decades' disappearance. I don't usually get angry. But nothing is usual anymore, so whatever pops up may generate surprise on my part. Fuck. Was I surprised.

I don't think anyone would call me shallow. They could, I suppose. But they'd be wrong. How do I know? I just do. (Wouldn't it be pathetic if I were really, really shallow, but thought I was actually very deep. Oh god, I'd be Fredo, "I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!" Would anyone have the heart to tell me I'm as deep as Brittney Spears? I'm not so sure.)

My friend who probably is still one of a very few people who know me better than anyone in the world. (She never thought I was shallow. Or she had the grace to keep that to herself) Sure we've missed a few decades. But what's a few decades among friends? Actually I think she'll be pleased to find that I'm no longer a chicken shit asshole. (FYI chicken shit and asshole fit just as perfectly as duck sauce and egg roll. Or a horse and carriage.) Maybe I stopped evolving after age 18. (I'm sorry to say that that's more true than I'd like it to be. Doh!)

My old friend and I have been exchanging emails. Honestly (as otherwise, I've been dishonest all this time, please), I didn't expect much of something that was mothballed so long ago. But there was a reason why we never argued about anything in the six years we were together in school. No we weren't trying real hard to be nice. (Unfortunately that is a piece of my makeup, and I'm doing my very best I can to shed it completely.) We were always relaxed with each other. It was just easy.

We just never had any cause to disagree. In these emails we've been exchanging- how can it not be?- there's still a connection. Where it will go remains to be seen. I'm not angry anymore. I love that! About this. My long-lost missing friend.

A reminder: Never forget, on my best days, I'm roiling with anger. I'm always a maelstrom of bitter bile. But this thing old friend thing is good. Very good. There are still things in this world that can please me.

But there's still so much that's still so very wrong. My poor darling widow girlfriend keeps busy with chores and her Blog posts. That main Blog photo of Jerry's work boots get me every time. What a fucking nightmare.

I've had shpilkes especially these past few days. It goes away when I work, when I take tranquilizers (as I've just done this very moment.) Why don't tranquilizers not make you feel tranquil? I suppose if at your best, you're roiling with anger, that's probably too much to ask of a little bitty pill. Yesterday, I finished the the last of the three Caro Johnson books. They've kept me in line for months. Now what?

I don't understand what it is with me and nonfiction, but my new fun book to "get me out of myself" is the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. I started it. I like it. They're supposed to be brilliant. And the backstory is beyond poignant. Grant was swindled into bankruptcy. He had been working on his memoirs for some time and knew he had to finish them to provide his family with some income. No farting around. Without it, they'd be destitute. He was diagnosed with throat cancer while he was writing. His clock was ticking, but the man got it done, with a few days to spare. That story gets me every time. (weepy again.) 300,000 copies of his memoirs sold saving his family from poverty. Think about that time next time you pass by Grant's tomb. I have less shpilkes now.

My beloved Rich posted an article about everybody's favorite director, Oliver Stone. Thank god for Oliver Stone. With Oliver around we will never want for material. "Outspoken Hollywood director says new film aims to put Adolf Hitler, who he has called an 'easy scapegoat' in the past, in his due historical context." He blames Jewish control of the media for this travesty. (God, do I love this.) He says Hitler and Stalin haven't had a fair shake and have not been put in their proper contexts. (!) Through this new documentary, ole Oliver will allow us to walk in the shoes of both Hitler and Stalin to understand their point of view. (I never thought the adage of "walking a mile in his moccasins" applied to Hitler and Stalin. Maybe it's just me.)

We are nearing the apocalypse.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Flanken, Gefilte Fish, and Tears

I don't remember whether in any of these posts I've actually said what Since When is. Ah, Chip said I did. In great detail. In my second post. I can't remember that far back. Yeah, really. My brain either got fucked up by the copious amount of drugs to keep me in that coma, or by the drugs I'm taking now. Or it got really fucked up. Forever and ever. Because of the drugs and shit.

The bitch is, they weren't even good drugs. (Except the weed for the nausea. Weed is truly a miracle drug.) Did you know-I surely did not-that if you clean your weed as always and throw it in a pan with a hunk of butter. Put it in a ramekan or other appropriate vessel, let the butter reharden. Voila! You have weed butter. Pop a piece of bread in the toaster, and you don't come back to earth for hours. Since I can't smoke, and I will turn into a fat load with brownies, the occasional slice of toast will take away my anxiety as well as a tranquilizer and a whole lot more fun. Shit, I could really use some right now.

To get myself reacquainted with myself, I just looked back at my old posts, and I can't believe how much crap I've written. If I were confronted with them- these ridiculously lengthy posts, they'd intimidate the hell out of me. The question, my dear honey bears, should I try to make them shorter, because, it has become clear to me that once I'm on a roll, I don't stop. I think it would defeat the purpose of a Blog making it unreadable. That's a problem.

I have always been plagued by a need to please or said another way, never wanting to disappoint. In the case of this Blog, I may have, am, or will post some piece of shit that would embarrass us all. And question might (if it hasn't already) arise for all you readers, why the fuck am I wasting my precious time here? A good question indeed, and I can't answer it for you. (Neither could bob Dylan. He was just annoyed by being snookered.) I apologize profusely. So, I'll change the subject to get away from the things that get me weepy. (No one will notice that I've done this. With the skill of a surgeon (or a sturgeon- I love sturgeon), I return to a topic that was vexing me Friday.)

Back to rethinking Since When (which is already written). The damned thing covering my family from 1900 - 1945 makes it a holocaust story. I find it difficult if not impossible, how anyone could try and turn it into a cookbook. Maybe an Aryan Nation cookbook. Quite possibly. Assuming we leave Aryan Nation out of this project, it is impossible to just snip the nasty parts out (so introducing recipes throughout the thing isn't quite so gruesome.) A rigo jancsi with your Zyklon B? Maybe the dobos torta is a better go with?) I am going straight to hell. Might as well go for it. Grab that brass ring, girlfriend!

And why Since When as a title? I have my darling, kickass gorgeous Lydon to thank for it. The Since when...originated for our family regarding my brother and gefilte fish. "Since when, Dougie, don't you eat gefilte fish?" All Jews must experience this kind of question sometime in his lifetime. Questions that have no answers. Questions that should never be asked. "Your grandmother slaved to make those gefilte fish. And what, you're not eating?"

Our version of "you're not eating?" is when we were kids, we weren't allowed to leave the table without trying the disgusting food at issue. "Just take a bite." My mother never learned that we couldn't eat these very few items, because they just didn't taste good to us. We are not a family of picky eaters. But the hell of pushing your food around your plate after everyone had already left the table was torment. And the goofy thing about this is that the very few things we hated to eat, we still hate. C'mon Ma, we ate everything else. You had it easy. We ate 98% of what you put in front of us. But this was our cross to bear. (For a Jew that's saying a lot.)

The other way to create guilt, you're not eating enough: "We serve gefilte fish to make sure you don't get too skinny. Kinahora, look at your father. He's eating everything." Including that vile flanken that even my mother admits is pretty horrible. My brother and I think something happens to Jewish middle-aged men who one morning wake up craving boiled beef. No one here is yet having this craving. Some of us are male and middle aged. Maybe this only worked for middle aged Jewish men of a time long ago and far away. (Isn't that something from Star Wars? Good god.) I apologize. No one is ever going to make flanken to find out once and for all the truth. If you do, please let me know.

Another one of those Jewish mysteries, like do we really rule the world? Well yeah, we do. What are you gonna do about it? Huh, white boy?" Pogroms, holocaust...all a distraction to keep the rest of you from the Truth. Subterfuge. Okay, we had to crack a few eggs...but it worked like a charm, didn't it? Who really believes we're in control? Mel Gibson, that's who. That man should be bound and gagged. Among the other mean and nasty things we can do to him with a crystal-clear conscience. Where can I sign up?

By the time I was born, the originally svelte Dad was still handsome, but he had a round belly. Blame Grandma. She was upset that when he and Mom married, he was skinny and had a greenish pallor. Mom liked skinny men. One bite of Grandma's food, it was all over. Anyone who used my father as an example of the physique that all the young men in the family should aspire to is cuckoo. Check him out on FB, he was one hot number in, the big one, WWII. The Dad I knew was a squeezable, sweet, lovable mush. Svelte and hot. Not so much. If he were, he wouldn't be "daddy." He'd be "father," and that would be just too goyish. (And I'd look like Grace Kelly. Or at the very least, January Jones.)

What's the real truth, mein bubelehs, tell me? I can't figure a damn thing out three years out of that goddamned hospital. I just see so few people. I am lonely and sad. I'm the boy in the bubble. (And was he one angry dude. Now I get it.) Oh no, I can't shake weepy tonight. My apologies. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Yesterday I had the bright idea of having Chip take a picture of me. After my high school's thirtieth reunion, FB is inundated with photos of lots of people with arms around each other, grinning at the camera, each in various states of inebriation. All partygoers on FB and bother to write about the Big Day write about how great party it was, how great it was to see everybody, and how great everybody looked....

I figured, I'll post my own "reunion" shot. All I needed was for Chip to take it. We had to hurry. Kristen (therapist extraordinaire) was to arrive in the next few minutes and after my appointment, we'd have lost the light. (I look especially awful being photographed with a flash.) We tried to get the damned shot in. I have found if very difficult not to look sad. Hell, I really do think I'm smiling for the camera. It's such a shock (less so because it has become the norm) to see myself looking so worried and sad. Over and over and over again. I must wear that face most of the time and just not be aware of it. Crap. Finally, we got one where I look okay. (Not sad.) I'm not looking miserable, but I'm just appalled by my physical appearance. I feel so damned ugly. I was going to post that shot here today, but it really makes me queasy to see it.

I can't post (at least not on FB) a photo that says, hey look guys! Don't I look like a piece of shit! Sorry I missed the shindig! (I told you I have issues about my appearance.) I finally get it that I looked good, real good, for a long, long time, some time ago. But since I was unable to see it back then, it wasn't so. Fuck me. I never allowed myself to enjoy it. Or, I didn't allow myself to enjoy it all that much. Damn.

After school, I used to wander Manhattan with an acquaintance who became a very good friend. We were and are total opposites. One of my favorite stories, when I was living with one of her buddies sophomore year because of the vagaries of Penn's "Random Room Draw." (They really called it that. Isn't it awful? But it was most certainly accurate. The four of us in that highrise room were about as random as you can get.)

She calls looking for Leslie (my random roommate). I tell that she isn't here at the moment. "Can I leave her a message?" "Sure" "Please tell Leslie I need a black Lancome mascara desperately."

I begin writing this down and get stuck, "What's a Lancome?" I swear up and down. I said that. This really happened. I didn't know about this stuff. I didn't care about this stuff. And I still feel like a little kid if I attempt to put on makeup. I think it makes me look grotesque. Especially lipstick. (Not good at all.) Well my girlfriend-to-be patiently spelled out Lancome for me and told me it was a brand of cosmetics. Ohhh.

But my new friend was quite a beauty. I really think she was every Jewish boy's and then some's dream girl. Even before I met Chip, I would go out with her knowing I wasn't going to meet anybody. Even if I were hanging with an ogress instead of my gorgeous bud, I wasn't going to meet anybody anyway. I loved to dance at a club. I liked drinking at a bar. (I'm sure I still would.) But I cheerfully knew I wasn't going to meet a boy for me at either of those types of establishments. I think I gave off skunk vibes there. I'd meet my boy, whoever he might be, elsewhere. (And I did.) So I really didn't give a shit if were Ms. Pepe LePew or not. That's not why I went out. I went out to have fun. I always did.

My girlfriend was looking for real. And boy did she get attention. I saw heads turn almost, but not quite, like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist to take a gander at my gorgeous buddy. I was more than little amused that in these situations, I was the "ugly sidekick." It was funny then, and it's funny now. I enjoyed my nights hanging with my girl immensely.

Hey, y'all, this is another instance of Franny's perceived masochism. I did love both clubs and bars. But never to meet anybody. If I did expect to meet Prince Charming, I'd be miserable. My nights out wouldn't be fun anymore. I knew my guy wasn't to be found there. And my Chip. He just hates those places period. He never went trawling for babes. It's not his style. So I met my Prince Charming at the office. Now that makes sense to me.

Besides looking at yesterday's photo, there has been something else I've been avoiding. If I were still in Fran Part 1 I would have gobbled it up immediately. No such luck. As I wrote in post "Huh," I had a visit last week from my college beau's freshman roommate Alan. That was a terrific visit and as a parting gift he left me a DVD 4013. 4013 means 4013 Baltimore- the boys' address for two years. An address filled with happiness, sadness, misery, and a whole of fun. (Not necessarily shared with the girlfriends of said boys. I definitely fall under the rubrics sadness and misery. Don't feel bad. Isn't that what college is for? And I had an awful lot of fun so no big woo.) The DVD is said to contain pictures of all of us. Mark (old beau) has called me three times since the visit and posted a line to me on FB that I "...will love it."

After a few days of that DVD sitting prominently in my living room just itching to be played, come to realize I've been avoiding it like the plague. I'm so afraid I'll fall to pieces looking at it. Since Fran Part 2 is only a toddler-if that- she'll have a really hard time watching Fran Part 1 having such a damned good time. I know I will. I don't want to cry. But I know I will. Yesterday's photo, where I tried so hard to look...carefree? bogus. I am unhappy. Not every single minute of every single day. But I'm sad. I have what to be sad about. I'm not depressed. I take handfuls of drugs to take care of that. But those reunion photos, that DVD, I don't want to them until I can look...brave...and maybe even a little...pretty. That won't be easy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Nosebleed

A good start to the day. I had a nosebleed of epic proportions. I was a human geyser. I went through a quarter of one of those large Kleenex boxes from Costco. The rest sprayed all over my shirt or went down my throat. Ugh. This has happened only once before, and this was most definitely worse. It took fucking FOREVER to stop. I'm afraid to put a tissue near my nose. (So don't Miss Knucklehead.)

The air in my cannula dries me out, so I'm more susceptible to a sudden eruption. I can say in all honesty, I wasn't attempting suicide via nosebleed. It looks like you're losing an awful of blood, but it ain't gonna kill you. (But it is very dramatic.) Or it would have been a really idiotic way to try to off myself. Dramatic, weird, and pointless.

So I eat my peanut butter and jelly a little worse for wear. Kristin, my beloved therapist, will be over shortly. Is that the nicest? Most mensch-ish? It sure is. I have a therapist who makes house calls. Wow.

Session was lovely. I can't remember one blessed thing we talked about. Ah, yes, we did talk about Since When- that I am certain that it must maintain its integrity and if by doing so, no one wants to buy it, I'll learn to live with that rejection. Just as well as I've learned to live with everything else I'm trying to cope with. (Why do I find that last sentence hysterically funny?)

I never started writing with blockbuster in mind. Hell, I never started writing with a book in mind. As "the thing" grew, I felt more comfortable referring to it as my tome or my family story. (The word "book" was plain scary.) For me, tome is more acceptable because of its negative connotations. My tome, therefore, is just a large piece of crap written for no particular purpose. Least of publishing. And I can write one of those. No problem. Uh huh.

It was like removing impacted wisdom teeth to get me to admit that Since When had turned into a book despite all my denials and protestations. And that all books have a writer. QED: I'm (oh my) a writer. There I said it? Are you happy now? (I mean it. Had to drag me kicking and screaming: say it! say it! say it!) Hey, not all writers are good writers. (Sometimes I think and behave like a supreme jackass.)

I'm still shaken up by my earlier nose emergency. It's much, much later in the day and true, I'm feeling a little less paranoid than I had been several hours ago which is a always a plus. Paranoia? From a nosebleed? I, too, fail to see any connection between the two accept that it takes so little these days to knock me down. Until I start becoming psychologically stronger, (your guess is as good as mine), things like a nosebleed can shake me all the way down to my very foundations.

When I get like that I feel terribly lonely and stuck. I don't think I'll ever accept that Fran Part 1 is really over and that I should git going, get off my ass, and get acquainted with Fran 2. I'm clueless to what she's about except if I don't write (like these posts) I'll go mad. Now about another book. Hah! I'll likely end up as a whiny, sniveling doppelganger of Harper Lee except my one book won't be a masterpiece. A shame, but acceptable. I'm perfectly content to rest on my laurels. Oy gevalt. Just please stop these nosebleeds. They're really hard to take.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Magnificent Laurie

Today was chiropractor day. (!!!!) I've needed Laurie for a long, long time- long before Fran Part II began. (Yeah, that long ago.) Now I visit her in complete agony. (I am not overstating this.) I think my utterly miserable back pain began when I had the bright idea to see if could stand for an hour. Year's ago, when I was physically healthy, just plain nuts, I looked at or I think I did (one can never be sure) a question on the disability questionnaire regarding whether you, the applicant, can stand for one hour. Perhaps in my madness, I thought I saw that question appear somewhere official. It could just as easily have not and be a peculiar figment of my imagination.

Months ago, I thought this would be a nifty thing to do. Let's stand for an hour! Post ARDS, what have I done? (Okay, I do the step. I work my abs. Hamstrings. Quads. deltoids, rhomboids, triceps, biceps...) Even with almost useless lungs, if I make my body stronger, I can use oxygen more efficiently. Therefore, if I were a slug, I'd need more oxygen than I would if I were in better shape.) When the medical miracle that can make me feel better becomes reality, I need a strong body on which a doc can perform surgery.

I admit, the "workouts" are pathetic, but it's the best I can do. Remember people, being in shape is relative. Lordy, did I have gorgeous quadriceps! No more. They're just...smaller. I loved being physically strong. Even though I'm a waif, I walked down the street like I owned it. I dare you. No one would mess with this little girl. (Yeah, right. Sometimes fantasy is a very powerful and helpful exercise in avoiding the horrors of reality. Sometimes it's just stupid. But it's always better than a leg lift. That's for sure.)

And the goddamned steroids I have had to take on several occasions has left me with an ever-shrinking half bicycle tire on my front torso. That blows. One thing I do still have are seriously fine abs. Now I must wait years before this will be evident once again. They're covered with cortisone fat for the time being. Once again, once again. It's a fucking broken record. Well, girly, once again may never happen, so get used to it. (sigh.)

A challenge. Like my own little marathon- for gimps. (Yes, I do feel a kindred spirit with the gimp world even if I'm not a proper gimp. I do feel a very real tie to these folks, and I think this gives me the right to be offensive. Taking the foul word as my own. I never said I was correct in this, but this is what I tell myself..And anyone who thinks otherwise, do I really care? Not even one tiny bit.) I tell you, it feels really good not to be nice. I was always nice. I think nice is the easy way to say absolutely nothing nice or interesting about a person. Nice. It's a goddamned throwaway. I am so done being a throwaway. I am a person to be reckoned with. I'm passionate. I'm angry. (One of my favorite quotes of my many favorite quotes on my FB profile, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore." I think that just about sums me up.)

So one idiotic evening. I stood for an hour. Woohoo. I proved nothing except that I was total idiot for doing it. My back, no matter how much I'm able to work it, can't carry that kind of weight anymore. The weight of my torso. As my chiropractor, Laurie tells me, our bodies are made for walking- not standing still. And funny, when I walk the few steps I can take before my lungs go into crisis mode, lo and behold, my back doesn't hurt. So I now have a very long rehab staring me in the face to fix what I fucked up so royally.

Now I have to do what I'm told and be patient. Being a nice little girl, I'm very good at doing what I'm told. But I crave instant gratification. And that won't be happening regarding the things I find most importance. Working alveoli from stem cells. Alleviating back pain. Accepting that I may be welcome everywhere, but I can't ever go. And the polishing up the Since When saga and preparing it for mailings to prospective agents. These dreams work on geologic time. Talk to me later on in the Cenozoic, and I'll give you a status report. I only have hope for my back feeling better in real time. Is Laurie a publisher on the side or an alveoli/stem cell researcher? I wouldn't put it past her.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly

I'm sitting in the usual spot eating my usual lunch. Do you realize that I eat peanut butter and jelly every single day? And the sandwich must be made on Arnold's "Health Nut" bread. It has crunchy bits in it. I like crunchy bits. (Hey, don't they make Nestle's Crunch bar's rock?)

Eating the same damned thing every day isn't Chip's doing. He tries so very hard to keep the peanut butter and jelly thing fresh by switching out jelly for an array of different flavor jams. I like that. It shows creativity under intense pressure from me for sameness. The only good thing in Chip's favor is that now he can make a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich in seconds flat. I only take a pinch of time out of his busy day, working his ass off to put peanut butter and jelly on the table. Now that, my friends, is love and devotion.

I suppose my insistence peanut butter and jelly or death, means that peanut butter and jelly must be a comfort food. There have been many times in my life when onlookers might have said, "My god! That girl is such a masochist!" Their observation skills are not in question. Yes, I've often appeared to be a masochist, but I'm really not. Not in the least. I can accept comfort. I like comfort. It is especially nice when it's associated with food. Good food is a very good thing. Great food is a whole other story. It is divine and precious. My peanut butter and jelly sandwiches need not be divine or precious. They just need to continue to be good. They all have been to date, and I have no doubt the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of the future will be any different. And that, gives me comfort.

I've been sad since that stinking reunion weekend. I'm not sad that my body isn't strong enough for parties let alone partying. Regardless of anything my new FB friends say, they're not my droogs. I've glanced at FB every day or so. Just glanced mind you. I really don't need to hear the post mortems and see the zillion photos from the weekend. No matter how many times I play Uncle Bonsai's song "Johnny, it's downhill from here," I haven't been able to shake it. Because that wasn't my time. My time came right after and lasted until this illness stopped me in my tracks.

I'm also sad, because some folks close to me don't like the concept of Since When. (Shouldn't everyone, goddamnit?) And would prefer to turn it into something else. I'm not that good a writer to make the wonderful food we ate and desserts we devoured into a device to get into the book. Melancholy is the thread that holds it together. And love. And loss. I can't introduce my "characters" with a recipe.

I did learn something very important. That I think the target audience for Since When is boomer Jews. (I really do need to check this further before I accept this conclusion as fact.) And perhaps a few curious persons who madly love generational stories and genealogy in general. I know I can make Since When a better read, write a better synopsis, but I can't change its blood and guts. I often think that Since When birthed itself using my fingers and my keyboard as its tools. Because, lord knows, I don't know how it came from me.

I have to remember that losing so much of my physical self gave me my voice. I don't give a shit about embarrassing myself. I don't concern myself with whether I've said the right or wrong thing. I can accept criticism without feeling crushed and humiliated. Not even a bit. I wish I could've lost a little more ego in this process I've undergone, but I think that only happens when you're on the road to sainthood. If I only know one thing in this world, I am not, never in a million years, headed for sainthood. Well I could in Bizarro world, but I don't live there. Not yet, anyway. And I refuse to go if I can't get Chip's perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think that's reasonable, no?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bull's Blood

My oh my. It's enervating and depressing editing the particularly nasty bits of your life. Most certainly, I'd put up with a lot of pain to have these lousy pieces extricated from my memory. But no such luck. I'm editing them with this goddamned keyboard. For Since When. Instead of pushing these precious moments (or better yet, specious moments) to the back recesses of my mind where they fucking belong, I'm as close to reliving them without actually being there. That, my lovelies, deserves a big, whopping "Woohoo."

I've had a sobering week. I want to revert to my innate Hungarianess and get drunk on Egri Bikever- "Bull's Blood," listen to Romany music and cry my little eyes out 'til sunup. Now that would fall under the rubric, "fantastic day." It could only get better if my aunt Gaetane and grandmother were here to join me. Since, they aren't, I suppose it just means I need to cry harder and longer. But every week for me is a sobering week. I live my illness 24/7. I don't need the tubing to remind me. And no more Egri Bikever forever. Unless medicine stumbles on an alveoli miracle. That's reason enough to cry.

I'm a broken record aren't I? I should be better about reading the newspaper, and discuss with you all the issues of the day. And that there are plenty. I suppose that I am now eligible for Medicare isn't one of them. Or that I am on permanent disability. Nor is the concern that I"m writing posts to the ether.

That actually doesn't matter an iota to me. If I were told this were true, I'd keep writing. Why? Why the hell not? I'll just assume that my not so pithy little ramblings are scintillating and satisfying to the reader. Even if that reader is I. The next Tolstoy. He repeated himself an awful lot. It goes to show you how easy it is to convince yourself of anything.

I have to admit it is difficult to get excited about the news of the day. Everything sucks. We're making our oceans into one enormous burial at sea. I caught the end of Hitchcock's The Birds a week or so ago. For me it is one of the most frightening movies of all time. Who knows? Maybe this time we won't be dealing with Hollywood actor birds. We'll have the real deal. They've had fucking enough and are rallying for the big "Peck Down." We sure as hell deserve it. I wouldn't blame them. Especially after this oil "spill." A spill you can pick up with Bounty. This isn't a spill, it's ever-growing, ever-morphing oil deluge.

We've just have to be fucked this time, right? (I' m sort of excited about that prospect. How is it going to happen? Will it be biblical? You, Jews, down there as Mengele (his second coming) points and kicks us all down into the bowels of hell.) Or will we just poison ourselves and everything around us to death. (Oh goody, like one of my other scariest movies of all times: On the Beach.) For whatever reason, On the Beach has become a sort of touchstone in my life. I think that says more about loonytunes me than my actual life which was pretty damned normal. It had it's unpleasantnesses, but hasn't everybody's?

I've always been everyone's favorite cynic. (At least I like to think that's so. but as my darling Suzanne used to say, "Whaddya want? A prize?" Words to live and die by.) I'm lots of fun, but this is the only playground that will let me in. Boy, I'd really like that glass of Bull's Blood right about now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I think it's only been one day. Or maybe two. It makes no difference. These one or two tiny days contained a maelstrom of heartbreak, sadness, disbelief that you usually get to marinate over one at a time. Over time. This all happened in the course of hours.

The day started so well. A weepy session with the therapist. Good and cathartic. The missed reunion. Acceptance of the inability to do what I used to with ease. (Oh, so hard!) The sorely missed friends.

Then, surprise! A long visit with my college beau's freshman year roommate. We all lived on the same hall with a slew of nice people, and Alan was as much a friend of mine as any of the guys on our floor. I love Alan. I was thrilled that he emailed me that he'd have a free afternoon. Come on over! I have no idea why, but we've both have always found it so easy to talk. About everything. And seeing him reminded me that I'm still a person. And still the person I was. The Fran Alan has known for thirty years. This doesn't happen to me very often these days. Let's just say it was a nice change of pace.

It's so strange to me that as my college love fell to pieces, I lost my first buddies- the ones from Freshman year. They no more belonged to the beau than to me. But they (the guys) kicked me out of the guys club. Maybe that's the way it works when I crossed the line and had an intense, very difficult relationship (that lasted for years) with one of them. One of them becomes my boyfriend. Boom. I'm kicked out of the club. I'm not so sure I would have been allowed to stay without the boyfriend. There are no girls in the club.

They still vacation together just about every year. Stag. Where they can be together- wifeless- and be BOYS. (And I don't mean finding women and cheating. No, no, no! That's not the point at all.) It's this boy camaraderie thing. I didn't understand this back then, and I don't understand it now. I was a fun part of the bunch. I guess now I'd be in the way if they wanted to complain about their wives. Speaking with Alan the other day and speaking with the ex-beau (The anger went kaput a long time ago-eventually, it gets silly), they're both happy. And if they complained, I bet it's just part of "the boys getting together without the wives" mode. It must be de rigueur.

Chip and I never want to be anywhere without the other. We're attached at the hip, because we both like it that way. Karen and Jerry were like that. I guess this answers why I'm no longer in the club. Not if I can't abide the rules. I just don't understand this need for maleness unleashed. I know there's a lot of complaining about spouses that goes on. I don't get it. I'm glad Alan's marriage has been and is a good one. He's a good man and deserves no less.

I rewrote and rewrote like a mad person after that. Once the fingers start moving and the eyes become like laser beams, I can't stop. Even when my body is horribly tense and tired and telling me to Please Stop. I don't and go to bed at 3 a.m. feeling miserable. Which means Chip goes to bed at 3 a.m., because I'm physically unable to shut all lights, air conditioners...myself. Damnit.
And I always say (I can't help it), "Chip, I got nothing done today." This has to be more than tiresome. Poor man.

So what the hell happened to put me in that downward spiral? I received a friendship request from my estranged junior high, high school friend, one of a special few, on FB. Mind you, decades after severing our friendship. Okay, I have an inkling why she dropped me like a hot potato. But the request had no note on it. Nothing at all. It was then that I discovered how goddamned angry I am for her blowing me off all those years before.

That was a surprise. I suppose there are an awful lot of people whom I don't have much faith in. Whatever the fuck they do or do not do doesn't hurt, because I never have any expectations. This is not one off those instances. It sure would have been good to have a friend like that in the same fucking city these past twenty some odd years. But it's always been difficult for me to be angry at my closest friends. (Not that this happens very often.) In my gut, there has always lived a little gremlin that insists that "nice" girls don't get angry. If I can banish this annoying creep, I can do away with the fear of rejection that lives along side it. Holy maturity Batman!

I sent a note saying I was stupified, angry, and at a loss. What does she want? Now, after all this time.? Her response to me has been encouraging I think there can be a reconnection. What that will be is a mystery to both of us. We'll just take it slow. And see. I need this like a loch in kop. (Hole in the head.)

We have just heard from a friend that his life has fallen apart. I'm not keeping anything from you. I really don't know much more than that.

FYI, while I promise I will always be honest with you, I will and always have respected the privacy of others.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cat Time

Yesterday I wrote that it was of great import to address the issue of my attendance or lack thereof at the Paul D. Schreiber High School Thirtieth Reunion. Well, I did that. (Kindly addressed, check.) But I said I needed to do it before getting down to business. As you may have noticed, I never got down to business. What was I talking about? What the hell is business for me anyway? Not a clue. But I do know it had nothing to do with discussing Paul D. Schreiber High School.

Yesterday's post made me weepy. For my long-lost friends. My god, did they mean everything to me! What am I talking about? They never stopped. They still mean everything to me. Even if they no longer exist. Uh huh. So what?

I remember thinking back in the day how they could be nothing less than friends for life. We just worked like a well-oiled machine. We were born to be together. The parts just fit too well. The machine (which made nothing at all) was perfect. And perfect in its uselessness. When did friendship ever need to be useful? I think that's called networking. I call it obscene.

My darling Karen, you are so precious to me you don't know. I don't call, because I think it might make you go places you're not ready to go or have and do, but it's not to be shared. I read each and every one of your posts. I don't comment or try to give you advice. because I have none to give. I don't know shit. I have nothing to offer but my love for you (forever and ever and ever).

I thank Penn for admitting four outrageously wonderful people for whom the term BFF fits like designer dress on a mannequin. (Thank you Penn.) And now there's Rich. I didn't know him well then. I know I missed out on that big time. So we're making up for lost time (at least I hope so) as he edits Since When. I agree with every one of his suggestions. Does this prove that I am an idiot? Or lazy? I could, in fact be both of these but not when it comes to Since When. I think my love of Rich's POV so madly means we grok each other. If that's so, I bet we grok on a whole mess of other things. That's exciting.

And Bob, that frightfully bright boy, who's holding back on me. Dude, I don't bite. And I'm a gimp to boot. So worry not, you man of oh so many responsibilities.

When in the world did "getting down to business" mean writing an encomium to my friends, old and new? I tell you, let me off my leash, and I'll go anywhere. I must be watched like a hawk at all times...come back to us baby, don't go there, honeybunch...

My business is Since When. (Rich, sweetie, I didn't get the attachment for 91-115. I don't ever want you to think that I'm sitting on something you've worked hard to get out. I know you have lots of clients. I also know you have a life. I would never do that! I promise!) I am now a thread in Since When. (Thank you, Rich.) This requires rewrites and lots of mulling. I like to mull about Since When. I like the rewriting and the re-editing. I love the criticism. (Weirdo.)

I've got plenty to occupy my time which isn't remotely similar to your time unless you're a cat. (A piece Fran info worth repeating.) I haven't gotten used to this yet, and I grouse that I'm never productive. But I guess I am. At least sometimes. But only on cat time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

P.D. Schreiber High School Thirtieth Reunion

This weekend was the big thirtieth anniversary gala weekend for the Schreiber High School class 0f 1980. Before I get down to business, I must address all the lovely people from my class who I've met through FB:

Guys, I can't go to a party. Any party. Ever. My waking hours are those of a cat. (But I'm pretty useless. I don't catch vermin. But I do bring in a nice disability check.) I'm a shut in. I wouldn't live this way if I didn't have to. I only leave this apartment to see doctors. That's it.

I'm so sorry to each and every one of you all that I didn't come out and say this months ago. But to do that, I'd had to have admitted to myself that party-going is just another addition to a long list stuff I can no longer do, participate in. Yeah, just an addition. No big deal, right? Try it sometime, it's a lot tougher than you think.

Barring a medical miracle, I'm not going to get better. This is it, kiddo.

But let's just sweep aside my physical limitations for the moment. Everybody, this reunion wasn't the right venue to make my real, living, face-to-face introductions to all of you FB friends. You all have known each other for thirty years or more. You have a shared history. Reunions are for reconnecting with friends you don't often see. And to see the whole crew in all its glory. Reunions are for drinking too much and talking about the old days. It is "remember when time." And, c'mon, I played zero part in your life at Schreiber, and I didn't want to get in the way of your reminiscing. And a chick in a wheelchair hooked up oxygen is a distraction. You'd feel obligated to explain inside jokes. Like the time when you all ended up with lamp shades on your heads. Whatever.

A rule for all to remember and follow: A reunion is not the time to bring Captain Pike (google Star Trek) to the party. For the reunion, it's really best to keep him home. Hey, and that's cool. It's really okay, okay? There now. Don't we all feel much better?

So where are my friends? I mean I didn't spend three years all alone in my own bubble. Well actually I did spend the three years at Schreiber in a bubble- but one large enough to hold a small bunch of really smart girls. My brother coined the term or at least he was the first one I heard use it. We were social lepers. Simple as that. We connected with nothing and no one. Why do I need to be reminded of how that felt? It was awful and hurtful. It made me angry.

But what about my friends? The ones who made life at Schreiber bearable and who were fun and funny and acerbic and misanthropic? The people I loved madly. Who loved me madly. Where are they?

One is long dead, another has washed herself of her entire past (I don't know why, but I don't have to know, do I?), another is mentally ill and chooses not to communicate with any of us (from this sick puppy, boy can I relate), and another who has just lost the love of her life. And then there's me. I'm half of what I was.

This is a sad reunion for me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Today I went to see a chiropractor. The chiropractor I love and adore is away on vacation this week. I see her because she makes me feel better physically. But her presence, her aura, is one of comfort and nurture. I love her.

But for me, it requires a feat of Herculean strength to get to her office. This all sounds pretty silly when you explain what makes the damned act of getting there so Sisyphean. (Excuse me y'all,what the fuck is with me tonight? Did someone add something new to medication that makes me even more pretentious than usual? I'm not down with this one bit. It's not fitting for a Queens girl.)

She has moved her office from the Upper West Side to Washington Heights. I actually got to enjoy the hour or so it took to get there. I got a lot of reading done on the A train. All right, I had to accept that a visit up there was a day outing. Worked for me. and it was nice up there, right by Fort Tryon Park.

Then, I became ill. And a year and a half after that, I became significantly worse. (If I lose more lung function, who the hell knows?) You know that's the guarantee I want. I want to be told that I won't die from this. Oh you could all tell me I'm not going to die, but the cat, unfortunately, is already out of this bag. I sure can. Die or perhaps lie to myself, "Oh you silly girl! Everything is going to be fine, just fine. This thing can't kill you!" That would be positively delightful. Oh come on. Pretty please with sugar on top? Doesn't work, does it? So, life's delightful in your dreams, you numnutz.)

Okay, I've got that out of my system for the next ten minutes, so we can talk about getting up to Washington Heights post-illness. Chip, angel that he is, drives up there. (Late afternoon appointments only. I am now constitutionally unable to get out of bed before noon. It is impossible. For real. I also need an hour (or more) nap in the middle of the day, or I crash about mid-evening. So, my waking hours are few. I'm more like a cat, except they don't seem too perturbed by much of anything. All their needs are met. What do they have to fret about? I fret a lot. Too much.

The hour-long drive to Washington Heights isn't too much of a problem. The car seats provide very nice lumbar support. It's what I have to face after the drive that makes me a nervous wreck.

Now let's get this straight. I'd much prefer to use utterly perfect Yiddish words I've heard all my life to describe my inability to cope at that moment in time. Why use the vanilla, unexpressive "nervous wreck" when there's a perfect expression that connotes all my angst and sheer nuttiness in one neat little package?

Because I can't find a goddamned transliteration anywhere on the Web. Dad was the one who grew up speaking Yiddish, my mother grew up speaking Hungarian and her Yiddish is just the every day, run-of-the-mill New York Yiddish (but infinitely better than mine) Hell. Chip's New York Yiddish vocabulary has really become quite good. And you know, I think Roy would think twice now before he tells Chip he looks like a Nazi storm trooper.

No. He wouldn't. But that is neither here or there. I'm very proud of my honey. (And yeah sweetheart, in that raincoat of yours, you really did have that aryan thing going.) So I'll take a crack at it on my own: Physically entering my chiropractor's building and negotiating the ridiculously high steps make me a nervosa hilaria. (Already, I feel better.)

The steps scare the crap out of me, because after I go up these measly few stairs, I can't breathe. I hate it when that happens. (Don't you?) It feels like eons before I can breathe like a regular person. (I'll have to wait eons for me to breathe like a regular person. I settle for my version of normal breath intake. As Chip would say, "Quel drag."

So today, I went to the chiropractor who gives me the heebie jeebies but as my girlfriend, the doctor says, "She's a good practitioner." And she is. she's really good. Better yet, I no longer have searing pain in my back that has put me fairly close to the edge as of late. I think I may have to go on the combo plan and visit the two: my Washington Heights darling for her great work on my pathetic body and just as important, the great work she does for my soul, and the Great Practitioner who really is awfully good at what she does who's right in the neighborhood. What else can this girl do?

P.S. I knew I was crazy wrong. I'm miserable with Yiddish transliterations. The "correct" spelling is "nervouse chahlairya." And I still am one today, by the way. ("Correct" spelling via telephone through mother courtesy of Leah in Florida.) xoxo

Monday, July 5, 2010


Hiya everybody! (And a special "hello" to my new followers of this Blog. Thank you.) Oh my, I just thought of why the word "followers" feels so familiar to me and why they are something I should never have. David Koresh had followers. Jim Jones had followers. Charles Manson had followers. Eesh. I can only promise you that Janet Reno and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will NOT burn you or you loved ones to a crisp. I will NEVER ask you or make you drink Kool-Aid (or any other beverage or food product for that matter.) And I will NEVER make you want to go out murdering strangers just for the hell of it. I will NEVER ask you to murder anyone you know who damned well deserves it either.

Yesterday, I drove myself into a hysterical tizzy. (As I glance at my last sentence, the word "hysterical" is awfully well-chosen.) There are no longer many ways in which I can carry out my hysterical tizzies. This one, thank goodness, was caused by my new (new is all relative here- new for me means since 2007) inability to keep computer files (and probably any other files) straight. Fortunately for me, I could have this tizzy sitting down with the computer on my lap for hours on end. Until now, I've never had a tizzy in place. That was sort of cool, but not the tizzy itself.

Tizzies suck. Left to my own devices, I'd still have the computer on my lap refusing to relinquish it before I straighten all of this out. What is "this?" "This" refers to the many files I've created for edited chunks of my book. Thank God for my sane and extremely patient husband who has (well he doesn't have to, but he does anyway) to listen to me as I dial up my sense of panic and say things like, "I've ruined your life." "No honey, you haven't". "Rich probably hates me now." "No honey, I'm sure he doesn't." (FYI, for those new to the blog, Rich is a dear friend from school who is a professional editor. He is editing my book- a tell-all family history from 1900-1945. Didn't think you could write a tell-all from the first half of the twentieth century, but you can. I have the evidence to prove it.)

I come from a family of crazy Hungarians. Hungarians are barbarians, and they are proud of this tradition. (They still name children "Attila." How cute.) I think they're real honest-to-goodness sybarites. The Ottoman Turks occupied Hungary for a time and built sumptuous baths. When the Turks were finally driven out, the baths stayed. the locals liked the baths. A lot. They built more. They recognized a good thing when they saw one. Puritans, they were not.

Budapest has baths galore. Hungarians drink wine until they're sobbing at the table while the "gypsy" musicians play on. And the fantastic food, and pastry...they've got it down. Too bad they always picked the wrong team. They were always on the losing side. Maybe they preferred it that way. It added another dimension to the sobbing.

Back to my book...our matriarch was off her rocker which doesn't do the rest of us descended from her much good. The book is named Since When and this Blog is supposed to be about the book. Fat chance. It appears it will rear its head on occasion as a prop for me. Some prop. It will be the death of me yet.

But I swore to myself that today would be the day to remove some of parenthetical phrases of which I'm way too fond. And also to find all the crap I missed the first time around. Sha, you'd have a field day.

If nothing else I'm not in a hysterical tizzy. Not yet, anyway.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

Today was a fun day. I was really afraid of taking a shower. No, I mean scared out of my wits. (I sit in a disabled person's seat, I have my husband helping me the entire time, I am fully protected. from what, I can't tell you. but whatever it is, it scares the bejeezus out of me.) No, I'm not afraid of slipping in the shower.

I'm just afraid...of the shower. I thought I got past this irrational nonsense months ago. And I did. But it doesn't mean that this crap isn't just sitting in wait, just below the surface. Waiting to jump out of the cake. Surprise!

So I put the shower off. I put if off until I could put it off no longer. I think I must have smelled and looked like that certain type of European. You know, the ones who prefer not to bathe but dip themselves in eau de cologne as if that negates the need for a bath. At least, I skip the eau de cologne part. And change my clothes every day. And Chip swears I don't reek. What a loving and wonderful husband I have! How could I not???

I'm totally losing it. My brain doesn't function the way it used to. In my prior life, I remembered everything, and I always knew where to find whatever I was looking for. A stinking little memo. A signed estimate. A fact about the Hindu Kush. Everything there is to know about topiaries. Thomas Kuhn.

Today, no dice. Now we don't know if my brain has been permanently damaged by my little stay in the ICU. For such a small person, I have been told that the doctors needed to drug me with inordinate amounts of drugs to keep me down: 26 milligrams of a Klonopin type drug every hour for eight weeks straight. I think that alone can screw up a brain, don't you? How could it not?

I also find that I either forget to type words I fully intended to or instead, type words that may vaguely sound like the one my brain intended to type, but are just completely wrong and have not a thing to do with what I'm writing. Spelling has become an issue. Me, the person who could spell every goddamned word on the planet whether I knew what it meant or not.

I don't know why, but these things still have the power to stun me. I keep bugging the hell out of poor Rich for being so fucking flighty. Please believe me, Rich. Flighty was the last word anyone would use to describe me. So, I feel like an asshole for being so disorganized, and I can't accept it. Except, giving into it would likely be easier to bear. So I'm feeling like a fool , because I can't find a section of Since When which you, my sweet dear, have already edited. This makes me very weepy, and I still can't find it. I despise when my shortcomings effect others. Fine, disappoint myself. But everyone else???

Then, I have another doc who thinks that my "brain lapses" are from the psychotropic drugs I'm currently taking. (I take a lot of these too.) Diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder, and PTSD (yes, just like a fucked up war veteran) requires shitloads of drugs that I have no clue as to when I can begin weaning myself off of any of them. We increased the effexor for a while. It made me completely psychotic. How could I know this never having been diagnosed psychotic before? Trust me. When you're psychotic, you know it.

I had to pull off "A Beautiful Mind" guy trick until I returned to sanity. I repeated to myself over and over: "What I'm feeling isn't me. Don't act on these feelings, because they are drug induced. They are not you." It didn't stop me from feeling like a psycho, but it allowed me to keep one foot on the ground until that damned third effexor left my system. At least I learned one thing from the experience, I really don't want to be psychotic anytime soon. Nor do you.

As I get closer to four p.m. everyday, I start tearing at the walls. And I'm jumping out of my skin. My four p.m. Klonopin (plus nap so I can wake up feeling fresh as a daisy) has now become the three thirty p.m. Klonopin. Must. Need. Now. So I do.

I'm still weepy, but at least I'm not jumping out of my skin anymore. And I'm clean. But I still take a shitload of drugs, and I really can't see a day anytime soon to begin reducing them. Not when I'm still convinced I'll die within the year. Oy. And for the next week or two I'm going to continue feeling like a "feeshy wife" to boot. I ask you all for your patience during this difficult time. Bon chance!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Feeshy Wife

I despise PMS. I always hated to pretend to be feeling just fine when instead I would prefer to bite your head off simply because it was there. We women should be awarded for our acting prowess. No, we don't get shit for not going apeshit. I think it's damn well time we did.

So, I've turned into a harridan for the next couple of weeks. That's the nasty part. How long the whole fucking process lasts. Whatever that might be? Bodies are always trying to keep you alert and on your toes. So our bodies- our aging women's bodies- like to play guessing games with us. We are not amused.

(By the way, I despise all males who describes any female with this sort of comment: "She must be on the rag." We can still run fucking circles around you while you're so busy patting yourselves on the back for being so clever. Well, guess what? It's not clever. In fact it's sophomoric and insulting and makes you look even more the fool than you actually are. And you wonder why so many couples divorce. No, I don't think this is a man/woman thing. It's a woman/idiot-man thing. Which to say, thank the Lord, not all men are idiots.

On a trip to Budapest many years ago, we hired a guide to take us through The Royal Palace. Istvan (Steven in Hungarian) was a hoot. On our tour, Istvan points out to us a fig tree. After my mother says how much she likes fresh figs, Istvan leaps over the balustrade into the tree to pick Mom a few figs. He manages his way back to us and kisses my mother's hand. As my French-Canadian aunt would say "Ooh, tres gallant!"

At the very top of Gellert Hill (in Buda), is an ginormous statue on a ginormous base called "The Liberation Monument," which the Soviets erected in 1947 representing the defeat of fascism. She (Ms. Ginormous) is a young woman, holding an olive branch of peace. If I recall correctly the wind is blowing through her hair. All very dramatic. All very Soviet. You can't help but see her. She's beyond massive. Istvan say that the locals refer to her as a "feeshy wife." I adore that man. (FYI, He is not an idiot.)

PMS is worse when you can't breathe, because everything is worse when you can't breathe.

Lovely news, I emailed my book synopsis to an editor I found in the Acknowledgements section of a book I really love and admire (Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman). Hot damn, she loved the synopsis! She said the book summary was lovely and the writing in it delightful! Even with PMS, I actually think I've written something real.

So I apologize. For the next week or so, I will be a "feeshy wife" but I do hope, still a lovable one to those that matter, and you all know who you are. xoxoxox