Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shakespeare, Watch Your Back Babe

I’m cold. My nose is running. I’m falling. There is no bottom.

I whiz past the blur, which must be the walls of this nasty hole.

I’m falling deeper than the Chilean miners.

Cool. Maybe I’ll warm up as a move closer to the earth’s core.

Fat chance.

The hole isn’t real. It’s all in my crazy head.

I’m sane enough to recognize this. Oh good.

Later in the day, I might be stuck in a vortex. In my head.

Maybe I was. Who can remember? But I try and focus on the positive.

(That’s very funny.)

I just do my “exercises.” The only positive thing I know I can do.

While my back feels like it’s being torn in two.

Strengthen that body, stretch those lungs. Where’s Jack LaLanne when I need him. Doug and I would watch him when we were young after The Modern Farmer. I didn’t pay attention much then.

I can’t cry my brains out. If I did. Maybe there’d be no nasty holes or vortices where I could stuck.

Fran, you sonofabitch, you’re too tough to cry. Aren’t you?

I hate when people refer to themselves in the third person. It’s obnoxious as bloody hell. That’s what it is. Who do I think I am, Dennis Rodman or something?

Afraid of losing control? The problem of my whole fucking life.

This new one and for sure the old one.

It’s a small world after all.

Can’t come up with completely new neuroses? Have to reuse an old one? Evergreen or no, isn’t that a little lazy, not that I’m being critical or anything.

Isn’t it cute, this shit follows me like that piece of toilet paper. This kind is unable to removed from my shoe.

I’m cold. My nose is running. I’m falling. There is no bottom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Wonders of Prostitution

So what’s next? I’m a teary mess post massage. The damn thing not only helps a soul from physical pains, it also often purges toxic emotions. So I’m a teary mess. And this is with a tranquilizer. (Yeah, let’s fuck around with my medication now to resuscitate my sex drive. Not a chance.) If I insisted on making changes to my medications now, I’d being a fully-functioning woman except for one teensy, piddling fact also I’d be a corpse. But boy, could I get it on! (If I could.)

I’m teary under the skin. I need some honest out and out sobbing. I think I have what to release, but I can’t imagine how awful it will be the day subconscious me decides to go for it. Yes, I know that massage is a perfect tool to make this happen. I just feel so damned sad. I hate sad. I don’t do well with sad. I get morose. Morose is bad.

I suppose all tearyness, sadness and such means is that I may be ready to handle the truth. (“You can’t handle the truth!”) I look at the photo of the girl (really the middle-aged lady) on this blog, and I don’t recognize her anymore. (Chip took the shot fall 2006. I was 44. Sounds middle-aged to me.) I have an idea what I’m not anymore, but I’m really clueless as to what I am. Anyone? Scared, miserable (to live in, to be with). Sounds about right.

I can’t even dream of a healthy desirable me. Aprés massage, I crashed on the couch as is my wont post-massage. Ninety minutes of being beaten up, I think I deserve it. During one of those moments when you’re not quite asleep and not quite awake, I dreamt I was being sexually molested. In a public restroom no less. The molester was some anonymous white guy, middle-aged, and wearing a suit. He derived pleasure by sticking his hands into his victim’s underwear. The horror of the “twilight sleep” dream is that I liked it. And looked him up for more of the same. Now, we’ve all had sick sex dreams…and if you don’t fess up to it, you’re kidding yourself. But I thought this a pretty sick one given my current state of mind. I don’t think I could dream about being desirable anymore unless it’s somehow twisted and demented.

As I lay one the couch in my half sleep, I recalled a movie I saw umpteen years ago. A Russian woman and her son fly to the U.K. where her fiancé supposedly waits. He isn’t, and she’s stuck in immigration limbo. In some self-contained little town, and no way out. An British “entrepreneur” asks her if she wants to do some porn for the web. She’ll be paid handsomely for it. She’s desperate for money. (As are his other actresses in immigration hell.) She agrees. The entrepreneur has her dressed like a little girl, and I guess she’s supposed to do lurid things in front of the Web cam. Instead, she just bursts into tears and is unable to stop crying. I guess after a bit more of this, she is removed from the stage.

Weeks later the entrepreneur tells her he’s been looking for her for weeks on end. His phone calls, his emails have skyrocketed. Money poured in. “Where’s the crying girl?” She didn’t have to take off a damn bit of clothing. She just had to sit on the bed and cry, and the crowd called out for more. Bless the entrepreneur. He gave her a fat wad of money, “You earned it.” And told her to find him if she ever changes her mind and chooses to resume her acting career. (She didn’t.) As I lay on the couch half conscious I thought, “Hey, I can do that. There must be scads of weird men out their who would be more than happy to jack off to a woman hooked up to machines with a mess of tubes. During my light dozing, this seemed to me to be sensible and perhaps even lucrative to boot. And I’d know I’d be turning some people on just as I am. Not as I was. That’s the crux of the whole problem. I need to be desired as I am now. Period. Anything else just doesn’t cut it.

As I’ve mentioned more than once, for the most part (I can’t really speak for all), tubing isn’t sexy. A cousin of mine said that he used to take a relative who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (the actual disease, not the one from uber-concussions) to a brothel, because that’s the only way he was ever going to get laid. I thought that very sad, but also very resourceful.

I still think that the people I speak to most about my crapass health (besides my poor Chip who hears everything. What an incredible man for every reason you can imagine) are the people I pay to spend time with me. My fantastic therapist around whom the earth orbits, Tamar: the best P.T. on the planet, Laurie my darling and wonderful chiropractor. I love them, and I think they me. Tamar, the best P.T. on the planet, are on our way there. In an odd way, on my side, it’s not a far cry from prostitution. I’m the john. Get it however you can. Even if you have to pay for it. “It,” in this case, is a friendly face, fantastic advice with a pair of ears trained on you. And there is no guilt involved, because it is, bottom line, a transaction. (Ooh, this is getting funky, but I’m on to something.)

By jove, I think I just had a tiny epiphany sitting here at 3:20 a.m. Maybe they’re (my fantastic therapist, Tamar: the best P.T. on the planet, and my wonderful chiropractor) who I need to focus on during my moments of doubt regarding my usefulness on this planet. And my right to take up space on it. Sure I pay them to care for me. But it doesn’t mean we haven’t made real, honest-to-god human connections. Granted, I’ve been wrong about this kind of relationship in the past. (Pay to play.) The over-the-top magazine reps who are always ecstatic to see you, hang on to your every word, and then drop you like a hot potato when you switch accounts. And a couple of them I actually thought had become friends. Oops. But I think I can recognize love when I feel it. (My god, I most certainly don’t feel that way about any of my doctors.)

Let me continue to love them back for all they give me.

And boys and girls, how the hell can I let Chip down? My husband. The man who kept me alive as I teetering on the edge in the ICU. And has given me more loving care than I deserve for all the hell I put him through How can I fail him?

Love the man who loves me more than anything in the world. The man I was smart enough to marry. Just love him.

Perhaps if I follow my advice, I can avoid seeking out sexual molestation in public restrooms or becoming a worker ant in the Web cam porn industry.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sexual Madness

I’m working my ass off to clear this back shit up. I still, of course, have Tamar, the greatest P.T. on the planet. By the way, I’m not kidding about that. And having had a fucked up back in my past life courtesy of an overzealous trainer, I know that soft tissue back injuries can take eons to heal. Add my new and exciting limitations, this will be a more difficult slog than the first mess I made of my back. (That first bit of back torment eventually healed following chiropractor’s orders. We got it before it spread like a jam on my beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (No, the latter sentence is not nonsense. The beauty of all that I’ve learned is that there are all new and exciting ways to make yourself feel worse. But as my life is now nonsense, I think it’s high time to embrace it. So I gave my surreal hell of an existence the little cuddle it so deserves. Back to cuddling later.)

I am immersed in ways to sit correctly at this lousy computer. (I seem to fear less using it at the table than I had when I found I was no longer allowed to use it on the couch. (If I want to feel any better…yeah, I really do. While I’ve discovered I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, I still have no fondness for it.)

But I promised cuddling. Sex. My psychopharmachologist tried his damndest to put me on medication that left my sex drive in place. I think Jill Sobule gets it best. In Happy Town, her boyfriend said she made him miserable, but they stayed together because the sex was really good. Post Prozac:

"We don't fuck anymore, but we sure can snuggle down.

I used to sit under a gloomy cloud of gray

And now the sun's come out and it won't go away.

I used to go up. I used to go down.

Now I'm just even here in Happy Town."

I think I have a real problem when I watch Rubicon and have a visceral reaction to the administrative assistant who has the hots for Will. I find her to be lacking in any oomph whatsoever. (Okay, she has a fine body.) But her character is like a limp dishrag. And she looks like there’s nary a thought in her head. (Always be suspicious of those who look empty. They’re either actually empty or what the hell are they hiding behind that blank expression. I’m fucking angry at a television character. Not intellectually. But this is bullshit. She's a whole person. I'm just part of one. (In so many different and fun ways.) This is visceral, and I’m out for blood. I am crazy.

Have I really gone completely mad that I actually feel threatened, no jealous, by a fucking character on television show? Yes I have. By changing from Zoloft to Effexor, my sex drive dropped like a stone. (Zoloft, which left my sex drive out of this mess, made me shake to the point where I was unable to hold a book steady enough to read it. Otherwise, it worked beautifully.) Welcome to Effexor Country aka Happy Town. There’s a semblance of a sex drive, a vicious tease that’s what it is, but most of it has gone pfft into the ether. So I get jealous of stupid-ass television characters because I feel sexless, no longer human.

The little nasty secret about anti-depressants. I’m not depressed, I’m functioning okay, but I’m miserable because I feel less than human. I’m desperate. I now can really appreciate oddballs like the guy who worked at G&R who found girls with physical problems really hot. (Like one girl he lusted after with coke bottle lenses in her glasses. Crutches were great. I think this boy would see me today and sit up and take notice. And he was a good-looking dude. With money. He also thought there was some medieval king who had a hot rod stuck up his butt. I think that kind of turned him on too. Guys like that have a place in this world I know now in a way I never did before.) If I have to be someone’s fetish than it must be. Yes, my husband tells me I’m hot as ever. But I’m not. Tubing and clear breathing masks don’t add to pulchritude. Now other kinds of masks are another thing entirely. Gimme.

Do I try something else? Can I without walking the suicide gauntlet yet again? The sexual mechanics are all in order. I just have a post-it stuck to me that says “Under Repair.”

What the hell else can I do without completely losing my mind? Fuck. C’mon! Don’t take the little that’s left of my humanity. I am not a hydra. I’m a menopausal woman who only feels the menopausal part. I want the woman back before I completely go to seed, and I want her now.

I want the world to want to fuck me.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I am sitting in my new spot at the dining room table at this moment, the only place I am allowed to use the computer without causing evil things to happen to my neck and head. But I really liked sitting like that fucking lump on the couch with this damned laptop. I guess ergonomics are super-duper important for a gimp like me. It's so damned easy to get a body part out of whack with minimal effort. I just have to get over my fear of sitting at the table. Yeah, more irrationality. Aren’t I fun? You just never know what you’re going to get from me, do you? Maybe you do. I sure don’t.

Today I had a session with Rachel, the lovely and eminently capable masseuse, who was pleased with the improvement I’ve made. She has no idea what it has entailed me for this to happen. Pointing and flexing feet for me is a cardio exercise. And not because I am pathetically weak. I just do them like I mean it. FYI, translation: that’s pretty damned intense.

I still haven’t gotten my splendid quadriceps back (one thing at a time Lipman). Oh, they were as quadriceps should be. But I can't give them much thought until I get this back crap put to bed. And how will I do that? By continuing all the new, fantastic exercises I’ve learned from Tamar, the greatest P.T. on the planet. The three laps walk in the goddamned hallway every night. I’ve added stretching quads, hamstrings, and glutes every day. I’m a little slow. If I did this shit say, once a week, I can’t ever make any progress at all. Meaning my mobility would remain static which is better than having my legs tighten up (if I did nothing), but I can’t make any progress like this doing all this shit piecemeal.

Reading this, you might actually think, “My, what a motivated person! Especially after that terrible disease that knocked her down and good.” Nah. I’m the same lazy shit I’ve always been. What happened to that “high achiever” of years ago? I was a lazy shit then. Now, as I did then, I am motivated by fear. Fear has always ruled my existence. My life has been a lie. I think that’s pretty funny, pathetic though it may be. So now I aim my fearful ferocity into recreating my body sans lungs of course. But if I could, I’d do that too. One fucking alveoli at a time. I’ll shove my hand down into my lungs and place new ones there myself if that were an option.

I am listening to one of my favorite playlists. (My guilty pleasure. Creating playlists.) Right now it’s David Lindley doing a semi-reggae version of Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London. Trust me. It works. (David Lindley is a genius. Grease, dirt, polyester be damned.)

Oh Warren. I still find it difficult to listen to you, babe (This was prior to my becoming ill, so this isn’t some personal fear manifesting itself in the death of Warren Zevon. I remember buying his album Life’ll Kill Ya with the song “Your Shit’s Fucked Up.” Sounded like a fine Warren tune. The title alone made me laugh. What was this boy up to. I didn’t laugh so much after I listened to it. Naturally I didn’t realize that the song is his visit with his doctor telling him that he has inoperable lung cancer and that he’s going to die. Oh man.

Well I went to the doctor

I said, “I’m feeling kind of rough…”

“Let me break it to you son,

your shit’s fucked up.”

He ends the tune:

The rich folk suffer like the rest of us

It’ll happen to you

No wonder I have trouble listening to Warren. I adore him. He and his buddies made a film which I think ran on VH1 shortly before he died. I missed it, but my brother said it was Warren wry as ever bathed in a watercolor wash of sadness. Doug (the brother) said it was surprisingly not as painful as you’d expect it to be. Warren, I admire you immensely. I guess you came to terms with his illness. Or maybe the last laugh is on us. That you came to terms with nothing and was pissed as bloody else that your time on earth was sorely limited. When the cameras were off.

I don’t think I can come to terms with anything. I just get more and more angry as I get farther from the 2007 Life-Altering EVENT. I just had a check-up. Woohoo. Everything is fucking perfect except my lungs, asshole. This is one stinking, dirty trick that would deserve kudos if there was anyone to give kudos to.

Lucky for me I’m an atheist, because I’d be cursing out god on a daily basis. What a fucking evil thing to do a person. The only reason to do it is to laugh at that I have become a human oxymoron. Perfect, yet fatally flawed.

Fuck you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

General Washington

To state the obvious, I’ve been writing a lot less the past few weeks. The ear infection wore me out. Yeah, I was wiped out by the infection, but the damned thing ate me alive. And I morphed again. This time into an appetizing quivering lump of fleshy Jell-O. (Wow. I’ve even grossed myself out. The latter is plain repugnant. Like a huge hunk of aspic.) I was petrified. I still am petrified, but much more functional than I was which was not at all. My currently unsolvable dilemma scares the crap out of me. The “currently unsolvable” is a tip of the hat to my wonderful biochemist friend who says that science is closing in on an answer to my problem. (Of having way too few working alveoli.) Me, I’m not so optimistic. And if it takes the scientific community ten years (if so soon), can I hang (oops, poor word choice!) in there?

My dilemma scares the crap out of me. I read somewhere it took Michael J. Fox seven years to accept his Parkinson’s Disease. I have four years to go to before I can join the Zen Disabled Club. Until then, I go down or more down, anxious or uncontrollably anxious, and/or paralyzed and panicked.

I started this blog for a mess of reasons. Since Since When is “done.” (If any one-literary agent or publisher (ha!) really wants it, it’s far from done and the process of sending out queries to agents is not like writing. It is awful drudgery, that shit is. So voilà, my writing outlet.

But a public outlet? I guess after being so fucking frightened to speak, I wanted to strip down nude for the whole world to see. (No waxing, no retouching.) If I could expose even more of myself I would. I’m not sure why, but I feel compelled to do so. (Yeah, I’m sure you all thought I’ve been holding back, haven’t you?)

The blog gives me the opportunity to write about whatever the fuck I want. I can tell everyone all the nastiness involving my illness. My idiot doctors and caregivers. My fears. My suicidal thoughts. (Last week I was definitely testing the waters- getting my toes wet. Not literally. That I did eons ago. Got that out of my system, but the real deal is always hovering about in the background. We are each aware of each other and made actual eye contact last week. We haven’t actually spoken in a long time.)

I also thought this was a way of having a conversation. I may be having a conversation. With myself. A conversation I’m letting everyone who feels like it to listen to. But I don’t want to have yet another stinking conversation with myself. I’ve been doing that my entire life; while it does have its charms, writing them out would be a grand waste of time.

Hey, I have my Grant bio to finish. Grant Memoirs have been read. Read them if you love the intricacies of battles. If not, knowing the incredible poignant story about why he wrote them when he did is more that enough. I wrote about that in some old blog post. Though I can’t remember which one, because my short-term memory stinks. But FYI, this bio confirms, that Grant, besides being the best military figure of the nineteenth century, was also a great man. His huge flaw (not when he commanded armies in the civil war) was that he was too trusting and was easily swindled. A businessman he was not. I can think of worse.

Norman Mailer would publish a book Conversations With Myself. He kind of already did: Advertisements to Myself which I found unreadable though it was cool that my professor is mentioned (who assigned it) in two spots in the book. But how my nice professor (Bob Lucid. Is it even possible to come up with a better name?) could be buddies with Norman Mailer is one of Life’s Mysteries. (Stick with The Naked and the Dead and you can’t go wrong. My mother liked The Executioner’s Song, bless her heart. I’m sure it’s beautifully written. Not for me right now…I don’t think…)

I think Facebook has been a bust. (For the most part. Sadly, it’s not going to replace my old sand box. NYC. The Earth.) My expectations were too great, because I need it or something like it so terribly much. With those requirements, of course it must fail. There are highlights:

I’ve found a few old friends. Danny. Sharon, my Sha. (!!!) I feel I’ve known Rich forever. I love him madly. And then there’s Bob. The diamond in the rough who is rough no more, whom we sadly missed so many moons ago. But he’s here now. And Donna. My god, Donna’s back. (!!!)

Just a small housekeeping detail. The hormones have taken a break from their trip around the universe and have taken refuge once more in my body to, I imagine, have 40,000,000 light years check, change oil, before heading out again. Bob, to keep the Fantastic Voyage image front and center, I wonder if Raquel Welch has taken residence in my body and has anti-bodies plastered over her breasts. Chip loved that image as a kid, and I don’t think he likes it any less now. (I think it’s pretty hot come to think of it.)

I have been stalling to get to the crux of this post. (There is a crux to this post. We’re there now.) I think I wanted a conversation. Facebook just skates along the surface of everything. It is rare to find anything personal on FB. I think I need connection.

What was it, in 1776, when the south has walked out of the Continental Congress. "It’s no use John.” The rest follow them out. Leaving John Adams and the clerk Thomson, Adams asks where Thomson stands on independency. “I stand with the General.” And Thomson reads from George Washington’s latest letter to Congress, “I have been in expectation of receiving a reply on the subject of my last fifteen dispatches. Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody care?" (Everything about that movie brings me to tears. Yes, even before I first became ill.) I guess I, too, stand with the general.

Postcript: You realize when I talk about FB being a bust is not a commentary on any of you I met, became, reacquainted with (Colleen) through that medium. I appreciate each and everyone one of you. I see that you all take the time to read my posts. My (teary) thanks to you for your patience with me while I stumble about. You help me. I need you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Am Alive

I am alive. I was planning on taking a break from this blog. Certainly, it’s a novelty when someone is completely honest about everything (of which she is aware…I get dispensation for lying to myself) she writes. It is pretty ugly.

As I recover from this last “oops,” what appears to be an ear infection run amok, I’ve become more and more grim. New fun fact. When ill, especially fighting a fever, your body requires more oxygen than usual to fight the bug. Running only on a quarter tank, I can barely function with the little that I had left for basic human functions- like breathing.

When ill but with healthy lungs, you’re tired and you’re using more of oxygen than usual. But you don’t notice the loss of breath. Gasping is for lucky people like me. And there is truly nothing more frightening than not being able to breath. Not a surprise that waterboarding was so damned effective in scaring the crap out of our Guantanamo guests. The seconds before drowning must be hellish.

I was assured that as I recovered I’d get back to where I was. (Not that joyful moment when you find out everything will be okay, but it’s the best that I could do. Take what you can get and don’t dare let go.) I’ve spent the past week in a state of panicked paralysis. I can only imagine that was the PTSD talking. Anxiety I know. You feel like you’re jumping out of you skin. Depression is the almighty abyss.

The better I feel physically, the more grim, panicked, and paralyzed I become. I don’t want this anymore. I don’t want to live like this anymore. It’s lonely and can be nothing more unless I venture out into the world and risk catching that fatal bug. The one that descends on my scarred lungs and wreaks my final havoc. (I know this sounds melodramatic. If only it were so. I’d much prefer to be a whining diva than a human living on the edge of life.)

Can any of you actually believe I could enjoy “the world” with Henry’s ax (or Anne’s blessed never-miss French swordsmen) hanging over my head. I guess I’d have to reach a point where dying was no longer an issue. Live for the moment. I was never very good at that at my best. And I truly would need to go for broke- damn the torpedoes. I’m still a scared little Jewish girl. I’m not ready for the big stage. The grand gesture. It’s not in my gene pool. The Hungarian lunacy not withstanding.

So, I was ready to put this blog on hiatus. Every post “…today was horrible…” “I feel so lousy today…” “I had a bad day…” This is tedium. Fresh and different becomes a stale piece of cheese. I am not just writing for myself. If that were so, I’d keep a personal journal. But the illness gave me a voice I thought crazy to waste. (No, that sounds as if I made some cool intellectual choice. Fat chance. I’m no less honest than I have been. I’m just much less interesting. That alone is very difficult to swallow. How do I know this to be true? I don’t. I’m making an assumption. I feel so alone (well I am alone), and the idea that I might be driving away the people who chose to read what I had to say, has just been too much for me.

I was saved by a phone call today from one of my “new cousins” who isn’t new at all. A 2002 family reunion introduced the Kallus family to one another. (My mother was born a Kallus, so we are dealing with the crazy Hungarian branch of the family.) I met David Stein in 2002. He lives in Amsterdam and came in for the big event. On my last vacation of my old life, Chip and I had a full day layover in Amsterdam on the way to Barcelona. I called David to see if he’d be around that day. He was. And he treated us like royalty. He picked us up at the airport at dawn and fed us everything and took us everywhere. Chip and I swore our next trip would be to Amsterdam, but that was not to be. No trips for me. But David, Chip, and I grokked each other. He called to check on me this afternoon at the very moment I needed someone. Forty-five minutes of yacketing did us both good. And for the first time since this stupid-ass ear infection, I feel human again. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason to keep on living.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Autumn of Doom Redux

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. Saturday was strange. When I take my glut of morning pills, I always down them with a Trader Joe’s Breakfast Bar. I don’t know why, but I had no stomach for that bar or any food item that morning. I wasn’t sick to my stomach. Yes, hormones were raging as it seems is their wont, but they’ve never impinged on my ability to eat.

I had Tamar, the greatest P.T. on the planet coming over later in the afternoon, so I had to eat something. Good lord, I had a Zone bar. I think the last time I had one of those was a lifetime ago. But at least I some energy to burn for the beloved Tamar, the greatest P.T. on the planet.

In the afternoon, computer activities that require no thought at all suddenly became difficult. Puzzling. Scary. Chip came and made all better, and I breathed a sigh of relief. But what the fuck is going on?

Saturday night, I started to go through about double the number of oxygen tanks than the usual. (I didn’t notice. Chip told me this today. He had the gall to say to me, “You had the mask on most of the night.” Like I’m supposed to put two and two together when I’m no longer able to handle basic computer function. (Do you remember when we were elementary school kids, and I guess in an attempt to teach us beauties higher math skills, they used “The Function Machine.” Except no one really ever bothered to put the damned thing into context. All I know is one number went in, and another number came out.. Why? Don’t ask me, I didn’t get it then, and I would like to think I’d get it now without outside help.)

Another thing in life where context would have been everything. Hey kids, back in ancient times they had what they called “The Seven Wonders of the World.” One was this humongous statue of a man. I mean so seriously humongous that it made the list. He was called the Colossus of Rhodes. Stay with me kids. This poem “Give me your tired your poor/your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”and so on. Does anyone know the name of that poem? (No, off course we didn’t.) It’s called The New Colossus, and the woman (Emma Lazarus) who wrote the poem was writing about the Statue of Liberty. America as a haven for immigrants. Now let’s talk about immigration…

Wouldn’t that teensy bit of context been helpful? And I just found out that the damned poem doesn’t even begin with “Give me your tired your poor…” The first part explains exactly what the fuck Emma was talking about. So you understand the goddamned poem and title without even knowing dong about the Colossus of Rhodes. Aren’t teachers blithering idiots? Or are we too stupid to get the big picture even though the little one just floats in the ether, attached to nothing or no one.

Goddamn, I’m one pissed off human being tonight. I remember in fourth grade learning the names of three very important “statesmen.” Not a surprise, they were Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun. I don’t ever recall knowing what made them “statesmen.” I don’t ever recall know what a “statesman” was. I knew these dudes were American. That’s about it. I had no idea what they did for this country except that it must have been very important. So, it’s good to be a “statesman,” and these three were particularly good at being “statesmen” because the teacher is bothering to tell us about them. Do we have any other “statesmen?” Besides this three who have names? (And why is only one allowed a middle initial?)

I sure knew nothing about our system of government back then. C’mon everybody, you can do it quick and dirty: You know the president, right kids? The statesmen are people who are elected from every state, and they write the laws. There is a third part, the judiciary, but let’s save that for another class, shall we?

Oh, and by the way, Emma Lazarus died at the age of thirty-eight of Hodgkin’s Disease.

Back to Saturday night. I think I may have felt a little under the weather, but I was really perturbed that walking my usual laps in the hallway were near impossible. The first is always the hardest, but number two was pretty rough too. I have never, ever done this: “That’s it for tonight. No lap number three. I can’t do it.”

So off to bed I go. Chip, as usual, wakes me up for glut of morning pills. I take the pills. I tell Chip to get me a thermometer. I have 100.4 fever. Not a big deal except when you know there’s an infection in your body and your lungs have only quarter capacity. Chip gets the pulmonologist on call, (my wee pulmonologist’s big macher partner.) I’m prescribed a combo of steroids and antibiotics. (The only treatment to try and keep the lungs out of this.) Good news, the infection has not gotten into my lungs. If it had been, we might really be saying farewell.

I should only be so lucky. No more fever. I’m using a lot less oxygen than I was before, but it’s still more than it had been before all this crap started. I have zero strength. Until it all actually comes back, I’m making no assumptions.

Now it’s a new day! I’ve been awake for a nanosecond today and already, I need to nap. I’m not sure why this was so important last night, but I’ll see if I can figure out why. Ah, we have a lithograph that we bought on a whim at a gallery that only sells surrealist art. The thing is fucking ginormous. The only wall space large enough to accommodate it was in Lydon’s room. We hung the thing. And boy, does it freak him out! He insists it’s a representation of death, which I suppose is totally possible. Even though it lacks the typical death accoutrements (no cowl, no scythe). But this is surreal, so it shouldn’t include the usual death symbols, right?

Okay, he’s a young man, dressed up in green robes (plus maybe, just maybe, a medieval version of a back pack). He carries a brightly-lit staff and is standing be a cube of space that appears to continue on for all eternity or at least as far as we can see. I really relate to this guy. The lithograph has a name. And it isn’t “Death“ which would certainly be a dead giveaway. (Stupid pun not intended. I don’t have time for stupid puns.) No, it’s more subtle than that: “…nè in cielo nè in terra…” Neither heaven nor earth? Neither sky nor earth?

Yes, it’s Limboland! That’s where I live. I’m totally young and spry except I have a quarter lung capacity (and that’s when I’m healthy). It must be less- at least until I fully recover from this piece of nonsense. I’m disabled, but everything except one vital organ works perfectly. So, I like that guy. If by keeping that damned staff lit, he saves some poor schmuck from falling down that really nasty abyss, then I’m all for him and the whole lithograph. He’s stuck in the miasma just like me. Wait a minute he is me.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Wonders of Modern Medicine

Today I have taken an oxycodone. I am mostly pain free (in what in my world constitutes pain free), but the dose these little pills provide is the bare minimum. All it does is cut the edge off the really wicked stuff. I mean, my tendinitis in my right shoulder hurts like hell. What’s that about?

Last night, I was all teary and whimpery, because I hurt so fucking much but somehow thinking that there’s something shameful about taking a prescription painkiller. Yet another thing that we can add to my insanity. I was also afraid to move from the couch to the dining room table as I am no longer allowed to use the computer on the couch. Actually, I will not allow myself to use the computer on the couch anymore. I have made a choice. In some weird way the Venus aligns with Mars, I get terrible pain in two points behind my ears and have trouble turning my head. (Don’t even ask about Saturn.) These are not good things. Magically, the planets align properly when I sit at the dining room table in a chair like a mensch. I have remind myself I’m not a cripple. (Emotionally, the verdict’s still out, but physically, all body parts work as far as I can tell.)

But I was afraid to walk the few steps over. Am I afraid I might fall? No. Am I afraid it will hurt? Not anymore than usual. (Though pain can really fuck up your head. I mean scrambled brains, not sore pressure points.) No, I think this was just irrationality at its best. (Like being afraid of the shower. Not slipping. Or tripping getting in or out. Or even water boarding. No, I was just afraid of the shower. I’d have made more sense if I had thought the damned thing were infested with demons. That should embarrass me. Not taking a teensy oxycodone that never hurt anyone. (I mean the actual pill I’m about to swallow- not Oxycodone in general. No, I’m not taking pot shots at people with drug problems. I only take pot shots at myself. Anyone caught in the line of fire, my most sincere apologies.)

I just bought a bunch of Pointer Sisters songs. They kick serious butt. And thought they might be empowering. I need a hit. Couldn’t hoit? Now, I’ve got Marvin’s Let’s Get It On in my happy ears. Empowering too. But in a different way.)


It’s Saturday and saw Tamar (the best P.T. in the entire world.) I do my damndest, but I get out of breath so fucking easily. Hell, Tamar said we may only be able to get me only a little less tight. The tightness might not be coming from my body refusing to cooperate. (I never did learn to play nicely with others.) Really that’s not exactly true. I just always refused to take part in any competitive sport. I just hated looking like a numnutz I knew I would be. Better to sit on the sidelines. Isolating? Yeah, just, a bit. Very helpful in my coming age. I remember once the school had a pep rally. My friends and I took that opportunity to go home. If there had ever been any others during our three years at Schreiber, I missed ‘em.

In gym class, as much as I tried, I was stuck participating. Sophomore year, I was playing flag football. I hung out in the back of the mass of girls. My opponent’s quarterback threw a forward pass. The wobbly ball moved through the air as if in slo-mo coming straight at me. I caught it. (Not too hard, I never had a problem with hand-eye coordination. I just issues participating.) We were at the opponent’s goal line, so I had to run down the whole fucking field. Touchdown. Whoopee. I don’t think we had an extra point kick or even a kickoff. Somehow were around the opponent’s goal line again. (We weren’t pushed there by a fabulous offense. I think that’s where the gym teacher started us because if we did, she didn’t have to go tramping around the field.) Once again the quarterback threw one more wobbly ball towards the end zone. Shit, it was coming straight at me. Again. I ran down one more time. TD! I think our gym teacher had enough of flag football, because she sure as hell wasn’t going to move her ass under any circumstances.

Gym class improved immensely when they introduced a selection of sports we could choose to play. I square danced an awful lot. I fenced once, but the layers of Lysol permeating the mask was more than I could take. All I knew, if I wanted to live another day, I had to get away from Soccer Speedball as fast as possible. I don’t remember much about it except that people threw balls at you with incredible speed and force. The fucking “game” hurt like hell. If you enjoyed taking the risk of being decapitated by Sue Murray, play away. Once was enough, after that I avoided it like the plague.

Then I discovered the fabulosity of weight training. The class was made up mainly by a bunch guys keen on expanding their muscles. No teacher taught. There must have been one there, but he or she was one quiet dude. The muscle-bound boys were really friendly and very nice. They showed me the machines and shit. I did lots of sit ups to make the class go faster. I must have been in this section with a friend, because I recall entertaining ourselves by discussing what we actually wanted our “weight” to do as we trained it. Jump through hoops? Catch poorly thrown footballs?

I must be on drugs looking at the shit I just wrote. Note to self: one oxycodone gets me fucked up, and I don't even know it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Angry Inch

I didn’t write yesterday. I was in one of my “blue periods” like Picasso. Just like. It was so bad I was unable to see the sick humor of my situation. “Situation” really is such a misnomer, isn’t it? A situation is only a piece of time. It’s long overdue that I start referring to my situation as my life. And get each other properly introduced. Hi How Are You?

Come now. Do I really think that those researchers are going to find a fix for me? (“Please Mr. Postman look and see…”) To use one of my mother-in-law’s favorite expressions, anyone who believes that, poke out your right eye. So blue, blue, my world is blue…What the fuck is it with these songs that have no relation to one another. Except they’re real sad. Aha! Caught you! Thought you’d sneak out on me, didn’t you? Well fuck you, I got it, and I got it.

I was reading the blurb that accompanies most albums on itunes or Amazon. Not important why, but I had to have, “Sing This All Together (See What Happens). It lives on Their Satanic Majesties Request. I don’t have the album. I don’t want it. Not my cup of tea. But the descriptive bit speaks very positively about how the Stones used that album to experiment with their music by leaving out the blues which, at least to my untrained ears, goes part and parcel with the band. I always thought Their Satanic…to be an overreach and especially stands out as such as it was released not long after the still fucking amazing, incredible Sgt. Pepper’s…Uh-Uh Mick and Keith. Stick with what you’re good at. And they did and I think that in doing so, released the greatest music of The Stones oeuvre. (Don’t you love that you can use oeuvre in the same sentence with The Rolling Stones?) Hell, they’re my favorite Stones albums. So sue me. Blues rules.

I find it interesting that it’s so easy and such a relief to write about music. I’ve kept Franny really close to the vest today. I know. I apologize. To give you all an idea of what we’re dealing with: I’ve been feeling like a completely useless lump of flesh. “Lump of flesh” is not my creation. It’s a twist on the “Angry Inch” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (Asshole that I was, it was being performed mere minutes from my home, and I had no clue how remarkable it was. So it closed before I figured out.) But the movie is beautiful, painful, and so very sad. For Hedwig, her one inch mound of flesh is what’s left from a botched sex change. For me, I’m the lump of flesh. Listening to the soundtrack makes me cry. The song with the animation accompanying it, The Origin of Love,” is genius and makes me cry even more. I need to cry.

I am welling up. Writing about Hedwig and listening to Sympathy for the Devil can do that. A strange fact of nature. And I still have to figure why life is worth living. I haven’t gotten there yet. And let those tears come hot and heavy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Where Are You At?

I have just finished from an afternoon of mending and napping. The nap is quotidian and of no import here. At least not today. I screwed up on getting medication down at the right time. This was not earth shattering but if I’d paid better attention, I wouldn’t feel the need for my own Dr. Feelgood upon awakening. (I want Aretha’s Dr. Feelgood, but he I’m not sure even he could have made all the bad stuff go bye, bye. You know, I just may not be giving him enough credit. Fool, that Dr. Feelgood is everybody’s salvation and amen. Helloooo Dr. Feelgood.) By the way, I’m fully aware that I have Dr. Feelgood in my apartment 24/7. This is not to provoke an, “Awe, how cute.” I got him. I just have to make better use of him. I don’t think he’d mind.

The mending is comforting. While you may not think that sewing holes in underwear and tee shirts one hell of a good time, it strangely provides me with a real feeling of accomplishment. Another Port Washington Union Free School District disappointment.

It was still the day where girls were required to take a year of home ec and the boys, a year of shop. For all the power tucked up in my great brain, I was lost when it came to the sewing machine and patterns for swell looking items that never looked as good as the illustration of the lovely young thing, all decked out in something you thought you we making.

I loved my sewing home ec teacher. That’s not true. I loved the idea of her. I’d go to her with a problem (which was all the time) and she’d always say, sounding like the Baleboosteh that she was even though she most certainly wasn’t Jewish, had blond bouncy hair, and a vague southern accent, “Where are you at?” (With strong emphasis on the “at. ”) She’d come to my machine that was a complete mess, she righted the ship, and I couldn’t understand a word that that honey bun said. I didn’t mind floundering too much because there was always, “Where are you at?”

This was progress. Girls no longer had to take sewing classes. (As my mother recalls, “Ten stitches to an inch, ladies!”) Now this is a skill I’d love to have. I was never going to get a sewing machine. Was I ever going to make my own clothes? Not a chance. Being able to neatly mend or hem, that’s a different story. I have the children of the Depression disease. Why throw away a perfectly fine pair of underwear if all you have to do to make them perfect, is to sew a seam? Or darn a hole? (If you don’t, the open seam takes over and strangles you in the night. Or the hole envelops you and your family, and you can never climb out. Even though, for chrissakes, it’s just a hole in my underwear. You think it would be easy. Guess again. (I think my ARDS may very well have been a warning from the Sewing Gods. “Where are you at?” I shudder at the thought)

So far, this has been a productive day. Next is working out and walking the hall. These are all very unpleasant things for me to do and hang over me every fucking day like it did my buddy Anne Boleyn. (Except it was a goddamned axe that was hanging over her head. Sometimes I wish I had that problem. Then I wouldn’t have to work out any more.) I am now waiting for the oxycodone to kick in. Then, I won’t feel quite like I’m about to go to my execution. Every fucking day, this crap hangs over my head. And I can’t make myself chill about it.

I need serious drugs for that to happen. (You all think I’m already taking serious drugs? Nah, this is just kid’s stuff.) And I’m always afraid that if I give myself the night off, one night will become two then three…I don’t trust myself. My motivation. The truth comes out. The raison d‘etre for a lifetime of “high achievement.” I’m just petrified I’ll bolt. So I mend. And darn. Takes the edge off. Like a nightcap.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Privacy Pad

I have been doing my “homework” assigned by my masseuse. The pain I’ve getting in my head and neck has reached the level of excruciating. The cause? The position of this goddamned laptop. Today, I have been following orders sitting in a real chair with the computer on the table. (With strategically placed pillows and lumbar support) Rachel (who is becoming one of the best massage therapists in New York) knows her shit. I’m not going to hope to eliminate my problem. (I haven’t been all over this like I have the back. The non-functioning back trumps all.) I was never a Lisa Loopner and Todd fan (sorry y’all) though I adored Mrs. Loopner. She always killed me with “Poor Mr. Loopner. He was born without a spine.” I often think about poor Mr. Loopner these days.

This is a big move. It gets my ass off the couch. Which Tamar (the best P.T. on the planet- of this I am entirely sure) has been telling me to do for weeks. A great Tamar aside: I just ate it up when Chip and I, after confirming I have a soft-tissue injury in my back (big move), conferred and said, “Yeah, we’ll give Tamar a call…” No last names, just Tamar. My orthopedist is stunned, “You know Tamar?” (C’mon, this is a big city. Tamar. In the orthopedics/P.T. world, it’s like saying Madonna’s doing my P.T. No last names necessary.) Even better, “You get Tamar to come to your house?” (This from the most laid back doctor I’ve ever met.) “Yeah, we do.”

My other piece of homework was to soak my feet and then have Chip give them a massage. Rachel said they’re tight as little stones and if we can get them loosened up, this will loosen up legs and finally my pissy back. This piece of homework is a good thing. I love the whole shebang and my blessed husband says he love massaging my feet. Go figure.

After my massage, I’m, supposed to try my daily walk in the afternoon as opposed to 1 to 2 A.M. as usual. I tried. It’s not only not better than the early morning stroll, it’s much, much worse. I take a drying medication late in the evening that clears me up for that pleasant stroll up and down the hall which always ends dramatically with my flinging myself in my wheelchair parked in the foyer for just that reason. I heave for the next few minutes until I can breathe again. And then we go and do the stroll twice more. Every day.

Now, isn’t it easier to see how frustrated I am that I’m not going to get much better than this. But I have to keep it up. Since life these past few days the glass is half full, what choice do I have? (If it were half empty, don’t even ask.)

I must have written about the entire Pittsburgh nightmare last December. The loveliest persons I met with, believe it or not, were surgeons. You remember that the whole fucking week I and the two other women with me on the Block, 50% 5 years, 10 or 14% or thereabouts 10 years (I can’t remember, damnit!) The head surgeon took both my hands in his and said what I already knew, but no one else dared touch with a ten-foot pole. He looked me straight in the eye and said softly to me, “Those aren’t your numbers.” What an angel! (Meaning I am very likely one of those transplant recipients who pull the numbers up. Strong, young, otherwise healthy…

While that its likely that would be so, I could also react badly to the new lung and have to go back on the vent for????? They had a young woman in the program who received her new lungs two years ago and hasn’t left the hospital. After my hell, I just can’t go there. Not again. “Franny, say bye-bye.” “Bye.”

My best friend there was a man I call Dr. Asshole, the most pleasantest asshole you’re bound to meet. Who said, “If we could squeeze another six months out of your lungs, you’d have five and a half years, isn’t that good?” (Great! Five and a half years and then I drop dead with god knows what complications during those fun, transplanted five and a half years.) And best of all, “In two years, (with his smarmy, cheeriness dripping from every pore of his body), your lungs will be two bags of pus and then no one would do a transplant on you.” How I kept my wits about me, I don’t know. I asked him, “Are you telling me I’m dying?” (He didn’t expect that. That’s not in the script. “Director! (whine) This patient is improvising! (panic) What do I do?”)

The uncooperative patient continues, “No one’s ever told me I’m dying. Are you?” I was livid, and I cried. A real good one, long overdue. Where’s this shit coming from? I ended up making him feel like he fucked up, because I ended up with a visit from the Grand Poobah of all Transplants with a non-apology apology. If nothing else, Dr. Asshole knew he had done something not quite right.

I apologize to you all. I may very well tell you this same tired story every week. I just don’t remember. Just like I can’t figure out long division. Just like I’m having serious trouble spelling correctly. Every time I make one of these discoveries, it hurts. Big time. I guess I was something once upon a time. Who knew? Not I. But maybe it was so. A little late on the uptake.

In the recovery room, after my double heart catheterization. Now there was a roomful of mensches! I loved those guys. We talked music the whole time. (I had to stay awake while the doctor wormed catheters through both veins and arteries through the heart and out. I frightened one of them when he asked me what bands Eric Clapton had been in. And I rattled them off. (That’s when I frightened him.) C,mon. dude, that’s an easy one. Next catherization challenge me. “Are you in the business?” No, I just listen to music. Silly guy. But actually very nice. The surgeon was a doll. I thanked him profusely. I don’t think that happens very often. I felt nothing. I believed he was in total control. He deserved it. And he seemed to really like the thank you.

Maybe these folk want to make you feel powerful and smart. Patients must behave better when they’ve proven themselves and can lie back, smile, and be cocky. Lying on your back covered by a “privacy pad.” I guess it must make everybody feel better. After lying on my bed stark naked at 85 pounds getting a szigmoid during rounds, a “privacy pad” does seem kind of silly. I guess it’s just the separation of church and state. I can’t imagine how dehumanizing crap I’d have to get through to feel dehumanized. Maybe some people are more sensitive about these things. Hell, is the team going to get horny seeing a tuft of hair? Will I? (Thank god for my Chip. At least there’s still someone who does. Kinahora.)