Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old Brown Water, Keep on Rollin'...

I didn’t expect I’d be writing so soon, but I need to. (Even if I fuck up my neck doing so.) Today began like any other day. For forty-five minutes or so, the hot water chose to exit the faucets brown. Calling downstairs, no one else had yet complained of the problem. As magically brown water appeared, magically it disappeared.

The need for clean hot water usually is something less than an emergency. This was too, but I often can’t tell the difference anymore between a real emergency and a not-so-real emergency. (I still have a vague fear of the shower.) Well today, I had to shower before Rachel the fine (and I have learned though it never crossed my mind she wasn’t) extremely kind masseuse arrived. Time was a wasting as my faucets gushed brown. I’ve become increasingly aware that when I get tense, my whole head tightens up. Obviously, this has become particularly problematic when I have a screwed-up painful neck and head. (Limited range of motion blah, blah, blah…) Yes, I am well aware that this “head” problem is quite different from the one that requires oodles of psychotropics for me to maintain a semblance of emotional stability.

So I got tense. I took an oxycodone. It helped both head and screwed-up back a bit. My fine masseuse arrives and is horrified to see my upper thighs covered with very ugly bruises. She is more horrified that they were caused by the splendid deep-tissue work from the prior week’s massage. She gets upset. She’s not supposed to do that. I said, “Yeah, I know, first do no harm." I’m not concerned about the bruises. I must have a high tolerance for pain and for whatever reason, my legs have always been tight. No, I have beautifully stretched muscles. I stretch like a maniac. I have to. With one quarter lung capacity, there isn’t a whole lot else I can do. This is not a stretching issue. It’s a fascia issue. Massage opens fascia releasing pent up emotions, stress and makes a person just feel plain better.

My massage therapist says she won’t go into the tissue as deeply as she did last week. This really rattled me. I was soooo relaxed last week and my body just let her in. This was not Nazi massage. So I turned a little purple. I know how tight I am , and there is no painless way around opening me up. I know it. I expect it. I accept it.

I feel guilty that I made my poor masseuse think she was Dr. Frankenstein or worse, Dr. Mengele. Guilt makes me tense. Where did I have a real hard time letting go? My goddamned head that’s where. And Chip, angel that he is, started to make a cheesecake while I was getting worked on. He forgot that the first part of the recipe requires use of the blender. Oops. I’m feeling guilty, trying to relax while knowing I have upset my masseuse for taking the damned pain, and the blender is blending in the next room. Not a surprise, this was not my best session.

After the session, I tried to explain to her why I didn’t give a shit whether my whole body was one big bruise. No, I didn’t burst out sobbing though it would have been very helpful if I had. But I did go a step past weepy. I’ve been weepy a lot. I can do weepy on the turn of a dime. My problem is that I haven’t ever been able to get past weepy. Not in three and a half years. I spoke to my masseuse, and this is what came out:

I don’t care about the bruising or the pain. I’ve had so much taken from me that I refuse to give up anymore. Back pain, neck pain, bruising. Who the fuck cares? I’m locked up (figuratively) in my apartment. I’ve lost the life I loved. I just want what has become crapass chronic pain to disappear. You add that to my inability to breathe, I don’t have much left. So if I have to walk on hot coals to make this extraneous shit go away, I have no problem with it. Don’t you see? Don’t you understand?

At this point, I’ve gone past weepy. My fine masseuse tells me she happened to work on the area (somewhere in or near my gut?) that is tied to emotions. She finally gave me a reason bruising is no good. Bruising can lead to scar tissue which she must later break through to get back to where we were prior to the bruising, That’s logical. This makes perfect sense. I can wrap myself around that. I don’t want bruising, because it may very well be making me less able to rid myself of my chronic pain.

That’s where we left it. I feel low. The oxycodone has long worn off. My fucking back hurts. Looking to the right is a no-no. (If nothing else, the left feels better than the right. Sometimes we need to grasp on to tiny things, because that’s all there are. Pick a mote. Any mote.) I had to write this down. Perhaps, I’ll feel better, Better enough to walk my three laps in the hallway gasping for breath. Oh yay. Isn’t life grand?

P.S. Yeah, I was right. My neck feels worse after typing out this post. Let’s just hope I feel better. (Can’t get no worse.)

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Brother the Texan

Hello sweet ones. Another Monday and another antsy day. (It doesn’t help that I took my klonopin an hour and a half later than I should have. Word to the wise: Never be late taking your tranquilizer. This is not helpful behavior.) I think crazy raging hormones are making it much more difficult to breathe. There is actually a logical medical reason that this might be so. But I swear to this fucking god, I stub my toe, it’s more difficult to breathe. The cat looks at me funny and again, breathing is more labored. (Okay, those last two are completely untrue, but they might as well be. I have no clue why I feel different from one day to the next. Yes, it sucks.)

Since I never leave our lovely apartment, (no, I’m not being sarcastic; it’s very nice here.) Thanksgiving has to be here. But no one has the energy or the inclination to put the damned thing together. So I suggested ordering in Indian food. Years and years ago, we went to Mitali West for Thanksgiving, They gave us, on the house, a turkey curry. We were the only ones there. Having Indian again was my suggestion. It’s horrible depressing to order in all the shit that your mother and grandmother made and receive for an exorbitant amount of money not Thanksgiving dinner, but an incredible simulation. Forget everyone’s Thanksgiving favorites and instead we’ll stuff ourselves with bhujia, garlic naan, tandoori mixed grills out the wazoo, malai murgh tikka, biryani and whatever the hell else suits our fancy. I think this will be a major success. Hey, I have nothing to celebrate. For me, the scales have still not tilted to life. Because my life stinks. Even with the greatest husband in the world. And a pretty damned good mother and brother.

Today I received a call from my brother Eric. This is my brother in Texas. From whom I’m estranged. I picked up the phone by accident. (Could have knocked me over with a feather…) “Hi.” “Hi.” “How are you?” “I’m shitty. I’m always shitty.” (Which is true.) Then I just started talking about Ulysses S. Grant. (I just finished a revisionist bio after reading his memoirs. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.) Unlike a friend of mine back in high school who always found someone to pine over in whatever band we were listening to no matter what. She never said, “You know what? I like the tunes, but these guys are really vile.” No she always found someone. Yes, I had my rock and roll loves, but they really were few and far between. I’ve found as I age, the fall-in-love-with-the-unattainable gene has been turned on. And it’s powerful. Historical figures make me hot. (Even though they're quite dead.) They make me sweat. Right now, I love, love, love Ulysses S. Grant. And no, I’m not in love, because they’re sexy. No. And I’m not in love with him, because he was the greatest general of the nineteenth century. (Though that’s more than enough to seal the deal.) He was just a great guy. (All the scuttlebutt regarding Grant is a load of bullshit.) If Lincoln had lived, between the two of them, this country would be a radically different place. They both would have forced the South to let the freedmen vote. (And a shameless supreme court began gutting Grant’s laws for true equality and for the next quarter century culminating with Plessy vs. Ferguson (separate but equal.)) Wild fact: the last fair election until 1968 was 1872. So when anyone says the civil war ended 155 years ago. Laugh in his or her face and inform the person of the latter.

I love Ulysses S. Grant.

And I will always have a soft spot for Charles II. (He loved women. Not just fucking them either though he loved that too. He loved their company, their conversation. He loved their minds. Though pulchritudinous wasn’t a deal breaker...) He was, most important, a perfect mensch to take the throne after the death of Cromwell. Charles II wasn’t out for blood, retribution, and civil war. He got the people behind him and had a productive, peaceful reign. Long overdue. Cromwell and his dudes beheaded his father, Charles I; Charles II had what to be angry about. But he looked beyond personal vendettas and did his job awfully well. (He’ll always be my honey.)

What does this have to do with anything? I suppose that if the passions of Franny are evidence of nerdlyness. (Which I think I might be accused of if someone had the guts to say to me, “Yo, back in high school, you were one fucking nerd. And reading this nonsense, you still are.”) But though I haven’t heard it, I’m sure if I had any label at all (the other being, “Huh? Who?), that was it. I love that this stuff turns me the fuck on. It lights me up like a Christmas tree, and I’m just a measly Jew. And anything that can brighten my day, gimme. Nerd my ass.

My friend Audrey dropped off a book she really enjoyed called The Ghost Map a non-fiction book about a cholera epidemic that hits London mid-nineteenth century. It’s wonderful. I called Audge up to tell how much I loved her for knowing me inside and out and how she knew that this book would make me happy.

Today started off really lousy. I felt under the weather. Chip was working his ass off. I missed him. And I was struggling to exercise and couldn’t breathe. I get a call from my brother who in so many ways I don’t recognize anymore, but I knew he’d be just as excited as I was about President Grant. This is what my life with my brother had always been. He was usually (he’s eight and a half years older) the one getting me excited about something cool- like astronomy. We had a kids’ book (The Big Book of Stars) that gave thumbnails of the big names: Copernicus, Newton, Tycho, Kepler among other cool stuff…Who introduced me to the book? And here I was waxing poetic about Grant. This was soooo comfortable. So right. Can we get passed the last twenty years of weirdness? Good God he was my best friend from day one. My first word was his name- not mama or dada.

(My brother Doug is totally digging the Grant stuff. The cholera epidemic, not so much.)

And yes, it was I who stole the soft-covered book Pioneer Germ Fighters in fifth or sixth grade. Because, I knew. I knew. That no one would ever love that book more than I. It needed my love, and I gave it. I don’t know how many times I read the damned thing. But I betcha that book would have sat gathering dust if I hadn’t taken it. I didn’t do much taking of what wasn’t mine, but this book needed me. And I needed it.

Eric will be in January 8. I’ll see him.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"I bet you can squeal like a pig. Weeeeeeee!"

Vain thing that I am, I used the magical, dry spray shampoo my hair stylist, the adorable Aisha gave to me. Anyone remember Psssssst? The commercial glued itself to my brain:

“It’s not a dry shampoo. Oh no. It’s not a wet shampoo. Oh no. Clairol freshens your hair instantly with P-s-s-s-s-s-s-t.”

The above was sung to a seriously lame jingle. It did do exactly what Clairol said it would if after spraying, you never touched your hair ever until ready for a real washing. Because if you do, watch out. Your hair ends up greasier and more hideous that it was before you sprayed. The product is still available. I thought it went out long ago in the seventies. Apparently not. I suppose there are people out there with more self-control than I (you now know I have none whatsoever) and maintained their lovely Psssssst hair for the day.

Well now, there exists a product that makes no bones about it. It is a dry shampoo. Just like Psssssst. (Or if you’d like me to be technical about it, they both spray out of a can.) The difference is, this new shit really works. (I had a panic this morning, after a carefully executed shpritz, that I breathed some of it in. I believed that I did this, because it’s yet another terrible thing that can go wrong. My Life’s Motto since my initial illness: “If it can get any worse, it will.”

Breathing in these toxic fumes will naturally have ruined my lungs even further, which of course would make it even more difficult to breathe than the normal gasping for breath. Who knew that some silly hair product could trigger PTSD? A car’s backfire, the whir of helicopter blades, being kidnapped, blindfolded and dropped in some unknown desert…that I can understand. Those things should trigger PTSD. And now we find that this new shit that actually works (unlike Psssssst) making your hair look and feel clean even when it isn’t triggers PTSD In me. How ‘bout that? I may have a cool diagnosis, but I feel as lame as Arlo Guthrie trying to explain to real felons on the Group W bench that he was arrested for littering.

But I’m here today to talk about my inability to let go (verbally) during massage. I've taught myself how to relax even when it's killer painful, but I won't ever make a peep. Silly girl. 
I'm afraid I have so much locked up inside that one day I'm going to blow. 
I even tried an on the spot exercise that I thought was just so damned clever. I asked my masseuse "permission" to let go. The poor girl was so befuddled by my question. I just told her, “Amuse me, just go with me on this.” She did. She gave me permission, and I explained to the still confused young woman (with hands of steel) that this acting exercise was in fact giving MYSELF permission to scream like a banshee. Sounded like a good idea, but it didn't work. Not last week. Oh, and I know I need it bad. This may take some serious work. What’s the expression? “You’re too clever by half.” Yup. That’s me.

My man Rich, to whom I confided this dilemma on Facebook, was quite amused by the idea of my being a Submissive. (Asking permission to go zoo on the massage table and such.) Perhaps I need to move further in that direction.

If Franny doesn’t behave and squeal like a pig…they’ll be more pain forthwith. (The goofy thing is that deep tissue massage is more often than not excruciatingly painful, so that threat won’t do shit.)

But the “squeal like a pig” (yes, which I did use deliberatively to bring us all back to the first (and for me) last time I saw Deliverance. Those words, “Squeal like a pig” may frighten me more than anything in this entire world. I have put together an early 1970s playlist that includes everything I can think of: Deodato’s Thus Spake Zaruthustra, Billy Preston’s Space Race, Kenny Rogers and the New Edition’s Something’s Burning, and even the treacly United We Stand sung by Brotherhood of Man whoever the fuck they were. But I cannot bring myself to include the formerly ubiquitous Dueling Banjos on that playlist. If I were never hear it again that would be too soon.

I think I’ll continue my quiet ways on the table. She, Rachel my fine masseuse, has the capacity bring me to my knees, but she’ll not hear a peep from me. Let’s say…I’m a work in progress.

Or maybe playing Dueling Banjos on repeat during the massage? If that doesn’t get a rise out of me…ohgodno! It’s more likely to clam me up forever. Forget it.

P.S. I thought I would have, at the very least, a mess of angry comments for writing about Deliverance for a second time. Once was too much. This time I expected an angry mob outside my building with tall flaming torches and pitchforks forcing their way in come to rip me to pieces. (Not that I don't deserve it....)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where the Hell is Bobbie Gentry?

Today I have provided beginning students of physics a perfect example Of Newton’s Third Law of Motion. For every force, there is an equal and opposite force. Really simply put, there is no net gain or loss in the universe. There are mutual forces of action and reaction between two bodies that are equal and opposite.

Yesterday, I had a lovely visit with a friend I haven’t seen for a long time. It was good. It was easy. I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to play host. We just were. And that’s a very cool thing. I encourage you all to do the same. You’ll thank me for it, and you’ll rest easier to boot.

This was all great until after several hours of honest-to-god energy and genuine enthusiasm flagged like a car on empty. Then, I have to try real hard to maintain some verve (I like thinking I have verve. Yummy word, that one. Verve. I’ve never had any need to use it in the past and that’s what popped up when I thought about how mine just withered away.)

Dudes. This is three and a half years since I took ill. Is this all that I’m ever to expect? Today (back to physics 101), I pressed the PTSD button.
Everything fucking thing frightened me. This is extremely annoying and horribly unproductive. The stretching and shit I do every goddamned day to maintain a normal looking body was one hundred times harder than it usually is. (FYI, my other choices, if I don’t try and stay fit, are becoming a super-fat load who is unable to get up from the couch or the other, camp survivor chic chica. I don’t like either of them.) Wasn’t that Peggy Lee? Is that all there is? But at least she could keep dancing.

All the love from Saturday turned to fear on Sunday. My inability to get a hold of myself made it so much more difficult to breathe. I finally asked Chip, after I’d spent the entire morning in bed feeling queasy, if I could I put my head in his lap and conk out. Bless him, he said yes honey. An hour and a half later, now awake (but shaky). He had taped Sixty Minutes which he knows usually absorbs my attention. (But not as much as Real Sports. That show fucking rules.) We watched. It helped.

So I thought I’d whine about it to you. And don’t you get all high and mighty about Sir Isaac. Hey, all my love on Saturday turned 180 degrees on Sunday. The universe is behaving as it should. No space-time continuum problems here. My feeling especially rotten today proves it. Physics 101.

Let’s talk about cutting. I saw a week or so ago that Secretary was being aired on one of the 10,000 HBO channels. I never saw it when it came out, and a friend I love whose tastes very often dovetail with mine, liked and recommended it. In it, Maggie Gyllenhaal is an unhappy young woman whose means of comforting herself is by making cuts in her skin (Or painful burns on it.) Either choice, same goal, relief. No, this isn’t a preamble to suicide, because I grok that. I know that. Suicide is something else entirely. Cutting is to provide relief from the otherwise unrelievable. Suicide is just cutting loose.

So as I looked at the many Band-Aids on Maggie’s legs, I found a kindred spirit. No, I didn’t cut. Nor did it ever occur to me. Even it had, I don’t think I could ever achieve the sense of relief, because I think that cutting is way to out of control for me. Maggie should have been a surgeon. I not.

But I could scratch off every scab, bump, mosquito bite, as well as anything else I’m forgetting. And make them bleed. This provided me with that very same relief. I also chewed my cuticles like crazy. If there was a piece of skin to pull, I pulled it. Sure, the first part didn’t hurt. (It was already no longer a living part of my body.) But what it pulled with it was quite alive. Just regular old flesh doing it’s quiet flesh job. I tore it. And boys and girls? It bled. Of course it did, my pets. And in the strange minds of people who have nowhere to turn, this was comfort. This was control. I controlled my pain. Not somebody else who had power over me. (Usually teachers, occasionally fellow classmates in the Port Washington Union Free School District.)

Now, we cutters, pickers, bleeders are ashamed of ourselves. And god forbid anyone see the evidence of your work. Here it was, bright and bold- youaresopatheticlookattheshityouhavetoresorttogethroughtheday. When other girls were “cute as a button,” I was so damned ashamed. Of myself. That I had no power to stop doing It. That no one would ever love me if they knew how sick I was. That It actually made me feel better. Oh, this is all wrapped up in shame. Not so easy to have be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I needed to make myself bleed to cope. What am I, some monster? Shameful.

For me, the most pivotol scene in Secretary which made me teary is when James Spader showed his cards. He knew what she did, and he didn’t judge her for it. He says to her, to paraphrase, “Lee, you are to never, ever to cut yourself again.” After that, she then goes to a bridge (the Tallahatchie? Sorry, couldn’t resist) and throws her neat box of sharp instruments into the river. (Like when I finally figured out that the critical scene in Gone With the Wind is when Scarlett makes it back to Tara and finds her mother dead. It is at that moment, when there no longer Mommy’s arms to run into, Scarlett begins to become the tough, unlikeable Scarlett many of us love to watch over and over again.)

Believe it or not, through my bout with hell, I’ve been able to control my urge to comfort myself with controlled pain. Maggie, as narrator says “Each cut, each scar, each burn, a different mood or time. I told him what the first one was, told him where the second one came from. I remembered them all. And for the first time in my life I felt beautiful.” I got there too. No more shame. Even with my crapass life.

By the way, Jill Sobule has a great song on her latest album, “Where is Bobbie Gentry?” It’s denouement:

Yeah I was the baby

Thrown off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Postscript: D- It really was a horror suffering from a desire for self mutilation and having no way to stop it. I was so ashamed of it; I couldn't talk ever talk to anyone about it even though my mother was well aware of the problem. But she was stymied as to what to do about it. How do you tell a kid to take control of something that was uncontrollable? That requires that this problem be a logical one. (Like using the Gaussian Number System to solve the square root of negative one, remember? On our math field trip in tenth grade?)

My little problem came from some place in my person to which I had no access, let alone Mom. (No fucking way.)

One of the most mortifying moments of mine was when a high school (Paul D. Schreiber High School of the Port Washington Union Free School District) friend of Eric's asked what were all those spots on Franny? Now this was elementary school Franny. Covered with every damned place I had picked at it, especially then, when I really had absolutely no will power to stop it. I was crushed. (Eric, thanks for sharing.)

The older I became, the more intelligent I became in "hiding the evidence." I assumed, like Lee in Secretary, no one would ever find me beautiful after seeing my shockingly mutilated body.

Oops. As you get older, you learn things. If young, eager college guys are going to get some, they don't give a shit about a scar here and there. (And by then, those horrific bloody spots had long healed any faded into history.) And if a boy loves you, you're beautiful. Period.

But yeah, when I'm stressed, I find something to pick at. And I no longer feel the need to draw blood. I'm content to remove an ingrown hair. Now that's what I call progress.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Another day, another post. Confirm that one of the common side effects of oxycodone is nausea. How great is that? I love to feel nauseated. I drool just thinking about it. Fuck it I’m taking the shit. Anyway. I drool even more for debilitating back pain, so I think we have a perfect match, don’t you?

The only time I ever despaired was the first chemo Saturday when the miracle anti-nausea drugs didn’t work. I received the chemo the day prior and appeared to handle it so well, Chip decided to spend Saturday moving the Boy into his new apartment. By the time Chip had come home, I think I had managed to drag myself up from the floor where I had lain prostrate for hours asking anybody, anywhere I could think of to make it stop. I even left a message for the oncologist on call who had the brilliant suggestion of taking more of the miracle pills that had previously been useless. Those remained useless. Uselessness on top of uselessness if very stupid. Perhaps he thought if I could distract myself from my misery, it could somehow help. Please.

In my arsenal of drugs, there was nothing to make it stop. Nothing to make it even an iota better. Trust me, there is nothing worse in your life than experiencing nausea that shows no signs of looking for a new gut to torment while it’s happy and comfy in yours. Try that in Guantanamo. (The hell of hells in the hell of hells. Nice.) It’s not like stomach flu. You get sick. You drink ginger ale. Mom’s very nice to you. You get off from school, and it’s all right. (That is I think it’s not too bad…)

This was nausea as I’ve never seen before or since. It neither worsened nor improved. And who’s to know when it would ease? It had too sometime, right? Will I have to go through this every treatment? (Good god.) I wanted to hang myself if that were so. (I wanted to hang myself without waiting for Round 2.) I was in tears when Chip made it home. I begged him never, ever to leave me on chemo weekends. He wouldn’t. He didn’t. He must have been freaked by agonizing nausea neither of us were led to expect. The Boy (bless his heart) found me weed fast. I can tell you that while it doesn’t solve the entire nausea problem, it made a magical difference and worked from toke one. Hey, I really never needed a toke two. I coughed like a mad woman. Who knew I was in the embryonic stages of viral pneumonia that helped make me the person I am today. (Somehow, I feel I should commission a monument for that bout of pneumonia. It needs to be real big and in very poor taste.)

The nausea started to dissipate sometime on Monday.

This oxycodone nausea, while annoying, is kid’s stuff.

Saw the ENT yesterday. The left ear is still no good. I have new antibiotic drops which should fix the “Problem” whatever it might be. It’s been about a month since the fever and ear infection and the heavy-duty antibiotics. Why do my ears still hurt? My hearing has gotten worse over the past week. What’s that about? After a recent shower, I touched my left eardrum extremely gently with a Q-Tip. Searing pain went from my ear to points all about my head. That’s just not right. My ENT said I must have scratched it, because there was a blood clot in the ear. But when I pulled that goddamned Q-Tip out, there was a bit of dried blood on it not fresh. The dude knows the drill. And he sure doesn’t want the blame of killing me off laid on him I can tell you. And he’s a very nice man. I’ll do as he asks.

I changed my profile picture today. I got my first haircut in over a year. My truly talented and sweetie pie of a hair stylist came over on Sunday. She kicked ass yet again. I absolutely Love my gray hair. (It really looks good.) It’s too bad it doesn’t show up in the picture. So I look great, and I’m ready to conquer the world. All right, well I can walk the long hallway outside the apartment. With copious oxygen, mind you.) I’m very proud. My profile picture now includes my ever-present accessory: the cannula and the tubing that accompanies it.

What the fuck is the point of all this?

P.S. Mazel Tov Bob! I imagine you still have a job. FYI, Fatboy has now become an integral part of a brand new playlist. I call the playlist “Newish.” It certainly is for me. The hip and initiated can have a good laugh at my expense. I’m only happy to help.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marijuana Toast

As promised, today was psychopharmacologist day. Given that oxycodone, if it hasn’t rid me of pain (the stuff dulls it down some), has given me a life back, the rest of my drugs will remain as is. What’s really funny is that I had no life to begin with. I guess the good news is that I’m out of the minus column. (You know, I’m afraid I’m really going to regret saying that.)

I didn’t want to fuck with what works. I’m way too close to suicidal to be stupid and try and wean myself off some of this crap now. (And there’s a lot of it.) No, sweethearts, I’m not feeling the least bit suicidal and haven’t since I emotionally recovered from my recent upper respiratory infection. (Put me face to face with death, why suffer longer than you have to blah, blah, blah?) Also, going into the winter is a bad time for me to screw around with mood-altering drugs because, if you all remember I suffer from S.A.D- Seasonal Affective Disorder along with Anxiety, Depression and PTSD. (Knowing that I suffered most of my life from S.A.D. explains so much the crud of my painful adolescence. I understand behavior that otherwise remained inexplicable to me. I feel like I should always have slapped on my person huge gummy red letters, “How ‘bout that!” Not quite To Sir With Love, but that’s as close as I’m ever going to get.) Now, I just sit in front of a light box, and I remain stable. I sure wish I had it back then. (The light box. But come to think of it, the huge gummy letters would have been cool.)

Oh, why huge gummy, red letters?

I don’t know. They just popped up into my head. They feel right. Let’s try and explicate them, shall we? There’s no Bocarde around to tell me my stream of consciousness is all wrong. Which it may very well be. But I’m sorry Mr. Bocarde, you can’t make that determination. Well, you can, but who would listen? Certainly not I. What’s even lovelier (than those big, fat sticky letters) is that I don’t give a shit. And odd man that he is (was? I hope not), he’d probably like that. I think he would also enjoy like this foul blog. (“Foul” was one of my darling Suzanne’s favorite words.) Bocarde loved Suzanne.

How could he not? She ripped apart everything he had us read. Those precious works he found so important and special that he wished to share them with us. He always gave her an A+ because she shred every single point he made about any of these beloved works- like Portrait of an Artist…one rip at a time.

He ate that shit up. Bizarre as you were, you, sir, you were one of the only interesting teachers in the whole goddamned school system. But let’s not speak of such things now.

Huge, gummy red letters. Ahh! They’re so perfectly clumsy, awkward, bizarre, and impossible to miss. The adolescent me knew only a few who what went on in my fevered, little brain. (Sorry to say, it’s not all that different from the crap you’ve been reading. Except I confess my tough-guy countenance is pure fantasy. Well not exactly. I hang my head in shame. I’m actually a very sweet person. No one would ever think so from reading this damned blog, but I confess. It’s kind of true. But no matter. This time, I’d be noticed all right. I think that’s kind of cool. Hey, it’s a helluva lot better than a zit the size of Mount Vesuvius. Oh, I’d sure wear my letters with pride. Yo, I don’t consider this humiliating. I find it liberating. My scarlet letters. You know, that is kind of sweet. Warped perhaps, but sweet.

Back to teachers in the Port Washington Union Free School District. One day Mrs. El Kadi who, for those who didn’t have the pleasure of her acquaintance, was a mad woman. Flat-out bonkers. One class she announces, “Don’t you find it interesting that the smartest person in the room has the smallest forehead?” I slump in my seat. Shit. The class is looking around. Obviously, they can’t discern forehead size like Mrs. El Kadi. Finally, she breaks the suspense and points to the back of the room. At me. No one in the room gives a shit. But I’m mortified. What was this woman thinking? Who said she was qualified to teach anyone anything ever? Good old Port giving the enfeebled or just plain mad a chance to live a normal life.

Back to me and the present. After the visit with the psychopharmalocogist, Chip made an appointment at my behest with the Heebie Jeebie Lady chiropractor. Oh how soon they forget! My goilfriend the doctor recommended her because she was “a good practitioner” and right in the neighborhood. My beloved chiropractor is in Washington Heights. Among weekly visits from Tamar, the best P.T. on the planet, Rachel, the fine masseuse, and Kristen my angel, my therapist who comes twice a week, I’m physically unable to make the trip up to Washington Heights to Laurie, my darling chiropractor. (It ends up about an hour each way.) I do miss her terribly.

Besides the screwed up back (which I actually think is responding to all the attention paid to it), my head and neck decided to get in on the fun and flip out too. Sons-of-bitches. Here’s where the Heebie Jeebie Lady comes in. Since she stopped coloring her hair, she doesn’t give me those same heebie-jeebies she had years ago when first saw her. I knew I needed to see a chiropractor and fast. I really was desperate. ) With each passing moment, it became more and more difficult to turn my head left or right. (Besides being rather restricting, it was painful as all bloody hell.) C’mon, don’t I already have enough on my “plate” to contend with? It doesn’t work that way, does it?

But as she was on all my past visits, she is a fine practitioner. She’s good too. I have a head and neck back. You really don’t know how much you’d miss them if they flat-out went cuckoo on you. Not crazy. Loony tunes I know intimately. No, that they just don’t work. (I can’t even imagine what stroke patients go though.) Let’s just say you miss them an awful lot. Now, they’re behaving themselves, and I know have a chiropractor in the hood if I need her again. I think she has a new name. From now on, she’s “The Good Practitioner.”

Flattery will get you everywhere, even when you’re dealing with lumps of flesh. Oh they know. Yes they do. They just remain impassive as always. Slowly, but surely, they poke up their little invisible antennae and if you coo just right, they’ll cut you a break and stop leaving you in agony. It’s a subtle cross between love and diplomacy. Difficult. But left in the right hands, they’ll- the lumps of horrifically painful flesh - eventually cut you a break. And the oxycodone sure doesn’t hurt.

Even if it may be making me queasy. (Damnit!) Hello marijuana toast! (A most beautiful and often necessary invention.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Celestial Sphere

I feel so goddamned down, I could do battle Daniel Johnston and have a shot, only a shot mind you, at winning a round. That’s down. Yeah, I admit it, he has me beat. I mean who doesn’t he beat who’s still living? Frankly, I’m not sure how he’s managed to continue living. My assignment (if I still choose to accept it) is to make certain I always lose to Daniel Johnston. (“Psst, that’s good. She doesn’t want to be dead today. Woohoo”!) This kind of talk makes me queasy. Too often down. Real down. Not good. I think it’s pharmacologist time. Oh goodie. (I have an appointment with him on Monday.)

An utterly, delightful sick story from a cousin recalls meeting the family patriarch, her uncle, for lunch. She had been something of a wild child and hadn’t gotten past it just yet. (Maybe she was in her early twenties at the most?) She remembers the peas on her plate dancing about. Uncle asked would she like help from him? She (I think realizing that peas don’t dance) accepted. He immediately took her to the psych ward of the best hospital. (Bit of backstory: she was just about to join a new cult where you create a new identity for yourself. First step is choosing a new name—Sunshine, Petunia, Orange Blossom… Coffee Grinds, whatever. This appears to have been a happy cult, doesn’t it? Wasn’t Jim Jones’ a “happy” cult until that last day or two?) No matter. Anyhow, my cousin was now checking herself into the psych ward with help from her very kind, non-judgemental uncle and is innocently asked by the nurse, “What’s your name?” She replies, “I haven’t decided yet!”

Bingo! They sure got a live one that day. Anyhow, my cousin believes that Uncle saved her life. He was quite something, and she’s still a pistol with more stories just as good or even better than this one.

Bummer for me is that I can’t be checked in anywhere. Not on all this oxygen and taking more shit than a girl knows what to do with. No rubber room. Even if I want the rubber room. At least for a little while. I’d like to be in solitude. Straitjacketed? Could be a hoot.

But damnit all, I can’t go there.

So tonight, I fall into the pit. Refuse to speak to Chip. I don’t want to punish him. Wait a minute, maybe I do. Is it punishment for telling me I’m hot when I feel I look like a leper? (You know, the Hollywood Epic lepers. As leprous as humanly possible.)

I felt like I was heading off to school with the nastiest zit on the planet, and my mother says, “Oh, you can’t even see it.” "Yeah, really?" I almost bought it. Well, she's right. It’s not so bad…Until I went to the bathroom at school, looked in the mirror and saw, my god, the Mount Vesuvius of zits. That’s the way I feel when Chip compliments me while I have tubes exiting several orifices. C’mon, honey. Moral of story: Never believe the people who love you most. They have ulterior motives…like not having you feel bad about yourself. But you idiots, it always backfires. And after that I never believe a word you say. (I know, I know—the “Do I look fat?” question is no-win. But you’ll earn respect. And when your babe is hot, she’ll actually believe you.)

I’m exhausted, Today is little bit of an exception to the rule. I’ve been doing all my new stuff stretches from Tamar, the greatest P.T. on the planet. I can’t stop. If I stop. I’ll stop again, and then again. I can’t stop. So I work out like a lunatic. (What an assshole.) And I hate typing at the dining room table. This is another one of those irrational ones. So here I am at the couch again except this time with the computer plopped on a stack of pillows bringing the screen to eye level.

Now it’s Thursday. I found it to physically painful to continue on last night. (I’m back at the table. Unhappily, but a helluva lot more comfortable than the couch.) The Civil War has just ended. (In my Grant bio. No I’ve not entered into some strange time warp. “Edith Keeler must die!) You know I’ve looked at this from multiple angles. Conclusion: I unfortunately wouldn’t have any effect on the space-time continuum. How do I know this? I don’t, but let’s get real here. Let’s just say I think that it would be a surprise to everyone if I did. You’d certainly knock me over with a feather with that one if I’m wrong about this. Look, I’m no Joan Collins.

I guess I’m coming out of my “funk” (not the good kind), by being busy every waking moment of the day. Right now, it remains exercise. Day and night. There are two serious reasons for doing it: it’s my only chance to rid myself of this hellish back pain for good, and I need to maintain a certain level of strength for the time when there is a fix for my sad lungs. My body must be strong enough to withstand surgery.

I hope there are frivolous, shallow fringe benefits to this masochistic (because exercising with little air is a misery) playtime. Perhaps my ass might reach its pulchritudinous zenith? But why should I care when I lock myself indoors? The glass half full shiny happy view of my shitass life is that I no longer look like a camp victim. While gasping for breath. That’s real progress. Nah, I still think obtaining a harder, more-shapely butt is a worthy aspiration and always satisfies. (To hell with “cures.” They’re really not as exciting as they’re made out to be. So anti-climactic.)

A toast to firm and young! (And firm)

Monday, November 1, 2010


I never fancied myself a poet. Nor have a even tried to write one since sixth grade when we had to.

But I have discovered the source of the Nile: I can galumph forward in my life with oxycodone. Oxycodone! Doesn't that sound beautiful. It positively sings. No, I get no highs. Not ever. (I take a meagre five milligrams of the stuff.) But I can't function without it. Not because I've become addicted to it. Far from it. I literally cannot function in this world without oxycodone as I can't function in this world without my psychotropic drugs.

Without that damned drug, I'm just overwhelmed with pain. How much shit am I expected to put up with? How much can a body take? How much can this body take? I draw the line at chronic pain. Well, that's not exactly true. No, it's not true in the least. The line was drawn for me at chronic pain. I can't go on like this.

The call is in to the orthopedist. Can I just keep taking the shit? Do I need to play the old switcheroo with other painkillers from other drug families. Or in the same family?

"Shake hands with your Uncle Max my boy and here's your cousin Sid. And here's your cousin Isabel who's expecting another kid..."
-Alan Sherman

Introductions can be made.

I knew yesterday the only hope I've got is a fucking painkiller that actually works. Oxycodone doesn't rid me of pain. But it takes the edge off like a lovely glass of Shiraz. (Which I used to partake in another life. Now wine? Alcoholic beverages, what's that? I just ignore myself and don't answer. What I don't know can't hurt me.) I'd like to know if there's anything that dulls that edge just a little more. If not, I won't be surprised. I haven't received much good news in four years. Why should I now?

I know, though, that that oxycodone has some powerful mojo. In about fifteen minutes last night, I put together a playlist called "Fran Heat." Al Green (of course), War- The World is a Ghetto (it's hot, what can I tastes run a little to the peculiar), Isaac Hayes (Hot Buttered Soul to Shaft...), Curtis Mayfield (Superfly sends me), Gimme Shelter...When did I last think this way? Let me make this clear. A "Fran Heat" playlist is a seriously positive thing. Those choices are very me. It's not some bizarro aberration, and I'll recover and get back to some normal choices like "You Light up My Life," "Feelings," and anything by Kenny G.

Mind you, I'm still a mess and desperately need to sob loudly with big fat tears falling down my cheeks. My darling Robyn Hitchcock has as album Moss Elixer. And now I've found mine. Staring me in the face, and sitting in the plastic, orange drugstore bottle in the basket next to my doughnut on the couch. My elixer is my beloved oxycodone.

I can slog on for another day.