Wednesday, February 10, 2016
I didn't know what kind of photo would be a good lead-in to a post that includes my selection of country to live in should That Businessman Who Won the New Hampshire Primary go on and win the presidency, but yesterday as Oliver and I drove around the big shitty, we looked up and noticed this example of graffiti at its finest. Do ya'll have these McDonald's billboards everywhere in your little or big shitties that declare some big change that's coming? Evidently, McDonald's is about to change, and we sure don't know in what way. Are they going to be paying their workers as much as their executives? Are they going to use only organic, grass-fed beef? Are they going vegan? Are they swearing off sugar sodas? Are they going to stop exploiting third world countries? Are they going to work in earnest to reverse the travesty that is the American diet and food/agriculture system?
In any case, the graffiti artist known as Thrasher (according to one of my dear friends, this person unfortunately defaced her property several months ago) has answered the question quite well.
As I type this, I realize just how perfect that photo is -- you know -- the McDonald's, The Donald, etc. for this post. Sweet Jesus, I wish we could just all text each other laughing emojis and text JKs and LOLs after yesterday's primary in New Hampshire.*
Remember back in the good old days of Romney/Obama when folks of a certain political persuasion kept whining how they wanted their country back?
Yikes. I know how they feel.
Mary Moon at Bless Our Hearts suggested we all start thinking about what country we might want to live in should That Businessman win, emphasizing that Mexico would work because of that wall that The Businessman would erect that would not only keep the Mexicans out but would also serve to keep those Americans that voted for The Businessman away from us as well. Hmmmm. Mexico? I'm still hankering for a trip to Bora Bora, to tell you the truth. I imagine I could still work My New Job from such a remote location, and Sophie would love living in a little hut over the ocean. I do love this country, but I can't say that I love the people in it that would vote in a primary for such a hateful, ugly fool. There. I said it.
Now I'm going to do a little research and see if McDonald's has conquered Bora Bora, yet. If not, you'll know where to find me.
*I'm talking about the results of the Republican primary, of course. If you're a new reader, you should be aware that this is a COMMUNIST site. As for the Democratic primary, I'm not ready to commit but am leaning toward the one whose name rhymes with Flanders.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
I had nothing to write about today -- or yesterday, for that matter -- until I went online to register my new membership in that most august health insurance entity Blue Shield. I found myself not in a dark wood but rather on a well-lit path with easy markers. I clicked here and traveled there and landed on my home page with the names of my three children below my own. I clicked on each child's name and was denied access. I was told to give my children's email addresses to the Great Oz so that said children could approve my access.
Apparently, the well-lit path led to a fortress.
What is this strange order? I thought and in lieu of giving out my children's emails to a Corporate Entity, I decided to call and speak to a Representative.
I made my way, again, through the labyrinth, this one accompanied by piano music and Hall and Oates. The Representative came on the line, and when I asked him why I had no access to my minor children's medical information, he told me they were obliged to protect everyone because of Hippo Laws. I know about the HIPPO laws, I told him, but I've never heard of asking for children's emails to get permission for their parents to access their medical records. This seemed to stump the Representative enough that he was exceptionally gracious when I asked him what to do, what to do about my Adult Child Who Doesn't Talk. I have appropriate conservator/guardianship papers, authorizing me to access all her information, I told The Representative. I really need to do that quickly as I have some work laid out by your august company to get Sophie's drugs pre-authorized since they are not on your formulary and your people need to know whether they are indeed medically necessary or just a little something that we're taking for the hell of it. (I actually didn't say that last part). The Representative said that he could help me out with that and then he sent over the internets an Important Form for me to fill out and then fax. I then asked him whether he could help me with the Pharmacy Task, and he said that he could not but that he could transfer me over to The Pharmacy Keeper. I clutched my key and went on hold. I stayed on hold, listened to the piano music and Hall and Oates, and then I was turned away, disconnected. Disconsolate.
I went to my email to download the Important Form that would Authorize My Representation of My Disabled Adult Daughter, and here's a screen shot of what The Representative sent me:
Help me, Rhonda.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
I could frame a series of evenings by the vehicles that will carry me to and fro.
Last night it was a Mercedes driven by a large French Egyptian poet. A woman. Her name was Soraya. She was driving a car for extra money, although it had already been five days, and the car company she worked for was dishonest and corrupt. She was waiting out a lawsuit, wreaked by unsavory characters in her business as realtor. She had a relative who was a billionaire. Yes, a billionaire, she said, and this relative dressed her dogs in designer sweaters even as homeless people camped out on Fountain Avenue, just down the street from the hospital where her husband, a cardiologist turned administrator, had made his billions. Can you imagine that, she said. Sweaters for dogs. I am writing a poem about this thing. My theory is that animal lovers are entirely selfish, narcissists, really. She has an uncle with Alzheimer's, she told me, when I told her that I wrote about disability, about my daughter. The disabled are not counted, she said. He is a person. I talk to him with my eyes. I murmured, no getting in the edges. Wise. We talked about French poetry, how she thought in French, had never written in English. I told her to give it a go. I don't remember the context, but she said, You'll have to pick out the truth. She dropped me off at a bar on the west side, a dive bar where I was to meet a stranger and listen to music.
A young man named Ahok picked me up from the bar at 11:30 pm. I climbed into his luxury Prius. I've never ridden in such a big, nice Prius, I offered in the way of conversation. The dashboard glowed. My voice was hoarse from talking over music in the dive bar with the stranger. I had drunk two glasses of Cabernet, not Merlot. It's a regular size one, Ahok told me. It looks big because of the leather seats. I sank back into them, refrained from discouraging the use of the freeway, said instead, Well, you're driving me home from my first encounter with a stranger in almost 25 years. He shook his head. He wore cologne and a gold chain bracelet. Have you ever done that? I asked. Meet a stranger at a bar? He said he didn't believe in that. It wasn't right. I sank back, sunk, deeper into the leather seats that made his car look bigger than it was. I tried not to presume, assume. I imagined a burka, a garment dropping from the sky, covering my body, my flesh, a slit for my eyes, my beautiful eyes.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Note: The sunlight is water on the kitchen cupboards.
Note: Sophie is a delicate thing, a bird in a nest made of lavender and vibration.
Note: I registered to attend the Abilities Expo downtown this weekend, but I don't feel like it.
I'm reading Anne Boyer's Garments Against Women. Who told me about this writer? She makes me shiver.
Here's a bit:
Some people believe to know the fin is to know a shark, but this is an incorrect belief. The fin is not a fin of a shark at all though it is a reproduction shark fin strapped on a boy's back, and the boy with the reproduction fin does very much want to be a shark, wishes it a great deal, dreams some nights of being a shark in a great fleet of sharks in some unexplored sea where sharks are in fleets and somewhat even more powerful that the sharks of the daytime world have shark banks full of money and minnows. One could be, also, a person with a fabulous malformation of a shark fin on her back, who says often "please excuse the fin" but others look at the fin and say, "look at that grand shark with that awesome fin" when she is, underneath the fin, a person who is fond of peeling carrots for soup and a person who could otherwise just not help the fin that fortune dealt her. Some could be real sharks, the fin an adequate representation of sharkly reality: that's just the deal.
Last night, Henry and I went to see the movie Hail, Caesar. Remember my Saturday Morning Three Line Movie Reviews? Three words would suffice:
Thursday, February 4, 2016
|The view from the rooftop of my CVS buiilding|
Hollywood sign in upper left corner
my sexy, white Mazda at right
I haven't been around these parts the last few days because the internets went down. We had to get all read books, do jigsaw puzzles and try to navigate the world without wifi, and good Lord, ya'll. I hate typing anything on my phone, and god forbid I should write anything long-hand like days of old, so I actually caught up last night with my chapter-a-day in War and Peace. I'd fallen behind about a week, and just like it goes with exercise, I was afraid that I'd never get back on the wagon. Now, I'm about caught up with the reading, and I'm thinking I should finally go to this Pilates class that I visited the other day and get back on that wagon.
This morning, after dropping Sophalonio off at school, I stopped at one of my favorite little restaurants and had avocado toast with poached eggs on top and a latte, made with whole milk. There were only a few people in the place, at a couple of tables, but each of them was talking about a script or lines or production. I've lived here for eighteen years, and it still strikes me in the funny bone that people are just so LA, that they don't have regular jobs but talk about movies and television no matter where you go. Yesterday, I went over to the CVS to pick up some of Sophie's poisons and took the above panoramic shot of part of my neighborhood and the Hollywood hills. That might look pretty urban, but when I drove down to Irvine for My New Job, all I could see were snow-capped mountains ringing the iconic skyscrapers of downtown. Again, it's weird to me that I actually live here, and I do love it so.
Speaking of Hollywood, the AT&T guy who came to fix my internets strolled into the house in a pair of cowboy boots looking exactly like a combination of Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise and Jake Gyllenhaal. His ridiculous beauty reminded me of the time Sophie was in the hospital at UCLA back in the days when I actually thought bringing her to the hospital would help the SIT U AH SEE ON, and the attending pediatrician walked in, a tall, long-haired woman about nineteen years old with super tight blue scrubs on and a nipped in the waist lab coat. I remember looking at her haggardly, wondering if we were actually caught in an episode of ER because there is just no way that any doctor should look like that on a children's ward.
The AT&T guy must have been a big smoker, something that I would generally be disgusted by, but damn. I generally don't even like cowboy boots because they remind me of Texas and certain conservatives, but this guy was so cute that I thought about calling all my matron friends and inviting them over. It was almost embarrassing showing him my router that happens to be in my bedroom. I think the way to deal with a younger man in the South is to say, I bet your mama loves you. I didn't say that, but when he left, I told him how much he looked like Jake Gyllenhaal and that I was going to invite all my friends over to meet him, and he smiled and said, Thank you, ma'am.
Monday, February 1, 2016
This morning I grabbed a pair of underwear from my drawer (I refuse to use the dreaded word that begins with a p) and pulled it on. I glanced down, though, and read the words printed into the waistband:
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD BE HAPPY EVERY DAY.
Yes. I've written about this particular underwear before, but not enough can be said about synchronicity and underwear affirmations.
So much can change from one moment to the next.
I spent many weeks procrastinating on submitting my manuscript to the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, but over the weekend hunkered down for many hours getting not only the manuscript but also the cover letter and overview ready. All of this was done even as I prepared and had my Books & Bakes dinner on Friday night, took care of the Soph, counseled, cooked and otherwise kept in line The Two Teenagers and did some editing for My New Job. I know very well that I have far too many frying pans on the fire, and I fear that I am doing each thing in a slipshod way (remember my botched Hungarian dessert?), but I was determined to enter MGDB* into this contest, namely because it was for unfinished manuscripts and would force me to put some order into the thing. I confess to hating the whole "structure" thing and have fantasized about someone like Mary Poppins descending from the sky and landing on my back stoop to take the book in hand and just -- well -- tell me what to do and make it a book. The Graywolf Nonfiction Prize takes submissions every other year, and one of the requirements is that the book is NOT finished. This seemed perfect to me. I have an overview and many, many pages, but I also have this structural problem that will take some wrestling, and maybe, just maybe, I'll win the prize and then my troubles will be over.
At 10:05 pm, Pacific Standard Time, I finished typing out my overview and went to the Submittable page.
It was closed.
I had missed the deadline because I live on the west coast and didn't bother to think of the time difference! I let out a blood-curdling scream, stripped naked and ran with the coyotes that lurk in my neighborhood and eat miniature dogs.
In all seriousness, I was if not devastated, then feeling crushed and, frankly, idiotic. Why had I waited so long to submit it? I went on Facebook and wrote a pathetic status update, asking for violins. I got plenty of them, but I also got a couple of wise suggestions to email the folks at Graywolf and tell them my story of woe. I took the advice and included a screen shot of the Submittable page that said the contest was open January 1st through the 31st. Then I watched three episodes of Downton Abbey, contemplated why some people have the balls to date online and some people think only of Looking for Mr. Goodbar and that scene where the Richard Gere character is chasing the woman around the room, all drugged up, and then I went to bed, crushed.
I woke up this morning resigned that it's all for the best, it's not like you're going to win, anyway, there's probably a better thing to submit to, maybe your good friend will win it which will be almost as good as winning it yourself and at least you finally did an overview and are one step closer to wrestling the thing into shape.
Then I grabbed the underwear.
Then I read my email.
Thanks for your email. The prize closed at. Since that wasn’t clear on the website, we’ll let you submit your manuscript. If you’ll go ahead and email me the required materials in one file, either PDF or Word doc, then I’ll add your submission to the nonfiction prize in Submittable. Once that’s been done, you will receive a notification from Submittable that it has been entered.
I let out another bloodcurdling scream, stripped naked and ran through the neighborhood with a palm frond that had fallen in the hurricane-like winds we're having this morning in one hand and my underwear in the other.
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD BE HAPPY EVERYDAY.
* My son, getting ready to leave for the Winter Formal at his high school on Saturday night. A sight for sore eyes, for sure.
**My God Da*&ed Book
Saturday, January 30, 2016
|Chilled Sour Cherry Soup|
Last night a group met at my house to discuss Magda Szabo's novel The Door and eat Hungarian food prepared by my old friend Erika. I think we all agreed that the book was wonderful and the meal outstanding. The novel is about the complicated relationship between a peasant woman and an intellectual writer, taking place in the sixties in communist Hungary. Erika, a native Hungarian, informed us of the novel's distinct "Hungarian-ness," but each of us found something to relate to whether it was female friendship, the role of caretaker and receiver, the complexities of mother/daughter relationships and even that of writing and material. The book was written in the 1980s and only recently translated into English, but The New York Times included it on their list of the Ten Best Books of 2015. It's a short book, but I think most of us at Books & Bakes would recommend it.
Now, the menu. Good Lord, ya'll. Not only is Erika a beautiful writer, a Caretaker Extraordinaire of a beautiful little girl with severe disabilities, but damn. She can also cook. I milled around the kitchen a bit before acquiescing entirely to her skill and concentration preparing authentic Hungarian dishes. I won't divulge that the night before I had attempted to make a traditional Hungarian pastry that I had to throw in the garbage and left me in tears. I thought I'd lost my touch, but Erika assured me that the recipe I was using was at fault. Perhaps that's true, but I think that I have too many proverbial frying pans on the fire and have just lost my mind. I guess I just divulged that.
Here's the menu:
Mulled Wine forralt bor
Cheese Biscuits Pogacsa
Chilled Sour Cherry Soup Meggyleves
Meat-filled Crepes Hortobagyi husos palacsinta
Chicken Paprikash Paprikas csirke
Mushroom Paprikash Gombaporkolt
Hungarian Cucumber Salad Uborkasalata
Assorted Traditional Hungarian Pastries
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
|Dr. Frymann and Sophie, 1997|
I learned today that the beloved osteopath who changed Sophie's and my family's life over twenty years ago died this week at the age of 95. All three of my children were patients of Dr. Frymann -- Sophie began treatments at ten months, when I'd fly to La Jolla for six week trips, living in a little motel by the sea. When I gave birth to both Henry and Oliver in Santa Monica, I traveled down to see Dr. Frymann when they were each less than ten days old so that she could give them a newborn treatment. She believed that treatment at birth and through infancy and childhood was of enormous benefit and freed the child from digestive issues, colic and the ailments that we've grown to expect and accept as we age (ear infections, "growing pains," back and neck pain, etc.). Over the next fifteen plus years, we made the trip down to San Diego multiple times a week and then month -- a drive that I never complained about because I knew what lay at the other end.
I credit her for setting Sophie on the path to true healing (something distinct from curing), and for ensuring the boys' vitality and ease (they were, quite simply, always jolly and rarely ill through childhood and neither ever on any antibiotic because of her treatments). I couldn't possibly describe this woman's impact on my own life and thinking. She is probably the only true healer that I will ever meet, the woman responsible for our move to California and for setting me on the path of integrative medicine and treatment. She guided me forward when I didn't know what to do. I believed Dr. Frymann when she told me about the body’s inherent ability to right itself, to heal itself, and that her work was to help the body find its optimal path. She never claimed to cure a person but to rather help that person reach his full potential. When she did speak of curing, it was in religious terms, an expression of her deep faith in Christianity and God’s power. Her work, though, was not religious, in the sense that she was a scientist who had studied and practiced osteopathic manipulation for over fifty years. If it weren't for Dr. Frymann, I have no doubt that Sophie would not be alive today nor she and her brothers in such good overall health.
She was your first ray of hope, my father emailed me this morning when I told him of her death.
Yes. She was my first ray of hope. She taught me nearly everything I know about healing and curing, about what it means to be human and whole. Her life not only affected ours but those of thousands of people around the world, and she worked and traveled and taught until her retirement at age 90, five years ago.
We will miss her and are grateful to have spent so much time, literally, under her powerful hands.
Here's an excerpt from a chapter in my book-in-progress about Dr. Frymann that gives you a small idea of her power and worth.
Dr. Frymann believed in the inherent dignity of each child, no matter how “damaged.” She never used the word “damaged” at all, in fact. Every child is worthy and has potential. Every child can understand what is going on around him or her, able to sense the environment and whether it is positive or negative. Her beliefs resonated with me and with those who made such an effort to bring their children to her. The simplicity of those beliefs tapped into our most fervent hopes but also affirmed the things we already knew about our children.
I sat in the “quiet room” at Dr. Frymann’s office while Sophie got her treatments during my first few visits to California at the La Jolla office, flipping through old Reader’s Digests and prayer books. Sometimes, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back on the old chintz-covered armchair, my hands loose in my lap. I knew that outside the sun was shining and that the palm trees were swaying from the ocean breezes off of La Jolla Cove. I heard the faint sounds of piano music coming from the music therapist in the treatment room and the gentle opening and closing of the front gate. When I opened my eyes, I saw that a woman had walked into the office with a girl in her arms. The girl appeared to be made horizontally the way she lay flat on top of the mother’s bent arms. Her feet, twisted inward, stick-straight out, level with her head, a long black sheath of hair hanging down over the other bent arm. She made no sound and there was no way to tell, really, what her age might have been. I tried not to stare, smiled awkwardly, instead, and said hello to the woman. She sat down, still holding the horizontal child, murmuring to her. The girl didn’t move in her arms, lay straight like a board.
When Dr. Frymann came out with Sophie, she handed her to me and told me that she’d see us in two days. When I asked how Sophie “did,” she replied, “Fine. Her vitality is much better.” She then turned to the other mother and lifted the girl into her own bent arms. The transfer was effortless, and now it was Dr. Frymann who carefully balanced this child over her arms, walking back toward the treatment room. “You are an Indian princess, yes, aren’t you,” she crooned to the girl as she walked away.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Against the Evidence
As I reach to close each book
lying open on my desk, it leaps up
to snap at my fingers. My legs
won't hold me, I must sit down.
My fingers pain me
where the thick leaves snapped together
at my touch.
All my life
I've held books in my hands
like children, carefully turning
their pages and straightening out
their creases. I use books
almost apologetically. I believe
I often think their thoughts for them.
Reading, I never know where theirs leave off
and mine begin. I am so much alone
in the world, I can observe the stars
or study the breeze, I can count the steps
on a stair on the way up or down,
and I can look at another human being
and get a smile, knowing
it is for the sake of politeness.
Nothing must be said of estrangement
among the human race and yet
nothing is said at all
because of that.
But no book will help either.
I stroke my desk,
its wood so smooth, so patient and still.
I set a typewriter on its surface
and begin to type
to tell myself my troubles.
Against the evidence, I live by choice.
via Poetry Foundation
|Ophelia Among the Flowers|
Odilon Redon, 1905
I might as well have been speaking in tongues yesterday, at least when I declared Sophie had turned a corner, was on her way to a better place. She had multiple seizures last night, all night long and into the morning. I'm not sure what to do other than continue to tinker with the cannabis. She seems all right this morning, which is confusing. I imagine only those well-versed in these things understand my restraint in not consulting the neurologist. I am not lacking in hope, just tired. A bump in the road I will not climb or walk past but perhaps, temporarily, rest beside. I wouldn't feel responsible leaving yesterday's post up without today's, so here it is. I'm going to close comments, though, because I don't have it in me to listen. That's what comes, sometimes, from exposing too much, elation spilling over, taken over by a language that no one understands, including the speaker, me.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Sophie's turned the proverbial corner and appears to be responding to the new strain of cannabis. I'll provide the details if you leave a question in the comments below, but for those who are still struggling with getting cannabis or using cannabis, know that patience is in order and that much tinkering has to happen. I still believe that this natural plant medicine is vastly preferable to anything offered by pharmaceutical companies, and I'll be able to write more about it as I learn more (which is a given very soon because I am starting a new and full-time job in the cannabis information business). More on all of that at some other time. Can I hear an Allelujah?
Within one week of switching to this new strain, Sophie's seizures, which had become near constant and were characteristically worsened by a virus, have dropped down to -- well -- next to none, and that's with a full moon shining in the Los Angeles night sky. I, too, was reduced to a wreck or to a sort of full-figured wraith, transparent, despairing. It was like days of old around during the last few weeks, the days before cannabis when I plead on my knees to a god in whom I had no belief. My night-time psychotic self had returned, the woman who lies in bed churning over years past, convinced there is something I've done wrong, a dark hours before dawn narcissist. The boundaries between Sophie and me are porous at best, and if I were to be totally honest, I'd say my identity is so entwined in hers that there's no getting out. Singing the blues, really.
when my baby doing bad, I turn sad.
Speaking of blues, Mary Moon suggested that I attend a house concert last night featuring a friend of hers, Spencer Bohren. It turned out that the house was literally in my neighborhood and about four doors away from the original house we rented when we first moved to Los Angeles eighteen years ago.
This man could sing and write and play and spin stories and spun me into a mesmerized state. I talked at length to his beautiful wife Marilyn, also a friend of Mary's and felt as if I'd known her forever. I also sat on a couch next to a legend -- Harry Tuft -- considered to be the godfather of folk music in the Rocky Mountain region and whose center was visited and revered by people like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and the Mamas and the Papas and all manner of blues and folk musicians. Holy mackerel! He introduced himself to me and said it'd been a long day, that if he fell asleep I was to poke him awake, and when I told him that I wouldn't do that, he told me that he had narcolepsy and I very well should. Spencer dedicated the first song to Harry, a Bob Dylan tune, and Harry whispered in my ear that it'd be amazing, and it was. The whole night was amazing, a perfect cap to and for a week and a woman turned glad from bad.
If you want to listen to and buy Spencer's gorgeous music, go here.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
- How to remain cool when navigating the treacherous waters of Verizon customer service, trying to figure out why I am being charged hundreds of dollars a month for a hotspot that I returned in July after my sojourn in Hedgebrook that I thought was taken care of but that I apparently didn't according to the Verizon people and now that I've switched to T-Mobile am being punished with the most incredible round-abouts and garbled technology talk that took hours and hours and is still not resolved even though I had to go to the actual Verizon store as well and take it up with them.
- Gratitude that I don't live in a concealed carry state because surely, if I hadn't learned #1, I would have been hard-pressed to not just go ahead and "settle things" Texas-style
- How to "dab," a dance move that Oliver told me about, demonstrated and then judged harshly with the utmost scorn and mockery when I attempted it (see photo above). Oliver has no idea that I actually do have a sense of rhythm, and while I wouldn't profess to like the music that goes with this dance move (at some point he screamed over the jarring cacophony that whenever the pounding bass line dropped, I was to DAB!), it's not that far removed from the Hustle or the Bump, both of which I excelled at in my day.
Reader, what did you learn today?
*First World Problem Solving
*First World Problem Solving