Real Paper Notes

Here I am at my coffee shop, sipping on a non-fat latte with an extra shot, or moosed, as our local chain likes to call it.

The damn dog woke me up at 6:30am on a Saturday morning. Lucky for him, he raced out to relieve both his bowel and bladder. It’s the mornings he goes out to bark at the birds that I could just as easily cut him loose. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who can effortlessly go back to sleep, and so like I said . . . here I am.

There was a time when I used this blog as therapy. I must have worked through several of my issues, because I just don’t seem to need it like I used to. This morning brought back memories of rising early,sneaking off for coffee and writing before Bubba wakes. And so it seemed only natural I should log in and click “Add Post” while the sun slides up in the sky.

A friend sent a note a week ago. Not electronically. She made it with real paper, with a hand-drawn fish on the front. She wrote a few words, not many. “How’s it going?” “What’s new?” but the card said so much more. It made me think about her. She lives on the coast, and fish are ever-present on her mind. Big fish. Like whales. Drawing a fish on a real paper card is so like something she would randomly do, eagerly dropping the envelope into a mailbox on the way to the rocky shore to look for shells, or jellyfish, or whatever the sea rolls in.

I can’t say for sure, but I imagine her finding the little oval cards with their matching envelopes at a humble second-hand shop or old-fashioned drug store. The price was right, and she knew she’d find some way to make someone’s day brighter; the thought of their smile involuntarily igniting one of her own. She has this crooked little grin when there’s something she’s thinking but not saying.

Perhaps she stared out over the waves when she decided what to do with the notecards, or maybe she was pulling weeds in the garden. But I know she spent some time contemplating. I know she thought about each person who would be on the other end while she drew. She undoubtedly laughed at her illustration of a fish swimming through the weeds. And she sent it anyway. Because that’s who she is.

And in this age of email and text messages, what kind of person does this random act of drawing a fish on a plain pink card and sending it in a matching envelope through the mail? It reminded me of how much I miss her unapologetically real and honest soul. If we asked her, she’d laugh and say she is quite unremarkable. And perhaps she’s right. Maybe we want to believe it takes a certain someone to make time for this simple deed. Maybe we’re afraid of learning that if we slow down for just a minute, we, too, hold the potential for honesty, love, following our dreams, and sending real paper notes through the mail.

This little card reminded me just a bit of who I want to be. When was the last time an email did that?

Peace . . .

Check out my friend’s Instagram Account to know her better:

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I’m Talking Colonoscopy Here

At 16 we get our drivers license, at 18 we receive the right to vote. At 21 they allow us to legally drink. After that it goes downhill. At 26 you’re kicked off your parents insurance and at 50, well, they prod you to get prodded. I’m talking colonoscopy, here. Yes, I did turn fifty some time ago, and my doctor’s been lecturing me ever since. She gave me a pamphlet and presumably sold my number to the gastroenterologist. After they realized I wasn’t picking up, they stopped calling. I held out for five years.

It’s not that I’m afraid of the doctor or the embarrassment or even pain. I delivered four babies vaginally without meds for Christ’s sake. It’s the principle. They aren’t looking for polyps. They’re mining my intestines for gold.

The colonoscopy is the poster child for American healthcare run amok. It’s the most expensive test most of us are prescribed. Like other hospital procedures, a colonoscopy in other developed countries is a fraction of the cost we pay in the US. Here, the procedure accounts for the lion’s share of most gastrointestinal physicians’ income. Using less invasive, less painful, safer procedures would also be less expensive, but who wants that?

Sure other tests may have to be done more often, but at the cost of my prep kit (or less), some of them can be done at home and with no disruption to work or life for those of us who are at low risk.

I was told it was no big deal. Well, it was a big deal, albeit temporary. And the argument is that cancer is a bigger, potentially more permanent deal, right? And because we all know someone who has suffered and lost to cancer, we let them win that argument.

Here’s the thing. You knew I was going to tell you the thing, right? I have health insurance. It makes it easy to go to the clinic every year whether I need it or not, and order up smears and cultures, and scans and scopes whenever my doctor deems it necessary. I have a primary physician and even a phone app that will tell me the results of every test I’ve had in the last ten years. And while they go to the effort to make it all seem free it indeed is not. Healthcare is costly, and is not getting any cheaper or accessible for millions of good, hard-working Americans. If, by some miracle, they can afford the colonoscopy, it won’t matter because they can’t afford cancer treatment.

Once I booked my appointment, I had to put in for my day off of work. Not only do I have the luxury of taking a day off of work, I know someone else who is also able and willing to take a day off of work to drive me to and from the surgery center.

Four days prior to the procedure I went on a low-fiber diet. Not everyone can indulge in changing their diet for four days on a whim. They access their food from a food shelf once a month, or clean out their cupboards at the close of every week. Heck, I’ve been there — and not so many years ago. They can’t afford the $18 for the prep kit, or the two quarts of electrolyte beverage.

No one told me I should have considered taking the day before the appointment off of work, too. I was disoriented from fasting, couldn’t think or make decisions. I was ill from overdosing on mega-laxatives. When Bubba apologized for eating dinner in front of me, I told him I couldn’t eat if I tried.

However, by the time we arrived at the medical center, the illness of the power-lax had worn off and I was starving. A woman in scrubs took me to a tiny room and instructed me to change into a gown. When she came back she slapped a pressure cuff on me, inserted an IV needle in the back of my hand, and said goodbye before closing the door. That was the last person I saw for an hour and a half.

I sat in that room after not eating any solid food for 36 hours, while the staff talked audibly outside my door about who was going to lunch, and where. When finally someone came to get me, I was just about at the end of my rope. I made her wait while I slooooowly coiled my phone cord and placed it in my bag. I sauntered down the hall at my own pace, watching her surprise at how far behind her I’d fallen. You’re on MY clock now, bitch.

Apparently I get mean when I’m hungry.

No less than four people made conversation out of how to pronounce my last name. Yeah, that never gets old. The nurses complained about how cold it was and that the music had frozen. What kind of music is appropriate for a colonoscopy anyway? Dirty Deeds? Send the Pain Below?

When the doctor asked me where I’d been hiding for five years, I was thinking, “You know what? The faster we do this, the faster I can eat.” But you don’t argue with a guy who’s about to put a 6-foot tube up your backside. Mama did teach me not to say anything if I can’t say something nice, so after an awkward moment of silence he replied, “Okay . . . !”

Thanks to plenty of sedation and pain meds, the memory of the next twenty minutes is dim. I do remember the doctor asking for more Versed and the anesthesiologist telling me if I let go of her she can get me more pain medication. I remember them showing me the monitor, as if it could distract me like an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Okay, okay . . I’m done going over the details of my colonoscopy like Gramma at the Thanksgiving table. In the end (pun intended), I got a clean bill of health, a free ticket to come back in 10 years, pictures — yes, pictures! — and a blue tote bag out of the deal.

Powerade
Hey, be happy I didn’t post pictures of my colon.
Let me be clear. I’m not saying that colon screening is unnecessary. I’m saying our health system needs a good thorough check-up. If they really wanted more people to get screened so that less people would die, they would offer more convenient and less disruptive and less expensive options more readily. Healthcare would be for everyone. But then they wouldn’t have all that fun money, would they?

We are aphids blindly sucking nectar off the tender plant while they farm our backsides for the sweet honeydew.

Also, that metaphor is kind of gross.

Peace . . .

Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer Screening: What Are the Options?

The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill
Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures

How colonoscopies illustrate America’s cost problem

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speechless

I imagined starting off this post with all the reasons excuses I haven’t been writing. My computer broke. I’ve been crocheting. I have more. If you’re interested, just let me know. But I highly suspect you aren’t.

The truth is, I’m speechless. At a time when I feel like I should most find my voice, I’m embarrassingly mute. It’s not that I’m disconnected; quite the opposite. I’ve become a news junkie. I go to bed at night wearing wireless earbuds and wake up in the morning wondering what I missed after I fell asleep with them in. It’s that bad.

I’ve always maintained that I can’t change what goes on in the vast world, and so I’m just going to pay attention to those things that I can change. Someone’s day. My outlook. A corner of the garden. That worked for me because I believed, and still do, that the majority of people in the world are good. I believed things would all work out in the end because good conquers evil most of the time.

So now I’m a news junkie and I can’t claim blissful ignorance anymore. I understand that the good majority is poor, and that money buys the world. And what does one do when her voice is small and peaceful in a world that is screaming injustice at the top of its lungs?

I became speechless.

It’s not that I have nothing to say. It’s just that there are others saying it so well and so loud with all the best words. (That’s funny, right?) I can’t compete. Nor should I. Just because I have opinions on the news doesn’t mean I ought to write about it. That’s like somebody who admires and critiques art feeling guilty for not painting.

In the words of one of my favorite millenials, I need to do me. And if my voice is small and peaceful and speaks of wholeness, balance and love, there’s room for it. And maybe someone will hear it and smile. Because if all I do today is make someone smile, that’s enough.

I’ll never rid the world of injustice, prevail over all evil, or move millions to march. But I am enough. For that one person who just needed a hug or a smile or to be seen, I am enough.

So maybe you’ll be hearing more of me again. But you may need to take out your earbuds and listen closely over the roar of the protesters.

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So proud of the women my daughters have become. They love deeply. They think critically. And on this day we became not just mother and daughters, but women standing as one with millions across the globe against injustice, fear, hatred, and bullshit.

Peace . . .

Married White Women are the Problem

I had this post I was writing, and somehow I lost it. It’s. Just. Gone.

So that was disappointing. And now that you can’t read it, I can tell you it was probably the most amazing and life-changing post you were ever going to read. Instead, I will leave you with a YouTube link that was kind of the inspiration for the awesome post I lost.

I wanted to serve you an ice cold margarita in a frosted glass with lime on the rim. Now all I have is lemons. Enjoy your lemonade.

Peace . . .

 

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Amazon.com
Audible.com

Scut Farkus for President

I’m not one to get up on a soapbox when it comes to politics.  One politician is, in my humble opinion, as bad or good as the next.  However, I feel the time has come for me to bring to light something that has been glaringly overlooked.  The closest thing I have to a soapbox is my bottle of liquid detergent, so without further adieu, let me begin.

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Donald R. Trump is not a politician.  He is the neighborhood bully you wouldn’t have voted into class presidency.  He is a spoiled, egocentric, tyrant who never received the good whooping he had coming to him.  In fact, I have indisputable evidence that he is Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story, all growA-Christmas-Story-1983n up and running for president.

Please tell me you’ve seen the holiday movie A Christmas Story.  It’s the classic tale of a nine-year old boy who wants only one thing for Christmas — A Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle.

So who is Scut Farkus, and why am I telling you this story when there are still 292 days until Christmas?  Scut Farkus is the little shit bully who torments our protagonist, Ralphie Parker.  And I’m claiming Farkus grew up, changed his name to Trump, and is now running for the presidency of the United States of America.  By the time you’re done reading this, I think you’ll be convinced as well.

When we meet Scut Farkus, he’s cornering Ralphie and his two buddies, Flick and Schwartz, along with Ralphie’s little brother Randy in an alley.  Farkus lets out an evil laugh.  The narrator, adult Ralphie says,

“There he stood, between us and the alley. Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! SO HELP ME GOD, YELLOW EYES!!”  

The boys run to escape, but are cut short by Grover Dill, Scut’s crummy little toady.  Every bully needs a toady to do his dirty work.  Bullies don’t typically have the grit for it, and dare I say, neither does Trump.

I’ve seen a lot of comparisons of Trump to Mussolini or even Hitler.  One included a who-said-it game, and I thought that might be valuable here.  Unfortunately, Farkus didn’t say much in this movie, so this isn’t a long game, but let’s see if you can play along.

WHO SAID IT — TRUMP OR FARKUS?

  1. Listen, jerk.  When I tell you to come, you better come.
  2. I don’t like losers.
  3. I’m not doing that to brag. Because you know what, I don’t have to brag.
  4. What?  Are you gonna cry now?  Come on crybaby, cry for me.
  5. She’s a fat pig.

Scroll to the bottom for the answers.

The narrator goes on to tell us, “In our world, you were either a bully, a toady, or one of the nameless rabble of victims!”  Yet, Ralphie proves he is none of these when, finally, he is pushed to his breaking point.  His hot tears turn to rage and he rams into Trump . . . er, I mean . . . Farkus, and knocks him to the ground.  Ralphie pummels the bully to a bloody pulp, while his toady, Dill, runs home to his Dad.

If Trump ends up being our Republican candidate, which it looks like he will, I can’t wait to see who his crummy little toady is, but I’ll bet he was once known as Grover Dill.  You’ll know him by the way his lips curl over his green teeth.

If you’re still considering voting for Trump, please check out these common traits of bullies:

  • Are often strong
  • May or may not be popular with their peers
  • Have trouble following the rules
  • Show little concern for the feelings of others
  • Think highly of themselves
  • Often a sign that a person has not learned to control his or her aggression

Does this sound like a certain Republican you know?  Is this the person you want leading the United States of America?

This year you will have the choice to be a toady or one of a nameless rabble of victims.  Or will you finally reach your breaking point, march into the election booth, and pummel this bully with your vote?

Lest you still harbor uncertainty for the likelihood of Scut Farkus having grown up to run as Donald Trump, I ask you to examine the uncanny resemblance.

When I’m right, I’m right.

Who said it — Trump or Farkus?

  1. Farkus
  2. Trump
  3. Trump
  4. Farkus
  5. Trump – Even Farkus wasn’t that mean.

How’d you do?

Peace . . .

 

 

 

And This Too Shall Pass

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Everything and everyone are temporary.  Some things are temporary longer, but never permanent.  The oldest thing you can think of will someday be as gone and forgotten as tomorrow’s Top 40.  Is this too deep for a Sunday morning?  I apologize.  I’m in a melancholy mood.

How, you ask, is this woebegone thinking going to dig me out of the doldrums?  When I mention my thoughts on this out loud, at least one person will eventually tell me I’m depressing.  I understand.  Life is art.  Your perspective depends on where you are standing.   Lack of permanence is comforting or unnerving depending on your perspective.

Abraham Lincoln, in an address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, once said,

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Sometimes we control how long something will be temporary.  We can take action; re-cut a bad haircut, remove a tattoo.  We can take a break or even quit a job or relationship.  I prefer not to stay in an unacceptable situation if it shows no sign of change.  I left an employer over a decade ago, because I needed different hours.  I asked if there was any way to change my shift, and they said no.  It was a fine place to work, but it just didn’t fit my family needs.  Several people mentioned how they should leave too, for various reasons, but mostly because they hated it there.

Upon handing in my two-week notice, a couple of managers approached me.  They wanted me to stay.  They would have offered me different hours.  They would have trained me in different areas.  They really had high hopes for me.  Would I consider staying?  “Sorry,” I said.  “I already have another job.”  Perhaps if they had known I was so very temporary, they have valued me more from the onset.

When I go back to that place, I still see a couple of those people who said they wanted to leave.  If you wait for change to fall in your lap, you might have to wait a long time.  After a while you forget you have a choice.  Time flies when you’re having fun, but disappears forever when you’re not.

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When things are really bad, I mean really bad, caring friends will ask, “Are you okay?”  To which I reply, “I’m fine.”  When they ask if I’m sure, I say, “What else am I going to be?”  I suppose the obvious answer to that is “not fine.”  But as long as I’m conscious and breathing, I make the choice to be fine.  The rest is temporary.

In my car this morning, Alanis Morissette was singing through the stereo.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine

She sings of the yin and yang of life.  The fact that I gravitate toward the yang when the yin of life weighs me down is a healthy thing.  I write.  I walk.  I get out of the house.  I look for beauty in the world.  I find beauty within myself.  I know both light and dark are temporary, and find delight and grief in their brevity.

So, yeah.  I’m a little introspective and quiet this morning.  And a little melancholy.

And this too shall pass.

Peace . . .

BOGOs. More Evidence that the World is for Twosomes

Instead of clipping, sorting, and filing newspaper ad coupons every week, I watch for coupons through member perks.  Everyone has a membership program these days.  I have three coffee shop apps that track my activity, send me coupons, and even let me pay, all on my phone.  Everyone from convenience stores to Chinese restaurants message me to stop in and pick up the latest special just for the trouble of showing them the text.  

Text coupons are convenient.  They don’t clutter up my purse.  I always have them with me.  There is nothing to throw out when they expire.  The problem?   Half of these coupons are BOGOs.

Technically, I’m not a single.  I’m not married, but Bubba and I are a pair.  Two peas in the same pod.  I’d love nothing more than to take him out on one of my BOGOs and spend a lazy morning conversing over two cups of coffee, one of them free.  Except he doesn’t like coffee.  He doesn’t like hot chocolate, frozen blended drinks, or teas — neither hot nor iced.  The only thing he wants from my coffee shop is a muffin and a Coke.  And he doesn’t want to laze around watching the sun come up while eating his muffin.  No.  In fact if you blink, you might miss seeing him eat it at all.  So I happily go alone.

When my kids were in school, they sold coupon books for fundraisers.  My mom would probably have bought one, except they were mostly BOGOs and she was a widow.  When they were both alive, Mom was a loner, and had no problem seeing a movie or stopping for lunch by herself.    A BOGO would have gone unused even then.

I get what they’re doing.  They want your business, but they also want you to bring someone else.  That way they can get more add-on sales with food, beverages or desserts.  They’re also trying to double their pay-off for the marketing.  Except they are excluding half of their audience, so in a way I really don’t get it.

Cup of Caribou Coffee
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Valentine’s Day, my coffee shop sent out a BOGO text.  I wondered how irritating that is to those who have no valentine, or for those who have loved and lost.  It’s not enough that I have to listen to those horrible diamond commercials on the radio.  Now I have to consider buying two small lattes in the drive-through, drinking them both on the way home.

How about they just give me a percentage off my entrée?  Or a free dessert?  What about buy a coffee, and get a free muffin?  Now that’s something Bubba could sink his teeth into.  Or swallow whole, whichever comes first.

Peace . . .