Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who You Calling a Pussy--or a Faggot or Dyke? Gather Round for CUTE KITTENS AGAINST QUEER-BASHING!!!!

I know Barack Obama. I worked with Barack Obama. And my kitten is no Barack Obama.

She is a lot cuter. Even if she does look like Edward G. Robinson.

But one thing my kitten and Barack Obama have in common: both star in videos about the rather un-cute but unfortunately timely issue of the harassment and bullying of queer teens.

So far, Obama's video has gotten a few more viewers.

Okay, I know. He's THE PRESIDENT. It's a big deal when he speaks out like this.

But how hard can it be? He's got writers, videographers, press people--and an opposable thumb. My cat doesn't have any of that. She doesn't even have her sparkle ball toy. It got knocked under the fridge days ago, and with my bad back, I ain't going in after it.

I am guessing you have already heard about the It Gets Better Project -- organized by sex columnist Dan Savage to give teens who need it some insight into how their future might look. I respect that the President, Nancy Pelosi, Gloria Estefan and a lot of other famous people have made videos. But you know, most of those videos seem kind of like a grown-up talking AT a kid, not someone talking to a kid in the way a kid (and teens ARE kids despite what they want to believe) needs.

So even though I have ten thousand other things to do, I spent all yesterday making this:

I hope you'll take 2 minutes, 54 seconds to watch it. And then a few more to post a comment on youtube about it, Facebook it, Twitter it, forward it to anyone you can. Because some place in WhoKnowsWhereville there is someone who needs to hear what it has to say. Someone whose life it might even save. And since my cat is an indoor cat, there is no way she can go out and find that someone to say it in person. Please help the cat and the kid and the world, by passing it on.

Just for the record, though: the kids out there aren't being bullied because their queer. Or "suspected" of being queer. They're being bullied because we live in a bigoted, cruel culture that likes to pick on anyone who's different.

But sometimes being different can make you want to make a difference. Like that scrawny, biracial guy with the funny name. Or that cat with a face only a gangster movie could love. Or the chick wearing way too much leopard who really should be doing her laundry before she heads out of town on a business trip. So please do your part to pass it on.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Greek Bearing G.I.F.T.

My friend Stella Unpronounceableadopolous and her husband Dr. Mensch came to visit a while back. Far enough back that I was flat on my back, still in the depths of ruptured disk-induce pain.

You should really see a surgeon Dr. Mensch said.

You should really meet my friend Silke Stella Unpronounceableadopolous said.

Since the surgeon had a four-week wait for an appointment but Silke was available that Tuesday, she got me first. She even made a house call.

Hello, I am Silke Silke said, arriving at our house exactly on time. Because Silke is German. A German-Immersed-in-Fitness-Training, aka G.I.F.T. May I take your picture?

At this point, I'd been MRIed, ultrasounded, and electro-stimulated. I wasn't about to be phased by something that can be done at any Kmart with a bad floral backdrop and a shag-carpeted hand rest.

So I let Silke the G.I.F.T take my picture. Actually, she took a bunch of them. Then she whipped out a clipboard and started taking notes on every aspect of my posture.

Which it turns out sucked.

My posture, I mean. Her notetaking didn't suck. It was immaculate. She is, after all, German.

And her Duetsche-ishly detailed and diligent denoting clearly revealed that somewhere along the way, I had become as crook-limbed as a contortionist flying coach class.

Luckily, Silke the G.I.F.T could offer more than a packet of peanuts and a complimentary beverage.

Because Silke the G.I.F.T gave me the gift of Egoscue.

(Pronunciation guide: Egoscue sorta rhymes with He toss shoe, appropriate enough given that my inability to tie my shoes had been leading me to toss everything from footwear to hissy fits for quite some time).

Egoscue is not some Eastern European method of torture smuggled out across the Alps.

It was actually smuggled out of San Diego. By Arnold Palmer.

And it's not torture. It's just postural alignment. Which you attain by doing a bunch of exercises with charming monikers such as Hooklying Gluteal Contractions and Frog Pull-overs.

Really, frog pull-over. The closest I'll ever come to my childhood dream of dressing in Garanimals.

(Not to be confused with my adult dream of decorating in animal print, which I am achieving quite admirably).

Silke the G.I.F.T. spent a couple hours teaching me my exercises, which she told me I had to do every morning.

Which I did.

And which--unlike the prescription painkillers, the steroid tapers, the over-the-counter NSAID, and the $1000+ worth of physical therapy--actually worked.

Four days later, I rode my bike twenty miles. Two weeks later, Silke the G.I.F.T came back to take more notes and give me new exercises. Then another week later, she moved back to Germany. But by that point, I'd been to see the surgeon but realized I was improved enough not to need to go under the knife.

Besides, Silke the G.I.F.T. left me in the hands of another Egoscue practioner. Who has been slowly but surely getting me back to a fully functioning back.

Moral of the story: if you didn't believe the American healthcare system is completely screwed up, ponder this: the warmth and sympathy of a German was the best thing that happened to me during this entire medical odyssey. This is not a concept that comes easily to members of my tribe.

But I suppose it's better to have one's simplistic associating of all things German with the Nazis ruptured than to have one's L5-s1 disk ruptured. Henceforth, I swear, I'll stop being so catty when it comes to Krauts.

Okay, maybe not. But at least I'm parodying with impeccable posture.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Descent from My iPhone

How in the hell can Apple sink so low?

No, I'm not talking about the kind of shit product releases that can be summed up in three words and one numeric symbol:

iPad=my bad

I am talking about the kind of shit morals that requires two freaking hours of masterful condemnation by a man who comports himself much like a Revivalist preacher with a cult following.

Except sweatier.

Of course the cult in question is ... well, let's just say I bit the fruit and now I've been cast out of Eden.

Not that sweat is inherently antithetical to Apple. I happened to require some customer dis-service at our local crApple store this week, and the pimply-faced staff were so sweaty the place smelled like a college dorm during Finals Week.

And people, I used to teach at Reed College, so I know from smelly students.

I suppose I shouldn't have been so judgmental of the mouth-breather behind the counter who was taking so damn long to help me. He was probably only mouth-breathing to avoid smelling his shiny, happy coworkers.

Although, given their perspiratory tendencies, maybe that should be sheeny, happy coworkers.

But still the sweaty man rang out his righteous indignation.

Except, actually, he's not a cult leader. He's a cult follower. And he knows you are too. And even though he spent those two hours telling you how freakin' evil the freakin' cult is, he doesn't actually ask you to leave it.

Just to email it.

Which, if you are like me, you will be doing from a burnished-silver keyboard annotated in VAG Rounded font.

Welcome to that very special case of self-hating ethnics, the morally outraged Apple user.

iWouldn't actually buy an iPad, because it is a stupid, purposeless product.

Not like my iPhone, which I bought because I needed to make and receive calls.

Which I can do on my iPhone.

On rare occasions.

If I'm not trying to call someone who also has an iPhone.

Case in point: my best friend's mother died, and I called to offer my condolences. But we both have iPhones. To make a long cancer-ridden death short, after we were cut off fifteen freakin' times, my friend finally Skyped to Chuck's cell phone--which, unlike my SmartPhone only has middling intelligence but which with the regularity of any idiot savant is able to make or receive calls any time the owner wants. All that, just so I could say the usual You may not be able to realize it now, but I promise, life goes on tripe of condolence, by which point it was moot since your iPhone not working is actually life going on. And on and on.

Oh, wait, I'm the one who's going on and on here. But not about what I meant to go on about.

Let's get back to the sweaty man.

He comes to Portland to tell us what's wrong with the world. Which was one thing when he was telling us how evil the President is when the President was George W.

But quite another one he is telling us how evil the President is when the President is Steve Jobs. As in president, or rather CEO, of Apple.

Which, as well all know, makes personal electronics that are to die for. We just didn't know how literally.

At least not until the sweaty man told us.

Now, I'm the sort of shmethically-driven consumer who won't eat a Hershey's Kiss for fear it's been produced using child labor.

But the thing about a Hershey's Kiss is, at least it works. What should I think knowing my iPhone, and all my other damn electronics, functional or not, have been produced with child labor?

Luckily, the sweaty man was there to tell me. In no Arid-Extra-Dry terms.

One thing you can say about Mike Daisey is that he is nobody's bitch.

Which makes him different than me.

Because once upon a time, I wrote a piece for Bitch magazine about the evils of worker abuse in Chinese factories.

And since Bitch has feminist response to pop culture right in the title, I figured it was a pretty safe bet to talk about how multinational corporation Viacom exploits factory workers in China, exposing them to lead and other chemicals, to produce cheap Dora the Explorer toys to sell to Americans.

Which promptly led to a helluva lot of hate mail to Bitch about me, from people saying I was racist for criticizing a Latina cartoon character.

Racist? Nope. Naive? Maybe. Because see, I expected people to give up their cheap slave-labor made toys.

Not like Mike Daisey. He says you can keep your iPhone. Hell, you can even watch Dora the Explorer on it. Just so long as you email Steve Jobs first, typing with however many thumbs you happen to have (hint: if you've been working at the Shenzhen factory that makes Apple products, it may be fewer thumbs than you started with), to tell him that you think anyone who's as big a genius as he is can probably figure out a way to get products manufactured that doesn't involve child labor.

Or even adult labor, if those adults happen to be laboring 80+ hours per week, and/or sleeping 14 to a ten foot by ten foot room in the company dorm.

Because really, Apple should leave the evil to those who do it best: Microsoft.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Suffering From Everything But Irony Deficiency

It's been a while, I know. Perhaps you are wondering how my ruptured disk is doing.

Much better. So much better that yesterday I ended up in Portland's favorite Level I trauma center (or as kdz 2day w thr txt spllgs mt pt it, ER@OHSU).

Quick recap: after months of suffering with nerve pain from my fabulous L5-S1 rupture, I've been feeling better. So much better that in the battle of desk v. disk, desk is winning. I can now sit for much longer at my new ultrarock hard desk chair (picture Aeron means Flintstone).

But still, I know I should get up and stretch periodically, and walk around for at least half an hour in the middle of the day. So midday yesterday, I left work for a short walk.

But first I sealed my own fate. By calling my sister and then another friend and telling both how I was feeling much better. Which anyone who has ever taken 11th grade English class (or just read the cliffnotes on the internet) can tell you means you have tempted the gods, who will strike you down just as soon as they get done reading some very compelling article or other on the Huffington Post.

Fate sealed, I head for the nefarious route known as Portland's riverfront walk.

Although in my case, the operative verb turned out to be fly.

I am walking along, listening to a fascinating audio file of a program about what education philanthropists can do to ensure schools better serve English Language Learners. So fascinating I stop to jot down a note on some bit o' brilliance shared by Eugene Garcia.

Which is when I suddenly notice that I am staring straight up at the sky.

No, wait, I'm lying smack down on the concrete.

Wait, piecing it together here . . . I have flown up and fallen smack down on the concrete. That thwacking noise was not in fact Eugene Garcia adding emphasis to his point. It was my skull, hitting the ground.

Although I am sure that if I were from Eugene Garcia's home state of Arizona, I could somehow blame this all on him. Or on any Mexican, really.

Are you okay? some looming head above me asks.

I think we should call 9-1-1 I answer, holding up my iPhone.

Which of course the looming head above me cannot figure out how to work.

Luckily, I am (as I learn much, much later) not the only lady from New York on the scene.

Enter Cara. Or Keira. Or Kayira. I should know this, after all she did introduce herself, somewhere between saying she knew first aid and saying her phone was out and she was already dialing 9-1-1 and where exactly were we anyway because she wasn't from Portland.

Which thank god she isn't, because then she wouldn't be from New York. And then I'd still be laying there waiting for some nice Portlander to have the chutzpah to figure out how to call 9-1-1 in response to my fabulous aerial show.

Once I determine that I:
  1. remember my name (even if I may not have exactly caught hers)
  2. have not lost consciousness at any point, and
  3. am freakin' terrified that I've got a spinal chord injury (a new one, I mean; the ruptured disk no longer being front page news)
I figure that I shoul at least assist Cara/Keira/Kayira by serving as associate director of the scene.

Could everyone who doesn't have to be here please move on? I ask, noticing now there are many looming heads.

So now we pare down to:
  • Cara/Keira/Kayira and her two adorable very young daughters, who are interrupting the 9-1-1 call to ask Mommy some pertinent questions. Why is the lady lying there? Why is it important that the lady knows her name? Does everyone in Portland know how to fly?
  • Brian, the bicyclist to whom I owe my entire aerial career
  • Some guy who says I think I should stay here. I'm trying to block the sun. Meaning, he is trying to keep me from enjoying too much of a post-flight fry while we wait for the EMTs.
Mr. Homo Sapien Sunblock really is concerned for my well-being. You should be wearing a helmet he lectures.

I was just walking I say. Although I now notice that the bottom half of me is lying on top of the bicycle, which may help explain the confusion.

You should be wearing a helmet
I tell Brian. 90 percent of all cyclists who are killed are not wearing helmets I add. Which is true. Although technically Brian doesn't have a scratch on him, helmet or no.

Still, we all seize the teachable moment. See girls, Cara/Keira/Kayira intones to her adorable offspring, it is so important to wear helmets. Doesn't Mommy always wear a helmet on her Scoot?

Our little course in bicycle safety is alas interrupted by the arrival of the EMTs.

What happened?
they ask. Which sets everyone talking at once.

Let me tell them I say They need to assess my cognitives.

This is the one advantage I bring to this scene, garnered from the year of living brainjurously. That is, the exciting year in which my sister had a brain aneurysm and then my brother, not to be left out, had a brain bleed from a cavernous hemangioma. Which means I know just what medical professionals want to know about my brain.

And I kind of want to know it too, just as soon as they tell me that my spine is fine.

Fine spine
brain pain

pretty much is the four-word poem that is my condition.

But wait, there's more. Spinning. Which is what the whole world--EMTs, unhelmeted cyclist, Cara/Keira/Kayira and kids, human sunblock, etc.--does, if I try to sit up.

Which leads Morgan the EMT to ask the single most critical question a healthcare provider can ask: What's your insurance?

Healthnet I answer. Then I have to explain that my arm didn't lash out due to a spasm from my injury, that was just the automatic impulse of any Healthnet subscriber: call for pre-authorization.

The EMTs don't bother with preauthorization, happily. They just load me onto the gurney, delighted that I weigh only about a third of their average patient. And off we go, with Cara/Keira/Kayira calling after me, make sure you put arnica gel on anything that feels sore, as soon as you get home. Girls, doesn't Mommy always put arnica on your bruises?

Speaking of Cara/Keira/Kayira, at some point during my riparian layabout, I've had the good sense to ask her to call my office and let them know that maybe I am not headed back there today. And to have the office manager call Cheez. Who then calls Cara/Keira/Kayira before taking a quick run through the streets of downtown Portland to find a cab.

I got a Middle Eastern cabbie he reports later thank Allah. Because man, could he drive fast.

So fast that Cheez arrives at the hospital before my ambulance. Which apparently didn't bother putting on its flashers and sirens for the ride. Causing Cheez, who actually had thought I was hit by car, to reason as he watched the ambulance backing up to the ER that either my injuries weren't bad and I would be fine, or that I was already dead.

As you can guess, it was not the latter.

In fact, by the time they wheel me in, I'm cracking jokes with the EMTs, and lecturing the intake nurse about how she could improve her approach when asking the standard intake questions. You shouldn't say, "No illegal drugs?" because it assumes what the patient's answer will be I scold. And You should make an excuse to send the partner out of the room before you ask about domestic violence.

This is the point at which Cheez whips out his phone and starts calling everyone who knows about the accident and is worrying over me, to tell them that I seem to be back to my usual self.

Except that I still can't sit up, lest the room start spinning.

A nice young resident comes in to do my exam. This is the joy about being at the best hospital in Portland. It's a teaching hospital. Which means my brain is once again a teachable moment.

Now, if you think there is even the tinsiest possibility that you have the tinsiest hemorrhage in the tinsiest area of your brain, knowing your fate is in the hands of a twenty-seven-year-old who hasn't had a full night's sleep since 2008 can be slightly unsettling.

Luckily, I'd already had the foresight to have Cheez call our neighbor Justin. And not because I wanted to hear some 80s tunes or ride in some 80s car. It's because although Kevin, the boy-face resident examining my brain, may been born the same year that Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez were Wang Chunging it through detention, as Justin's fondness for that year suggests, he was a tad older by then.

Which makes him old enough to be a many years of experience full on ER doc. The very one as it turns out Kevin will be training with on next month's rotation.

And luckily, Kevin, Justin and Dr. Macaronimanaic all agree that CAT scans are for people who don't have a healthy fear of brain cancer.

Makes you wonder that they can ever do them on Jews.

So I'm just sitting around with an IV-drip of sodium, wondering whether I'll ever sit up again, when some guy who pulls back the curtain on my ER cubby and begins scrubbing up.

A guy, I should mention, who looks like he's just stepped out of an aftershave ad and (this being Oregon's premier hospital after all) who's dressed like said ad appeared in Sports Fishing Monthly.

Er, who might you be on today's medical odyssey? I ask.

He claims to be the supervising physician. I'm a little leery because I've seen Kevin talking to his supervising physician, and she doesn't look a thing like the braced-chin-and-civvy-wearing fellow before us.

Check his i.d. I tell Cheez. Who does. Actually they both do. We all agree it isn't the most up to date shot, but yes, it tells us this guy, whose last name could be Jewish but let's face it, we all know what ads they put Jews in, and manly is not the term for them.

After establishing that the previous supervising physician has gone off duty, Dr. Not-Jewish offers me the juice of my choice and asks Cheez are you a reliable person?

To which my reliable mate answers I am Canadian.

He wants you to make sure I don't fall over
I say.

And I don't, as I ease up to a sit, well juiced.
Things are more teeter-tottering than spinning. I can't close my jaw. But the team determines that's about muscle, not bone, and I think we all know there's arnica gel in my future anyway.

Before you know it, I'm taking my second flight of the day.

On the aerial tram down from the hospital (note safety-conscious Portlanders wearing helmets--apparently during my time on Pill Hill the earlier riverside chanting has had time to truly take hold among the masses).

This is way cooler than the ambulance I tell Cheez. Maybe they out to have a trambulance.

It's a weak joke, I know. But hey, I am concussed! Plus, some guy standing next to us laughed anyway.

Cheez and I then walk about three miles home, during which time we recite all the things we're happy about. Happy it was a bike, not a car. Happy my skull did its work. Happy that, amazingly enough, my ruptured disk actually seems a little BETTER after the flight-to-full-on-concrete-fall.

Think of it as the ultimate chiropractic adjustment says Cheez.

And I do. I just hope Healthnet covers chiropracty without pre-approval. At least when it's administered by a moving vehicle.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

England Swings Like a Pendulum Do. If By Pendulum You Mean 50,000 Square Miles Inhabited by 51 Million People Ruled by Constitutional Monarchy.

I have been to London!

I have met the Queen!

Actually, two queens.
Co-owners of 69theGrope.

I mean, 69theGrove, the charming B&B where we stayed in Vauxhall, a quiet residential neighborhood where visitors can enjoy some good clean fun.

We met in church David said, squeezing Kanley's hand.

Normally, I'm not that comfortable staying in the sort of place where you have to stare at a notecard proclaiming Christ is Risen while you eat breakfast. But in this instance, Christ seemed to be risen from his disco nap, just before slipping on some tight pants and heading out to the local.

Because London is all about a good time.

I know what you're thinking, dear reader. Wasn't traveling difficult with my current injury? Well, though the flight was no picnic (despite the presence of plastic cutlery), the week itself was great, since like certain other international travelers, I realized the value of having a strong young man to tote my luggage.

Of course, when you've been with someone as long as I've been with the Cheez, you know he isn't merely a rent boy. More a long-term lease boy.

Remind me to use my stomach muscles to support my spine I said before we departed. Which he took as license to spend the entire week shouting Suck in that gut, soldier.

England was very educational. Even the flight over, on which we watched The Young Victoria like we were cramming for the history exam.

Here's what I learned: circa 1830, sending a chick sheet-music was the equivalent of making her a mixed tape in 1987.

If my knowledge of Brit history was shoddy, my knowledge of Brit geography was even worse. Riding the tube from Heathrow to the B&B, I realized that everything I knew about London came from Clash songs.

White Mac at Hammersmith Tube Stop

As we wandered around the city that first day, I did manage to recognize Buckingham Palace. Even without the usual assortment of flowers and teddy bears they festoon it with every time something so crap happens in Britain they put it on the American tellie.
Oh my, I hope they aren't going to pre-empt my Wheel of Fortune for this one

Tellie, btw, is British for T.V. This is one of the confusing things about Britain: they barely speak English over there.

Fancy a fag? is British for Want a cigarette? whereas Fancy a bloke? is British for Fancy a fag? It's an amazing place, really.

Speaking of fancy fags, at the Tate Britain we learned about the early-17th-century roots of Glam Rock, as in this stunning work, Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, Later 3rd Marquis and 1st Duke of Hamilton, Aged 17.

Nothing I enjoy more than a little glitter dust and an interregnum.

Much of the art in England seems to be portraiture. This is not exactly a good thing, given how unattractive the British are.

That is not me being narrow-minded, btw. It is a proven fact. It was in the Telegraph. The Telegraph is British for slightly less sleazy newspaper than most of the rags we've got over here, but what are you complaining about, at least when we're reading them on the Tube you don't have to see our faces.

It was actually the ugliness that sold Cheez on the trip in the first place. Let's go to England, he said, we will be like Supermodels compared to everyone there.

We were mostly supermodels of rudeness, since we spent the entire trip talking in a wide array of fake British accents. Upon viewing this JMW Turner painting, Cheez felt the need to proclamate upon its subject matter:
Religious cows is queued up for church. More godless ones is in the foreground, grazin. Whereas I would find myself rummaging through my luggage as I struggled to get dressed each morning, intoning Where's all me knickers at?

The thing about the British is, they really talk that way. All the damn time. We saw a family in the park playing with their dog, a fluffy white terrier named Snowy. At some point, the adorable daughter of the family threw the ball and Snowy caught it just before it landed in the lake in the park. A mustachioed sixty-something man passing by happened to observe the scene and said to the dog, Well done, Snowy. As if the pup had just rescued his entire regiment from the Germans.

I swear, the whole country is like a freakin Monty Python sketch. Right down to the physical comedy.

Turns out, John Cleese etal. weren't writing comedy. They were merely transcribing it.

I took that video at the Tower of London, another educational stop. We learned that if you are locked up in the Tower awaiting execution, you might as well graffiti the hell out of the place, because what are they going to do if they catch you?

Also we learned that you can trace just how fat Henry VIII was at any given time by checking out his suits of armor, which escalate in size from Normal to Husky to What Else Can We Melt Down to Get Enough Metal to Cover this Fat Fuck?

It is a true fact that there is nothing I enjoy more on vacation than a
ranger-led tour.

In England, due to not having had the good sense of inventing Smokey the Bear, they do not have rangers in Smokey the Bear hats.

So their version of a ranger-led tour involves a guy dressed up like the bloke on the gin. Who spends an hour or thereabouts traipsing around the Tower of London telling you tidbits like For five centuries, we had a moat here that was the largest open toilet in London. Quite a line of defense. Or Pardon me, that was the marmite and cheese panini repeating on me.

Apparently, they should actually call this attraction The Body Functions of London.

We had a great empire not so long ago Smokey the Beefeater noted. We should be proud of that. But we're not. Because we're British.

It's true, they were British. I love it here said Cheez the Canuck I've never been any place where people embarrass even more easily than me. And he was right. At an event at the Victoria and Albert Museum, when a young hipster approached a craft table out of turn, I jokingly muttered Orderly queue under my breath--causing said hipster to apologize profusely and flee the room in mortification.

They were such easy pickings, it was hardly worth mocking them.

And yet, we did.

More of which to be detailed in my next blog post, which at the rate I'm going, should be made sometime in July. July 2011.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fooken Ayslund

Maybe you should rethink that vacation my doctor said.

Maybe you should rethink that vacation physical therapists 1-4 said.

No! I said.

I mean, just because I'd been having shooting pain down my leg for months, was no reason not to go on vacation.

Because my squeeze the Cheez and I really need a vacation. A nice, romantic, just-the-two-of-us-and-the-millions-of-strangers-in-a-crowded-metropolis good time, the kind we haven't had in ages.

It'd been hard enough to find nine glorious days when my work schedule and his work schedule lined up. Hard enough to get past the panicky arguments in the travel section of Powells over where we should go. Hard enough not to drop dead at the cost of booking airline tickets, let alone the B&B, with the dollar sucking as it does on the world market.

Now that we'd done all that, nothing was going to keep me from going. Not searing pain. Not doctor plus physical therapist admonition.

When are you leaving? the doctor asked Wednesday morning, eying me in that M.D. means real doctor way they have.

The day after tomorrow I said, eying her in that Macaronimaniac means real maniac way I have.

She scribbled something doctorishly illegible on a piece of paper, and told me I was about to meet Pearl. Magical Pearl.

Pearl is so magical, not only could she read what the doctor wrote--but, upon reading it, she could get my deadbeat health insurance to approve a same-day MRI, and then magically schedule self-same MRI for within one hundred and twenty minutes of the time I stood before her.

Which is how it came to pass that by the end of that very day, the neurosurgeon had joined the chorus urging me not to go on vacation.

Something about a ruptured disc and a long flight and really who would want to go on vacation with Cheez when instead she could be having back surgery?

But surely, back surgery wasn't going out of style. I mean, I could go on a wouldn't-it-be-loverly vacation, THEN come back to back surgery. Or so I figured, when I went to bed Wednesday night.

Only to wake up Thursday morning to hear the nice man on the NPR saying something about a volcano in Iceland grounding all air traffic to Heathrow.

Granted, all the pain killers I'm on are making me kind of groggy, but volcano in Iceland?

People, it's got ICE right in the title. How much hot lava can there be, way up there?

Enough, we now know, to screw me, the Cheez, and millions of others out of the pleasure of defying medical authority.

Well, maybe not everyone affected was flying, or trying to fly, against doctor's orders. But still, it made me wonder when Pele the Volcano Goddess joined HealthNet's list of Preferred Providers.

Icelandic volcano. What are the chances? I wondered to my college roommate Little Orphan Annie, who'd spent eight hours the previous night flying halfway to Copenhagen and back again, thanks to Mount Nbdycnfrkinprounsit.

Slim she answered matter of factly, sucking down what was clearly not her first martini of the day.

Slim enough that when I told a co-worker, he responded Don't you mean, Greece's economy has failed, causing riots across Europe and that's why you can't go, because that at least is somewhat plausible.

Of course, Greece's economy--and the rest of Europe's--is screwed in no small because of the gross fiscal negligence of a certain other pseudo-European nation that shall go unnamed. Unnamed because none of us can pronounce any of its proper, or for that matter its improper, nouns.

It's been a hundred and eight-nine years since the damn thing last erupted Cheez noted you'd think that would give them enough time to send out a press release.

By Friday morning, we had both cell phones and an assortment of laptops fired up, trying to figure out if there was any chance of us going anywhere. Would all those hours spent poring over travel guides and boning up on Brit history by watching Anne of a Thousand Days and Mary Queen of Scots be for naught?

Well, at least the latter gave us enough appreciation for hard-drinking, hot-blooded Scotsmen to appreciate this guy in a Hooter's hoodie.

So that's what we're reduced to. Quoting a guy in a Hooter's hoodie. Which is what we do every day when we check the NATS update to see if there's any chance our rescheduled flight (for later this week) will actually take off.

I suppose it could be worse. The volcano could have trapped us once we were abroad. Like a certain someone who's probably done pining for the fjords after the flight ban left him to take a taxi home from Norway.

And I suppose it could still happen. The volcano could calm down enough for us to get to England, then kick up again, keeping us from leaving.

Note to our cat sitter: we just laid in 140 pounds of litter. Have a great time while we're gone!

Or all that Icelandic ash could just keep pluming its way across Europe like an Abba cover band. In which case, it's back to back surgery after all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

So Much for Sit-Down Comedy

Want a challenge? Trying saying Socks suck ten times fast.

Not enough of a challenge? Try doing it while putting on your socks--without sitting down or bending forward.

Forget the heartbreak of psoriasis. Welcome to the suffering of sciatica. Or, as my college roommate so helpfully put it, isn't that something our grandmothers used to get?

That would explain all that time her grandmother spent on the kneelers at Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering. Because sitting pretty much is perpetual suffering, as in the most painful experience I can have, these days.

The more comfortable the chair, the more it hurts. If Torquemada had access to Lazy Boys, he could have stamped out Judaism and Islam in about ten minutes, provided all the Semites were also Sciatic.
I have actually stood my way across America, on any number of commercial flights in the past several months. The worst was the one from New Orleans to Denver, because to quite literally add insult to injury, the New Orleans airport was bedecked with banners for the AAOS conference. You know, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

If only any of them had been able to get so much as a Swiss Army knife through airport security, I would have been happy to have them cut me open right there on the Cinnabon counter.

Then there was the hotel room in San Francisco. I mean, I'm sure it was just random coincidence that the staff put me in the disabled suite. Unfortunately, the disabled suite is for someone who can't stand up. Not little ol' Macaronimaniac, who can't sit down. Try crawling onto that low-riding commode without bending, I dare you.

hey make all sorts of accommodations for people who need to be seated. But nothing for someone who needs to stand, my friend Rachel commiserated. You should protest!

Which maybe I would, except that this is definitely not the week for me to hold a sit-in.

Or even a lie-down. Sleeping hurts. Unless I take Vicodin and Flexeril, in which case sleeping is only mildly uncomfortable. And something I want to do twenty hours a day.

Of course, everybody is being very nice. They are giving me all kinds of advice. Because being told what to do when anything you do causes deep physical pain, is apparently meant to at least relieve you of the need to decide which self-inflicted agony to pursue.

Although some people swear by chiropractors, I have avoided them, believing they are generally considered to be quacks. Of course, I think the folks most likely to promulgate this belief are physical therapists.

Physical therapists, I am learning, are quacks who assign homework. Basically, the PTs I have seen (a mere four, though I'm sure you've also got one to recommend) have banned me from yoga and bicycling and anything else I might want to do. And then they give me exercises that are suspiciously like yoga. Except prescribed by someone you pay a helluva lot more to than your yoga teacher.

Then they ask whether I am better yet, and when I am not, they tell me I need to come for more physical therapy.

We have you try something, and if it helps the pain, you keep doing it. If not, we try something else, explained physical therapist number two, who I'm pretty sure was wearing a Wehrmacht uniform under her Adidas track suit.

I can't imagine how I would manage without this level of professional support. I couldn't possibly figure that much out on my own. Not as long as I'm holding onto this wet fork I've stuck into an electric socket.

Which reminds me, someone did just recommend an acupuncturist she swears will do the trick.

The most disturbing part of all of this is that nobody really knows what causes the pain. Supposedly, it has something to
do with some part of my spine which can only be described through an analogy to a jelly donut.

So basically, the puff has gone out of my pastry. Leaving big gobs of raspberry filling all over my nerves.

Not to mention gobs of toothpaste on my shirt front.

I'm serious about the toothpaste. You try expectorating a mouthful of dentrifice without bending forward. Makes the socks seem like a walk in the park.

And it's not like I can put anything in the washing machine, cursed low-water Euro-eco front loader that I have.

So if you notice someone standing up on public transit, or lying down in the middle of a meeting, wincing so badly you can hardly make out her soiled shirt front, please come over and say hello.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Articles, Shmarticles. I Read It for the Pictures.

Prepare yourself, gent(i)le reader, for what may be your first exposure to Jewish porn:
What is hotter than Glatt-Kosher Premium Angus Beef, fresh out of the oven, with a bissel kosher wine in soft focus at the edge of the frame?

Welcome to my second-favorite magazine: Hadassah, named not for the wife of everyone's least favorite sell-out Demo senator, but rather for the Jewish women's organization that finances hospitals in Israel by holding fashion shows and mah jongg tournaments in every Hebraic enclave from Brooklyn to Boca.

Because we Jews are all about values that matter. Like tzedekah. And tradition. And ease-of-use.
Who doesn't love homemade gefilte fish and saving fifty cents (maybe even a buck if you go on double-coupon day)? Whenever I long for the sweet meatloaf of fish just like my beloved Bubbe used to make, what greater comfort than ad copy that mimics her broken English:
Yes, the latest issue of Hadassah Magazine reminds me that it's time to start thinking about the Passover Seder, that special holiday meal we look forward to all year . . .

and then try to rush through as quickly as possible.

Now, I realize it's wrong to stereotype an entire group of people, to act as though millions of Jews are all the same, when in fact there is a rich diversity among us, as a casual skim of the magazine's ads reveals.

For example, some Jews prefer this sort of Romantic/ceramic hideous style of Judaica . . .
while other Jews prefer the more lucid hideous of Lucite . . .
Because it may be okay to break tradition, but g-d forbid you should break that glass cube commemorating Sarah and Jonathan's joyous union.

Speaking of break, what if, again g-d forbid, your elderly parent should break a hip? Fear not, as the fine advertisers of Hadassah offer any number of services for outsourcing the guilt, um, I mean the caregiving:
Although if your no-good offspring aren't willing to shlep down to South Florida to care for you themselves, even after all you've done for them, maybe you should take matters into your own hands. Because if they don't seem to care whether you're alive or dead, they certainly won't care once you actually are dead. But don't worry, because for a small fee, I mean generous donation, somebody will:
Yes, this single issue of the magazine seems to offer everything a Jew could ever want. Where else can you shop for discount prescription drugs and support Eretz Yisrael?
You'll be feeling so good and saving so much when you're downing that fabulous cocktail of prune juice and discounted Plavix and Flomax, you may even make it to the Holy Land yourself.
After all, who would mind wandering the desert for forty years, with this handy fold-up scooter, delivered right to your hotel.

Just imagine how excited the Cheez was about all the ads for trips to Israel I was leafing through.
How unfortunate that we already have plans for the week of what promises to be a very memorable See Israel with Hadassah and Song tour. Because the question is not how many times can one tour group sing Hatikvah? The question is in how many different keys--at the same time?

Difficult as it is to choose among the Israel travel packages advertised, the real challenge is choosing among the ads for Jewish-themed retirement homes. They offer golf, tennis, beauty parlors, entertainment, and a reminder that for thousands of years, across every continent, there have always been certain constants of Jewish life:
Namely, Torah, and male pattern baldness.

Of course, if you're going to enjoy your Golden Years, you need the peace of mind that comes from knowing your children and grandchildren are flourishing. And great news, because once again the products available in the ads in this month's mag come through for you:

Your daughter ...
may she marry a Jewish doctor!

Your granddaughter ...
may she be a Jewish doctor (and believe me, the athletics is good for getting into a competitive college, and at least with the swim team there's no chance of a ball hitting her in the face and ruining that brand new nose).

Your son . . .

may that zhlub at least stop chasing the shiksas long enough to read Hadassah Magazine.

You never know, there might be something in there that interests him.
Yes, blond Jewish triplets, born in Hadassah hospital to a Hadassah Magazine writer, now all grown-up and sporting their Israeli Air Force uniforms.

I told you it was Jewish porn.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Schmaltz Across Texas, Part Two

It's so nice 'n' romantic to keep a little mystery in the relationship.

Our first morning in Houston, Cheez was indeed mystified by me.

Specifically by my comprehensive knowledge of the lyrics of every song played on 97.1 FM Country Legends, the radio station I found on our rental car radio.

Okay, maybe hearing your girlfriend belt out the Oak Ridge Boys' Tryin' To Love Two Women isn't exactly romantic. But when your full up on the Hyatt's continental breakfast, it puts you in the mood for something.

First stop of the day: the Rothko Chapel.

Which I have to admit, had me kind of confused.

Mostly because:

1) I could figure out where all the Rothkos were;


2) I didn't understand why they need so many acoustic panels in such a small room.

So yes, I wasn't much of a fan of the Rothkos.

Although I'll grant you that it's better than what they usually mean when they say We have a Jew hanging in our Catholic church.

Being a wandering, rather than a hanging, Jew, I was ready to ramble over to the Menil Collection, one of those lovely museums where rich people put all their stuff on public display for the edification of the masses.

It was indeed very edifying.

There was a three-foot-tall wood carving of a humanoid figure with long red hair.

It looks like one of those Hawaiian totems I said.

Or like a leprechaun Cheez said.

I squinted at the curatorial tag. Turns out, we were both right. Memorial figure from New Ireland, Melanesia it said.

How edifying is that? If it weren't for the Menils of Houston, I would never have learned there was any place to get a pint of Guinness and a plate of boiled cabbage is all of Oceania.

The Menil also had a large exhibit of Surrealist works on display. But we hurried through that gallery. Surrealism doesn't really melt my butter I noted to Cheez although I guess it does melt my clock.

Next stop: the Museum of Fine Arts. Which was a focal point for our Texas trip, actually. Because they were having an exhibit of Moon Art.

Again, edifying. Such as footage of Mission Control during the moon launch. That is so amazing said Cheez, who has loved lunar landings ever since those long childhood days he spent reading old National Geographic magazines at his grandparents' house (note: Labrador is not a vacation paradise for nine-year-old boys. Or anyone).

You mean, that we really sent people to the moon and back? I asked.

No, that the guys who worked at Mission Control could smoke RIGHT AT THEIR DESKS! he answered.

Other learnings: eighteenth-century telescopes were made of cardboard. We had just bought a kaleidoscope for Cheez's nephew, on which we squandered an extra eight bucks to get a metal rather than a cardboard specimen. Turns out, we were robbed. We could have had a more authentic ocular device if we'd started with the core from a tube of toilet paper.

We also watched this lovely 1902 French film, La Voyage Dans La Lune

It was no Panic in Year Zero, but still it was the second best film of the trip so far.

Doougie Rocker, PhD and Little Lord Portleroy had to wander off and leave us, because we were spending way too much time in the moon exhibit. Indeed, it soon became clear that though they are dear friends, we were not entirely perfectly matched traveling buddies, being as they are the sort of people that believe vacation should be leisurely and relaxing. Whereas I believe it should be crammed full of as much nuttiness as possible.

Thus, after the museum closed, we agreed to all return to the Hyatt and freshen up before dinner. At which point Cheez and I doubled back to the Menil compound to see the separately housed Dan Flavin exhibit.

Can we take pictures in here? I asked the guard.

You're not supposed to he answered but I can't be following people all through the building watching what they're doing.

Given that it was 6 pm on a Sunday night and we were the only people in the entire facility, I realized he was not going to be taxing himself on our account.

So here, without further ado, is the Flavin exhibit:
Unless of course you who are reading this happen to be a lawyer employed on behalf of the Menil Collection, in which case those brightly colored lights you're seeing are just part of the fabulous decor of Tan Tan, the Vietnamese restaurant where we had dinner.

After a long day of fine art, who doesn't want to unwind with a refreshing Salt Plum Soda?

Which, in case you're wondering, is a small bottle of soda water, which is brought to the table and then poured by the patron into a glass that contains a salted plum.

Be sure to stir vigorously to distribute the salty plum flavor evenly!

After eating a ginormous amount of delicious, deep-fried delights, we wandered around the neighborhood, taking in the neon-lit sights.

The adjacent strip malls offered everything you could possibly ever want or need, from fashion to housewares to groceries to law enforcement.

We couldn't quite figure out why Johnny Law needed quite so much wattage, until we wandered into the Asian grocery store and spotted this sign:
In one form or another, this sign is ubiquitous throughout Texas.

What a helpful reminder to bring only your LICENSED weapons with you when you run out to the store for that oh-so-adorably packaged squid or anchovy snack.
And so ended day two in Texas, with Oak Ridge Boys tunes in my head, art of all sorts amazing our eyes, and visions of salt plums dancing in my belly.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

By "Holiday Show" I Did Not Intend to Mean Groundhog Day

Okay, it has been a while since I posted. Not for lack of thrilling content, I assure you. My life is just as filled with comedy-fodder as ever, I assure you. One thing you can count on is that I am laughable.

It's just that laughable ol' macaronimanic has been having so many adventures, she's been hard pressed for time to blog about them. But in the spirit of no time like the present, no used crying over spilt blogs, no business like show business, etc.. let's get back on the hobby horse, starting with my holiday show, performed at Scratch PDX in December 2009.

Note that the goniff who claimed to be a pro videographer apparently lacked certain skills such as focusing, sound editing, and correctly transcribing my name or the title of the act.

So I'm sorry the video sucks, but the performance rocks. Please book me for your next performing arts festival, office holiday party,* or family simcha.**

*I did actually perform this show at our office holiday party, and they didn't even fire me. I suspect out of fear I'd sue for religious discrimination. Careful when you hire a Jew, we all know a LOT of lawyers.

**Yes, I can play Hava Negila and Sunrise, Sunset on the accordion. If I can just master Kool and the Gang's Celebrate Good Times, Come On I will have mastered the trifecta of bar/bat mitzvah musical entertainment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shmaltz Across Texas, Part 1

My squeeze the Cheez and I always say we have so much fun together, we could go on vacation in a paper bag and still have a great time.

This winter, we didn't go for some little lunch sack. We headed for a full on shopping bag, the shmancy kind with those little ropey built-in handles.

It's was a big bag we vacationed in. A big bag called TEXAS.

So big, we couldn't take it on all by ourselves, so we invited some pals to join us. No, not Miss Ellie and JR, I meant a couple of real live actual friends:

1. Doougie Rocker, PhD, everyone's favorite Riot Grrrl/Classics Professor

2. Doougie's honey, Little Lord Portleroy
As Little Lord P noted, we were ideally suited for this journey, representing North, South, East, and West. To wit: Cheez as the Northerly Canuck; me as that exemplum of east coast, a New Yorker; Doougie as a native of the westward Oregon Territories; and Little Lord P heading up the South, having been raised in the Ozarks in a Doomsday cult that supported itself by BeDazzling the concert costumes of Elvis Presley.

And to think, people believe the South is more f*ed up than other regions.

Anyhow, we set off not to mess with Texas but to mesmerized by it. Cheez and I spent eight years in LA. We thought we'd seen all there was to see of the delicate intersection between big wads of cash and really tacky taste. But Rodeo Drive has got nothing on rodeo gaudy.

I just asked Cheez for an illustrative example. He answered I think that $170 leopard and rhinestone belt we saw in the store in San Antonio certainly counts as Texas Tacky.

Actually, I disagree. I think it just counts as proof that Texas has so few Jews, people actually pay retail.

So here is a recap of some highlights of the trip. I'm sorry if the recap is long(horn). Texas is big. There is an awful lot for me to mock.

Day 1: Complimentary breakfast at the hotel:

A Texas-sized vat of deep fried pig.

And to think I said this was a goyim-heavy state.

With that much bacon, it's more a heavy goyim state.

Much to Doougie's despair, Little Lord P immediately embraced the Texan belief that everything is better with bacon. Even yogurt.

Once we had filled up, we headed out to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It's a gorgeous building filled with memorable pieces.

Such as this room-sized sculpture . . .
made out of mint-green candies.
We're big fans of found-object art. But this was our first exposure to found-in-the-bottom-of-some-grandma's-pocketbook art. If the sculptor had thrown in a tissue with a blotch of coral-pink lipstick on it and a bus transfer from 1962, it would have been perfect.

After leaving the museum, we happened
upon a once beautiful but now somewhat rundown art deco building.

We snuck inside to investigate.

We made our way through ornate halls, poking into side rooms
littered with old box fans and duct tape-mended couches, until
at last we passed through giant doors labeled "coliseum," and discovered that we were inside the rodeo dome.

And that, although there was no one else around, the soundsystem was playing full blast. And that the song it was blasting was Barracuda.

Because nothing says rodeo like decaying art deco and false rumors of lesbian love.

And speaking of girls who like horses, our next stop was the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Highlights included the following quotes from Hall of Famers:

Who'd want a husband when you could have this wonderful horse? Mitzi Riley

Of course, when you do as many things as I do, it takes a lot of outfits. Fern Sawyer

Basically, anyplace you can be down on marriage and up on outfits, is my paradise. I celebrated by galloping over to the gift-shop and purchasing myself a sweet little filly of a cowgirl hat, which to Doougie's mortification I insisted on wearing just about every place else we went in Texas.

Full up on Fort Worth, we headed to Houston, checked into the Hyatt, and spent the evening watching Panic in Year Zero, which I can say without a doubt is the finest film about nuclear holocaust directed by and starring Ray Milland and co-starring Frankie Avalon that I have ever seen.

And that was just day 1.

More Texas-sized tales of terrific travel to come, I promise. Until then, settle back with some yogurt-coated bacon, and dream of all the open prairie has to offer . . . even if they are selling it at retail.