Thursday, December 29, 2011

As Seen On TV

Why is it that each year, as Christmas approaches, every item that you would never want to get and would give away in an instant, [as a white elephant gift, for sure] starts advertising on TV?  The worst items for your home, for your wardrobe, for your spouse, for your get the idea. But are they only useful at Christmas time? You can't use them at other times of the year? My answer to that can't use them EVER.

I mean...who wears Pajama Jeans? Have you ever seen these things? They are stretch pants made to look like jeans. Seriously? I have never seen an item of clothing uglier than the Pajama Jeans...except maybe the free shirt they also give you when you purchase a pair. It's a drab gray, stretchy-ish shirt; with zilch style...a style from I don't even know what era. Who comes up with this shit? And more than that...why would they come up with this shit? And why would they think any of it would sell? I wouldn't even wear the ‘jeans’ if we were back in the '60's when stretch pants were fashionable. I wouldn’t even wear them to bed.  

Do you know one person who owns a Chia Pet? I was quite surprised to see it advertised again this year. I thought it went kaput last year. Wishful thinking. I figure there can't be anyone who actually buys this crap; but they did finally come out with new ones that are a little more current. Not that it makes them any more desirable...but at least we know the manufacturers are not just robots making these things by rote. They actually are alive and thinking...finally. Well…sorta. They have a Chia Obama, a Chia Shrek, a Chia SpongeBob, a blah blah blah...but I think my favorite is just the Chia head...for those who are 'follicly' challenged.

But the worst thing about this damn product? I can't get the f**king song out of my head. Any time I say or think "Chia Pet" I hear ‘Chi Chi Chi Chia Pet.’ Can you hear it now? It will be there, in your head, throughout the rest of this blog. You can thank me later.

Jane Seymour has a line of jewelry for Kay Jewelers. "Come see my 'Open Hearts' collection at Kay Jewelers." [Said with her English accent] Only at Christmas time? Doesn't she sell it throughout the rest of the year? Why would she only advertise at Christmas? And she chose the very chic jeweler...Kay? I think, but I’m not sure...that it just could be the K-Mart of jewelers. Oh! Maybe that's why it's called 'KAY' Jewelers. "K" Mart. Get it? A subsidiary, maybe? And after all these years...can't she come up with a new design? Any new design? It's been the same frickin' design for 15 years already. I mean how many f**king open hearts can you have? Any other collections there, Jane?

You know what's amazing...I actually know people with the Snuggie. Yup...people I know actually do own a Snuggie. Of course, I’m not friends with those people. I just know them. I don’t know if I could be associated with people who have consciously gone out and bought a Snuggie; especially those who leave their homes wearing them and partake in activities…such as this guy.

I’m sure many people have gone out and tackled fishing in their camouflage Snuggie. This way no one would notice them since they blend right in. This way they get all the fish. And on the website…they label it “Designer” Snuggie. OMG…I don’t even think I have words for what I’m feeling about that right now. But just in case you’re interested…they do have a sale going on as we speak.

I will never understand the fruitcake. Although it’s not advertised on TV…why is it that only at Christmas, it’s given as a present. And what is it anyway? Is it really made of fruit? Obviously I’ve never had any. The name alone turns me off; therefore I have never tasted one. But to this day, I don’t understand why it’s only given to people around the holidays. And who in God’s name came up with that idea. ‘Let’s give a fruitcake as a gift.’ Why would anyone think that’s a good gift? I would be embarrassed to hand someone a fruitcake. They would know, right off the bat, it’s a re-gift. Actually, I wouldn’t even give it as a re-gift.

And speaking of re-gifts…I also don’t really understand the re-gift. If I don’t like something, I’m certainly not going to give it to someone else so they can think I’m the one with bad taste. I only give things I like to people I like. I would give something I don’t like to someone I don’t like, but most likely, I wouldn’t be giving that someone I don’t like a present anyway, because I don’t like them.

Some people’s taste amazes me. I would love to know what goes through their heads when deciding what to give as a gift. I like to put a lot of thought into what I am purchasing for a particular person. I want to make it personal and I want them to love it. For the last 25 years I have been wondering about a gift my first husband and I received for our wedding. Not only was it strange, but the wrapping was the tackiest I have ever seen…ever. The present was a mold of a ship captain’s head. Yup…that’s right, our wedding gift was a ship captain’s head that you can hang on the wall. And it was wrapped in newspaper inside a yellow plastic bag. Do you think that may have been a re-gift? Of course, it wasn’t from someone on MY side of the family.

Last night my daughter’s friend mentioned getting a money tree as a gift. I love that idea. I don’t think you can go wrong with that gift. I mean…who doesn’t like money. And nowadays, who can’t use a little extra. They wrapped up different denominations of bills and tied them to branches of the tree. What a great idea. She said her boss gave her a tree worth $100.   

Next year…my kids are going to get that as their gift. It will look something like this…

                                              I HOPE THEY LIKE IT!



Monday, December 19, 2011

Skype Anyone?

I have realized that if you don't really care about sex and physical never have to see anyone in person anymore to have a relationship. If you don't mind that tactile void in your life, our technology has taken care of our everyday needs and companionships.

I was skyping with my daughter the other day, and seeing her on camera, as opposed to just speaking on the phone, gave me such it always does. I love seeing her face and looking into her eyes because it feels like we are right there with each other...except for the fact that she can't just stretch out her hand for a twenty. Works for me. And my house stays so much cleaner. And my food bill is lower and there’s no sisterly fighting…oops…sorry. Got off track a little. But what really made me realize that you can be miles away from someone and still have a close relationship, was right after I disconnected with my daughter, an old high school friend skyped me. We had never skyped before. We haven't seen each other in almost 40 years. In fact, we weren't even really friends until facebook. But through the miracle of social networking, we have become pretty close. It's just so odd. There's so much about social networking that's odd [in a positive light] and that's what made me think about being in the same place at the same time with people. It's really not necessary. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE being in physical proximity to people because I'm a hugger and a toucher and I just love that touchy feely kind of thing. (Hence...why I have a dog...she doesn't put restrictions on my hugs.)

But since I live relatively far from so many of the people I care for the most, I think social networking has rescued, or has the potential to rescue, many lonely people. And it does give you that feeling of immediacy and being in the now with each other.

I mean, who needs a real date? If you don't give two shits about ever having sex again for the rest of your life; never having that man touch you like no one else ever has, with long, deep kisses, his muscular arms wrapped tightly...oh off track once again...then you can just skype with someone at any time and call it a relationship. You can communicate as if you’re right there next to him. And look at how much cheaper it is [well, for him maybe]. It’s amazing. You could go to the movies, hold your phone up to the screen, and have him watch with you, without ever purchasing a second ticket.

You have a built in date! You can eat your popcorn, drink your diet coke, pig out on milk duds and raisinets, maybe a few nachos, and no one is the wiser. Then after, once you wipe the evidence off your face, and try to pick up your bloated body out of your seat, you can discuss and critique the film when it’s over. And he's not aware of how you just pigged out and ate yourself into oblivion. [Although I'm not quite sure how you can manage holding the phone and eating all that with only one hand, without spilling something all over you.] But I digress again.

Then, if you’re not really into him, you don’t have to make excuses about wanting to go home and not wanting to go out for coffee or dessert after; (God forbid going for dessert, after what you just ate in the theater, you porker), or going back to your place for a little hanky panky (although who could have sex after all that crap you just inhaled.) You just say, "Ok, I’ve gotta go now. Can't drive and skype.” And that saves you the embarrassment of not wanting to kiss good night, if in fact, you don’t want to. It’s almost too perfect. And if you really do like the person, then it just builds up the excitement for when you actually are physically together, but still giving you more time with each other while apart. 

If you just decide to sit home at can talk to any person you want for companionship because someone else is always at home on a Saturday night, too. (Aren't they?) You really never have to be alone. Then when someone asks, "What did you do this weekend?" You just say..."Oh, I had a date with 'fill in the blank.'"

If only the elderly would be more open to learning all the technology we have at our fingertips. Think of all the ways they could keep their brains stimulated and keep active. If their families couldn't visit them too often because of their busy schedules, or because they're too f**king selfish to think of their parents there all alone in the assisted living places, [where they're actually probably more active then three quarters of the people half their age]...they could take 5 minutes to skype and say hi. And look how much grandma would have to look forward to without nagging at her family to come see her, or instilling that guilt that so many parents try to do to their kids without actually thinking that's what they're doing. Well, maybe 'thinking' isn't the right word. Trying to 'mask' it behind something else, I would say is more the case. But's a win-win for everyone. The grandkids don't have to sit there bored out of their minds, for God only knows how long...they can just pop their little dirty faces in the camera and yell, "hi gramma" and the adults can talk for a few. How much easier and better can it be? The grandparents don't have to worry about leaving early to avoid all the traffic, because as we all matter what time they leave, they will for sure hit traffic. And then if they are stuck in traffic...oh my god...what if they have to pee? Or run out of gas so they need to get gas first but what if there's no gas station close by that may be 3 cents less than they can get at home, so they travel 20 miles out of their way to save 30 cents, although they just spent $5 traveling to find the cheaper gas station. So this way...everyone is where they want to be and no one can f**king complain about it. Geez. (Wow...I just got worked up more than I realized. I'm exhausted, and I didn't even have to visit anyone yet.)

Of course, there are always a few downfalls to skyping that sometimes get in the way; especially when you haven't seen someone in a very long time and plan to "meet" on camera. There's always that lovely camera angle that makes you look like you're eating your nose. Your nose could be the size of a peanut, but yet...there it is...making an anchor like shape on your face in conjunction with your mouth. It looks like a fat carrot hanging down covering half your top lip, if your head is the least bit tilted downward or the camera is up too high. If the camera angle is too end up with the chin that looks like the length of California. Always attractive. And if you keep your head get that rolly polly neck thing going with the rippling effect.  So look like this:

And you probably would never hear back from that 'friend' you haven't seen in 20 years.

And if you are hanging out in your pajamas or other comfy, clown looking clothes, no make-up on, hair piled on top of your head in some big lumpy moppy thing, or hanging down all stringy, hoping no one, and I mean no one, would ever see you...

...then you hear that distinctive skype ring and think...oh shit. It's someone you really want to speak to. Do you pick up? I've sat debating long enough where it finally stopped ringing. So I ran into my bathroom, quickly dabbed on a little make-up, changed my shirt, [because no one can really see you below the shoulders if the camera is set up right], brushed my hair, and called back that person. "Oh...I see you just called. I didn't hear it...isn't that strange? I must've been downstairs."

Then there is the fib. Well, another fib. You tell the grandparents that their grandchildren aren't home at the time of the skyping, because you know the kids would rather not talk, so you help them out. But you didn't make them aware that you were saying that, so they walk in, in the middle of your conversation. "I thought the kids weren't there?" [Said with that sarcastic let's instill the guilt tone]. "They must've just walked in."  Oops.

But the advantages far, far outweigh the disadvantages. It’s been unbelievably exciting to reconnect with so many friends after all these years and not only audibly, but visually. Although I have to say, sometimes maybe we are better off just leaving the visuals to our imagination. If you notice, you have that choice on skype…Answer with audio only. Answer with audio and video. Those skype inventors…they knew what they were doing when they came up with that option…they must’ve had some dog ass ugly friends and family. Oh sorry…did I say that out loud?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stranger Things Have Happened

I will never understand how people can pass you on the street, look right at you, and act as if you're not even there. Not a smile or a nod or a hello. Seriously? Maybe I’m overly nice, (well, duh) but I would never pass someone without some form of acknowledgement. Even if it's one of my various phony smiles.

I mean, we’re both occupying the same space for that one second in time. We’ve made a connection. How can you not recognize that person you’re sharing it with in some form of communication? It's just not right. 
I live in a gated community...but we have no gates. (We would have gates if it was an actual gated community). It’s a small development, with a pool and recreation area located in the center of the complex. Everyone is out and about all the time, almost like a Stepford neighborhood.

They’re either gardening, pushing their kids in strollers, watching their older kids playing ball in the streets, or gossiping about God only knows what. If you’re outside at all, you know the people on your street. You see them all the time. You would think there would be a sense of camaraderie of sorts.

I walk my dog at least a couple of times a day and see my neighbors on a regular basis, but I can’t tell you how many people totally ignore me when I pass them. I just can’t figure out why anyone would choose to do that. There's one family where the entire family acts as if I'm invisible when I'm right in front of them, as they walk by with their dog. I smile, they don't. I say hi, they don't. Then when they get to the house next to mine, they have a full blown conversation with the dad, in his driveway. Are you f**king kidding me? I had originally thought that they treated everyone the same, until I witnessed them laughing and cajoling with the dad and his family. Pretty frickin' nervy, if you ask me. Well, you didn't ask me, but I'm telling you anyway.
The same thing happened with this guy who walks his dog by my house every day. I see him when I'm out with my dog or just when I'm outside my house doing whatever it is I'm doing. He either keeps his head down or looks straight ahead, knowing full well I'm there, but keeps walking. Sometimes he looks at me without even a curve of his lips in an upward movement, like he's looking right through me. It's mind blowing.

Then one day, I was standing there talking with one of my friendly neighbors and he starts having a conversation with her. And still doesn't acknowledge me, even after I said hello. Really? I'm starting to get a complex. I'm like the nicest, friendliest person I know. What is going on? Why don't these people see that?
There is a special connection with the people who live in the houses on either side of you. At least there should be. They are like family. They are like sisters because they’re so close to you; right next to you; side by side. They are your siblings and the houses surrounding them are like cousins. And the houses on the other streets are like cousins once removed. But we are all from the same family. The ‘Non-Gated Community’ family and family should acknowledge each other. Even if you don’t like each other, be cordial. You're distant cousins for God's sake. Aside from just being the respectful thing to do…you never know when you may need that person in an emergency. Why wouldn’t you want to be nice? It's hurtful.

Have you ever gotten into an elevator and you are all alone, but on the next stop someone comes in, looks directly at you, and doesn’t even nod? Seriously? Did they not see me? I mean I'm right here. I'm right smack in the middle of the elevator in their line of vision as they walk in, and they act like I'm Casper. Then we stand there with the musak playing, or whatever it's called now, all fidgety and uncomfortable, acting like there's no one else in our space. C'mon people...I'm right here. Give me something.

I especially don't understand it when you have something in common with others and they still don't acknowledge you. I've been in doctor's waiting rooms the size of my closet, practically on top of the other patient waiting, and not a word. I'm ready to go sit on their lap and ask them to tell me about themselves but I contain myself. That may not be legal. Or at the very least, moral. But we have something in common, besides waiting an inordinately ridiculous amount of time to see the doctor. We have ailments. Why not discuss them to pass the time. Although I have to tell you, I did sit next to a very nice man who proceeded to tell me how his medicines are giving him a ton of gas and causing him constipation, which is giving him hemorrhoids that are really itchy. I responded, "Thanks for sharing" and the entire doctor's office, which was filled with about 20 waiting patients, cracked up. I think they were aghast that this man was divulging this deeply intimate, personal info to me, a complete stranger, within 5 seconds of us communicating and they were relieved that I said something. It didn't make him stop though. He proceeded to tell me ALL his problems but luckily he was called into the examining room shortly after. That loosened up the tension in the waiting room and people began to chat, which was very nice. A little too much information from that guy maybe, but nonetheless, it was better than sitting in that uncomfortable silence.

The veterinarian's office is a place where you would think people would be the friendliest. We all have a love for pets. Although I'm beginning to think some of these people would prefer not to have their pets at all...or shouldn't have them. But it's a built-in conversation piece; a common bond. As soon as I walk into the vets office, if a dog comes up to me, I pet it and practically drool all over it cause I love dogs so much. But some of these people are so rude. They pull their dogs away, even though I've made it perfectly clear that it's fine if they come up to me, yet they give ME a dirty look. I'm sorry...was I humping your dog and didn't realize it? Don't give ME the look. I'm the one being friendly back. Why wouldn't you love another dog lover? Well, maybe 'love' is too strong, but at least be cordial. I just don't get it. While I'm waiting I will try to stir up conversation asking questions about their dog but get one word answers. So I don't continue because I don't want to be annoying, (although if you ask my kids, I'm like the most annoying person on the planet...and proud of it!)

Maybe I'm just a chatty, friendly, annoying person. Or maybe too many people aren't. People walk around like they have blinders on. I don't understand it. Don't get me wrong...there are a ton of wonderfully, nice, welcoming people in this world. Strangers who do acknowledge your existence, just in passing. Strangers who do have conversations with you even though they've never seen you before. Strangers who just want to say...let's be strangers together...just for this moment in time.
Aren't there?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh...What a Tangled Web We Weave

I’m sure I’m not the first to say…if you’re not Einstein, then you have not, nor will you ever master the science of Christmas light untangling. I have never in my entire life come across an art form such as the free form ball of lights. Most people plan to take a day to hang their lights with time for other activities they may want to do. I plan an entire day just to untangle those f**kin' strings of stress. The next day I save for hanging them, with time to spare for other things.
I usually take Thanksgiving weekend as the holiday lighting ritual. Thursday is turkey day. That’s just a day exclusively for eating and being with family. Friday is just for recovering from being with that family you only wanted to see once a year but over the holidays have to see them more often then you wanted. Oh, wait, oops…I mean Friday is for recovering from over-eating on Thursday; working out and resting from the meteoric caloric intake. Then Saturday is for the untangling ceremony. Come one, come all…let’s decipher the expert level Sudoku puzzle of Christmas lights. And Sunday is for hanging…[The lights, I mean.] I have decided I will never move from my house because I have masterfully hammered in thousands of nails to expertly place each strand of lights. Every nail has been strategically positioned so that the lights form a certain pattern to make anyone gasp in awe when they see them.
Unfortunately, Saturday has arrived…I drink my eight cups of coffee, gearing up for the very unpleasant task of the detangle. Then I take a valium to try to keep myself calm so the neighbors don’t hear me screaming and swearing eight hours into the task at hand, pulling and tugging and contorting, with lights hanging from my head. I take a deep breath and open up the enormous, chock full box of Christmas crap: lights, dancing Santa, wreaths, giant lighted Santa sleigh, mini lighted Christmas tree, and so on and so on. Nope…no sign of the Jew in this box…[My grandparents are turning in their graves.]
I pull out one string of lights and out come the entire contents of the box in one gigunda ball...everything included. The ornaments are hanging from the Santa, which is hanging from the sleigh, which is hanging from the extra large, lighted lollipops, which are attached to 10 strings of more lights. OY! I'm so happy it's 83 degrees and sunny on November 26th so that I can tan on the front lawn while I'm untangling Christmas paraphernalia. A little sunshine to an otherwise dreary undertaking. [Christmas in California just isn't the same as it is back east.]

OK, deep breath. And the untangling begins...the race is on to see if I can beat my time from last year. It's a little game I play with myself to help the time and frustration pass a little more smoothly. Doesn't really work. I've gotten some of the bigger pieces removed from the bundle of joy. I've set them in the garage so there is no chance of them getting caught back in the web of madness. I still have about 10 strings of Christmas lights yet to untangle...but finally it happens. Do you know what an accomplishment that is? I'm sure you do. It's like striving for the impossible and actually achieving it. It's like when you get a knot in your thinnest necklace while it's all tangled up with your other necklaces...and actually get them apart. Then with your stubby, little fingers, you get that microscopic knot out of the teeny, tiny links. I’m not sure why we have to get the knot out. Unless you have Superman vision, you would never notice it anyway, but you still have to remove that itsy bitsy teensy weensy miniscule knot. Welllllll...I did it! Night has fallen, meals have been eaten...[by others]...but by golly...I did it.
I placed all the strings in rows trying to remember which string goes on which part of the house and which strands go on the tree. Yep, that's right...not only does the good little Jew that I am put lights on the house...we also have a tree. What's Chanukah without Christmas lights and a Christmas tree? It's Chanukah...duh. Do you think my kids were a little confused growing up? We won't go there. That would be fodder for a whole other blog. (Note to on "How I f**ked up my kids.")
Hanging the lights is a feat. That fear of heights I've discussed in other blogs comes into play quite often on this holiday. The lights outlining the garage aren't too bad...I only need to go on the 2nd step of the step ladder, but even that makes me sick to my stomach. Fortunately, the girls didn't inherit that fear and have no problem standing next to me while I go up on that step trembling. They are there for support. The princesses don't do the actual work. They keep watch hoping they don't have to catch me if I get dizzy and fall. No...Just kidding...they do help with the lights. Sometimes. OK...rarely.
I finally attach one string to the nails around the door of the garage, get the extension cord all set up after trying to remember what cord goes into which outlet, plug in the lights and NADA. Nothing. Not one light goes on. Oh...that's right...I stupidly forgot to check each strand to see if they still work. Luckily I have so many extra ones that I can just switch it out. But still...nothing like making extra work for myself...because I'm not frustrated enough and not panicked enough about going back up on the ladder. Another OY.
Eventually it all gets done. Lights all working, flickering sequences adjusted to where I like them...looking unbelievably fantastic. I'm so excited it's done to the perfection I want. And now for the unveiling of this incredible undertaking that I call my masterpiece. I step back into the street so I can take it all in and........Check it out.......

                                   Pretty frickin' impressive...dontcha think?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Country Strong

How does a Jewish chick from NY end up at a country western club, dancing the two-step? In my wildest dreams, I never imagined I would be amongst the cowboy boot wearing, ten gallon hat toting, down home country western crowd. But there I was. And I have to admit...I quite enjoyed it.

There was a time, [actually that time was my entire life], that I couldn't stand country music. Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, (ok...that's about all I know as far as singers go), with those twangy, annoying sounds emanating from their vocal cords was enough to drive me out of my mind. If ever that music came on the immediately was turned off. Not that it ever came on the radio intentionally...only if I was traveling to other parts of the country and it transitioned onto the station I had been bopping out to. I couldn't listen long enough to hear their tragic life stories that were the lyrics to their songs. Being so sheltered in my upper middle class neighborhood where I grew up, the only thing I knew from country was Hee Haw. And the only reason I knew about Hee Haw was because I would click past it on Sunday nights. Seeing Minnie Pearl in her gingham dresses, her hats with the price tag, and that god awful “how-deeee”, was enough to turn me off for 40+ years.

I could not relate to anything they would say or sing or wear; especially what they would wear. Those clothes...geez...who dresses like that? The frills, the aprons, the tight plaid shirts that were 2 sizes too small. And that hair. They had to have air pumps inside their bouffant to keep it up so high and wide. I much teasing could that have possibly taken to get their hair to have the volume of a hot air balloon? Can you imagine combing that out at night? I guess really all they had to do was remove it from their heads and set it on their styrofoam mannequin. 

When my girls were younger, and I 'believed' I had a little more parental control, I would forbid that music in my house or in my car. I would make them listen with headphones, behind closed doors, with the volume way down. I didn't want one decibel floating down the hall into my inner ear.

But when they went away to college, and I did quite a lot more traveling in my car to visit them, I slowly allowed a country radio station to permeate the air waves in my vehicle. The first time I had no choice because it was all I could find on the radio when I had forgotten to bring my CD’s. And when one of the girls would be driving with me, I succumbed to her wishes. They seemed to have that power over me for some reason. The first few times I would try to tune it out. I don't want to say it was like nails on a chalkboard; however, it was just short of mental torture. But as time went on, I found myself less and less anxious while it was playing. I think what really turned me around, was going to see ‘Country Strong’, the movie. It wasn’t actually the music that I started liking, but one of the leads was just a tad good-looking and when he sang, you could melt.

After downloading all his songs from the movie and listening to them incessantly, the music kinda grew on me. And the more I drove up north through cattle country, the more I listened to Country. It’s nothing like what it was back when I was a kid. I think there was only one kind back then (horrible). But now it seems there are different genres. I guess the one I kind of like is Country-Pop.

My daughter’s birthday was last week and she wanted to go to the Cowboy Palace Saloon with all her friends, to dance. To LINE dance.  And she asked me to go, too. Well…having taken Zumba for a couple of months, I figured, no problema! If I can somewhat move in Zumba, of course I could pick up line dancing and the two step and whatever other dances they do. Right? HA! Who was I kidding? It’s amazing how you can fool yourself into thinking you know how to do something and then realize how absolutely inept you really are. Those people had some real talent. What I couldn’t figure out is how they knew what dance to do when the band didn’t announce the dance. Do certain songs automatically go with certain dances? I’m still baffled. But I was so impressed. (Doesn’t take much).

And what an experience the whole night was. Forget about the dancing part…but walking into the place…it felt like I was on a whole different planet. I was in a world I had never entered before. I was in……..The Hee Haw Zone. Yee haaa. There were more false eyelashes, plaid shirts and boobs popping out then I had ever seen in one place. And as soon as we walked in, everyone turned and stared at us as we walked to our table. I’m sure it had nothing to do with us looking totally out of our element. I felt like the kids in ‘Animal House’ when they walked into the bar to see Otis Day and the Knights.

As we got settled in, the kids started dancing and picked up the moves immediately. When Waylon Jennings and Buck Owens asked me to dance, I graciously declined, but I did go out on the dance floor a few times, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty. If you’ve ever watched or experienced country western dancing, you will know that there are dances where they partner up and move in a circle around the circumference of the dance floor. And it’s a steady flow; everyone moving in sync with one another.

Well…not when I was on the dance floor. I slowed down just a little, trying to get into the rhythm of the song and trying to figure out the dance steps and…BOOM.  A five couple pile up behind me. A domino by one, crashing into me. I decided it would be best for me to move into the inner circle where I didn’t have to move in step with anyone else.

But you know what was so incredible at that club? Everyone was so genuinely nice. It was like no other bar I had ever been in. Somewhere else, if you accidentally bumped into someone, they would give you a look or say something derogatory, but there…they were just good ol’ folk. No one made us feel out of place. No one snickered when I looked like a complete fool on the dance floor. And everyone, including the women, was more than happy to help us learn the dances. I really had entered the Hee Haw Zone. And although I never thought I would admit this to anyone…gosh darn it, I’m a country girl. I think my next vacation might just have to be to Dollywood!

And you know what’s frightening…I recognize songs now on the radio. And you know what else…I know the words. And lastly…I would like everyone to start calling me…Jaime Lou

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tunnel Vision

I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of an MRI, but for those of you who have, you may understand the fear I go through every time I have one. Especially if you are claustrophobic.

Last week I was going in for two on each shoulder. And that was just the beginning of my upcoming scans of various body parts. Being claustrophobic, I opted to be anesthetized. was actually not an option, it was a desperate plea to put me somewhere in between euphoria and complete oblivion. And the more drugs the better, but usually some heavy duty valium would suffice. Every so often they gave me an I.V. of whatever it was; but whatever it was...for the one second before I went into la la was like the greatest.

I didn't need the anesthesia just for my fear of closed spaces, but knowing that I had to lie still for 20+ minutes per shoulder, would send my body into complete itch mode. I rarely have an itch. But knowing that I have to be immobile for any length of brain decides to fool me into thinking every body part needs a little bit of scratching. And not only in the reachable areas, but in the middle of my back where no human arm could possibly get to. Maybe if I was an orangutan or a spider monkey, but since my arms are just a touch shorter, and my shoulder pain inhibits the radial reach...the middle of my back is in the outer limits. So therefore...bring on the drugs.

I should have known early that morning that the day was not going to go too smoothly. The imaging center was sending a car to pick me up, since no one could get away from work to give me a ride. The fact that they forgot about me and their car service never showed up, was an indication of things to come. Fortunately, my daughter was still home, so she ended up taking me. When I got there, they were so apologetic that they gave me a gift card to a local restaurant. Now THAT'S class. How often do you find someone in the medical field understanding that your time is just as important as theirs? I was quite impressed.

When I arrived, like always, I filled out that 800 page history of my entire life, even though I had just been there 6 months ago, and did it back then. I don't think my grandmother passing away 20 years ago has had any changes since then, unless she was resurrected. I've had no reversible surgeries in the last 6 months; my tonsils have not grown back, cysts that burst back in the 80’s, well...they still burst back then. So why I had to fill out this gigunda questionnaire again is beyond my comprehension. But hey, I just follow the rules.

They brought me into the back to get into the very fashionable gown that makes you feel like a toddler just learning to tie a bow. Why can't they just use snaps? Those are easy to deal with; definitely easier than a tie. It’s really quite difficult trying to tie a bow behind your back. And you wouldn't feel like a fool worried that your tushy may be sticking out the opening. Or at least put 5 ties on there instead of just the two...since the bottom one does absolutely nothing. They may as well just ask me to walk around naked, or in a sandwich board with big letters written across “CHECK OUT THE BUTT BEHIND ME.”

I was then taken into the anesthesiologist’s office so he could ask me if it was ok to have an I.V. instead of just the Valium pills. It would be quicker for sedation since we were running late because they neglected to pick me up. Well...duh...bring it on Doc. In could up the dosage if you really want it even faster. Except...I would really love to enjoy it so could you inject it a little slower so I can get like 10 seconds of euphoria before conking out?

They started the I.V. and la dee da; there I went into a little bit of heaven. I remember chatting up a storm for a few seconds and then the technician asked me what kind of music I wanted to hear with the headphones (to drown out the sonic boom sounds of the MRI machine that makes you feel like there's a jackhammer in your head). I responded with "My daughter recently got me into country let's go with that." Huh? Did I just say country music? Are you f**king kidding me? I never listen to country...I used to ban it from playing in my house and car. But there it was...coming through the headphones straight into my cochlea. I listened to it all through the first MRI of my right shoulder. [I don't really remember but I'm assuming.] When they pulled me out of the tunnel, like I was human drawer, I said, "Did I ask you to play country music?" "Yes, you did." "Well...PLEASE GET IT OFF! Put on anything else...but no more country."

After a few minutes of them making sure the pictures were clear from the right shoulder, it was time for the left one. I was feeling good but I wasn't as foggy as I had been at the beginning, but still ok to go back into the miniscule hole of hell. I almost asked for more drugs because I didn't want it wearing off in the middle and my worst fear coming to fruition...being stuck in the coffin like machine looking up at the ceiling only 2 inches from my face. I kept drifting off becoming lucid every few minutes when all of a sudden...BOOM.

What the F***? Everything shut more noise, no more lights, no more pounding, no more nothing. Not one sound. ‘Am I dreaming? Am I that drugged up that this could be all in my head or some practical joke?’ Panic was setting in quickly...I mean really quickly. That was a claustrophobe's worst nightmare and who else would it happen to? Suddenly...3 people came charging into the room, yelling to me "Don't worry...we're gonna get you out as fast as we can. Don't panic." Well...too late for that. That would have been 5 seconds ago. It took all three of them as they struggled to pull the table out from the tunnel since it usually slides out at the push of a button. And it wasn't an easy feat, but they did it. The high winds had blown out a power line. Really? Today? Of all days?

I sat there in the dark for what seemed like hours, but probably was only about 2 minutes. "Did you happen to finish the pictures?" "No...We still have about 10 minutes more to go. Can you handle it or did you want to come back another time?" Come back? Are you out of your frickin' mind? I don't think so. "No...I'm good. Let's finish it." Yeah...sure I was good. About as good as I would be if I stuck a fork in my eye.

Once the power came back on, into the mausoleum I went. I was still pretty doped up so back into la la land for a few more minutes, and then it was over. They got me up and off I went to get my clothes on. The driver was there waiting to take me home. We had about a 10 minute ride home on the freeway but because of the winds, there were power lines down, and tree branches all over the lanes, slowing down the traffic. We sat there for quite a while inching along, at a speed of about 5 miles per hour, when all of a sudden…

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sit Still, Wouldya? [An audio/video Interactive Blog]

What do you do when you don't want to do anything but you want to do something? It's not really that I didn't WANT to do something, but my back had been in spasms for two days, so I just didn't feel good enough to do anything and knew that I shouldn't do anything, so as not to worsen my pain. But even when I don't want to do anything...I still have to do something. I'm not one to sit around even if I have nothing planned. I always find things to do around the house and if I don't...I concoct. But most of them require physical movement. There are not too many things you can do that allow you to just sit still...except reading, watching TV or sitting at the computer. But there is just so much of that you can do in a weekend. Believe me…I do my best to compete for the world’s record for most hours logged in on the computer and TV, but I do get to a point where my eyes are unfocusable (I made that word up) and I have to find other things. 

My weekend started out pain free (or what I call pain free in my world since I’m never pain free.)So bright and early Saturday morning, I started doing chores. Laundry that hadn't been done for a couple of weeks had piled up so it was time for a little fluff and fold. Once my sheets were out of the dryer, I started making my bed...and...BOING!

Spasms galore. I could not straighten up. So with my spine at a 45 degree angle, I finished putting the sheets on, [because being the slightly obsessive neat freak that I am, I couldn’t leave my bed half made just because of some excruciating back spasms], then proceeded downstairs to ice my back. Try finding a comfortable position when every which way you move causes spasms. I tried every couch and chair in the house that I could find, and after about an hour of struggling to get up and down testing each one, I was exhausted. I finally decided on one, sat down, futzed around trying to find that perfect position, strategically placed pillows around me, placed the ice pack on my lower back…and… Ding Dong. Are you f**king kidding me? The doorbell rang.

If I wasn’t expecting a delivery I would have ignored it but I couldn’t. It only took me about 4 minutes to rock myself up out of the chair like an 80 year old and walk to the door. 

Luckily I had a very patient FedEx person.

After about 4 hours of icing on and off, I was going nuts just sitting around once the spasms had subsided. The rest of my day consisted of various things I probably shouldn't have been doing. And of course I did things that required major physical twisting, which I never do on a daily or weekly basis. I pride myself on not being the brightest when it comes to physical limitations. I just go for it if it involves exercise or physical output, and I'm damn proud of it.

I'm not a sweeper. I'm not a fan of brooms. But there were leaves on the patio that were pissing me off because I had to traipse over them every day. Since I was having back problems, what better to do but sweep? I don't like dirty patios. I don't like dirty anything. So naturally, cleaning couldn't come at a more opportune time; when I should be doing nothing but resting my back. I made sure that I didn't sweep the entire patio though, so that my back didn't get too weary. 

When I got inside, I noticed sand on the floor because my kids had been at the beach. Couldn't let that stay there, and since the broom was already in hand, I swept up the floor. I only did downstairs, though, so that my back didn't get too weary. Following the pattern here? But as I was walking up the stairs to get something, a few little dust bunnies popped out at me. Well…there’s no way that is going to be overlooked. So what’s the smartest thing to do? Get out the vacuum, of course. But I made sure I just used the portable one. Ya know…the one whose hose is so short you have to bend over and stay that way the whole time you’re vacuuming? Another ingenious idea by moi.

As I remained stuck in the prone position for the next 20 minutes, my dog came to visit me from underneath. Good thing she is small so that she could get below me. She didn’t really understand why my hands weren’t rubbing her tummy but rather perched against the wall holding up my body. As I climbed my hands up the wall slowly straightening my back, she decided it was a good time for humping. Never miss an opportunity to hump a leg. (watch this til the end).

I finally semi-straightened up but before I did, I noticed the moldings and the walls had some marks on them that just didn’t belong there. How bad could it be for my back to do a little eraser sponging along the walls? But not only did I notice the marks on the wall, but I noticed my dog could use a little trim on her bangs. What better to do then bend down again and pick up my 20 pound dog for a little hair styling? I know 20 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but in doggie pounds…that’s like 140.

Eventually, I smartened up and realized I was being way over zealous and thought a shower would be the last output of energy on my unplanned agenda. I was in desperate need from all the activity I wasn't supposed to be doing that day. Too bad I'm not a bath lover because as I stepped into the shower, I didn't notice the bar of soap laying on the bottom, and as I stepped in....

How was YOUR day?