Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Riddance, first decade of the new millennium

“It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.
The more things happen to you the more you can't
Tell or remember even what they were.

“The contradictions cover such a range.
The talk would talk and go so far aslant.
You don't want madhouse and the whole thing there.”

- William Empson, Let it Go

More things keep happening to me. I’m sitting here in the madhouse trying to decide whether to enumerate my resolutions for the new year and/or decade, or to make my predictions about what mischief will happen next. Then again, perhaps, I’d do better to predict what won’t happen next year. Here goes.

DOB won’t remain on her feet through January. I foresee another fall in darkness, a midnight call, another rambling tale that begins with “I don’t know how this happened…” a trip to the ER, and too much hospital vending machine coffee.

TCG won’t exercise, walk, take any preventive measures to forestall his own mental and physical decline, and accordingly, the gathering dark will increasingly envelop him and threaten me.

UCC won’t make the cut to appear on my new favorite reality show: Hoarders. This is apparently a recognized clinical condition in which the hoarder turns to the accumulation of stuff as a means of clinging to happiness. Which actually, gives me an idea for a resolution. I hereby resolve to use the stuff I have before buying more stuff for the same purpose.

Whatever compassion I may have for the mentally ill, I find I have none for losers diagnosed as hoarders. I have the opposite condition: crumbs on the kitchen counter, clothing draped over doorknobs and even doors themselves, and the alluvial clutter accumulating on side tables and other flat surfaces. These things drive me crazier than I should be, faster than anyone should be driven.

One hoarder on a recent episode was found to have not one, but two dead cats buried beneath the 5,000 pounds of garbage stacked three feet high in every room. Flattened and mummified to resemble cat-shaped pancakes covered with cat hair. Please. I live with roommates that would soon become eligible for this show if it were not for my heroic – but ultimately doomed – efforts to throw out the trash slightly slower than it accumulates. Isn’t there a law of physics that decrees everything is returning to dust and mummified dead cats?

In fairness, it’s two to one here in the Fortress of Attitude. As the inhabitant with the most compos in my mentis under this roof, I am the driver of the clown car that is our lives, struggling to keep this freak show on the road, veering more precariously toward the abyss on either side of the mountain of our collective lives. Picture that early Disney cartoon in which Mickey and Goofy are driving a car pulling an airstreamish trailer.

I think as we age, darkness at the edge of our vision creeps slowly in, narrowing the focus of our thoughts the same way that twilight shadows gather at the end of day, narrowing our vision into a gathering darkness. We can’t think as fast, or as broadly as we did in youth. Our awareness shrinks to exclude first the “complicated” plots of Law & Order episodes, then our ability to distinguish between actual “news” on TV and the garbage that spews from the talking heads purporting to be “opinion.” Next, we can’t distinguish between news and infomercials for exercise equipment, or Big Pharma ads for the latest prescription drugs to cure us of invented diseases like restless mouth syndrome. We have to have things explained at least twice. We gradually lose the ability to pursue imaginative flights of creative and interesting fancy to such heights as those we scaled with youthful energy and vision. In the end, our universe shrinks to fit the surface of our own bodies like a loose fuzzy bathrobe: we lose all sense of charm, ability to make pleasant conversation, all consideration, grace, not to mention habits of personal hygiene and polite table manners.

Eventually, we can’t talk or even remember what happened. We talk aslant, we contradict, misremember, and are overtaken by blind paranoia. We are reduced to the status of roommates in the same madhouse. So, happy new decade everybody. Let this decade go.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

UCC: Did you test your fasting blood sugar this morning?
DOB: Yes, of course.
UCC: What was it?
DOB: I don’t look, I just write it down. I don’t remember.
UCC: Well. (checking) it was 97 today, and also yesterday morning. Do you know why you take your blood sugar?
DOB: Yes…. To write it down. Sure.
UCC: Actually, you’re supposed to pay attention to what it is, and more importantly to eat something if its below 100. Did you eat any breakfast?
DOB: No. I don’t usually have breakfast. Just a cup of coffee, and maybe some toast. But I usually get up around six to feed Sandy. He’s a good boy. Then I take my second nap…
WISIMH: …And the first would be when you slip into a coma caused by low blood sugar?
DOB: …. Then I might have some coffee or maybe a piece of toast.
UCC: Diabetics aren’t supposed to skip breakfast. Here, drink this juice. Remember we talked about this before…
WISIMH: … about a million times. You are a champion idiot. But in all fairness, I’m an idiot too for continuing to be surprised at your surpassing stupidity. And speaking of the stinking undead, I’ve been dreaming of the zombies again. I don’t always escape when they chase me, but I’m beginning to think that might be for the best. Last night, I dreamt I won a spelling bee and the word was exsanguination. That makes us both champions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where’s a Half human/half bull when you need it?

Here’s what I have done for the past two weeks. It feels like I’ve been lost and wandering in a maze, while suffering from sleep deprivation and too much caffeine.

Our latest adventure began with DOB’s latest trip to the emergency room in the wee hours of the night. DOB is now safely back home and in the embrace of her loving family, where her caregivers now spend our “waking” hours each day stumbling around in a walking coma feeding her, negotiating her moves from bed to chair and back, emptying a commode chair in which most (but unfortunately not all) of her piss ends up in the bucket, coordinating with a gang of home health people checking her blood sugar and blood pressure (which, of course, we now do before each meal, so who needs them?). In my free time, I try to negotiate the maze of federal, state, regional and community “resources” for either in-home “personal care” (i.e. changing 3X adult diapers, and providing personal hygiene services that would be burdensome enough if the patient was an anorexic dwarf, but which in this case involve a patient whose flab and folds equal the mass of approximately 3 morbidly obese dwarves.

Prior to our recent venture into the dark, I elected not to do any of this in advance, preferring instead to use my energy to plead that TCG pay closer attention to managing DOB’s blood sugar (he didn’t), or to lobby that he take her ailing 80+ pound dog with the open sores on his appendages to the vet (he didn’t).

In retrospect, this was stupid of me. Now, not only do I have to do all the research, record-keeping, and bureaucratic wrangling, pre-paid funeral arrangements, etc. I have to do it while TCG huffs and puffs in my ear and tells me how much he appreciates my help. The fact is that I’m better at this than he is, but the prospect is more daunting than trying to negotiate King Minos’ labyrinth. At least in the labyrinth Deadalus had the delightful prospect of eventually encountering a minotaur who might mercifully tear off his head and slurp his neck like a popsicle, thereby putting an end to his suffering.

Thanks to the magic of Medicare and Secure Horizons we have all these worthless home care services like a nurse who can take blood pressure and blood sugar readings twice a week and copy down from our three times a day log of same. Nursing services we need like a hobo wino needs a glass of chocolate milk. We now also have a physical therapist and an occupational therapist twice a week for the next two weeks. Like DOB is going to be able to get into her shower stall and actually clean between her fat folds as a result of such therapy. What we do need, and have desperately needed all along, and asked each health care professional who stops by, is somebody to bathe her and change her clothes a couple of times a week. But although rumored to be afoot, we’ve seen no evidence of yet. Thus, the funky unwashed smell continues to marinate and evolve almost to the point of self-awareness. Wait: maybe this is how zombies are made.

Should I succeed in completing the application in for Medical (aka Medicaid in California), and should she qualify, and should we then spend down her savings to the point of impoverishment, we might be able to find a Skilled Nursing Facility (which Medicare and Medical might pay for if we assign the facility her entire Social Security check, and if her primary care doc prescribes as medically necessary) or an Assisted Living Facility (which they apparently won’t pay for, but which ironically is actually cheaper than the SNF and more appropriate to her needs) me and TCG might get a life back and our marriage might survive. Otherwise, let’s hope there’s a minotaur there somewhere, maybe back behind the stacks of new adult diapers and plastic-lined bed pads, or behind the trash can that contains said products after marinating in urine for a day or so.

As it is now, I’m stumbling through the waking nightmare my life has become and wondering how much longer I can keep my actual emotions and thoughts shut down enough to keep from screaming “shitfuck” while hitting my roommates upside their heads with a shovel. Last night, after making her dinner and serving it in her room only to find out all she wanted for dinner was another pain pill, she began for the gazillionth time to demonstrate where the pains were and how they were moving around from front to back or whatever. Without thinking things through first, I said “I don’t…” and almost finished what wanted to say “…give a shit”. Instead I managed to finish: “…think it matters where you pain is. The vicodin will find it”. I then drank too much coconut vodka, had an unsatisfying fight with my husband, and went to bed.

Yup. Need that minotaur.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Swing and a Miss

DOB fell over the other night. We awoke at 2:30 to the sound of her air horn calling us for help. We called 911 for lift assist.

It took until about 3:30 for the ambulance crew to persuade us to take DOB to ER for an x-ray, and for us to persuade them not to also take TCG because of his breathing, gasping, chest-clutching and general dramatics.

Me and TCG finally left the ER about 8:30 the next morning, having taken the doctor’s advice to admit her for further tests to figure out why she fell. Of course the irony here is that stupid isn’t a valid medical diagnosis. Nor, it turned out over the three subsequent days, does it show up on an MRI, a Cat Scan, or in a blood test.

Three nights (four, if you count our vigil in the charming ER suite) in a hospital room turns out to be not only the max her insurance covers, but it’s the minimum needed to disconnect her from any remaining semblance of reason, sanity, continence, coherence or awareness of anything but her moving aches and pains. The x-rays show a broken rib which is probably new, a tiny fracture on T6 which is probably old, and some tiny blood clots in her "brain", evidence of TIA events that are probably also old. Her stinky dog, staying in our side of the house during these nights, had kept TCG up with his whining and crying. As for me, I took a vicodin and slept like the dead.

We’ve been back home for 3 nights. First night, she speed-dials TCG at 12:30. Assuming she’s fallen again, we rush in to find she just wants another vicodin. (Note to self: find out if you can somehow hook a “clapper” up to deliver pain pills on demand.) Between calls to/from doctors, hospital follow-up, and social workers, physical therapists (!) and pharmacists, I went through some of her files to find evidence of regular payments to two different insurance companies, with no information whatsoever about coverage.

Calling for copies of policies, information on claims and surrender values is interspersed with grocery shopping, cooking her meals, testing her blood sugar before each meal, changing her clothes, and emptying her commode chair bucket has taken up the three days since she’s returned home. We’ve also had visits from the home health care nurse and a “placement specialist” who told us we’re pretty much SOL for getting her admitted to a skilled nursing facility or an assisted living facility based on the amount of her Social Security check. I overrode TCG’s offer to subsidize her check by about $1k a month to keep her in a facility. I may have to work for free, but dammed if I’ll sacrifice a big chunk of our meager fixed income to pay for somebody else to wait on her.

Turns out my strategy to expect TCG to take care of these matters was a mistake I’ll be paying for by having to empty her bedpan and change her diapers until the next time she hits the floor. We also learned that she doesn’t use the shower any more because she can’t step over the four-fucking-inch ledge. She gives herself a sponge bath using the kitchen sink and dish sponge and presumably the dish soap, but you’d be forgiven for guessing she doesn’t use soap based on the stench she exudes. And don’t throw up picturing the dish sponge washing her fat folds because the evidence shows she probably doesn’t actually use the dish sponge to wash her dishes anyway. The home health care nurse asked me why I didn’t give her sponge baths and check her diaper rash, and I said it isn’t in my job description. At the time, I was on my knees, trying to pull up DOB’s diapers after a rash check, but I don’t think the nurse appreciated the anger in my voice. I’d rather pick up the used toilet paper DOB drops on the floor after using the commode chair: this apparently is in my job description.

The silver lining is that I learned that the next time she falls over, we will get her to the ER immediately, insist that she be admitted to the hospital, and then simply refuse to take her home. Because I didn’t ask the right questions, make the right noises and/or wear socks that match my sweater, we missed a great opportunity to get her out of the house. I’ve got 2 weeks in the unofficial poll for the next time she falls. Tell Santa I’ve been a good girl.

Friday, December 11, 2009

American Sign Language of Prophecy

Brushing crumbs off your chest can be reversed into the ASL sign for “happy” by brushing up instead of down. If you always make a practice of making your last crumb-brush in an upward direction, you will be telling all deaf people in your line of sight that you are happy. And, I propose that this will make you actually become happy in some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way. It might also make you less concerned about the crumbs that always end up on the front of your shirt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Philosophy of Plumbing

TCG: Just to let you know, I stopped up the toilet this morning. Pretty impressive.

UCC: Ahh, thanks. I think.

WISIMH: And here I was, just musing about Jacques Derrida’s speculation that civilization is not so much about sameness, but about difference, and hello, you come along and gobsmack me with a report about plumbing problems that makes me lean my head sideways like a confused dog trying to translate your meaning when what he hears always sounds like blah blah blah.

Anti-word of the day: heterogeneous
Composed of parts of different kinds; having widely dissimilar elements.
You like ka-ka conversations which makes us a heterogeneous couple, since I prefer existentialism and philosophy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fondue and Fon-don’t

DOB is wasting away, if you can consider short and somewhat less fat wasting away. She says she has no appetite and no longer cooks. Her blood sugar was again in the range of 68, about half of what her doc says is a good place for her. So, instead of making and serving her more soup – the only kind she wants is mush, but I’m tired of blended butternut squash and blended leek and potato soup. Instead of more soup, I made fondue.

DOB: What’s this? (holding up a bite-sized piece of broccoli)

TCG: Broccoli. You put it on your fondue fork and dip it in the cheese fondue, and eat it.

DOB: (Tasting some and finding her single tooth (#23) is not up to the chewable challenge, sucking all the cheese off of it, daintily fishing it out of her gob and handing it to TCG) Here, I don’t like broccoli.

TCG: (Taking the de-cheesed broccoli.) Ok

UCC: Careful. She’s already tried and rejected that piece.

TCG: Maybe the dog will eat it. (He re-forks it and re-dips it in the fondue. The dog too, sucks all the second coat of cheese carefully off the broccoli and then rejects it) Then again, maybe not.

WISIMH: Gaaak! Is there no line of manners and civilized eating you people will not blithely cross?

UCC: (I then watched in a sort of heart-stopping horror as DOB speared two pieces of bread, dunked and swirled in fondue pot, only to remove and eat one piece. Looking inside the pot) Yup: there’s a few orphan bread and veggies in here.

TCG obligingly rescues the lost veggies and bread from the now-steaming fondue pot with his own fondue fork.

DOB: What’s this?

TCG: A piece of sausage, like a slim jim, only bite-sized. You may have trouble chewing it.

WISIMH: And I may have trouble watching you spear and dunk it in the fondue pot, gum it, drool, fish it out of your mouth, re-dunk it, and feed it to your dog. On second thought, that’s probably better than watching you try to get TCG to eat it after you have failed in your attempt to do so. Any food cooked “al dente” in this house is doomed. What was I thinking serving raw veggies? She can’t even chew a mushroom. On the bright side, perhaps this is the foolproof diet I’m looking for. I have somehow lost my appetite.

DOB: What’s this?

TCG: It’s broccoli, you stick it on your fork and…

WISIMH: I must not listen to this blather. Their unique table manners put the "eck" in eclectic, and their eloquent and informed dinner conversation (sic) inspires in me the most inarticulate musings about what can be done with a piece of raw broccoli. I meditate about whether there might be some action I could take that could awaken in them the same unblinking, train-wreck-watching horror I experience sharing fondue with them and the smelly dog. What could inspire in them the equivalent disgust-provoking flights of fancy about my own table manners? Let’s see. How about if I took my own fondue fork, rotated it gently it in my ear to collect earwax, then speared that hapless, pre-chewed piece of broccoli and dunked it in the fondue pot. As Homer Simpson would say, “Earwax and gouda fondue, mmmmm.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday DOB

"Mother, let me congratulate you on
the birthday of your son.
You worry so much about him. Here he lies,
he earns little, his marriage was unwise,
he’s long, he’s getting thin, he hasn’t shaved.

"Oh, what a miserable loving gaze!
I should congratulate you if I may
mother on your worry’s birthday.
It was from you he inherited
devotion without pity to this age
and arrogant and awkward in his faith
from you he took his faith, the Revolution.

"You didn’t make him prosperous or famous,
and fearlessness is his only talent.
Open up his windows,
let in the twittering in the leafy branches,
kiss his eyes open.
Give him his notebook and his ink bottle,
give him a drink of milk and watch him go."

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving: The Grateful Undead

Ah, thanksgiving. When we tell our family members we really love them despite their passive aggressive behaviour and their level of stupidity which surpasses the stupidity of my toaster oven. DOB had diarrhea, which I know because I was grooving to my iPod and working on my doll house when she wandered in asking if I had any Keopectate. No wait, Immodium. Whatever.
The next day was thanksgiving, but she didn’t want to join us for dinner. Here’s how that went.

UCC: We’ll be eating about 4 o’clock. Will you be able to join us?

DOB: Actually, no. I can’t get up, or else I just go like (moving both hands down and away to the righ quickly). It just comes out like water whenever I even stand up.

UCC: Thanks for the detailed report. Maybe if you stood up, it would all come out and be over rather than rolling around inside your gut. Would you like me to bring you in a plate of food?

DOB: No, because whenever I stand up, I…(hand motion, but this time down and to the left) and I haven’t eaten anything all day, except I’m drinking water.

UCC: Hmmm. Nothing going in but liquid, and nothing coming out but liquid. I wonder how you could go about remedying that? You say you haven’t eaten all day? You should at least drink some juice so your blood sugar level doesn’t get too low. Remember how the doctor said diabetics shouldn’t skip meals?

WISIMH: Remember any good knock-knock jokes? Ahh, yes, the one about what happens whenever you stand up. Reasoning with you is like trying to explain the second law of thermodynamics to my cat. Reasoning with you when you have low blood sugar is like trying to explain the second law of thermodynamics to a dead cat.

So, I reported this to TCG, but he took no action despite my concern about how when her blood sugar gets too low she tends to fall over and foul her diaper. Later, he took her a plate with some butternut soup and a gob of mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. Later:

TCG: She took her blood sugar and it was 64. So she took a sugar pill. Wasn’t that smart?

WISIMH: And then you did another blood test to see if she’s still in the stupid zone and encouraged her to eat and/or drink? Told her not to take insulin which would bring the number down ever more? Told her to eat something solid, like, say, fiber? No, of course you didn’t you moron. Much better if we wait to see how this all comes out.

TCG: Well, isn’t that good? We can’t do anything right?

UCC: Don’t go there.

WISIMH: Do something right? Do you really want me to answer that honestly? Ok. I wanted her son to take charge and implement some common-sense measures that will prevent the need for me to wipe shit off her fat ass later, and consequently, the need to increase my prophylactic dose of alcohol.

TCG: Seriously. You’re mad when she doesn’t take your advice to eat, and then when she eats a bit of food and takes measures to raise her blood sugar, you’re still mad. What do you want from her? What do you want us to do?

UCC: You need to drop this subject now. You don’t want to be asking me what I think we should do with your mother.

WISIMH: Breathe. Breathe and keep your mouth shut. And visualize a Spring meadow covered with yellow flowers, a starry night sky, a deep dish of apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream, anything but that hand motion about what happens when DOB stands up. And whatever you do, don’t waste your breath trying to explain how whenever DOB does something stupid, TCG frequently makes it worse. Breathe. Happy Thanxgiving, everybody!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Here's to Good Times

Tonight is Kinda Special.

We're all about supporting small local businesses. Passionate. We're at the Greasy Chinese food buffet next to the Days Inn Adjacent to Route 8, with rows upon rows of tables with steam trays filled with three kinds of pudding next to the macaroni salads, or anorexic crab legs next to grey dough balls labeled dim sum and six kinds of fried rice. Our fellow diners look like they shop at Wal*Mart and/or live at homeless shelters. We fit right in, even though English as a First Language is hella optional here and we're not wearing beer paraphernalia or sleepwear or anything marking us as cowboys.

DOB: This food is good, they have everything I like.

TCG: And it’s cheap too, about $25 per person, including this amusing little $20 bottle of cooking wine labeled Pis Du Chat '02.

DOB: Yeah, I don’t know why people go to more expensive restaurants when you can get this kind of good food so cheap. And you can get as much as you like. We could spend the whole day here.

WISIMH: (Contemplating the prospect )And that’s not even taking into consideration the scintillating conversational topics which include such old favorites as how good your mangy dog is, how you were up all night, and how we “need to go to the store” for you (which we "need" like we need an ice pick in the ear. As much as I like the crab legs, I also enjoy chicken wings coated in dark red 30-weight sweet grease, and fresh spring rolls that you could also use as chocks to level your motor home on your front yard. And plus, I like to eat at restaurants where they have tablecloths).

UCC: How’s J? (your daughter in Florida who calls every day) Has she called today?

DOB: Well, she’s tired at the end of the day, so she usually just comes home from work and gets into bed before she calls me. Sometimes she’ll go out with one of the other girls for a sandwich.

WISIMH: (To myself) This is conversation #4. You already know the script, why do you do this?

WISIMH: (Back to myself) Well, because the other options are equally disappointing. We could have had conversations:
#1 - Sandy is a good boy…
#2 - I just tell him I’m going to the store and he lays down by the window to wait for me…
#3 – this food is good. They have everything I like…

WISIMH: Yeah, but there’s always the chance you can spark The (always entertaining) Mystery Conversation. The one where she tries to talk about some news story she saw on TV but which ends up as a game of 20 questions as you try to figure what the fuck she’s talking about.

(Begin dream sequence in Vaseline focus with scary music like a disco Star Wars medley or barely recognizable cover of Cindi Lauper’s Time After Time in a minor key by Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Rod Serling Voiceover (RSV): The mystery conversation usually begins something like this…

DOB: J said we’re wrong about shootings in Florida. Fort Hood is in Texas…
He was trapped on an ice flow with three polar bears and a condom. In the day room eating prunes. If I had a knife, I’d cut you...
Garlic mashed potato recipes from the Civil War have always been a matter of great curiosity to me, which I can trace back to the food I enjoyed so much as a child at the dawn of the Age of Fast Food: the best nouvelle cuisine fusion of What Mexicans Who Have Scurvy Eat and Pan-Asian-Thai smug things with too much msg, on vegatibles and fruits in suspiciously tropical varieties, with a sprinkling of roasted garlic. And why, accordingly, today, many patriotic citizens see gay marriage as a threat to the institution of monogamous marriage between a hypothetically straight man and a (ditto) woman as exemplified by some of the best fallen christian preachers. Salt to taste of your own tears and top with a sprinkling of majnoon (crazy) …
As Antigone said, to Electra, on Oprah, you can bend over and kiss your ass goodbye, Bitch, or was that what Oprah said to You? I’ve put up with your smartass crap with as much patience as I can muster between diaper changes, and what do I get? More smarmy ironical bullshit, pardon the execrably bad pun. I’m old and senile. I get it. Let’s move on…
If our intertwined lives together had a subtitle, I nominate:
An Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times with Some Wackjobs
Look Who’s Fallen and Can’t Get Up And I don’t mean Lily
You Need to Do Something for Me. Can you guess what? Me neither.
We put the fuck you into dysfunction
The Story of the Founding of Duchebagonomics by the Family that Personified the Term
Who ARE These People Anyway?

You get the idea.

RSV: But mystery unravelling isn’t the only fun. Try to cover up the smell of piss with too much cheap perfume, have dinner where this fragrance marries with the odors of a saltwater tank of Garabaldies, seafood just beginning to go off, and burnt trans-fat-laden oil byproduct and corn syrup. Hilarity follows as the sea follows the moon above. Well, not quite so steadily, you understand.

(End Dream Sequence effects)

Insert standard ‘Goodnight-John-Boy’ scene and fade out to happy ending. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Name That TV Show

TCG: (Walking in from the TV room) Thought I’d visit you.

UCC: (At computer) Well, hi.

TCG: There was a commercial.

UCC: In what?

TCG: In what I was listening to.

UCC: What were you listening to?

TCG: So I didn’t have to listen to it.

UCC: What TV show were you listening to before the commercial?

TCG: Oh. Heavy metal something like.

WISIMH: Duck! Here comes Abe Simpson’s gathering darkness. Such diminished conversational capacity that it could probably rise to the level of a successful defense against a charge of acting with premeditated passive aggression. We still make each other laugh, but that doesn’t make up for provision of mutual solace and support as we approach the scary door. I wish that that which will not kill us will make us both stronger.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

“My Whaa?” A Scary Tale in Two Acts

(Dinner at Iraqi restaurant named for a Quintessentially Southern American city in Georgia, with upscale Current Gen Martinis with sweet liquor added for the little ladies. A handicapped parking space steps from the door, dinner for 2.5 people.)

TCG: Did Mother tell you about her memory?

DOB: My whaaa…?

TCGL Your memory. How it’s been improving.

DOB: Oh yeah? Oh, yeah! I’m making more sense than I was, before, you know, after, when I fell and hit my head? Much better memory oh yeah.

WISIMH: Hyperbole is such an overused word these days. It’s a shame, really because then, when a situation comes along that seems to advance the very postmodern definition of “memory” as including the brain as some epheremal sprite, which tends to desert us in old age and whatnot. And such as. Query: Is another overused word passion? As in, “I’m passionate about my new French manicure,” or “About my new diet that starves your shrinking oxygen-starved brain into a tiny walnut-shaped shell of its former self?" Amid such existential musings:

TCG: … It could be the vitamins your taking too, right?

DOB: My whaa?

TCG: The supplements from Life Extension?

DOB: Oh yes! My Vitamin 12

TCG: Right! Your Vitamin B 12

WISIMH: Seriously? That’s the best ya got? My vision is blacking out at the edges, narrowing into a hallucinatingly alternative universe where there was liberty, and justice, and Vitamin 12 For All. Under frickin’ god. And I’m an atheist.
Query: They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Which, of course, they’re wrong. But notwithstanding the foregoing however, staring insanity in it’s cold and trembling watery eye before the first martini kicks in? Would that make an atheist pray for god, for death, for those Japanese knives on QVC? Personally, I’ve found my own god. I’m a Frisbeetarianism. I believe that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A (not so) Cynical Look

“In conversations I more and more often catch a puzzled expression on the other person’s face, an eyebrow raised questioningly, a slight frown on the brow. I am increasingly obliged to stop and add a footnote. “I was joking. Sorry…”
There are two possible causes of these misunderstandings:
a) I have changed, alas, and I am slowly moving towards the pathetic prospect of an old age spent making boorish and foolish social gaffes;
b) I have not changed, but the world around me has, so my message increasingly misses its target, or at least so it seems to me.
Both possibilities equally threaten my relation to the world. And if that relation is not improved, my position may soon become completely isolated.”
- Dubravka Ugresic, Thank You for Not Reading, “Come Back, Cynics, All is Forgiven!” (1997)

Neither possibility frightens me. I have stared into the abyss and it has stared back and spit in my face. My relationship to the world is deteriorating. Look World, I need some alone time. It’s not you, it’s me. Isolation is not unwelcome most of the time – Mommy likes her alone time. But sometimes it gets lonely in here, mainly when my roommates are in particularly challenging manic and/or depressive states.

But what the hell. It’s only life, and mine isn’t so bad here with the L’Stranges. At least they’re not robbing liquor stores, conspiring with terrorists, kicking dogs, babbling ominously, writing screenplays, appearing in police-chase videos, or setting fire to their hair. And if some might say that is cynical, I prefer to say po-TOT-o.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trash Crusade

TCG: I’m going to take a couple of trash cans down to the curb. I wanted you to know, in case I didn’t make it back by Tuesday.

UCC: Don’t worry. These days, the trash is picked up early Tueaday afternoons. There will be plenty of daylight for them to spot your body.

WISIMH: Ooops. I said that out loud.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Moby Dick and Lemon Drop Martinis

Dinner w/DOB and TCG at fancy sci-fi place decorated like the bridge of the Enterprise, lots of gauze curtains with gold thread. Wine, who wants wine with dinner? Give me a raspberry lemon drop vodka martini, and give me some bread and butter, and make it fast.

DOB: mutter mutter, mutter.

TCG: We can’t hear you. You’ll have to speak up.


UCC: That’s better. Thanks.

WISIMH: Hurry up with the martini, Brittney.

TCG: (To Brittney, as she hands UCC her martini) I could take you away from this: dinner, a movie, a weekend in Acapulco.

Brittney: (To UCC) Does he always do this? Hit on the waitress?

UCC: Yeah. Why do you think I wanted the martini so urgently? I’ll take another martini, please. (To TCG) Best waitress reply, ever.

WISIMH: Have I ever mentioned I hate when you hit on women when I’m sitting next to you? Oh yeah, only about a zillion times. You dick.

DOB: What do I want for dinner? I’m not really that hungry. I want spaghetti and meatballs.

TCG: They have macaroni and cheese.

DOB: I’m not really that hungry, mutter mutter….

UCC: (Reading menu) How about chicken parmigian? You can get a side of macaroni and cheese.

DOB: Ok, but as you probably know, I will have completely forgotten this by the time Brittney comes back with the bread and butter, so you’ll have to remember, and when she asks me what I want, I’ll look at you completely mystified and that will be your signal to order for me.

OK, she didn’t really say that. What she actually said was lost in the spittle and dribble, as she daintily sipped her pink wine, and stared in hella surprise at the bread and butter that had magically appeared out of nowhere. Let’s see now, whose diarrhea shall we talk about first….

TCG: How’s Sandy?

DOB: He’s a good boy. I just tell him I’m going to the store, and he goes to his bed and lays down to wait for me to come home.

WISIMH: Ahhhh, THE scintillating dinner conversational topic. It’s not like we haven’t covered this ground a million times either. Why does my life totally feel like Groundhog Day?

UCC: What do you think about the symbolism for homosexuality in Moby Dick? Does the very book’s title suggest a phallic preoccupation, do you think?

Brittney: Here’s you (second) martini. And no, I don’t think the title foreshadows the many men-on-men relationships. I think it refers more to Ahab’s fatal obsession, and how there’s a tipping point where the classic heroic flaw, e.g. Achilles’ heel, overtakes a man’s soul and he goes over to the dark side.

Busboy: (removing my first empty martini glass) Actually, I think it’s an allegory about the conflict between good and evil, with a bit of an oral fixation involving Ahab’s pipe that might suggest either fellatio, or a dependence on tobacco to face the ugly reality of a one-legged whaling ship captain’s life. In my Master’s thesis, I focused on Melville’s treatment of race and class, and concluded that the author wasn’t a fan of racism.

TCG: (To Brittney) You’re working very hard. Here’s my 25% off coupon, but be assured, your tip will be based on the pre-discount value of the meal.

Brittney: Oh, be still my beating heart. What a good man you are. Your wife must be so lucky to have you.

Ok, I made up most of the above conversation. I maintain that the world inside my head is often more interesting, lively, stimulating, and funny than the stuff that happens in the actual world, even after two raspberry lemon drop martinis and a glass of pinot noir. I also admit I haven’t read Moby Dick since high school, although I’ve been halfway through re-reading it since, approximately 2002, but I can’t seem to overcome the inertia to get back to it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Circle

What’s worse than waking up in bed with a blurry black and white photo of a one-armed man, a post-it note that says “Warning: zombies will eat your br---” four feet of braided twine with a tin can on one end, and a handicapped parking placard?

I’ll tell you what’s worse. Waking up with a premonition of doom, opening your eyes and staring into the green eyes of a cat who is invading your personal space, smelling your morning breath, and purring ominously. How can a cat’s purr be ominous?

I’ll tell you, how a cat’s purr can be ominous, and by the way, remember that my mom says cats don’t have souls. Purring cats are ominous only in retrospect when, at the end of the day, you realize the cat’s blank eyes dramatically foreshadowed the subsequent realization that your day turned out to suck worse than a draining bathtub when only the hair-infused grey soapy scum is left.

My day also included the near-death trip du jour, with a driver whose skills are declining sharply. This was after a dinner or waffles in which TCG poured 4 Tablespoons of HFCS on his waffle. Did I mention, he’s hypoglycemic. Usually his post-dinner sugar crash coincides with is post-dinner nap on the couch and no harm is done. Last night, it happened like a kick to the back of his head, halfway to Spring Valley to pick up eggs. Clammy sweats, woozy head-shaking that could easily be mistaken for a swoon of love. He made it to our destination. I drove home, amid rumblings of diarrhea .

I went to my happy place where there were no conversations about practicing my skills at fellatio or other metaphors about sucking. I made myself mad crazy cranberry vodka martini with enough tomato juice to make me feel like a youthful werewolf, at twilight, drinking the blood of a young virgin goth boy, with facial piercings and a blue-hair dye-job that would outdo my Grandma’s blue hair circa 1965.

We must have had angels on our bumpers as I drove home in the dark with only the light from my white knuckles reflecting TCG’s shiny face, scrunched into a rictus of cruciatas curse. Kidding. We do have the saving grace of growing old together, still making each other laugh, bugging the crap out of each other, and getting the heck over it. Whether it is for better or for worse, we’re in this together. And what could be worse than that? I’ll tell you what’s worse…

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Putting the “Say What?” in Conversation

TCG: (Returning home after smoking his daily cigarette running his daily errands). They wouldn’t give me the certified form when I went there.

UCC: A foolproof plan? An airtight alibi? A Little context? A fucking clue what you’re talking about?

WISIMH: As Jane Austin might say, I have not the pleasure of understanding you. As Herman Melville might say, No smoking in the parlor, and no suicides. As Sister Merciful God in Heaven might say: why have I wasted my life as a bride of Christ when I took a vow of chastity and masturbation is a mortal sin? As Raymond Chandler might put it: Your ramblings make as much sense as a frightened chicken in an orange jumpsuit. As I simply say in my head: what the fuck are you talking about?

TCG: The hearing aid people. They need you to come in first.

UCC: Ahh, you’re saying they won’t give us the hearing aid insurance form unless they can see and inspect my aids to be sure they exist before they insure them against loss.

TCG: Touching the tip of his nose with one hand and pointing to me with the other: What you said.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Counting the Interruptions: An Amusing Game

Yesterday morning I decided to play a new game. Here’s how it began:

UCC: Good mo-

TCG: Come here and look at this….

The game is to count the number of times TCG interrupts UCC in a single day. Let’s play along. This should be fun, particularly since we had to go out in public to run some errands, and that is always its own form of adventure, albeit often with some creepy details best left to the imagination of someone like Clive Barker.

Driving often provides opportunities for interruptions because there are so many shiny things to catch TCG’s attention. To try to catalog each interruption du jour would have required either a tape recorder or a court reporter, both of which are against the unwritten rules (query: since I just wrote the rule, is it now no longer unwritten?) of WISIMH. Some typical examples will have to suffice.

UCC: What does Jamacha mean in Span-

TCG: do you realize that building over there has a red roof?

UCC: When we get home, will you pl-

TCG: When we get home, I’m going to take a nap.

Now, UCC has a strict policy of never resuming an interrupted sentence once the interruption subsides. I could give you several reasons for this, such as it’s not worth the trouble to try to have a conversation, or I was just trying to make small talk to get TCG to use his words, but mostly this policy was instituted because I was pissed and remaining silent avoided what might be considered felony assault no matter how justified.

UCC: I’d like you to glue these dog refrigerator magnets onto so-

TCG: They’re broken, right? Here’s one of the missing parts.

UCC: (Yeah, I know about the rule not to resume, but I actually need him to do something, so I persisted) Indeed, that is the missing part of one of the magnets for one of the refrigerator dogs. Notwithstanding the foregoing however… (when I was a lawyer, that was one of my favorite verbal flourishes) …as I was saying, I want the dogs glued to something else, not to the missing magnet that would enable them to resume life on the refrigerator door.

TCG: Why didn’t you say so?

WISIMH: That’s already the fourth interruption of the day, and I haven’t even made coffee yet.

UCC: I might have said so if you had refrained from interrupting while I was trying to explain.

By the end of the day, I had cataloged 17 interruptions. Exactly two of these required me to violate the (now written) rule about not resuming when I’m interrupted. The first exception is set forth above. The second involved reminding TCG of one of the stops on our route of errands that he seemed to have forgotten:

UCC: You just turned right. Don’t we want to go left to get th-

TCG: I’m just trying this shortcut because I have to pee.

UCC: Good to know. However, I thought we were go-

TCG: I told you I had to pee when we left the grocery store.

UCC: Thanks for the updates re peeing. But I thought we were going to swing by the post office to mail the Netflix.

TCG: I wish you’d told me this before I turned right back there.

WISIMH: I wish I had a nickel for each interruption. I’d probably make ten bucks a day. I also wish I’d learned the Rule Against Perpetuities in school, but I could never get past the Doctrine of Contingent Remainders. Had I done so, my life might have been filled with joy and peace and bunnies, instead of becoming a shipwreck that left me beached with you amid the empty packing crates once filled with all my dreams.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If I Ruled the World

WISIMH: These days, you can’t take two steps without tripping over another war being fought by one or another global schoolyard bullies for ideologically stupid reasons. Now that the aging populations of the dying global superpowers are so last-century and decadent, we no longer have ideologies worth fighting and dying for. We can, however, send our own poor and uneducated cannon fodder; or fund client states with younger and stronger populations to fight and die on our behalf. That we got rich from raping them and their resources is just one more factor that tips the balance from sad to genocidal.

So, I was pondering these heavy thoughts this morning over my iced coffee with lots of heavy cream. Then, I sat down to detail my cogent observations about how the world is going to hell and how I’d fix these problems if I ruled the world. You may be asking yourself, what makes me different from millions of other bloggers with opinions and idealistic plans to solve problems ranging from climate change to road rage. (Or, maybe you’re asking yourself how did I get here?, but that's another post). Well, me - because, I’m special. If only I added my advice to the world about how to solve problems, things would be better, trust me.

Here’s an example. If I was in charge, the lady in front of me at the green light yesterday wouldn’t have kept her foot on the brakes and waved a car out of the ahead of her from the freeway exit to our right. I would have explained to her that right turn on red thingie still gives us the right of way if we’re going straight and our light is green, you imbecile.

But, here’s the thing. If I was in charge, the world would only be better if I had some enforcement authority to back up my sage advice. You can’t just issue advice (let alone fatwas against bad drivers) and expect people to listen, particularly if you do so on your blog, Facebook, or if you tweet the deet. I mean, who listens to Aston Kucher already? Heck, people don’t even pay attention to Suzanne Summers since her mansion burned down.

I heard somebody deny they were racist and call Prez Obama “uppity”. That’s like claiming to be a Christian and killing abortion doctors. Crazy, right? I think the world needs me to mediate disputes between those who fear and distrust facts and those who rely on them to operate. I think I should have been entitled to walk up to that lady’s car, open the door, smack her on the back of the head, and tell her to think next time. And notice how I haven’t mentioned she was Asian. That would be, well, racist, which, of course, I’m not.

Here’s another example. In surfing the innernetz the other day looking for signs of intelligent life, I stumbled upon a random blog that explained in the “about me” section, that among other jobs, the blogger had once worked as a “domestic violence advocate” which doesn’t seem to me to be something you should brag about. It’s like including the info that you’re a registered sex offender; a retired porn star; or a racist, or bragging that you drive like an Asian on Ambien. (Apologies to all my Asian friends who can drive. Wait… never mind).

WISIMH: If I ruled the world, I’d make everybody grow and eat at least one vegetable per growing season. I’d make an exception for AIDS orphans who are too busy keeping the flies off their baby siblings’ eyes and boiling muddy water for dinner. Wait, I’d probably solve the problems that led to them becoming struggling orphans living in a house made of mud. Then, I’d tell them to stay in school, not do drugs, and raise and eat at least one vegetable per growing season.

Or, in the alternative to fixing the world, I thought I could go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep for another hour. Tough call, but as you can probably tell from the way the world is still fucked up, I opted for the extra sleep.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Famous Last Words

The purported last words of Karl Marx were: "Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.” This is a particularly rich contrast with the purported last words of Pancho Villa: “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”

Given this, it’s advisable to have something ready in case you realize in a sudden moment of clarity that you have only moments to utter your own last words. I’ve given this some thought recently, and I have a pretty good idea of where I’ll end up. My last words are probably going to be something like this:

"I got a new bracket for my oxygen tank yesterday, mounted on the wall of the trailer near the plasma tv. The best part about it is that now I won’t risk knocking the tank over on my can of diet Pepsi every time I reach past it for some nacho cheese doritos, and plus, there’s room on the bracket to balance my ash tray so I don’t have to worry about starting a fire by flicking my ashes into an adjacent trash bag. Best of all, my cats also seem completely uninterested in climbing on the wall bracket and marking their territory, deterred most likely by the barely audible hiss where the hose doesn’t quite snap tightly into the tank. So, now that my life is perfect, I’ll just sit back, tune in Oprah, and light up this here Cigarillo…"

At least my loved ones can console themselves by saying I died doing what I loved.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ship of Fools Hits a Submerged Reef

I was roasting tomatoes to can. TCG left to smoke a cigarette to get lunch. I was in the process of grinding up the lovely sticky mess, which has to be done in batches in the food mill. (Note: this stage in the process also involves a glass of red wine: I self medicate during happy hour) The house phone rang. I almost didn’t get it. But, I did. It was about 4 PM on a lovely September Sunday afternoon.
UCC:   Yellow.
TCG:    Will you please go check on DOB? J just called me in the car. She has been trying to call DOB all day but she doesn’t answer her phone.
UCC:    Hold….
WISIMH:    O my god the stench in here is overwhelming. The white wale is indeed beached, rolling on her side on the kitchen floor. The beginning of a lovely Sunday September evening.
UCC     (As I return to the kitchen phone, iTunes playlist, apparently having evolved the iPod shuffle option into some interactive Artificial Intelligence, is playing Ship of Fools. Ahhh, Jerry.)
                       Oh yes. She’s down by the kitchen sink. Seems to be ok but pretty incoherent. I’ll get back to her. Assume you’re heading home. Bye.
DOB:   I don’t know what happened, I was trying to get up to go to the… but I didn’t make it.
UCC:   Not too important about the fall. Pretty obvious about the not making it. What happened after that? Where did you fall? When? How long have you been down?
WISIMH:   (During the following game of 20-questions, in which we negotiated some version of what actually might have happened, I had plenty of time to go to my happy place inside my head, from where the following musings took place.)
                     And why did you crawl across the room, leaving your freaking cell phone by your bed where you first fell, not to mention why is your walker halfway between you and the bed? And see those pressurized air horns strategically placed on the floor by your bed and your dresser? You had to crawl past two of them to get over here to the sink where you decided to spend the day. The emergency air horns were placed around the floor so you could summon us if you stupidly didn’t use your walker, and stupidly fell, and stupidly couldn’t reach one of the 3 house phones, your cell phone and couldn’t, it goes without saying, pick your own fat ass up. Or why didn’t you use the air horns to summon us several hours ago, like if you were a teenage boy at a high school football game, or a new Associate of Arts in Risk Management at your community college graduation ceremony.
UCC:     (Slurring her words like a sloppy drunk or an incontinent old woman with a blood sugar it later turned out was 210, and by the way, that’s after not eating or drinking all day, which means it was probably much higher when she fell) 
                     I don’t know what happened. I was over by the, over there by the, and I was going to g…
                     (insert what, if you understood it to be a thoughtful pause, you couldn’t be more wrong)
                     And the next thing I knew… I didn’t make it.  That was after I started to make my breakfast. I don’t know…
WISIMH:     I can smell the didn’t make it part from two rooms away, even over the lovely garlic and roasting tomato smell. So, you’ve been here for almost 8 hours. Incontinent. How charming.
UCC:    So, let’s get your diaper off, and I’ll put this towel under your butt. Help me lift now…
DOB:    (Heaving while she lifts her butt)
                     I need to go to the bathroom but I didn’t make it. I don’t know what happened. I must have fallen.
UCC:    (Cringing)
                     Not important now. Here’s your cell phone. Answer it and talk to J who is calling again.
DOB:    (Making less than no sense talking to J, wandering around in the endless loop that unravels when a giant dose of low blood sugar is added to dementia, and incontinence is involved)
                     …my pajamas are in the… by the…. I don’t know what happened…
UCC:   (Taking the cell and talking to J)
                     She’s ok, but let me get her upright and cleaned up and we’ll call you back.
                     (Calling TCG)
                     What’s your ETA?
TCG:     (In that oh-so-refreshing way he has of ignoring and interrupting me)
                     Just to let you know, I’ve taken Abuterol and a couple of Tums.
Later, TCG arrives, huffs and puffs into DOB’s room. She’s been on her ass, leaning her back against the kitchen sink, with pillows and a stool to support one arm. Note: if not propped, DOB tends to list sideways from sitting to slumping.
The list eventually turns into a collapse exactly, if you’ve ever seen one, of a what geologists call a long-run-out avalanche in which huge boulders behave as if they were drops of water in a stream. This is quite likely what happened when she made her fateful run for head.
DOB:    I was trying to go to the bathroom blah blah
TCG:     huff, puff, whooo, whoo, blah blah
UCC:      (Handing DOB some juice, and TCG his soda, which he left in the computer room when he stopped to rest on his way in from the car to DOB’s room)
                     You’ve got to drink this. You’ve been on the floor since you were starting to make your breakfast of peanut butter on bread and you’ve had nothing to eat or drink all day. You’re dehydrated and your blood sugar is probably too low. I’ve got to get back to the kitchen (remember, I was canning roasted tomatoes). You guys just sit there and settle down and I’ll be back in a few minutes.
TCG:   (Later, Returning to our kitchen, leaving DOB propped up on the floor.) 
                     She has to go to the bathroom and I wanted to give her some privacy.
UCC:    Did you get her onto the potty chair?
TCG:     No, I gave her the bowl from the potty chair. She’s still on the floor…
WISIMH:    Did you consider the physics of how she’s going to get her pee etc. from between her legs into the plastic bowl? Did you consider that she’ can’t lift her ass off the floor? Oh yeah, and that’s she’s completely incoherent?
TCG:     … I wanted to give her some privacy.
UCC:     (bringing a bowl of soapy water, a wash cloth and towel and cleaning up the necessary places on DOB)
                     Ok. You sit where you are. I’m going to lift the potty chair over you to the other side. Then, I’m going to put the bowl back into the chair. Then I’m going to get TCG and we’re going to get you onto the chair.
DOB:    (We tried several times to explain what we were going to do, we really did. But she’s not only incomprehensible, she’s not receiving any better than she’s broadcasting. And who can blame her? That would be UCC. Finally, watching TCG and UCC mime how we’re going to bend her knees, put her feet flat on the ground, each take an arm and haul her onto the chair) 
                     That would be a good idea. I was going to the bathroom when I fell. I don’t know what happened.
WISIMN:    No Shit? But wait, do you know what happened?
DOB:    (After she’s sitting on the potty chair, having been hauled in several stages to that point, managing to lift her filthy dress and get a towel over the most disgusting parts)
                     I don’t know what happened…
UCC:     Here’s the thing. I have tomato paste to can. First I have to sterilize my hands. The jars are sterilized and I’ve got to fill them and get them into the canner. I’ve got pasta cooking, and sauce, and garlic bread. It so happened I was making a killer dinner as well as canning. I’ll return and get that done. Drink your juice.
DOB:     (After I’ve managed to push her (thank god) wheeled potty chair next to her bed, removed her filthy clothing and put on a nightgown (on her, not me), soaked up the worst of the nasty stuff on the rug at the foot of her bed (remember, she was trying to get to the… and didn’t make it when she fell, and it’s been marinating in the shag carpeting all day) cleaned up the dried blood where she smacked her forehead in the course of falling)  
                     I’ve moved the handle hanging from the chain over your bed. Grab that, and try to stand up. I’ll aim your butt at the bed, and we’ll get you in. I’ve put a towel over the sheets.
WISIMH:     Actually, mostly a wordless scream, and then the lyrics to ship of fools.
Later, after DOB has been given a Vicodin and tucked into bed, sitting in the living room, drinking my second martini, eating delicious if cold pasta, and watching the 1958 movie Long Hot Summer on TCM, and explaining plot changes and characters to TCG who couldn’t follow a trickle of water downstream with a mission plan and a trained guide.
TCG:     I don’t do so well under stress.
UCC:     No shit.
WISIMH:    Your judgment is almost as impaired as hers, and your inability to move the empty potty chair indicates more than a weak pulmonary condition. BTW, excellent cold pasta, eh? Not to mention the idea of giving DOB a vicodin so she won’t wander around at night.
TCG:     Can you get me a pudding cup from the fridge?
UCC:     So you want a pudding cup, do you? You know, we can’t always get what we want. I wanted a pony.
TCG:     And I wanted a walk-in humidor.
UCC:     (getting pudding cup for TCG and vicodin for self)
                     It sucks to be us, but at least we can self-medicate. Here’s your pudding cup, love.
TCG:   Wanna do it?
UCC:   I’d really prefer not to. (paraphrased)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Daily Fiber

This is what happened when we went to the grocery store together, the third stop in a delightful trip to the pet store for cat litter, and the medical supply store for XXX adult diapers for DOB, so in fairness, TCG was late for his nap and had already walked over 100 (!) steps.

TCG: (White knuckles grasping the bar of the shopping cart, leaning over and gasping for breath) What’s on the list?

UCC: (Turning right heading toward the item) Fiber.

TCG: Ignoring UCC and, pursuant to the dictates of Brownian motion, and wandering off in a random direction.

Rendezvousing improbably at the fiber section of the vitamin aisle.

UCC: How about these psyllium capsules, much easier than the gunk stirred into a glass of water?

TCG: What else is here? (patiently waiting for UCC to read the labels and explain the difference between “cleanse/detox” and generic Metamucil)

UCC: In the best impersonation of Sister Teresa, the Little Flower, soul of patience, reading the entire shelf. Aloud. Slowly.

TCG: Looks like the psyllium caps are easier and better than the powdered stuff.

UCC: Think so? Ok.

WISIMN: Hilarious, and I just never see that coming! I explain. You decide. Which is one of the typically, annoyingly, clinically insane things I love about shopping with you.

UCC: (Reading the next item on the list, as TCG turns, amazingly, in the exactly opposite direction. Calling out wistfully to TCG’s retreating back) I’m going this way to get A, B and C.
(Duly finding said items and staggering off looking for TCG with the shopping cart, several aisles away, out of earshot and with his back turned, inviting himself to join the conversation of some passing strangers.)

WISIMN: I have arrived at this point in the universe where Irony met Cynicism, fell madly in love, became an unwed mother, and Parody was born. Do you ever why is it that the best stuff is that which may cause drowsiness? Or, why I could never watch that meercat show after Shakespeare died? Or especially why I find solace by crawling inside a water pipe and insisting on roasting tomatoes while the outdoor temperature is in the 90s? (Aromatherapy).

UCC: Ahhh, I forgot to bring in the grocery bags. While you’re unloading and paying the cashier, I’ll run out to the car and get them. Returning with the grocery bags to find half the groceries already bagged in plastic, TCG having not mentioned to the cashier about me bringing in the recycled bags.

UCC: (Impatience bleeding through like brown crusty blood on a badly bandaged amputated leg) Ummmm…

TCG: (Innocently) What?

WISIMH: Going out in public with you reminds me of my attempts to furnish my first cramped apartment with freeway furniture – it takes almost infinite patience and lots of driving; and even then, the result may end up smelling like some strange cat’s piss. If today had a subtitle, it would be Today: as long as an alcoholic blackout, as shallow as a cookie sheet, but with the rich aromatherapeutic fragrance of a complex cesspool. If today was a metaphor it would be: when grocery shopping, TCG is as helpful as a snow plow in a monsoon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Today’s errand/excuse for smoking is to go to the pet food store for Sandy. Who, is Sandy?

Sandy is a 400-year-old dog (in dog years) who is as animated as Rowdy on Scrubs, and considerably more vocal, especially in the middle of the night. He weights about 300 pounds (in dog pounds, heh) and has a bit of arthritis making it hard for him to stand, sit, move, lay, and making it impossible for him to roll over unless you were to roll him into a rug and kick it down the driveway.

Sandy lives with DOB (remember: food is love) and he’s the alpha in the pack. One of DOB's recurrent Tourette-dementia phrases is: Sandy's a good boy. That this creates no cognitive dissonance in DOB's little mind is another indication that there is no cognitive left to dissonate.

Sandy has a skin condition. Probably resulting from his diet of 1 part of dog food to 4 parts of people food, keeping in mind that a balanced people meal back there is a starch, starch and a starch, unless I cook for DOB, which I often do out of pity. Then there’s about .5 parts of dog bones made up of the most hyper-allergenic ingredients known to Big Ag and made in China (150% of your minimum daily requirements of lead). Sandy gets a bone to reward him when he stops barking at dead people – or whatever the hell else it is that he sees that we can’t see – and has thus trained DOB to give him a “cookie” whenever he feels like it. This happens between 12 and 380 times per day.

But the skin condition. Well, for exercise, Sandy eats himself, and, surprise, that is bad for his skin. He licks his front and back legs, butt, flanks and wherever else he can reach, until said spot bleeds. The open sores are somewhat mobile, depending on where and when DOB remembers to apply “medicine.” Medicine can range from actual OTC hotspot remedies, Vaseline, vinegar, generic brand Nyquil (!) and whatever else DOB’s daughter (who, I remind you, knows more than you think you do about any given subject) suggests. We can’t take Sandy to the vet because “he always charges $400 whenever we take him in.” It’s probably just a coincidence that vet bills are high when we persuade DOB to let us take Sandy to the vet because that has happened twice in almost 20 years. Yes, a coincidence. Besides, on any given day, those running sores are "going away" anyway.

Besides, he’s not in pain. What I think is his crying – a sort of squeaky moaning interspersed with violent licking – is merely his way of joining the conversation. Which, has a certain kind of logic given the types of conversations we have with DOB.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hide and Seek

“From the list of things (Vladimir) Nabakov bragged about never having learned to do – type, drive, speak German, retrieve a lost object, fold an umbrella, answer the phone, cut a book’s pages, give the time of day to a philistine – it is easy to deduce what Vera (Mrs. Nabakov) spent her life doing.” Stacy Schiff, “Vera” (biography of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

I’m doing laundry in the laundry room. From several rooms away:

TCG: Mumble, mumble, think I found the mumble mumble you were looking for.

UCC: Dropping the laundry I’m working on, and heading down the hall for the computer room. Nope, I didn’t hear you from the laundry room, but I don’t see you in here… so I’m going back to the laundry room to finish what you interrupted.


WISIMH: As much as I enjoy playing 20 questions to guess what the fuck you’re talking about, I’m too tired to play just now. Have you even the remotest clue that this is rude, annoying and possibly a motive justifying, if not first degree homicide, possibly sufficient to mitigate punishment for old-manslaughter.

UCC: Thanks for the 4-1-1.  Well worth the interruption and running around and whatnot, but I’ve got to be about My Father’s Business.

TCG: I told you I was at the kitchen table!Mumble, mumble, blah, blah…

WISIMH: But we don't have a kitchen table! I thought you meant the counter and stools in the kitchen, but apparently you meant the dinning room table. My bad. I’m going to interpret the mumbles to mean you’re abjectly sorry for being such a lazy dope – never moving farther than your own shadow all day while I do laundry, pick up the place, clean the kitchen, mop the floor, eat my heart out with bitter regret, and cook dinner. It’s like we're Parody and Cynicism and our child, a bitter postmodern overeducated thirtysomething named Irony, has now flown to greener pastures, leaving us with an empty, increasingly fouled nest, populated by increasingly incoherent people who can’t seem to use their words. And you're sorry the pill you found was merely for high blood pressure, not cyanide. Yeah, I’m sorry too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Egg Night at the Crazyhouse

TCG:  Before we go for eggs, will you check in with Mother and bring her today’s mail, tell her we’re going for eggs, and ask if she wants us to bring her a parfait from Foster’s Freeze.

UCC:  Uh, okay…

WISIMH: I know you’re sick of her too, bless your little heart. Then again, she is your mother.


UCC:   (To DOB) We’re going for eggs. Would you like us to bring you back a parfait?

DOB:            No thanks. I’m in bed for the night.

WISIMH: Of course you are, bless your heart.

UCC: Would you like me to close the blinds?

DOB:            If you like.

WISIMN:             Then, I probably won’t bother, bless your little heart.

UCC:  Do you want me to close the…

WISIMH:  …fucking…

UCC:             ….shades or not?

WISIMH: I know you never ask for anything, thus justifying inside your little mind that you are indeed not the slightest bit of a bother to us. But you know what? You are. And you would be a butt-load less of a bother if we didn’t have to fucking guess what the hell you need, perhaps even as a matter of life or death. Much less of a bother.

DOB:            (Hating to be such a bother as to ask me to close her curtains) Okay then.

WISIMH:  And….. thank you?

UCC:  Ok, they’re closed. Have a good night. ‘Night, Sandy.

Later, on the drive to get eggs:

TCG:  How as mother?

UCC:  She didn’t want the parfait.

TCG:   (shocked)

UCC:            Yeah, she was in bed for the night. If you can call kitchen light on, laying on the bedspread fully clothed and covered with a ratty blanket “in for the night.”

TCG:            She thinks you hate her and you’re trying to steal her money.

UCC:             She’s half right.

WISIMN:    BTW, it may surprise you to know that I don’t hate her so much as I resent her. And the fact is, she’s stealing my money. Not to mention sending my spouse into ill health and an early grave. He is a 67-year-old man with COPD who has to sneak out of the house each day to secretly smoke a cigarette- the high point of his day, both pulmonarily and relaxatory. He doesn’t have the energy to care for himself, for all the aggravation you give him. So guess who does? Plus additional aggravation we both know I give him for being not wild about having lived with his mother in his house for every minute of our entire fucking 22 year marriage. 
Then there was that argument we never speak of where you shamelessly said you had to put up with my spoiled latchkey daughter during her terrible teens, and I replied perhaps you’d like to do the math on how long she was under your roof vs. Yo Momma.
I even admit I nurse childish fantasies about having you predecease her, and me giving her 30 days notice. I also admit to feeling catholic guilt about having such bad thoughts. But she’s such a demented pain in the ass. And having the two of you sucking at my soul and draining my energy like a teenage girl alone in her car in a snow storm, mashing her foot on the starter as you hear the battery turn over and finally emit that slow death-rattle of a drained battery. I feel like that girl’s car’s battery. I also fear getting old and crazy myself, but there’s not much time for me to wallow in such day-mares. Besides, it might already be too late.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Great Muppet Expectations: Adult Content

TCG: Listen. (Doing your best Milhouse impression with the inhaler) I’m taking albuterol.

UCC: I’ll alert the media.

TCG: I’m going down (a driveway with the distance and elevation change of two full flights of stairs) to get the mail. I’m taking my phone so I can call you, or maybe call a cab if I can’t make it back.

UCC: Well, if you call, use the house phone (here beside me) because I have my cat asleep in my lap and I don’t’ know where my cell is.

WISIMN: Actually, what I did was go to my happy place, which is greatly aided by having a cat asleep on my lap. I asked myself the question vis-à-vis Muppets: where are they now? Note to self, always keep a list of daydream topics handy, like that list of emergency numbers to call if reality suddenly turns ugly on you.

In case your lost recreational drug generation wasn’t spent watching the very early Sesame Street, you may remember that some Muppet characters were children when you were. So, you may be wondering how they did when they grew up in the real world, miles and miles from Sesame Street. To save you the trouble of trying to choreograph a lucid dream about where they are now, I share my vision.

Take the androgynous, mysterious dynamic duo: Bert and Ernie. Gay or not gay?
It’s been said they are meterosexuals™, but the plain truth is that they died before they ever came out. You may recall that Bert was clubbed to death by some White Supremacists who thought (sadly, incorrectly) that he was the guy who started the Stonewall Riot, aka the beginning of the End Times. Ernie’s fate is best not brought up in polite company unfamiliar with the appearance of a Muppet corpse discovered about six muggy summer months after an overdose of crack.

Beaker, for godssakes, what happened to Beaker?
Think about it. His fate probably depended on whether or not he was covered by Worker’s Comp. If you’re a socialist liberal Nazi, then Beaker is now blissfully medicated and attended 23/7 (sic) by his special care assistants in a lovely private home in some upper-class suburb you could never hope to inhabit unless you too won a personal injury lawsuit. If you’re a burnt out cynic who figures that Obamacare is a Bad Idea, and if Jesus Christ is your personal savior, then Beaker died of complications associated with untreated bedsores, exacerbated by the effects of years of chronic incontinence.

The prototypical, archetypical Imaginary Friend, Big Bird?
Dude. You’re a grown up now. Do you still have an imaginary friend? Big Bird was put on the Endangered Specious Creatures List during the Clinton administration. The reign of Bush II however, left us with more than thousands dead and continuing to die in an Imperialist Grab for Oil, a greater rift between the upper class and the proles, or an economy flatter than road kill on Route 8. Don’t you remember my best-selling expose, “The Big Bird Conspiracy”? Sorry, it’s no longer in print. I’ll summarize.

Following a warrentless wire-tap, a BB was tried in a secret FISA Court for plotting terrorist activities, including but not limited to: engaging in enhanced interrogation activities and brainwashing of innocent children whose own imaginary friends tended to be Illegal Avian immigrants; causing troubled adolescent nightmares of BB dressed in a TSA uniform and putting on rubber gloves, and thus requiring years of counseling; shoplifting at Starbucks; Identity theft; and associating with fellow travelers who are registered as independent voters and failing to cooperate with the authorities in his own prosecution.

So, now that we have all put away our youthful recreational drugs in favor of Big Pharma prescriptions and Internet searching for the drug that killed MJ, you can take it. Sorry to harsh your mellow. Dude, Big Bird is dead.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Calculon Cookie Sheet: The Sequel

The cookie sheet has been removed from the counter! This morning it was in the sink, with some cleanser rubbed into the burned up corner.

UCC: So, I see you're still trying to revive the Calculon coookie sheet. I thought it was dead, and I was going to take it outside to use on my potting table.

TCG: Yeah, do that. I can't get it clean.

WISIMH: Yet moving it from the counter adjacent to the sink into the sink was all you had the energy to do. The idea of actually taking it out to the trash or otherwise disposing of it would require initiative. And you've got the initiative of a tube of toothpaste.

In other news, I went into DOB's room to get her laundry. She's still sick in bed going into her second week with flu.

UCC: How are you doing today?

DOB: Blah blah, blah, still sick, blah blah.

UCC: It's already over 90, you should close the window and turn on your air conditioner.

DOB: I turned the heat on (in the faux fireplace) because it was cold earlier.

WISIMH: You did what you demented sow? It's going to get over 100 today AGAIN! If you can't close your window, at least don't run the freaking heat!

UCC: Well, it's going to get over 100 today again, so perhaps I could turn it off for you?

DOB: Well, I turned it on because it was cold earlier.

WISIMH: Which is as relevant as, say, telling me your dog is a good boy. BTW, did you notice he has more open sores on his legs, and don't tell me the other ones are healed, because there is always another new sore.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Breaking Cookies Sheet News

Since I last roasted tomatoes to can (Friday, August 21) one of the cookie sheets has remained on the kitchen counter, with a greasy scummy layer of soapy water, “soaking” to facilitate cleaning the caramelized remains. It has remained there exactly 7 days today.

UCC: I’m going to roast the tomatoes I got at the farmer’s market yesterday. What’s the status of the cookie sheet?

TCG: The cookie sheet cannot be saved. We’ll have to buy another one. I was going to take you to On The Table (aka, Sur La Table) to get a new cookie sheet. The Calculon (Actually it’s calphalon™ but we delight in calling it Calculon – the clueless movie star robot on Futurama – to the annoyance of Jim, the sales clerk at On The Table, who is apparently not a Futurama fan) I can’t get the old one clean.

UCC: Can’t I just use the old cookie sheet? I could use the silicone pad, would that help?

TCG: No. You need a new silicone pad too, I can’t get it clean any more. Can’t you use the stainless steel cookie sheet instead? That cleaned up easier than the Calculon sheet.

UCC: No. the stainless sheet is too thin and it’s bowed somehow so one corner lifts up and all the oil drains off and the tomatoes burn in that corner.

TCG: Well, I suppose you could use the Calculon sheet one last time. Don’t bother with the silicone pad, it doesn’t prevent goo from sticking under it, and it just adds one more thing to clean.

UCC: Very well. Rest in peace, Calculon pan.

WISIMH: Too bad all the heroic efforts to clean the Calculon pan failed in the end and the patient slipped into an irreversible coma. Pulling the plug on the Calculon pan one week to the day it was last used to roast tomatoes is a bittersweet experience. We had some good times together, me and the Calculon pan.

But what pisses me off most of all in this traumatic experience is having the damn pan sit on the counter for an entire week, in intensive care, so to speak, only to pull the plug on it. I truly hate a messy kitchen. It causes me real psychic pain to have to work around that stuff. Our arrangement is that you “wash the dishes.” I do all the cooking, cleaning counters, putting away dishes and sweeping the kitchen floor. I also do at least two loads of dishes while I’m cooking, leaving only the actual serving plates to be washed, which can happen anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after use. I also wash my dishes and cups from breakfast and lunch simply to assure I’ll have a clean coffee cup tomorrow. You’re a lazy slug and I’m getting tired of humoring you into thinking you’re carrying your weight wrt/kitchen upkeep.

TCG: I said you could use the Calculon pan one last time.

UCC: I heard you. I said I’ll use the stainless pan out of respect for the passing of the Calculon pan. It’s better to let it die with dignity than to use it one last time in it’s comatose state.

WISIMH: Besides, if I used the Calculon pan, the encrusted goo marinating in greasy dishwater for a week probably wouldn’t contribute to the tastiness of today’s tomato sauce. It’s like the circus left town, but you’re still here. Is it happy hour yet?