About Me

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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

blood is thicker than water...?

i am sitting here, at 3:49 am, staring at this photo of this gorgeous, desperate, complicated man. my father.

he clutches me in his arms like he'll never let me go.

and he hasn't...

tonight (this morning?), my heart is so full, i fear it might burst. my head is spinning post disney-teacup-ride my cuz and fam. recently rode.

i feel jipped.


i am finally getting to know my cousin, k. beautiful. strong. opinionated. educated. evolved. funny. compassionate.

and all this i was denied for so long.

sure, logistically, the minor detail of a flight from toronto to jerusalem stood in our way; but because of someone else's propaganda, i was denied access to a glorious, exhilarating spirit.


yes, folks, for all of henriette's yakking about "my friends are my family"; which undeniably they are; i have always detected a void; much like the way i can track cigarette smoke within a 2-mile radius.

access denied. "achtung, baby..."

[anyone else smell a protective mechanism in the air?]

then, last night, c. one of my 4 danish cousins.

laughter. instant connection.

thrilling in the way danish awkwardly rolled off my tongue. inhaling my gift of authentic, black licorice; savoring it like it the finest russian caviar...

and the the midst of this familial, sentimental haze; cedars slicing through.

"cuts like a knife...but it feels so right..."

"your high blood pressure is directly related to your swelling which is a result of the prednisone which also causes the bruising, and potentially your nortriptiline, which is possibly causing the sensitivity to taste and most likely the increase in your tremors, but, for now, the trade off is worth it because of the decrease in your headaches; so the 10 lbs. of fluid you have gained in 2 months should dissipate with the doubling of furosemide..."

[anyone else bored yet?]

"the head bone's connected to the neckbone. the neckbone's connected to the shoulder bone the shoulder bone's connected to the..."

you get the point.

like danish, it's a language i understand so well, but have difficulty relating to. crazy, nonsensical words and others that strike deep; gushing forth fountains of emotion.

"honor your body"...

deceivingly powerful in its simplicity.

sure, i came late to the yoga party, back in '05, but after one class, i was hooked.

physically, psychologically, emotionally; fab; but it was that one statement, uttered in but one class, that has stayed with me ever since.

have i always done that? no. but, who has?

the hypocrites who tread water in a swimming pool, double fisting an ale and a smoke, adamantly declaring on the exhale, "dude, diet coke, is sooo bad for you"...


or the ignorant, who slather butter and chomp on a red meat smorgasbord, uttering unfounded judgments about aspartame...


or the troubled, who starve themselves of nutrients in a dysmorphic haze, striving for unobtainable satisfaction...


or the addicted. diligently, eating their 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables, while frantically popping as many pills as possible...


we're all guilty of inadequacies. so, why does anyone have insecurities?

and, there they were. rattling inside me like the tail end of the most feared california snake. lying deceptively still. ready to strike out at the slightest provocation.

was i envious?

not of their beauty, or freedom, or opportunity. but, of the unintentional ignorance of the healthy. blissful for them. excruciating for us. for those of us left behind.

["you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"]

it bears repeating. trust me.

"honor your body".

but when i saw them, it was like a discordant phrase, the melody lingered and the dissonance faded away, and none of it mattered.

the bruising, and the puffiness and the bloating and the lethargy.

i am physically a shell of what i once was. but they still loved me.

what remains behind.

so here she is in all her glory.

because through their eyes i saw the best in myself. and through our tears and chatter and laughter, i realized the best of what family can be. supportive, understanding and unconditionally loving...

uncharted territory...

i haven't felt my father's clutch in over 30 years.

but this week, 2 of my cousins became blood sisters.



thank you for being mine. xo

Thursday, September 23, 2010

shooting from the hip

whenever i head off to an appointment at cedars-sinai, i always bring a laundry list of items to discuss.

i am nothing if not a pro-active, informed patient.

but, last night, i tossed and turned and barely hit r.e.m.. a head racing with worries; a heart heavy with dread...how to pay for the upcoming year of medical insurance? taxes? mortgage?

waiting with bated breath for approval from disability.

but, i forgot my list.

when i awoke, after literally minutes of sound sleep, i questioned feeling safe enough to drive. kevin had 2 clients, but when i called dr. dauer's, they told me 11 am was my only option until monday. glancing down at my legs, i knew it was a non-negotiable.

[pull it together, hennybird.]

sans coffee, salt, cholesterol and any other option that might have temporarily jolted me awake, like a crazy ol' broad i puttered under the speed limit, hunched over, glasses perched low; focused only on the answers i sought. the medical advice i craved. and the connection with dr. dauer that continues to inspire.

for the last 10 days, my blood pressure has been all over the place. much like a bouncing ball upon a roulette wheel..."where she stops, nobody knows"...my tremors have increased to the degree where i can no longer write. kevin fills out all my forms. but, it's the swelling and the bruising that has scared me. bruises spreading like a red wine stain across a white shag rug.

startling in its intensity. impossible to ignore.

and the swelling. it's begins in my ankles and spreads upwards through my calves. discomfort. periodic pain. vanity i refuse to succumb to. and fear. stone cold fear about what this all means.

for if this doesn't get under control soon, i will soon be facing my biggest fear.

not making contact with a tarantula in my kitchen sick. not nearly crashing on a plane in a denver tornado. not being in a total white out on the freeways of south dakota. and not thinking a strange man was standing, backlit, over my bed; when it was really just my husband.

peeps. i conquered all that.


i.e. hell on earth.

it's a good thing i'm married to one devoted dude. i recently discovered that for 2 male friends, kankles are a deal breaker. so sorry, k., your wife is currently working the kankle like it's the new "black".

[where is rachel zoe when i need her?]

but, when dr. dauer walked in, pain and tension etched across his face, it was much like the way i wear my heart upon my sleeve.


a private world become public.

and my issues temporarily dissolved.

dr. dauer immediately confided he had just lost his very best friend. and as my eyes filled with empathetic tears, i selfishly thrilled to the connection we share.

[let's discuss.]

what a good man k. is. why do so many marriages fail? the void he feels over the loss of his best friend. the death of my young father. the irrelevance of age. a loss. is a loss. is a loss.

so forgive me if my hackles rise at the ignorance of crystal-head, kale-guzzling, bohemians who unconditionally reject western medicine. not all doctors are ignorant to the balance east and west can provide. this is a man who has heralds medicine to be an art, not a science. he is not a numbers man. and when i supported, "you have lost an energy that can't be replaced", he acquiesced.

today. i comforted my doctor.

pride goeth before the fall, yes.

but, ah, it felt good to feel significant. valued. appreciated.

something i don't often feel anymore. but, oddly, in the hospital, i feel at home. i have felt that way since i was first diagnosed at age 13. is it some cryptic connection to my g.p. father who died so young? or just an environment i know so well?

i don't really expect my friends and family to keep track of the now 20 prescribed medications i am currently on.

that would be like expecting me to remember the date of their child's first steps; the size of their first poop...[although there is an incident with a poop and a mountain dew can that i won't get into right now..]

but, besides kmac, dr. dauer steadfastly remains in my corner. and despite his own personal pain today, his last words to me were..."are you going for the record for the world's oldest transplant?"

"that's my plan..."

when in doubt, shoot from the hip.

but, the possibility filled me with joy...

and so, we shared a laugh. me, despite the unreality of that statement. and he, despite unbearable pain. and somewhere in the cadence of our laughter we found mutual comfort.

so perhaps, in shooting from the hip, occasionally one hits a bulls eye...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

around the world in 73 days with bedstemor

i have always found it kind of sad when people count down the days to a perceived "big" event...

you know, the 'ol, "143 days until i go on vacation!"..."woo! hoo!"

once, at the post office, i caught an upside down glance at an employee's date book, and in large sprawling script, "the words, "THANK YOU, JESUS!!!", on her upcoming day off.


so sad.

["not that there's anything wrong with that"...]

there's nothing actually wrong with looking forward to things, hey, i love looking forward to bi-annually reconnecting with my canuck pals up in t.o., or clutching at tickets for the next "killers" concert in vegas. but it implies a dissatisfaction with your daily existence. a focus on the future, rather than the moment in which you are living.

but today, for this hypocrite, december 1st (my transplant evaluation day), cannot not come fast enough.

this was my day:

-got up @ 1:30 pm (went to bed around 4:30 am)

-washed some dishes, did some laundry, made some lunch.

-caught an impending migraine with an imitrex.

-passed out until 5:30 pm.

-awoke, bleary eyed, headache free(!), as the cali sun began to fade away...


the other night, i sat in the avis rental lot @ the burbank airport, waiting for hubby, when suddenly i heard the familiar pattern of an automobile's horn off in the distance.

"beep, be, be-beep beep...beep, beep"

the rhythmic noise stirring. suddenly, transported back to age 7. running from our toronto apartment balcony to the back bedroom window; pounding limbs and pumping chest. daddy's signature beacon resonating throughout the apartment as he turned from bloor st. west onto high park ave, and down into the underground garage. face pressed up against the back, bedroom window; heart skipping time at the sight of the old jaguar he loved so much as it floated underground.

"daddy's home! daddy's home!"

wee henriette, so in the moment, thrilled by every sight; every sound...

where do we go?

there was a time when i accumulated "self-help" books like a hoarder collects, well, everything. until i realized the irony of it all and abandoned the entire process...

["help me, help you...help me, help you..." to quote a movie i secretly love, but am forbidden to watch due to the non-negotiable tom cruise ban within our home...]

but, there have been a couple of phrases from those books that stuck with me over the years.

in debbie ford's, " the dark side of the light chasers", she wrote about your best quality also being your worst quality. for me, i realized it's honesty.

it has destroyed relationships and set me free.

she also wrote of an arrogance possessed by those who deny "negative" emotions. folks in a permanent soma state (a la huxley's "brave new world"); impossible to believe. for who are these people who never complain? are never depressed? are nothing but positive? have no regrets?

"he died of cancer, and never complained..."

really? REALLY?

cynical hen never believed.

["poor, poor, pitiful me...poor, poor, pitiful me "]

perceiving these guys to be fakers of the most ingenuous brand; unbelieving that anyone can truly live in the moment all the time...

until i looked right under my nose.


danish for grandmother.

literally meaning, "best mother".

what is so fascinating about having so much "foreign" family (danish, latvian) is that although so much literally gets lost in translation; so much is universally clear. one of the greatest moments of my life, was when bedstefar (my grandfather), remarked upon an oil lamp i had made for my brother. as i explained to n. how to properly burn the wick, my bedstefar, the quintessential strong and silent type, mumbled one of the most poignant compliments of my life...

"henriette is an artist"...

and there you have it. art and love transcend all boundaries.

despite the miles that existed between us. despite the language barrier. despite the generation gap.

he authentically understood who i was.

and i have always felt that way with my bedstemor.

around the time julia cameron's "the artist's way" was popular, there existed myriad ways of psycho-analyzing yourself. checklists, cross referencing, charts and graphs, unsolicited interviews with strangers...cerebral ways for someone to isolate an impression of you. somehow pigeonholing became le rigeur du jour of not just l.a. "wannabes", but the general public as well.

but one mildly, interesting exercise did strike a chord with me. the simple identification of the three most influential people in your life. and it couldn't be your spouse...and from those choices a trickle-down-spiderweb-effect was supposed to reveal insight into the choices you had made in your life.

turns out, it wasn't so simple after all.

i was never able to satisfactory pick my three. yeah, i admired the talent of meryl streep; the undeniable gifts of both dr. cardella (toronto), and dr. dauer (los angeles); the incredible work ethic of my "liberty street" gal pal, m.; the bottomless depth of my sister-in-law's heart...truly, so many qualities to admire in so many whom i love...

but bedstemor.

together with bedstefar, she took care of my brother and i for 4 danish summers, while our own nuclear family was self-destructing back in canada. she taught me discipline, gratitude, compassion and creativity. she would learn russian because she thought it was cool. she smoked hash in egypt in her 70's, just to "try" it. i have never heard her eat a meal without "ooh-ing" and "aah-ing" over every taste; every smell. she has been my lifelong inspiration to drag my slothful north american ass to the gym. she was a daily swimmer until her 80's and it's no small coincidence that became my sport of choice for many, many years. and her answer was simply..."you have to do it!".

no condescension. no judgement. just what she believed to be true.

these are the people who flew to toronto mere days after my '88 kidney transplant and "convalesced" with mum and i for weeks. these are the people who flew to toronto and settled in for 6 months, after my daddy died, purely to help a young, broken family of three get back on their feet. and these are the people who came may 27th, 1995, to my marriage to the love of my life, and have embraced him as their own ever since.

"they" say that blood is thicker than water. i say that's a bunch of hooey.

we are all individuals. some family rise up to challenges, and others stick their ostrich heads in the sand.

so when my precious bedstemor was suffering with kidney cancer, i heard of her laughter through her tears of pain. i read her nearly, illegible letters, always, ALWAYS spinning her situation into positivity. and secretly, i felt an even deeper connection to this woman, who now also only lived with one kidney.

the other day we got an e-mail from my uncle. bedstefar is now 92 and blind. bedstemor is 90, blind and can barely walk. but last year they went on an overnight trip to sweden. they remain the only marriage i have ever truly admired. and on my wedding day, she spoke the truest words of my marriage...

"of course, bedstefar and i have been mad at each other over the years, but we have never gone to sleep without giving each other a loving hug...".

they still hold hands. and when bedstefar teases her, she giggles like a schoolgirl.

never in my 41 years, have i witnessed a better example of living in the moment.

so when k. read the email describing how she occasionally gets a little depressed, my heart broke but a little.

for how can she not? and oh, how i understand.

so, yes, there is a part of me wishing these next 73 days away, so i can get on the transplant list, already. but there is a part of me that needs to stay here. in these moments. with her.

this. i can barely write.

she has been the greatest influence on my life.

may we all have a bedstemor.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

the road not taken

the other morning i woke up to a stream of dried blood on my face.

not entirely surprising. i just completed an intense 6-day round of methylprednisolone to get the infections on my fingers under control. with even less of an immune system, the constant sores in the corners of my mouth became inflamed, crusted over and apparently cracked open.

good morning.

this aesthetic blip was followed by my disability appeal meeting. yup, i was declined in may for disability because "although we realize that you are unable to perform your past work, however, based on your age, education and work history, you are still able to do other less physically demanding work activities."

god bless america.

really? REALLY?

i sleep 10 hours a night. my hands shake so badly from tremors that kevin has to fill out all my forms. the medications that aid in prevention of migraines make me drowsy and unable to safely drive myself long distances. they also cause me to fall asleep for about an hour and a half every afternoon. i am living with 10% function of a 67 year old kidney.

[my wedding ring doesn't fit my swollen fingers anymore.]

[ouch. my heart.]

so, who the FUCK is going to hire me?

i suppose it is no coincidence that i started to get a migraine that afternoon, as i did the last time i had a meeting with social security. there is a horrific indignity in being asked to prove that you are sick.

in the 5 minute meeting, the "psychiatrist" asked me questions like, "what day is it?", "what season is it", what county are we in?". shockingly, i did struggle in answering these questions. exhausted, disoriented and unfocused. alien like.

now outside, post-interview, the "ugly cry" consumed me. reaching for my partner's hand. embraced. comforted. how, HOW had my life come to this? feeling like a beggar at the side of the road.

["hey, buddy, can you spare any change?"]

so i asked myself, why did this bother me so much?

it is hard, so hard, to ask for help. to lay down your personal gauntlet of pride and surrender to current circumstances. but then to be questioned, poked and prodded as you lie on your back, arms and legs splayed...

how i'd love to retreat back to the land of "all-things-fab" in 1994. moi, a vibrant, employed actress, completely self-sufficient. these were the days when even i took my health for granted. a luxurious blessing that most will never appreciate...perhaps, even myself?

tonight, i followed a bus back from burbank airport. literally down the street from us, we occasionally rent cars on as needed basis. on the back of the bus, was an ad for the remake of "HAWAII 5-0". it stars alex o'loughlin, star of "three rivers" and "the back-up plan" with jennifer lopez. alex and i screen tested together for the CBS hit, "NCIS". it was a two-day affair (not literally), and he was charming, delightful and authentic about his work as an actor. we were in contact by e-mail for a wee bit, and i am nothing but thrilled for his success.

and yet.

yeah, i went there.

there are days where i just don't get it. {please. most days i don't get it.}

and for some confounding reason robert frost's quintessential "the road not taken" popped into my head.

[and god bless the internet...]

as i read and re-read the poem it struck me that it wasn't an endorsement of non-conformity at all, but rather an acknowledgment of choice.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."

there is nothing in this poem to suggest that the "difference" was a positive choice. the repercussions of his choice lie in the future.

i think we like to live under the illusion that we have control. but this is something that was dispelled for me a long, long time ago. we can make choices, but then we have to let go. there is no such thing as security. there is no such thing as control. i believe we comfort our selves with platitudes like "everything happens for a reason". it's a security blanket to wrap ourselves in, when things don't go according to plan.

i am in the middle of doing our taxes. it's a tedious affair both being self-employed. i have to go through every single receipt of the past year and determine what can be deducted. it's always a trip down memory lane. less balls-to-the-wall road trip to vegas and more the monotony of a drive to northern canada...

but, it's a revealing process. identifying choices we made through the year, based on financial limits.

kevin and i have an ongoing discussion for years. he has always believed that our lives are predestined, but, i, i cringe at the prospect. no true contribution to your own life? no matter what your choices your life will end up the same?

so instead, i believe, yes, we have choices, and we can change our fates. but maybe it's not as literal as the "diverging two roads" that robert frost presents. maybe it's more our perception of what happens along the way. our reactions. our interactions and our courage.

the truth is, i have never understood anything that has happened in my life. anything that we perceive as "bad". why did my father die so young? why did my amazing career come to a grinding halt? why am i living with someone else's organ in my body?

it would break my heart to think i chose the wrong path...so maybe. just maybe, it's not the path we choose, but how we choose to react to the path we're on...

and that makes all the difference...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


i never thought i would draw parallels between myself and michael jackson.

but truth is stranger than fiction...

tonight, with my IPOD on shuffle, one of the classics "wanna be startin' somethin' " kicked in. irresistible...

[omg, i am labeling songs as "classics" now. SIGH.]

as i cranked up the volume and bopped around the kitchen washing dishes, i hearkened back to a particularly triumphant moment last summer.

my sister-in-law (you might as well drop the "in law"...she IS my sister) and family were staying in a hotel in glendale, visiting so-cal/us after building houses for the needy in northern mexico.

[yes, these are the folks all kids should have as role models]

my pinch hitter, 80's music-partner-in-crime, s, ("officially" my bro.-in-law) were debating where rhianna sampled her hit, "don't stop the music" from, as it played as background music to our sushi dinner.

{my designated hitter for all things 80's, l, lives in toronto}

[mmmmmmmm. sushi.]

beyond a shadow of a doubt i KNEW it was MJ. dudes, do not challenge me. i am master of all things 80's. seminal years.

so when we returned to the hotel, post-dinner, s. found MJ on the internet and blasted him throughout the hotel room...

it was just one of those moments. ya know, one of those that makes life worth living.

as i gyrated around the suite, transfixed by the beat, my niece, 6, and nephew, 11, looked upon their auntie hen with a healthy mixture of awe and disgust. but i, i was transported back to age 15. with my newly shorn crop, as hubby affectionately referred to as "peter pan" (so sexy), the chorus kicked in, and i felt young, healthy, beautiful and fearless...

"Ma Ma Se,
Ma Ma Sa, Ma Ma Coo Sa
Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa,
Ma Ma Coo Sa"...

victory was mine.

but life, she ain't so black and white (to appropriately quote another MJ smash).

what a breeze life would be if all things were black or white. but it isn't.

it comes in shades of grey.

perhaps it began the other night. my soul brother, t, of the dead organs (trust me, we laugh over this), were pontificating upon the merits of having children. he has one. i have none. not dogma. children.

again, i digress...

but as i wonder from time to time, "am i missing something by not having children?", in the most evolved and impressively balanced of fashions, he pointed out the obvious.

it's great. but, it's not.

and i amended. [fluffed?] yes. there are trade offs to everything.

["it's black, it's white"]

nope, MJ. it's grey. it's gray. 'tis yin/yang.

one cannot exist without the other. but we all exist somewhere in the middle.

back in '99, i felt the need to revisit the-ghosts-of-high-school-fairy-tales-past and went to see my ex's mum. she was an amazing force in my life at the worst time in my life. suffering from end stage renal failure, and with my guy far away in a cherry-picking land called indonesia, she welcomed me, heart and soul, into their home. with videos and compassion, she embraced me and my situation without judgment. just love.

so, in '99, when she inquired as to whether or not i had considered chinese herbs as an alternative to my immunosuppressives, my heart sank but a little.

for i understood that the gravity of my health is something most people will never understand.

["Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"...]

but, this is where i get a bit nutty.

if YOU want to supplement immunosuppressives with chinese herbs, go right ahead. i am not going to fuck with the formula. i love guinea pigs, but i don't want to be one.

there's a sphere in which i exist that thankfully most people will never experience. the tedious agony of lethargy. the monotony of popping pills. and the limits against which i simultaneously fight and try to accept.

but my major frustrations lie within the aesthetic.

look, i'm a pro.

i know how to look good if the need arises. but it doesn't mean i feel good.

it means i WANT to feel good.

much like MJ, presumptions are drawn based on what i look like.

with his clothing, lifestyle and plastic surgery choices, tabloids fed fodder to the masses, insinuating his imbalance and ridiculousness.

i'm no rock star. but it seems to me that gossip is sooooo much more interesting than the truth.

and the truth is probably that MJ was a lonely, isolated, undisputed genius, surrounded by "yes" men, and found escape with drugs.

it's an old story, but a sad one.

but i get it.

when you find something in all the loneliness that works, you use it.

when you already feel destroyed, what is left to destroy? just enjoy.

but, of course, that only works for so long. and in MJ's case, not long enough...

so as i nervously take an ambien, heath ledger style, to try and conquer my insomnia, i am aware.

aware this is not a dress rehearsal. this life is not a pretty picture. it's moody, maudlin and dark. but, it's also shimmering, silver and translucent.

shades of grey.

and, thankfully, grey looks just fabulous with my strawberry blond locks...

so, i'll take this grey life.

because like the MJ documentary that left me so melancholy, yet uplifted...THIS IS IT.

this is it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

kidney, interrupted

and to think, this all begins with my thumb.

["fie, fi, foe, thumb..."]

being immunosuppressed for almost 29 years now, i am no longer surprised by the maladies that often strike this physical shell of mine. this is not to say i don't get irritated; it's just unfortunately become par for the course.

and as "THEY" say, "it could be worse"...

bite me.


today k. and i had the most delightful reunion with family friends down in anaheim @ downtown disney. although i am self-proclaimed abhorrent of all things disney, wild horses couldn't have kept me away. good food; better company.

laughter and smiles.

but walking from parking lot to established meeting place, i felt a startling weakness in my stride. yes, low on kidney function, out-of-shape, bloodstream engorged with toxins galore, but this sensation was new. a weakness unidentified.

a desperate sob. "k. i am so weak"...but, with a simple grab of my hand, he made all things better.


dropping him off @ LAX for the last stand in the "summer series" of piping events; i buckled down tight for the long, long, long drive home.

["did i mention it was long?"]

the 405 on a friday afternoon. no place i'd rather be...


but being stuck in traffic gives one time to think; dare i suggest, reflect, if the right soundtrack plays in the background.

and it did. so i succumbed. tears streaming down my face, and all.

[i am an actress, guys...]

yeah, i may have snowballed just a wee bit, indulging myself in a little self-pity; so tired of having discomfort in some form or another all of the time.

and most recently, it has been my thumb.

as ridiculous as it sounds, i have been to the doc 3 times over an infection on my thumbs and fingers. at first, it was suspected to be a staff infection, then gangrene, back to staff and now eczema. all i know is that most of my fingers have cuts and/or bumps and cause me a daily, moderate amount of pain.

and then the laundry list swirled throughout my head:

-fungi i have had under my nails since 2002
-intense bruising
-facial rash
-mouth full of canker sores
-bleeding gums
-swelling of my face
-body bloating/swollen ankles/legs/digits
-painful mouth sores that prevent me from opening wide (that's significant, folks. think about it.)
-muscular tremors
-difficulty urinating
-10+ hrs. sleep a night/daily naps

AMENDMENT: substances to avoid:
-NO caffeine
-NO salt
-NO alcohol
-NO cholesterol
-NO painkillers
-NO smoking [in the bus shelter!]

["don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?"]

but then, suddenly, what flashed through my mind was a laundry list of an entirely different kind.

years, ago, i auditioned for the film "girl, interrupted", for a role that eventually went to brittany murphy; who, incidentally, is now dead from suspected misuse of drugs.

[i don't care what the press release says]

much like the hype that currently surrounds the casting of "lisbeth salander" in "the girl with the dragon tattoo", every hot, young thing in hollywood clamored to be a part of this film that angelina jolie won an academy award for.

but it wasn't that film flashing through my mind.

it was a documentary i caught on HBO about 6 months ago entitled, "boy, interrupted" about the suicide of evan perry. age 15.

evan perry was a young man, suffering from bipolar disorder. officially diagnosed @ age 11, but suspected since the age of 6, when he was placed on prozac. after several years on lithium he convinced his parents that he felt strong enough to discontinue the drug. one night, after a fight with his mom, he typed out a suicide note on his laptop, threw himself down an elevator shaft in their building...

and died.

evan had a laundry list of an entirely different kind.

what he had typed out on his laptop was a simple pro vs. con list of reasons to live and reasons to die.

5 of each.

it still makes my heart ACHE.

and as his psychiatrist brilliantly articulated, "that was the true definition of insanity"...

not what we see depicted in movies. the frothing at the mouth, rolling eye portrayal that brad pitt attempts in "12 monkeys". or jack nicholson's manic hairdo/crooked grin/gimpy limp down the overlook hotel's hallways in "the shining"...

but rather, evan's eerily pragmatic approach to death. a non-partisan approach to life vs. death. watch his story and you will never be the same. it made me want to hunt down tom cruise and his ignorant, judgmental attitude toward psychiatry and mental illness, and bitch slap him and HIS glib mouth a few hundred times...

and somewhere between the 405/118 exchange my laundry list of maladies faded from view.

and yet, i DO believe that pain is relative. i always have. i always will. and if your most traumatic experience is a bad haircut, well, goddammit, that's valid. and i feel your pain.

but evan.


you made my laundry list look about as relevant as that dumb ass movie i once auditioned for.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the real world

i admire my husband very much for the delicate tightrope of diplomacy he walks while shooting his clients.

he balances right wing republican propaganda, moving quickly past disgusting omissions that clients have had to "get rid of their dogs" because they shed...or ridiculous information about the canadian health care system, i.e. "death panels"; like a fucking pro.

again, i admire this dude.

but he's keeping the peace. understanding that neutrality is the strongest foundation upon which to build a strong business...

but, as for me...

one benign day, i came into the kitchen while kevin was editing in his office, mid-shoot. i introduced myself to his client and explained, "yes, i used to act, but all i can focus on right now is staying healthy"...

with a puzzled expression he asked, "oh, really? that's all you're doing?"

insecurity immediately pricked my hackles skyward. and like a bloodhound, i instantly sniffed out a challenge.

and so i explained that i had between 10-15% kidney function remaining; 22 years+ post renal transplant and would soon, most likely, be on dialysis.

his response, with a titled head and condescending look was," YEAH, i'm not really a FAN of dialysis...but everyone has to pursue their own journey..."

you've heard the term "my blood boiled", right?...well, consider my bloodstream a river of fire...

'member, the bugs bunny cartoon characters with steam pouring out of their ears?...well, picture the road runner with red hair and chubby cheeks...GRRRRRR....

["reign it in, henriette, reign it in..."]

it was all i could do not to rip this guy a new one; a 52 year-old man who was still bitter about his parents' decision to have his tonsils removed at age 5.

dude, cut the cord.

but, soon enough, i realized what a phony he was. admittedly "unclear" about what exactly the kidneys do, he still recommended a certain juice that could "cleanse" my organs. what he couldn't seem to grasp, is that when your kidney's filters are irreparably broken, they cannot do their job any more. and that condensed juices actually put MORE strain on a faulting organ. and as your kidney function decreases, the need to strip your diet of toxins that come in the form of "healthy" alternatives, increases.

but this guy, was clueless. and i had to ask myself why it bothered me so much.

primarily, i think it was his insinuation that i was blindly following doctors' orders, without an independent thought to guide me.

how dare he assume i had never looked into alternative therapies? acupuncture? chiropractic? healthy eating? exercise?...audacious, to say the least.

there is a quote that floats around, "ignorance is bliss...", i beg to differ. ignorance is insulting, destructive and insidious.

i am always blown away by a person's ability to judge a situation from an ignorant perspective.

DUDE, do you KNOW i am currently on 20 different prescription medications? drugs i have researched, discussed with my doctors and accepted as more beneficial, than harmful to the extension of my life. and do you think i accepted that blindly?

["this ain't my first rodeo, cats"...]

this has been my journey since age 13. and my transplanted kidney remains my proudest accomplishment.

but, what i have realized, is that people believe what they need to believe in order to justify their decisions.

but, hey, one day, a "slam, bam, thank you, ma'am" health crisis will hit YOUR family; and you will have $15,000 in medical bills. and you will finally get that everything can't be willed away by a glass of kale juice...

do i wish that pain on anyone? nope.

but, do i wish people could think outside the box? yup.

so, join me here.

in the real world.


do you remember being 19? i do...

all the "firsts" we can never, ever authentically recreate.

the exhilaration of first love. it's residue and heartache. i still feel it tingling on my tongue. like a foreign spice. strange, exhilarating and amazing...

no, k. was not my first love. but he is, unequivocally, the great love of my life.

and 19 years ago today, i met him for the first time.

was it inauspicious? no. just benign. i remember he entered the house on chatam ave., in east toronto, and plowed through with his uber-stressed parents, after a long drive east from winterpeg to TORONTO...i was sitting on my bff's lap, thom, in overalls and a white "t", observing this hot, young theatre stud from a foreign, prairie city called winnipeg and thinking "yeah, he's cute, but,"...and, apparently, k. doesn't remember me being there at all...


ah, and as our spectacular roommate and friend, j, of many, many years, articulated at our wedding..."i mean, he was 18! you couldn't even legally get him drunk!"

[bringing down the house...]

but, there was something there. and we became friends.

and slowly, but surely, friendship became infatuation, and then love...

what is a soul mate? does one truly exist for each of us, or is it a choice we make?

regardless, i made my choice, many, many moons ago. but, it was effortless.

this was just the person i wanted to be with. with no conditions of career, money, family...nada. i just wanted to be with him. and i still do.

has it been an easy road? no way, jose. trials and tribulations have nearly consumed us whole...

but, we still laugh. we still love. and when i look into his eyes, my heart still skips a beat every. single. time.

is this love?

i think it just might be.

may we all be 19, forever...