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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Sunday, October 27, 2013

they say it's your birthday

i'm not a fan of birthdays.

there's a brief period as a child when the hole inside you is still small. it can be filled with presents and balloons and cake. of course, nowadays it's gone beyond filling. we stuff our children. gone are the days of one "big" present and a few little gifts - oh, and the token present thrown at your sibling to keep him in his place. if your teenager's birthday party doesn't end up as an episode of something on MTV, you've failed as a parent.

i am not a parent, so i don't have to worry about this. but filling that hole has been a shopping trip of constant browsing, looking to acquire a lifetime-supply-of-something that would keep me satisfied.

the truth is, it's never been THINGS. i've never subscribed to the idea that material things would satisfy anything. i've been perfectly content to be a thrift store junkie, giddily digging for hidden treasures hanging somewhere between the polyester muumuus and "Poison" t-shirts.

"I love the smell of mothballs in the morning!"

not unlike a little girl with lipstick smears of joy, i happily and heartily accept hand-me-downs for my dress-up box.

i really don't know what to do with myself in a mall. the blitz of franchised names feels like a light show at the planetarium -it's supposed to be galvanizing, but it just throws me into an epileptic seizure; it makes me want to hang out behind the Orange Julius and shake in my leatherette boots. fake or fabulous finds, i've known for a while now that spending big piles of money gives me an intense case of buyer's remorse. almost immediately, i break out into anxiety, spreading like a rash as i scratch my head in confusion. i arrive home, the conquering heroine busting through the front door with my bursting bags of bargains. i unpack, try everything on and strut in front of my husband, parading with the secret knowledge that 5' 3", 40 year-olds are now all the rage in Paris. i then meticulously fold and pile everything away into my closet.

twenty minutes later, the rush is gone and i am limp with said remorse.

retail therapy is like eating Chinese. you pick and choose, graze and gorge on eighteen different items, but after half an hour, you're suddenly hungry again.

when my husband asks me, "What do you want for your birthday?", it's not an easy question to answer. when a husband gives a wife a kidney, the wife ain't in much of a bargaining position anymore. ah, gone are the days of my endless Trump.

"at least you have 2 kidneys..."

not only does he no longer have two kidneys, but he gave one of them to his wife.


[although, i'm still a girl, dammit! i concede! the robin's egg blue box still makes my heart flip like a freakishly-fit, stunted teenage-girl on the balance beam.]

"i didn't ASK to be born!"

this is a standard complaint voiced by children preparing to run away and bitter old people who never win the lottery. it's also a great attention seeking device.

another great attention seeking device is being a teenager. hair mousse was not the only trend to take off in the 80's. full-frontal drama began to expose itself during my '83-'87 birthdays. i LOVED to tell the tales of the crises my beleaguered self had to endure upon the date of my birth.

when i turned 15, i awoke in my closet - no, not because of some sexual identity crisis - i had slept there overnight, flagellating myself with extra-help math notes and shoe boxes full of "Dear Diary" over my behavior the night before. and...scene. my mother had dared - DARED! - to now restrict the length of my phone conversations after a moon fest with my bf went into overtime. and i had dared - DARED! - to tell her what i thought about that.

never challenge a Viking.

[ah, the 80's. a time of neon shoelaces, skyscraping shoulder pads and the single-phone household. the time it took to dial a number on the rotary! the time it took to find a pay phone and feed it a dime! the time you wasted answering the phone and taking a message! you kids have it so good today. you save so much time. you must get so much more done, like, have entire conversations by phone without talking to anyone.]

when i turned 16, i cut class and spent the day walking up and down Yonge St., Toronto's main drag of head shoppes and record stores. i purchased a glamorous pair of "gold" earrings - long, thin strands of metal, two on each side that hung all the way down to my shoulders. they were stylin', but completely impractical, dangerous even. one false move, and i would've pulled a Van Gogh. but i felt empowered enough to tell the vendor that it was my birthday and how old did he think i was??? "17?" he guessed. oh, the heart-pounding excitement!!! like front row seats at a Duran Duran concert!!! he thought i was an entire year older!!!

[the irony is seriously painful.]

when i arrived home with my bff, N., i was dressed head-to-toe in the day's score. black leatherette pants, a white, angular, New Wave shirt, and a cocksure attitude that skipping school was totally tubular when you were 16. oh, my god, it was not even tubular! not at all. my mother went narly on my bitchen ass, i'm sure. i went upstairs, bagged my face, and had a full on meltdown.

[where is your "Relax" shirt when you need it?]

when i turned 17, our basement flooded. 'nuff said.

when i was 18, i decided i HAD to have lobster for dinner when my mother asked what my stomach's desire might be. despite a heritage high in herring, being Danish and all, i don't ever recall having HAD lobster before, but i knew i HAD to have it. cut to my poor, relentlessly appeasing mother, who'd plattered what looked to me to be a gigantic orange spider. "I CAN'T EAT THIS!, wailed the arachnophob, and the evening was flushed down the garbage disposal to the sounds of crunching claws and babyish blubbering.

so much for fine dining.

and when i was 19, my kidney function was at 8%.

i could go through the years. but the kidney-transplanted-Hollywood-cliche-alcoholic-addict thread is getting old.

like me.

when you celebrate your age, you are actually marking the END of that current year. when you turn 21, you are actually marking the end of 21 years and moving into your 22nd year of life. it's an unfortunate anecdote often overlooked. no-one is born and gets a "Happy "Zero" years!" party. so technically, i'm moving-on-up into my 46th year of life. admittedly, there's a part of me that's freaked about moving up into a new box - leaving the age 39-44 box, for the age 45-49 box - boxes you see on shopping surveys, job interviews and government census forms.

it begs the question. do i care about growing older?

i look at it two ways. from the outside in. and from the inside out.

from the outside in, i check off, not unlike the surveys found at the bottom of receipts, the following hot mess:

Unemployed. [Successful Hollywood Cliche.]
Kidney Transplanted. [Does Not Qualify For Life Insurance.]
Alcoholic. [Talk To My Husband.]
Addict. [See above.]
Discovers New Pockets Of Cellulite Every Day. [Can See From Space.]
Cannot Get Rid Of Relapse Belly A.K.A. The Minus-Six Pack. [Bring On The Spanx.]
Should I Get Botox? [All The Housewives Are Doing It.]
Must Dispose Of All Concert And Ironic Catchphrase T-Shirts. [What Not To Wear.]
Called Ma'am Over Miss At A 10:1 Ratio. [Youth Is Wasted On The Young.]
Must Retire All Selfie-Taking Activity [For The Young And The Desperate.]

but, when i look from the inside out:

Unemployed. [Unblocked Writer At Last!]
Kidney Transplanted. [Not On Dialysis.]
Alcoholic. [Sober.]
Addict [See above.]
Discovers New Pockets Of Cellulite Every Day. [More Of Me To Love.]
Cannot Get Rid Of Relapse Belly A.K.A. The Minus-Six Pack. [Makes For Lovely Hound Pillow.]
Should I Get Botox? [Bacterial Toxins Found In Spoiled Beef? SO Not My Drug Of Choice.] 
Must Dispose Of All Concert And Ironic Catchphrase T-Shirts. [Opportunity To Transition Into Wrap Dresses and Chanel Suits Like Madonna.]
Called Ma'am Over Miss At A 10:1 Ratio. [Am Officially A Cougar. Can Now Flirt With Starbucks Baristas and College Freshmen.]
Must Retire All Selfie-Taking Activity [Unless It's My Birthday :-)]

today, all my needs are met. i have a working kidney. i am sober. i am married to a wonderful man. we have the sweetest hound. i have family and friends. i have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, gas in my car and a dream in my heart.

but, best of all, today the hole is filled. i spent most of my life feeling adrift, unmoored from a place where you all seemed to frolic and thrive.

today, i know that place isn't out there, it's been inside me all along.

and that's worth celebrating.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

rehab revisited

2 years ago today i went into rehab.

fogged, in what they call a "benzo-coma", i protested limply, like an overcooked noodle.

i was cooked all right.

121 pills later, i was "FINE!...I'M FINE!", assuring my husband, as he paced on the phone with my neurologist. "She will die from the withdrawal. Bring her into Cedars-Sinai". oh, my sweet, tiny, Jewish neurologist, my co-dependent clinician, so delightfully prodigious with his prescriptive scribblings, who confessed to feeling guilty when next i saw him.

[guilt. such a useful emotion for the addict.]

i was fine. i don't remember a thing.

or much.

there was the slumped back of my kidney doctor walking away. my apathy, a cold shower dousing our friendship in confusion and pain. his newly-transplanted prodigy back in the ER for more, because she couldn't care less.

a shadowy shape in the corner, surreal in his stillness but for his eyes. a shimmering lake about to crest the levees and drown us all. a friend patiently waiting for me to wake up.

and anger, His anger - volcanic hot - surging through the hospital halls as he marched and marched, building to canter, to trot, to gallop away. a Prince ready to retire The White Horse. anger like an air popcorn machine gone turbo, spraying the halls with kernels of his rage.

it would be accurate to say i was scared, but in a self-eating, zombie kind of way. too flaccid to focus on my prey.

i just lay there.

"You deserve this." that Voice would nag sharply, like an old shrew demanding her rights in the "15-items-or-less" aisle. "That yogurt pack counts as 4 items! To the back of the line!"

to the back of the line.


i arrived at night. it looked so pretty. white shutters. bright twinkle lights. canopied couches. like a Napa Valley bed and breakfast welcoming me for the next 60 mornings.

only without the complimentary Mimosa.

i stood there, wobbling like a bowling pin ready to be knocked down, in front of who came to be my 2 favorite techs, S. and C..

"How do you feel?", they asked.

"Scared", i answered.

was that the right answer?

it would be wrong to say i wasn't scared.

it would be right to say i felt like i'd stepped into my own episode of Intervention. finally! maybe now i would understand why junkies shooting up in abandoned warehouses looked good to me. "Why?", i wondered. why didn't i clutch and shake my head exclaiming, "OH MY GOD! WHAT'S WRONG WITH THEM?" no, i still wanted to try it. 

i want[ed] to try it all. 

i sniffed as they pillaged my open bags, seizing hand sanitizer, perfume, hair spray. Ambien. "But how will I sleep?", i wailed. "I'll give you something, honey", S. soothed.

i stood hunched, my soul like loose skin hanging off the bone, too flabby to feel. i couldn't muscle up any emotion, not even tighten a pretense. it dangled, like a freak benign tumor that serves no purpose, weighing me down under. as i drooped off to a tiny twin bed, defeated, head hanging, heart hung, i was ready, in the City of Altered Angels, to have it all snipped away.

it would be too easy to quip about the Grammy-award winning tune Amy Winehouse would croon with Stoly-crack-fueled resistance. the song that ran on a track around my brain, as i chased her defiance as my own, huffing and puffing 'til i collapsed in a pile of smelly old sweats and fresh new regrets.

"They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no..."

but it would be a lie to say i never fantasized about doing the karaoke with Amy, belting out her hit together, testifying with pursed pouts and jutting hips that,"you don't know! you just don't know!"; teenage BFF's flipping birds skyward from unshackled arms stretched long and lean, pumping our venom outward, always outward.

towards you.
towards them.
towards all.

oh, yes, i was hard done by, don't cha know. i was in rehab.

it would be wrong to say i remember when the fog lifted. it took a long time to physically stabilize. my detox was long, and the cravings longer. it took months for them to subside. like water bubbling over on the stove, they calmed from a righteous, spiting boil to a low-grade simmer, and finally, cooled enough to slide to the back burner.

but never, ever off.

for 4 solid years, my disease palmed me into a desperate diner waitress, broke and broken, the heat, the pace of Its kitchen wearing me down into a sweaty, greasy mess.

"Order Up!". Its spinning metal rack of orders never ceased to turn. It squeaked orders from the moment my eyes cranked open with rusty resistance.

i didn't want to get up. i never wanted to get up. i didn't want to open my eyes, ears, heart, because The Orders kept coming.

"Get up. Take Your Pills. Buy Alcohol. Order Pills. Con Doctor. Manipulate Pharmacist. Lie to Husband. Hide Alcohol. Take Pills. Drink Alcohol. Ignore all Mirrors. Ignore Everyone. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

amidst a perfect storm of events, i had given up and poured the remains of my life down a funnel of fear, lubricating the journey with a backsplash of booze and dissolving baubles, anything to speed it up. it couldn't be stopped up with silly ideas like hope or serenity. i just shoved and flushed hard.

the invisible line between catch and release had been crossed. i had been caught by a disease i could not name, even though i had lived it from the other side as a child. a father's daughter who could not reel this one in without a little help from her friends.

it would be right to say i smiled when i got to rehab. i laughed. i flirted.

and it would be wrong to say i didn't feel relief.

after 4 years of holding my breath, i could finally breathe.

i had tea with the pharmacist who didn't take pills, rap with the gay son of a Texan and skip down Robertson with a suburban boy blue. and all our conversations were the same. our frequencies in sync, no feedback, crystal clear. invisible to the eye, we all wore the same uniforms. through sleet and snow and dark of night, we had all weathered the same storm.

and nodding. oh, the nodding.

to a 3/4 beat, i'd nod.

"i'm not/ a-lone/ i'm not/ a-lone/".

it would be wrong to say i didn't love them.

for the first time in my life, my hand was held, nay, grabbed as i attempted to navigate the landscape of insanity that sprawls between my ears. my brain untamed is hazardous to Your health, not mine. i was comfortable living inside the tornado, my delicious default. as You prayed for the Eye of The Storm to land, for calm air to descend, hot and moist, and wrap You in a blanket of peace, on all fours i'd position, angry and aroused, ready for the storm to carry me away again.

chaos, my cherub. my sweet spot.

where i could hate and hate loud and never hear the replies.

we drink because we are happy.
we drink because we are sad.
we drink because we get a job,
we drink because we are mad.

there is no answer to be found.
this riddle will not be solved.
we cannot change but with acceptance,
we drink because we are alcoholic, and that is all.

i used to HATE it when that old adage floated around like second-hand smoke; i'd hack on the esotericism of it all  - "everything happens for a reason." EGADS. who are YOU to know this? HOW do you know this? and why don't I understand?

i left rehab on december 13th, the day i lost my Daddy to this disease, 35 years earlier.

there are no accidents.

and when i understand this, i am empowered by something greater than reason.


rehab did not fix everything, but a soul is not to be fixed, it's to be freed.

it would be right to say the fog has lifted.

and it would be wrong to say rehab didn't save my life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

what [not] to wear

we met when he was 18, barely out of diapers. couldn't even legally drink.

he was The Gap boy to this thrift shop junkie.

he had barely outgrown the Sears threads all the rage in Winnipeg, mandated at home by a fabulously frugal matriarch, and was beginning to spread his cottony wings into Franchise territory.

yes, The Gap, Club Monaco, Banana Republic.

and Kinsk. let's not forget Kinsk.

the boutique clothing store where Kevin worked was tucked away in a teeny, tiny corner on the 3rd floor of the Eaton's Center. he was their reliably unreliable cashier. flipping the "Be back in 5 min.!" sign and leaving for two hours to go to an audition. you'd leave too if you were inundated with ignorant Americans asking questions about our "funny money" and "why is it so many different colors?". but it all ended ceremoniously when the owners showed up in a panic, declaring a "bank run" type clearance on all merchandise, as Eviction appeared on the horizon marching steadily towards the store holding sickles and scythes high, ready to clear out the merchandise with an economic slice.

"Take what you want and run!" the owner whispered in a panic. i'm not exactly sure what happened, but i know i got a sweatshirt out of it.

i, on the other hand, was a fabricated fashionista, stitched together from rags and resources.

one part resourcefulness and two parts necessity, my wardrobe was borne from a material mish-mash of bargains from The BiWay bin and hand-me-downs from my mother and godmother.

i'm not sure when my mother allowed me to dress myself independently; she was pretty great about creative expression. i'd always had my color of choice on my bedroom walls, even when that color became, at age 15, grape juice purple. but at heart, my mother was a pragmatic lioness, dressing her cubs appropriately. so when the time came, she ditched all fashion sense in favor of practicality as any good mother should. "did you bring a jacket?", "are you wearing a vest [undershirt]?", and especially in Canada, "where are your mittens?".

i concede, the invitation probably clearly stated, "Play Clothes, please." and this was where my powers of manipulation vanished.

"But, MU-MMYYY! I don't WANT to wear pants."

"It says play clothes, so you must wear play clothes. You must be sensible."

sensible. ugh. SENSIBLE. is there any word worse than sensible? i'm not sure if my mother pictured private school princesses rolling around in puddles of mud, and french kissing the family poodle, but there was no talking her down.

pants. that's right, PANTS, to a little girls' birthday party.

it was a nightmare. when i arrived, i might as well have been strutting a catwalk naked for all the finger pointing and tittering my "silhouette" created. amongst the frilly frocks i stood out like a stained doily, head to toe in brown. BROWN. dark chocolate brown. brown top. brown pants. a unitard of poo. born to stylish European parents, this 1st gen. Canadian probably looked fairly Micheal Kors chic in a 70's-disco-pantsuit-y-kind-of-way, but to my 7 year-old mind this humiliation was beyond description. not only was i in PANTS, but they were the color of POO.

i was mortified. MORTIFIED.

then there was the first day of school. high school.

is there ever a day in your life when you are more scrutinized than the first day of high school?

and believe me, for as much as i wanted to look like Molly Ringwald in every John Hughes flick, i could never quite master her pouty, effortless chic. if she wore a hat, it tilted ever so "avant-garde". when i wore a hat, i got lice. [true story. another blog]. when she patted on lip gloss she was divine angst, when i patted on gloss, i looked like a porn star. and when she wore pink, she was...pretty.

when i wore pink...

after 11 years, emerging from the bubble of private school fashion is daunting. every day it's the same routine: oxfords polished? check. shirt ironed? check. toothpaste washed from tie? check. - it's predictability a boring bliss. so entering high school at age 13 with no clear vision of my style was a recipe for disembowelment - of the Mean Girl kind. on that first morning in 1982, pumped up in a personal huddle, THIS was my best line of defense; The Outfit that would plow through the line of scrimmage and score the game-winning touchdown...

[enter the pink.]

a hot pink terrycloth [yes, the fabric of towels] polo shirt, bright white terrycloth short shorts, those ankled white tennis socks with hot pink pompoms flirtatiously hanging off my heels and white Keds - the generic kind. they were probably called Kedz. my outfit was a winnah! i knew it! i matched! i was stylin'! i was Phat, before Phat existed. i was Vogue before the song, before the underground dance. i had arrived! until SHE walked by. the ubiquitous Mean Girl. she scanned me quickly, the studied once over through Maybelline blue-shadowed lids, flipped her Aqua-Netted floppy locks back with disdain [why didn't my hair bounce like that?], and quipped...

"where's your tail?"

she burst into uproarious, scornful scoops of high-pitched laughter with her superiorly dressed minions with whom i simultaneously wanted to hang and cast upon some teenage version of a voodoo curse.

i thought bubbled, "bunny? bunny. omg, bun-ny. tail as in bun-ny. she thinks i look like a playboy bunny!!!"

which was funny because i am literally missing a couple of qualifying elements. read: big boobs.

i was mortified. MORTIFIED.

until theatre school.

all bets were off in theatre school. we lived the permanent performance of the musical, "Anything Goes!" there was the girl who shaved her head. the "workshop" where my 3rd years, covered in mud, ran around naked in a circle, reciting something or other to Lou Reed. and then there was the NIGHT. I. WENT. TOPLESS.

theatre school's version of The Prom was called The Bunny Ball, i think because it fell around Easter, or maybe because we were all going at it like rabbits. i had purchased a sheer, read: see through, black shirt with brass buttons laddering up the front. one step up from the mid-80's fishnet fad, it was meant to be classed up with a tank or lacy camisole underneath. i don't know what i was thinking, but i know what i was drinking[!] because after the champagne toasts in my apartment, the "should i, or shouldn't i?" banter in my brain had stilled and i yanked off my bra to the enthusiastic hoots and hollers of "IV-A-NANS!".

just file the evening in triplicate:

"What Was She Thinking?"
Blackwell's Top 10 Worst Dressed List
The Wardrobe Malfunction Before It's Time

i was mortified. MORTIFIED.

it is noteworthy that as i described this blog to my husband, this was the first example of my fashion senselessness to blurt from his mouth.

then one day you wake up and realize you are wearing a "Princess" shirt. you think, "am I too old to be wearing this?" - a baseball-style shirt with navy sleeves and a lighter blue torso with "Princess" scrawled across the front in glittery raised letters. that and pigtails. at age 30. "How long can I pull this off?", you think. sure, you're getting carded everywhere you go, but you don't want to wander into, "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME!?!?!" territory.

the boy can't win.

"Does this make me look fa- ?"

"- NO."

don't pause. don't think. just answer.

"You didn't even look!"

"Yes, I did."

"Well, now I don't know what you think."

"You look fine."

"But do I look fa- ?"

"- NO."

"Yes, I do."

yeah. the boy can't win.

but, as the boy becomes a man, and you make peace with your scars and satellite cellulite [they can see this from space!!!], you make peace with your wardrobe. even when you hold up a new top and he pauses.

[tilt of head. silence.]

"Well, I like it! Just don't call it a Russian tablecloth!"

"It's more like a Ukrainian Easter Egg."


no. you're even proud.

busting to the couple on the beach who love your new top -

"thanks! i just bought it at a thrift store!"

why, WHY do you feel the need to announce this to the world? is it a mini-ego trip? "See! I conned you! You probably thought I paid a fortune for this fabulous shirt that in no way resembles the national flag of some unknown African nation."

"That woman at the meeting like my shirt", you boast.

"Oh, she liked your bandana shirt?"


if he can't win, you can't win.

some things never change.

and ain't that FABULOUS.

Monday, October 14, 2013

i shot the tariff

it's that time of year again.

no, not to make merry with Santa's Elves, 'cause, btw, those merry making days are long gone.

it's less fun than the dentist!, but more fun than a knock from The Grim Reaper!

the taxman cometh.

but, ah, i blog this in the afterglow of an empty table, cleared of the papered detritus of another year in our life.

they reveal a lot. those typed-up tales of our financial safari through the current economic wild ravaging America.

as i sort each and every receipt, i travel back in a time capsule wallpapered with very thin anecdotes, some boldly typed, some barely visible - numbers fading from an unchanged cartridge pounding out it's last few gasps of ink. i stack them into categories, like patchwork, and when sewn into a sheeted quilt they read like a scroll from medieval times heralding the announcement of "Ye Old Sob Story." indeed a story calls from every page of this unbound book, papers now bound together, organized by theme, not poignancy, with a large plastic clip, leaning by the door in a recycled "Brookstone" bag patiently waiting for tomorrow's appointment.

it's like reading Braille. our story is all there, you just have to learn how to decipher it.

there are the numbers that made me flinch.

did we really spend $4395 on gas? cry me a river. and make it a diesel deluge. i hear you get better gas mileage that way.

the $367 on bank and foreign transaction fees.

"Hello. Welcome to Bank of America. Please remove your pants and bend over."

and "who-the-fuck-is-getting-rich-off-these? parking charges. ouch. 276 ouches to be precise.

there are the numbers that made me ache.

call it our "May-September" period when we were, ahem, "exploring our options" - separately.

as i sucked down hard on Trader Joe's Lime Fruit Floes night after night, alone in my studio apartment with Tiffany-blue walls and a RainShowerHead in unsexy Glendale, Kevin should have been kicking himself for not taking stock in Subway. i crumpled up more Subway receipts than a 13 year-old boy crumples up Kleenex. i could smell the processed meat and enriched flour stench flutter up as i rifled through the evidence of his feral fast food habit.

and then there were the fun facts.

the cost of one "Maggie May McIntyre the Basset Hound" inflated from last year's veritable steal-of-a-deal at $2 a day to $6.11 a day. More than a gallon of milk! Less than a large rotisserie chicken! Maybe we should have been placing her 16 extracted teeth under her pillow at night, and whatever the canine equivalent of The Tooth Fairy might have floated translucent above her floppy ears and cold nose magnanimously waving away her/our medical bills with one generous swoop of her sparkling wand.

oh, and speaking of medical bills.

["should i?...i really shouldn't...oh, who am i kidding...", she thought bubbles, dragging her soap box across the stage, plunking it front and center.]

the stack, make no mistake, it is a STACK, of medical bills towers over the comparatively flat terrain of hilly sheaths below. it's shadow, appropriately casts the year in dark, not black. it stands a Goliath to our David, only we are still trying to find the right slingshot, never mind a chink in The Medical System's armor. it's like throwing a pebble at The Great Wall of China and praying centuries will suddenly collapse. or flying into Death Star with Luke Skywalker, only you've already taken your best shot.

[you get the idea.]

i've always said that pain is relative. and i believed it.

until 5 years ago.

no, i will never know what it is like to walk miles every day, barefoot, under the hot African sun for a bucket of water.

but, i do know what it's like to live the story of chronic illness for 32 years, wake up in the middle of its darkest chapter, turn the next page and read that i am also an alcoholic.

so maybe there's a teeny, tiny part of me that wants to roll around on the ground, jaundiced fists pummeling the air, legs kicking an invisible foe as i bellow with cheeks plump with rage,


["and in the category of "MEDICAL EXPENSES: H. and K.!" - today's clear winner at...!"]

$21, 621.

give or take a few bucks.

[i will now abstain from comment over the Republican shutdown or any joyous trumpeting of Obama's policies that not only saved our house, but will reduce my health insurance premiums $300 a month except to say "recess is over you big bullies. stop fucking around, take your seats and get back to work."]

i choose to look at money 2 ways.

how much we can get with it. or how much it gives us.

money is a means, not an End.

because the only End is Death, when none of this will mean a thing.

money can't buy you love.
money can't buy you happiness.
and according to The Countess, money can't buy you class.

we will be forever in debt to Cedars-Sinai, even after the bills are gone.

after the scars are healed. and as new trauma is torn.

the memories from that time are not like the song..."like the corners of my mind"...they are front and center, cobweb-free.

but today i choose to pluck like paper petals, memories that yet blossom, and gather them into a tissued bouquet tight to my heart.

Vons. $9.99. Roses.

[Paid by: Debit Card/Kevin McIntyre]


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

thank you for being a friend...

insomnia for me is like a swarm of killer bees.

not just annoying, but frightening.

that ominous building buzz. from far away a mild drone, like the comforting hum of a jet plane engine that lulls you to sleep on a transatlantic flight. white noise as ambien.

but the engine would rev from mild, medium to red hot as i crashed and burned, electronic screams filling my ears; my soul.

withdrawal, the DT's, dope sickness. all euphemisms for what goes up must come down. hard.

in the past, this buzz was my anti-buzz.

i'd take the assigned position.

which was a sweaty child's pose: a) cramped over the toilet, b) fetal in the bath, c) drenched on our memory foam pillow top or d) all of the above.

but last night, it was none of the above.

it was only Mistress Migraine deciding to pay a visit after 3 months off on a meditatively-mandated sabbatical, arm-in-arm with a simply gushing Aunt Flow!

"we're so happy to see you!!!"

[wish i could say the same.]

so this morning, taking the assigned position meant taking up residence for several pre-dawn hours on the couch.

they are always on.

[what is that saying?]

if i threw a dart at the television guide, i would hit an episode of The Golden Girls.

anytime. any station.

and thank god for small favorites.

what a sight for my squinted, swollen eyes.

from underneath my ice-drenched washcloth and through the pungent fumes of Tiger Balm wafting up from my shoulders, as shimmering icy heat, i saw them.

in all their sophomoric, sitcom silliness.

Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia.

i didn't bother to surf. i knew all i would find would be infomercials and early morning news broadcasts. i was not in the mood to contemplate erasing the fine lines emerging around my eyes like tree rings. not in the mood for any more news about the Republican shutdown or i'll virtually vomit all over Facebook and beyond. and so not in the mood for some histrionic declaration of why "THIS. PRODUCT. WILL. CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE!!!"

nah. it was all coasting from here.

Dorothy. the Dominatrix of comedic timing. slaying us with her triple takes, her deep-throated quips and those sly nods to her perfect imperfect masculinity. the fucking hilarious way she whacks Rose with a newspaper. and oh, isn't it just the best when she slams the door after, "Hi, it's me Stan!"

Blanche. clip, clip, clipping her perma-hotandbothered buttocks all over the lanai. her mules pounding as metronome to her ferociously accelerated sex drive. the train of her bold-80's-patterned, poly-negligee sets, billowing around her from the heat between her "loins" or the wind from the revolving kitchen door of comedic declarations and misunderstandings. and oh, isn't it just the best when she oozes the word "bosoms!"

Rose. The only one who never got lost on those long and winding tales through St. Olaf. her enthusiastic delivery! the pained looks on their faces! and the moral that somehow always made sense around a kitchen table overflowing with junk food and joviality. and oh, isn't it the best when they scream, "Oh, SHUT UP, Rose!"

And Sophia. Picture it. the tales from Sicily. the tales from Shady Pines and the snappy one-liners that brought the house down. "Rose, that's cause you're an idiot!" and "Blanche, that's cause you're a slut!" and "Dorothy can't get a date!" and oh, isn't it just the best when she holds Dorothy's hand and croons, "I love you, Pussycat..."

and cheesecake. lots and lots of cheesecake.

like "Friends" and "Seinfeld", it was lightning in a bottle. the chemistry a potent potion that flew off the shelves of television's apothecary. a fountain-of-youth like elixir we drank, delivering bright eyes, light hearts and that warm and fuzzy feeling as we snorted and snickered over lines we'll forever quote.

after 2 episodes, i dragged my heavy head and shoulders back to bed, the washcloth dripping down my back, the Tiger Balm fumes stripping my nostrils raw. and as the freeway kick started into the rush of morning, my head still screamed in pain, but the ringing had changed.

from buzzing to laughter.

not canned sitcom laughter, but the real thing.


most of the time, when i look in "The Box" there ain't nothin' but dark.

and sometimes when i look, it's bright, shiny.


thank you for being a friend.