Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm tired.

Today's theme: fatigue.

My dad's favorite all time movie is Blazing Saddles. I love that movie too. And I especially love Madeline Kahn's "I'm Tired" song in the movie (photo from here). I always have, since the first time I saw it as a teenager. In fact, it was kind of my theme as a teenager, "I'm tired" along with "I'm bored."

In any case, here's the link to the brilliant Madeline Kahn scene. (I tried to embed but either I forgot how to do that or "embedding has been disabled." Probably the latter. Sorry.) This song, along with Carol Burnett's "Little Girls" from Annie, in so many ways make life worth living for me.

My sister was depressed a while ago and I tried to convey to her that when I get depressed, or generally nihilistic about the world, I try to remember the good things. The wonderful things. Things I love. These things remind me that 1. humans can be fantastically creative, 2. I'm not alone and 3. since these wonderful things were created, are being created, then surely there will be more wonderful things created in the future, giving me something to look forward to.

And, OMG, I just realized this, but I've been thinking about using this subject as a very quick post and then Steamme Up Kid, as she's known on facebook, just saw Mel Brooks on the street in LA and he waved at her and she didn't realize who it was until too late and that, my friends, is the universe telling me I should immediately write about Blazing Saddles and do some of my magical thinking to link all these things together. (Her blog is another one of the things I love. Especially the post about dicks. I should totally tell my dad about that. Not.)

OK, that was the positive spin on the "I'm tired" theme. Now the negative. I was talking to a friend yesterday, an older friend who I met through church who has MS. We talk every now and again. She's about twenty years ahead of me on this whole thing and she's got a great attitude, very positive. Kind of a role model. So I asked her how she was doing with the heat lately. And she told me that recently, during a bad heat wave we had (a few days up around 105 degrees), she had to give up on trying to qualify for this one volunteering program.

She went through most of the forty hours of training in order to become a volunteer in a hospice program. But the final test was scheduled on a day when it was very very hot and it was scheduled in a place with no AC. So she couldn't do it. She said she really liked this program because she thought she could contribute, sitting with hospice patients while their caregivers got a few hours break. And yet, she couldn't do it. She couldn't do that one thing she wanted to do, that she worked so hard for, because her body failed her. All her symptoms flair up in the heat and she becomes (like me) non-functioning.

Fucking sad, right?

I miss being strong enough to do what I want. I miss being not tired. I want to be able to work. I want to be relied upon. One of the hardest thing has been trying to accept that this isn't going to go away. It has to be managed. I'm tired of the managing and I've only had this a year. My friend's a way way way better person than me and she's been managing for twenty years.

Alrighty. I should watch Blazing Saddles some time soon. Oooooh! I know! I should watch Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy coming out of the pond all wet and sexy in the A&E Pride and Prejudice (photo from here). Man, when that series came out, I spent $100 on the five VHS tape collection and watched that shit on repeat for weeks. Good stuff.

Or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy walking across that field all sexy-like with his shirt open (photo from here). If only Keira wasn't so impossibly, un-healthily skinny. Oh well.

Or Rob Pattinson walking across the cafeteria in Twilight. Best part of that movie. (photo from here) Oh! Or prom in Twilight, that part was good. Say what you want. Lame, I know. I'm a nearly middle aged woman. What do you want?

Anyway, with those images in my head, I'm a little better. Thanks, interwebs for those images. My own personal wonderful things to combat fatigue and nihilism. I needed that.

Oh and I'm sorry for the randomness of this post. I'm all over the place. I just had to get past the David Sedaris post. Oh and I fully realize how lame I am. I should volunteer. I should find some way to volunteer. Until next time...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Post with Photos. And Nary a Boobie to Be Found.

Lately, I'm all over the place. Emotionally, physically. Let's talk about the emotionally part first. Then the physically part.

For instance, this "got milk" ad with Angie Harmon made me cry the other day. I don't really like her. I don't agree with her politics. I'm not convinced she can act. But, my God, those children. Those beautiful, beautiful children. I'm tearing up now describing how I was tearing up. So, yea. A bit fragile.
Photo from here

OK, then. So, physically, but not the ordinary sense of physically. I mean, I'm not lots of different places. Rather, my body is, physically, very unpredictable. Every hour is different, it seems. One hour of good. And when it happens, my God, it's like a miracle. And of course I overreact, then do too much, then bring on... hours of bad. Hours of weakness. Followed by, who knows. If I'm lucky another hour of good, but more likely, minorly bad. Bad, but not enough that I need to shut down. And then...good. And so on, and so on. A humongous roller coaster while blind-folded. Apparently, this is just how it is with MS. Medicine or no. Regardless of degree of physcial disability. It just is and clearly, I just have to accept it.

Overall, it just makes it hard to plan things. I control nothing about my body. And that leads me to have to cancel things I desperately want to do. And some things I don't want to do, but you get the idea.

I've cancelled more things, disappointed more people (including myself) in the last few months than I care to tally. The worst was probably when I had to cancel the ticket I had to see a taping of the Colbert Report a few months ago. It was great luck to even get the ticket in the first place - I had happened to sit at the computer the moment the tickets went on sale (the Colbert Report ticket people favor the smart phone crowd, I guess) and, miraculously, I got one. But I was too sick to go. And, just as bad, I'm missing, right now, Fun Day at my daughter's school. And last night she cried about it. Admittedly, she is a bit of a little actress, but still, it hurt. I just simply feel too bad to go.

In any case, going on with the roller coaster theme, I thought I'd tell you the quite roller coaster-y story of my meeting with David Sedaris. Or rather, what was going through my head during and right after my meeting with David Sedaris. (In case you think I actually met him in any real way, I really didn't. I met him at a book signing. Keep in mind the fact that he met maybe a thousand other people that night and meets thousands of people during his book tours. To me, though, I met him. Technically true.)

Polaroid of David Sedaris from this awesome idea for a blog

I had never been to an event of his and was ridiculously excited for weeks. This was last fall, so I was feeling somewhat better. Not really, but, I was already on the community college campus because of an adjunct job teaching, so it was easy to go.

After the reading, I rushed out the door (the things I do to meet famous people, apparently) and got in line to meet him. I was maybe 15th in line. Exciting, right? Well...being the guy that he is, Mr. Sedaris said that the people who were turned away at the door earlier due to selling out, were to be kept in the lobby and then brought out first to meet him. Mother the fuck, there were about fifty of them. Anyway, no big deal. Like I said, early days with the MS symptoms and I toughed it out. (Oh, Stephen. Would that I could've toughed it out for you. *sigh*)

Finally, it was my turn. I was just going to say "Oh, I'm such a big fan...blah blah blah." Oh and I was going to tell him that I had dental implants (five!) because he specifically asked that people talk to him about that (otherwise, it would be weird, right?) because he had just gone through the first phase of the process himself. And he was curious about what was to come. ("It hurts like hell," eventually I did say. "Really. Like...a lot." Oh, and "I'm so very sorry.")

But the thing is, he cut me off. Before I had a chance to say anything, he says to me "My goodness. You know, you rarely see women with their natural hair color anymore." Maybe he said something then like, "Oh, but it looks so lovely." Let's pretend he did. He could have. Unsure. I was just freaking out, thinking, "Well, shit. What do I say now?"

And then I thought of my guru aunt. And her premature graying in her thirties. And how I was going along in a family tradition by not dying it. You know, to pay tribute to her. And in response I get a kind of a blank stare from Mr. Sedaris, but let's be real, he's heard tons weirder. Still. I had blown it. And then I told him how painful implant surgery, part two, was going to be and then I was done. Damnit.

A bit about my aunt and then I'll tell you the two options I thought of later for what I should've said. (Damnit.) So...I have an aunt who's a guru. I haven't seen her in a decade at least. Maybe fifteen years. I guess 1996 was the last time. I sent her a birth announcement for my daughter five and a half years ago, but got no acknowledgement. I had had to send it to her foundation's general address, though. And she probably (surely) doesn't know my husband's last name, so wouldn't recognize who it was from. I didn't get an actual address from my dad because he didn't have it because he has dementia. With a heaping side of alcoholism. Actually, the alcoholism came first. Doesn't matter. In summary, we're not in touch, my aunt and I. But still, she looms large in my family's story. So, she randomly came to mind when questioned by David.

Ganga-ji (right), her partner Eli (left) and her teacher Papa-ji (center) in 1990 from here.
This is how I remember her. She looked roughly like this the last time I saw her. She was 48 then. Ten years older than me now. She'd had fully white hair since her mid-thirties. Adds to the guru-ness, right?

More recent image of Ganga-ji from here. We have similar noses. Unfortunately.

Oh, I can tell you one thing that happened that was kind of special between her and me. At her father's, my grandfather's, funeral in 1995, we were all standing at the graveside after the service was done. Standing in a circle. The three children - my father and his sisters - and their children and spouses. And my father began to weep. To a degree that I'll never forget.

In truth, that week was the beginning of the end for him. Within a year, he was committed, against his will, to a psychiatric unit for severe depression and then was given electro-shock therapy, or whatever the more PC name for that is. And then after that, the alcoholism he had so diligently suppressed for twenty years took over again. And it took him from us permanently, as it would turn out. Slowly and painfully took him from us.

He's alive today, but he's not there. His mind is completely gone. Talking to him is exactly like talking to someone in a dream who just won't. fucking. listen. And then who vanishes when you look away from him for a second. And who comes back a second later to kiss you on the forehead before he vanishes again.

So it was coming, at the funeral. All that. And I think I saw it and was bewildered by it. This man who was so competent, so good, I thought, was just in agony and was just so bewildered himself. And Ganga-ji (Aunt Toni as was) saw the combination of sadness and fear in my eyes and she said, "You really love him, don't you?" and I was truly kind of stunned that she saw me. I'm used to being invisible in my family.

The craziest thing is that those words, in particular, became even more important a few years later when my dad and I had a big show-down. I told him that he was an alcoholic and needed medical help and he said "You know? Of all my kids, never loved me..." He then said other things, but I didn't really hear it. It was devastating, of course, and took years (a decade?) to get over. But I always had in the back of mind Ganga-ji's words and since she saw it, somehow, I know that that was the real truth. Not what my dad said.

So, while my mom and sister have questioned her guru-ness, I never have. Not since my grandfather's funeral. It's like she saw the future, or something. That I would need those words. What I'm projecting onto her and giving her credit for probably doesn't fall under the bailiwick of a guru, but still...mystical.

You should go to her website. It's kind of fascinating. Fairly incomprehensible to me, but fascinating. Here is a quote of hers, from her website: "The recognition of life itself is extraordinary, and the possibility of this recognition is that you recognize yourself as life itself – not separate from this form, but free of it." Unsure what that means. Maybe it's my brain lesions, but I really am unsure what that means.

It's all very well-meaning, though. It has always been a goal of hers, it seems, to help those who are suffering. Once, when I was in college, my parents and I were on a little fishing boat on the river near our house. It must've been during the summer. We started talking about Ganga-ji and her philosophy, as much as we could understand it anyway, and I said something profound. (I know. It was weird.) I said, "Well, I think she helps people searching. And I'm not searching now, so I don't get it. But maybe it's not for me to get, anyway." Shit. I'm the fucking family philosopher. That, I understood. I should start a foundation and collect donations on-line.

BTW, one book title of hers is "You Are That," which is a nice sentiment. Almost as nice as "You Are All That." If I entitled my book "You Are All That," would I have to pay royalties to the makers of that Freddie Prinze, Jr. movie, since it's a similar title? Hmm. Probably not.

So that's what happened with David Sedaris.

And now, here's what I should've said, #1:

Have you ever been in a New Jersey hair salon? Jesus. I spent about five years, going every six weeks, each time for roughly three hours, to a New Jersey hair salon. If I were to have to do that for the next fifteen years...well...I'd consider it a kind of a sentence, really. A loud, claustrophobic, extremely socially awkward (on my part), horrible, horrible kind of a sentence. A sentence for the crime of vanity, I suppose. No thanks.

Imagine this, only with big gold frames around the mirrors too. And lots and lots of women speaking loudly. And horrible music. (Photo from a Google Image search, that led me here.)

Oh, a good example of the kinds of women you would find at these salons:
I was wrong. Here are the boobies. With a side of anger. And a bucket-full of tanning cream. Photo from here.

What I should've said, #2:

I'm going for distinguished. Have you seen Up in the Air with George Clooney? Shit, dude. I just saw it on cable, and dude is hot. Smoking. I want that, but in the female version. Wait. I want to be like that, but in the female version. Yea. That's what I meant.

Photo from here.

Somehow, I think that last one was the way to go with Mr. Sedaris. Next time.