Oh NO! The Misanthropic

Oh NO! The Misanthropic Bitch’s page isn’t loading. I can only hope the anti-free-speech idiots did NOT manage to shut her down permanently. She was one of my favorite crankypants writers out there, and in general, not only knew what she was talking about, but wrote about it with verve and style. Though her predilection for picking on teen mothers with AOL accounts was akin to shooting (really stupid) fish in a barrel, she was much fun to read.

Ah, well. Will have to read disgruntledhousewife.com and old editions of Filler by Polly Esther instead. (My apologies to KD, who was an actual French major at our alma mater), but if I was French, this is how I would talk…

Matt Welch has a

Matt Welch has a modest proposal for George Soros, one of my other favorite Hungarians, and I agree with him entirely.

Meanwhile, got my cast off yesterday, and I have an immense surgical scar running around my elbow like a freight train on crack. I said to Dr. Shaffer “what? you couldn’t cut a straight line?”, whereupon he informed me that had he cut it straight, I’d have scarred much worse. Don’t see how that could possibly be, but it has something to do with scar tissue bands, which are not my area of expertise. Yet. If I have to have a wildly disfigured arm, maybe I’ll have something tattoed over it as a top-secret disguise. Judging from its current shape, a dragon or a snake would be good, though a phoenix would be most appropriate. Rising from the ashes of my formerly Bob-Dole-hand self into a new and better me.

Christian made orange crepes. They are lovely. Here’s the recipe. So talented, that one. Going to go eat some more now. Recovery nourishment…really.

News du jour: I’m

News du jour: I’m working on an article about (Ohio) House Bill 341, which requires that acupuncture practitioners be licensed by the state. Not all of the acupuncturists here in Cleveland are properly licensed – so there’s your scandal angle. The Free Times is interested in publishing it, so I must get started, despite my current lack of computer. Kayt’s sending me the 8500 today, and her birthday is at the end of the week…so send a card or a present to her. She deserves it.

Going out for sushi tonight with Sushi Boat Captain Sean Morgan for his birthday. This time last year I was in NYC at Nobu, consuming multiple bits of Iron Chef Morimoto’s spicy tuna with Kayt. Alas, tonight we’ll be taking off our shoes at Ginza instead. These pajamas would be a good thing to wear – after drinking enough sake to be worthy of the Iron Chef drinking game, I’m sure bed will be it for me.

It’s dead, Jim. My

It’s dead, Jim. My PowerBook 5300 is dead. Quite sad, really. Tamas discovered the SCSI interface between the hard drive and the motherboard is super-proprietary, and so my only option for data recovery is to buy a second 5300 on eBay, put the old hard drive in it and hope for the best. Very sad. I did love that machine. My first PowerPC. I’m buying Kayt’s old 8500 as a desktop, and hoping to win my bid for the second eBay 5300. Fingers crossed.

Now, where’s my Vicodin?

Canadians scare me. Maybe

Canadians scare me. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Kids In The Hall on painkillers (see previous surgery story), but Bruce McCulloch singing songs about terriers is just not right. Let’s not even mention Sir Simon Milligan.

My arm is twitching under the cast again. I can’t sleep. I’m tired of being on the couch. And tonight my mom told me I should be a professor because I have an opinion on everything.

My Elbow Surgery, 1

My Elbow Surgery, 1 October 2001
a drama in multiple parts

Part the First
in which our heroine has to do everyone’s job for them, because they are incompetent

8:45 a.m.
I decided to call United Healthcare to doublecheck the authorization for my surgery – after last week when the lab faxed me my blood test results instead of the surgeon, I was taking no chances. I became, in the words of a friend, my own Surgery Project Manager.

Dr. Shaffer’s office hadn’t called the insurer. Maria at United Healthcare said the hospital just wouldn’t get paid without that authorization, it wasn’t something I’d get stuck with personally. Not willing to take that risk, I called Vernadine, Dr. Shaffer’s secretary. Made her call Maria directly and call me back to confirm. Why am I doing Vernadine’s job?

Then I went outside and dug a hole.

A hole? In lieu of flowers, Cathy is bringing over a rosebush. Thought I’d be ready for it when it arrived.

Christian got off my bed, where the dog was licking him to death, and we drove to University Hospital. I had him drop me off and went in to register. I’m wearing my Chicago Board of Trade sweatshirt and dark grey Old Navy fleece pants. The contents of my oversized Salomon Smith Barney beach bag: my new black Gap cami, Town & Country / Harper’s Bazaar magazines, black Gap Halloween boxers, fruit flavored water, a hot pink pashmina and my tiara. These will come in handy later.

Part the Second
in which our heroine has to deal with additional stupidity

I register. I sign all the paperwork, I list Christian as my next of kin, and I am dispatched to the lab. They try to weasel more blood out of me. I tell them rather patiently that I already had CBC, Chem-7, PT and PTT tests done last week. I feel like I’m on ER when I rattle off the list. “Where did you have them done?” she asks. “At your Green Road facility. They faxed me the results accidentally and I then faxed them to Vernadine in Dr. Shaffer’s office. Here’s her phone number – call her.”

They send me back to the waiting room while they discover that I am, of course, right. I hate giving blood and don’t feel like giving up any more than absolutely necessary. They send me to change.

Part the Third
in which our heroine gets to wear an adorable hospital gown

I run down my health history for 5 different people. I get an IV placed in my right hand just before I need to sign something. I get to model proper airway configuration for a med student. I find out the head anesthesiologist lives across from the most successful guy in my office (someone who grosses over a million dollars a year in commissions, so this should give you some clue as to what anesthesiologists rake in). They wheel me into the OR and put me out a little after noon. I don’t see Dr. Shaffer once. Sheesh, he could have had his assistant doing the whole thing for all I know.

Part the Fourth
in which our heroine has strange reactions to many drugs

2:40 p.m.
I wake up. Bang. Christian was right – I have no sense of time. All the pleasant nurses have disappeared in favor of a bitter old queen who is pure evil. He won’t let me have water, only ice chips. He tells me I’m going home after all. I am vaguely pissed off, and I demand a phone. Nicely. He objects at first, then gives in. I call Christian and ask him to call my assistant Dawn, who can access my work email and tell everyone not to bother coming to the hospital after all. The chief anesthesiologist comes over to tell me I woke up during surgery and gagged on my intubation tube. This is why my throat hurts. Fortunately, I don’t remember it, or I’d probably have nightmares for life. The combination of morphine and Demerol they have me on is making me cry at everything. You could have told me the sky was blue and I would
have bawled. The evil nurse takes the pinchy heart monitor off my finger and wheels me across the room. Soon, Christian walks in.

I have NEVER been so happy to see Christian in my life. So I cry. It’s the drugs again.

After a while, I ask Christian for the lip balm in my bag. He and the nurse go to find it. The nurse hits on him. Only in my world, I tell you. They take the IV out, Christian puts my cami on for me (I’m once again in a wrist-to-armpit cast) and helps me get up. “Do you want your tiara?” he asks. Yup. So I put it on, with my hot pink pashmina wrapped around my shoulders. The nurse is babbling something about my Vicodin prescription to me, but I’m tuning him out because he’s evil. They tell Christian where to meet us, and wheel me out in a wheelchair. Several doctors stop me to say how cool my tiara is. If it weren’t for the cast, they’d probably think I was a psych patient.

Part the Fifth
in which our heroine vomits in a parking lot

We go to the Walgreen’s drive-through to get my Vicodin. I am drinking some of my fruit-flavored water. I disconnect my seat belt and open the Kia’s door. Christian asks me what I am doing, but I am too busy vomiting onto the pavement, in a rather dignified way. I still have the tiara on.

Part the Sixth
in which my mommy spoon-feeds me wonton soup

Brilliant, wonderful boyfriend extraordinaire Christian opens up the sofabed and makes it up perfectly. He brings me water and some of the Grape Nuts granola bars I just made (ask me for the recipe – it’s yum). Mom & Dad bring me flowers, and GQ, and wonton soup. Fabulous. Christian has work to do, so he leaves around 8:00. I call Tamas and find out he was in a car accident that morning which totalled the passenger side of his car. Stacey calls – they’re transferring her to a nursing home – her jaw crumbled. More on that later.

All in all, an eventful day. Vicodin is my friend. I can feel my stitches under the cast, which is miserable, but as Christian said “no more Bob Dole hand”!

“He’s handsome. He’s wealthy.

“He’s handsome. He’s wealthy. He’s a European prince.” If all this is true, why does he need to rely on Fox’s latest travesty (“Who Wants To Be A Princess?”) to find a woman? Maybe he’s gay and can’t inherit the throne without a sham wife. I’ll be donning my tiara from Hot Topic to watch the fun.

It’s tough to type with a dachshund on your lap.

My usual directed-yet-aimless newsgathering

My usual directed-yet-aimless newsgathering continues…

By way of Ken Layne > Matt Welch > Emmanuelle Richard > Virginia Postrel > John Labriola, his Holiness the Dalai Lama’s thoughts from The Art of Happiness:

…”Although you may have experienced many negative events in the past, with the development of patience and tolerance it is possible to let go of your sense of anger and resentment. If you analyze the situation, you’ll realize that the past is the past, so there is no use in continuing to feel anger and hatred, which do not change the situation but just cause a disturbance within your mind and cause your continued unhappiness. Of course, you may still remember the events. Forgetting and forgiving are two different things. There’s nothing wrong with simply remembering those negative events: if you have a sharp mind, you’ll always remember,” he laughed. “I think the Buddha remembered everything. but with the development of patience and tolerance, it’s possible to let go of the negative feelings associated with the events.”

– His Holiness the Dalai Lama

If you haven’t already, read this book by His Holiness. Or Dr. Robert Thurman’s Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness. He produced Uma Thurman, and he’s terrifyingly brilliant. I met him once at the Cleveland Museum of Art before a speech he was giving. He, too, was visiting one of the museum’s Green Taras. I have a copy of this Tara in my living room and she’s like a living person to me. Dr. Thurman proceeded to explain in detail all about her construction, the types of leaves depicted in the background and much more. When I say he’s terrifying brilliant, I mean this: just as your brain is starting to process and comprehend what he has just said, you realize he’s 5 steps further ahead. I wish I’d thought to tape his speech – I don’t think I was able to truly contemplate more t
han 5% of what he covered. He is probably the most intelligent speaker I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. For those of you near NYC – you might be able to hear him speak at Tibet House, where he is on the board and edits the newsletter.

From May, when my

From May, when my elbow was shattered and I was in a cast from wrist to armpit.


Tamas paused in my living room and grabbed his Palm Pilot.

“What are you doing?”
“Checking something.”
“Checking what?”
“Never mind.”

I sink back onto the couch pillow, a vague itching inside my cast. He looks up, grinning wickedly, as if he had some great vast secret to disclose. This makes me nervous, as Tamas rarely smiles unless he’s up to something.

“Tomorrow will be ten years.”
“Ten years of what?”
“Since prom.”
“How do you know that?”
“I just do.”
“What do you mean, you just do? Are you Rain Man or something?”

He goes into an explanation about Saturdays before Memorial Day, and counting, and having some strange hidden skill with remembering dates that I’ve never heard him talk about. All I can remember is wearing a powder blue dress (talking my mother out of blue eyeshadow to match) and half-breaking Tamas’ mother’s heart with my new short haircut.

Tamas’ mom. She’s Hungarian, a hairdresser owing equal allegiance to Robert Smith-sized knots of teased hair and the communists. I always thought Tamas was making it up, calling his mom a communist. All-American boy (who never spoke English until he went to school) mocking his poor mama straight outta Miskolc. But no. I once got an earful on how the Communists would have never allowed homelessness like she saw back home on her last visit and it’s a shame They’re not still in power.

I can’t resist mocking him, and drag myself from the couch. Oh look, I’m Tamas dancing. Is that the Cure? Oh, sigh.

Slowly spinning in a tight circle, pretending to put my cast-covered arm around an imaginary dance partner, I make a mournful face.

“Ohhhh, I’m Tamas, and I’m soooo depressed. I’m stuck here at the prom of doom. How very awful.”

If it weren’t for me, Tamas would have spent senior year stuck in his room like a veal calf. He glares at me, but you can tell he’s trying not to laugh.

The next night he rouses me from my reading and it’s his turn to make me go out. He wants to see a movie, and in my head I’ve got it confused with another terrible one, which makes me loath to leave the couch. I broke my elbow rather nastily early this month, and have a convenient excuse for not driving anywhere, particularly across town to see that movie, and besides, I’m poor. He offers further enticements – dinner at Phnom Penh, maybe frozen custard even. He’ll pay for the movie. Ok. Off the couch I go…on one condition, he says. I’m not allowed to whine if the movie is terrible. Fair enough. The movie is good, though a bit of a Run Lola Run rip-off. We drive back to his house and he tells me the day we met. 27 December 1990. Another Rain Man moment. He tells me I was snotty and aloof when we met.

“Oh, yes. You were a total snot.”
“In what way?”
“You weren’t particularly friendly, and you ignored me most of the time.”

I remember that day. Christmas vacation and we descended upon the least-supervised place we could find: Shay’s house. Band practice and my then pseudo-boyfriend Mark was the drummer. Shay’s father owned a chain of strip clubs and was dating a stripper two years older than Shay. He supposedly paid off the Jesuits to keep Shay in Catholic school. Either that or threatened their lives.

There was a dentist’s chair in the living room and a copy of Madonna’s banned-from-MTV video on cassette. His father didn’t care if Shay watched “Justify My Love”; after all, he lived with a stripper and, according to popular myth, she wasn’t satisfied with corrupting just the father of the family. As a sort of pre-band-practice ritual, they watched the Madonna video three times, then ran upstairs to play immediately, savages appeased.

It’s a comfort to know that I was me then, and am me now, and my very nature is suffused with a sort of me-ness that ten years, and hell, probably my whole life hasn’t changed and never will. I have never played well with others.

Flashback to the sunny field behind the church up the street from my parents’ and grandparents’ houses: I am two. Barely vocal, but opinionated. My grandmother’s next door neighbor has taken me to a church picnic with her grandkids.

I am an only child – my parents certainly couldn’t have handled another me – and I don’t do well with other kids. My whole world revolves around my mom, her Beethoven records, her canvases, paintbrushes and long hair, plus our German shepherd Tulip, who is the closest thing to a sister I will ever have. We are a small spot of culture in this hick town, far from the posh suburbs where my mother grew up, and while my dad is at work I am my mother’s only playmate. Unless she wants to drink coffee with my Grandma Fern and grandma’s friend Pudge, or my great-grandma Dorothy who also lives down the street. Needless to say, I am usually more fun than someone twice or three times her age.

The minister approaches. I am sitting alone, content. It is sunny and windy, the long unmowed grass beyond waving in the breeze. I’m sure he probably gave me a funny look, wondering why I’m not chasing the other kids or at the very least, sitting with my mom, who must be around here somewhere.

“Little girl, why aren’t you playing with the other children?”

This is my favorite part to imagine, my big blue eyes happily looking up at him, sunlight glinting off the golden-blond hair I had for years and which to this day will sometimes peek out from the brown. I answer him.

“Because they’re assholes.”

I don’t know what happened next. Did he want to hit me? Did he back away slowly, as if from a threatening dog? All I know is that the neighbor lady dragged me to my grandma’s house crying her eyes out, and my poor bewildered grandmother came running out thinking that I’d been hit by a car or at the very least, dropped on my head.

Fern, I can’t take her to church with me any more, she sobbed.

Was my grandma fighting back a smile? Probably. Did she pretend to be concerned and drag me inside? Yes, but I bet the minute the neighbor was out of sight she gave me a cookie, burst into laughter and called Pudge to tell her all about her smartass only granddaughter who could do no wrong.

Oh, Grandma. She died when I was five or six. I was still the only grandchild, and what I wanted, I got. She smoked constantly, and could do the coolest tricks, like blowing smoke rings. She even taught me how to make them, if only because I begged and pleaded. I told my mother that years later, to her horror.

Zinnias all along the back fence and Christmas trees my Uncle Mike grew to sell…

My great-grandmother told me excellent stories about her daughter-in-law when I got older. She’d eloped with my grandpa when she was barely sixteen, and had my father a year later. I love the pictures of her from that time – always smiling, and thin, and a knockout compared to the dour old women of the extended family surrounding her in dull housedresses and tacky brooches. She still wore saddle shoes, and I would, too. My dad was a fat little angel and she kept every card, every lock of hair, pasted into big books.

When my uncle Mike was little, some neighborhood bullies knocked him around, gave him some good bruises. Great-grandma Dorothy reported Fern tracked down those kids, some of whom were probably bigger than she (maybe 5′ 4″ max), and roughed them up in return, telling them how dare they pick on her son, and how do they like it? (slap, slap!)

The sheriff showed up later that night. Grandma mentioned something about an arrest, but Dad says that was bullshit, he only told her not to do it again and went on his way.

So I’m aloof. So what?