Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good
While we each have our own little personal lives to live, nobody can dispute that news we hear about the lives of others often plays a huge part in how we feel and behave. Sometimes it's for the good, like when the young boys trapped in the cave in Thailand were rescued by all those heroic men who risked everything to get them out. That was heart-warming and life-affirming and certainly put a smile on all our faces, except for one friend of mine who never heard about any of it and didn't care because it had "nothing to do with her" and besides, she was busy deciding what color to paint her kitchen.

The Bad
Then yesterday something really bad happened, and I would never know about it if I lived in the hinterlands or if those damn reporters didn't think it imperative to tell us every last thing that happens in every corner of the world in order to up their ratings. Anyway, we all found out about the sickening sinking of a tourist boat caught in a sudden summer storm on a lake in Branson, Missouri. The debacle was caught on video cameras by witnesses, some in lakeside restaurants, drinking and munching on appetizers and groaning about the horror as the boat went under the waves and the lives of 17 people, many of them children who likely had been so excited to ride on a boat on a big lake, ended right in front of them.

The Ugly
As for the ugly, several nights ago for no apparent reason, although I must have hit it somehow, the top of my right hand blew up, instantly red and angry and looking like it was about to burst open and unleash the entire contents of the universe. After ruling out an insect bite or sting since there was no evidence of such and no insects around, I attributed it to my taking Plavix, a blood thinner that causes internal bleeding at the slightest provocation. (It's still ugly but I'm alive, not trapped in a cave or lying lifeless under 80 feet of water.)

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Somewhat Gross PSA

Some topics are too disgusting to talk about, so are rarely talked about. One of those is earwax. There, I said it.

Your ear is really in the middle of things!
Several days ago I got some water in my ear while shampooing in the shower. A common occurrence, many people experience it after swimming in the ocean, a pool or a lake, or anytime they have been submerged underwater, like getting waterboarded at Abu Ghraib. Usually it clears up in a few minutes, maybe half an hour. But my ear was clogged all day and overnight. The next morning, at my wit's end, I made an appointment with our family physician to see if I had some sort of ear infection.

He took a quick look and saw that my ear canal was totally blocked, with, you guessed it, earwax. (Yuk.)  Suddenly I realized that I had not been hearing very well out of that ear for a long time, a fact I only noticed when on the phone and needing to switch to my other ear. Hey, great, I wasn't going deaf after all!

A simple (yet creepy and mildly uncomfortable) procedure in the doctor's office alleviated the problem in about 15 minutes, and netted a giant wad of ---- gulp --- earwax that had been lodged inside my head. Well, inside my ear canal, but still that's located in my head, which contains my brain, and that's not anything I want to fool around with. I was unhappy that I had seen it, due to its grossness, but very happy it was gone. My hearing instantly soared from about 20% to 100% in that ear.

According to the researchers at Ascent Audiology & Hearing, "Many adults have conductive hearing loss in just one ear, and instead of seeking treatment for the cause of their temporary impairment, they use their good ear while waiting for the issue to resolve itself. Studies indicate that delaying or forgoing treatment could lead to permanent hearing loss, so rather than take a wait and see approach, have the issue taken care of by a physician or audiologist immediately. Our findings suggest that audiologists and physicians should advocate for early intervention and treat these middle ear conditions."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Condi in 2020

Last night I had a terrible dream. A nightmare you might say: Hillary Clinton had decided to run for president in 2020. But then I woke up and read it somewhere and OMG, turns out it's true. She must be stopped! But how? I'll tell you how:

Why Condi? She's got it all: She's black, she's female, she's gay (oh please), she's brilliant, she's adorable, she loves baseball, she plays the piano, and best of all she's not a Trump, Clinton, Bush or Democrat. Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Stupid N-Word

The founder of Papa John's Pizza was forced out of his very own company because during a training session on the phone with a marketing company said he believed the word "nigger" should never be used by anyone in his employ. And also that he had decided not to use rapper Kanye West in advertising because West says "nigger" in his songs. Of course, in stating that he would not say "nigger" he said "nigger," and so he had to go. If only he had said "The N-word," which we all know means the same thing but has somehow been deemed acceptable, things would have been fine.

This level of stupidity in our society makes my skin crawl. I keep waiting for my ship to come and take me back to my home planet where surely such rules do not exist and people can say how they really feel instead of hiding behind societal norms and pretending to be something they are not.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Face It, You're On Your Own

A typical shrink.
Life is hard. People, if they are brave enough to face the truth and have not deadened their senses through drugs, alcohol, food or video gaming, often feel lonely. They are confused about how to live and wonder if they are lovable. This causes them, in many instances, to turn to a professional for guidance. The pros, called shrinks, have the same problems we all do but hide them better, or try to, during sessions. They are not always successful.

I have been to more shrinks than I can count, even if someone offered me a million bucks to come up with the number. But I remember some of them because of obvious flaws that tipped me off to knowing they couldn't help me one bit. Following are some of the best, or worst, of what I call my Sicko Shrinks, identified here by first names only to avoid an ugly lawsuit.

1. Dr. Eizabeth: A marriage counselor who looked perfectly normal sitting behind her desk, when she stood up and waddled to the door to show you out you realized she weighed about 400 pounds, with a caboose the size of the Acela. No thank you.
2. Dr. Rich: A very small man with a very large Napolean complex, he crocheted during our sessions. The last time I saw him he was working on a pillow cover that said, "Old Age Is Not For Sissies."
3. Dr. Ted: An amateur photographer whose pictures were prominently displayed in his office, Dr. Ted was a dead ringer for Sigmund Freud. When I mentioned, at what turned out to be our only session, that I was a professional illustrator, all he wanted to know was how to sell his work, what did I think of his work and what should he do to improve his work. This occupied at least 75% of our 50-minute hour, for which I paid him 0 dollars and never looked back.
4. Dr. Claire: A legend in her own time, this middle-aged woman was lying on a couch when I arrived for our first session, one of her legs in a cast from hip to toe. When I inquired about her mishap (as anyone would), she countered with, "What is your fantasy about what happened to my leg?" I suggested she get some therapy and quickly fled, more frightened than ever.
5. Dr. David: First off, he stuttered, and one thing you want to avoid in a relationship with a therapist is a problem communicating. (According to NIH, "Approximately 75 percent of children recover from stuttering. For the remaining 25 percent who continue to stutter, stuttering can persist as a lifelong communication disorder.") Also, besides telling me every week that he looked forward to our sessions because I was so funny and made him laugh, he brought his huge St. Bernard dog to the office, explaining it was his "comfort animal." Shall I go on? (I didn't.)

So basically, we're on our own. For the best life results, take good care of yourself, get plenty of sleep, eat well, exercise daily and for God's sake don't smoke!

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Ordinary Imperfection of Daily Life

Last evening my husband and I had dinner out with friends; there were six of us in all. Mitch and I drove there with one couple and were to meet the other couple -- friends of our friends who we didn't know -- at the restaurant at 6:15. When the four of us arrived we asked the hostess if the others were there waiting for us. She assured us in no uncertain terms that we were the first of our party to arrive, and seated us on a side porch.

The four of us chatted for awhile, occasionally checking the time since the other couple was late. And getting later. "It's unlike them, they are usually quite punctual," somebody said. After about fifteen minutes a phone call was made to the latecomers, who answered and said they were waiting for us at the restaurant, sitting outside on the veranda and wondering why we were so late. Ha, ha, ha, I guess?

Not funny if you ask me. This stupid and unnecessary error went unpunished and in fact even unmentioned, leaving the oblivious young hostess with her nose ring and her several tattoos and her five or six pierced earrings in one ear to continue on her blithe, moronic way. I hated that. I also didn't really like the food, we have much better wine at home, and not one person asked me one question about myself all evening. That was supposed to be me out having a good time socializing, better than being at home alone watching Season 14 of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix. No wonder I wake up sobbing most days.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Art of Capturing Time

Detail from "Still Life #987"
If you are a painter, all you see is color and shapes. Everything you encounter is either a good subject for a painting or it isn't. You spend a lot of money on supplies. While you are not painting you wish you were, and while you are painting you doubt the validity of the activity, think it is pointless, and feel you should be doing something else. But what?

Nothing measures up, mostly because whatever it is, when it's over it's over, whereas when you finish a painting, the memory of those minutes, hours, days or weeks you spent creating it are sealed inside a tangible thing you can look at forever. Seeing it, you remember deciding to make that part there red instead of pink, or to move the purple thing up and slightly over, and how hard it was to fix it when you picked up the wrong brush and mistakenly painted something black instead of white. (Ouch!) Plus, there is always the possibility of a "happy accident," as one of my college professors told me years ago. Those are rare, but they happen, and they make your day.

Best of all, in life what's done is done -- your mistakes take their toll and you've got to live with them. But in art, what's done can always be done over and made better. Mistakes are instantly fixed. A landscape covers a still life covers a portrait covers another landscape. You remember them all. You have captured time.