Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Trying Not to Hate Rush Limbaugh

Whenever I see Michael J. Fox these days, my heart feels like someone has just given it a good swipe with steel wool. I recognize in his Parkinson's Disease-affected movements the same cruel symptoms that ravaged my mother.

Parkinson's robs people of their dignity.

Over the years, when I was in high school and then college, I watched as my mom progressively lost her ability to walk, write, feed herself, talk, and in the end, even swallow. Eventually bed-ridden, she developed a sore that became infected and had to be hospitalized. The doctors said she was on the brink of starvation because she had hardly been able to get anything into her system (and this with a visiting nurse treating her each day).

That would be her last hospitalization. One Saturday morning, a week before Christmas, she stopped breathing. After they revived her, she remained in a coma for three months.

Now comes Rush Limbaugh, ridiculing Fox's appearance on ads supporting stem cell research.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act."

"This is the only time I've ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has," Limbaugh said. "He can barely control himself."


Yes, he can barely control himself: That's the point. And let me tell you, without the money Fox is able to pour into all kinds of treatment, he wouldn't even be able to have pulled off what he did looking relatively normal.

Rush Limbaugh, sir, it is not in my nature to hate. But if ever you are diagnosed with Parkinson's or other degenerative disease, I'll ask you to please forgive me a brief smile.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Belated Apology to My High School Journalism Teacher

I awoke this morning at 8:37 (my favorite number, as 837 was the address of the house I grew up in) in my fantabulous new big-ass bed, to a clear, summer-like day that has to be seen to be believed, if you're familiar with the Richmond District.

Before leaving on what would be a 5-mile walk that would take me along the beach, through Golden Gate Park and to the neighborhood library where I would guiltily pay a $3.60 fine to get my books out of hock, I jumped online to make sure there was no breaking news that I would get my ass kicked for ignoring come Monday morning.

And there was a pleasant little surprise waiting for me: A very sweet note from my high school journalism teacher who, if he reads this, will now realize that I had a rather large crush on him back in the day.

I feel so honored when someone from my past seeks me out (excepting my former stalker and curent AA disciples who have rung me because they've reached Step 9). It makes time and life seem much more full and contextual -- even magical -- as opposed to a linear train track where, after we pass the stations, they fade into the distance.

It's shocking to me now to find that Mr. V is only five years older than I. Poor guy, a 21-year-old, good-looking man thrown into a school of 1,000 Catholic school girls. I and a handful of other classmates terrorized him.

Yes, I was an impertinent punk. And Mr. V, I aplogize.

I must confess, though, the sauciness has followed me and is bound to get me killed, fired or promoted one day.

A managing editor at the Wilmington, N.C., paper where I worked once told me tactfully: "There's a difference between being opinionated, and being ornery for ornery's sake."

Ha! Tell that to my current publisher. He walked by this week as I was filing expenses for the Atlanta trip and asked "What the hell were you doing in Atlanta?" "Fucking off," I replied.

Perhaps not the best way to treat a man who's had a reputation for keeping a gun in his desk back in Detroit.

Well, if he ever looks me up years from now, I'll apologize to him too. But not now -- I'm having too much fun.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Here's Looking at You, Kid

Mom and Dad had green eyes; so have my five older siblings. When I was a kid, I thought that was boring.

My best friend was a girl called Lori who lived across the street. Lori had brown eyes. That's what I wanted.

My mom told me that when I was older, my blue eyes would turn darker -- but they probably wouldn't be brown.

I remember being 5 or 6 and staring into my mom's full-length mirror on the back of my parents' bedroom door, looking at my eyes and watching for any fleck of color change.

Sometime after I stopped looking, my eyes did turn a darker bluish green. I always considered myself to have green eyes, but most people will say they're blue. That always made me mad. "What are you, an idiot?!" I'd think. "EVERYONE in my family has green eyes. Duh!"

An article I read in the Boston Globe today made me feel better about my eye color: Blue eyes are increasingly rare, it seems.

The article reads in part:

Once a hallmark of the boy and girl next door, blue eyes have become increasingly rare among American children. Immigration patterns, intermarriage, and genetics all play a part in their steady decline. While the drop-off has been a century in the making, the plunge in the past few decades has taken place at a remarkable rate.

About half of Americans born at the turn of the 20th century had blue eyes, according to a 2002 Loyola University study in Chicago. By mid-century that number had dropped to a third. Today only about one 1 of every 6 Americans
has blue eyes, said Mark Grant, the epidemiologist who conducted the study.

"Mark Grant," strangely enough, was the name of my first love -- a high school dropout, a smoker with wild red hair and blue eyes who, as it happens, always told me that he thought my eyes were beautiful.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Just Waiting on a Bed

Yesterday I went out for a long walk and ended up buying a bed.

I'm like that -- I get an idea into my head and I think about it and think about it, and then I'll find myself passing the appropriate outlet and -- boom. I think, well, now's as good a time as any. Let's do it.

The full mattress I have been sleeping on for the past 10 years was purchased lovingly, along with an antique rosewood frame, by my ex-husband to greet me upon my arrival in San Francisco.

But our apartment was small, and I had a perpetual bruise on my right thigh where I inevitably would hit the footboard as I rounded it.

I kept the bed after M. and I split, but it never seemed right. It really didn't seem right for anyone else but him to be in it with me. After I bought my place, I sold the frame to a sweet couple who had just moved here from Japan. The woman jumped up and down at the price: $25.

Lately, I've realized my mattress isn't that comfortable anymore. And, I'll admit, SOMEONE in this household had peed on it once or twice.

Since buying my place, I've set about trying to upgrade parts of my life to adult level. Buying a real bed, I thought, would be mature and therapeutic, not to mention symbolic.

So yesterday, as I took my 80-block walk (yes, you read that right; I'm not the old Stella), I found myself in front of Sleep Train on Geary. In I went, told salesman Dane what I wanted, and Bob's your Uncle (what the hell does that mean?), I am awaiting the delivery of a California king-size Simmons Beautyrest set with drawers built into the boxspring.

Yep, the biggest-ass bed I could find. I cleaned out my bedroom this morning in preparation.

Dane even threw in a magic mattress cover that doesn't allow liquid to reach the mattress. Take that, cats!

(As an aside, what's the deal with there being two king sizes -- Eastern and California? Ours is longer, either demonstrating that we grow 'em big out here -- or that we simply are more decadent.)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

In Which I Marry Off My College Roommate!

When I got married 10 years ago, my college roommate Vic wouldn't have missed it for the world (though she was caught on tape arriving late). Her words: "I wasn't gonna believe it til I saw it."

With similar sentiment in mind -- but much more confidence in the union -- I did my bit and married her off yesterday to a wonderful man named John.

We trundled off to City Hall, where I was the witness, and my ex-boyfriend the sheriff's deputy was overly gracious and served as ad-hoc cameraman, even getting us into the mayor's office for a photo op on his balcony.

Unfortunately for blog purposes, the only picture I have on my digital camera is the one I'm posting (the lovely bride is on the left. And notice my new Chanel sunglasses!)

Three cheers for Vic and John! Hip, hip hurrah! Hip, hip hurrah! Hip, hip hurrah!

(Now, we plan to send this pic back East and convince our friends we were lesbians the whole time and finally decided to tie the knot.)

Three cheers for me and Vic!

P.S. I might mention that her employer allowed her to change her status from single to married without so much as a sniff...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I am Divorced, Really I am

The other day, my employer sent out an e-mail asking us all to update our personal info on the company site in the event of an emergency. Being the dutiful employee I am, I immediately set about navigating the intricacies of the online form, updating my phone number and my sister's information (she's getting my Pez collection when I die). Everything looked good.

Then I scrolled down to the bottom of my page and found some other personal items listed under the heading: "To edit this information, see your Human Resources Department."

While the phone number I had just updated had been simply one numeral off, the information at the bottom of the page was seven years off:

Marital status: Married
Spouse: MPR

I got a bit of a frustrated chuckle out of this, seeing as M. and I separated in 1999 and were officially divorced a year later.

Again, being the dutiful employee I am, I shot an e-mail to HR asking how to go about erasing this info. After all, I could just imagine me having a breakdown in the newsroom, perhaps fainting from not being able to eat lunch all day and my body failing to run on the fuel provided by three baby carrots.

"She's married!" someone would proclaim. "We've got to call her spouse!" And M. would answer the phone sleepily (why, I don't know, as I picture this scene happening around 5 p.m.) and yawn and say, "Well, I'm in bed with my girlfriend right now. I think maybe I have her new number around here somewhere ... you know, you can probably reach her at the newspaper ..."

(Not to mention the wrangling over the Pez collection that would ensue following my demise.)

So, today I received an e-mail from HR saying they would be happy to edit my information -- if I would provide them with a copy of my divorce papers.

WTF?

No one had ever asked me for my marriage certificate -- surely, a much prouder, happier occasion.

But here was HR, the same department that last year demanded I provide a copy of my dad's death certificate in order to get a day off for his funeral (that was a cheery moment). And now this?

I wrote back: "Are you serious? Don't you think I'd know if I were divorced?"

This prompted a phone call. "Hi! This is X from HR," a cheery voice said. "I got your e-mail. But I don't get it."

"I was joking," I said. "You really need me to show you the divorce decree? I'm not sure I even know where it is."

"Let me doublecheck the system," she said, and after a moment, "Yes, we still show you as married."

Sigh.

I can't help but liken my marriage to Rabbit's warren in Winnie-the-Pooh, which was oh, so easy for Pooh Bear to enter into and enjoy the honey -- but oh, so hard to pull himself out of.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Nose Hair, Madeleine Albright and Dandruff

I had to share. From today's Dear Abby:

DEAR ABBY: I have a question I cannot find the answer to. I have asked many people, including the chief of staff of the U.S. Army and Madeleine Albright. Nobody seems to know the answer.

I am 90 years old, and if I don't get an answer soon, it will be too late. My question is: Can nose hair get dandruff?
-- JOHN W. JOHNSON, CAPT., U.S. ARMY (RET.)

DEAR CAPT. JOHNSON: Not unless the nose has been "sniffing" dandruff.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Men Retreat

My ex-husband, M., is a senior editor at a local magazine.

My ex-boyfriend T., who has become a current suitor (recurrent suitor?), is an editor at said magazine's online counterpart.

Each business entity had been owned separately. Recently, they merged.

Each year, the print mag has a work retreat. Now, those will include the eds from the online side.

This means that T. and M. are spending three days together, beginning tomorrow, at a retreat down toward Santa Cruz.

I think this is priceless. My ex and my ex, going on a long weekend.

On an unrelated note, I want to give a big online kiss and thank you to my new friend who took me out to lunch at the Beach Chalet today. You know who you are! (And do you want to go on a retreat?)