Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's like that thing when something does you know

I have a bad case of CRS. It's better than Alzheimers but worse than just being a dingbat. CRS for you youth who don't have to worry yourselves with these sorts of problems is Can't Remember Stuff. We all know the S isn't for Stuff but I am tired of libraries blocking my posts when I tell it like it is.

My case of CRS began last month with a big ole seizure that I don't remember and there's just been a waterfall of don't remembers ever since. And if one more well-meaning nugget brain says, "Gosh, you should get that looked at" I will transform into Can't Refrain from Slapping. 

Yes, there are tests, doctors, plans, diagnoses. Blah blah blah. This is one of those rare situations in life when I really don't give a rip about what most anyone has to say. Unless you are my neurologist or an epileptic, please do not tell me how I should feel, what I should do, or how I should live. Bad mood much? Zip it, stuffhead.

There is a happy side to this. Because I work on a hospice unit and can find happy in most anything. Unfortunately, I just took a break for a tortilla chip and can't remember the happy side. Or why I started typing. Hmmm. Let's try this again.

I looked back in the blog posts from 5 years ago. We thought I had viral meningitis back then. I tried to blog about it. It was seizures we know now. Weird. Clearly Resolving Something. 

I have become Lucy from "50 First Dates" or the scary tattoo-covered dude from "Memento", two of the most famous memory loss movie characters. I prefer to think I am Lucy. She at least can remember for a whole day. I can't, but it is something to strive for. I'm realizing that Lucy isn't played with nearly enough rage. The lack of memory isn't as upsetting as the times when I have an inkling of everything I am forgetting. 

I was thinking today, if I had a friend who had this - how could I help him or be there for him without making things worse and aggravating him to the point of Cursing Really Stoutly at me? The answer can only be concocted by taking the little perfect bits of help others have been doing for me and put it all together in some sort of gentle cookie. Then tiptoeing to his door and oh so carefully passing him the cookie. Then not expecting him to remember the cookie. 

My parents offer me a 5 o'clock cocktail. That is nice. A friend texts every couple of days to make sure I don't need another trip to the coffee shop. Others send little messages here and there just to letting me know they and I are alive. I try not to eat out any more because it makes me pretty sick - all the people, the sounds, the lights, the movement but for less than an hour it can be nice. Good friends have offered to do fun things with the children. That's the best of all. That and not expecting me to remember anything.

And one friend reminds me of who I am, what I am doing, what's been going on for over a month. It's like telling me a bedtime story. It is very relaxing and it all sounds familiar if not completely believable. (Have I really given THREE public talks, done a good job of them, and don't remember a word of ANY of them? Did I really play the role of a crazed religious apocalyptic commentator for a multi-media art collaboration at the Anderson Gallery? And... Oh my gosh - I haven't been paid for that funeral?!)

 If I had a friend who was going through this, I'd send up the occasional hi with an offer to do something or go somewhere. I would NOT ASK, "How can I help?"  Or offer, "Call me if you need me." That assumes a level of memory and understanding completely beyond me/him. The key phrase is, "Is there anything you need TODAY?" 

I know that a thoughtful blogger would wrap this all up in a bow with a smile. Maybe that's not true. One of my readers is very ill. From his hospital bed he told me that it is hard for him when my blog goes black. Not everyone is looking for brilliance. Sometimes just a sign is kindness enough. A thoughtful blogger is trying to say hello by just saying the truth. Writing is very hard. Strange words just leap into sentences, and not much seems to rationally leading to not much else. Hello! Truth.

No, I don't need anything today. I'll be checking in on my reader in the hospital and he and I will chuckle when we can't remember what the other has said. 

Curiously Resilient and Sturdy

Author's Note: As an experiment, I wrote and edited this as I normally do. I went over it three times in full before posting. 8 hours later I came back and saw all the strange little wordings and mistakes. I have kept them to give you a bit of the feel of temporal lobe mayhem. And no, I did not remember what I wrote but felt like the cat who ate the canary because I knew I wrote anything at all.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Ransom Note

Dear Bliss Failure,

We have taken custody of your happiness. Your neglect of it was unconscionable. We will not disclose its location. If you want it, get off your sorry procrastinating selfish lard butt and find it.

Some of our members insist on giving you hints as to its hiding place. The rest of us think that if you are so dim as to not know the location of your own happiness, you don’t deserve to find it. Our Chaplain overruled reason by pointing out that your sense of direction may be obscured by your suffering. Bleeding heart, that one. Fine. Here are a few hints.

Your contentment is on the move because you don’t deserve to find it easily after your blunders with that relationship a few years back, your lackadaisical approach to saving for retirement, and what you’ve done to your body.

Seek it out in places both quiet and rowdy, in critters and cretins, tomes and movements. If you do not search for it, work for it, consider it, and value it… we will eat it all up.

We will return what is yours sooner if you are willing to dance, even if only in the privacy of your own home. Otherwise you got to do it the hard way, suckah.

Assistance of others is a non-negotiable term of our surrendering your delight back to you. Friends, lovers, family, strangers are all welcome. No police.

We are giving you plenty of time to come looking - but should we discover you have spent that time surfing the net, gossiping, Facebook stalking, watching porn, buying lottery tickets, or looking in the mirror while making disparaging comments about your appearance – we will take your happiness on a lovely hike complete with picnic and sunset marveling and never bring it back.

There is no monetary ransom because you can’t buy happiness, you dumbass.

These are our conditions.

Hugs and kisses,

The Suffering Resistance Front, Central Virginia Chapter

Friday, April 11, 2014

Holy Lessons at Lenten End - no, not exactly

I learned this stuff this week. What did you do?

* Go to the damn support group. Are you listening to me? Do it. We all are working through something. Get out there, listen to someone else, admit your imperfections, and go try life again. Mine is a bereavement support group. We meet Tuesdays at 5:30. 

* Independent radio, public broadcasting, documentaries, museums and Wes Anderson movies are good for you. I swear. And when they don't meet your needs, let them know. Thanks to my 8 year old daughter, the independent radio listeners of RVA were treated to the mellifluous sounds of Ron Jeremy crooning the Miley Cyrus ear worm "Wrecking Ball" this morning. How can you ever risk missing an experience like that? (Praise Buddha - she thinks Jeremy is a professional comedian.)

* Any phone app that suggests its owner has PMS was created by evil spirits and should be deleted immediately. Followed by the ceremonial eating of a white chocolate and cashew cookie.

* Whatever your religious or spiritual leanings - your world perspective is better when hanging with my LGBTQM Lenten Book Group. M stands for My goofy tail and if you think we are talking Christian dogma -we think you had an unfortunate head injury and wish you speedy recovery.

* After a terrible day, someone you love really does want to be with you and doesn't mind that you aren't a glowing, charming ball of happiness. And you don't have to keep apologizing. (Haven't really learned that second one but I like the way it looks on the page.)

* The parenting pickle: your child has been grounded since what feels like the Reagan era. On the last day before Spring Break he wants his best friend who gets exceptional grades and is never grounded to come over. And you do need help getting some things into the attic. What to do, what to do. (Yeah, they are on the front porch right now and the attic is a bit fuller.)

* The best friends are the ones that are impossible to discern whether they are a friend of yours or your kids. Until they pop open a beer.

* When a dying man who can barely breathe asks you about your beliefs on Jesus and you have a view considered heretical in some circles (mostly just Christian ones), take a deep breath and tell him the truth, no matter what it is. Nobody wants to be lied to at the end of their life. And what's the worst thing that can happen? Never mind. Try not to think about that.

* There are very limited circumstances in which the lyrics of the Gap Band make any sense. For greatest clarity, play on a Spring Friday afternoon at 5:00 PM. "Say, Oops up side your head..." makes no more sense then but you can dance or hula hoop to it.

Gotta' go hula hoop now...

Friday, April 04, 2014

How I Make Deviled Eggs

I woke up Friday at 5:30 AM in a gorgeous Manhattan condo. The condo's two babies and two daddies were asleep as I snuck out the door at 6:15 for Penn Station. I had tried to explain to the babies that I was saying goodbye last night. They weren't buying it. I'd spent four nights in their playroom Murphy bed. In baby time conception that meant I would be there for their proms. 

The daddies were probably glad to see me go. I fixed a huge Southern meal for them last night which had so much fat and triglycerides that I am almost certain I gave myself a hernia slinging butter in the pots. 

Let me stop exaggerating. The butter was slung and I have a small herniated spot on my belly button, but there is no scientific explanation suggesting causality other than timing. I think I got the hernia from lugging my 6 ton luggage around.

And I’m sure the daddies were just glad to see me go because now that I have introduced them to the Burlesque Babysitter I can do nothing more for them.

Yes. You read that: the Burlesque Babysitter. Every cougar mom’s nightmare and I invited her over for sweet taters, shrimp and grits, and this terrifying concoction I make with brown sugar and Jack Daniels. The daddies were already weakened by the food, she just came in for the kill.

The Burlesque Babysitter is the closest I get to knowing a superhero. Mild mannered, sweet Jewish humanist by day and gyrating goddess whose fake eyelashes are longer than a deviled egg by night, she came over for the Southern cooking. She had been at a photo shoot and still had her gear and sparkle boots on. The mom in me is sure she will need a chiropractor from the wig.

Last time I saw her she’d been all Clark Kented out and was hugging her auntie and cousins. This time she had the daddies debating the Kinsey spectrum of sexuality and just where they might be on it after all. I’d be really jealous if she weren't so flipping adorable and hadn't raved about every single thing on her plate. (Such a good lass, that one.)

The daddies were not one bit inappropriate with her either. You see, Lady Gaga had a piano teacher who was a stripper teaching her lessons throughout her childhood. This is the kind of information two daddy Manhattan couples have and find inspiring. But my girl's sparkle boots didn’t hurt her chances for babysitting either.

Where was I? Condo, hernia, daddies, artsy nudity… oh right, the train ride home. The long and short of that is the multi-state conversation with my seat mate about his former sex addiction.

What? What do you talk to your Amtrak seat mates about?

He was totally appropriate, too, as much as one can be when sharing their recovery process with a stranger of the opposite sex on a train. You see I had dropped the C bomb on him accidentally. That means I come to know how his mom died, what his father regrets most, his greatest fears for his children, why he is clean and sober in every way, and how he is adapting from knee surgery at Christmas.

C bomb = So, what kind of work do you do? he asks. I work as a hospice chaplain, I respond.

I try not to drop the C bomb when traveling. A seminary professor warned me decades ago, “If you want to sleep or read when traveling tell them you are an evangelist. If you feel like working, tell the truth.”  

I told the truth. And so did he from what I can tell. Nice guy, too. I gave him a big hug when I departed and told him to tell his Nana and them I said Hey! 

My beautiful, elegant mother who is without flaw forgot she was supposed to pick me up at the train station and went off galavanting in the Shenandoah so in between nibbling crudite from my purse and talking sex addiction I arranged a ride with a friend during the trip. 

I would very much like to just post that friend's name for all to see. Why? Why would I do such a cruel thing to such a good pal who drops everything to save me from a Richmond cab? (For another time can we examine why taking a cab in Richmond is seen as offensive? You took a CAB? Good God, why didn't you call me?)

I am plotting my revenge on this dear friend because the second he had me in the car he says. "I've gotta' go by Dirt's. Then I'll drop you off." 


Dirt is Richmond's most notorious Transgender Performer also known as Dirt Woman. I prefer to call her Baby Girl out of a misguided notion that affirmation will engender self-respect on her part. Hasn't worked thus far.

We roll up in Dirt's, sorry - Baby Girl's neighborhood after driving past mine as I put my nose against the window and whimpered. Baby Girl was rolling down the street. In her new wheelchair and looking pretty good for her which is pretty frightening for anyone else. Friend-who-will-not-be-named rolls down the window. 

"I brought your groceries!" (I think it was hooch but I've never seen Baby Girl drink much and my pal usually brings her food so, who knows?)

"I'm going to the Dr. Drop 'em off." No thank you. No peals of delight. "You got any cash?"

"No, Dirt. I got your groceries."

Baby Girl looks meaningfully at me. Baby Girl believes I am the greatest minister Richmond has ever had and scolds me in public for not having my own church because I am denying the city its spiritual core. 

I give her a 5. No thank you. No peals of delight. She rolls off. I ask my buddy if I can go home now. We laugh hard.

When we finally arrive at my place, even though my poor bedraggled friend tells me his back is killing him I explain my belly button hernia to him and he carries my suitcase up cursing in new and imaginative ways while I carry my work bag and purse. We get to my porch and I freeze.

I made it 5 days at a scientific convention in NYC about research pertinent to health care chaplains. I walked 19+ miles while I was there because I have Winter of '13-14 PTSD and kept thinking a blizzard could come any moment so I shouldn't ride the subway. I cooked for 6 hours for a dinner party and then upstaged my own self by introducing my fabulous cohorts to each other. I got up before dawn to get on a train where I would become chatty with a recovering sex addict, not in spite of that revelation but because of it. My mama forgot me. I gave my last fiver to a funky gal/guy in an electric wheelchair and I have a belly button hernia. 

I am EIGHT FEET from my flipping front door and I throw my back out.

I may be a chaplain but when I look back on this day all I can think is...

What The HELL Was That All About?

I don't know. Here's my deviled egg recipe.

8 boiled eggs
3T Duke's mayo (more if it's lumpy)
1T  Grey Poupon
1T of capers, crush after measurement
dash of caper juice
white pepper, black pepper and salt to taste
chopped anchovies for garnish

(All measurements require generous dollops that seem like they would be Tablespoons if someone made them commit to something as patriarchal as measurements.)

Directions: Open beer and drink. Peel the eggs. Drink. Slice the eggs open with a serrated knife because that's how my grandma did it and it makes them groovy. Mix yokes and other ingredients preferably in bowl. Drink. Stick your finger in the yoke mix and taste. Rinse palate with beer. Add random crap til it tastes like you want it but you won't remember when someone asks the recipe. Garnish with anchovies. Serve with beer to daddies and Burlesque performers.

Now say thank you and squeal with delight. It's all I ask.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Back Page Collection

One of the activities keeping me busy over the past months as I was not blogging was freelance writing. Some of my work has been for a German publisher and has to be bought to read -sorry 'bout that. But I have been contributing more regularly for Richmond's Weekly Magazine, Style Weekly.

I have a long, strange history with Style. My mother worked as an editor there in my youth. Naturally I considered those the glory years of the publication (until they started paying ME).

I was named one of their Top 40 under 40 one year, a huge honor. But the way the piece came out caused a bit of... let's say animated conversation. All agreed the photo by Jay Paul was jaw dropping in loveliness, however.

Style reported on my final day at one of the churches I served. That was pretty cool.

And now whenever they want something unpredictable, they call me and I write for their Back Page. Long strange trip it is. I hope to keep truckin' with Style.

Here are the 4 columns I've done so far. If you like them, let Style know. I like their assignments they offer me and their checks always clear.

Sci Fi Socio Political Parenting Piece (With Ed Harrington's very creepy graphic. I love it.)

New Year's Resolutions 2014

Some Sodomy Humor

How Obama Can Win the 2012 Election (Voter sex piece.)