Thursday, June 28, 2007

Time Flies When You're Losing Your Mind

Okay, yes, I know...that rocket left the launch pad a while back. But, unlikely as it may seem, it continues to thrust ever further into space...the final frontier. I'm getting loonier. I have proof.

Today was dermatologist day--always traumatic. I have a skin malfunction that basically ensures I'll never grow out of the oily-occasional-breakout-teenage phase. On the up side, oily skin gets fewer wrinkles. Anyway, today was a follow up, which I have come to believe translates to, "The day you have to go to the doctor so he can get his cut on the office visit before refilling your prescriptions." I don't hold that against the dermatologist. I think most doctors operate that way, and who can blame them? They have vacation homes to pay for.

Today, I also had a mole check. I bet some of you see where this is headed. I am one of the very pale skinned women who slathered themselves with baby oil and iodine and baked for hours to a bright, lobster red trying to achieve a suntan during my teenage years. Since I grew a brain, I have also had several accidental sunburns. So, once in a while, a dermatologist looks me over for suspicious moles.

This was my first general mole check with this doctor. Some of you might recall the dramatic, very specific mole check that brought me to this good man. So does he. Which possibly explains why this appointment was mysteriously bumped several times due to emergencies.

After a general chat about my teenage skin, why I need to use sunscreen, et cetera, kindly doctor Harper (not his real name) left the room so Nurse could drape me. This is where I take off everything except my underwear and she gives me a sheet for my legs, and a swatch of cotton about the size of a wash cloth. She hands me the cloth. "This is for your top."

I just looked at her.

She took another look and me and went to find a bigger wash cloth. Finally, we were all set, and Dr. Harper came back in. I chattered away about couldn't he just sandblast my whole body and give it that air-brushed look that models in magazines had while he looked me over with a magnifying glass. Literally.

I noticed he was paying a lot of attention to a red place on my shoulder. He measured, frowned, and made some notes. "How long has this been here?" he asked.

I told him I really couldn't say, but why was he asking?

"Is it a scar?"

"I don't think so," I said. I thought back, and couldn't imagine how I would have gotten a scar on my shoulder. I didn't recall ever injuring it.

"It might be a cancerous spot," he said, in a tone like he was saying we might have a shower later this afternoon, "or it could be a scar."

Now, I'm thinking, this guy's a dermatologist, and with a magnifying glass, he can't tell the difference between a scar and cancer? But I say, of course, "Let's get that sucker off of there right now."

He frowned at me. "It's really just something we need to watch."

"Watch?? Why? Just take it off."

"I'll check it again in fours months, and we'll see if it's grown any." He knew I'd have to come back in a month to get the refills on my teenage skin prescriptions, but he wanted to check what MIGHT BE CANCER in four months??

As you probably can guess, I did not take this well. I began to hyperventilate. "Dr. Harper, really, what's the down side to removing something that MIGHT BE Cancer right this very minute?"

"Well, this is the type of thing we see every day. We really just need to watch it," he said, in that father-knows-best-voice.

"Listen, Dr. Harper, I'm a little nutty"--like he didn't know that already--"and I really think we'll both be better off if you just get out the scalpel and get rid of whatever that is on my shoulder, because otherwise, I will lie awake and worry about it. I will obsess about it. I will drive everyone I know crazy."

He sighed. Deeply. "You know, I really wish I'd said, 'Hmmm, looks like you have a scar on your shoulder.'"

Again, I asked him what possible downside there was to removing the thing.

"It's like when you go to the doctor, and he tells you that your cholesterol is high, and we need to watch it."

I persisted. "What's the downside?"

"It will leave a scar," he said. He really said that. About this time, he started furiously scribbling my prescriptions.

I was flabbergasted. "But it already looks like a scar, and it MIGHT BE CANCER."

"You wouldn't have a doctor remove your appendix just because it might give you trouble," he argued.

I smiled, triumphantly. "Oh yes I would. I already have."

He cocked his head and squinted his eyes at me. "Well, if they were already in there..." He stood up and handed me my prescriptions. "See you in a month. I'll take a look at it then." He started rushing out the door. Over his should he said, "There's a lot of things we could all be worried about. Forget about this and pick something else." So now he's my psychologist, too??

I stewed on the way to the pharmacy.

I stewed all the way home.

If he wouldn't take the thing off, I'd find a dermatologist who would. Too bad the quack I used to see left town without notice. He'd lop anything off I asked him too, without so much as blinking. Why, he'd once taken off three or four moles in one office visit. One on my stomach, two on my arms, and... it stuck me like a thunderbolt... one on my shoulder.

The thing I wanted Dr. Harper to remove was the scar from where Dr. Left-Town-In-The-Middle-Of-The-Night had removed a mole years ago.

I think.

Y'all know how bad my memory is...

At least I can tell myself that until I go back for my teenage skin follow-up, which is a good thing, because we leave for tomorrow on vacation with my mamma and daddy and my sister and her husband. We're going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and will be spending time in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park. My family has little patience with my insanity. If I were to exhibit signs of obsessing about this mole/scar that MIGHT BE CANCER, one of them would likely drown me in the Snake River, or throw me out of a hot air balloon.

I'm already on my sister's list because I packed a skirt, and that was not on the approved wardrobe packing list in the professionally bound trip book she prepared for us. Y'all probably won't believe this, but she's much crazier than I am.

Peace, out...


Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's a Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad World

I don't do sad. I don't like to see sad movies or read sad books. And I really don't write about sad things. Disturbing things, sometimes, but never sad. There's far too must sad in reality. I like my escapism pleasant. And truth be told, I write to escape. It's like creating this alternate reality that you can climb into where you control everyone and everything. There's not a doubt in my mind that there's a clinical name for that, and somewhere, folks like me are locked up for their own protection and that of others.

Anyway, when this blog goes quiet, one of two things is happening: either I'm juggling too many balls and have dropped one, or too many sad things are going on around me. Lately, it's a little of both. I am trying to do too much. One of my personalities--y'all know I'm slightly schizophrenic, right? And before somebody gets all offended about me making fun of crazy people, just let me tell you that I'm also a hypochondriac. So I'm not sure if I'm truly schizophrenic, or if I'm just imagining it cause I sometimes exhibit the classic symptoms, but, either way, I in no way mean to ridicule crazy people. I am definitely a part of that club, either way you slice it.

I digress. One of my personalities (see above) agreed to be this year's conference chairperson for the South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference. I thought, This will be fun. And it is. It is also a job that I work at 10 - 12 hours every day. This is a volunteer position. I think it was Suzanne that agreed to this--she loves a party. Loves to entertain. This is just like something she'd stick me with. So, I'm busy.

But there's also too much sadness going on around me right now. But I can't write about that stuff--I just can't. And sometimes, it overwhelms me and I can't escape into my imaginary worlds anymore.

And now the bees. This thing with the bees isn't sad--it's scary as hell. On top of being blue, I'm freaked out by the bees. Have y'all been reading about this? I had not heard a word about it. I almost never watch the news. You rarely get good news from Fox or CNN, and I have doubts about how straight a scoop you get from any of them anyway. So I had not heard about the bees.

Then, Sunday evening we we sitting on my brother-in-law's deck having perfectly grilled steaks when a wasp flew by. I have an aversion to being stung, and wanted someone to kill it. My brother-in-law has a garden, and, who knew, wasps apparently (at least according to him) pollinate some of the stuff he grows. I want to state for the record that I have no knowledge of any of the specific crops in his field. Anyway, he wouldn't hear of swatting the wasp.

Then, he launched into this (at the time I thought typically nutcase) sermon about how all the honeybees are dying out, which will cause all of our crops to fail which will cause us all to starve. I was rolling my eyes because my brother-in-law, like most of my husband's family, (none of whom read blogs) are all loony.

Then, this morning, in the Greenville News, which I do read every morning, right there on page 6A--right beside the stuff about Iraq--is the headline, "Bee Die-off Endangers Food Chain," and a picture of a worried-looking scientist in a bee suit with a tray of dead bees. Even certifiable fruitcakes say something sane every now and again, so you can't just ignore everything that comes out of their mouths like you might think.

It seems some sort of disease or parasite has caused something called Colony Collapse Disorder. You might know they'd call it a disorder. Apparently, we now have to be politically correct when discussing bees, cause, you know, we don't want to offend. Anyway, this Disorder is responsible for U.S. beekeepers losing a quarter of their bees in the last few months. According to someone at the USDA, this is the biggest threat to our food supply. And don't you know the price of honey is going through the roof.

Here's something else to lie awake and worry about. I'm counting on what usually happens in these scenarios: tomorrow or the next day some other expert will chime in as to how this is a normal, cyclical thing--like global warming--and there's no cause for panic. And, people like me, who tend to obsess about stuff like this, will grab hold of that like a life preserver and tell ourselves that so we can sleep at night. Whether it has any basis in fact or not.

Peace, out...


Monday, April 23, 2007

It's All About Attitude

This past weekend was incredible. Artisphere came to Greenville, and since we live in the west end of downtown, we steeped in culture all weekend long. Awesome. Painters, photographers, potters, blown glass, jewelry from all over. And the music. Blues, Jazz, Calypso, Gospel, African Drum and Dance. It was a sensory feast so sumptuous it was impossible to taste everything. But I tried.

My personal favorites were folksy-soul singer/songwriter Amos Lee, who had a crowd of all ages dancing under a perfect Carolina crescent moon Friday night, and Chocolate Thunder and Shrimp City Slim, who performed at the Blues Cafe--most days known as patch of concrete beside Postcards From Paris. Shrimp City Slim is a great blues band from Charleston. Chocolate Thunder, aka Linda Rodney, who has a set of pipes that rank right up there with Aretha and Patti, sang with them on Sunday.

This is a formidable woman. Not only is she a great singer, but the girl puts on a heck of a show. She tore up that stage dancing, and had a good time doing it. At one point, as an introduction to a song she wrote, When a Man Says I Do, she told us, "I come from a long line of strong black women. And I know, you got to keep your eye on your money and keep your eye on your man...cause if you lose one, the other is most likely gone."

The punch line to When a Man Says I Do is, "It don't mean he won't." And it's a great song.

But the thing that struck me about Linda was her stage presence. I don't think she'd mind my saying that she is voluptuous. More voluptuous than I. And...she did not dress in clothing designed to hide her curves. Her bright pink, black and white blouse did not hang down to the knees of her jeans. And the girl was accessorized. She looked great.

She danced like she had the combined gene pool of Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, and that girl from Flashdance. The girl got down, is what I'm saying. And she was not embarrassed one bit by her size. At one point, she slowed it down and sang Summertime, joking, "us big girls got to take it easy."

Maybe if this whole getting skinny thing doesn't work out for me, I should consider changing my worldview.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

There is Order in The Universe

So we were driving home from Jasper, AL, last Thursday afternoon. We timed our departure so as not to hit Atlanta rush hour traffic, congratulated ourselves for planning ahead and put a John Hiatt cd in. We were tooling across I-20, passing an 18-wheeler, when an old beat up pickup truck (complete with all the accessories--gun rack, fresh coat of mud, et cetera--came hurtling up behind us. As soon as we cleared the 18-wheeler, the pickup darted at a dangerous angle in front of the tuck, passed us on the right, and swerved in front of us.

Jim had not finished spitting expletives and muttering something about suicidal morons--this particular one turned out to be a female in a tank top with a ponytail and a cell phone--when a guy that looked like he just stepped out of the board room driving a souped-up hot rod of undetermined lineage passed Miss Armed and Dangerous. Then two more cars and an SUV pulled up even with Hot Rod and Dirty Truck.

Jim scooted back into the right lane and backed off from these maniacs--or tried--but we were on the Interstate, and being passed doing 80 miles an hour. Before we knew it, we were in the middle of about twenty cars that were changing lanes back and forth, passing each other and jockeying for position with maybe 6 inches clearance between them. Something bright yellow that I couldn't identify--but Jim said was a Chevrolet Nomad--was riding our bumper. As best I could tell, Minnie Pearl was at the wheel. There was nothing we could do but hang out and try not to get run over.

"What are they doing?" It was me that hollered that out...Jim was busy yelling out stuff I can't post on the Internet--my mamma sometimes reads this blog. "Bunch of morons," he yelled. Moron is Jim's pet name for other drivers. He's kinda stuck on it.

Anyway, cars were zooming by, weaving in and out, and back and forth. Expeditions, Cadillacs, Pickups, an El that looked like they'd been built from parts of 5 or 6 different makes. Toyotas, Volkswagens--every kind of car you can think of. And a camper! Minnie Pearl passed us and waved--not her parade wave, either, but the kind that doesn't require the use of all your fingers.

Then, I saw the sign.

Talladega County.

As in, Talladega Superspeedway, the "biggest, fastest the biggest, fastest, most competitive motorsports facility in the world." According to their website--which I have no reason to doubt--"Records for both speed and competition have been established at Talladega."

Suddenly, everything was clear. Everyone in the county was training for a NASCAR tryout. Sure enough, before long we passed the shrine of speed, oddly painted cars and spectacular crashes. The further we got away from it, the more normal people started driving. After a while, traffic thinned out, and slowed back down to 75.

I guess it's a kind of salute the locals give the race track when they drive by after work. They get within a couple miles of the place, they all start driving like Richard Petty--or whoever. I don't speak NASCAR.

But I still get it. Next time though, I think we'll take rush hour in Atlanta over rush hour in Talladega County.

Peace, out...


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Acts of God and Other Puzzlements

I'm on the road again--in Jasper, Alabama. Jasper is one of the many towns across the country that I would never get to see were it not for the fact that my husband has a job that takes him to places generally not found in Fodor's tourist guidebooks. There's nothing wrong with Jasper. It's a nice, regular town. I just probably wouldn't have made a special trip.

The thing that unnerved me, though, is we arrived on Sunday evening, April 8th--yes, we traveled here on Easter Sunday. Right after my mamma stuffed us into a food coma. Anyway, April 8th was the eighth (or was it ninth?) anniversary of when an F-5 tornado blew through this part of the country. Not Jasper specifically, but real close by. Now, I'm not sure I've told y'all this, but I have had a life-long, blood-freezing terror of tornadoes.

You might be asking yourself if I was raised, perhaps in Kansas, where such horrific storms are common. No, in fact, I was raised in Faith, NC, and as so far as I am informed, there has never been a tornado there, nor anywhere in the vicinity. The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie as a child--perhaps that explains it. Either that, or it was the way my family huddled in the hall every time it thundered, even if it was the dead of night. Mamma would get me out of bed to duck for cover with the rest of the family until the last rumble had faded.

Y'all knew I wasn't normal, right? Well, there are reasons...

Anyway, I'm right here where this monstrous Act of God transpired--why do you suppose they call such things "Acts of God?" Tangent Alert...

Why are bad things--tornadoes, tsunami's, earthquakes, et cetera--called Acts of God, and none of the good things? I mean, think about it...the sun came up this morning, and no one else--not even any of the presidential primary candidates--has claimed credit for it, but no one refers to Daylight as an Act of God. But if it wasn't an Act of God, I'd sure like to know who is responsible, wouldn't you? I'd like to stay on his or her good side, so to speak.

And what about spring? Things are blooming all over...well, except in the Midwest and Northeast where it's still snowing. See? All that snow, now, that's an Act of God according to newscasters and insurance agents everywhere. But wisteria in bloom? He doesn't get the credit. I find this a puzzlement.

I guess atheists and such aren't much troubled by the lack of logic here. But, as someone who knows God personally, I'd like to see Him get a little more credit for everything good that happens here on planet earth. All of y'all atheists, agnostics, Unitarians, and what can't have it both ways: If a tsunami is an Act of God, then by golly, so is the rhythmic surf caressing beaches all over the world right this minute.

Peace, out...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Told Y'all This Would Happen

I drug myself out of rehab--the kind you go to for sports injuries--and back down Wade Hampton Boulevard yesterday and reported for torture. The Queen of Pain was AWOL, and in her place was Jenny. Y'all remember a while back I told you about Jenny-the-cutest-little-thing?

I knew it was only a matter of time before sweet Jenny morphed into alien Jenny. She has all the right equipment--she's beautiful, skinny, and can dance like a maniac for an hour without breaking a sweat. And, of course, she was trained by the QOP herself.

Alien Jenny is the closest thing to a Casey-clone that we'll likely ever see. She put a hurting on me that the QOP would have been proud of. I was into the blue (the section of the exertion chart that's not actually a part of the chart, but the top border) by song number two. The thing about Jenny is that, while definitely an alien, she's still sweet. The sweetness oozes out of her while she's killing you--it's bizarre, actually. It's like she's Casey before somebody gave her the intravenous sarcasm--which, by the way is one of the things I like best about Casey--I don't mean that ugly. She makes me laugh. And trust me, when you are being bent, folded and mutilated by Casey, you need something to laugh about.

Yesterday, as I was sweating like a Charleston roofer in August, hair all in my eyes, mouth hanging open, face squinched in agony as Jenny pushed me toward a cardiac episode, she smiled serenely, looked out across the class and said, "You look awesome!"I can only guess the rest of them must have looked better than me. I still don't know how she said it with a straight face with me right there on the front row.

Hmmm... Maybe...maybe sweet Jenny isn't as sweet as she looks. Maybe she's just as sarcastic as Casey, but sneaky about it. You know, like those women whose mouths won't melt butter when they say, "How niiiiice," but you know what they really mean is something no Southern lady would ever say out loud.

She bears watching, our Jenny. She may be a new breed of alien.

I've gotten two classes in this week...I'm doing better. Maybe in the morning I'll drop in on the caring and nurturing one. If I'm out of traction.

Peace, out...


Monday, March 26, 2007

It's Whining Time Again

Y'all knew I'd only make it to Jazzercise one day last week, right? I mean, it was my first week back, and there's nothing that will wreck your exercise program faster than over-doing the first week. Besides, I pulled something in my left leg last Monday, and did the sensible thing and let it heal.

So, in return, this Monday, the Queen of Pain pulled all my muscles, just to let me know she cares. A while back, I posted a list of the top 10 things you DO NOT want to hear a Jazzercise instructor say. I'd like to add # 11... "You ready for something new?"

This inquiry is normally delivered with an angelic smile and a sarcastic tone. It is code for, "You think that hurts? Try this..." Today it preceded the twenty-fifth time we did inner-thigh work in Casey's set. Inner thighs and glutes... those were the muscles d'jour. We're getting ready for short season--the most painful time of year. Colder climates look appealing to me right now. Places where they never wear shorts, like, I don't know...maybe Antarctica.

I was already in pain before I got to the car--a new record. Usually, it takes at least the drive home for the hurting to commence. By the time I drug myself out of the car and into the condo, I was walking like I'd gone bull riding, and been thrown and trampled. I have hitches in my get-along that will not go away. I've had a hot shower, aspirin and bio-freeze--the icy-hot stuff the chiropractor gave Jim when he hurt his back. I sprayed on half a bottle and it didn't help a bit. I'm considering drinking the stuff

I'm going to look for the Tylenol. You can take that on top of aspirin, right?

Peace, out...


Friday, March 23, 2007

Street Walking Ain't What It's Cracked Up to Be

Many moons ago, I started this blog--in theory--as a way to hold myself accountable for things I should be doing, but didn't always get around to. Like exercise, eating right, staying on my writing schedule and living right. Lately it seems like I'm doing everything except those things, ergo, no blogs.

My intentions were good, as intentions often are. When I resigned my spot on the front row at Jazzercise, I told Myra (the caring and nurturing one) and Casey (the Queen of Pain) that I lived too far away now ( 20 minutes down Wade Hampton Boulevard!), and would be taking exercise along the streets of beautiful downtown Greenville. I was going to become a Street Walker.

I envisioned getting up each morning to the sounds of an awakening small city, donning one of my newly-purchased, chic, walking outfits, and power-walking past the shops, cheerily waving at shopkeepers as they opened for business. On my way back to my West End condo, I would stop by Starbucks, order a Venti Nonfat Mocha, and read the New York Times. Then, batteries fully charged, I would go home and words would pour out of me into the computer. It was an artsy vision.

Reality is that I haven't bought those chic walking outfits, because I refuse to buy clothes a size larger, and I've expanded my horizons. When we first moved in, the morning temperatures were literally freezing, and the wind howled down Main Street. Most shops don't open until ten, so the only folks to wave at were the ones opening the bakery-cafe type establishments that harbored forbidden treats. And along with that Venti Nonfat Mocha, Starbucks was pushing scones, muffins, and lemon pound cake. Also, the hilly nature of our Main Street (not as noticeable when you drive down it) gave me shin splints. And walking, unlike Jazzercise, is lonely. Words have not gushed into my computer.

On Monday, I hauled my sorry, expanded derriere down Wade Hampton Boulevard and reenlisted. Not much has changed...the classes are a little more crowded (it's spring--bathing suit season looms), and the Queen of Pain, courtesy of her 22-week, completely unnoticeable-unless-you-know pregnancy has graduated to her very first C-cup.

She's still an alien. But I sure was happy to see her...and Wendy, Connie, Betty, Sarina, Allison and all the other familiar faces.

I should be dancing.

Peace, out...


Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Year's Revolution

Okay, yes, I know I haven't posted on this blog since November 1. But I have many, many reasons. Not excuses...reasons. Here are the top ten:

10. I was kidnapped by aliens--not the beautiful-but-flat-chested, Jazzercising kind, but honest to dog aliens--and their Internet does not support inter-planetary communication.
9. One of my multiple personalities, Starla, was in charge, and she refuses to use a computer because she believes that they emit radiation that causes a vitamin K deficiency, wrinkles, and the impulse to ballet dance down Main Street wearing a hat with fruit and combat fatigues, while twirling fire batons and singing Hello Dolly.
8. I've been on a Top Secret mission for Homeland Security.
7. My dog ate my laptop.
6. I've spent every spare moment exercising.
5. I've eaten so little that I was too light-headed to type.
4. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and multiple family birthdays in rapid succession.
3. We finally sold our house, and downsized to a condo 1/3 the size and it is quite time consuming to rid yourself of 2/3 of your belongings, but you can only fit so much stuff into 1,400 square feet.
2. I'm in a funk because of the move I thought I wanted to a downtown condo, walking distance to everything, including all my favorite restaurants and the Starbucks where Renee Zellweger was hanging out until The Greenville News chased her off--and the hotel where George Clooney is staying during location filming for Leatherheads. Not that I'm a star-stalker--I mean, I'm sure they're very nice people, but honestly, I get no thrill out of close encounters with celeberties.
1. I'm this year's chairperson for the South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference, and while this is a volunteer position, it is taking more of my time than any fulltime job I have ever had in my entire life--not that I'm complaining--au contraire--most days it's a blast.

Okay, those last four were for real.