Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Just Not a Party Unless EMS Comes Out

So, last Saturday evening was the first Christmas party of the season at Chez Boyer. This was a fun group,  which loosely consisted of local writer friends. I need to say up front that NO OFFICAL ORGANIZATION SPONSORED THIS EVENT, and each and every writers' group that grants me membership is blameless.

It was early in the evening--guests were still arriving. Groups of future literary luminaries chatted about all manner of highbrow matters in the kitchen and keeping room, while sipping festive drinks and nibbling on canap├ęs--okay, it was Southwestern eggrolls, vegetarian meatloaf on crackers, and mini cheeseburgers. Hey, that meatloaf was good. I'm just saying...

Anyway, I was lounging on the sofa yakking with a couple of friends, when something went BOOM! in the kitchen.

I jumped up and looked across the bar, but all I could see was the backsides of everyone who had dashed to the middle of the kitchen.

My husband shouted, "CALL 911! NOW!!"

Clueless, but responding automatically to the tone in The Husband's voice I grabbed the phone and made the call.

"What's the nature of your emergency?" the voice on the phone asked.

I had nothing. I shook my head, gestured wildly, and gave my name and address. I peered over someone's shoulder. A friend we'll call Ginger because that is SO not her name sprawled in the kitchen floor on her back looking at the ceiling.

"What happened?" I asked.

Realizing my dilemma, everyone answered at once. I picked out a few things and told the operator, "My friend got dizzy and fell out of a bar-height chair onto the hardwood floor and hit her head."

The operator asked the standard questions, is she breathing, conscious, able to speak, etc. (All yes at that point, but at least one person said she'd lost consciousness for a moment.) I gave directions--oddly we weren't "in the system." The 911 operator assured me help was on the way.

By this time, The Husband had Ginger's head and feet on pillows, and had tried to cover her with a blanket, but she declined as she was too hot already. Ginger seemed a bit confused herself, as to how she came to be flat on the floor, but poll results indicated that 70% of the people who'd seen what happened thought that she'd leaned back in the chair, not realizing she was seated sideways, and toppled to the floor, where she was at least dazed, and possibly momentarily unconscious.

One resourceful soul asked for a flashlight and went outside to wave down the EMS team. Moments later, the firetruck arrived and parked in front of the house. I greeted the team at the door--I think there were three of them--and directed them to the kitchen. The writers backed off, allowing the professionals to form a circle around Ginger and ask her the same round of questions.

Then, the doorbell rang.

For the next thirty minutes, I alternated greeting arriving guests and additional EMT's. To each group of party guests I explained the firetruck and ambulance, then told them where to put food (and the best route into the kitchen under the circumstances) and coats, and offered them a drink. Periodically I popped by to check on Ginger, who seemed increasingly normal.

After everyone realized Ginger was okay, they went back to nibbling and socializing.



For a surreal while--I really couldn't say how long--the group chatting around Ginger was just one more conversation clutch at the party, only they didn't have drinks. After a bit, the EMT's got Ginger up off the floor. She declined to go to the hospital. The EMT's left, and Ginger stayed at the party and later sang a Karaoke duet with the gentleman who'd flagged down EMS with the flashlight.

It was a great party...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Return of The Queen of Pain

She's baaack. Actually, she came back last week, but I had a very good REASON for not showing up on Wednesday. I had a migraine--weather changes, etc. I CANNOT exercise after taking a Relpax. I can't drive after taking a Relpax, but that's a whole nother story.

The Queen of Pain is back onstage at Jazzercise of Taylors, and every muscle in my body is aware. We got an early start on my New Year's resolution today. She thinks (and I know this because she made a smartass comment during class--while wearing the mic) that I will abandon my early NYR by Wednesday. That sounds about right. On the other hand, I might stick with it just for the novelty. I have a vague memory of what being thin felt like. Seems like I was hungry a lot...

QOP quote of the day: "Breathe through your noses. Those aren't just for piercing." I guess thirty women gasping for breath and clutching various body parts is unattractive.

In other Jazzercise news, the group that marched/danced in the Greenville Christmas parade won some sort of award--best dance troupe or some such. I did not participate--I've done the parade thing, back in high school. Only we didn't shimmy.

Look, I'm not saying that pole-dancing moves got them the award, but I did hear that they were PRET-TY theatrical when they pranced past the judges' stand.

I'm just saying...

Off to pop some aspirin and soak in the Jacuzzi...

Monday, November 30, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Like a lot of folks, I went home for Thanksgiving. I've lived in Greenville for a while now--we won't go into how long, as that brings up troubling math problems related to my age. But somehow, the little town in North Carolina where I grew up will always be home.

Mom did what she always does--she made enough food to feed a small country. While we stuffed ourselves silly, we caught up on the ins and outs of each other's lives... Dad's acid reflux problem, my niece's ear tubes, my uncle's new red El Camino with the orange Firebird-looking thing on the hood...

And the latest on the group of women who bought my grandmother's civil-war-era farmhouse.

My maternal grandmother passed away a little over two years ago. My grandfather had been waiting for her at the Pearly Gates for years, so their six-thousand-square-foot house was empty. It's a gorgeous home, and it had been lovingly cared for. Our family had many years of happy memories there. It was an emotional thing, is what I'm saying. No one wanted to sell, but it was the only practical thing to be done. None of us needed a house just then, especially one that size. Though everyone hated to see it pass out of the family, my mother, aunt, and uncles decided to sell.

After a year or so, a group of women bought the house. My understanding was that they planned to use it as a shelter for abused women. Now, to say that this home (on six plus acres) in a rural part of a county that's a hundred miles east of nowhere is an unusual place for a shelter would be an understatement. Whatever. They bought the place.

What The Shelter Women did not purchase, was my uncle's house, which is next door and shares a driveway. We'll call my uncle Harley, because he would not appreciate having his actual name on the Internet. The government, and all that.

The Shelter Women want Harley to leave.

They have told him, multiple times, that he cannot stay there, as the women who will be given shelter have been traumatized, and will not like having a strange man so close by--I'm paraphrasing, but this was the gist of it. Harley would be happy to leave if the Shelter Women would buy him out. They just want him to leave.

The Shelter Women have never moved into the house, but periodically they come by. I think my uncle watches for them, and maybe goes outside and acts extra crazy just for fun--maybe shoots something. (He once took out two squirrels with one shot.)

So, The Shelter Women showed up a few weeks back with a minister of undetermined theology. He didn't speak English, and my uncle didn't recognize whatever language he was speaking, but the minister's mission that day was to exorcise the property.

Recently, The Shelter Women have become upset that my family didn't tell them the house was haunted. Listen, my grandparents lived in that house for thirty years. My grandmother lived there for seven years by herself. There were no ghosts. (At least if there were, they were well-mannered and quiet.)

But the minister, nevertheless, went into the house with a bottle of what was presumably holy water.

Then, he walked all over the yard sprinkling and chanting.

Then they--The Shelter Women and the minister--came next door and asked if they could sprinkle Harley's yard. He's an easy-going guy, so he said, "Sure, why not?"

Then, they wanted to sprinkle Harley.

I think they settled for rubbing his head with some of the water in the bottle. What the minister was chanting is anyone's guess. Hey, they can sprinkle Harley with whatever they want to, but unless they come up with some money, he's not moving.

Poor Dad. With drama like this, his acid reflux got no attention whatsoever.

I really need to go home more often. And take a tape recorder. You can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beat the Reaper is Hilarious, Profane, Graphic, and Occasionally Poetic

So, I finished reading Josh Bazell's debut novel, Beat the Reaper. I know, everyone else read this back in January or whenever. It was a bestseller, but somehow I missed it. Then, at Bouchercon, authors on several panels raved about this book. I rushed right out and bought it, and added it to my to-be-read stack.

Aside from the cover blurbs, there are five pages of praise, excerpts of reviews, etc., in the front of the book. This alone is impressive, especially when you look at the names: Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Hallie Ephron and others, along with virtually every newspaper and magazine that still reviews books.

The premise of the book (if you've been on a desert island all year, or, like me, were spending your days in an alternate reality), is this: Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at a nightmare of a hospital in Manhattan. Dr. Brown is also in the Witness Protection Program, his previous occupation mob hit man. He stumbles on a terminally ill patient from his mob days, and spends most of the book trying to stay alive while still taking care of his patients.

Beat the Reaper is roughly half flashback to why and how Peter became involved with the mafia, and how he came to be in WITSEC.

It's a thoroughly entertaining read, and it lived up to all its best blurbs. My personal favorite is from The Journal of the American Medical Association: "Bazell's thriller is brutal and vulgar but at the same time hilarious and unflinching." Hmm... a group of doctors thinks it's unflinching.

Look, this book is not for hypochondriacs. In fact, I shouldn't have read it myself, as I am nothing if not a hypochondriac. I'll likely never go within a hundred yards of another hospital. May as well cancel my health insurance right now.

I also would not recommend this book to my mother, or anyone else who has an aversion to that four-letter word that rhymes with duck. No, I am not a prude. I've been know to use that particular obscenity myself. (My mother never reads my blog.) In fact, it appears in my own internal monologue far more often than those close to me would ever imagine. But not every reader is comfortable with such generous use of the many variations on that particular word.

I don't personally know any mobsters, but this language feels real, so it works for me. How are hit men supposed to talk?

Juxtaposed to the hilarity, the flashbacks of Peter's visit to the Holocaust camps in Poland are hauntingly dark, his childhood tragic. Bazell makes us empathize with his conflicted and complex killer, who only kills "killers whose deaths would improve the world."

Peter Brown is also a deep hit man. My favorite quote from the book is: "Ah, youth. It's like heroin you've smoked instead of snorted. Gone so fast you can't believe you still have to pay for it." Indeed.

I'll be first in line to buy the next Peter Brown book. But don't tell my mother. She'd no doubt worry for my soul.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Been Monday All Day

This is the best excuse I have for not going to Jazzercise. I'm just not feeling it. It's Monday. Also, The Husband is home. He's off this week, which I'm really, really, really SO HAPPY about.

But, when he's home my routine heads south on a 747. I have to send him out on LONG errands just to get some writing in. Today's actually been pretty good because he's fascinated by that super-load generator  traveling through South Carolina right now. Something about the size... (It's so big it takes four tractor trucks to pull/push it around.) Whatever. It's a guy thing. He's been out with his brother looking at it for hours. They probably did a few other equally guy things. Hey, as long as they stayed out of nudie bars, I'm fine with it.

I'm going to turn on some music and dance around the house for a while. Maybe that'll burn enough calories to keep a pound or two at bay. If I sit still too long, weight jumps onto certain areas of my VOLUPTOUS frame and clings for dear life.

Who am I kidding? This is Thanksgiving week. No matter what, I'll gain five pounds. Maybe I'll just relax and enjoy it. Where are those Lindor truffles?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Top Ten Motivational Tidbits I Heard at Jazzercise Today

So, I drug myself into Jazzercise today. This was a challenge, as by nature I am a lethargic sort. I like to dance (once I'm there). But I was home. I had books, food, wine--no pulsating need to go out. Not to mention I had work to do. My main character woke me up at 3 a.m. pitching a huge fit about wanting to ride a jet ski. I digress.

Precariously Perky Julie was onstage. The workout came complete with lots of Russian ballet moves--or possibly curse words--and her favorite, dramatic final poses. Maybe it was my imagination, but PPJ seemed a bit tense. Her words of wisdom and inspiration from the stage were very nearly worthy of The Queen of Pain. Here's what PPJ had to allow (minus the stuff in Russian):

 10. You haven't heard this song? You're not hip, (This from the girl who included King of the Road in her set. Not that I have anything against Roger Miller, or songs written in 1965. I'm just saying.)
  9. And here we'll just let our abs hang out. Not! Suck those in.
  8. I've got my eye on you.
  7. I hate to burst your ball-bubble, but we're not sitting on those balls.
  6. No extraneous shaking. (Seriously, if we could pull that off would we need her?)
  5. The shirts for the Christmas parade come in a generous fit. (I'm buying a shirt, but I marched in my last parade in high school.)
  4. They hang long.
  3.  Do not snarl at me during this song. I like it. (It was my trying-not-to-fall-out look. I promise.)
  2.  Try not to let your legs just come careening down.
  1.  Engage the muscle--don't let it flap all over the place. (See #6)

Like a pro, PPJ maintained her perkiness all during class. But I think her sunny disposition may be waning. This, I fear, is my fault. I am a challenge to PPJ. She likes people to smile while they sweat. That is SO not in my nature. I stand right in front of her.

One of those reality shows with dancing comes on tonight. That'll cheer her up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Muse Loves Chocolate

Whenever I get stuck, I reach for one of the Big Three: Dove, Lindt, or, in a real crisis, Godiva chocolate. Before long, words are spilling out of my head onto the page. My muse loves chocolate. Pasta is good, too. And wine. My muse may be a lush, actually.

Today I'm polishing off the leftover Halloween candy because it's Wednesday. I'm not blocked at all, but this is a preventative measure. Typically, my work week starts on Monday morning. I'm SO a creature of habit, and sometimes if I have an appointment or whatever on Monday, my week gets off track.

Both Monday and Tuesday this week were filled with necessary chores and errands. Well, okay, and brunch with friends. Anyway, to make sure my muse didn't balk today, I started eating chocolate right after breakfast. Just to be safe I had pasta for lunch, and I'm thinking a glass of wine might not be a bad idea.

Of course, if I do that, I may not make it to 5:40 Jazzercise...

I have to keep my priorities straight. The Muse comes first.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nobody Leaves Here Pretty

The voices in my head are singing Be as You Are by Kenny Chesney

What I'm reading: For Better, For Murder by Lisa Bork

First, the book. I met Lisa at Bouchercon at a Sisters in Crime lunch. She's a very warm and gracious person, so I was predisposed to like the first book in the Broken Vows series. I would have loved it anyway--she had me when the dead body flopped out of a Ferrari in the showroom on page three.

So, Precariously Perky Julie tried to kill me at Jazzercise today. I think she might have been trying to commit a suicide dance, because at one point I heard her mutter something about a having a coronary herself. She had chocolate over the weekend--Halloween and all, so we had to pay.

PPJ is a sweet spirit. She's always smiling--bubbling, actually--even as she pushes us ever closer to a synchronized cardiac incident. (She did growl at me one day last week because I wasn't sweating enough, but that's unusual.)

But PPJ has the soul of a dancer. She knows all the real ballet names for the moves we do--in some foreign ballet language. Maybe Russian. Anyway, she's serious about her dancing. She always picks the songs with the most intricate footwork for her sets. The ones where you change what you're doing every four beats.

None of that dancing on autopilot while I zone out and dream of Mega Moo Mocha Moolattes. No. I have to PAY ATTENTION. I have to listen to her cuing. This is stressful.

She is also serious about the sweating. Today, someone in the back wasn't disheveled enough to suit her towards the end of class. That caused her to drop the bubbling and growl. "Hey," she yelled, "nobody leaves here pretty." That's never a problem with me.

I do vex PPJ, though, I think. She seems to hold the opinion that I am sandbagging. She keeps trying to sell me a Polar watch to make sure my heart rate is high enough. There's an alarm on those things for when your heart rate gets too high. I tried to tell her that fool alarm would be going off all during class, on account of I'm always in the blue on the perceived exertion chart--that's the border color across the top, just above the maximum exertion before passing out.

Do you know what she said? "Oh, we'll just turn that off. That's what I did with mine." It's nice to know she cares.

The rumor is the Queen of Pain will soon be back from her Alien Birthing Ritual--actually, it's not a rumor, she told me that herself. It was either a warning or a threat, I'm not sure which.

Meanwhile, I continue to test Precariously Perky Julie's sunny disposition in my quest to become less VOLUPTUOUS while not needing EMTs to cart me out of there on a stretcher.

Peace, out...

Susan

Monday, October 26, 2009

South Carolina Writers' Workshop Conference

The voices in my head are singing The World Spins Madly On by The Weepies.

What I'm reading: Even by Andrew Grant

Warning: Do not start reading this book if you have no choice but to put it down and go to work, feed your kids, or head to your mani-pedi appointment. David Trevellyan will haunt you until you pick the book back up. It's that good.

I just got back last night from the SCWW conference in Myrtle Beach. (I haven't even blogged on Bouchercon yet, which was fabulous--more on that later. I know, I'm behind again!)

I arrived in Myrtle Beach on Thursday so I could stare at the ocean and sip mango daiquiris for a day. (My own brand of therapy.) This was a perfect beginning to the weekend.

The conference was awesome. For the first time in three years, I was able to attend without worrying about whether the AV was right in the meeting rooms, all the faculty flights were on time, the critique room stayed on schedule, etc. (As most of you know, I was the conference chairperson in 2007 and 2008. I learned a ton, and had a ball doing it, but it ate into my writing time too much.) Kudos to Carrie McCullough and Lateia Sandifer, this year's chair and co-chair!

I can't begin to cover conference highlights, because there were so many. Every workshop I attended was time well invested. But faculty introductions were a riot...

While the rest of the faculty lined up and took their turn at the mic for introductions, Janet Reid watched from her table sipping something cold. Maybe the second agent at the mic asked, "Why doesn't Janet have to do this?"

The next agent in line introduced himself as Janet Reid. I think that was Jeff Kleinman. That was followed by a series of, "I am Janet Reid...no, I am Janet Reid" introductions--all in good fun.

Then there was the three-way introduction routine that Jenny Bent, Barbara Poelle, and Holly Root performed with flair, followed by the real Janet Reid taking the stage.

As you can tell, we had an awesome faculty and a lot of fun. The keynote speaker, Steve Berry could not have been more gracious, approachable, and encouraging.

Every faculty member (around thirty of them in all) went out of his/her way to encourage writers in all phases of their writing journeys.

I'm home today--first time in a month. I'm digging through laundry and notes from two conferences, but, yes, Julie, I will be on the dance floor at 5:40.

Peace, out...

Susan

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just One of the Many Reasons Why I Love My iPhone

The voices in my head are singing These Days, by Jackson Browne


What I'm reading: Smash Cut by Sandra Brown


When they first came out with text messaging I said, "That's like going back to the telegraph days. Why would I want to do that?"

When they added cameras to phones, I said, "I like my technology simple. Give me a phone that's just a phone, for crying out loud."

When they added email, I said, "Why in Sam Hill would I want my email on my phone, and who can read stuff that small anyway?"

When they came out with the iPhone, I forgot all of that idiocy and sprinted into the twenty-first century. It's all about the music.

But, I have embraced all the other features as well. That camera comes in handy. For example, imagine how long it would have taken me to describe what we did in Jazzercise today:

This is Precariously Perky Julie demonstrating part of today's ab routine. "Make sure your head is comfortably supported by the ball," she said.
Clearly, she is insane. In what universe is anything about that move comfortable?
And this was just the starting position...imagine striking this torture pose, then doing crunches, and (yes, we used the hand weights) pec flys...

Appropriately, this routine is set to Dream Big, by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband.


Believe it or not, I did this. It might not have LOOKED exactly like the picture... probably Julie bit a hole in the side of her cheek to keep from laughing.
But I did it.
The Queen of Pain is finishing up another Alien Birthing Ritual, and will be out for a few more weeks. Meanwhile, I'm entertaining myself by testing Julie's sunny disposition... Bless her perky little heart.
Peace, out...
Susan


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Susan When She Tried

The voices in my head are singing Bad Day by Daniel Powter

What I'm reading: Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

My summer reading project is to read the books nominated for an Anthony that I haven't already read. I'm going to Bouchercon this year for the first time, and I'm really excited.

Stalking Susan was the first of these, and I just finished it. (I may have picked it first because I'm a Susan.) Julie Kramer introduced TV reporter Riley Spatz in Stalking Susan. I expect to become great friends with Riley. In fact, I've added Missing Mark, just out last week, to my summer reading list.

At one point in the book, one of Riley's colleagues sings part of an old Elvis song, Susan When She Tried. I wasn't familiar with it, but I confess it intrigued me, so I looked up the lyrics. I just love Google. Anyway, now I have that song in my head. It makes me want to, well, try...

I was trying something yesterday, for sure...

You know how at stoplights, if you look at the car next to you, sometimes the driver is obviously singing? Occasionally it will be a nut who is using her water bottle as a microphone, dancing in her seat, and belting one out like she's the opening act for Kenny Chesney?

That person is almost always me. If you see me, please wave. I may not see you, because at stoplights I generally close my eyes and really FEEL the song.

Yesterday the song was Heaven Help Us All by Gladys Knight and Ray Charles.

Please honk if I don't see the light change. Someone usually does.

Peace, out...

Susan

Friday, July 10, 2009

Six Hours in the Twilight Zone

The voices in my head are singing Alan Watts Blues by Van Morrison

What I'm reading: Shadowfires by Dean Koontz

So, Jim and our next door neighbor are working on a privacy fence between our yards. Whatever needs doing, if Jim can possibly do it himself, he will not pay someone else to do it. He's...thrifty. That's a good word for it. We balance each other well.

Anyway, last week Jim and the neighbor both took a few days off to work on the fence. Things were moving along nicely up until the point Thursday afternoon when I looked out the back door and saw Jim sprawled on the grass. He was lying on his stomach, propped up on his elbows, in what looked like a casual conversation with our neighbor, who had knelt down beside him. I was confused, because it was blistering hot, and it didn't seem likely he'd sprawl out for a break in the sun--the shade, maybe.

I stuck my head out the door and asked, "Jim, are you all right?"

"Not really," he said calmly.

By that time I was sprinting across the yard. "What happened," I asked.

Jim nodded at the line of string that had previously been stretched tight from one end of the yard to the other, but was now lying in the grass. "I tripped over the string, put my foot down in a wet spot, and slid into a split--like gymnasts do on a balance beam," he said. "I'm not a gymnast."

We arrived at the ER at 3:45. One of the security people brought a wheelchair and helped Jim inside while I parked the car. By the time I made it through security--the fool thing kept beeping and I had to be wanded and patted down--Jim had already spoken to one of the not-very-busy clerks at the front. There was a desk with maybe six of them, and they were chatting, or staring into space--not frantically admitting patients. There were maybe a half-dozen other patients in the waiting room.

Forty-five minutes later, two people who'd come in after us had gone back, but they hadn't called Jim. "What did you tell them?" I asked.

"I told them I'd been doing gymnastics, and I wasn't a gymnast," he said.

"Oh, no, no, no!" I said, shaking my head. "You never, never joke with people in an ER. You've told them two things," I said. "One, your pain is not bad enough to effect your disposition, and two, you're an easy going guy who won't complain if he has to wait four hours."

"You thing I should do the Stingray Howl?" he asked. He was referring to the noise I made all the way to the car, all the way to the hospital, and in the ER until they gave me something to quiet me down the summer I stepped on a stingray and got stung.

"Yes, actually," I said.

He shook his head.

I sighed. "We're going to be here all night."

I went up front to speak to one of the clerks. "We've been here for forty-five minutes," I said, and my husband is in a lot of pain." This was true. The thing that scared me was that it was really unusual for Jim to go along with an ER visit. He's heavy into self-diagnosis and natural healing. His mother had six boys, and her typical response to an injury was, "Put some water on it, it'll be fine." The fact that he'd come to the ER told me that, despite his good humor, Jim was in a lot of pain.

"What's his name?" she asked and I told her. She scrolled down a list. "Is he here?" She scrunched up her face at me.

"Yes," I pointed across the room. "He's right there, and he's been here for forty-five minutes."

"I can't find him," she said, looking blankly at her computer.

Before I could launch into hissy-fit mode, a man in scrubs opened the double doors that led into the Bowels of Hell and called Jim's name.

Jim started wheeling his chair towards the doors and I skipped to catch up.

First stop was a nurse in a little room who asked a lot of questions about the injury and other related topics. One of the questions was regarding chest pains. I guess this is a typical question for men over forty who admit to having been out working all day in the sun. Jim allowed that his chest muscles were sore from the post-hole diggers, but that was all.

Immediately, she called a technician to wheel us over for an EKG.

Whatever, he was getting attention, right?

After the EKG, they sent us back out to the waiting room. About thirty minutes later, a different guy in scrubs came and got us and led us back into the inner ER. After a half-mile hike through a labyrinth, he settled us into room 15. Room 15 was at the very end of the hall, and you had to go through another room to get to it. Both rooms had sets of thick sliding glass doors, which were left open.

Thirty minutes later, Scrubs Guy came back with a chart. He looked at Jim. "You're not Amanda," he said.

Jim shook his head no.

"I got the wrong chart," Scrubs Guy said. He went off to find the right one.

A few minutes later, a Young Girl In Scrubs can in and attached the little round sticky things and wired Jim up to a heart monitor. She said, "I need to draw some blood for the cardiac panel."

"My heart is fine, Jim said. "I've pulled--possibly torn--my right hamstring."

She smiled benevolently. "We just want to make sure." She patted him on the hand. "I just need to go get something, I'll be right back."

No sooner had she cleared the door, than a different Young Girl In Scrubs came in. "Time for your X-rays," she said.

"But I haven't broken anything," Jim said. "I've got a badly strained hamstring."

She smiled benevolently. "We just want to make sure." She then proceeded to remove all the wires and sticky things that the other YGIS had attached. She wheeled him out the door with a "We'll be right back" over her shoulder.

YGIS #1 passed them on the way out. "Oh," she said. "I'll come back later. You want me to get you something to drink, maybe a sandwich?"

"Some bottled water would be great." I said. "And I know Jim would like a bottle."

"Oh, no," she said. "He can't have anything until he sees the doctor. Just in case he has to go to surgery."

"Surgery?" I asked. "He's pulled his hamstring."


"We just want to be sure," she said. "He might be gone a while. You sure you don't want a sandwich?"

I looked at the clock. It was quarter till six. I was still thinking we might pick up take out Chinese on the way home. "No thanks," I said. She showed me where the vending machine was and I bought two bottles of water.

At five after six, YGIS #2 brought Jim back from x-ray. After she left Jim said, "They x-rayed my left hip. Then they asked me which hip I'd injured. I told them neither one, but my right hamstring hurt like hell. Then they x-rayed my right hip."

At ten after six, an alarm went off. Scrubs Guy came and closed the curtain, then the sliding glass doors to our room. He then closed the sliding class doors to the outer room. The doors were thick, so we couldn't hear much from outside. With the curtain closed, we couldn't see anything, either. Me being me, I was thinking some fruit-loop had gotten a gun through security, or maybe someone had been admitted with the Swine Flu. There had to be a reason why they closed the doors, right?

For the next hour, no one came into the room and the doors stayed shut. Not knowing what was going on was making me a little crazy, and it was getting hot in there. I peered around the curtain and saw that a large cart had been wheeled in front of one side of the outer door, and a guy in a wheel chair was backed up to the other side. We were blocked in.

"I think they've forgotten about us," I said. I started weighing whether or not to go find someone in scrubs and ask if perhaps this was the case.

I heard someone hollering down the hall. Over the guy in the wheelchair's head I saw three security guards and a police officer heading into a room two doors down. This reinforced my nut-with-a-gun theory. I scooted back behind the curtain. At 7:30, a different YGIS came and drew some blood. They'd had a shift change.

"Why did someone close the sliding doors," I asked.

"We had a fire drill," she said.

"And part of the drill is to close us up back here with nowhere to go?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "It's for your protection. WE DON"T WANT THE FIRE TO GET YOU."

I don't know about y'all, but every fire drill I've ever participated in involved getting people OUT of the building, not shutting them up in the farthest corner.

She opened both sets of doors. "It's getting hot in here."

"Listen," I said, "We've been here for nearly four hours, and my husband is in a lot of pain. Isn't there something you can give him?"

"I'll check with the doctor," she said.

"When do you think we might SEE a doctor," I asked.

"I don't know." she said, "but I'll let him know that your husband's vital signs are good."

With the doors open now, we could hear the hollering from two doors down. "Hey...hey...hey! Help Me!" some guy yelled. Continuously.

After about thirty minutes of that the guy in the wheelchair said to his wife, "I got some duct tape out in the truck."

Thirty minutes later YGIS # 3 brought Jim some heavy-duty drugs. Still, no doctor.

"He hasn't eaten since lunch," I said. "Don't you think he should eat something with that?"

"I'll ask the doctor," she said.

A few minutes later she brought him an imitation cheese sandwich and a bottle of Gatorade. I guess someone had figured out that he wouldn't need surgery.

"What's all that hollering about?" I asked.

She shrugged. "He's just drunk."

At 9:30, nearly six hours after we arrived, the doctor walked through the door. I have no idea where he was from, only that his accent made communication a challenge.

I think he said, "EKG fine, x-rays fine. Heart fine. Hip not broken."

"How do we know if my hamstring is torn, and is there anything that can be done about it?" Jim asked.

He shrugged. "These things happen. If it's torn you'll have a bad bruise. I can give you some pain medication, but it will just have to heal on its own."

"Something not quite so strong," Jim said. "Whatever you gave me made me nauseous."

"I thought your hip was broken," said the doctor. "I thought you needed something strong."

He left to get his prescription pad. We did not wait for someone to unhook Jim from the monitors. We quickly disconnected him, peeled off all the sticky things, and got him out of the gown and back into his cargo shorts and T-shirt. By the time the doctor got back, we were ready to go. The heavy-duty pain pills had taken the edge off the pain enough that Jim could stand and hobble.

The drunk was still hollering as we made out way back out through the labyrinth.

Self-diagnosis and natural healing are now our family policy.

Peace, out...

Susan

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I Might Have Gone a Little Crazy Today

The voices in my head are singing One Step Up by Bruce Springsteen

What I'm reading: Living the Vida Lola by Misa Ramirez

Periodically, every telecommunications service we subscribe to stops working. All at the same time. They coordinate it, I think--AT&T, Direct TV, and--well, now it's just the two of them. We've bundled. But still, there is no logical connection to why my home phone is dropping calls like a cell phone in a dead spot and suddenly no one can hear me on my cell phone. I hear them fine, but callers cannot hear me shouting into the phone, "Can you hear me now?"

No, they can't.

And there should be no connection to either of those things that, not only did our Direct TV Receiver/DVR stop working, (the only fix for which involved shipping a new one over July 4th weekend) but the ENTIRE DIRECT TV COMPUTER SYSTEM IS DOWN, so they can't activate my new receiver even though I've called four times. Each time I call they tell me to try again in an hour.

They tell me this AFTER I have navigated through ten minutes talking to a voice activated system. (If I use my headphones, my cell phone works.)

AT&T reports that there's no trouble on my line. This despite the fact that when THEIR OWN SERVICE DEPARTMENT TRIED TO CALL ME THEY COULDN'T GET A CALL TO GO THROUGH.

I said (to the technician who eventually called me on my cell phone), "What happened when you tried to call?"

"It just clicked," she said.

"Doesn't that sound like a problem to you?" I asked.

"Well, yes, but it might not be our problem," she said.

"We're bundled," I said. "You're AT&T. What are the other possibilities?"

She couldn't think of any, and agreed to "override it" and send someone out tomorrow. If they can't find a problem they're going to charge me $85.

If. the. repairman. is. unable. to. find. the. problem. they. will. charge. me. $85 for. coming. out.

With apologies in advance to my mother, WTF???

I've had to medicate to avoid strangling the next person who crosses my path or perhaps setting my hair on fire. And, I'm pretty sure that these things are, in fact, connected.

I had a migraine cycle last week. My brother tells me that my migraines are caused by the isometric changes in the magnetic field as the poles struggle to find harmony. I have no idea what that means, exactly, but I'm thinking that changes in magnetic fields could disrupt telecommunications.

It's that, or there's a conspiracy afoot at AT&T and Direct TV to prevent me from finishing my second novel by keeping me on the phone talking to a computer for the next five years.

It's time for my next dose of pinot noir...

Peace, out...

Susan

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why I Almost Certainly Should Have Been a Natural Blonde

The voices in my head are singing Keep Me in Your Heart by Warren Zevon

What I'm reading: Trouble in Paradise by Robert B. Parker

Y'all won't believe what I did in Publix Friday... well, okay, you might. You will. Absolutely, you will...

I was making my third (and last) trip to the grocery store for 4th of July weekend supplies. I was tootling down the aisle with my cart, iPhone earbuds in, listening to The Isley Brother's rendition of Summer Breeze. I had a list and was checking it twice, when I realized that I'd forgotten the honey mustard dressing for the chicken strips.

I parked my cart at the end of the paper products aisle and bebopped my way back over to condiments. The store was crowded, and I was zigging and zagging in and out of the crowd, but not stressed as I sometimes get in crowded stores. The music soothes my soul.

Anyway, I retrieved my honey mustard and some ranch, just in case. I dropped them in the cart, and weaved my way in and out of the mothers with small children and clueless husbands staring vacantly at the shelves as if whatever their wives wanted might jump out at them.

I noticed one man squinting at me. He mumbled something, but Summer Breeze had finished, and I was now dancing down the aisle to Lady Marmalade--the one from Moulin Rouge. This is a Jazzercise song, so I truly was, most likely, dancing (just a little bit). I figured Squinty Man just thought I was a little nutty.

But Squinty Man followed me around the corner and down the main aisle. This made me a little nervous, so I turned up the baking needs aisle, thinking he would go on by.

But he didn't.

He followed me. I glanced at him, and he said something I couldn't make out. I didn't make eye contact. He was squinting harder, and I did not know this man.

Almost at the end of baking needs, he maneuvered in front of me. He said something that sounded like "milk" through Christina Aguilera's high notes. I thought, maybe he's looking for the canned milk. That has tripped me up before in this store. So I paused Christina.

"Ma'am," he said.

I smiled a helpful smile, "Yes?"

"You have my cart," he said.

I looked at the contents of the cart in front of me, expecting validation.

Oh dear.

Except for the dressings, the stuff in the cart was definitely not mine. I looked back at him, horrified. "I am SO sorry!" I said. I looked around and remembered. "I left my cart at the end of an aisle, and I forgot--"

"You have my vodka," he said.

I looked. Sure enough, in the seat where you put your toddler, he had two fifths of vodka in a brown paper bag. He'd been to the liquor store before he came to Publix. I had made off with his liquor. I do not even drink Vodka. Vodka and I had a falling out a long time ago. But that's a whole nother story.

"I am SO, SO sorry," I said. "I can't believe I did that!" I retrieved my dressings from his cart.

He shook his head and grinned. "No problem," he said. He commandeered his cart and headed back down baking needs. "Have a nice day."

"You too," I called.

Friday night Jim and I were having dinner with some friends we'll call Sandra and Wilson, because those are their names. I told them what I'd done. They laughed. Wilson shook his head and said, "I don't think I would have told that."

Other friends have made similar comments about other ditzy things I've done and told or posted. I've heard "I can't believe you admit that," a few times.

The thing is, I have to be able to laugh at myself. I don't ever want to take myself too seriously. It's a good thing, I guess...

Peace, out...

Susan

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Twitter Not Your Tweet in Anger...

Lord love a duck, here's another reason why high-strung females like me ought to reconsider the whole Twitter thing. Apparently, a high-profile author who I will not name because I don't want to spread gossip and because I can SO easy see how this would (without a shadow of a doubt) happen to me if I were ever to work hard enough to become a multiple-time bestselling author whose books are made into movies, etc cetera...

Anyway, Famous Author got a not-wonderful review, and was not just ABLE, but perhaps COMPELLED to Tweet her frustrations to hundreds--probably thousands--of her closest friends. Imagine, being angry and having a megaphone, and really, that's what Twitter is, a high tech megaphone with a long, long range.

Can I just tell you how bad I feel for this brilliant author? Impulse and technology are dangerous bedfellows. That's so much worse than a reply-all accident, which is bad enough. (But really, who hasn't done that?)

Fortunately for Famous Author, in our rapid-fire-communication world, we'll all be Tweeting about something else in three minutes or less.

Peace, out...

Susan

Monday, June 29, 2009

Shoes and Online Socializing

The voices in my head are singing Til We Ain't Strangers Anymore by LeAnn Rimes and Bon Jovi

What I'm Reading: Night Passage by Robert B. Parker

When we moved, a year ago last January, Jim calculated that my shoes had cost five hundred dollars to transport, based on the number of boxes they took, truck space, mover-hours, etc. I don't know what method he used to calculate this--possibly husband math.

He staged a shoe-intervention.

He bought and installed some very nice shoe racks in our walk-in closet, and told me I could keep whatever would fit. If I wanted to buy a new pair, I had to donate or toss a pair. I muttered something like, "I should have held out for the house with two walk-in closets." Shoes are like carbohydrates and chocolate. They comfort me when I'm stressed. They fit, even if I've over-indulged in pasta and truffles. I am attached to my shoes. This is a fairly common phenomenon in women, I think.

Once the shelves were in the closet, though, my OCD tendencies made it impossible for me to keep a pair that wouldn't fit on the shelves. I couldn't have a pair sit on the floor. There must be order in the closet. (I'm sure Jim counted on this.)

I had to find new homes for several pairs. (Sigh.) I'm going to miss those oxblood snakeskin pumps from 1986. Oh well, the suit they matched went to Goodwill about ten years ago.

This morning, I had an email reminding me that five friends had invited me to join them on Facebook...

First it was the blog, then Shelfari. Then Google Reader to keep up with all the blogs I follow. I have a Twitter account, though I haven't uttered a Tweet. So far, I haven't done anything worthy of an alert that couldn't wait for a blog update. But when I run across a celebrity in a restaurant in Greenville, I am ready.

"Facebook will eat into your writing time," said Caution. "And what about Linked In, are you going to want to to that next? You have Linked In friends, too."

Caution and I aren't well acquainted, and I ignored her, as is my custom.

I set up a Facebook account, virtuously thinking I would spend an hour or so getting it set up, then log on once a day for a few minutes.

That was five hours ago, and I'm still playing with this thing. The first several messages I got were from my FRIENDS who had invited me to join, telling me that this thing is addictive, and I'd better watch out because Facebook will devour not only my writing time, but apparently also my sleep--and forget about Jazzercise.

I need a shelf for my online social sites... I'll Tweet if I find one...

Peace, out...

Susan

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Road Again

The voices in my head are singing My Baby Don't Tolerate, by Lyle Lovett

What I'm reading: Relentless by Dean Koontz

Predictably, I had to rush right out and buy the new Dean Koontz novel (along with the new Michael Connelly, which is next up). Koontz didn't disappoint. Like most of his books, Relentless will be a Shelfari favorite. I just wish these guys could write faster.

And hey, Carl Hiaasen, I'd really like a new adult novel, please. I know your young adult books are fabulous, and the non-fiction golf thing is brilliant, but I'm neither a young adult nor a golfer. Please pull a few hilariously demented characters out of your head and get them on paper. Lickety-split.

This week I'm in Warsaw, Indiana, with Jim. Business trip for him, writer's retreat for me. Hotel rooms, I may have said before, are the absolute best places for me to write. I can't clean my house, run errands, do laundry, run out and have lunch with a friend, or any one of a hundred other things that pop up that keep me from putting words on the page.

Or go to Jazzercise, which is the one other thing I need to be doing. In anticipation of this problem, however, I ordered three Jazzercise DVDs, reasoning that I could dance in a hotel room, right?

Well, not so much, really.

I started with Street Jazz! I'm always hassling Casey for some funk in her sets, so I picked this one first. The tag line specifically promises "street jam movements using a combination of jazz dance, hip hop, and funk."

I had NO idea how much your average Jazzercise instructor has to dummy this stuff down for ex-majorettes, cheerleaders, and drill team members across the country. I have a new appreciation for the Queen of Pain and all the other aliens who translate the moves that look like an MTV video played in fast forward into something the rest of us can attempt.

If I play the DVD in slow motion, I can maybe learn a section a day. I'm trying, anyway.

The other thing I hadn't figured on was that in class, while Casey has to look at what I'm doing and not double over laughing (too often), in a hotel room, I have to watch myself. There's a big mirror. This is so not pretty.

Anyway, I'm writing, and I'm dancing. (Well, I'm moving to music, and in some cultures, I'm sure what I'm doing is called dancing.)

All is right with the world.

Peace, out...

Susan

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Defying the Laws of Physics...Yet Again (Y'all REALLY Won't Believe This)

The voices in my head are singing Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight by Amos Lee

What I'm Reading: Winter's Child, by Margaret Maron

One of the most heinous tricks in the Jazzercise manual is where they take a perfectly good song, like Mary J. Blige's Family Affair, and make you perform unnatural acts to it. The Queen of Pain currently has Family Affair in her set.

Visualize yourself doing this: Put on some ankle weights--about 4-5 pounds on each ankle will do. Get down on your hands and knees. Now, stick a leg straight out (either one, cause you'll switch back and forth). Move your leg from the hip, and tap your toe out to the side, then straighten, lift, point, lower and repeat. Do this 5,000 times.

Now, with your leg still behind you, do PUSH-UPS while curling your leg toward the ceiling--yep--one of the two with a weight on it. Repeat, switch, etc. for FOUR MINUTES AND TWENTY-SIX seconds. Trust me, it will seem more like four hours. Try it.

On Monday, when I heard the opening beats of Family Affair, I reminded the QOP right off that A) my ankle weights have been mislaid, and B) I DON'T DO PUSH-UPS on account of the built in weights I sport on my chest make it impossible, from the whole gravity and physics perspective. She growled that I could do SOME of them, so I did. Three, I think. It was exhausting.

Yesterday, when the music started, she growled at me that I was going to do ALL FORTY-EIGHT push-ups. I laughed out loud. If she had asked me to run around the ceiling I would have taken her as seriously. I pointed out the obvious, and reminded her that she well knew this was not workable.

"Shut up and do them," she said. "All of them."

Here's the part y'all won't believe: I did.

Here's what I learned at Jazzercise yesterday. Sometimes you should just shut up and do it.

At the beginning of class she asked me what I'd been doing all day. "Editing," I said.

This was true--sort of--in a metaphorical kind of way. What I had been editing (or trying to edit) were my career goals. I've been rewriting the same novel for several years, trying to get the first one just right. (As I understand it, some writers put their first book or three in a drawer never to see the light of day and publish their second or fourth novel, and others write the same novel many times until they have it right. I've always thought of myself as being in the latter group.)

It's REALLY difficult to get a first novel sold in a good economy. When the economy is tight, well, it just gets harder. So, I've been trying to convince myself that I want to do something else--anything else. I have had zero luck with this. I am a writer. I need to write. I need to publish what I write, because, as Leonard Pitts allows, "...a writer without readers is like shouting in an empty room." That's where you get your loons, and Lord knows, I teeter precariously on that brink to begin with.

So today, I will just shut up and do it.

Everything you need to know about life you can learn at Jazzercise...

Well, okay, maybe not, but you can learn to pole dance (which is a good backup career plan--it's recession proof) and you get an occasional kernel of philosophy.

Peace, out...

Susan

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Suicide by Grammy

Okay, so, I KNOW better than to go to Precariously Perky Julie's class. We've covered this, right? I planned ahead to go see The Caring and Nurturing One at 4:30. But then I lost track of time. Nothing to do but show up for Julie's class, knowing full well this was suicide. Lest you think I exaggerate, at one point during the class she pipes up with, "Those of you who are grabbing your heart, please make sure it's still beating."

Julie likes themed sets. Today's theme was the upcoming Grammy awards. All of the songs we danced to are nominated for a Grammy. All I can say is that the music industry appears to be experiencing an up-tempo trend. Julie was dancing so fast I couldn't see her feet move. But, she looked good doing it. I feel sure that the moves didn't look the same from the stage. I was on the front row. Honestly, I don't know how she kept a straight face.

There was one slow song--the very last one. It was a stretch/core muscle routine to Gravity by John Mayer. Nothing could have been more appropriate. Standing on one foot while contorting my body, using a hand weight to work my arms, and remembering to point my toes and "make it look pretty" challenged the law of gravity...and reason.

Julie has these pre-printed "Valentines Day wish cards" for us to give our significant others so instead of flowers (which will die) and candy (which will make us fat) our loved ones can get us a gadget that looks like a watch but monitors your heart rate and counts calories burned. If they make a model that has an alarm for when you're about to pass out, I might could use one.

Peace, out...

Susan

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cramming

The voices in my head are singing Keep Me in Your Heart by Warren Zevon.

What I'm reading: Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz

I came across a quote today that really struck a chord with me:

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake up early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape." Ray Bradbury

I think for too long I've been starving myself, always being afraid to read too much while I was writing. I had the idea it would mess with my voice. Don't get me wrong, I devour fiction. But I've been in the habit of stockpiling books and waiting until I'm in an editing cycle before I read them.

I've officially abandoned that policy, and am going to gorge myself daily with everything imaginable. I'm hoping my morning voices will wake me and haul me out of bed to capture all their insanity. Right now I'm engrossed in Dean Koontz's latest. He's one of my three or four favorite authors of all time. Who are the others? Okay, I have eclectic reading tastes. In no particular order, I also get email alerts from Barnes and Noble when Carl Hiaasen, Sandra Brown, or Michael Connelly has a new book coming out. I also love John D. McDonald's Travis McGee series.

Did I dance today? Well yes, I did. I have several sore muscles for my efforts, although, I have to say, I'm not particularly fond of the set the Queen of Pain is currently using. With one or two exceptions, the songs don't speak to me. This is unusual, as typically I really like her music.

Note: If I were the alien on the stage, I'd pick the songs I liked, not some whiny, VOLUPTUOUS woman who shows up erratically.

But I have discovered that not liking the music is not necessarily a bad thing. When the music moves me, I forget my sore muscles, and what a spectacle I'm likely making of myself, and shake shake shake my...well, you get the idea. This is a much more exhausting workout. When I don't like the music as much, I don't push myself. It's not a conscious decision, it's just the way it works out.

It's actually a good thing that she doesn't have my favorites in. I might hurt myself. I need to work up to the funk.

Peace, out...

Susan

Monday, January 26, 2009

So Much is Explained

With all the financial news, folks getting sworn in, and Brittney's latest lyric scandal, y'all might have missed the most important item in the news today.

There is a VIRUS that causes folks to be fat, and it's HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS!! You can catch it from someone in the office, on a plane, or in the mall. If you have cold symptoms, YOU may have this adenovirus. I am not making this up, and I did not hear about it in a forwarded email. It was on the news.

I tried to explain this to Casey (the Queen of Pain) today at Jazzercise, but she would have none of it. My first day back, and she had me doing pushups. I have explained to her on NUMEROUS occasions why it defies the law of gravity for VOLUPTOUS women to do push-ups, but she didn't want to hear about this either.

She may have been distracted by all the excitement at Jazzercise Fitness Center today. January is like Christmas for anyone selling skinny. They have a new program--their version of "The Biggest Loser." There are cash prizes involved, so I'm thinking I might sign up. They were selling this hard today. They also had balloons, drawings for prizes, and--get this--PASTRIES. What is up with that? It's like they were trying to pork us up as big as possible so all the pounds they sweat off us will be more dramatic. These aliens are sneaky. Anyone who doesn't understand that Jazzercise instructors are mostly aliens, please read this.

They were also having one of those of those, "haul your friends in here and blackmail them with whatever you've got on them until they sign up and we'll give you a T-shirt" deals. Hazardously- perky Julie (who owns the place) was behind the desk practically percolating with enthusiasm over all the exciting ways they want to torture us into smaller sizes this year.

I sure hope this cold I'm getting over isn't that fat virus. I could have infected a lot of people today... This could be really bad. All those women in there eating pastries and getting the fat virus... Umm, umm, ummm. They sure are going to be mad if that virus keeps them from getting skinny after all that pain and sweat.

Peace, out...

Susan

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Leading Cause of Brain Crud

The voices in my head are singing Where's the Love Y'all, by the Black Eyed Peas.

What I'm reading: A Deadly Shade of Gold, by John D. MacDonald.

The Queen of Pain accused me this morning of suffering from Brain Crud, in response to my plea for sympathy on account of having the head and chest crud for eight weeks. Now, setting aside her complete and utter lack of sympathy, she has a point. I feel like I need to take one of those things the dentist uses to clean your teeth and scrape off all the nooks and crannies of my gray matter.

At first I thought it was just a holiday, family/mall/carb-overload hangover, but I now suspect it's something far more insidious. I have television poisoning.

I typically don't watch much TV--just a few favorite shows: Boston Legal (which won't be a problem anymore as its last episode aired before Christmas), Monk, The Closer, Saving Grace, and more recently, Leverage, the new Timothy Hutton series. But over the holidays, I fall into bad habits.

It starts with watching a few holiday movies on the Hallmark channel with my mother. Nothing gets you into the holiday spirit quite like heartwarming romantic holiday fluff. Then, there are all those bowl games, and playoff games. Left to my own devices I wouldn't watch much of that, but most of the family-and-friend pool like it, so we watch.

Before long, I have a customary place on the sofa that calls to me as soon as the dinner dishes are in the dishwasher. I start CHANNEL SURFING--looking for something to watch. I become far less discriminating, although, let me say right here that if I ever type the words, "I finally broke down and watched an episode of American Idol," somebody just call up the nervous hospital and have them send a padded wagon.

Disclaimer: I mean no slight, aspersion, or snark to anyone who enjoys "Reality TV." I just personally don't care for it at all. I'm convinced it's a vast Hollywood conspiracy to inflate profits. I like my escapism with a plot...you know, something that involves writers, some reasonably talented actors, and a set. I digress.

It's not the shows that are really the issue, though I typically spend my leisure hours with my first love, books. It's the commercials. Oh. Dear. Tara.

It's so bad, that when a decent commercial comes on, I actually remark on how well it was done. This happens about once a week. The prescription drug ads are awful, but the really, really bad commercials--the ones that cause the maximum buildup of Brain Crud are the ones that include the words, "But WAIT!" You know the ones I'm talking about... the ads for things like Mighty Putty, Hairagami, and those plastic clips you put on your bra straps that guarantee to make you a cup size bigger and improve your posture. I'm also sick of seeing celebrities try to convince us that they lost 40 pounds eating Nutri System, or Jenny Craig food, or by drinking a bunch of Acai Berry Juice. Please, those people have a team of personal trainers and a kitchen staff to help them get skinny.

Now that I've figured out what caused the brain crud, it's easy to fix. It's not difficult AT ALL to turn off the TV once you realize you've fallen victim. If only all my unhealthy habits were cured as easy as picking up a remote and pressing "Off."

Peace, out...

Susan

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Once More, From the Top

The voices in my head are singing Inside Job by Don Henley.

I'm reading The Overlook by Michael Connelly.

Okay, so it's January, and here's where I typically resolve to try a new diet, and to exercise everyday. As previously mentioned, I've tried them all, most recently South Beach, and I'm here to testify: none of them work. Or they all do if you stick to them, and there's the rub. When it comes to food, I have no self-discipline.

Since Thanksgiving, I've had one long food orgy, and until Monday, not one of the things I've eaten has been healthy. Hard to figure out why I've had a cold since mid-November.

So, here's my new plan: I hereby resolve NEVER to diet again. I will not try the new fad diet, whatever it is, nor retry any of the old ones. I'm setting out on a plan to eat myself healthy (really healthier, as I'm generally in great health except for the extra pounds I'm tired of toting around and the cold, but it sounds more dramatic that way).

I'm going to eat my veggies. I'm going to do the thing they've been pounding into my brain since birth and eat mostly fruits and vegetables, with moderate amounts of lean protein, dairy, and whole grains. I'm not counting anything or measuring anything, and I'll eat what I want when I want it. I hereby grant myself permission to have a cheeseburger whenever I want one.

This, I think, is the key. I suspect the biggest reason I can't stick to a diet is I despise ceding control to someone else. I hate studying books and websites to figure out what I can and can't have, then trying to cook something from the allowed ingredients that tastes good. No more.

Each week, I'll put veggies and fruits on my grocery list, and I'll eat the ones I like best. I'll prepare them the way I think sounds good.

I started Monday. So far so good. I've a had a salad every day for either lunch or dinner. I bet if I did count the calories, I'd be where most diets say I should be. But I refuse to count. The one thing I will measure is myself. I'll step on the scales once a week and not obsess.

This is my New Year's Revolution.

Peace, out...

Susan

P.S. Oh, the exercise thing... I'll be back on the dance floor as soon as all these veggies kick the cold out of my chest. The Queen of Pain is losing patience.