March 28, 2010

My obsessions are my own

We watched Julie and Julia last night. I loved Meryl Streep doing Julia and how she projected Julia's larger-than-life personality and dedication to her art, along with some sleek parodic moments.

As far as Julie, I didn't care for the character. She seemed scheming: not to write a blog about what she was thinking, but to write with the original premise that she could hitch her star to someone who might take her places.

So, you can cook. According to my undomesticated mother, anyone who can read can cook. That's why recipes call for measurement. That's also why we stay out of the kitchen.

When Julie got to the point that she didn't want to disappoint her fans, I thought it was a bit precious. I didn't get into the blogosphere for fans; I didn't even know who would stumble upon my little world, decide s/he liked it, and wanted to sit for a while.

May I remind all of us, when we started in this world, when we had "fans," we learned that others admired our writing style, could made us laugh or think. We, or at least I, didn't set out to purchase any product some blogger gushed about. Or admire their ability to commit to a cookbook for an entire year.

How did I decide to blog? On the heels of some friends who blogged in 2004, I got inspired. I have written professionally; these days, I don't do marketing, which does bring the chance for fame and fortune into the realm of negligible. However, I have a voice, and blogging give me the chance to play with it.

The closest this blog gets to domesticity is in describing my own incompetence, and what new areas I have glossed over since Y2K. Take most 21st century technology. Please. Or give me a lucid explanation of why it is that when telephones had cords, we didn't have dropped calls every three minutes as we do on this decade's model, the cell phone.

Why detach the cord when it served such a perfect purpose? So the next generation won't know how to conduct a conversation? Or are they so busy texting that by the time they reach legal drinking age, their hands will be too crippled to hold a glass?

I'd started reading blogs written by some of my ancient private email list friends, women I'd known virtually for at least 10 years at the time -- 2004 -- and my focus was and is, my blog and welcome to it. Sure, I comment on social affairs and bad politics and the long saga of life in Wonderland, and why I would choose to live nowhere else.

I don't fancy myself an arts critic, unless it is to mock stumbling over the "art" a a contemporary gallery, a place where I think the "artist's" highest achievement was to convince someone else to buy the product, even when it looked like a mound of dirt, or tree outlines moving to John Cage-like music on a CD player.

Sure it's creative, but then again, so is my next-door neighbor's fingerpaint ouevre. And Abby just turned 5 last month. I've seen paintings my mom had framed, my own elementary school artwork. At age 7, I had a good grasp of perspective.

I may have hit my zenith in watercolor at age 8, but I'm not trying it to peddle it at the school of art and commerce. Commerce is where those who lack in artistic talent lose their critical aesthetic abilities to become seduced be an artist's story. I do have to admire an "artist" who separates fools from their money. That, to me, is the true story of contemporary art.

Tell me the story, and I'll keep my money to myself. I will try hard not to laugh at what I will never consider art, just spin.

But I digress: I did not come to blogging as a means to make my fortune. Looks like Julie did. I did sign up for BlogHer this year, simply because it is in Wonderland, convenient by taxi, and I should have an immune system, I hope, by them. I'll never be Dooce; I'll never be FinSlippy. If I have a blogging idol, it's MetroDad. He's a great writer and he makes me laugh.

Plus, Peanut's Halloween costume for last year alone should get him a lifetime of paid blogging. You haven't lived until you've seen MD's underage Chinese gymnast outfit on his daughter. And he doesn't take commercial endorsements.

March 25, 2010

The girl in a bubble: white blood cells needed

Today my white blood count reached a new nadir: I have 400, practically few enough that someone could count them, and someone else could start singing 400 white blood cells in her bod, 400 white blood cells; take any down and pass them around, 399 white blood cells in her bod....

A normal reading is 4,800 to 10,000. So I don't exactly have any to spare. This week? Like the others, but more so. Every day, visit the doctor. Get blood pressure taken, temperature taken, finger pricked to put blood on a slide; get weighed; see blood test results before doctor hits the exam room and know: today, another 480cc shot of drug to hasten white blood cell formation.

Why so important? Chemo nukes out all the cells, the good and the bad. Then you have a hiatus, 2 weeks when the blood is supposed to regenerate. Thing is, every cycle of chemo makes it more difficult for the bone marrow to make the cells. But if I don't have a high enough count a week from now, then I can't get the chemo to nuke the cells that may exist.

Makes that much sense to me, too.

Then there are the red blood cells -- too few and you have no energy, not to mention having no immune system since the white cells are so few and far between. And let us not forget the platelet count. Normal? 130-400 of whatever unit is being counted. Me? Down to 55. You could definitely sing the bottles of beer song to that.

Platelets at this stage equal very limited blood clotting ability. A paper cut could send me to the hospital. This thought is not cheering. Neither is the idea that I have to be incredibly careful not to walk into anything, because I'd have a bruise for months.

People tell me, at least you still have your sense of humor. What else am I going to have? Shall we all start to sing the platelet count song? I don't have much in the way of intellectual thought processes to get in the way of a good old-fashioned sing-along.

Lymphoma? Not pretty. Can't dress it up and take it anywhere, not without sterile precautions. Time for another round of Purell, what I'm wearing instead of perfume this winter. I used to wear Joy. Even if I couldn't feel it, I could smell it. Now, it doesn't make a difference, except in the irony department -- but you knew I was good for that.

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March 20, 2010

Good tech, bad tech: just fix it.

I am tired of the latest, brightest shiny toy to come out of any so-called technology box. What I want is for the folks who thought they were so clever to invent things, to come through on FIXING what is already invented, not going on to muck up something new.

For example, take the cordless phone: great idea, bad ergonomics, and unreliable reception. Is it that challenging to take the old-time technology that made our corded phones connect so reliably and apply it to more recent "innovations"?

And television: it used to be so easy. Press one button for on/power; change the channel or the volume with two simple arrow points. HD TV? Hell to define it. No better definition, because the cable signal now pixilates at random. Make the signal too complicated, and the TV can't manage to make it smooth and constant, as the signal did so smoothly back in the day.

Hell to make the TV clicker work to get you to one of more than 1000 channels you may wish to cut back to a manageagble, say, 100? Can the video recording box manage to fast-forward or reverse as easily as a VCR? Not in my house.

Then, the cell phone -- may it rot in hell. How important are you? Do you need to broadcast your lovers' quarrels, your medical test results, any call other than say, can't make it on time, got an emergency going on. Are the recipients of these calls so stupid that they can't assume, as in other times, that you've been delayed?

More people than not show up less than on-time. Planes never do on-time, unless they are fudging the schedule. If you're not a cop or a fireman or, dare I say a doctor, on duty, on call, do you really need to chat on the sidewalk?

In the car -- no one ever promised driving excitement. Vehicles are simply transit. Perhaps distracting yourself with the radio is enough. Be daring -- have a cup of coffee. Try not to spill it. Don't give me your traffic updates. I promise: they're boring. Moreover, maybe you should keep your eyes on the road, cut down on accidents.

And ergonomics? Kids are going to text themselves into early arthritis, strange tendon problems, shoulder strain, back troubles -- then they will have to learn to talk. Wonder if they'll be able to catch up with their less technology dependent peers: the people you see having conversations, ordinary verbal exchanges, with one another. They are few and far between these days, at least in public.

If the techno-folks wanted to be useful, they might look into improving voice recognition software. At this rate, no one will be able to type -- or given how language has deteriorated, maybe everyone will get by with grunting. Once for yes; twice for no.

Apart from texting, which is for people who are too lazy or incapable of using a telephone for its original purpose, which was not to be Western Union on a regular basis, there is a problem with cell phones that makes me laugh.

It is this: an entire generation of people are growing up without having an unimpeded conversation, without interruption, either by another call or, to go back to the original technology complaint: IF YOU CAN'T GET A CALL TO GO THROUGH WITHOUT DROPPING OUT, what exactly was the point of losing the cord in the first place?

Then, the speaker phone: nice concept, lousy execution. Yes, you avoid ergonomic incidents, but the echos and sputters over the line make the conversation more challenging. And privacy? Long since gone by the wayside, not that most people seem to care, or even make a distinction between personal and business. Scary.

Granted, someone's good techno idea made blogging possible. A place for people like me to rant where we want, in case someone's listening, or, to be precise, reading.

Yet I can't help coming back to my first point: why can't technology be perfected before the next ingenious idea comes along? Short attention spans? Another failure of our time? If someone would take back fiber optics in favor of copper wires, we might be able to find out. And while the sole techno-perfecto in the land is at it, can't the digital camera shutter press in a timely fashion?

Why go forward when we haven't succeeded at backward? Alice wants to know.

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March 07, 2010

Letter and a rant: antisocial media

Dear RC,

My apologies for sending this through FB, but you came up on the side of the page that makes "suggestions." FB today burped up that you have "only 16 friends." I have, by its count, more than 100 -- you can guess which one I think is more realistic.

This whole social media thing is really ludicrous. I miss the old days -- hell, like, last week -- when people, myself included, weren't "sharing"/ broadcasting our 15-word thoughts (or, fewer and not thoughts but "is waiting on line at the store") to the world. I know this is somehow R.'s bread and butter, but no matter what she explains, I don't get it.

Call me old fashioned, but call me -- on the phone - do not text me, IM me or whatever passes for digital communication. I'm sucked in and simultaneously sickened.

Started reading a book on the train yesterday and realized how much I miss just plain reading your basic book. Hard copy, suited to recovering from coffee spills, page-turning books.

I don't care what the digital natives (read the term today and liked it) are trying to say: you can't mourn in cyberspace. Not unless you're working on complete detachment. Is this the wave of the next generation? Do they think they can talk to a shrink by typing? And get any kind of results?

No, when it comes to full-on emotion, I'm not posting it to FB. This whole FB thing makes blogging look positively antiquated, in that when I write in my blog, I'm trying to make a real point. What I say on FB is stuff left over floating when my brain has gone on hiatus.

I may be wintering on FB, due to my housebound status, but if I could go outside and not be afraid a germ might march through my defenseless white blood cell count, I'd be there. With bells on. In person.

Today I had my one outing between chemo cycles: I felt well enough to go talk to people at a safe distance at a Haitian art sale. Fortunately it wasn't crowded, or highly peopled, as The Artist and I say. We prefer lightly peopled or none at all. Odd that we live in New York, but there you have it. We like our conveniences more.

One of my current ones is that the chemo lounge is five minutes by cab from my house. Couldn't find that in a small town. My friend outside of Buffalo has to drive an hour to take her mother to chemo. (Lymphoma is the disease her mom and I share.)

Would I talk about chemo time on FB? Not in this lifetime. I doubt more than six of my so-called friends would even care. FB has its place, especially when communicating with folks a generation younger than I, but it's not anything resembling a face-to-face interaction. Not even resembling an email.

Fifteen words or fewer: I am cranky as I write this. Social media? It seems more antisocial to me.

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