February 27, 2011

Losing my calls

Another gray day at home -- feel like I haven't seen the sun in years. keep staying home and nesting, if that's what you want to call it. that would, however, imply that I'm doing all manner of things at home. I'm not. I'm watching taped TV and Netflicks. I'm not reading. I'm not keeping up with my online scrabble games. What am I doing?

Making a transition between what once was and what will eventually be. Stuck in limbo, somewhere. Can barely remember what once was -- did the year of lymphoma take that from me? I assume that if I had really liked what once was that I would remember, I would want to do it again. But if that means financial planning, forget it.

For a time, it was a lovely gig. Then the economy tanked, and I felt like nothing I could do in the way of financial planning would be of any value to anyone, so I retreated from it. And took a long breath -- happy not to need to keep up on every tax law change, the health insurance bill from hell that has fucked me six ways from Sunday, and god knows how it's affected anyone else.

My phone just announced a text message, but I'm at the machine, looking at the time more often than I'd like, simply because it is there. Does it mean anything? Not so much -- only that I need to keep track because I have shrink appointment. and it's going to be by phone.

The sidewalks and corners are treacherous, and I'm not going anywhere outdoors that I don't have to, at least not today.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to do an open house at Spanish school, then go to a party in the Village. One of The Three Sisters called yesterday -- it's going to be a fondue party for reasons I have yet to discover. Apparently it relates to the Chinese new year, though I don't possibly see how. Still, it's The Three Sisters, my oldest friends, and, assuming strangers don't come streaming in the way they did at Xmas, it will be a good place for me to go, to see people who just accept me as I am, whether it's as cancer vic or trust fund kid or brilliant writer who just won't or can't get around to putting words on paper.

Paper? So 20th century. What I can't stand is how my computer has turned into a communications toy, so much that I rarely use it for the real, basic stuff -- the reason I went cyber in the first place: I wrote papers, short stories, essays, a novel...and kept track of all my financial data -- basic spreadsheet 101. And those functions still exist; I do remember the keyboard shortcuts for WordStar, before there were mice, before there was DOS, much less Windows.

There's so much other crap on the machine now that I've succumbed to computer as toy, seduced by the lure of FB, an invention that will end whatever productivity exists in this country.

Yes, folks, I am alive and typing -- but what my mind is trying to say, I don't have a clue.

I may try an exercise, looking at photos of Haiti and seeing what evocative descriptions I can glean from them, what memories they bring up -- and just write it all down, no rereading, but social commentary is okay, since it's all that I didn't know as I sat on the beach at Kyona, all those years.

That whole period of my life -- from Lake Placid to Haiti: that world is gone, gone, gone. And, having failed to plan for middle age, I come to it baffled. I come to it searching for a world that has different values than the one I see around me.

Jobwise, it doesn't seem to matter if you are intelligent. To me, it matters more if you can use the technology and not have it use you in offices or at home or any place on this earth. I suspect one may have to do more than fog a mirror, but it's been 20 years since I've had an office, so I don't know what constitutes good behavior at work. Twenty years ago, I could get jobs based on my brain, without having to pass a piss test.

Then, the piss test bothered me from a privacy angle. Now, there's no privacy left, so as long as I stay away from weed, which has turned into a huge no-no, I could pass the test -- assuming I resisted the temptation to throw the container directly into the face of the person who had requested it.

While I'm on this rant, I've had it with technology: with me, it's strictly need-to-know. These days, I learn as little as possible. Why bother? Nothing sticks except what changes and hence becomes obsolete knowledge as soon as I've memorized any of it.

Plus, I'm still battling my not-so-new "smartphone." It outsmarts me, and there is not much more to be said about it, except that while it may retrieve info accurately, it's not so hot as its alleged primary use: as a telephone. So I may speak to people when I'm not home, however well we got along before we had this whiz-bang opportunity.

I'm losing all my calls these days -- Verizon has yet to fix either phone line, after many conversations and three or four visits from their tech support people, who seem unable to manage to troubleshoot calls dropping out or getting static-y from landlines. Not sure if Verizon is getting metaphorical or just completely inept.

Honestly, technology consists of boys and their toys. Otherwise, we'd have robo-chef by now, not to mention silent vacuums and dishwashers -- all the things you need to run a household of any size. Clearly cleanliness is not high on the tech-lovers list.

If I were Queen, I would make sure that all the phone lines worked and the cable company could manage more than a day without the need to reboot. And I'd have a driver -- granted, it might be weird to have a driver take me to Costco, but I'd be safe.

Right now I can't do large stores -- the Petco store where we bought cat food for The Consultant's cats struck me as a shop for children's clothes when we first walked in. How to outfit your schnauzer. I'm assuming the margins are bigger on animal clothes than they are on animal food. I don't understand why she just doesn't get stuff delivered: she says, well, my ex was supposed to place an order this week, then makes an excuse for why the ex hasn't done her quasi-wifely duties.

Haven't figured that relationship out -- I know The Consultant is actively hunting on line, and I'm on hiatus from trying to date new people. After The Artist and I went our separate ways, I ran out of emotional space. I wanted simplicity, and I got it. I'm know I'm not in the best mood to be bright and shiny and sexy the way I have to feel if I'm going out on a date.

Bigger question is, what do I want in the way of a relationship, and what kind of mixed signals am I getting from The Consultant, who has made it very clear, and I've agreed, that we're good in bed together and fine for dinner, but no angels are getting their wings.

Except perhaps last weekend, when I took her out for dinner and she deliberately picked a "romantic restaurant," and the whole time we were out, she held my hand, or my arm. This is moving into the PDA world, and I hadn't thought we were there. Still not sure: are we there yet? or are we going anywhere?

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February 21, 2011

Groupon, groupoff: so much for that eyelash perm

In this day and age, well past the dawning of Web 2.0 and nearly, I suspect, near its sunset, many, many entities want to sign me up to spend more money. Their premise? Since we have such a large buying group, it's a bargain.

Oh, really?

Explain to me, please, why on earth I would purchase a Japanese eyelash perm, at any price, for any reason. I understand the Japanese are known for straight hair. I get it: I sent hair straightener for black woman to Dona, the year she lived in Japan. Not a lot of African-American or Caribbean-American women in Tokyo circa 1985, before the multi-culti globalization of our little world.

If Japanese women were curling their eyelashes, they probably did it the old-fashioned way: with the type of metal eyelash crimper last seen by me circa 1970, when my bunk counselor -- at an all-girls' camp -- persisted in doing full makeup every morning.

In retrospect, who was the counselor primping for? Not the other female counselors, not circa 1970, when bras were flung with abandon, underarm hair and unshaven legs were a political statement, and the word "femme" had yet to come into popular usage. (Even now, it's only used in certain circles, and I'm not quite sure I understand the complete definition, or if it varies, city by city, urban by rural.) I'll never know, except to chalk it up to pre-feminist cultural conditioning.

But I digress: before chemo, I might not have realized that the everything-must-go sale my hair follicles staged was complete, and I would not have grasped the full extent of the loss-of-hair. It never would have occurred to me that my eye lashes were lacking.

(Yea, you -- tell me my hair will grow back and I will ask you if you've ever seen your pubic hair on a wad of toilet paper.) It does grow -- but not back -- it grows in textures and levels of curliness not found on any head of mine I ever brushed. My eyelashes hold mascara now just as well as years ago.

When my hair, now 3 inches in length, started its regrowth, it was not the hair I had cut off in the ponytail to donate to other women with cancer. That hair was thick, and long. I don't recognize myself as the woman in the mirror with short, curly, hair. She looks too old to be me.

That may be the woman I have become, but I've yet to adapt to her, the one with a scar down her chest where the surgeon opened her sternum, and the one whose other incision, now healing, came from inserting and removing the quarter-size port under her skin, at a level just above where my cleavage, such as it remains, happens to be. That, and having been a Superfund site for several months. Do the poisons ever leave?

Here is where I step sharply on "groupoff." I missed the day when my email bargain-getter sent trampoline lessons on sale. Groupon? Middle-aged women in circus school? In Brooklyn, on a street name I recognize from my childhood in the 'burbs, but not directly over the East River? Not part of any group that I can imagine, not without an ambulance and an orthopedist nearby.

If you're of an age to try the tramp or flying on wires, perhaps you have not reached the age where you understand the repercussions of signing a waiver of responsibility. Or, no one has texted the legality (or lack) of the form to you. Or you are one of the various lemmings comprising the group for which these "bargains" are targeted.

In high school, I loved the tramp (not the dirty little man outside the gym). But not now, in what I assume to be the midpoint of my life. No sane person wants me, veering on osteoporosis, to hop up on that tramp to jump and fly. My bones might not make it through intact, for one reason; another, bigger question: could I ever feel as free jumping now as I did at 14, when fear was not a part of my physical makeup? I'm guessing, not so much.

"Freedom's just another word for, nothing left to lose," or so sang Janis Joplin, at the ripe old age of 25 or so. Apparently it look me longer to lose my water-wings and training wheels. Twice as long, to be precise.

Having stepped over the medical threshold into the land of illness, of temporary disability, some of my fears have grown, but others? Not so much. Sure, there's the State Department. I hear it has issued a warning on travel to Mexico.

I'm sure there was one on Haiti, at least part of the time I was there. It didn't occur to me to be afraid. And Mexico? Border drug trafficking is not happening 1000 miles from the California state line. Where I stay in Baja, the only drugs on special are Viagra, anti-depressants, and Retin A. Each is freely available in pharmacies. I'm not even fearful of germs -- 20 years of visiting Haiti, and I know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. (Cf. Superfund site).

My friends confuse the border with Cabos, 1000 miles down the peninsula. In timeshare-ville, guards blend in with the scenery, but I know they are there, just as I knew the staff paced the grounds in the Haitian beach where I went from girl child to grown woman.

Americans, except in war zones and potential political hotbeds (find me a dictator the U.S. didn't fly out of his country in the past 25 years, and I'll show you a dead man), didn't used to need private security protection. Now that we've globalized, U.S. citizens are easy targets.

Especially targeted are those those who give rise to the ugly American stereotype, one I've discovered is not without those secured to it, the ones who don't give a damn that, hey, no one speaks English here and speaking louder is not going to change that.

Volume is not the key to language comprehension, much to the chagrin of many. (Take that, groupon, and go global.) Hand signals are much more effective. In moments of desperation, you will get your point across -- perhaps not in a grammatical sentence, but in the way you most need at that very second.

Or so I continue to trust, as my attempts to learn Spanish (where is that group discount when you need it?) regress, and fluent French dating back 30+ years spews forth in in its place.

Why such an emphasis on group discounts in the cyber age? Because no one would ever leave the keyboard, the cell phone, the "smart" phone, or the PDA? Makes me think the Internet is not where we find each other; it's where our connections fray, and, if you're not careful, lose all meaning.

Groupon? Is this for 21st century groupies? If you're offering discounts, perhaps you or your oh-so-clever computer, could devise a few not designed to add to a woman's insecurities. Don't try to make me think my eyelashes are doomed, the way the teeth-whitening crowd has tried to convince me to add that task to daily maintenance. It's not working.

If that's groupon, stop the world -- I want to groupoff.

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