Friday, March 14, 2014

Goodbye Old Friend

I had to put my car down today. Yes, it is an inanimate object in and of itself, but she has been my constant companion every time I pulled out of my driveway for the last seven years. She has been with me on late nights, driving home alone on dark highways. She has been a reliable, faithful friend and I will miss her. She is where I could sing at the top of my lungs without judgment. She allowed my to eat countless meals on the run and never complained when I spilled coffee on her or left crumbs. She has at times been my office, my spare bedroom, my escape route… She’s lugged things I couldn’t possibly carry, cradled my dogs in her caboose and amazed me with her capacity to accept things I never thought would fit, just by folding down her seats.

I do this a lot. I ascribe human characteristics to the inanimate objects in my life. Its odd, I know, but I can’t help myself. It’s called ‘Animism’. Each week, as I pour my many pills into the daily dispenser, I think, “Time to go to work!” Or if an extra pill in my hand gets returned to the jar I think, “Run back to your friends” or “Ah ha! You’re saved for another day!”

So clearly, I was upset when the service manager informed me of a major leak that would require a “diagnostic test”, or what I viewed as exploratory surgery, to find the source of the leak. The result had to do with bolts and seals and they could not guarantee the operation would be a success. My old mechanic recommended cutting my losses and getting a new car.  She was getting old, he said. Old? She’s seven!!!!

But I bit the bullet, put the hold on the repair and set off to replace my buddy. My husband drove me to the service center where I emptied her of my personal belongings: phone chargers, EZ Pass, empty water bottles, junk. I felt guilty I hadn’t washed her, covered as she was with the sand and salt from the nasty winter driving conditions. I had planned to take her for a nice wash after her routine maintenance, before I found out she was really sick.

In two hours time, I will pay the bill for the diagnosis, say goodbye and pick up my shiny new car. Time to make a new friend.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Negativity: A Virus

It’s been a hard year... for everyone I know.

Each year for the past several, I have approached the moment when the ball drops in Times Square with a sense of relief… a “Thank God that’s over” sense of relief. Inherent in that relief is the hope that the next year will be better. 2013 ended horribly for us here in Newtown and I clung to the belief that things could not get worse, ergo they would have to get better. But, instead of opening myself up to the possibility of improvement, I wrapped my heart up in a box and waited. I dared the universe to change. I challenged God to fix it and, since I no longer believed in God as a savior or even someone who was listening, I descended into anger, my sense of hopelessness for the world vindicated. Sickness followed. I’d have a good week here and there but, mostly, I was miserable. I jumped from one doctor to another, one antibiotic to another, one symptom after another, through May. My frame of mind could not have been helping.

When you cut yourself off from the possibility of improvement, you lock yourself into proving that you are right. Three season later I am just starting to lift the lid of the box to see what I have cut myself off from: friends, causes, any sense of well-being. It’s time for a change.

My age old pattern has been to burn all the bridges, cut, run and start over someplace else. In the past I have moved, changed my name, my job, my friends, my activities… I am pondering a new beginning. I am on the precipice of choosing. But, even as I contemplate the alternatives, I wonder, might I not be able to do that right here?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Open letter to Lawrence G. Keane

An Open Letter to Lawrence G. Keane:

What drugs are you on, Mr. Keane, that help you to be so stupid? This quote is so convoluted as to be unbearable!

You said, “It’s completely hypocritical to say you can stay (in Connecticut) and make your products, but they’re so dangerous your employees can’t buy them.”

That’s not hypocritical, it’s the truth! Just because you MAKE an item, doesn’t mean you have the right to USE it.  Would it be legal for a drug manufacturer to buy a bottle of oxycodone just because he felt like having some? No, he needs a doctor’s prescription. He gets the drug because he needs to have it, not because it is available.

There is no hypocrisy in allowing gun manufacturers to continue to manufacture weapons in our state. What we are demanding is responsibility in who you are selling them to.(Yes, I know: never end with a preposition.)

No private citizen needs an assault weapon. We are not Iraq. We are not Syria. The Constitution provides for a well-armed Militia. It does not state that every lunatic should have access to his weapon of choice.  You want to hunt? Fine. I’m not a hunter but it seems to me you’d like to be able to eat what you kill, not rip it apart with a thousand bullets.

Make your weapons. And sell them to the MILITIA: to the armed services, the police, the National Guard. I’m not worried. We are America. Our Government is stable. I have not the slightest concern that there is going to be a military take-over in this country against which we have to defend ourselves with weapons. Try voting instead. Try educating the masses so that voting is truly representative of a thought process rather than a popularity contest or a knee-jerk reaction to extremist views. Try ridding us of prejudice that leads to hate that leads to violence. Try lifting people out of poverty so they don’t need to resort to violence.

Try anything! But shut your stupid mouth while doing it!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sick again... or still

I rolled over to face away from the beast beside me, spewing some foul concoction of stomach acids, last night’s alcohol and weight loss into the air like a toxic mist. The caretaker-husband who finds me sexiest when I’m sick; who dutifully sacrifices his sleep to drive me to the hospital for my daily infusion even though I beg him not to. Now that I am no longer stoned on oxycodone I might not be able to wash my hair efficiently, but I’m certain I could drive the car! He insisted. I capitulated. He complained. I was careful not to wake the beast as I rolled; careful not to disturb the IV in my left arm; careful not to wake up the pain that had taken up residence in my right arm like a guest that stayed too long at a Holiday Inn. The unwanted guest was the reason for the left arm’s inaccessibility. Why didn’t they drip the antibiotics directly into the infected arm?  Perhaps they couldn’t find a vein in that swollen mass. Perhaps a needle couldn’t penetrate the skin, taut and tough from the heat and stretching. Perhaps they simply didn’t want to touch it fearing my reaction should an errant poke release a bolt of pain that would course through my body and delay the procedure as they tried to peel me off the ceiling, or the floor, more likely, I thought, remembering the prodding fingers of the physician’s assistant at the orthopedist who incorrectly diagnosed tendonitis and sent me home with instructions to call if it got hot or red. That took a few hours. By then, all the people who could help had left for the weekend, leaving instead a list of Doctors-On-Call whose only advice was to call someone else or spend another day in the emergency room taking every test imaginable and then being sent home with a broad spectrum antibiotic and list of follow-up doctors. And pain meds. Blessed pain meds. Isn’t that how I got here in the first place? Never listen to a P.A.! There was the P.A. in Westport years ago who told me that my six-year-old son had masses in his legs and we should watch them for a few weeks to see if they grew, until the Doctor came in a suggested these worried parents might like to know TODAY if their son had cancer. This P.A. knowingly pressed the most painful spots around my elbow until I came to one that made my body feel as if it had been opened at the soles allowing my innards to rush out on a wave of white light and greenish-yellow nausea.  There was the P.A. at the emergency room a few weeks ago who tested me for everything, found nothing but a mysteriously high white blood cell count, gave a diagnosis of a mysteriously high white blood cell count, and sent me home with the list of doctors, two prescriptions and a “Feel better. Don’t know what’s wrong with you but we hope it will go away soon.” Really? Is this what the medical profession has become? Is this how it has always been? A guessing game? Guess right and win a car, or the monetary equivalent. These days, doctors don’t even have to guess right to win. They just keep guessing. And we keep coming back! I remember as a child, the doctor would sit on the edge of my bed as he examined me in my room, my mother looking concerned in the corner. He’d make jokes to relax me and slap my bottom to lessen the sting of the injection in my backside and then he and my mother would have coffee at the kitchen table as he assured me I’d be up and about in a day or two. And I would be! Now, four months, three rounds of steroids, every cillin, cephalosporin and now mycin has entered my body and still no one knows what’s wrong. It’s still a mystery. Do I feel better? I want Dr. House. I want my Daddy.

Clipart Cartoon 1

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I have been silent this week, unable to write a blog post or muster more than the occasional thought on Facebook, fearing, knowing my words would seem trite amid the magnitude of all we are experiencing. What hasn’t already been said by the hundreds of newscasters who line the narrow sidewalks, who lurk outside of stores, timidly asking passersby, “May I talk to you”? What hasn’t been said in thousands upon thousands of blog posts and tweets? I have no new perspective, no insight, no healing gift. I have nothing but my own paralysis: a tightness in every fiber of my body and the knowledge that I must keep moving but I cannot.

Last night, for the first time, there was no solid line of traffic through Sandy Hook Center, so I finally parked my car and walked through the intersection I have been driving through to get to funerals, shivas and run basic errands, returning home through the same intersection each night, bathed in lights from the Christmas decorations, overwhelmed by those of the huge memorials and news crews, lined with cars from places that most likely had never heard of Sandy Hook before last Friday. Case in point: The badge I wear to work says I live in Sandy Hook, NJ. It doesn’t matter that every form I filled out for that job states that I live in Sandy Hook, CT. Who ever heard of Sandy Hook, CT? I am torn between being grateful for the love pouring in to our community from all over the world and the desire for them to stop clogging this narrow intersection that was not meant for such volume.

I am a little freaked out by all the money being raised. I just got “friended” on Facebook by someone from Alberta Canada who wants me to be his “Point Person” for money he has been raising for one of the families I know who have been directly affected. I gave him the websites of two funds that I am aware of that will benefit this family. But why would he contact me? Why would he want to send money to me via Western Union? My defense mechanism against scam-artists is on high alert. These families have lost a child, not a home. Funeral Directors from far and wide have come to Newtown and donated their services. The funerals have been paid for. A cadre of chefs has set up camp in Edmond Town Hall and have been cooking and donating food for all the services. Yes, we will need money for the school itself, or whatever it is to become. But how else will money change what has happened here? The survivors of Super-Storm Sandy need homes, clothes, everything. Here in Newtown, no amount of money will replace these lost children and teachers. Someone explain this to me for my brain has stopped working. I don’t understand and I am frightened.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook School

I hear the constant drone of helicopters overhead. Twenty-six hours after the madman stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School and brought grief to the face of our sleepy town, helicopters loom over our normally peaceful woods, news trucks and satellite dishes from every network and many foreign countries line our roads. Reporters and producers and cameramen cram into our cafes and restaurants. Director's chairs line the sidewalk, waiting to make their next report. Traffic, normally nonexistent in Sandy Hook Center, is backed up the hill and past the I.84 intersection. Those of us who know the back roads can avoid these intersections but the back roads pose other situations. One of the two town parks, normally deserted once the pool closes or unless there is a soccer game, is also filled to overflowing with news trucks and people. There are too many houses in mourning, notable because of the number of cars on driveways and parked along the sides of roads that really have no place for them. All this death has gripped a single neighborhood. Our friends are planning a funeral for their six year old son. He was not sick. There was no warning, no preparation. There is only shock. I would normally be annoyed by any impediment to my being able to scoot around town but I am grateful for the crowds. I am grateful for the international attention and the equipment and the strangers blasting out story after story. This is important. To have less than this would belittle this loss, this crime, this crime against humanity. Police now say they have begun to piece together a motive, as if any of this will ever make sense.

I was just folding some laundry; a t-shirt I acquired on April 9th, 1996, opening day at Yankee Stadium. I will always remember that day. I gave my nine-year old son a rare day-off. He wasn't usually good with rapid change so we made an adventure of it: a morning tour of what would be his new school when we moved to Newtown in May, followed by tickets to the home opener in the Bronx. It was cold for April with snow in the forecast.  We turned into the long driveway and watched as the single-story school appeared before us. Red brick, a welcoming entrance... my skeptical son looked around and said, "Okay, I'll go here." We were taken to what would be his classroom where he was welcomed by his teacher and future classmates. He was the flavor of the month. Bolstered by the warmth and enthusiasm with which he had been greeted, we left for the Bronx where we huddled in sleeping bags for the snowy opener and watched another newcomer warmly welcomed, for that was the day Tino Martinez took over at first base for Don Mattingly. My son was happy. The fear and apprehension about moving to a new place and starting in a new school had seemingly been dissipated. He would be welcomed. He would be safe.