Monday, November 28, 2005

Greetings From Hogwarts

Okay, I'm not really at Hogwarts. I'm posting from the campus library at Washington University, St. Louis - which bears more than a passing resemblance to the institution where Harry Potter and his merry band make their mischief whilst attempting to avoid their untimely/early demises at the hands of Dick Cheney. I mean Voldemort.

It's an odd thing, not having regular access to a computer. Or a car. Or a teeVee. One can truly isolate to a degree one wouldn't think possible. Walking around St. Louis without the general forms of communication, transportation, etc...reverts one back to the Luddite days of book reading and quiet solitary walks through the red and gold leaves that have found their way to the ground. People use more rakes than leaf blowers here, and that scrape, scrape, scrape sound is rather frightening in its relative unfamiliarity to the sound of the L.A. gas-powered leaf blower.

St. Louis is actually quite beautiful, though the unpredictability of the weather (no ocean around to do any regulating) is wacky in terms of the getting used to it. One day it might be 20 degrees, the next day 60, the next day, 65 degrees with thunder and lightning and a Tornado warning (last night) and snow flurries tonight. Kewl.

The prognosis for my sister sucks; Stage 4 pancreatic cancer really doesn't have a lot of happy ending evidence and Cranky Liberal put it best when he said, “Sometimes life is just going to kick your ass and be really cruel. Where you go from there is up to you.” He's right. Bearing that in mind, we had a lovely Macrobiotic Thanksgiving dinner (yup, I've been doing my research into the large amount of anecdotal evidence out there on the benefits of a macrobiotic diet with cancer patients and am becoming quite the macrobiotic chefette) and we are learning how to take each day for what it is, without expectation of result. Some of us are, anyway. The father character is doing what my mother refers to as "hiding behind his eyelids" and is still being as inappropriate as humanly possible when given the opportunity. I guess we all handle our grief as best we can, huh?

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu, macrobiotic style:

Butternut Squash soup with shredded carrot, parsnip and shallot garnish
Almond encrusted Filet of Sole
Kale, steamed with walnuts and cranberries
Mashed adjuki beans
Mock stuffing, made with brown rice, rye & wheatberries, sauteed veggies and herbs.
Fried tofu & tempeh
Acorn Squash with brown rice syrup and maple syrup glaze
Vegan carrot cake

Yup - it's not just brown rice and seaweed. Who knew?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Only In L.A.

You know you are back in L.A. when you happen to see an arm reach out of the driver’s side window of a car driving down Crescent Heights Boulevard in the opposite direction to yourself – to throw a toupee out the window. A really ugly toupee.

I know it was a toupee and that it was ugly, because I double checked what the litter bug had thrown onto the asphalt/slurry seal below. Normally, I would honk and yell at litterbugs that seem to think the world is their wastebasket – but I was simply a bit stunned by this new and innovative form of discarded trash.

In other L.A. observances, I attended the opening of a play last night. Yes, there is live theatre in Los Angeles, and much of it is quite good. This one was as well, despite the fact that 6 Hollywood types that had obviously never been schooled in how to sit in a theatre and watch a live performance parked themselves in the front row, apparently feeling it their God given right to bring in their own stash of alcohol into the performance, get hammered over the course of the play, each member of the party repeatedly getting up to leave the theatre to apparently use the loo – and one of them actually had the nerve to start text messaging people during the performance (the light from the phone shining into the faces of all behind him in the dark theatre). Since this play happened to be a long one-act of about an hour and ten minutes – this is a lot of disruption. My hat is off to the performers who did a great job, despite the assholes with lousy upbringing. I was sitting two rows back – otherwise I would have reached over and taken the phone away from the idiot – but thankfully, and I am so in awe of her at this moment – the lead actress in the play came out afterwards when audience members were standing around, said “thank you all for coming – HOWEVER…..” and proceeded to rip into the 6 people for their lousy behaviour and the disruption to the people in the audience AND the people on stage working. It was beautiful.

I go back to St. Louis on Sunday morning – after only a brief visit with Manpants, the pooches and a few dear friends. It has been a much needed rest.

I’m not sure why the guy felt the need to throw his toupee out of the window, but I do applaud the decision. May comb-overs and toupees meet the same fate that met the dinosaurs. Rest in peace, little rug in the gutter, rest in peace.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Is it Wrong to Threaten the Life of a Bedridden Drunk?

Well, my sister's Zen place pretty much ended today. She had to be readmitted to the hospital after a mere 12 hours home with complications from the surgery that was a procedure that she was not expecting and not what she went in for. She's in a pretty bad way and they are doing tests. She made me promise today to not let her die in a hospital, which I did, and am making sure that it gets put in writing so no one can stop me from wheeling her out whenever that comes to pass. I can just see sneaking her out in the middle of the night and taking her to the beach - except that would be too much like the end of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" and there are no beaches in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Southern Belle that makes all fabulous Southern Belles look tawdry and awful that had been placed in the other bed in my sister's room has a nice nurses tech to thank for me not ending her life dramatically today. Basically she is there because she is a life long drunk (and as a former dipsomaniac I have absolutely no problem blasting my kind into the next universe) that developed pancreatic cysts. The doctor came in and told her she would be just fine and dandy, and that all she needed to do was to stop drinking. My sister listened to this and it was at that moment that she lost her Zen place. This same fine example of womanhood asked me in her gravelly permanently slurring way what my sister was in for. I said, "pancreatic cancer." She says, and I quote, "Oh my, I just have pancreatic cysts - thank God I don't have cancer, that would be bad."

I went outside to the wonderful and adorable nurses tech who shall be named Steve for this little report, and asked him if he knew what my sister's diagnosis was. He didn't. I told him, then I told him what the horrible creature in the next bed was all about and that I was about to smother her with her own pillow. He said, "Oh no, she did NOT say that - okay, we'll see about moving your sister." I gushed my thanks and she was moved in an hour. God bless Steve. The rest of the staff has been even sweeter to her since then, and they were already before. I bought them all a big box of chocolates.

I go back to L.A. for a week break on Saturday, and will more than likely spend the week on the couch with my dog children and Manpants, staring at the wall. I really need to process all of this.

Thank you to all of you who have been reading these blatherings of mine and leaving wonderful comments of strength and support. You have no idea how grateful I am for that when I am so far away from my usual support system.

And yes, I'm going to go smoke now.