Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Amen, Sister

"I believe that computers have taken over the world. I believe that they have in many ways ruined our children. I believe that kids used to love to go out and play.

"I believe that social graces are gone because manners are gone because all people do is sit around and text. I think it's obnoxious."

~Stevie Nicks

Monday, April 27, 2009

There Goes My Vacation

Read in today's San Francisco Chronicle that the citizens of Appenzell, a tiny town situated in the heart of Switzerland, voted to pass legislation that will ban nude hiking in the Swiss Alps.

Great. Now what am I supposed to do?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just Like Your Aunt Ruth

Ever since my San Francisco Chronicle pet column was bumped up to weekly (versus monthly), I get tons of reader feedback, which I really enjoy. Even the negative ones...heck, at least they're reading a newspaper, I say.

Coupled with my personal email, I usually have a lengthy stack to answer. However, I've found I can get through all of them pretty quickly if I first scan all emails in "preview mode" and return to each one later for responding. And that's what I was doing late Sunday evening.

"Loved your last tale about Elvis..."
"This is to confirm your Amazon order..."
"Chris Slattery has added you as a friend on Facebook..."
"Mom passed away today..."
"Here's your DHS alumni newsletter..."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up here.

I returned to the email from my cousin Brent. What the heck--his mom passed away? But wait. His mother was my beloved Aunt Ruth. Did that mean... honest to God, it took a second to register.

Aunt Ruth died today?

That couldn't be. Although 89, Aunt Ruth was ageless, vibrant, a fiery redhead that I always described as "Julie Roberts as a senior." I had to admire her from afar since she never lived nearby, but distance didn't matter. In fact, it added to her allure. I felt like I knew the mysterious and glamourous Aunt Ruth, thanks to Dad's countless stories about his older sister. Her modeling and acting days in New York. Her television talk show in Texas. A recognized artist who was commissioned to paint for celebrities such as Pavarotti, Ann Margaret, Cesar Romero, Ginger Rogers and Charlton Heston.

Well into her late eighties, Aunt Ruth was still teaching art at a local community college and active in her Christian Science faith. Only recently, she had moved to New Mexico to be near her son, my cousin Brent. But she was still living independently, still enthusiastic about exploring yet another phase in her life, and still chuckling that deep, throaty chuckle that belied her age.

Only after her death did I learn she had been in declining health for several weeks. She never once complained, never once dropped even the slightest hint that life was anything but wonderful. That's why her passing came as such a shock.

Dad often groused that his big sister was stubborn. Too much a "woman's libber," he complained. Too independent. Too determined. Too feisty and free-spirited and spunky. And many times, when I'd rub him the wrong way as I so often did, maybe vote for the wrong candidate or support the wrong initiative, he'd look at me and bellow, "You're just like your Aunt Ruth!"

And when I'd respond with a heartfelt "thank you!" he would simply shake his head and mutter again, under his breath and honestly perplexed, "Just like your Aunt Ruth."

Indeed. I should be so lucky.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

When You Least Expect It

I'll admit, I've been down in the dumps after learning that parts of my lower face and mouth are permanently numb. Still, I'm trying to keep my situation in perspective: things could be much worse. Just scan the front page of any newspaper (hey, support your local newspaper!) and you know what I mean. If a numb face is all I can complain about, well, I'm pretty darned lucky.

So I was sitting in church this morning, enjoying the uplifting Easter message made all the more poignant after a week of such negativity. When the service was over, I got up to leave, but the person sitting next to me tapped my arm.

"Excuse me," she asked. "Do you have a minute?"

I'd never seen this woman before and looked at her just a tad suspiciously. As we were sadly reminded this week, going to church doesn't automatically make someone a decent person. The woman, in her mid sixties, maybe early seventies, was a striking, attractive, well-dressed redhead. And she was tall...she looked me square in the eye and I'm 5'9.

"You don't know that you and I are part of a very exclusive club," she began.

Uh oh, crackpot. I prepared to bolt.

"When my grandmother was a little girl, she was ridiculed relentlessly for being so tall," she explained. "And so as an adult, she formed the Long Stemmed American Beauty Rose Club for all the tall, beautiful, slender women of the world."

Had she said "slender?" Go on.

She reached in her purse and gave me a business card. It simply read, Long Stemmed American Beauty Rose Club - lifetime member, with an etching of a rose and nothing else.

"Welcome to the club," she smiled. "And Happy Easter." Then she turned around and left.

Okay, so maybe I have no feeling in my lower face. Bummer, right. But I can emote, thank goodness. I can still grimace, pucker, smirk, scowl. And smile.

Just witness the big one that crossed my face on this fine Easter morning.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Deep Thoughts

My IRA is down 60%. I know what you're thinking: welcome to the club. Ah, but Grasshopper, this is one bullet I could have dodged. There's no one to blame, but me.

Because if I followed and monitored and discussed and dissected and juggled and balanced and inspected and studied and scrutinized and analyzed my stock portfolio as carefully as I do my Netflix queue, I'd be a freakin' rock star millionaire.


Priorities, folks. Priorities. And if you need a movie recommendation, hey, I'm your gal.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

As the Jaw Turns: the Final Chapter

So it's been 14 months since my maxillofacial (jaw) surgery. Not that I'm counting. But I have sort of been conscious of time since I've been anxiously waiting for the feeling to return to the lower half of my face.

Lips? Dead.
Jawline? Dead.
Upper and lower gums, roof of mouth, tongue?

Dead. Dead. Dead.

Tests show that my motory nerves are fine, which means everything moves perfectly normal. Thank goodness for that. Only the sensory nerves are affected. I finally saw a nerve specialist yesterday (out of pocket, mind you) to learn if this is typical 14 months after surgery. And most important: is it permanent?

His $17 a minute response? Yes. And yes.

This surgery is fraught with potential nerve damage, he said. Most patients regain all the feeling they're going to recoup by month 9. And for patients over the age of 40, it's a very high-risk procedure. 85% of all patients over age 40 suffer some type of permanent nerve damage. Mine just happens to be worse than most.

So sorry, he said. That'll be $250 please.

Talk about pouring salt in the wound.

As I forked over my credit card, I was thinking, golly gee whiz, wouldn't it had been nice if Kaiser had thought to share this minor tidbit of information with me during our initial consultation three years ago? Before I got the braces. Before I embarked on the three-year journey to correct my open-bite and misaligned jaw. Because once the braces were in place, I was committed to the surgery: the two went hand-in-hand. There was no going back.

If just once, during our consultation, Dr. Hottie had mentioned, "Oh by the way, since you're over 40, there's a strong chance this surgery will leave your face feeling like a totem pole," I'm pretty darn sure I would have reconsidered. Yeah, my open-bite made chewing difficult, but let me tell you: a dead-as-a-doornail mug ain't no day at the beach, either.

This is my new reality.

Now believe me, I know there are much worse things in life to bear, like the poor woman whose face was chewed off during a chimp attack. Now she's got problems. All things considered, I know I'm very blessed. And so, you want to slap some sense into me, please, go right ahead.

Because I won't feel a thing.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Someone's been sipping the Kool-aid

"I never look at my watch because the time is always now."
~Carlos Santana

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Saturday of Surprises

Enjoying a sunny spring day with your best friend, shopping for shoes (on sale!) and afterwards, relishing a late lunch at a rustic outdoor bistro:

Taking an unexpected evening trek to Animal Emergency with your injured greyhound:

Bringing home, hours later, your still-injured, but otherwise treated and going-to-be-okay beloved dog:
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