Monday, November 22, 2010

That was then, this is now

Our thirty year class reunion was last August. It seems like every since I have been taking many strolls down memory lane regarding my childhood I have been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about my past. It is amazing, to me, how much of my happiness has been in the past 10 years. True, contented, happiness.

I have heard some people say they had idyllic childhoods or that they peaked in high school. When I think back to those years I know I can look forward because the best is yet to come.

I have great childhood memories, some good grade school memories, and ok Jr. High School memories, not so fond of High School memories. It seems so weird that my hubby plays either no role or a negative role in those memories. The man who is now such a pivotal part of my life wasn't in those years, and yet, now, my best times have been with him.

Conversely, my worst times have also been with this man. The bad memories I have from school appear to have something to do with him. And, in the twenty plus years we have been together we have been through some real, real bad times. But, as everyone knows, bad times do make good times all that much better.

Hubby and my memories of school helped us to come to the decision to homeschool. It had very little to do with the kids and everything to do with the teachers. When a certain middle school principle condescendingly told hubby and I to harken back to when we were in school. He actually told us he was the same man that was our principle (he was the vice principle) and we should have just as much confidence in him now as we did then. We both realized we did and we yanked our kids.

It dawned us both that those teachers would have our children 40 hours a week. Those teachers who threw chalk and erasers at kids out of frustration, anger, teaching apathetically or even those who taught passionately but just from their point of view and then tested kids based on their slanted viewpoint of life.

One of the cool things of marrying someone from school who was in the same grade but in a completely different circle of friends, as well as a different religion, is that we have been able to compare stories. I learned that all those times that hubby and friends skipped school were not spent drinking and partying. They had an elaborate forest treefort, actually more like a tree village, that they had all built and which they spent many long days defending in bb gun wars. This continued on up into high school. Many battle scars are from bb gun bullets shot at too close of range or if someone had pumped more than they should  have, making the shot more powerful.

I learned that the spit wads in my hair in ninth grade English were my hubby's doing. No, nothing so romantic as love, or like, in the least. I was the weirdo Bahai with "stuck up" friends. Ninth grade English was miserable for me. None of my friends were in it and I was plagued by hateful boys sitting in the backrow. Hubby is shame faced about it now. More so because he sees it not only as my spouse, but as a Baha'i himself.

For me, that was the hardest. Baha'i camps and retreats were these totally awesome places. You didn't have to fake being anything, you could just be you. No one ever called someone a "fag" people didn't stare at black people and call them names behind their backs, two girls could actually hold one another's hands, even in eighth grade, without hearing snickers. And there were no wall flowers at the dances. No one ever said "no" if you asked them to dance, and you never said "no". The older kids always looked out for the younger ones. It was so "cool" to have a college boy ask you to dance, which made all the other guys want to dance. Our dances weren't divided up into ages. So you had everyone out there dancing.

The camps were family camps, mostly, and so there wasn't the "oddness" of jamming this group of people, all the same age, together to try to figure out life using all the same half assembled tools and coming to the same, untried, sophomoric, answers. You were with a diverse group of people of all ages and races and they were electric! Then you would come back home to plain, old, boring "vanilla."

After hubby went to his first camp after becoming a Baha'i he exclaimed, "THATS what you got to do on school breaks?" He was flabbergasted at how I could come home from something like that and turn around and go to school on Monday. While it often was reinvigorating, around the second or third day back I would hit a wall, and it would be depressing for a day or two. It wasn't just the kids. It was the teachers. We were living in pretty hopeless times, then. It was the '70s. We had been lied to by Nixon, we knew that the Russians had "the bomb" but we also knew that crouching beneath our desks wasn't going to save our butts from anything! Our school had a bomb shelter (the locker rooms) city hall had a bomb shelter, and I can't think where else but I do remember learning in our health class how to look for the upside down dotted triangle signifying a shelter was nearby.

While our Faith taught us we were at the beginning of a new 500,000 year dispensation our schools told us to prepare for the end of the world. Our graduating class, if I remember correctly, was called one of the most apathetic that our high school principle had ever encountered. In our health class our teacher, Ms. Brown, taught us that if we were abducted, to submissively follow the captors orders as our chances of being released alive increased for submissive people, while fighters died. How weird, I thought, to teach a classroom of sophomores to be submissive.

Being the naive person that I was, and thinking teachers liked input even when it countered what they said, I piped up, "My mom told me to never, ever go with anyone who tried to grab me. I am supposed to fight, scream, and do anything to draw attention to us." Ms. Brown fixed a glare on me, "Even if he has a gun?" she sneered. "Especially if he has a gun. My mom says if he is showing a gun and his face he's probably going to shoot me anyways and I have a better chance of getting help if I am shot downtown Astoria than out of one of the logging roads." I didn't think then was the time to add what else my mom had said, "And if you do go with the man and we find your body shot and mutilated I will scrape it up off the logging road and beat it." Somehow, it made her sound a little crazy and took away all the logic of the first part of her advice. 

I remember that the teacher was not thrilled with my answer and commented dryly that while we needed to follow the advice of our parents and our own safety plan for the sake of the test HER answer was the "correct" one. Another reason we homeschooled our kids. Deduction and reasoning not allowed, one correct answer for the masses and only one. 

Then I remember being frightened so often. What would friends think if I said this, wore that, did the other? What if I don't know the answer? What if I do know the answer? Can't be too smart, can't be too dumb. So much of my life seemed to be controlled by what others thought about me. What is funny is I can't remember when I stopped caring what others thought. Not the "in your face" not caring, but the true, not even realizing it, not caring. 

I know that now there are times when I care, but it is times I consciously choose. There are times when feed back from others is something I would like, but somehow it has morphed. Then it was friends, teachers, co-workers and bosses. Now it is husband, parents, children, grandchildren. Wow, I have grandchildren! Yeah, it is great when a story I have been working on for weeks, or sometimes months, gets noticed and complimented, but I wouldn't stop writing if I didn't get it. If I didn't KNOW that my husband had my back? It is something I cannot even conceive of. If I didn't KNOW I had my children's love? Chilling thought. 

Then and now. I like now. Even with the gray hair, sagging skin, wrinkles and pains. I choose now, and I look forward to tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ghosts of mistakes past

As I write here I am conscious of the fact that other people's lives and their stories are their own. Even when they are "my" children and grandchildren their story does not belong to me. When mine were growing up they confronted me one time and told me that as much as they enjoyed hearing about stories from their childhood they were very uncomfortable hearing their lives played out to people they hardly knew. What I thought of as "funny" or "cute" they thought of as embarrassing and humiliating. And even some events I expressed with pride often made them uncomfortable because how I saw it come about or maybe the motivating force for them wasn't what they saw as their reality.

For the year following it was hard to join in family or friendly dialogs about children. What is their "private" life and what "belongs" to us, as a family? I thought about how I would feel to overhear their comments on me. I cringed. As a result I have tried to let their stories be there's and when I tell stories here not to use their names so it is my story, my perception, my reality and not necessarily what "is" or "was". How one sees oneself is very important in how one projects and protects.

That being said the following story is not a happy one. It is about ghosts. While they can't always be seen, and the only power they have is what you give them, they are there, always. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. It often gives one the impetus to preform great works, or to remain steadfast, or dedicated, focused. On the other hand, they can drive some to obsessions, depression, or revenge. I strive for balance when dealing with my ghosts. I thank God for my husband, who helps with perspective. He still isn't sure whether I was his reward or punishment for his own past!

People have asked me where I get my "focus" and "drive". Others have accused me of being "obsessed". It is the way I deal with one of my ghosts. One thing I have learned from my ghosts is that in this world, in this country, in this state and especially in this county there is no such thing as "justice". There is a semblance of justice in the secular world but for those who do not have a religious or philosophical conviction, that not only explains why we have such injustice in this world,  I do not understand why they bother to continue to care. They do amaze me, especially the ones that still think the best of people.

More and more I find that the RUHI curriculum holds the answers and promises for a better tomorrow. For the first time in the history of humankind there is a curriculum that puts into practical practice the "theory" of democracy, the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges and teaches true consultation and the basics. Through RUHI the king learns to consult with the ditch-digger, with a true appreciation and respect for the ditch-digger's opinion. The ditch-digger learns his innate worth is equal to a king's and thereby his opinion is. They both learn that oppressing one from expression or ignoring the other through rebellion hurts not just themselves but the whole. The experience is incredible. At first blush the curriculum looks entirely too simple. It is only through exposure, through the doing, that one begins to learn the potential of this incredible, incredible tool. It is exciting, and without it I would not be a happy and (fairly) balanced person.

The injustice I see would be devastating to me, and sadly I know we see very little of what so many in this county, state, country and world are exposed to on a daily if not hourly basis. I am weak. My ghosts often seem too heavy for me to bear to look at. In the bright sunlight they fade almost to nothing, but in the night hour they appear all too clearly. 

In this county there is more than one family with a "heritage" of pedophilia. We, as a society, look the other way as our children's innocence is literally ripped away from them. We tell ourselves they are so young they won't remember. A truth or something we desperately need to believe? When they blow their heads off at the age of 19, 20 or 21 we tell ourselves it was the booze, the drugs, their age, whatever it takes to not allow the thought that we failed them, we allowed something to hurt them when we should have been watching over them. Amazingly, some think that since they lived through it, so can their child. Few stop to think, "Is this really living?" And those that do, what do they do if they think it isn't really living? Turn to drink, drugs, death?

I failed as a mother. Not a day goes by that I am not conscious of that fact. This isn't a plea for anyone's sympathy. It is an acknowledgment of what is. I knew of an evil in our community and because I joined the masses and turned my head one of mine was deeply wounded. The scar is permanent. Scars can be a mar on something that was perfect, or they can be badges of honor. Either way, that is for the owner of the scar to figure out. For the one who allowed the scar? Different than the one who caused the scar. The perpetrator and the victim have their own lives to live. What of those who merely "allowed"?

We cannot remove the scar, nor can we tell the person how to live with it. We cannot mete out justice for the one who caused the scar. I believe, wholeheartedly, that fathers are more rational than mothers when it comes to defending their young. As a mother I have no pity for the perpetrator nor the pedophile family. I try to calm myself by looking at what has become of my sister and how would it feel for others to hold us accountable for her? But a part of me agrees with that assessment. And in this secular world I see no opportunity for justice to prevail.

Reading online I see that the ghost has reared its ugly head once again and in my mind's eye I vomit. This time no one I know was the victim. Do I duck my head, again, and look away? Part of me prays it is not one of the known pedophile families and this new incident has nothing to do with my own cowardice so many years ago. Another part of me is terrified it isn't one of the knowns and a new or unknown family has materialized in our midst.

And what does this county do to help the situation? To help those who turn to drugs or alcohol to forget? Bandaids and punishment, that's what the local law thinks is the solution to all societies ills. The county lost its transition center. It is also looking for new administrators for its drug and alcohol programs. The sheriff and the district attorney are wailing for a new jail and more jail space, wailing for DUIIs to be punished more harshly in DA controlled courts, and everyone is wailing because of the high substance abuse in the county.  Band-aids are wanted everywhere. Is no one asking WHY are people self-medicating? WHY do they want to forget? WHAT do they want to forget?

I am left with what to do to deal with my ghosts. I look for the balance and wonder how to protect when I know "the system" is incapable. The very best I know is education, but not of the mind, of the heart. If you have ever wondered what is it that makes me who I am, as a Baha'i or as an advocate, or just as a reporter, you can find a piece of the puzzle in the ghosts.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quarking An Article

I drafted this post in 2008 and, for some reason, never published it. At three years of age Eldest grandson, and his mother, was still living with us 

Ever have so much work your brain is frozen? That's how I feel right now. I have so much work, almost too much work and it freezes my brain. The weird thing about aging, for me, is that I am getting dyslexic with it! Numbers get jumbled as well as my typing. I have to be very deliberate about my thought process, very focused. And when you have six or seven different story lines traveling in your mind, staying focused is hard. Add to this one of my lovable, adorable, cuddling, grandsons.

My phone rings and someone is, literally, begging me to do a story because they feel it hasn't been given a just representation in the local press, or courts, or one of the local city or county councils/commissions. In between city council meetings, school board meetings, commissioner meetings, committee meetings, regattas, parades, fairs and holidays I investigate, call people, and in the interim follow up on four OTHER story lines where people have called to say that their stories aren't be covered by local media.

While I am typing up notes, which so far isn't going the direction that one of the callers wanted or thought it would/could/should go in, eldest grandson wiggles his way up into my lap. "Can I help you type this 'Bika?" he asks. "No, Kaden," I reply, trying to peer around his head at the screen, so I can concentrate on what I just had written. "I'm not Kaden," he replies, "I am Quark." I pause in my typing. "You are Quark?" Where does he get this stuff? Sometimes he watches Star Trek with Papa, but not for some time now. Man I wish I had his memory!

"Yes, I am Quark!" he declares, climbing down from my lap. "Ok, where's Kaden, then?" Quark launches into a story that left me worried, amused and amazed. Man, this kid is either headed for the stage, a literary agent or a psychiatric couch.

"Kaden lost his skin," and "Quark" pulled on his skin in demonstration in case I wasn't familiar with the word, "and his muscles," Quark flexed his arm muscle and showed his calf muscle, "and his organs," Quark looked very sad at this one and pointed to his heart and stomach, "and just has a skeleton so his soul went to heaven." At this "Quark" put up his arms and shrugged his shoulders in the universal, "oh well" sign.

I stared at "Quark", my article forgotten. "I'm not entirely comfortable with Kaden's soul going to heaven just yet," I told him. "Oh, its okay, 'Bika. Heaven is a good place, where God can take care of you if you need Him to. Kaden can keep growing there." I said, "You are really freaking me out! Who told you this?" He pointed off to his side, "Little David here," no one was standing there, however his cousin's name is David, "and his mom, Auntie Alwex," he lisped out the last word, showing signs of babyhood, still, thank goodness!

"Yes," I confirmed, "Heaven is a good place, however, I would rather Kaden's soul was down here with the rest of him right now." "Would you like me to put him back together?" offered "Quark". Right about that time the cell rang and hubby was there, calling from Tillamook where he is working nights on a road job. I quickly brought him up to speed and he asked to speak to his "monkey head".

After that interruption it took me about an hour to find my place and get my head back into my article. "Amaze, amaze, amaze," as little Kimberly Jo used to say.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Meandering Maudlin Memory Lane

When I was 25 years old I found a lump on my neck. I was on state aid for health insurance after leaving my first husband. I had never been on state aid before, nor since, but thank goodness I was on it then. I went to the one doctor that was still taking state aid (aka "welfare"), the Astoria infamous Dr. Patrick. 

Dr. Patrick diagnosed it as a "cyst" and said that if he found it on his wife he wouldn't even bother biopsying it, however, since I was a patient with a history of cysts he should do a biopsy and the date for the minor operation was set for the week before Thanksgiving, 1985. Because of the location of the cyst, just below my collar bone, a needle biopsy wasn't feasible. The surgery had to take place at the Long Beach Hospital because Patrick had lost his Columbia Memorial Hospital privileges.

After the surgery Patrick told us that the cyst had been wrapped around my collarbone and was a bit bigger mass than he had anticipated but did not appear to be cancerous. He did remove the whole cyst and sent off a piece of it to the Seattle lab to be tested. I spent Thanksgiving with my neck swathed in bandages, grimacing about the three or so stitches in my neck. Little did I know what I would be dealing with by Christmas time.

On December 6th I went in to Dr. Patrick to find out the results of the biopsy on the cyst. The nurse was very kind when I went in. I remember she patted my arm and asked if I had come alone. I laughed and said told her bringing my two and four year olds along would not have been conducive to being able to listen to the Doctor's report. She said, "Oh dear, you have children?" I thought that was an odd reply. 

Dr. Patrick came into the room and got right down to business. He asked me if I had been tired lately and if I had been losing weight. I told him I was the mother of a toddler and pre-school child and was on a (perpetual) diet so yes, and yes. He then said, "The biopsy on your tumor came back, it is malignant." I remember there being total silence at that point. It was one of those moments that your mind says, "This does not compute." 

"But I didn't have a tumor, I had a cyst. This is some other patient's chart you are reading," I argued to Patrick. "Remember, I had the CYST in the NECK," I said, emphasizing the words and pointing to my neck.

Dr. Patrick shook his head. "It was a tumor, and it was malignant. We are going to have to do a series of tests to find out how far it has spread. First off we will have to ....." his words trailed away to my hearing. I remember nodding my head. He asked if I was okay, I said yes. His nurse asked if she should call someone, I said no. He asked if I understood, I said yes. Then he said good-bye and left the room. I put on my coat and walked out to the lobby where the receptionist handed me a list of appointments in Portland for the following week. 

I drove in a daze to City Transfer & Storage, which my parents owned at that time. My dad was on the roof, no recollection why now, and he hollered down to me, "Everything ok?" making a thumbs up signal. I signaled, thumbs down, "Very bad news" I hollered back up. We did not see him again for hours.

My mother looked up from the phone and saw that something was badly wrong. She said I looked completely dumbfounded. "What's the matter? What's the matter?" I finally answered, "He says I have cancer." I love her answer. To this day it is a quote our family uses, "By whose authority did he tell you that?" Even at that time it brought a chuckle to my lips. That is my mother. By whose authority did a doctor tell me that I had cancer? Certainly not by Her authority!

"Give me THAT man's phone number!" my mother demanded. I gave it to her and within moments she was on the phone to him. Forget HEPA, albeit it was long before those privacy laws. I heard her say she wanted a second opinion and then heard her say, "Oh." 

All of December was spent running from one appointment to the next. At one place veins in the top of my feet were accessed and dye was pumped in from there for a lymphangiogram. I still have the scars as Dr. Patrick forgot that had been done and had to tear some skin to get to the stitches to take them out. I had a bone marrow tap to see if the cancer was inside my bones. I vividly remember the hammering on my hips. Sometimes I ache there. My grandmother would say it was my sciatica acting up.   

A week before Christmas I entered Long Beach Hospital once again. This time was for the big operation, a staging laparotomy, to take biopsies of all my major organs, to take a "look see" and ensure that the cancer was not hiding anywhere else. At this time Patrick was supposed to have moved my ovaries over so they would be out of the way of the radiation treatments that were to come. By now Dr. Holladay was my oncologist and he was supposedly telling Dr. Patrick how to proceed, as the surgeon. Later I found out that Holladay and Patrick were fighting (surprise, surprise) and that Patrick did not see a need for radiation to be done on the lower mantle while Holladay was plotting a course of full mantle radiation. Because Patrick did not think a full mantle was needed he did not move my ovaries over, according to him. I often have thought that Patrick neglected to move my ovaries over and subsequently developed the theory that a full mantle was not needed.

The full biopsy was done, my spleen was removed as was my appendix since both were supposedly areas which cancer can hide. I was ripped from my breast bone to my pelvic bone and stapled closed. I looked like a xylophone. I had to hold a pillow over my stomach to cough or laugh. When I came to after the operation I remember my mother sitting there and looking over at her and asking, "Did he say anything?" She shook her head. My mother wanted me home for Christmas, she NEEDED me home for Christmas. 

The doctor came in later that evening and my mother asked if I would be home in time for Christmas. Patrick replied that he was waiting for the reports to come back from the labs. If any more cancer were found he was going in immediately to remove it, therefore, it was unknown if I would be home in time for Christmas. "At this point we need to take it day by day." 

We already knew that the cancer had spread to the upper part of my right lung. Where it was at and how much further had it gone would determine the type and stage it was at and the course of therapy I would take to combat it. The long days ticked by. I began to hate that hospital. One month earlier I had been oblivious to the "fact" that I was ill with the big "C" word. I was playing with my two babies, bitching about my ex, anxious about making rent. I longed for those days, gone forever.

Before Cancer (BC) I hated shots, loathed needles. When I was young it literally took four nurses to hold me down, one for each limb, and a fifth to administer the shot. Even as I grew older I avoided shots for as long as possible. As a sophomore in high school I was suspended from school until I received some sort of shot that was required. Between December 6th and the 22nd I had been stuck so many times I no longer even flinched when the needle came out. During the following months of blood withdraws the only time I protested was when I was asked if I minded if a student nurse practiced on me. Oh, hell yeah, I minded. By that time my veins had shrunk down to almost nothing and finding one to prick was process of trial and elimination. One time a student nurse stuck me five times and as he was going for his sixth I told him if he touched me again I would have to punch him. 

So, Christmas crept up on us and the hospital halls filled with holiday cheer, which stopped just outside of my door. Everyday a man dressed as Santa Claus would poke his head inside my door and say, "Hohoho!" and I would roll over in my bed, and squeeze out some tears. Each day my mother would ask Dr. Patrick if he thought I could go home and each day he would reply, "Not today." My mother would say that we need to make plans and finally Dr. Patrick told her she just shouldn't. "Just enjoy today," he told us, frankly and with one of those half smiles that said, "take it on the chin" and "keep your head up!" My mother and I quit planning my future on that day. We didn't start planning it again until I got married over six years later.

On the fourth day of my interment at the hospital the jolly red man stuck his head in the door and said his usual, "Ho-ho-ho!" and this time for variety added, "Do you know who I am?" I was thinking that he wanted me to guess who he was in real life, under the fake beard, false nose and red cap so I replied, "No, I am not from around here," and this red idiot replied, "Why, I'm Santa Claus!" I tried to get out of bed so I could strangle him. As she held me down my mother told him, "Go, go, go!" and his head quickly disappeared out of the doorway. She collapsed onto the bed laughing while I finally wrestled one of the pillows loose and flung it at the door, stretching and pulling at my zippered stomach and launching me into a bout of pain. 

Later that day I was rewarded for my petty meanness to the poor volunteer. I was finally taken off of the IV bottle and allowed my first "real food" in the form of a liquid diet. I was to have soup for lunch with jello, and, at long last, coffee. In anticipation I took the lid off of my soup and greeting me was the stench of cream of broccoli soup! I literally started retching, which caused my stomach to convulse, which of course racked me with pain! Through tears I called my mother, "Cream of Broccoli," was all I could wail into the phone. "What," my mother asked over and over again. "Cream of broccoli, that's what they are trying to feed me! Who does that to someone who hasn't eaten for four days?" I sobbed into the phone. I imagined my mother was silently crying with me. Much later I found out she was laughing so hard she had dropped the phone! A lot of sympathy this woman has. 

The day before Christmas Dr. Patrick came in to tell us the news. All the biopsy's had come back. I had Hodgkins' Lymphoma. In late 1985 the survival rate prognosis was good, for the first five years. After that, chances of the Hodgkins coming back increased. Because of this after the course of treatment was taken, and if I joined the approximately 85% of those who responded well to the treatment, I would go into what was considered "remission". After 15 years of being in "remission" I could be considered "cured" and I would have just as much a chance of getting HD as anyone else. Supposedly. According to statistics. 

Thank God, literally, 22 years later and no cancer. This time of year, while it is a time of family togetherness and enjoying all of the holidays of so many religions, for me is also a time of remembrance. A time when so much was thought lost, when each day was a bonus. Not often enough, I remember that time again. Each day is the only day that I know I have to make a difference. Tomorrow may never happen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fun With Parkinsons

Before I begin I would like to remind everyone that I have written many a passionate piece on Parkinsons. On NCO we even have a whole section devoted to Parkinsons. But, there are times when you just have to laugh and roll with the punches. This is about one of those times.

Over this past week my dad has been getting used to a new medication. His doctor loves to tweak meds so that Dad will "operate at his optimum." In this doctor's mind everyone has something that they are dealing with and everyone should be able to operate at their optimum for as long as possible. Dad agrees with this philosophy and they get along great. That being said, there are still the times when getting used to a new med and finding the right dose can knock him for a loop. A dose of laughter is much better during these times than a dose of tears.

Dad came out of his room looking rough for the wear one morning in the not-so-distant past. Hair disheveled and no teeth in, he looked about 20 years older than his current age. After we exchanged morning pleasantries I asked him what was going on and he said that he had had a sleepless night. He had to speak very slow and deliberate because, along with the Parkinson soft speech, without his teeth his words were slurred and sort of slushy. 

He told me that to keep himself entertained he had watched infomercials and he was a little ticked off at the lack of courtesy that many of the phone operators had. He had first watched an infomercial on the  "miracle" Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow Electric Fireplace touted as an "Amish" heater. After listening to half the program Dad was convinced he had to have it. 

First, he tried to memorize the phone number that kept flashing on screen but each time he went to dial it he would forget some part or another. He finally hunted up pen and paper and quickly jotted the number down. He went to dial and found that the problem wasn't just with remembering the number it was with seeing the keypad digits. While he had written the number down nice and large he couldn't read the numbers on his cell phone. Try as he might he couldn't find his glasses. Finally, he decided to "fake it" and dial by the numbers as he "remembered them" on the key pad.

After a couple of wrong numbers (where he is pretty sure he didn't order anything) he finally got through to "those heater people". According to Dad, the person answering the phone asked what they could do to help him. He said that he told them he had some questions about the heater but since it had taken so long to get a hold of them he had to think for a moment. The heater person didn't want to wait a moment. She wanted Dad to order, so she told Dad he should just order now and if he didn't like the product he could return it for a money back guarantee. Of course minus shipping, handling, and a restocking fee. 
My Dad remembered his question and asked if someone with Parkinsons could pull the heater room to room. The lady asked him if he could walk. That ticked him off. Of course he could walk, it wouldn't do much good to ask if he could pull something if he couldn't walk. The lady said if he could pull it, the heater would follow. Dad asked if it ran on batteries if the power went out. No, no batteries if the power went out. Would it run off the generator? It runs on 110, if the generator puts out 110 then the heater can run on it. Now, does he want to order or not? He thinks he does. So she asks him his credit card number. Uh-huh, no way is my dad giving his credit card number over the phone to a total stranger, he's seen all the warnings about giving out private info over the phone and he won't be giving her his address or phone number, either.

At this point the woman started getting frustrated. How did Dad think he was going to pay for it if he wasn't going to give out billing information and where were they going to send the heater if he wasn't going to give out that info? My Dad then informed her he didn't even need one of the damn heaters because we had a wood stove and plenty of wood, so there. And then he asked her to quit calling him!

 I was laughing so hard by the time he finished this story. He told it so perfectly w/o his teeth in and animated with indignation that the infomercial operator had tried to get personal information from him. In the light of day he was laughing, too. He had no idea how that heater was supposed to make it to our house if he didn't give out any information to get it here. He had no idea why he thought he needed one since we had a wood stove. He thinks he was just in love with the idea of having one.

His night wasn't over. He flipped the channels until he came across a money maker. I am not quite sure which one this one is. I am sort of thinking he either watched two infomercials one right after the other and didn't notice when one ended and the other began or maybe flipping between the two got them confused. Either way he said,"its the infomercial where the guy says the government doesn't want anyone to know his secrets but he's going to share them anyways, for free, for the first [mumble] people that called." Dad wasn't sure what number the guy had "mumbled".

  The infomercial went on to state that for just 20 minutes of work a day anyone could make a minimum of $1,000 dollars a week, just by following a few simple steps, establishing your own network of leads and working right from your own home. Dad wasn't sure what that meant exactly but even on his worst Parkinson days he knew he was up to 20 minutes a day of work. He thought the leads might mean some detective work, which appealed to him. I told him I thought it had more to do with real estate and calling people, which might be why the person that answered the phone when Dad called them was less then encouraging.

Dad was telling me the story, basically, in the same state that he did the phone call. Mainly, talking with a hushed voice and very slushy, w/o his teeth. After another few misdials Dad get's through to the infomercial operators and tells the person he is interested in taking advantage of the financial offer. "What?" the operator asks. Dad repeats himself. The operator says he has no idea what Dad is saying. Did Dad want to purchase the program. No, Dad says. He wants the financial offer which was totally free. "What?" the operator asks again. Dad is getting a little ticked off now. Very slowly he says he wants the FREE program being offered to the first callers. He speaks so slowly the operator asks him if he is drunk. 

"I am not drunk I have Parkinsons" my father attempted to yell into the phone. The person told him to calm down and was he sure he could go through with the program? Dad affirmed that he could and the person again asked him for his credit card. My father refused and said he wanted the FREE program. "What?" the operator asked, again. Then, according to my father, the operator told him he was impossible to understand and he thought he was drunk and should go sleep it off and hung up on him! 

Dad was laughing by then at how ridiculous it was that he wanted the program so bad he was thinking of putting his teeth in and calling back with his credit card number. First one place he refuses to give out his credit card and then the next place he is begging them to take his credit card number, and he doesn't even know what they need it for at that place, but, apparently, playing hard to get with my dad was the way to lure him to give up that credit card number. 

I think the next time one of those annoying telemarketers call I am putting Dad on to handle it He can have fun, we can have entertainment and they really deserve it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I want new neighbors (aka Is it blogging if you are talking about an FB game?)

Okay, so what gives? I plow my fields, plant my crops and gift ALL of my neighbors and only, like, three of them bother to reciprocate.  I don't even expect gifts every day because I don't visit every day. I don't. Days and days can go by without me checking ... my withering crops... but  I digress. I haven't seen half of my neighbors in almost a month! I go to visit their farm to see if their crops are wilting,  some indication that they haven't been tending their plots, and is there? Nooooo, nothing's wilting, no weeds growing. Their crops are in, animals fed, and ... and ... they-are-all building ANOTHER shop.

Sure, I wish I could build another shop, but I can't. Wanna know why I can't? I can't because no one will gift me any lousy dang items I NEED to complete the stupid, stupid, shop. Fine, I will just work on my Frontierville layout, because, after all, this is my ZEN time.

Peace, breathe in, breathe out.

Put that path there, that cabin there. Get cobblestone sidewalk, lay it there through the muddy field and to the  half-built lodge and half-built dress shop so none of my "generous" neighbors gets their clod hopping feet all muddy.

NO, you friggin, pop-up, old geezer, I don't want to invite all my "friends" from Farmville over to Frontierville. Why do you think I left Farmville and all those friends be-hind? Because they quit gifting me, they just took, took, took! And the missions got longer, stupider and more complicated and when I went and visited my so-called neighbors, all of them had all these buildings that the ONLY way they could have got was if they bought them. I will never pay a real cent for these games. They want $8 for 75 golden horseshoes. I know last week they were offering 75 horseshoes for $6. Like I would be so dumb to grab it up at $8? Who spends money on these stupid games? This is my ZEN time.

Peace, breathe in, breathe out. Delete the old geezer -I wonder if I can block him on my privacy setting?

What? Do I want to WHAT? Do I want to send all of my neighbors a gift of energy? GOOD GRIEF! No, I don't want to send those bunch of greedy son-of-beepers a gift of energy. They'll send me a cheap gift of energy back and I don't want a cheap gift of energy (which I can buy myself). I want pegs for my lodge, or hangers for my dress shop, or bricks for my shop upgrade. I want someone to plant a gosh-bleeping sunflower and let it wither so I can finally finish this mission that has been on my screen for the last four weeksand I can go on to the next one!

What do you mean, 'what am I doing yelling at the damn computer,' Hun-ney? What does it LOOK-LIKE-I-AM-DOING? I AM RELAXING THIS IS MY ZEN TIME.

Peace. breathe in, breathe out.

You know, if I -just this once- actually purchase some golden horseshoes, I can buy all the materials that I need and I won't have to be at the mercy of my neighbors for their "gifts." If I just do it this once: I won't expand my land any further; I won't build any more shops; I will just enjoy rearranging the property that I have and then I can really enjoy my ZEN time with this game. Just this once. Know one will know.


Peace. Breathe in, breathe out.

For the life of me I can't figure out why Tom Freel un-neighbored me. Oh, well .... Ohmmmmm, Ohhhhhhmm, OoooZyyyyngggga. Zyyyyynnngggggaaaaa.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogging Needs To Make A Come Back

Yes, it NEEDS to. I think few people realize how the recent history of Clatsop County may have been different if someone had not quit blogging. I was following a blogger about sixish years ago and enjoying her outlook on life quite a bit. While I didn't always agree with her I found her to be reasonably intelligent and very encouraging to another young blogger who was starting out on his own venture with a opinion and commentary blog.

I found that I looked forward to her posts and news of her spouse. Then, one day, either a picture appeared or someone made a comment on one of her posts and I realized who she was and who her husband was. I was stunned. Totally, completely, stunned. I had to admit to myself that I liked these people. And so, I continued to read.

As the months went by I began to see the person that I had glimpsed in the past. The person who doesn't get her/his way, the wrath and temper tantrums thrown. The revenge lust. A part of me still admired her for being "brave" enough to let others see her at her "worst". Little did I know then.

Suddenly, she quit writing. No more stories showing a compassionate side to this duo. No more glimpses into the lives of people who, allegedly, wanted to do good in this community that they had adopted. Those of us readers not blessed with an invitation into the inner circle were left out in the cold to wonder if the blog had merely been a ploy, one more tool in the bag of deceit?

I do wonder what we would have done if she had kept writing, if we had still been reading that blog, seeing a few main players in a different light?

A Rusty Blogger ponders whether or not Facebook took the bloggers away. He may be right. Facebook is a safer place to play. If one doesn't feel like writing one knows that each person reading has 200-1000 other friends that will fill the void. Very rarely is a truly serious thought pondered, much less discussed. I go there to relax, for the most part. I very lazily check in on family and their photos and make a comment. No need to call that person for at least a month, I just LOL'd the cute picture of their dog dressed up as Tinkerbell.

Facebook is candy for my mind. I go there to get the latest update on the Baha'is in Iran, click on link to protest this, endorse that, like, dislike, ROTFLMAO and to online chat with a brother in Japan, a friend in Haifa, family in DR. Its my Zen garden.

Facebook has its place. But just as blogging cannot take the place of a personal journal, FB cannot take the place of a blog. When is the last time anyone scrolled back to see what Ricky said last week? Never. When have I scrolled back to see what my Rusty guy or *G* said a month or a year ago? More often than never!

Blogging takes courage, especially when you don't delete archives and right there in front of everyone you have to eat crow. You allow people watch your thoughts change over the passage of time. You share as you become passionate about something, how it waxes and wanes until it suddenly is no longer a part of your life. You try to be ever so careful of not impinging on the lives of loved ones, all the while they are the fodder for the grist mill. Your fingers itching to scratch the words just spoken out on the smooth, empty, blog blotter. How many movies and sitcoms, at the end of a marital spat, have used the line, "Don't put this in your blog!" ala Julie & Julia?

The blog has had too short a run, it is not time to see it go. A come back is needed. At the very least, a long curtain call.

Now, post this to your Facebook wall. Most Facebook members won't have the courage to post this to their wall but a few Facebook members will have the courage and those that do will be remembered and those that don't, Santa Clause IS watching, ROTFLMAO!