Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Second Opinion

A specialist in tooth and gum problems who I like a lot has declared that I am in need of a tooth-pulling, to the tune of $3,000. It seems the tooth is fine but the surrounding gums have a problem. The plan is to get rid of the tooth, then fill the resulting hole with bone from someone else (God knows who), allowing my own bone to regenerate and eventually support a screw which will, many months from now, be the base for a new, albeit fake, tooth. This all sounds horrible to me. But hey, I'm no expert, and so I agreed to embark upon this nightmare scenario scheduled to begin in three days.

The sad part is that right now I have no pain at all and starting Friday I will have plenty, requiring massive doses of painkilling drugs and ice packs and sedatives and whatever else it takes. Sounds bad, doesn't it?

Unlike my standard procedure with everyone else who tells me anything at all, when it comes to doctors I just accept their word as gospel and go with their plan, despite the fact that my personal history has repeatedly proven that "plan" to be desperately wrong. Then yesterday, a wise friend of mine pointed out that just because the doctor involved is a great guy with a sterling personality doesn't necessarily mean he's right. So for the first time in my life, I'm getting a second opinion. (I hope I like it better.)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Age is Just a Number

This is what 95 looks like!
Yesterday I spoke with my oldest friend, literally: Gloria is 95 and I have known her since my first day on Earth. My mother's best friend since the two of them were teens, she lived next door to us for much of my childhood and became my second mother. After the death of my birth mother in 1981 (at sixty-two), Gloria moved up into the top slot, becoming the only mother I have.

She is simply extraordinary. She lives alone and drives herself everywhere, like to the gym each morning to work out for an hour on the machines. She has an active social life, meeting with friends to play games like Bingo and Mahjong. She was always a great cook and still dabbles in the kitchen. Yes, she has a few aches and pains, she admitted, but "that's to be expected when you start to get older," which is how she currently sees herself in the grand scheme of life.

What sets her apart from some whiners many years younger --  like me for example -- is her attitude. She is upbeat and always has been. Despite losing her husband, the true love of her life and father of her two children, when she was just fifty years old, Gloria has continued to squeeze the most out of each day. She's had some health issues, one which required serious heart surgery, but her natural ebullience brought about a speedy recovery each time.

Gloria was born in Brooklyn, moved to Long Island, returned to Manhattan, then ventured to Florida and finally settled in Phoenix. She likes warm weather since she's a golfer and likes to get out on the green as much as possible. When I wake up each morning all stiff and achy, groaning as I make my way down the stairs to feed the cat, I chalk it up to my age; after all, I am sixty-nine! Then I think of Gloria, take a big swig of fish oil, and quit my complaining.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Winter Vacation Blues

My husband and I are in the midst of a quandary. He wants to take a trip this winter and wants me to go with him. His goal is to escape Maine's frigid temps and frozen landscape and go lie on a beach somewhere tropical, sometime in late January. He thinks this sounds like fun. My problem is the deciding where, the getting there, and then the lying on the beach part.

The choices include St. John, St. Bart's, Puerto Rico, Barbados and all of the Caribbean. Mitch sees each one as a distinct destination, whereas I think they are all the same and promise nothing but a long layover at Newark airport followed by days of waiting for the elevator, boredom, wandering through trinket shops and sticky drinks with those paper umbrellas and a lot of pineapple.

Last night we tried to pin it down. One method we used was a test I found on the Internet to determine where to find the beach best suited to your particular needs. You are asked to choose the most appealing photo out of nine different ones for eight different questions, like "How do you want to spend your day?" and "What hotel looks best to you?" That sort of thing. I took the test and my answer was "A Royal Caribbean cruise." Then Mitch took the test and chose different things but got the same answer. Clearly it was an ad for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line dressed up like a travel quiz.

I will not go on a cruise because bad things could happen. You could fall off the boat (or be pushed), get food poisoning, have your husband get seasick (a distinct possibility) or just be stuck with a whole lot of people you don't like but have to see day after day after day for like nine days.  Besides, I hate vacations. It's not like I work in a coal mine in West Virgina all year long and need a rest.

It's a new day and the problem remains unsolved.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Questions for My Readers

Many people read this blog yet I rarely get comments from anyone other than my husband and one or two loyal readers who take the time to make their feelings known. Sometimes I wonder if I would get more of a reaction if I said some shocking things calculated to get a rise out of people. But then why would I. Who needs comments, especially from strangers? In fact, I am thankful that I finally shook  that one nut who used to write and say how awful I was all the time. (Hopefully she has died.)

Still, it would be nice to know how people feel on some subjects. For example, one thing I am burning to understand is how Donald Trump remains in the lead according to all the political polls, despite his outrageous behavior and stunning insults aimed at whoever gets in his way. Right behind that is my complete bafflement over Hillary Clinton being someone so many people admire, when all I see is a cheating, lying, conniving shrew with really bad bags under her eyes.

I'd like to understand why so many people are so fascinated by reality TV. How empty must one's own life be that precious hours are squandered watching other people living theirs? And with so many commercials, no less.

Who buys those things from QVC? The clothes are so hideous and unflattering, and that's on the models! Imagine how bad they look once you get them home and put them on your own dumpy body. And yet they sell out constantly, and the callers seem to love them.

Why do so many celebrities end up getting so fat? They can afford personal chefs and home gyms and fitness trainers, still they puff up like Poppin' Fresh on prednisone. (Have you seen Dan Akroyd lately?) It's a mystery.

Lastly, how come so many people still respect the Catholic Church after the revelation that hundreds of its priests were engaging in sexual abuse of young children, a fact that was covered up (and thus condoned) by Church leaders for years, but society is quick to label the Mormons, Scientologists, Christian Scientists and Muslims as evil cultists?

If anyone knows the answers to any of these questions and can also figure out how to leave a comment here, please fill me in.

Film Review: SPOTLIGHT

For reasons I don't understand, many movies finally get to Maine long after they have opened in theaters elsewhere. This means that by the time we see them, if ever, we've read all the reviews and heard all the hype, making it hard to go in with an open mind. Spotlight is one of those. Already there is talk of Oscars for the cast, although I'm not sure for who or why; in this film, the story is the true star.

The Spotlight team in a huddle.
It's almost too hard to believe, but it's true and we've all heard it already: Alarming numbers of Catholic priests sexually abuse little children, boys and girls alike. Turns out that fifty percent of all priests are not celibate, and many of them are pederasts. The Church covers for them, reassigning them to other parishes once their dastardly deeds are discovered in their own backyard. The problem is global, as wide-reaching as the Catholic Church itself, although here the focus is on Boston as a team of tireless reporters from The Boston Globe hunt down the gory details, beginning back in 2001.

An able cast of proven actors, most notably Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci and Rachel McAdams, tell the story. And tell it and tell it; the film is pretty much all close-ups of talking heads with little else. A few shots of downtown Boston flash by, making you hungry for more, but mostly you can see Spotlight with your eyes closed and not miss anything. For a visual person such as myself, it's disappointing. Still, if you're hungry for all the dirt on just how depraved the Catholic Church was, and possibly still is, this movie more than satisfies.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Ends of the Color Spectrum

Yesterday the world learned about the horrific execution of a 17-year-old African American boy in Chicago last October. He was gunned down by a white cop answering reports that cars were being vandalized. The first two shots into the kid's back took him down, but the officer approached and at close range fired another sixteen bullets into his victim. It is beyond beyond, certainly one of the the worst examples of police racism ever. The whole thing was captured on a video which was just released yesterday. Hours later, in a CYA move on the part of the Chicago police, the officer was arrested. One wonders what he's been doing since the murder of this boy one year ago? Was he still out "protecting" the citizens of Chicago?

A friend of mine works for a large company seeking to hire a new CTO (Chief Technology Officer). Starting out there were more than thirty applicants eager for the job, and they had to be whittled down to a reasonable number to be interviewed in person. There were nine who made the first cut. My friend, the ultimate decision-maker, sought my help to continue the whittling. Finally he came down to the two men he had liked the best in person, who also had the most pertinent experience and could definitely do the job handily. But then he mentioned, "The third best candidate is a black woman." I asked if the company, which already employs many women in top positions, has any black executives. He said no. One guess who's getting the job.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Changing Times

Today I was driving behind a Masshole, which is what we here in Maine call drivers from Massachusetts, and wow, was she ever one. Besides being a terrible driver -- not signalling ever and going way too slow to qualify for the left lane -- the back of her Toyota Corolla was plastered with bumper stickers for Hillary Clinton. I got a chance to see them up close for a really long time, and they sure were stupid. One of them said, "I'm ready for Hillary for President." I wondered how one gets ready for that, and what not being ready for it looks like. Another one simply said "Madame President." There were others, maybe eight or ten in all, slapped on willy-nilly.

These days, with terrorists eager to blow you up or shoot you down, I find it surprising that people drive around wearing their hearts on their sleeves, which is essentially what a bumper sticker does. I want the stranger in the car next to me, ahead of me and behind me to know as little about me as possible. I'm already putting myself out there by driving a bright red car; they certainly don't need more information, least of all what my other car is or where my child is an honor student.

The only bumper sticker I ever displayed was EAT BERTHA'S MUSSELS, which referred to a funky seafood restaurant (Bertha's) in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood. Other people with a Bertha's bumper sticker would honk as they passed by. It was sort of like being in a cool club of fun people. It even got me out of a ticket one time, when the cop who pulled me over for going through a yellow light that might have been red decided to let me off with a warning because, as he said, "Anyone who eats at Bertha's is okay in my book." That was back in the early 1980s, when Baltimore was safe and sane. Today that same cop would likely arrest me or shoot me on the spot.