Thursday, March 5, 2015

Finding Perspective

Today was going to be a banner day for me. I was looking forward to it because finally I will only have to put one drop a day in my recently operated-on eye instead of the three different drops, three times a day I've been using for the last ten days. This lovely state of affairs will be short-lived, as starting on Sunday I will begin putting five drops a day in my soon-to-be-operated-on other eye, plus continuing the one in the first eye. Boo-hoo, my life is horrible.

Then last night I learned that an old friend of mine, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, is having a double mastectomy today. This loveliest of all women has already been through Hell: Shortly after losing her loving husband to cancer early in their marriage, and while caring for their two young children, her own health became an issue and necessitated a liver transplant. Since then she has endured illness heaped upon illness, surviving with grace and a smile and maintaining her career along the way. The two boys grew into wonderful young men. She was through the rapids and into still water at last. And now this.

What a jerk I am for complaining about cataracts. Maybe things in your life aren't really so bad either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who's Afraid of Hillary Clinton?

Reese Witherspoon, scary in "Election"
Not long ago, a raging snowstorm rattling the windows and my husband out of town again, two common situations around here, I watched the old movie "Election" to keep my mind off the possibility of the roof flying off or the power going out. I remembered it as being a comedy and thought it was just what I needed to deflect my anxiety. Well, too bad for me, I remembered wrong.

Released in 1999 and starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, the film is concerned with a small town high-school teacher's growing involvement with the election of the senior class president. Like in all elections there are dirty doings afoot, and Ms. Witherspoon as the leading candidate reminded me of nobody more than Hillary Clinton. A cute little blond with a ready smile and a heart of steel who is not above buying votes by any means possible, she scares the daylights out of everyone in her path and inspires hatred in more than a few poor souls caught up in her whirlwind. Ultimately she is victorious, and despite ruining several lives to achieve her goal she comes  out smelling like a rose. In the end she goes to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in politics.

Hillary Clinton, scarier in real life.
This seems to be the real-life trajectory of Hillary as well. Despite all her dastardly doings, and there have been many, a huge faction of the American public seems not to care that she has lied her way to the top. Her latest fumble, just uncovered, regarding her using a personal email account for government business during her tenure as Secretary of State -- which besides being sneaky is flat-out against the law -- is further proof that she makes her own rules. (How very Clinton of her.) God help us all if she is our next president.

Effed-Up Modern Life

Every day at roughly the same time I receive a phone call from a robot. According to caller ID, the call originates in Buffalo. Every day I answer the phone and there is nobody there, just dead silence followed by a dial tone. Today I took the bull by the horns and called back, planning to unleash some nasty invectives if you must know. I learned the robot is employed by COMCAST, the company that provides our TV and Internet service.

A recording states that if I want to be put on their "Do Not Call" list I should enter my 10-digit phone number, starting with the Area Code. You'd think they'd know it by now, but anyway, I did. A new robot then informed me that the "do not call" service would only apply to one of their services, something called Contact America. I don't know what that is. I couldn't ask since it was a robot on the other end.

If you have nothing to do and want to be annoying to a robot, call COMCAST at (716)796-6406. I suggest repeated callings, like every day for two or three months or so. Tell them Andrea sent you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

People of the Lie

Over the past few weeks, every single time I mentioned my impending cataract surgery the response was the same: "Oh, my sister (best friend, mother, grandmother, husband) just had it and it was nothing! It doesn't hurt at all. It's no big deal." All I have to say about that is "Hah!"

Here are the facts: Yes, the actual surgery, which takes about 15 minutes, is no big deal because you are knocked out during it. It's when you wake up that the actual deal starts, and let me tell you, it is not only big, it is giant, especially (and perhaps only) if you have a vision problem in addition to the cataracts. In my case I have always been very nearsighted, and so now the one eye that was "fixed" can see perfectly while the other "old eye" is still myopic. There is a mandatory waiting period of two or three weeks between surgeries, during which you can not see much of anything. There are no glasses that work. You just wait.

And while you wait you can't really read or watch TV, unless you cover one eye or close it since a patch is forbidden on the eye that had surgery. During this hazy, crazy, blurry period you must also apply medicinal drops to your eye: three different kinds, three times a day, for five weeks. Some of them sting. All of them are annoying. Sometimes your eye itches, but whatever you do, DON'T RUB IT!!!!!!

The whole lousy, stinking ball of wax results in headaches, confusion and general crankiness. It also causes a decreased appetite, so count on losing five pounds or more during the process, the only silver lining in this very cloudy experience. That and not going blind someday.

Just wanted you to know: cataract surgery is not nothing. It is something. Be ready.

Monday, March 2, 2015

FILM REVIEW: "Still Alice"

Julianne Moore earning her Oscar.
If you are brave enough to face a possibly bleak future, you might be able to sit through "Still Alice" without becoming deeply disturbed or downright depressed. Concerned with the ravages of Alzheimer's, in this case the early-onset variety, it offers little else besides watching actress Julianne Moore win her well-deserved Oscar for this year's Best Actress.

A sappy musical soundtrack and intermittent flashes of gauzy old home movies accompany Julianne's seemingly quick slide from a beautiful, articulate and brilliant Columbia University professor into a non-functioning, pants-wetting amoeba who can barely form words. Her husband, played by Alec Baldwin in a virtually non-speaking role, is around but just barely. He seems quite unconcerned with her illness and is instead focused on his own career, spending most of his time answering emails in his computer. Young actress Kristen Stewart of vampire fame plays one of their three children and turns in the film's only other worthy performance.

Unless you are Julianne's mommy, or maybe Kristen's, there is little to recommend this movie other than personal reasons. I chose to see it because my own mother had this very disease and died at age 62. According to the film, there is a 50% chance of it being passed on to the children of those who have it. Thankfully I am already way too old to have early-onset anything.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I Hope I'm Not Beheaded

The continuing rise of ISIS has me worried, possibly even more than President Obama who seems only nonplussed. I guess that's because he knows something I don't, being an insider. Anyway, I am concerned that someday I might be in a shopping mall, which I am only rarely but in fact was just yesterday afternoon, and a religious zealot brandishing a scythe will come running by and chop off my head. While this fear does not yet limit my activities, I'm guessing that if the random deaths and atrocities at the hands of these folks continues, it will rise.

If only I had faith that our government will protect us instead of doing what it does really well which is piss us off by squandering our tax money. Forget all the new roads and free health care for illegal immigrants and fancy champagne glasses for state dinners at the White House -- just provide every citizen with a protective neck scarf. These might be made of some sort of metal-infused material. Someone should get on this right away: hopefully Jeb is already working on it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smoking Is Stupid and So Are You

Just what are these people doing to themselves?
While the same can be said of everyone who lives and breathes, I am old enough to die of natural causes on any old day. And certainly of unnatural causes like surgery, especially if the anesthesiologist has a sneezing jag at an inopportune moment. I hope today is not that day for me as I have plans for later that I am looking forward to, but if it happens, I want to make sure that I have passed on my life lessons for my son and his future progeny.

There is only one lesson: All that matters is your health. The rest -- the friends and lovers, the finding of satisfying work, the expression of your innermost desires, the recognition by your peers for a job well done, the realization of personal goals and the exploitation of your god-given gifts -- is not worth a damn if you are sick.

The path to health is an easy one: Eat well. Exercise. Get plenty of sleep. Do not use drugs. Do not smoke cigarettes. I ignored all those rules in no particular order for many years, and now look at me: I'm a mess. I have high blood pressure and arthritis and my eyes are twirling inside their sockets. Okay, so it's just one eye and it's from being nearsighted, not from smoking. But anyway, smoking cigarettes certainly impacted my health negatively and I implore you to stop right this minute, whoever you are. It's just dumb.

So now I have said what I needed to say and I feel better. I am still confused about net neutrality which is all the rage right now. Supposedly it "passed," not sure by what or whom. But anyway, congratulations to everyone, I think it's a good thing.