Category Archives: Grrrr

Drive with aloha, my ass.

We are urged to drive with aloha, aloha in the sense of care and respect for others. Generally I have no problem with this and, in fact, stop for pedestrians before they even think about crossing the street, wave other drivers into the traffic stream ahead of me, and behave like the patient, respectful automotive citizen that I am.

However. I find that I struggle with the spirit of aloha on the long hauls. For example:

Listen, Hyundai or Daewoo or whatever the hell you are, you are supposed to keep up, not behave like a tampon in the flow of traffic. Red car, too. Figures.

For the love of god, you brake *before* going up a hill? Ever heard of momentum?

I know the sign says “Nene 750 feet.” See how it’s in a yellow diamond shape? That means it’s a warning sign. Nene may cross the road here. It does not mean there are native geese in cages on the side of the road. Pay attention and keep up.

You’re a Mustang. You have a low center of gravity. You can take these curves faster than you do. Why, look at those two Jeeps pulling away from you. They have no problem with curves and they have no center of gravity at all.

Can you read? The sign says “40 minimum” not “40 maximum,” and here you are playing it safe by going 35 in a 55mph zone. Please read the Hyundai/Daewoo rant, above. I don’t like repeating myself.

Okay, 55mph. Listen up, tourist in the minivan. On most of this road, 40 is minimum, 55’s the speed limit, 60’s okay, 65’s okay if you look out for the constabulary (easy to see because they all drive high-testosterone SUVs with blue fezzes on top), 70’s pushing it, 75 your ass is toast. Got that? Good. Now speed the hell up.

What police cars look like on the Big Island: huge SUVs of any make and color, but the all have that little blue fez on top.

What police cars look like on the Big Island: huge SUVs of any make and color, but the all have that little blue fez on top.

Buddy, if the cop we just passed saw what you did with your finger, I will be delighted to pull over to let him by, and applaud when he pulls you over. By the way, your right tail-light’s out.

It’s a freaking Scenic Overlook sign, not the lair of some rock monster looking to eat you! Stay on the road!

Signal. Signal. Signal. Were you raised in pigsty? Signal.

I know you’re a tremendously expensive SUV, but that doesn’t give you rights over as much of the road as you’re taking. Get into your own lane and stay there.

If I slow down and wave you into the traffic ahead of me, do not sit there looking at me with your jaw hanging open. And wave afterwards.

It’s a school district, pilgrim! See the sign that says so, and the flashing yellow lights surrounding the “25mph when lights are flashing” sign? Slow the hell down!

There’s more, but you get the idea. I’m working on this, truly I am. Why this evening, I exercised restraint when an idiot in a light truck couldn’t decide whether to take the Pahoa turn-off or not or take it or not or take it … I just huffed out a world-weary sigh and soldiered on.

Dieseling toward the end

9/4/2014

Long time no news, but it’s all good.

I received a formal letter from Social Security saying that they are looking into my request (the one where they are politely asked to fix their fuck-up) and that my monthly benefit will not change until everything is resolved. From what I gather from online sources, this takes months. So, sigh of relief.

Had my last follow-up visit with the radiation oncologist today: everything looks fine, no external sign of any continuing cancer, and I am healing well. We’ll know more after the PET scan in October, but everyone is optimistic about that. Me, I just want to get it over.

I have been losing weight at a tremendous rate: almost 20 pounds since the beginning of all this, and 10 just within the past month. Since I probably had about 30 pounds I could safely shed going in, nobody is worried as long as the appetite loss doesn’t interfere with my healing. Bought my first pair of size 10 jeans in close to three decades, and am feeling rather smug about that. I have a pile of size 14 jeans and shorts to truck down to the local thrift shop. Nota bene: I do not recommend chemo and radiation as a weight-loss measure.

I’m hoping that if nothing lights up in the next PET scan, the oncologist will decide to get this port out of my chest — the slimmer I get, the more it sticks out and it’s sensitive, especially when one of the cats walks across it. I’ll be happy to see it go.

Further reports as events warrant.

… later

Apparently I typed too soon: this afternoon I got a call from Lorena at Social Security in Hilo, who said that my request for a waiver had been turned down, but she was willing to make me an offer whereby instead of snatching my entire benefit, I would only have to pay them $500/month. I pointed out that the original error was not my fault; she said it was still earned income. I told her I wanted to file an appeal and she said she’d send me the papers. Not the kind of hassle I need, but I can’t survive on $1400/month, not unless I eat the cats.

Minion Monday

5/12/2014

Minion Monday. Michelle came over to clean my house, Steve and Nancy came over to help move my office into the sewing room and rip up half the carpet in my bedroom/office, which over the last year has become laden with cat and dog piss. I figured that once I start chemo I may be easily made nauseous, so getting the carpet up is smart. Also trying to  catch up with the hours I couldn’t put into my job last week. In the evening the clothes dryer stopped working.

Coming up: the oncologist on Wednesday and, at some point, a PET scan at Hawaii Imaging. As far as I can tell, they only have offices on Oahu, and no word on whether Kaiser will foot the airfare. If they don’t, I am not going to do it because I can’t afford it. That’s me whining.

E Pluribus!

5/6

Blood draw at Kaiser’s South Kona Clinic. I don’t think I’d been drawn  by Lewis before: he poo-pooed any talk of wiggly veins and popped me in my left arm, first try. Good man.

The hospital where they will do radiation work is about 2 miles further down the pike, so a 65 or 70 mile round trip, five days a week. Not looking forward to it.

Knitwits meeting at 1:00. I have lucked into a group of friendly, intelligent, and tremendously supportive women, and am very grateful for it.  At least five of the women are cancer survivors, so we talked about that for a while, then veered off to other subjects. I don’t know how we got on the subject of odd names, but I told the story of Nell collecting names when she worked pediatric reception at Kaiser Oakland, back when I was a kid. I mentioned Windorla and Edmonia and Captain Wolf Perry (a newborn), but when I brought up E Pluribus Eubanks, Anne chimed in with the last name, and laughed. Anne’s partner had worked as a paralegal in the criminal justice system in Alameda County, and E Pluribus had been a fairly regular  visitor, for a variety of misdemeanor charges. Small world indeed.

Public notice.

5/4/14

Okay, heads up, guys.

Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. To add embarrassment to alarm, it’s anal cancer. I have, so far, visited with my primary physician, with a general surgeon, with a colorectal surgeon, and with an oncologist. Of these the oncologist is the only one that really matters.

Next week I will be flown back to Honolulu to have a port installed in my chest (to Katy’s disappointment, it won’t be glowing and sexy like the one in Iron Man) and to have a CT scan. The results of the CT scan will determine the course of therapy. Surgery is ruled out, at least at this stage (surgery would involve removing the entire apparatus, sewing me up like a Thanksgiving turkey, and then I live with a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. Not an enticing prospect). So I am probably looking at a six-week course of radiation and chemo, which luckily can be delivered on this island. The chemo will be administered twice during the six weeks, but the radiation will be daily, five days a week, for the six weeks. At a hospital in Kealakekua, which is just north of Captain Cook the town. No word on whether parts of Captain Cook the captain were cooked before they were eaten, but parts of me will be. Cooked, not eaten.

It is predicted that the first two weeks will be fairly easy, but after that all bets are off. Luckily I have my sister here to help, and Katy is flying out later this month. Since I am otherwise in pretty good health, I am hoping that I sail through the therapy with minimal side-effects.

What this means is that I need to bow out of any meetings for the next two months, and after that we’ll see if I’m left with a functioning brain in my head (I’ve already made all the jokes connecting my head with my ass so you can rest your inventive faculties on this one). I am also bowing out of any plans for company, at least until I know what life is like in the aftermath of all the above.

So, think upbeat and optimistic thoughts for me. All healing wishes cheerfully accepted.

 

Beware of what you research.

5/2/14

I have spent much of the day researching squamous cell carcinoma and anal cancer. Learned useful stuff that I really, really didn’t want to have to learn.

It’s all happening faster now. I talked to Katy and Richard today (so glad to have steady adult kids) and to my therapist. Kaiser called a number of times to set up appointments to have the port installed and the CT scan performed on the 8th. Peg will come with me. I need to be at the hospital at 8:30 a.m., so we’re flying in the day before and will stay at the Prince Waikiki, which Peg and Burny recommend. Reservation made. More calls to set up the travel, and to tell me what to expect and how to prepare for the appointments on the 8th. I need to get blood tests from the South Kona Clinic on Monday or Tuesday, probably Monday. Emailed Lizbeth to cancel our appointment on the 8th, and need to cancel the Sunrun appointment too.

Also need to call Steve and ask if he and/or Nancy can let Abby out at some point during the day on the 8th, and to feed her in the evening.

I have the feeling that when I stop being busy, I’m going to be very scared.

Cancer, schmancer. What’s the difference as long as you’re healthy?

5/1/14

In the past week, after Jane cat-serminded a black eye, I have given up spirituous liquors, and today have taken them up again because I have been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the (ghod help me) anus. So much for my “bleeding hemorrhoids.”  Apparently my choices are (a) to have my ass carved out and spend the rest of my life with a colostomy bag (and this has only a 40% success rate) or (b) six weeks of radiation and chemo (and this has a higher success rate but they cook my anus).

First come the CT and PET scans to make sure that the damned thing hasn’t metastasized, and then Fun with Your New Illness, the treatments for which at least will take place on this island. The radiation is five days a week for six weeks and the chemo is twice over that period of time (they’ll sink a port into my chest to make this easier).

I am scared not necessarily of dying, but of hurting and then dying. And of leaving my kids, my beautiful boy and girl. I haven’t spoken to them, although I have a  call in to Katy and am hoping that she’ll call tonight, and I left a text for Richard asking him to call.

I think I have said that after all the nursing, the caring, the worry, the love I put into the Ex during his many medical emergencies, I thought that he would be there to help me through mine. This awakens that pain all over again, although I would loathe having him as a caregiver and would not trust him in anything (although I rather hope that he’ll hear about this and will be so consumed by guilt that it will kill him –yeah, right).

 

My birthday mouse

My birthday mouse.

My birthday mouse.

I have been neglectful, I know, so here’s a catchup going back to April of 2014.

4/26/14

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes — they are much appreciated. I don’t want to make y’all jealous, but I must tell you about the great present I have received, unexpected and certainly unimagined.

First, you must know that I took a shower late last night. No, wait, first you must know that my hot water heater sprung a leak sometime on Thursday, not a major one but enough to depressurize the tank and cause the hot water to disappear. And I was fairly desperate for a shower because — no, you don’t need to know that part. Anyway, my man Steve, the best handyman on the island, came over Friday morning and diagnosed the problem and went away to another job, and I bought the required replacement copper hose, and he came back in the late afternoon and made everything better, as he always does.

So, after the hot water heater was fixed, I decided to finish my nightcap and watch the rest of that episode of Deadwood.

OMG, Deadwood! Luckily HBO on demand lets me download all previous episodes so I am about mid-way through Season 1, at an episode a night, entirely entranced. I think the woman who plays Calamity Jane is the same woman who plays Brienne on Game of Thrones; Timothy Olyphant has been weaving his way through a lot of the series I am currently entranced by … Does anyone else hear echoes of McCabe and Mrs Miller in this show?

Anyway, I finished Deadwood and my nightcap. Oh, you should know that I had neglected to eat much of substance during the day, which is a paltry excuse but the best I can do and still remain within the realm of truth. And I took my shower.

Another thing you should know: Jane the Cat (now named Calamity Jane — Jane is such a useful, flexible name), anyway, Jane likes to, erm, abscond with things, which she then hides under my bed. I have in recent weeks rescued the cat bed, my shower sponge, a towel… So last night, while I took a long, hot, soapy, relaxing shower, Jane removed the bathmat and hid it under the bed.

I am striving to get a photo of Jane making off with towels and cat beds. She does it by creeping under the item and then sneaking off across the floor like a mammalian hermit crab, a hermit cat if you will. Since the cat bed is often occupied by cat toys, it really does look like she has taken possession of a snail shell hosting a colony of underwater critters.

So, she removed the bathmat. I rinsed, reached my towel, dried off, stepped outside of the shower to dry my feet, and instead of stepping onto a nice, warm, dry, grippy bathmat, I stepped onto cold, wet, slippery tiles, and down I went.

I yelled, cursed, finished drying off, and rolled into bed. Awoke at 5:30 am with a punishing sinus headache, called off the long-distance workshop I was scheduled to lead, took a couple of Ibuprofen, and went back to bed. Woke a couple of hours later, went into the bathroom, turned on the light, and voila! Calamity Jane had given me a mouse for my birthday!

My friend Richard Lupoff has said that life is the process of losing one cherry after another, and at the age of 66 I have lost my black-eye cherry. The swelling is going down, it doesn’t hurt too much, and I’m giving myself a 66th birthday present by going on the wagon. It seems the least I can do.

 

Be careful what you wish for…

And the moral of this story is: don’t threaten either the genie or Madame Pele, because Unpacking 1either or both is likely to give you precisely what you asked for. This is only a small sample of what the place looked like a week ago. I’ve been battling packing boxes and bubble wrap all week.

Speaking of which, a friend recommends spreading sheets of bubble wrap across the stone floor and running my office chair over it. I am seriously contemplating doing this, except that this nagging little voice tells me that somebody at the other end of FreeUnpacking 3cycle probably could use the unpopped product.

I’m down to three unopened boxes, the big packages of artwork, and the Marta Randall Collection of Out-of-Print Books by Marta Randall. Anybody want to buy some books? Unpacking 2

Grrrrrr

Frustrating day. They’re working on the Belt Road (and may be working on it forever) so driving to Kailua took forever, then the internet directions I got to the DMV were wrong, wrong, wrong (and I don’t want to hear another complaint about people who “don’t just Google it” because sometimes that doesn’t work worth shit), and then the DMV wanted paperwork that they hadn’t told me that they wanted, and I had big frustration looking for a needed bit of computer equipment that, it turned out, I didn’t need after all, and my blood sugar ran so low that I went into Denny’s and, for the first time in my life, ordered off the “55 and older” menu and the waitress didn’t even question it, and it’s Cruise Ship Wednesday in Kailua so the traffic sucked and the pedestrians were suicidal, and then I drove all the way home knowing I need to do it all again on Friday but at least now I know where the damned DMV is, and the only piece of mail in my PO box was for somebody else. Came home to my life still, mostly, in boxes, and here I was counting on the Box Fairy to make it all better.

But Peg made tortellini and sauteed oyster mushrooms and roasted chicken breasts for dinner tonight, and ain’t it amazing how food can change the tenor of a day.