I've got red on me — again

No, not The Hives ...

... but these hives


Allergies are hell.

They killed my father.

I’m not sure why, unless it’s psychosomatic or a hell of a coincidence, that a (suspected) severe allergic reaction has colored the last 12 days of my life. Each morning I awake to a new batch of itching, screaming hives, an angry mob swarming somewhere on my body. By noon, if I’m lucky, the swelling calms to an angry skin flush. I look like I fell asleep in the sun.

Nothing has been spared. Nothing. Today my whole face is swollen and hot to the touch.  My husband and I noted that I would not look good with those coveted collagen-injected lips so many women of Hollywood are sporting.

I’ve been to the doctor twice.

I’ve had a cortisone shot.

I’m living on anti-histamines.

I have an appointment for a full line of tests. But that’s not until next week.

I must wait.

Suspecting the lavender-infused laundry detergent I bought a month ago, I’ve been washing and rewashing everything.

Suspecting certain foods, I’ve been eating cautiously, making note of everything that crosses my lips.

Suspecting my overgrown yard and all its pollen and mold spore glory, I’ve not set food outside to tend to any of it.

I’m inside, slightly drugged, with ice packs where they need to be.

What a life.

Allergies are hell.


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Of course, it's the apocalypse

… or Armageddon or the Rapture.

I don’t know. I stopped getting the paper a while ago.

Do I care? Heck, looks like most of us here (as in the gay, liberal, heathen, artsy-fartsy burg where I reside) are heading in the same direction. We’ll have a party.

At least I don’t have to worry so much that my roots have grown out an inch and a half.  The scale at the doctor’s office says I’m eating way more than I trick myself into thinking every day. Bah! I say. More insulation against the eternal hellfire.

End of the world? Judgment day? I say bring it! As a dearly departed friend used to say to me though a veil of laughter-induced tears: We’re riding the greased pole to hell, sister.

Perhaps in hell, with a backdrop of molten lava and flickering flames and all the obligatory thigh and butt maximizing red jumpsuits we’ll be wearing, I won’t feel so bad that my skin is covered head to toe in huge, angry red welts. I won’t be shunned; I’ll be well accessorized.

So, yeah, what better time to break out in a mysterious case of the hives? The itching began last week on the tops of my feet. I was on a long walk around the neighborhood when I stopped to give my feet tops a good scratch. I blamed it on the wet grass. After a while, I found myself doing odd things like leaning against sign posts to scratch with abandon. When I reached my car,  I took off my sandals and found my feet screaming with red blisters.

As the week went on the creeping malaise migrated north, sparing nothing along the way. I was a walking exclamation point.

Part of me is wondering if this is my early pass to hell so that by the time I get there I’ll be as red and miserable as the devil. Part of me is wondering if I’ll be wearing a head-to-toe veil when I go out tonight. Part of me (remember there are more parts of me than ever before) is wondering if I brought this on myself. Not so much in a Catholic guilt kind of way, although I know that stuff is ingrained, but in a gee-how-much-more-stress-and-worry can I carry before some major system in my body just fails?

The doctor thinks food or environmental allergy. Shots and many tests await.

Cheers. I’ll either see some of you in the fiery furnace or I’ll post on Tuesday.

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Celebrity encounters

I’m struck down by “the sick” again. I guess this is just the way it is when you volunteer in preschool and elementary school environments weekly. Oh, and have I mentioned we’ve had nothing but rain and rain and more rain and damp and chill? In light of that, I’m taking San Diego Momma’s PrompTuesday about celebrity encounters and rehashing a post from December 2009


"It Might Get Loud" movie still via img.com

I hope my husband is happy.

He thinks that I’d dump him for Jack White, that I’d run away to live in the hills of Tennessee with the former furniture upholsterer turned guitar god with the penchant for dressing like a dandy, channeling Delta Blues musicians and crafting guitars out of wood, a nail, a glass bottle and wire.*

Good thing Jack White only has eyes for tall, leggy, doe-eyed redheads or maybe I’d have a chance.


Seriously. Several times, by happy accident, I’ve stood elbow-to-shoulder with the man and trust me, his attention was elsewhere. My husband has never let me forget those evenings. Not that I could. It was thrilling to be able to just share the same floor space with someone of such talent. Back then he was just a local guy drinking a beer and sucking on a cigarette at a popular dive bar. Honestly,  my favorite memory is second-row seats at a Raconteurs concert positioned directly in line with Jack White as he did that thing that he does. I don’t know Jack White, the person. He is a stranger to me. I do know Jack White, the musician and performer. I don’t want a date; I want concert tickets.

I don’t know what to do around “celebrities” of any sort. Even when I was a reporter, I’d skip those assignments in favor of interviewing an everyday Joe or Jane.  Years ago at a David Bowie concert, I stood in a concert T-shirt line next to familiar young man who turned out to be Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings. I didn’t realize it  until I’d left the concert venue. My friends were jealous, pumping me for details.  I didn’t have any to share since I just assumed it was a guy from high school.


Via About.com: Hockey

Before The White Stripes called it quits, it was kind of an inside joke that I was president of the local chapter of their fan club.

So it was with deep embarrassment that I learned at a children’s birthday party for god’s sake that he was named musician of the millennium or something like that. I went home and looked it up. Here’s what I found:

Their fourth album, Elephant, was named No. 7 on a list of most influential albums of the decade.

Jack White was declared the rock and roll musician of the decade.

I know. Lists, schmists. Everyone and their brother is going to compile these lists as we slip from the aughts to the teens. And what do I know of the caliber of the Guardian U.K.? Even the White Stripes’ and affiliated Web sites have failed to make note of these honors, so I’m not sure what to make of them myself.

While I’m thrilled that Jack is getting the attention, acclaim and respect I’ve felt he’s deserved all along, I’m rather embarrassed that I had to hear about this from a fair-weather fan over cake and ice cream. I hope my husband is happy; it’s obvious I have more pressing matters on my mind than the latest Jack White news.

Perhaps, if my spouse would stop this foolishness for a moment, he’d realize I’m thinking about him.

(Little does he know he’s getting a guitar for Christmas. That, and a pair of red and white pants.)

*I dated my share of out-there artsy types who did things like drive Hearses, dress like people from different eras, wear make-up, and get in character for their art. They always ended up embarrassing and frustrating me.

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Circles, dark

Inspired by MamaMary’s soon-to-be-published book and website project, The Dead Dad’s Club, I’m posting this piece about my father. I’m eternally grateful for Mary, who I met online in 2008 through the NaBloPoMo challenge. If if weren’t for her, I don’t think I’d ever have had the guts to start writing about my father and his sudden and shocking death.  Ten days ago would have been his 74th birthday. It came and went without so much as a comment from my family. Perhaps each of us took a moment that day to think of him, what he meant to us when he was alive, and what parts of his legacy live on in us. I did so and this is the result:

I don’t know how to make a serious face without looking bitchy — or like I”m sucking on a lemon.

Everyone says I look like my  mother.

I’ve inherited her long face and prominent nose, her physique (minus the height) and many of her mannerisms. But when I look at my face up-close in a mirror,  I see my father. I have his signature under-eye circles and his dark eyes and brows. I see a man who is gone from this world 16 years, but alive in my muscles and bones.

Life choices painted those shadows under his eyes as well as mine. My father was a skilled tradesman. It was good work for a young man, he  said, but hell on an old man’s body. It was not his career choice. He went to school to be an engineer. He never graduated.

I found this out rooting through my mother’s attic. I asked my mom about the calculus textbooks. Why didn’t he graduate? No clear answers. Rebellion against his father? Lack of tuition? Poor grades? Boredom?

When I think of my dad going to school, I remember the art school years. By day, my father wore a hard hat and carried a metal lunchbox and tool bag. By night, he was parked behind an easel, palette in hand, forming the lines and angles of whatever nude model or still life was on duty in class.

Under his Carhartts my father secretly longed to be an artist.  He had a studio in the basement. We had specific instructions to keep away from the enticing array of paints, chalk and pencils. At night, when we were tucked in bed, the sounds of Dylan, The Moody Blues, and The Rolling Stones drifted through the heating vents as dad communed with his creative muses.  The next morning, after he’d left, we’d tiptoe downstairs to see his work. Much of it was industrial: the skeletal structures of high-rises, faceless men in welding masks balanced on beams, sparks blooming from blue flame, rivers browned and frothing with pollution, smokestack plumes blotting the sun. Sometimes he painted flowers.

Eventually the art dream faded. The supplies and canvasses found a home on a high shelf behind the furnace. Something else took its place. Then something else after that.

I think my father died a man who did not realize his dreams, who did not allow his wings to spread  fully and take him where he wanted to go. I think my father was constrained in a lifelong cocoon of his own making.

In the months before his death, I was shocked to see how deep and dark those wells carved his face. Did they tell of the darkness inside?  He said he was feeling old and tired of working so hard. He was 58. Perhaps I thought he was old. Now that I am 12 years away from that age, I no longer think of it as old. Older, sure. Not old.

My 30-year-old, newly fatherless self, free of dark crescents and other signs of aging, didn’t realize those circles were my future. Choices I’d already made or ones ahead on the road were already in motion.

I may look like my mother but I am my father’s daughter. Might I take a page from his life  book? Although lack of sleep did not cause his premature death (thank you, anaphylaxis, for your speedy delivery) I’m sure it contributed  to an overall lack of good health. As the years advance I find myself taking on more of his behavior patterns.

I’d like to think the legacy of my father is one of adventures and embracing life. But sometimes legacies are dark: he was a keeper of secrets, a denier of the truth, every emotion except anger kept in a cage.  Too many bad habits. Too little time.

Go away, dark circles, I don’t like what you portend.

Other posts on the subject:
The Stinging Truth
The Deer Hunter
Never at a Loss for Props

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Pictures of my life, Part 3

Midlife crisis, an ongoing saga

A few weeks ago I accompanied a friend to a piercing studio. I entered the earthy shop in a nearby suburb armed with more expectations than I care to admit.  A collection of tribal masks, idols, and tools on display seemed both cliche and indicative of the collective pain captured within these walls. But a generous display of environmental and animal rights magazines on the tables, the trip-hop drifting from hidden speakers, and the soft-spoken woman behind the counter balanced the aesthetic.

The only pain we’re into is our own.

I felt a little out of my element. While my friend filled out forms,  I sought the familiar: a display case of sterling silver bracelets and pendants. Next to it was another case twinkling with mysterious metallic objects. What was this stuff? Where did people put these things? How did they get them in? A quick browse through the studio services catalog cleared up some of the confusion.

Oh, my.

As my friend situated herself for the procedure,  I prepped for my role as official hand-holder.

I listened as the piercer explained the tool sterilization process, the horrors of piercing guns (I had no idea. Did you?), and the after-care process.

Then it was showtime. I grasped her hand and watched as metal clamps pinched flesh, as the hollow tube and needle joined, penetrated, and retreated to make way for the metal ring.

Zip. Zap. Done. No blood. No shrieking. Not even a clenched fist or jaw. Morrissey wailed “Meat is Murder” through the speakers.


Did I feel faint? offended? disgusted?


I wanted one, too.

So, you know, I got one.

Midlife crisis. When does it end?

My middle-aged ear, which now has a rook piercing.



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