Spam, you have me all mixed up

spamwich

Do you read your Spam?

I do. It’s that sick part of me that pretends I have so much fan mail that it takes pages and pages to get through it all.

… ahem …

Here is a sampler of what my fans around the globe say to me:

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack …”

“New here .. Found this site for searching for criminal/dwi/dui attorneys on Long Island, New York.”

Gee, thanks. I’d like to think if I were having a heart attack, someone would call 911 rather than search the blogosphere for first aid advice. That’s just me, though.

On another post about my blogging anniversary, I got a little battle of contradictions:

One guys asks: “what r u talking about?”
Another thinks I’m a softie: “So mush Info”
While another declares: “Hey good stuff…keep up the good work!”

Roy90, whom I have never met, seems to have me mixed up with someone else, but I’ll take the accolades anyway.

]evidence

What’s with the medical advice? Do babies have hemorrhoids? If there is someone other than a nursing mother wearing a nursing sports bra, I don’t want to know about it, OK?

Hi, I have been looking into some natural hemmorid treatments and cures and I am looking for anyone that has tried them? … I am just looking for something safe for my baby…I am pretty much staying away from any chemical/medicines…just to be on the safe side.”

“Hello to all Moms…!

I need assistance on market researching nursing and sports bras.

Please, only moms reply.”

And my advice regarding the following diatribe is that mothers and sons should not be shopping for bondage gear together, OK?

A mother, her son, and why women on top of 50 bondage gear should look after some brand of modesty”

How about Mr. show-off Pierre, who makes me feel like my husband is being a cheap skate on our anniversary?

“I’m Pierre. I bought my wife a dress, renovated our living room and took her on a vacation,

but the thing that stirred her the most was without a doubt my intention to buy loose diamonds for our gold wedding anniversary.”

Well, Pierre, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, isn’t it? Stop throwing your money around. Your wife is probably plotting her getaway after cashing in those loose diamonds.

Next, a series of left-handed compliments:

“Thanks for keeping it on point! Speak slower, louder, quieter”

“Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you.”

“In truth, immediately i didn’t understand the essence. But after re-reading all at once became clear.”

Some Spammers just need to get a life — or a better line:

“Hey Folks
I’ve been around here for a while now, and I finally found something worth writing about: I found a great deal on custom entertainment centers.”

“Hi! I’m looking for an advice where I can watch movies? ”

These two should get together. Anyone know a good Spammer matchmaking service?

“If you know someone around you who is being a little shady and you are getting uncomfortable around them, then maybe you might want to run a small background report on the person in question to make sure that they are ‘who they say they are’.”

“’I’m a lawyer.”

And, in closing, I leave you with these gems:
“Where’s the blog roll?
“If cash comes with fame, come fame; if cash comes without fame, come cash.”
”When is the next bus to the airport?”

Note: I didn’t bother cleaning up the typos, misspellings and other errors in the Spam. Why should I make them look good?

What’s in your SPAM folder?


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Wallowing in swine flu data

Disclaimer: I have not been tested for or officially confirmed to have the swine flu. When I asked my doctor if I had it, he answered: Probably.

IMG_2671

My head is spinning and it’s not all from Tamiflu and antibiotics. Trying to get solid information about this year’s H1N1 pandemic is enough to make you just want to curl up under the covers and wait for spring.

  • Are vaccines bad or good? Should we get them or not?
  • We are encouraged to get our vaccinations now. However, clinics are either canceled or have hopelessly long waits.
  • The president declared a national emergency. News reports focus on the lethal H1N1 cases, particularly children. Some doctors I have encountered seem very unconcerned about what kind of flu they are treating, only that they must treat it.
  • At what point does hand washing become excessive and in the territory of OCD? At what point do you decide that the excessive hand washing you engaged in did absolutely no good to prevent the flu since all you needed to get sick was to breathe the air inside your home?
  • Is there a link between worrying excessively about getting H1N1, rubbing your hands raw with alcohol-laden hand sanitizer to the point of extreme irritation, and actually contracting it?

On Friday, as I sat slumped in a metal and plastic chair at the medical clinic, with my Girl from the East draped over my lap like a towel, I asked the doctor if we had H1N1.

“Seasonal flu, H1N1, what difference does it make?” he responded.

At first I was taken aback. This is the second time I’ve been greeted with a blase attitude by the medical community about the swine flu. Last summer, Girl from the West attended music camp. One week later,  some orchestra members from that camp came down with the flu. They were not allowed to board their flight to Europe because of it. When my daughter became ill and I took her to the doctor’s office and inquired about swine flu, the doctor brushed it off as “just the flu.” Let it run its course, she advised.

What in hell is going on? If you watch TV, read online or in print, you are led to believe H1N1 is the Black Plague. Yet, all but ONE doctor I’ve asked has minimized the concerns.  I’ll admit, I’ve allowed myself to be swept up in the media frenzy. I have kids. I worry about them more than myself.

So, when the doctor seemed blase about my H1N1 inquiry, I fired back:

“It’s all over the media. There is paranoia everywhere. It matters to me.”

“Well, then, yes, you probably do have H1N1,” he replied.

Then he handed me  prescriptions for Tamiflu and antibiotics for our secondary respiratory infections and sent us on our way.

My always-on-the-go husband has been in bed for six days with what started as the flu and quickly turned to bronchitis. Most likely, he waited too long to see a doctor. Based on this, I didn’t waste time.  I packed us into the car and headed to the doctor 24 hours after coming down with symptoms.

We had a long wait at the clinic.

We had an even longer wait at the pharmacy as Tamiflu is in short supply.

Know what I think? I stressed myself out so badly about getting H1N1 I trashed my immune system.

I suppose the lesson in all this is to take care of yourself, wash your hands, and if you do develop symptoms get to the doctor immediately.

If you are wondering how it’s affecting us: On Thursday I felt fine when I woke up. By noon I was knocked flat on my back with a 102 fever, chills and severe joint pain. Within 24 hours I’d developed a respiratory infection. My Girl from the East, despite a deep cough and a high fever, was bouncing around like a monkey. She had one rough night.

But the larger questions remain: What is the truth? Are some doctors downplaying this? If so, why? Is the media overplaying it? I’ve always believed in immunizations and I get a seasonal flu shot every year. I know it doesn’t protect me from everything, but it’s always kept me standing when everyone around me dropped like flies with whatever flu strain was going around.

So I guess I should be relieved. Now I don’t have to worry anymore about getting the flu shot. Plus, I had a whole weekend to do nothing but goof off on Facebook, Twitter and my favorite blogs.

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Meme Monday: the Honest Scrap edition

honest-scrap
To complete the trio of awards bestowed upon me recently, here is the Honest Scrap award from Lorna the Bathtime Blogger.

Lorna passed this on to me for what she called “my heartfelt writing.”

Thank you, Lorna,  for thinking so. I try.

Nevertheless. This meme requires me to do the unthinkable: list 10 honest things about myself.

Holy crap.

Well, since I’ve done a number of these in recent weeks and revealed a bunch of mundane stuff, I thought I’d take the sprit of this award and delve deeper. Here goes:

1. I never meant for this site to be an anonymous blog. When I set it up more than two years ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.  I thought I’d somehow work my identity into it, but I never got around to it. Now? I really don’t know how to break out of this pattern or if I should.

2. People who should have taken care of me in my childhood hurt me. People in positions of trust. So, I have trust issues, particularly when dealing with people in one particular profession.

3. The people who did these things largely got away with it because I didn’t say anything until many years later, when it was too late. It’s fair to say that some members of my family do not believe my stories.

4. I was on antidepressants for three years. I kept it a secret (big shock!) but quit for two reasons: I gained way too much weight and I didn’t cry at my grandmother’s funeral. I could not shed a tear. I loved that woman with all my heart. I was her favorite granddaughter. Here she was dead and I felt — nothing. I decided to wean myself off them when my prescription expired. I have better ways to deal with my demons. I don’t fault anyone who takes them. I fault greedy doctors who push them on patients and never inquire afterward about how they are working or ever suggest maybe it’s time to get off them.

5. I am not easily honest. You can imagine the amount of gut wrenching involved in hitting publish on this post. It’s not that I set out to lie. I do not like lying.  I just like to protect the truth, even if there is no good reason to be so secretive. Lately for the purposes of not letting history repeat itself, I’ve been more forthcoming.

6. It has taken me more than two years to realize a lifelong friendship that ended badly needed to end. It was toxic. Always had been. I had so much guilt over it. Then one day I realized: I deserve better. Magically, I have made countless new and wonderful friends. I’ve also learned to treasure the longtime friendships that are healthy.

7. I just replace one addiction with another. As a child: nail biting. As a teen and into my late 20s: cigarette smoking. In my 30s: exercise. Today: Food.

8. I don’t like a lot of fuss about anything. Once, when I was quite young and on a class field trip, I climbed into a wooden fort, fell through an opening in the floor and plummeted into a mud puddle below. I didn’t utter a peep. I just stood up, waited for the swirling stars to stop orbiting my head and joined the group as if nothing happened. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

9. I am not now and never was a flirt. I figured if guys were interested in me, they could have a real conversation with me. I am not interested in bullshit banter.

10. I am an (almost) daily meditator. After searching for a number of years, I found a community and a practice that met my needs. My life is so much better because of this discovery and a commitment on my part.

Well, there you go, my  guts are on the table, steaming and stinking for all to inspect. It’s taken me a long time to get the courage to post this.

I’ve met some folks in the last year or so who’ve opened my eyes to the idea of a more authentic life, one in which I walk around wearing robes of my own design and follow the path less traveled. If you are so inclined, pass this along to any blogger or writer you feel speaks from the heart.

Blame it on 'Six Feet Under'

blood

by frostnova via creative commons

Blame it on a virus that zapped all my energy.

Blame it on a tight project deadline and a babysitter on vacation.

Blame it on watching three episodes in a row of “Six Feet Under” Season Four, including one in which the mortuary drains back up, spewing copious amounts of human blood onto the floors and up through kitchen sinks.

When I went to check on Girl from the East last night and found her face down in a small pool of blood, which had soaked a pillow, the sheets and her nightgown, I freaked.

And when I picked her up and it spilled out of her mouth and all over my sweatshirt, I really freaked out.

And when I looked at the clock and saw that it was 12:43 a.m. and remembered that my husband was in Massachusetts on business, that my closest friend to call upon was in Pennsylvania on vacation, and the doctor’s office merely advised me to call 911, that’s what I did.

I felt slightly irrational.

I mean, all that blood. Is that normal for a nosebleed? Was it a nosebleed? Had she fallen? Did she stuff something up there?Did the cats do something to her? My mind raced and came up short of any common-sense answers.  All I knew was that the blood just kept flowing.

I don’t like blood. Blood makes me crazy.

I told the dispatcher that I didn’t want a fuss. I didn’t think it was life and death. I just couldn’t get the bleeding to stop enough to get her to the car and drive the three and a half miles to the area hospital.

So they showed up, quietly, but with lights flashing, and further riled my already totally freaked-out girl.

Long story short, the EMTs seemed to think it was a severe nosebleed and that I should take her to the doctor soon and get the humidity adjusted in our house.

An already long day stretched taut. My frayed nerves nearly snapped. My mothering skills as useless and spent as the soaked wash cloth I’d used to pinch her nostrils.

Is it the adoptive mother in me that reacts so irrationally to even the slightest scrape with this Girl from the East? Is it the last-time-around mother in me that cannot abide by illness and accidents threatening our perfect joy? I am gripped at times by an uncontrollable fear and panic over this Girl from the East, who didn’t come to us easily, who didn’t really seem ours until we passed through U.S. Immigration gates, even though we’d fed, clothed, diapered and loved her for weeks in her homeland, who held out loving and trusting us until we had proven ourselves worthy. So many hoops to jump through to get to today, to this blood and fear.

I had a full day of work today, but I could barely part company with her, fearing the worst.

Her precious beauty tears at my insides. I cannot contemplate the worst. I cannot fix the worst. I cannot change that which is already predetermined. I cannot let go of the irrational worry and panic that fills my heart when even the slightest thing seems wrong.

I do not know her health history. I do not know to what she was exposed before she landed in our arms. I do not know what is hereditary in her family. There is no one to call, no records to request. It’s all a blank.

The blood tears me apart, but it bonds us together.

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I can see clearly now;I wish I could walk

Me, 1982

Me, 1982

foureyes

Me, today

Today I provide for you two pictures to illustrate my  post. It’s about my new glasses — the first prescription pair I’ve ever worn.

I consider these glasses — freakin’ progressive lenses, for god’s sake — the official end of my youth.

Friends on Facebook and in real life are always telling me: You haven’t changed one bit since high school.

Sweet things, all of you, for lying to me. I’ll take any ego-soothing lie I can get these days.

But guess what?  I have changed. No more denial. No more faking it.  It took a few doozies — most of them involving cooking disasters —  for me to stop paddling against the current of reality.

So I gave in. I scheduled an eye exam, figuring the optometrist would tell me what I already knew: I needed reading glasses.

Imagine my shock when he told me I was far-sighted and probably had been for a number of years. I counted back at least three years to when I first started noticing eye problems. Not only were my eyes “a little bit worse than most 40-somethings,” but also my work as a copy editor  had exacerbated the problem. Wearing $20 over-the-counter glasses for the last two years hadn’t helped, either.

I picked up the new lenses on Friday. Little did I know there’s a learning curve. There’s about two weeks of adjustment.

“Be careful on the steps,” the optician advised as I pulled on my coat and grabbed my new frames, case, cleaning kit and paperwork.

Did I look like a klutz to her? Maybe she should be careful on the steps, I muttered under my breath as I stumbled out the door.

Within minutes I knew what she meant: Wearing progressive lenses at first is like navigating the fun house at the county fair. Nothing is as close or far way as it appears.  The floor/ground is all-at-once right under your nose and somehow very far away. The contrast between objects near and far almost feels like a 3-D effect. Vertigo hit me almost instantly as I attempted to walk across the expansive parking lot to my car. I felt myself taking big, stiff lurching footsteps like the Frankenstein monster.

When I arrived home, I was overcome by nausea. I had to rest  for a while to get my sense of balance back.

A few days later I understand that I cannot look down while walking. I need to feel my body moving through my environment using instinct and experience rather than trying to navigate entirely with my eyes. Once I had my sea legs, I started really looking at things. Much has escaped my attention in the last few years: mysterious spatters on the walls, a lacework of fine cracks in our plaster, my Girl from the East’s ears (does no one else in this house clean ears at bath time? I thought I was but apparently my efforts were useless.)

I won’t even go into what a terrible job I’ve been doing on my eyebrows. All I can say is I hope most of my close friends have terrible eyesight, too, otherwise let me just add this: I’m not really so slovenly. I thought I was doing a good job on personal grooming and housework. That counts for something, right?

Now I’m adjusting to a piece of plastic wrapped around half my head.  I thought it would be fun. I’m sure over time I’ll forget they’re on. But now, it feels like I’m in a rocket ship, looking through the cockpit window at space junk hurtling toward me at the speed of light.

I’m working on toning down the zombie shuffle, but I may keep it until Halloween has passed.

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This tree is real

Fake Plastic Trees

Her green plastic watering can
For her fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth
That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plans
To get rid of itself

It wears her out, it wears her out
It wears her out, it wears her out

She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns
He used to do surgery
For girls in the eighties
But gravity always wins

It wears him out, it wears him out
It wears him out, it wears him out

She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My fake plastic love
But I can’t help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run

It wears me out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out

If I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted all the time

–Radiohead

Today is my 45th birthday.

There. I said it.

I can’t believe it, but it’s true.

This song ran through my mind all day today, particularly the line: “Gravity always wins” because it is so true.

And there’s nothing like your mid-40s to make you see physics in action.

This is what I do a lot: I look at my face in the mirror and I pull back my cheeks and eyes to bring it all back to what it used to be. This is what a face lift would look like, I tell myself. This is why all the Hollywood actresses my age look like they are in wind tunnels, like their faces are carved stone. This is why they still look the same and I do not. What have they traded for this look?

Fake plastic trees.

I let go of my cheeks and the skin falls back into place. I wonder: How did I not like the face I once had? How did I not realize how fleeting my youth would be? I think that I’d rather have that face than this one, this 45-year-old face. But that face was traded in for experience and wisdom and all that I have today. To get that face back would be to lose all that I have earned.

That’s real.

TV bad; computer good?

This just in: unhappy people watch more TV according to this report.
Well, heck. I must be so happy I orbit the earth.
Here are my TV viewing habits:

“Ghosthunters”: one hour on Wednesday nights. This will be replaced by “LOST” when it ever returns from it’s 5-year hiatus. Also one hour.
Maybe one hour of sorta watching CNN or some other news show while exercising at the gym. That’s another three hours a week. 

Maybe another three hours while riding the exercise bike at home.

Total: Seven hours.

About once a month we rent some DVDs to watch. I don’t know if that counts in this study. To be fair we can add another four hours to the total, making it 11 hours.

Before you go thinking I’m all high and mighty here, consider what I’m doing instead of watching TV. Do not ask me about my computer hours. Do not.

How many wake-up calls does it take?

Who knew? Drinking excessive amounts of coffee, popping OTC cold pills and getting five hours of sleep aren’t a recipe for good health.

Sounds stupid, but it’s what I did to myself last month. It began with a simple request from the husband for me to look for work. It ended with a phone call from my doctor telling me I had pneumonia.

In between all that I stressed, panicked and over scheduled my life. And when you over schedule your life, it has way of getting the last laugh. Such as: Two days before a planned vacation, one of kids gets really sick, like emergency room sick.

My carefully planned itinerary for the next few days to prepare for this trip was thrown to the wind. We barely made it to the airport for our flight. For the next few days of our vacation, I felt so tired I drank excessive amounts of coffee to stay alert and active. Then I felt a cold coming on, so I loaded up on OTC medication to dull the symptoms. I didn’t want to ruin our trip so I didn’t rest. I willed myself to keep going, to play along with the plan and not be a buzz kill.

When it was time to head to the airport for our return flight, I was full-out sick and could barely put one foot in front of the other. I spent the whole flight home curled up in a ball of misery.

This cascade of events has led me to today: In a bit of a worry about my future and consciously applying the brakes to my high-speed/going nowhere life.

A week after my doctor’s visit, the doctor called me to see how I was doing. She said they’d looked at my chest X-ray again and decided there was a spot on my left lung that needed to be watched. Could I come back in a few weeks for a follow-up X-ray?

I contemplated this. I’m a former smoker; I quit 15 years ago. It sounds weird to say but I’m hoping the spot is pneumonia and not something else.

I’m not job hunting right now. I’m not finishing that painting project. I’m not cleaning the basement. 

I am taking it easy. I am hugging my girls a little bit longer. I’m trying not to worry. Really, I’m trying to just  appreciate each moment. Two scares in one year are too many.