Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Archive for the ‘Russian Peasant fatalist’ Category

Express to Crazyland


Two weekends ago, the red oil pressure light flashed on in my Fiat, a Barbie Doll of a car. Trying to get the car off a major avenue swarming with traffic before it stopped. The car said, “Arrivederci.” Too late. Ugh. I rolled to a stop fighting the urge to push the car into an intersection putting everyone out of their misery but good sense prevailed. I had “my miserable dung heap of metal” towed to the only dealership for miles around.

Thinking that I would call the next day, I walked to my office to have a friend pick me up. Not a hardship but not exactly love in the afternoon with my limp. Double ugh.

Thinking maybe some kind soul would have sent me a funny email to divert my mind from what I was calling “a cluster of magnificent proportions,” I opened up my inbox. My sister had sent me a message. Her email was short and pointed. She had tested positive for BRCA1. Crap. She told me to get tested STAT. Double crap.

Unable to get up with my sister, I searched the internet for information trying to avoid the doom and gloom predominant on the web.

My Russian Peasant Fatalism, first step to HuffyPuffyCrankyPerson, took over my being. If I am positive for the gene mutation, my chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 70 goes from the national 12% to 55-65%. Fuck. BRCA1 increases my chance of ovarian and peritoneal cancer too. I do need to get tested. Double Fuck.

How do you tell people about this? Did my sister sit on this for a while before telling me? No she sent the email after she found out that morning. Spunky gal.

I didn’t have that kind of fortitude. I sat on the secret for a week until I had tied my intestines into such knots that they went on strike. No intestinal movement until I told my doctor and my friends.

The doc’s return note said, “Make an appointment this week.”

In the mean time, I was dealing the Fiat fiasco. Renting a car in a snow storm. Calling the service department and getting nowhere. I wondered if their silence meant they had lost my car. I left a message asking if they had lost the car. No return phone calls except for a vague message of your car needs a “major engine overhaul.” How can a car need a major engine overhaul with only three years and 36,000 miles on it? Were they covering up losing a big appliance with the silence and vague message? Now, HuffyPuffyCrankyPerson was driving down the expressway to Crazyland.

Last weekend, I bit the bullet and told a friend about my sister’s note and the doc’s terse command. We worked through the possibilities to come to the conclusion – I get to decide what and when to do tests and procedures. I am driving the car in Medical Decision Land.

With my mojo back, I focused on having fun with the MIA Fiat. I covered all Fiat FaceBook pages and a couple of car internet forums with an ode to my car, Todd Rungren’s:

“Hello, it’s me

I’ve thought about us for a long, long time

Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong

There’s something here that doesn’t last too long

Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine … “

Before 9am on Monday, I had messages from a SOCIAL CARE SPECIALIST (what’s that?) at Fiat USA and a call from the service department. I like the SC Specialist and will use her as a go-between with the Fiat service department. Parts are ordered. I am driving a rental car from Surreal Customer Service Land.

I am working on the “gracious” indignation. Good grief. It has not been easy. But it is empowering.

On issues of cars, computers, and health, I feel like my only choices are HuffyPuffyCrankyPerson or caving in to other people’s opinions. “Gracious indignation” flies out the window. I forget who is driving the car or calling the shots.

Gotta go …


Avenue of the Pickles


I have been thinking a little, okay a lot, about love lately.

Who gets love? According to Janis Ian, “Love is meant for beauty queens/and high school girls with clear skinned smiles” … well that knocks me out of the picture. I’m not even close to young with wrinkles and acne. My smile is lopsided.

Why do we fall into love? I think this might be a question for the biochemists – scientists charting pheromones, hormones, and genetic markers. And for the real estate agents chanting, ‘location, location, location.’

How do we fall out of love? I have come to the conclusion that someone always leaves, by death or by choice. Harsh but … the truth.

Could I buy some love if I had a stupendously large limit on my VISA? Would PayPal guarantee it? Maybe I could rent love for a night or a weekend. I’m not sure I want to use my expendable income in this manner.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t figured out too much. I’m a middle-aged love neophyte.

But then I was driving down the AVENUE OF THE PICKLES. What? You don’t know the AVENUE OF THE PICKLES. C’est une catastrophe! (That’s French, the so-called language of love.)

Every holiday season, an outdoor shopping center nearby outlines their trees in lights. Until five years ago, the lights were green. In combination with the shape of the trees, the green lights made an avenue of pickles standing on edge. High in the sparkling trees, speakers blare out holiday songs.

When my husband was alive, we would laugh with joy and excitement over the pickles. The trees with their green lights seemed so incongruent, surreal, and even bizarre in contrast with the stuffy matronly shops they surrounded. In amazement, we would clasp hands and walk through the shopping center oohing and aching over the PICKLES. Giggling. Too old to be giggling but maybe it was love we were feeling. The odd display reminded us of all the times that we walked together sharing silly times and tragic episodes.

One year, we walked the three miles from our house to our favorite seafood restaurant in the shopping center but without our usual delight in the decorations. It had not been a great year. His work stressors and my dissertation disappointments had forged a silence between us.

During the walk home, I was dry-mouthed with the realization that this was the slippery slope to our love’s end. But looking up at the green lights, the lines of goofy up-ended pickle trees, I had an urge to hold his hand – like I had done in previous years when walking the Avenue of the Pickles. In my heart and my head, my wish to feel love and my Russian peasant fatalism fought each other. After a long, breath-robbing stalemate, I exhaled “Fuck it,” and picked up his hand. He smiled at me. My face wouldn’t move. A flash of insight occurred. This was a man I had loved in the past and I could choose to love him again. This was the choice point. Gulping, big caterpillar tears crawled down my face, I smiled back. Not my biggest or most convincing smile, but still a smile. We walked the three miles home holding hands.

Today, the trees are lit up in green, red, purple, blue, and pink lights. How fantastic. And love inspiring.

While I still don’t know who or why or how we fall in love, I do know that there are easy times when love has a tight hold on us and other times when we must choose to hold tightly to love.

The little squiggles of light-trimmed trees, the crazy histories we make with people, and even language return us to each other. They remind us – we have the choice to love.

Maybe as we collide willy-nilly into the holiday season, we can stop wasting our time on questions of little consequence. Then we can look for all the little signals to choose love and wrap garlands of twinkling lights around our love histories.

Who you calling slack?

At 8:16 am today, I plunked down in a seat at the coffee shop. I plunked so hard my butt bounced. My friend snickered while looking a little bleary-eyed.

“So what did you do last night?” he asked.

“I ate candy and watched an episode of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. I was really interested in how the women had cleavage under their chin. Kind of mesmerizing. What did you do?” I admitted with a guilty drop of my gaze.

“I played kickball,” he said.


“Yeah. Somewhat social and minimally athletic.”

“Do you ever feel like a slacker? Like we should be doing more with our lives?”

There was a pause. We looked down at our coffees. Swooping into the coffee shop came the perfectly coiffed overachiever. She chirped, “Hi ya’ll.”

We groaned as she launched into this litany of events from the night before … A “Gee life is wonderfully busy and I get lots of stuff done” Pollyanna attitude that is exhausting listening to and mindboggling to consider doing. By digging my nails into my palms, I managed to stop myself from smacking her. My friend rolled his eyes before devouring the car section of the newspaper. Yes, we are over forty ….

I bet even the patrons in the other room breathed a sigh of relief when she left, probably off to save the world or at least polish her desk. Resolutely, I promised myself I would determine the color of my desktop.

Like a lot of us, I have a paying job or two, a book in the process of being marketed, and various other writing projects. And a house to clean with meals to cook and bills to pay. Some days my desk is a series of unruly piles – MUST be done RIGHT NOW, CAN WAIT until this afternoon, SURELY this can be done by the end of the week, TAKE HOME and finish, and when HELL FREEZES OVER. My computer is covered with sticky notes – do this, call her, him, that group, write them a thank you, little quotes for writing, and songs to download. And I have ants. Lots of them. I like to think we share an office but my clients don’t take this live-and-let-live approach. My fax machine is cranky. Sometimes my computer freezes. I can’t get the scanner to work. But I take out the trash and my office doesn’t smell. Does this make me a slacker?

So this morning, I cleaned off the desk. Who knew it had a lovely mahogany colored top? And found some sticky notes from 2012 to throw away. I vacuumed and rearranged the pillows.

But the thing is, I don’t feel any better. I think it is slightly nice to see my desktop. The question of the ants remains. If I buy an ant farm, do you think they’ll move in? Otherwise, I probably should buy some ant traps.

Basically, I am a Russian peasant fatalist. I am at one with it. I feel no need to be excessively clean or neat (except the bathrooms and kitchen and clean sheets on the bed – must be the Jewish genes). I have other things to do – write, work, write, be with friends, write, find the creative juice that spices my world and write.

In my cranky little heart, I love my disheveled office. It has a comfy sofa to nap on. Lots of throws to cuddle up with when feeling overwhelmed. I have finally figured out how to use most of the functions on my printer. It is my creative world – messy, full of eye candy, my Instant Psychotherapy jar with the petty cash for emergency candy bars and/or wine, a line up of sticky notes like the Tibetan prayer flags, and my bucket of toys. These tidbits do not define me but they reflect the colorful creativity of my writing world.

I am not the Martha Stewart or Gwyneth Paltrow of writing. Don’t judge me because sometimes I’m a slacker.

Tag Cloud