Tag Archives: Bad days

One Born Every Minute

Just today I realized that I really am a good person.  Nice.  Law-abiding.

It’s true. Because somehow today I did not live out my longest held fantasy.  One that I’ve wanted to enact since childhood.

I will admit that I was close to doing it.  Possibly closer than I have ever been to saying “What the Hell, I’m gonna do it! — Now!  Today!”

I will admit to seriously considering doing it just for the moment when I was struggling to get into the driver’s seat of my car today at lunch time.  The moments.  OK, it took half of my damn lunch hour.

You see, I had an important errand that I had to take care of.

But some asshole had parked so close to my car that I couldn’t even get my purse into the car from the driver’s side.

Did I deserve to be placed in this, ummm, position?  Did I park outside of the white line? No. I was parked just fine, thank you very much.  Parked within the designated parking spot.  Straight.  Did I mention that I was well within the white lines on both sides of my car?  Well I was.

I did not deserve to be treated in such a manner.

So when I realized that without liposuction, a detention in a concentration camp or a colonic, there was no way in hell I could get to the driver’s seat from the driver’s side.  I was annoyed, I stood there for minutes with my hands on my hips, glad there were no children milling about to increase their vocabulary.

But I had no choice; I had to go. So I walked to the passenger side of the car, to climb into the driver’s seat. I soon realized that the driver’s seat was as close to the steering wheel as vehicularly-possible.  I realized that I was also not supposed to exert myself following my surgery.

Did I mention that it was important that I go?

So I struggled to get my body into the driver’s seat without a cerebral hemorrhage.

Somehow, I managed.

The cerebral hemorrhage happened when I carefully backed out of my parking spot, and realized two things:

  1. There were 24.5 parking spots in that section of the parking lot alone, and five floors of empty parking spots on the floors above us; there was no reason for someone to park in such an assholic/inconsiderate manner.
  2. The car sported a special license plate.

Instantly, I started fantasizing. Within a heartbeat, I was transported back in time. Teleported to the very first movie I remember watching.

I was very young.  Young enough to be crabby that my brother, Bob, had control of the TV.  Annoyed that he was watching a movie instead of cartoons.  Annoyed enough to forget that as long as the TV was on I didn’t really care what was showing.  (I had, just that morning, been watching the test pattern.)

The movie was brilliant, and I have never watched the test pattern since.  It was called

If I Had A Million

 It was a compilation of a bunch of sequences where various characters were given a million dollars that they could spend however they chose.  It later became the TV series “The Millionnaire” where a wealthy man would give people $1 million as long as they didn’t tell where it came from.

Anyway, in the move If I Had A Million, WC Fields’ lady-friend Mary had just had her new car ruined by what we would today call an “asshole,” but who was then called a “Road Hog.” When WC Fields and Mary Boland  got their million, they knew just what to do:

They bought a bunch of old clunker cars, and whenever there was a road hog around, they would ram their clunker into him, causing the jerk to totally wreck his own car, along with theirs.  But that didn’t matter, because that was why WC and Mary had bought those old clunkers!

They did this repeatedly.  And it has been my fondest wish since I was about six years old, to be able to do that to the bad drivers, the folks who cut people off, who weave and edge and drive dangerously.

Revenge would be so sweet!

But in spite of being a wise ass, I am not an asshole. I did not smash the car that parked so inconsiderately. I did not accidentally-on-purpose run my keys along the $60,000 Audi Q7 SUV. I did not even spit in its general direction.

It was especially challenging because I realized that the owner is represents everything I hate. I realized that I’d seen him before, changing lanes discourteously.  He (and yes, it was a he) had an overpriced car that he drove like he owned the road.  And those specialty license plates?

Photo Credit:  VA DMV Website

The Asshole was A Tea Partier! Photo Credit: VA DMV Website

 

And I realized that I really needed to feel sorry for the dumb rich guy.  You see, this genius paid extra taxes to the Commonwealth of Virginia so that he could protest paying taxes.

Photo Credit:  izquotes.com

Photo Credit: izquotes.com

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, Elections, GOP, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Virginia, Wild Beasts

Yup. It’s Monday

Here’s how I knew that today is Monday.  All day of it.

 

Screen shot of my latest follower.

Screen shot of my latest follower:  getcoloncleanse. 

 

 

 

Yup.  It’s a Monday alright.  All damn day long.  Did I mention that?

66 Comments

Filed under Diet tips, Disgustology, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Humor, Mysteries

Places

The Beatles, as they so often did, said it best:

There are places
I remember
All my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some are gone
And some remain
All these places have their moments

I’ve always formed strong attachments to places. The house I grew up in in Connecticut. The house we bought in France across the border from Geneva. My office. Yes, I have a deep love of my office. Because when the company gave me that office, it was as if I’d gotten the winning office Lotto ticket.

For 11 years, I’ve dragged everyone I know up to my office to see the view. I’ve even taken you, my bloggin’ buddies up there a few times, like when the space shuttle flew over on its last lap and when two Supreme Court Justices visited us immediately after the oral argument on Obamacare.

From my three large windows, I can keep my eye on all things Washington. I can see much of official DC and a big hunk of Northern Virginia. Nobody in Our Nation’s Capitol gets on a helicopter without me knowing about it. And I can tell you for a fact that Dubya’s motorcades caused a lot more disruption than Obama’s do.

My pictures all suck.  But this is from the building's own website (Photo credit http://www.rosslynoverlook.com/image-gallery.htm)

My pictures aren’t as good. This is from the building’s own website (Photo credit http://www.rosslynoverlook.com/image-gallery.htm)

 

As you can see, my office overlooks the Lincoln Memorial up the Mall to the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, the Capitol Building. During the Inaugurations, from my office I could see the bunting hanging from the Capitol Building.  I can also see the Jefferson Memorial, the bridges, National Airport (which I will never, ever, ever call “Reagan Airport” while there is life in this body),  Arlington Cemetery.

The Iwo Jima Memorial to the U.S. Marine Corps is one of my favorite places to walk on nice days.  It lists all the major battles the marines have seen. The Iwo Jima doesn’t list the “Civil War,” though. Amusingly to this Connecticut Yankee, it lists “The War Between The States” because, after all, it is located in Virginia.

A picture from last night's walk.

A picture from last night’s walk.

The Pentagon is ahead, just to the right. Folks who were present that day heard the impact as the plane slammed into the side of the building there on the right, although no one actually saw it hit. They smelled the smoke, heard the sirens, saw the fire engines fly from every direction. For a while, when we were all still expecting an imminent attack on Washington, I worried that I might have a window on history to something I would rather not see.

View 4 Pentagon

That’s the Pentagon, behind the Netherland Carillion. Oh, and my window is very dirty. Gonna have to leave this place.

When there was a small earthquake in the middle of the day a few years ago, I watched (from my spot in the doorway) as government helicopters swooped in to inspect the bridges for structural damage before the ground stopped trembling. I’ve often imagined that drivers on the bridges must have felt like they’d suddenly stumbled into the filming of a James Bond movie, as the choppers dipped and spun to get a closer look.

A month after I started working there, a townhouse just down the road went up for sale. The ad highlighted the view from the rooftop terrace of the townhouse, and priced it at $2.25 million. I clipped the ad, taped it to the fridge in the kitchen with a note:

“Hey, we get PAID to look at this view!”

Sadly, today is my last day as an office space lottery winner. Monday, my company will begin the week in new office space.

I’m just not sure how I will be able to keep an eye on Washington for y’all.

Sigh.

 

Sigh.

 

 

90 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Huh?, Virginia

Our Own Waterloo

Writing about Venice the other day sent memories of other trips we took while we lived in Geneva flooding into my head.  And of course, travel was one of the reasons we took our adventure in Europe.

Sometimes when I write these pieces, folks tell me that they want to go there, too.  And frankly, that makes me nervous.  Because sometimes when I’ve made travel plans based on what someone else thinks would be great, I’ve been disappointed.  Sorely disappointed.  Especially when someone is sure I’ll love it.

A little bit of background is needed here.

Just a few months before John was offered the job in Geneva, my Mom died, leaving my father devastated.  My parents had a wonderful marriage, and they were devoted to each other for the 51 years they were married.  I wrote a little bit about them here.  Dad was, as he said, “a lonely polecat” from the moment she passed.

In spite of the fact that I hardly ever write about him, Dad and I were close.  Very close.  He was nearly 80 years old when John got the job offer.  I wanted to go, but I worried about not being “close” to Dad geographically – we lived in Northern Virginia and he lived in Florida.  So close was relative.

“Are you nuts?” Dad said when I expressed my concern about being so far away from him.  “GO!  It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.  Think of what you’ll see.  Think of the places you’ll go.  Me?  I’ll be fine.  I know you’ll make me feel like I’m with you every place you go.”  And I promised to live up to that promise – I would send him all the details our our life in Switzerland and all the places we would see.

And of course, he came to see us, and traveled with us, too.  But that is another story for another day.

So whenever we traveled, it was like Dad was there too.  In churches across the continent I lit candles for Mom on Dad’s behalf.  I bought picture books, postcards and gifts and remembrances of each and every place we visited, and sent them to Dad along with detailed descriptions of everything we did.  I tried to look at the scenery and the architecture and look for details that Dad would find interesting or amusing.  It was a labor of love.

When I mentioned to Dad that we were planning to spend Easter break, 1999, in Belgium and Holland, Dad said “Oh, you have to go to Waterloo!  I’ve always wanted to go there.”  We discussed the fact that just like the 20th Century began with the end of WWI, the 19th Century began with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.  A turning point in the direction of the Western world.  We talked of history and how the world might be different had that battle ended differently.

Waterloo sounded good to me.  I’m interested in history, and I do find battlefields fascinating.  Touring battlefields was a concession I’d made early on to my history major husband.  By that time I’d gone with John to a zillion Civil War battlefields and to the WWII battlefields of Normandy twice.  I like learning what happened to whom, what quirks changed history, and I love to imagine what it must have been like.   I love to follow the displays that are all around preserved battlefields.  In fact, I depend on those signs because I can never, ever, remember the details, no matter how much I read before going.

I find it fascinating to stand where history was made – to look at a landscape and imagine dodging bullets, mud, looking for cover.  I spent my childhood playing soldier, I can’t help myself.

Convincing my boys to go to another battlefield was a snap, even though Waterloo was several hours away from where we were staying in Bruges (a favorite city).  We got up early one morning, and headed off.

In spite of its large place in history, the town of Waterloo is fairly small.  There were few indications that anything much had happened there, or that much had changed over the centuries.   It was farmland when the battle took place, and it was farmland when we visited.  I’m betting that it is still farmland now, 15 years later.

The main tourist destination starts here, in a building that did not witness the battle.  That should have been a clue.

Waterloo Visitors Center and Theater. (Google Image)

Waterloo Visitors Center and Theater.
(Google Image)

In we went.  We quickly realized that despite what we knew from history, and from what we’d recently read in preparation for the trip, Napoleon actually won at Waterloo.  Because everybody inside was speaking French.  Not English (la langue de la victors).  Not Flemmish, the language of the actual place where we were standing.  French, the language of the guy who lost.  Shit.

Important footnote here:  By the time we arrived at Waterloo, we’d been living in a French immersion program for nearly two years.   Still, our French sucked.  As usual I was our designated French speaker – not because I was any better at it than John or Jacob, but because I have no reservations about looking like a dope.  In fact, I’m a natural.

Bonjour, madam,” I said to the woman selling tickets, “je voudrais trois billets.”

“Zree ticket,” she said as she gave me the tickets.  “You must zee zee film.  Zee next showing of zee film begins in 10 minute.”

“Oh, there’s a film?  Ummm, what language is it in?  Do we need headphones or are there subtitles?” I peppered her with nervous questions.  The tickets were expensive and it would be a waste of money for us to watch it in French.  We might just as well get no direction at all!  And just in case she hadn’t realized it, I added:  “Our French isn’t very good.”

“Yes I see.  But you vill be fine,” she responded after a pause where she valiantly managed to not laugh.  “You vill understand zis film as well as anybod-ee else.”

John and I looked at each other.   Understand it as well as anybod-ee else?  Clearly the clerk was overestimating our linguistic skills.

“I guess everybody leaves this movie clueless!” joked John.

Some things are best left unsaid.

So into the theater we went.  In spite of the clerk’s introduction, we still expected to learn all about the Battle of Waterloo, The French, The Prussians, the English, and whoever the hell else participated in the Battle.   To get an impression to go with what we would later see outside.

We were mistaken.  Because the film was not what we expected.  It wasn’t in French, it was French.  Very French.  And by that I mean that it was lovely, had great music.  And it was incomprehensible.  Obscure.  It made no sense at all.

It said “You Americanz, you should have learnt your histoire better before you came to zee zis battlefield where we French were beaten glorious.” 

Because that film sure as hell didn’t tell us a thing about The Battle of Waterloo.  It didn’t mention Napoleon.  Or Wellington.  Or tell us the name of that Prussian general.  It didn’t help me put into context what I had read about the battle.  It didn’t match landmarks with armies, for example.  It didn’t tell us who, what, where, how or why.

Nope.  Because, apparently, that battle that’s in all the history books?  It all happened, um, in a dream.

At least, that’s the impression we got.  The film started out with three children in modern dress.  Two boys and a girl played in the yard of a centuries-old farmhouse.  They approached the house, and noted bullet holes in the walls.  Just as they touched one of them, the yard filled with smoke.  Gunfire was heard – and not far away.  It was coming from near the film’s children!

I started worrying about those kids in the film almost immediately.  I mean, didn’t they know they were playing on a battlefield?  Run, kids, Run!

Suddenly, there were soldiers surrounding the kids, wearing old-time uniforms and pointing old time guns.  Some even sported bayonets.  The soldiers pushed through the yard of the farmhouse, marching, stepping on everything in their way.  Shooting those guns at the unseen enemy.  Some soldiers wore blue; others wore red.  Everything was oh, so confusing!

Gasp!  The kids were caught in a battle!  Maybe even the Battle of Waterloo!

Jacob leaned over to John:

“Dad,” he said, “This is weird.  Why aren’t they telling us what happened?”

Based on what we learned from the film, the Battle of Waterloo occurred in a time warp – and it included soldiers in multicolored uniforms and kids in modern dress.  And smoke and noise.  With an occasional scream from the little girl, the wuss.

No Smoking!  (Google Image)

No Smoking!
And DON’T SHOOT THOSE STUPID FUTURE KIDS! (Google Image)

John, Jacob and I giggled throughout the movie.  In fact, we left pretty sure that the movie was a joke, played only for American visitors, because you see, we were the only people there that day — it was early in the season.  Yup, that film certainly didn’t tell us anything about what happened on June 18, 1815, in one of the most celebrated military encounters in world history.

Luckily, though, Jacob and I regularly traveled with our own military historian.  So without really any more understanding than any of us had gone in with, we headed out the door to the actual battlefield.

Sort of.

Because the landscape doesn’t look like it did when the battle we were not learning about allegedly took place.

Nope.  If Napoleon Bonaparte himself got caught in that very same time warp, he would take off his bicorne hat and scratched his head as well as his tummy.  His horse would be pretty confused, too.  As would Wellington and that Prussian guy, whatever his name was.

Napoleon and His Horse, who is clearly rearing as a result of the time warp. Painting by Jacques-Louis David

Which way to Wellington? Zat way? or Zis way?
Painting by Jacques-Louis David

Because where there was perfectly flat farmland in Napoleon’s recollection, there was now a mound.  A man-made hill.  An enormous pile of dirt covered by grass with a sculpture of a lion atop of a very long, steep staircase.

Google Image

Google Image

I thought of Dad as we climbed the 226 steps to the top of the 141 foot Butte du Lion (allegedly it’s the Lion’s Mound, but you do get the best view of the Lion’s butt) to view the battlefield.  The Lion’s Mound was not there when Napoleon and Wellington were; it was built as a memorial to the soldiers who died there.

And it was just as well that Dad wasn’t with us on this trip; the climb would have finished him off, for sure.  Plus he wouldn’t have learned any more for his climb.  I certainly didn’t.

You see, the view from the top was, ummm, boring.

In addition to the lion, a pretty cool sculpture, there was only a very narrow pedestrian area from which you can see the battlefield/newly plowed farm fields that surround the mound.  You get a panorama of farm fields, from where you see a few farmhouses (including the one in the film!) and the Visitor’s Centre.

And that is all.

There was no information up there about the battle.  Nothing.  Nada.  Not a map, not a pointer, not a clue.

Nothing up there told us what happened below to change the course of history. Nothing explained how what happened there stopped the French conquests under Napoleon which resulted, albeit indirectly, in my poor French.  There was no map, no arrow, no indicator pointing to where the troops had come from or where they went.  Where were the French?  Did the Prussians come from East or West?  And the Brits?  Where did they start?  Where did they finish.  What the hell happened here?

And why were those damn kids in the middle of all of it?

Fortunately for Jacob and I, John, who knows everything, pointed out to Jacob and I what had happened and where.  How the Brits and the Prussians joined forces, how Napoleon was defeated and fled on foot for a while before being captured.  And so we learned a lot, Jacob and I, in spite of the absence of information at the information center and on top of the mound.

And I knew that I would thoroughly enjoy explaining the Battle of Waterloo to Dad with my rendition of the Tourist Board’s film.

*     *     *

I wanted to go to Waterloo because my Dad wanted to go.  And since he couldn’t, well, I did.  We did.  And it was a riot – we had a blast.

That is the thing about travel – it’s important to temper what someone else enthusiastically loves or wants to see with what you want to see.  But no matter what you encounter, if you find the fun even in disappointment, well, you won’t be disappointed.

Unless you get your travel tips from my Dad, that is.*

*You didn’t click on the link like I told you to, did you?

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Dad, Family, Holidays, Huh?, Humor

Hey Doc? Be Mine ♥!

Anybody who has read my blog knows that I’m really not keen on holidays.  Nope.  It stems from the fact that my family members have a nasty habit of dying on holidays.  It’s a competition.  Mostly, it’s an annoying game if you’re not playing.  AND I AM NOT PLAYING!

So I approached last Friday with a little bit of trepidation.  Valentine’s Day.  You’ll no doubt forgive me, but I hate to answer the phone on holidays, even manufactured ones.

But this Valentine’s Day changed my mind.

Yup.  It’s true.  From now on, I love Valentine’s Day.  And it has nothing to do with my husband, with chocolate or with flowers.  This Valentine’s Day, somebody saved my life.  And she did it by giving me the most terrifying news anybody ever has to hear.

CANCER

Yup.  It was my doctor.  And she told me I have cancer.  But just a little bit.  Because unlike with pregnancy, you can be ‘a little bit’ cancerous.

In all honesty, I knew it was coming.  I’ve know it for years.  Because I grew up a Cheeto.  My idyllic childhood was spent here, at my beach, hastening the inevitable.

Photo:  Offmetro.com

It was a lovely place to grow up.
Photo: Offmetro.com

For my entire childhood, I was baked to a crackly crunch.  Nobody ever used sunscreen or wore a hat.  Or sat under an umbrella.  If you put anything on your skin it was OIL to quick-fry you.

I was never one of the cool cats, though. Photo Credit:  gawkerassets.com

I was never one of the cool cats, though.
Photo Credit: gawkerassets.com

When the phone rang on Valentine’s Day, I sighed.  I don’t hear good news on a holiday.  You know that.

The call was to give me results of a biopsy done on a weird spot on my face.  A spot that had been there for quite a while, and that she had looked at several times before.  It had been ugly, but only damaging to my self-image.  Now?  It had become dangerous.

“Elyse, I’m so sorry — it’s malignant.”

That’s not something one ever wants to hear, no matter what day it is.  I’m proud to say, I took the news fairly stoically.  Well, kind of.  OK, a little bit stoically.  (I have a reputation to uphold, here.)  I fell apart later.  Minutes later.

She went on to explain that the cancer was brand new — caught really early. It hadn’t grown down, which is when it becomes serious.  It hadn’t even expanded out very far.  It wasn’t advanced, but I’d need to have it taken off and then I would be fine.  And that I should never go outside again without sunblock.

“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, Elyse.  And on Valentine’s Day!”

Now, now, bloggin’ buddy, don’t worry.  Remember, I am a fake medical expert.  I know just what to do.  In fact, I asked for this diagnosis.   Well, sort of.

You do not need to make your plans to attend a virtual funeral.  I’m not going to die.  Well, actually, I will, but it’s a good bet this spot on my face will not be involved.  No need to plan the fiesta.

Because mine is a ZERO.

If you have to have cancer, you want to be a Stage ZERO.  I don’t know how that still means I have it, but still.  Zero is good.  Ish.

I have Stage ZERO lentigo maligna melanoma.  It’s basically a sunspot gone bad.  I have already seen two doctors, and in the next couple of weeks, I will have it removed by a plastic surgeon.  And bye-bye cancer!

So why does this make me LIKE Valentine’s Day?  Why don’t I just add it to my list of hated holidays?

Because the diagnosis saved my life.  Really.

The cancer has been caught at the earliest possible point – it just started being cancer.  It hasn’t dug it’s nasty roots deeply into my face, it hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes.  It hasn’t metastasized to any one of a dozen organs.

If I hadn’t gotten that call?

If I hadn’t had that biopsy?

If I hadn’t seen my dermatologist?

Then, and only then, my melanoma  would have become deadly.

Now, why am I telling you all this?

It’s not to get some bloggy love, although that is always welcome.

It’s because I want to save your skin.  Right now.  Listen to me, and follow my instructions precisely:

  1. Go into your bathroom
  2. Take off all of your clothes
  3. Examine your skin
  4. Check spots, moles and discolorations carefully
  5. If anything doesn’t look right, if you have a bad feeling, if something is bigger or darker or just different, go to a dermatologist and have it checked out.

I could give you the statistics that I’ve naturally been reading compulsively.  But I won’t.  You’re welcome.

Instead I’ll give you a song by Eva Cassidy, a brilliant, talented singer who died of melanoma at age 33.  I have long loved her music, and have included her in some of my most heart-felt stories.  She was also the subject of a moving story on Nightline.

But I’m not trying to make you sad.  I’m not trying to drum up sympathy for me (because really, I will be fine).  But for all of us, for all those who love us, it is really important to remember:  It is a Wonderful World.  Let’s all hang around.

Please join me in saying thanks to the nurse practitioner who just didn’t think that spot on my face looked right, and biopsied it.  Megan, I will think of you every Valentine’s Day for the rest of my life.  Thanks to you, I have a shot at it being a very long one indeed.

Now – you guys reading this – go check out your damn skin.  What are you waiting for? GO!

Me, I’m busily thinking up intriguing stories to tell folks when they see that I have a scar on my cheek …

Perhaps I’ll get a pirate hat and a parrot!

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Cancer, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Holidays, Melanoma, Out Damn Spot!, Taking Care of Each Other