I had one of those scares this week with a health thing that makes me bargain with God, wish on eyelashes, and just plain keep my fingers, toes and legs crossed. I went to the doctor on Monday because under one of my arms feels like it has a rash, but it doesn’t. I love my doctor, she’s very thorough, and she looked at it, saw nothing, and then felt it and said, “I think you have a thickening under that arm.” I have never heard the word thickening used with regard to fatal illness, but let’s face it, my underarm is near my boob, so I’m thinking whatever is wrong with me has something to do with said boob, and that something is probably going to kill me and by the time I left her office with the number of the Breast Center I had to call for an ultrasound, I had my goddamn funeral dress picked out.
This is how I am. And those who know me well, know that I have a Stephen Spielberg imagination when it comes to my health. I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac, but I’ve also had my share of health issues (none that were life threatening, but a parade of them since I was little), so drawing the most dramatic conclusion with a really thick magic marker is not based on just having a fertile sense of drama.
Anyway, I had to wait for two nights and one full day to go to the ultrasound to find out that apparently my lymph nodes are beautiful and what my doctor felt was just probably fat. YES, FAT. And guess what, I’m so fucking happy to be fat under my arm, you can probably hear me yelling from wherever the hell you are.
I left that appointment, sped out of the parking lot and got caught in horrible route nine rush hour traffic, but guess what? I didn’t care. I sang to the radio. I sat in the jam smiling. I was going to live. No need for a funeral dress. Or the gift bags I was going to have handed out after the memorial service. Nope, not this time.
Deepak Chopra is so smart and connected to the bigger world, that sometimes his ideas lose me. But this one is pretty simple. So simple, even I can understand it. Of course doing it, is not so simple. But this is another reminder to try.
Member the movie Momento. It was about a guy with a memory issue, who tattoos his whole body with stuff he has to remember. Actually, it’s a story he has to remember about something that has happened that he’s trying to avenge (I think, because actually, I don’t remember). Anyway, it’s a really good movie, but it reminded me of this post of mantras about how less is really more. I’d actually like to have some of these tattooed on me like the guy in the movie. They are all really true, really smart, and they seem to me to really be words you could live by (if you could remember to).
The Rye Bread from Rein’s Deli in Vernon, Connecticut is like crack cocaine, heroin and meth mixed up into a loaf of addictive heaven. I tell you, this stuff is impossible for me to resist if it is anywhere in my vicinity, which is why I’m glad I only encounter it a few times a year when I go visit relatives. At least it’s not readily available, taunting me 24/7. Truth: if it were, you could count on me to do pretty much anything for a piece. I would be in the Tab Incident Reports. I might even make something like People magazine. Yeah, that bad.
I don’t have celiac, but I have a gluten sensitivity. So basically, I mostly try not to eat gluten, but it won’t hurt me if I do, except I might get a stomach ache if I’ve had too much. I try and keep it out of my diet, but all bets are off, and stay outta my way if the Rye Bread from Rein’s Deli in Vernon, Connecticut is nearby. Honestly, lock up your young.
When it’s fresh, you can practically eat the whole loaf in a sitting. It’s firm, but chewy, and like the most luxurious summer day. After that, you need to toast it for maximum enjoyment, and slather it in butter for optimal results. This is a sensory experience of such gustatory joy, there are really no words that have yet been invented to properly express what happens when this bread meets your taste buds.
I am grateful for the maker, the baker, the people who cut these loaves in their fancy bread cutting machine so that I may place a piece in my mouth and create a parade. I like those people. A lot. Like, really a lot.
It’s funny how you can’t imagine some things. You give them some space in your mind every so often, to graze like cows on a farm, considering what they might be like. But not enough actual room to conjure up the real deal. This is the case with watching people you love get older and what happens to them, and how you don’t really think it will happen, even though you know it will, but there is such a gigantic leap across so many thousands of imaginary miles you have to take to believe it, that you ultimately just can’t until you’re in the actual situation. And even then, you feel like you’ve gone down the rabbit hole with Alice.
My uncle Louie has been in my life since I was born. A sturdy, funny, history teacher, master gardener, stellar chef, superior eater, realtor, and really good cheek pincher. His three boys have always been like brothers to me. His wife, as close as a blood relative. And when my mother, Lou’s sister died, they became like parents to me, and then like grandparents to my children.
Uncle Louie has a form of dementia now that has stolen his ability to speak. This, for a born talker, is cruel. This for a doer and mover and shaker is mean. His strong body is still going as hard as ever, but his mind has had a “gone fishin'” sign for quite a while now. And so here we are. In that unimaginable place. And though we’re here, it’s still unimaginable. I miss that guy, although he’s still alive. It’s ridiculous and terrible not only for the person (although is it? Hard to know), but for those who are still here. It’s a bitter challenge to grieve someone who is walking around.
It would be a good thing to figure out how to die better. The end part of life can be so harsh, robbing everything a person is, infecting them with all sorts of maladies that make them into shadows. Should we be more like library books? Should we have return dates? So grateful to have known him. My uncle. So lucky he once was mine.
Yesterday we spent like 100 hours in the car trying to get to Connecticut. First Al had a doctor’s appointment, so we packed and went to that, but I had to stay in the car with the dog, or he would freeze his paws off. Then Peter had a conference call presentation to Germany for an hour, while I drove. I don’t like to drive on the highway unless I can sing really loudly with my really bad voice. But you can’t do that if there is a work call to Germany going on. But I made some good time and things were moving along. Then we went to our favorite diner in the world, which is a family tradition for maybe 30 years, Rein’s Deli. There’s always a line and you do not want to miss the pickles (shout out to Lee!), which are maybe Ally’s favorite food on the planet, and beyond, or the rye bread, which is maybe one of my favorite foods in the beyond the beyond, or the cheesecake, which we all LOVE. When we got back into the car, it was raining, well actually pouring. The visibility was like having a thin veil of white sheeting over your eyes. And the sides of the road were flooding, so every once in a while we’d get splashed by another car that would render us totally blind. Then there were the small lakes we’d run into and do a little hydroplane dance. I was starting to get a headache, a little car sickness. THEN, the traffic stopped, just like that. Our trusty GPS had those nasty red diamonds for miles. We stopped, we started, we stopped, we started. I began to get insanely car sick and felt like I might throw up on myself. I opened the windows. The car continued to jerk a few inches at a time. At this point, I thought that I would like to go and dip my head into one of the larger ice puddles for some relief. This went on for over an hour, before we began to move past a three car accident, where one of the cars was crumpled up into a tiny square of metal. The traffic disappeared, and we flew the rest of the way to the hotel. Ah, if only my head felt better. But by then the damage was done and I was into a full on migraine of hell. I laid down and napped, sort of, but I still felt like a drunken dreidal when I got up. But we were only to be in Connecticut for one night because of schedules, and so I was going to go out to dinner with my favorite aunt and my cousins, (my uncle Louie, who is my mom’s remaining brother can no longer come to dinner and this fact is a story unto itself, the pain of, I shall not discuss today) come hell or hellish migraine. We had missed our traditional Thanksgiving this year, which I have been doing since I was a kid, because we were in Barcelona, and this was our only free moment to see them and so I was going to, whether I had to vomit on them, or not.
What I usually do when I have a migraine (after a distinctive period of getting them four times a week and being treated by a specialist, and finally ridding myself of them through diet and acupuncture after three years) is take Compazine, which is a drug for nausea, and I usually always have them with me, but of course, I didn’t, so I did the next best thing and went to CVS for Bonine, which is a similar sort of thing, used for sea sickness.
We met at a great restaurant in Danbury, Della Francesca, where we have been many times and where the food is stunningly delish. I had the bolognese and honestly I almost licked the plate (I think I might have, what with the Bonine and glass of Pinot). We had a bunch of laughs and discussed a million things as our usual A.D.D. selves.
Anyway, headache, traffic, no singing, it was still worth it to see people who mean EVERYTHING, AND I MEAN EVERYTHING to me, and who I do not get to see enough of. Grateful. (And happy to say headache-less.)