Monday, September 30, 2013

I’m Definitely Going to be One of Those Old Ladies No One Can Stand to Be Around in the Nursing Home

If I'm lucky.

Thank goodness, at the moment I feel sufficiently unburdened by my catastrophic, unthinkable and impossible loss to start complaining about my health again! As follows:

Friday night, Tom and I went to Santaneca and I had what I have virtually every week and greatly enjoy: two bean pupusas with casamiento and avocado. This normally delectable dish tasted awful from the first bite, and I almost considered not finishing it, but refused to let my stomach seize the upper hand, as it were—I always eat this, and I always enjoy it—so I ate every bit of it, and then felt completely terrible.

We had planned to see the Metallica movie in the IMAX theater at the Metreon, but someone had given Tom two tickets to the baseball game, so we went to AT&T Park instead. Our seats were way up high and the view out over the bay was magical, though also made me cry briefly—such a vast Carlos-free expanse. I disapprove of all these spaces where there isn’t any Carlos.

I should say I had no desire whatsoever to go to a baseball game, but Tom has done me an enormous number of favors over the years, so I didn’t utter a word against this plan and resolved to be a good sport, and the experience was generally agreeable, what with the Kiss Cam (particularly the crowd-pleasing fellow who let his tongue loll out about five inches before kissing his friend), the Dance Cam, the Stretch Cam, the rapper, the awards ceremony, prizes given to random ticketholders, and people driving around the perimeter of the field dressed up as goofy animals. I asked Tom, “Why don’t they just play the game?” and he explained these things occur while the commercials are being shown on TV.

In addition, there seemed to be some people far, far below doing something with a ball but I couldn’t really tell what they were up to. I believe they were called the “Giants” and also the “Padres,” and I was glad none of them were the “Dodgers,” because someone had been stabbed to death two days beforehand outside the same ballpark when the “Dodgers” were there.

Lately I have felt nauseous from time to time, and smells that have never bothered me before now seem awful, such as someone in a nearby apartment cooking dinner, and ones that have long been troublesome are now unbearable, such that I actually walked to the building next door (which I’ve never done in the 15 years I’ve lived here) and asked a complete stranger to please either not leave his sheets on the clothesline for three days or switch to unscented detergent. When I reported that to Tom, he asked, “How did that go?” It didn’t go that well, I must say—there was actual cursing on the part of the other party—but on the other hand, the guy did actually quit putting seven sheets out there and leaving them there for days. (What line of work is he in, anyway?)

So the worst part about the ballgame was the people behind us, whose conversation was roughly this: “Should we have our garlic fries and then our cotton candy, or should we have our cotton candy and then our garlic fries?”

The authority weighed in: “You have your garlic fries and then your cotton candy.”

“Got it. But which is better, the pink cotton candy or the purple cotton candy, and when are we going to have chicken, and when are we going to have doughnuts?”

I wanted to turn around and yell, “Jesus H. Christ, can you please stop?”

The next day, Saturday, I never felt hungry, but, after coming back from tea with a friend, instructed myself to have a small bowl of oatmeal—the strawberries tasted bad—and after that, I called Tom to say I wasn’t going to be able to go to the Metallica movie that evening, did a little Googling and got in bed and stayed there until Sunday. It turns out that many people on the Internet make mention of a heightened sense of smell that sets in with menopause and makes food taste strange and seem unappealing. A heightened sense of smell is about the last thing I needed.

On Sunday, it was off to Rainbow and when I came home, I wasn’t hungry, but I ate something anyway, which tasted good at first, but then not good, and after I ate it, I felt unwell plus extremely fatigued and had to lie down. Despite knowing this is likely just some weird menopause thing, I was by this time totally convinced I had stage four ovarian cancer and was sobbing over how Hammett is going to grow up without me and who’s going to drive him to college when the time comes, and so forth. I pictured my relatives in my walk-in closet looking fondly at all my pairs of baggy green cotton pants and dabbing at their eyes with hankies.

Then I pictured Hammett clawing every single piece of furniture in my parents’ house and being dropped off in front of the Ypsilanti SPCA.

Plus, come on! I’ve had ten months of hot flashes so far and they are only gaining in intensity; now I turn beet red and start to sweat. Plus Carlos is dead, and now I’m going to not be able to eat or have to lie down every time I do? One of these has to not be: either Carlos has to come back to life, or I have to be able to eat.

There is no screening test for ovarian cancer, as you know, and the symptoms can be identical to digestive problems, so quite often, by the time you know you have it, you’re going to die of it. I have apprised my physical health professionals of my concerns, and will have a test or two this week.

But I suspect and hope that it’s probably a matter of learning how my new nose and stomach work and making the necessary adjustments.

I wasn’t hungry this morning, but had an important meeting to conduct at work, so I had my normal breakfast, but less of it and with less cinnamon, and I felt not any worse afterward. Relieved.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Two Can

I’ve been picking up El Tecolote lately, a neighborhood newspaper that has every article in both English and Spanish, so you can try to read a story in Spanish, but consult the English if you get stuck, though I suppose the idea is mainly to help Spanish-speaking immigrants learn English.

In the current issue, I noticed an article with colorful photographs toward the back, about an upcoming event, but didn’t look at it carefully until I got to that page. Then I thought, “Wait a minute—is that—?” And sure enough, in the center of the page was a little photograph of Carlos dressed up as a giant toucan at the same event last year.

My mother was commiserating (for the umpteenth time) over his loss lately, saying, “He was a vivid presence. Even from 2500 miles away, he was a vivid presence.”

I was pleased to hear, on NPR, two stories I already knew about from reading El Tecolote! In fact, having had to labor so extensively to read them, they had really stuck in my memory.

I also have saved Radio Mujer (Women's Radio), from Guadalajara, Mexico, as a favorite on my Squeezebox Boom, to help with my pronunciation, which is terrible. I like to employ my spoken Spanish on every possible occasion, of which there are many, but I always start by saying, “Lo siento, yo pronuncio mal, pero
”  I’m sorry, I pronounce badly, but I would like a burrito.

Yesterday a woman was saying on the radio (in Spanish!) that a couple can have opposite preferences, which can be complementary, or a source of stress. One example is religion!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I ran into a friend of Carlos’s who said that the clerk at the produce store at 24th and Valencia recently told her, “You know who I miss? That old guy with the white beard,” or words to that effect, and she told Carlos’s friend about how one day he was reaching up to get an item from a high shelf and she joked, “Jump!” and he replied, “Oh, sweetheart, if I jump up, I’ll never come down.”

Monday, September 02, 2013

Historic Occasion

While on my health-bestowing constitutional through the Mission this afternoon, I came upon the elderly and, to my eye, quite handsome black gentleman to whom I always give a dollar or two. We often enjoy (well, not sure how much he enjoys it) a brief incomprehensible exchange.

“Happy Labor Day, sir!”, I screamed, mindful of his failing hearing.

He replied, “This is the first time in 51 years Labor Day has fallen on this day—September 7!”