I have been neglecting my blog. And by association, I guess, anyone who reads my blog. And that means you. Sorry about that. It isn’t that I don’t want to write anymore. Or that I no longer have anything relevant to say (not that everything has to be relevant).

But it is true that lately I have not felt that pressing, unignorable urge that kept me up past my bedtime so many nights. There I’d be under the covers with the lights out, face illuminated by the 11-inch screen of my Mac Air, tapping away while a seedling thought blossomed into a fragrant and at times unanticipated flower… or turd, as the case may be. I mean you can’t achieve greatness every time, people.

Yes. Lately I’ve spent a great deal of time wondering why I don’t write more often. Because in the beginning I had to write each and every day. I needed to do it; I demanded it of myself. And sitting down to do so was like breaking the dam. My thoughts burst forth and gushed out.

I guess the way I felt about my blog in the beginning is sort of analogous to the way you feel as an adolescent with your first major crush. First, you glimpse your crush (or is it crushee?) and you wonder what it would be like to talk to them, to spend time with them. You really want to approach them but for a number of reasons (you are shy, nervous, you have a big zit in the middle of your forehead, you fear rejection) you just don’t get up the nerve to do it. When you find yourself in close physical proximity to them you begin to sweat a little, to feel simultaneously exhilarated and uncomfortable, like you might burst right out of your own skin.

So then you one day get up the nerve to talk to this person and you both have so much to say and it all pours out over Orange Fantas (I suppose kids nowadays just go to Starbucks) and then you realise that not only was it love at first sight (probably more like infatuation), but also you have found your soul mate (probably not) and you begin to eat, drink and breathe one another.

That feeling lasts for a little while and you find it difficult not to be distracted by it as you go about your day. When you are with the person it is utter bliss and when you are not you are constantly seeing things you want to show them, thinking of things you want to tell them, imagining how they taste, remembering how they smell.

But then one day, you realise that the feeling isn’t quite as intense. Something’s gone off. Maybe you go to lunch and you feel suddenly outside of yourself, looking in on the pair of you. Your crush is talking. You see their mouth moving and you realise they are actually boring, or a narcissist, and that they are getting on your nerves. Or things that you once found endearing now irk the shit out of you. Like that stupid piebald jean jacket they always wear that’s actually really dorky. What was charming and quirky becomes intolerable.

This is the point of no return. You will not get past this feeling. The party’s over. You want to feel the way you did at first but you just won’t. Sure, you can fake it for a short while, but you cannot put off the inevitable for long. You need to move on.

Okay, maybe I’ve taken this analogy just a little too far. I absolutely do not feel as if I have reached a point of no return with my blog. And I do not find writing even remotely irksome or annoying. I don’t want out. But something has changed. The question is what?

You know what I think it is? My focus has shifted. I am moving on. I am moving on with my life after one hell of a year. However, I don’t need to leave my blog behind. My blog is about more than what happened to me, after all. It’s about everything and nothing. It can evolve with me. Why not? And if at this moment in time it no longer seems as urgent or as reckless, perhaps it has already evolved from a childish infatuation into a maturelong term relationship. It’s steady and trustworthy. It has roots. The novelty has worn off but the pleasure has not. And whatever I write about will be through the lens of a changed person, of a person affected by you-know-what.

Incidentally, before I started my blog I faced a number of obstacles, or at least I thought I did. As it turned out, none was particularly difficult to navigate. But that didn’t stop me from hand-wringing over them and delaying the start for weeks. I had to pick a name and buy it. I had to get my own site so it wouldn’t be hosted or controlled by anyone else. I had to learn how to do the blog at all since I was totally clueless (still mostly am unfortunately but at least I can manage blog posts). Also, in the early days I had so many simultaneous ideas whizzing around inside my head like lotto balls in one of those air draw machines. You know the ones — some lady comes on after the 10 o’clock news and turns on the power and air blows those little suckers around until one of them goes up the tube and is thus selected. That’s sort of my creative process in a nutshell, really. I switch it on, them balls fly around and it’s anybody’s guess what will get sucked into that tube and emerge the winner for the day.

I tried to find a short video of such a machine for you in case you don’t know what one is — for all I know if you are not American and of a certain age you are really lost — but the one I saw is so boring that no one, I mean no one, would watch it. Seriously, the first video I came across was some deal from the 1980s from a Canadian lottery (from Ontario I think) with a lady in a silky (but probably synthetic) blouse with shoulder pads and one of those thin bows in the front like the female version of the tie and a frumpy man with unflattering glasses and I almost chewed my own arm off while watching it so… I’ll spare you. Sorry if those are somebody’s parents or you love the Ontario lottery or something. But you’ll get over it. And please don’t pretend to be offended just because you are Canadian, eh?

Correction to Only the English

Have you read “Only the English?” It was my latest post. Well a number of people have pointed out that “Clowns Nursery” is of course not a plant store at all, but a preschool. Of course this is true and this explains the large sign they have along the path displaying a — big shocker — clown — holding balloons which apparently greets the children and their parents upon arrival. This also explain why people ran after me the other day when I picked up a couple of bay laurels and left money and hopped on the 268 bus.

All I have to say is that I apologise for any confusion. I was having an American moment, you dig? Anyhow I wouldn’t trust those clowns with my children.

Only the English

Everyone is sick and tired of the whining so I’ve decided to stop that bullshit, regroup and come up with a decent post. Relieved? Oh goody — me too. For a moment there I thought I was Sally Struthers.

I have some special things to share with you. I keep seeing these things out of the corner of my eye. Things I didn’t mean to notice only after I noticed them I couldn’t help but marvel, simply marvel, at their awesomeness, their absurdity, forgive me — their Britishness.

Now I know there are a great deal of silly things in the United States and strangely named towns and this and that and once my husband bought a package of almond macaroons from Whole Foods and for some inexplicable reason I happened to examine the label to discover that some joker had typed in the company address as [fill in the number] Dickhead Avenue. We both laughed out loud for a good long time about that one. In fact I still laugh about it. Because I am about as mature as my eight-year-old.

But seriously, Dickhead Avenue has nothing on these guys. And it was TRYING to be funny. On purpose.

So I’m in Boots the other day (that’s the big chain pharmacy for you losers who have never been to London and don’t know what I’m talking about — oh and by the way they even sell Boots products at Target now so if you haven’t heard of it you really are a loser. Sorry.) looking for cold medicine. Turns out they keep the good stuff (yes Sudafed) behind the counter just like in the US except you don’t have to show ID, you can just look them in the eye and swear that you are not going to cook up some crystal meth in your kitchen and they will happily sell you the stuff. Although I’ve never asked for multiple boxes. I’ll try that next time for kicks…

Anyhow I totally digress. So I’m scanning the shelf for a good cold remedy when for no apparent reason a small white box on the next shelf over toward the bottom beckons.

Exhibit A:

photo copy 2I mean, are you fucking serious? In case you don’t have your reading glasses on, the description says “Relief from the pain & discomfort of trapped wind.” And yes there is a person who appears to be female and naked holding her stomach with one hand and covering her tits with the other hand. Really? Is this product trying to be sexy? Sorry, but something called “WindSetlers” cannot by definition be sexy. I mean they even spelled it with one “t.” Appalling.

I almost bought some so I can take it next time I have a bean salad for lunch and am invited that night to a cocktail party. I figure I could fart loudly and when people glance my way, look all matter-of-fact and whip the box out of my handbag and say “what? I took a WindSetler.”

Maybe you don’t find this funny and that’s fine but you are no friend of mine.

Here’s another one that I’m including special for my friend, Kate.

Exhibit B:

photo copyThat’s right. Look closely. It’s “Tooty Pecans.” I found these at our local grocery store. I’ve passed them every other week for months, probably, but only the other day did I make the connection. In fact, there is a whole line of products called “Tooty.” As in, I assume, “tooty fruity?” Well Kate knows very well that “toot” is just a term of art for passing gas, or releasing “trapped wind” as the case may be. “Tooty” is simply the adjective. And you thought it was the sound that Thomas The Tank Engine makes. I bought some of these and I’m going right back to Boots to get some WindSetlers so that if the pecans work as advertised I’ll be all set.

My last little gem is something that I happened upon in the parking lot of my GP’s office in Golders Green.

Exhibit C:

















Okay. This is a place that sells plants and shit. So it doesn’t have to have that serious a name. But seriously, you picked the name “Clowns” for your business? I mean you’re just asking for it. I could never buy anything there because I don’t want to do business with those clowns. And I would certainly never park there because it clearly states that parking is for clowns management only. Clowns management? I wonder if even Ringling Brothers has such a thing as a clown manager. If they do he should fly right over here and park in this parking lot though because he’d have a hell of a good argument if they tried to clamp his wheel. I don’t know much about the libel laws here but hopefully the owners of this joint won’t read this and sue me because they are pissed off I made fun of their sign.

All I have to say is, listen, bozo, if you do own this business and you are pissed off, please don’t sue me. I promise to buy a palm tree or maybe a unicycle from you to make you happy.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

You’re probably used to my cheerful, optimistic posts and my sunny disposition. Maybe sometimes you even want to know if I’m for real or if it’s hate hate hate and more hate when I close the MacBook Air for the evening, despite the fact that most posts end on an up note.

Well if you’ve been skeptical you’re in for a treat tonight because I am royally pissed off. I had a hell of a morning.

It all started last night when I had trouble falling asleep. I deliberately don’t look at the time when I have trouble settling down because knowing just how little sleep I am about to get in the best case scenario just makes it worse. I highly recommend this tack if you haven’t tried it. To further induce the Zzzz’s I put in one earplug in the ear facing up. The pillow against the ear facing down muffles sound enough on that side and I don’t want complete sensory deprivation in case the riots start again or the rats come back and run up the stairs or something.

Then I had a series of nonsensical and mildly disturbing dreams none of which I can quite recall but some of them involved my two illegitimate children with different fathers and my attempt to explain this situation to someone in an office I have never been to for unknown reasons. I promise this was just a dream, dear. When I woke up I immediately knew something was wrong because there was far too much light in the room for it to be 6:30. I looked at the clock. It was 7:09. My older daughter’s bus comes at 7:30.

I uttered expletives à la Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral although I wasn’t late for a wedding and hurtled myself up the stairs to wake the kids.

“Get up, sweetie,” I said to Isabel. “Mommy overslept and it’s already ten past seven.” You only get away with referring to yourself in the third person if you are a mother, a grandmother or Bob Dole. Miraculously she kicked into action, realising the gravity of the situation. She was downstairs, dressed, with teeth brushed within about seven minutes. I even managed to make her lunch, brush her hair and argue with her about how cold it was or wasn’t and why she did or didn’t need a parka before the bus showed up.

I then ran upstairs and took a Tamoxifen, which I normally take at 6:30, right when I get up. At that time I also normally take a levothyroxine for my underactive (formerly overactive) thyroid — yes I only get weird things for which I have to take daily pills, ruining forever any desert island fantasy I ever start having (it goes something like this: I am stranded on a desert island… oh crap if I don’t have my pills I would die — fantasy over). I take the thyroid medication at 6:30 for good reason; I am not supposed to eat for one hour after taking it (or take it for two hours after eating) and I want my breakfast as soon as possible.

But this morning I did not take the thyroid medicine with my Tamoxifen because it would have meant waiting until past 8:00 to eat anything. Unacceptable. I figured I would eat first and then wait the requisite two hours after eating and take it then.

A bit later this morning I was in my room studying my reflection and came to the conclusion that as much as I don’t want it to be true, my eyebrows and eyelashes are falling out AGAIN. I am not very happy about this. I heard it could happen but I had really thought the issue was done and dusted, as we say here in England. Yogi Berra’s quote came to mind: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” But that was the only funny thing about it. While studying my patchy lower left lid, the phone rang. I missed the call. Plus our land line is broken anyhow so although you can place or receive a call, the instant the call connects it is dropped. So you get to hear or say “hell-” and click it’s dead. WTF. I pressed the caller ID button and saw that it was my husband, who was calling the landline even though he knew the phone was broken. WTF again. Maybe he had heard about my two illegitimate children…

I called him back on my mobile phone. While speaking to him, I hustled over to my night table where I was supposed to take that thyroid medication, having eaten breakfast a while before. Because I was distracted, however, I took another Tamoxifen. Swallowed it right down about a nanosecond before I realised what I had done. “Shit,” I thought. I got off the phone with my husband and then called the nurse to make sure two pills in one morning wouldn’t kill me. Of course it wasn’t that big of a deal. They said it would be fine and that I should resume the normal dose tomorrow. That was a relief, because I didn’t really want to have to shove my fingers down my throat even though I had just seen Clare Danes do a hell of a job at it on Homeland only last week.

After suffering about five minutes of psychosomatic nausea, I took the thyroid medication as previously planned and decided to try to fix the phones. I rebooted the base station for the cordless handsets, which of course did nothing. That means I have to call Virgin and try to talk to an actual person tomorrow, since the computer and the automated call centre have informed me that my line is working perfectly (super). And the last time I had to talk to Virgin I reached a nice lady at a call centre in India and had to explain that they had given me a phone number that had already been assigned to the urology department at the Royal Free Hospital. You cannot make this shit up, people.

So, let’s take stock of my day so far: slept through alarm, felt like head was run over due to not enough sleep, confirmed eyelashes and eyebrows thinning, phones broken and attempt to fix them unsuccessful, almost poisoned myself with anticancer medication. Not great. Oh and did I mention the nagging post radiation pain on the underside of my right “boob” that drove me nuts all weekend because it not only hurt, but along with the newly thinning eyebrows and eyelashes, served as a constant reminder that I had cancer and have had all this revolting draconian crap done to my body in the recent past?

So I did the only thing I could do to turn things around. I rallied and went to the gym. And it did help. What really helped, though, was meeting my husband for a greasy cheeseburger at The Albany (pub really near Great Portland Tube Station) after my workout. A burger was just about what the doctor ordered. And now I am going to bed, sort of on time, thank you. Right after I ever so gently remove my mascara and try not to disturb any weak lashes in the process. Those fuckers had better grow back fast.

If this continues I might have to get lash extensions or just flat-out fake lashes. Fake boobs, why not fake lashes too? Hell by the time I’m through I might be 75% plastic instead of 75% water.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow is a better morning. G’night.

We’re Sexy and We Know It

I’ll bet you’re wondering what this one will be about. Hmmmm? I promise it isn’t about Fifty Shades of Grey, which I still haven’t read. Though I have it on good authority that a gal I know announced in polite company that her husband said she didn’t need to read it because she had already done everything in the book. Yes, well, thanks for sharing. And ew.

But I digress, as I tend to do.

No, this is about just how sexy my husband and I are every night when we go to bed. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, WTF how can she write about such a topic when she just dissed some chick for giving TMI (that’s “too much information” for the over forty-five set — learn text speak people) about her own bedroom frolics. But really, you have no idea what I am going to write. So read on.

I’m going to let you in on our little bedtime rituals. And they are so awesome that once you’ve read this you are going to run, not walk, to the appropriate places (well maybe tomorrow if you are reading this at night and such places are closed now) so that you too can have a little bit of wonderful every night. Really spice things up.

Good Lord you aren’t reading this with your kid looking over your shoulder, are you? Well if so it’s time for junior to go to bed. The last thing I want to be is inappropriate for crying out loud.

So every night after I change into my pyjamas and wash my face — oh and in case you were wondering I use Dr. Hauschka products which totally saved my skin and got me through chemo and don’t contain evil carcinogens wish they were paying me to write this crap — and brush my teeth and floss (as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, you shouldn’t  neglect your gums and I always take dental hygiene advice from hookers cuz I figure they oughtta know…), I put it in.

My mouthguard, that is.

Yup. A dentist politely informed me while I was in college that I grind my teeth. “You’d better start wearing one of these,” he said, “or you’ll grind your teeth down to [insert appropriate hand gesture indicating something teeny] by the time you’re [insert age that sounded really old at the time but now is probably in the next ten years]. “Uh, okay,” I said. And after blowing that advice off for a few years I finally succumbed and had a mouthguard made. And have worn it every night since.

Now, it isn’t as big and thick and awful as the kind I used to wear to play field hockey but it isn’t exactly small either. It is this clear (well it used to be clear when it was new at least) plastic-y thing that fits over your top teeth and prevents you from grinding in the night. Works well and relieves a lot of pressure — after all, TMJ (no this is not text speak, but rather a medical term; it means temporomandibular joint syndrome) is what landed me in that dentist’s office in the first place.

So picture this. Here I come, into the bedroom, fresh and clean and wearing a big plastic mouthguard that makes my upper lip stick out to kingdom come and gives me a thlight thpeech impediment. Are you turned on yet?

But wait, there’th more.

A few years ago I noticed that almost without fail every time my husband falls asleep he immediately starts to clench his jaw and grind his teeth. It happens anywhere, in bed, in a chair, on a sofa at Pottery Barn, on planes, you name it. So I inform him in my superior preachy way that he grinds his teeth and needs to visit the dentist to get his very own mouthguard or else he’ll have a heap of dental problems in his future.

Why suffer alone, after all?

Naturally he didn’t listen to me. He just keeps on grinding and chomping away in his sleep until he cracked his teeth and then the dentist said “oh, say, you grind your teeth and need a mouthguard.” And he comes home and reports this to me like it is the first he’s heard of it.

Well, needless to say I wasn’t too sympathetic. Anyhow now he has a big ole plastic mouthguard too which deforms his upper lip and causes him to talk funny. The only difference is that I quickly got used to mine and just slap it in my mouth every night and am thankful for it whereas he bitches and complains that it is awful on a regular basis. But it must be less awful than cracked molars because he’s still wearing it.

We are quite a sexy pair, no? But wait, now for a limited time, there’s even more…

Since we moved to London, and in doing so sold our cars, we walk a great deal more than we used to. For many reasons this has been terrific, because we get a lot more exercise walking around and don’t have to deal with parking, etc. However, Bill suffers from plantars fasciatis, which he describes as a sharp pain that feels like a marble on the bone in the middle of his heel every time he takes a step. He’s tried exercises and resting (and bitching about) it to no avail.

So finally he saw a podiatrist who recommended that Bill purchase special foot braces that are supposed to hold your feet at right angles in the night and thus relieve the pressure on the fasciae. The doctor provided him with a link to the appropriate item on a website. After looking it up Bill sent me an email with the link and the simple subject line “you have got to be kidding me.”

Yup. So now after we have cozied into bed with our glorious mouthguards, Bill straps on his not-so-small foot braces to hold his size thirteens (US not UK) in place.

We are only forty (me) and thirty-eight (insert not-very-funny-or-creative jokes about how I robbed the cradle) and here we are with all this gear already.

I honestly don’t know what is next. Perhaps one of us will develop sleep apnea, requiring the sufferer to wear an oxygen mask attached to a large tank which will be discretely (not) stored next to the bed. Or perhaps someone will get carpal tunnel and have to sport wrist braces.

I’ll tell you one thing; if we have to put on much more crap every night we won’t be able to travel anywhere without a full-sized trunk to haul around our weird gizmos.

One upside, I figure, is that if we ever want to try out some shit from Fifty Shades, the gizmos might come in handy. 🙂