Friday, May 29, 2009

Living in a studio apartment

Woe is me.
The temporary life in a studio apartment -- even a charming one -- is unpleasant for me...

...And for my spouse.

The highlight of our life is carrying out Puttanesca Pizza again from Gialina's

And taking trips to classy joints in Memphis each year.

And, of course, wandering around our house remodel, in progress, waiting for the return to a normal life.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I’ve spent almost week in Atlanta working on my accessibility and mobility skills, which should help further build my qualifications for my work in this area. Rather than attending a conference or a TRB committee, this is about my mother, the woman who raised me and who now broke her ankle somehow while bending over the play with a two-year old at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. She undoubtedly moved hastily, something she does from time to time, and a trait I see in myself when I mindlessly move forward with my day to day actions. Her hasty actions meant multiple fractures and a few floating bone fragments in her ankle. As a result, she was drugged last Friday to have an orthopedic surgeon add screws and plates and release her back to a hospital bed at Emory Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital (yes, with the pretentious spelling of orthopedic, because this is Emory University, an institution that does whatever it desperately can to seem to be better than it really is). And this hospital is in Tucker, not exactly a posh locale.

Her bed was in a suite. A suite is what everyone in the hospital calls the place where your hospital bed is. It is the chamber where you recover and eat jello and watch a computerized TV that doesn’t work unless the facilities guy comes and signs in. A suite is a bland and dreary room that has no right to be called a suite. But once again, this is Emory, and they are all about marketing.

The nurses were very nice, although nobody adjusted the messed up sheets on my mom’s bed and most of them seemed pretty light on work, so they were chatting and chatting. The friendly dining service guy, Ricardo, came in and touted his amazing food options available to the hospital’s patients. I had already tried the soup downstairs and my mother told him that I thought it was awful. A hasty comment. After a night’s rest in the hospital and a day of checkups and physical therapy, I schlepped her home.

“It’s time to go. You’ll be more comfortable at home.”

And we were off, mom to her home for the next eight weeks and me to escape the confines of the hospital and the terrible food.

She’s recovering well. I don’t blame her for being worried about her recovery. I would be disappointed if I couldn’t walk on my right foot for eight weeks. It means she can’t drive, can’t walk out of the house, can’t go down to her mailbox, can’t easily get to work.

I dragged her out of the house on Monday. I told her we were going to the mall and Home Depot. After a few days of me running around and doing things for my mom, it was time to show her she could be confident enough to get out of the house and to do things in public. And she did, borrowing one of the mall wheelchairs at Lenox Square we went cruising all over and even bought a few shirts at Benetton. Then at Home Depot I ran in and got the wheelchair while she chatted with the temp employees out in front who were demonstrating the merits of Windex Outdoor Window Cleaner. Although she couldn’t move any more easily, she was out and about and people talked to her and were courteous. She’ll be able to do it again.

I’m now on my second flight of the day. My first flight was delayed because there were five wheelchairs on board, including one fairly overweight paralyzed man that took a crew of people to load on to the plane. The second flight was delayed due to thunderstorms, and an aircraft malfunction, but mostly due to a medical emergency. It looked like a man had a stroke in the back of the plane. The flight attendant made the man's wife move up to the front of the plane, in the seat in front of mine, and sit there by herself. Just as I was trying to strike up a conversation and let her know I was sorry and did she want a piece of chocolate or to use my cell phone, a friendlier flight attendant told her she could go to the rear of the plane while the doctor and nurse on board and the slew of EMS staff attended to the poor man. His wife told me they lived in San Jose. Instead they are spending the night in a Chicago hospital. And her husband will probably take a long time to recover.

A broken ankle is bad. But it’s not as bad as all of the other brain and kidney and stomach and heart things it could be. It’s not as bad as being completely paralyzed or having a stroke on a plane. I think my mom realizes that, but I know that when it’s your broken bone, it is the worst thing. I hope that she heals fast and walks faster and doesn’t let getting bummed out keep her from moving forward.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Random randomness

A little tipsy is what I am. No regrets. The flight attendant keeps refilling my glass and I keep missing the opportunity to politely say not so I keep saying thank you.

So I can’t write anything coherent, but I’m in the mood to share so this is how it’s done.

Tired of writing for work.
Done with editing for work.
Exhausted from work.

Bummed that I don’t get to spend my four-day weekend at home in San Francisco and an instead Joey Goldman from Atlanta, Georgia who is returning to Atlanta, Georgia for a week. Yay.

At 37,000 feet on a plane with new Somali immigrants being resettled in Atlanta. Makes being tired of work and tired of editing seem minor. No bombs or lack of government. Poor people will have to live in Atlanta. I guess it’s a better climate for them than Minneapolis. Why are there so many Somalis in Minneapolis? With Northwest being consumed by Delta, are the Somalis moving to Atlanta too?

Wine is good. I’m on my third glass. I plan to have my mom drink a lot of it. I’m on this plane to assist her while she convalesces post-ankle surgery. It sounds like she kind of shattered it. Poor thing will need pins stuck in there and won’t be able to walk for two months. So I’m taking the first rotation: the caring son to help around the house. To push her around in a wheelchair. To take her to surgery. To build a ramp in the backyard. To install some handrails outside. To give my mom more wine to go with her Percocet. Then my sister, the former Beth Goldman, now Mason, will swing by to provide her motherly/daughterly touches. Also to help: Aunt Kathi Miller and wonderful cousin Heidi.

Words that are not: Classy

Must shut down the computer now for landing. OK. Bye. Next time: more coherence is promised.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Yelling at terrible drivers

I’ve become very testy about bad drivers lately. One of the joys of driving is being able to cruise around with your windows closed while you scream things at people. Bad drivers. Slow drivers. Ugly cars. People with ugly faces. People with ugly faces who drive ugly cars badly. A car affords you the opportunity to blurt obscenities without others hearing you, avoiding the embarrassing confrontation you might otherwise suffer in a public locale. It’s a wonderful anger management contraption as long as you stay calm and focused on your own driving, channeling your aggression by tongue rather than the gas pedal.

My crabbiness in the car has been coming for a long time. I partly blame my father for this trait. When I was a child, he would drive us around Atlanta in our 1976 spitfire orange Dodge Aspen station wagon, with the CB radio cracking and squealing. He yelled at nearly everyone who drove by. Many of the comments were about women drivers, and my mom would give him a verbal wrist slap for those. He also called a lot of people “turkeys” and “rednecks” and I’m sure there were some “redneck turkeys.”

When you drive around in a spitfire orange Dodge Aspen station wagon, you are also recognized by a lot of people. Some of our friends and neighbors would always honk their car horns to say hi, which made matters worse, because the last thing my grouchy father wanted was people honking at him when he was on the road.

Sometimes, dad’s language was a bit rougher. I remember a bunch of “goddammits” and “shits,” again not warmly welcomed by my mother. However, he was reminded to watch his language not by my mother, but by my sister and me, from the back seat, telling him he should use better language – exactly what a cursing man wants to hear from his kids. My sister, Beth, coined the term “poopycat,” which she and I blurted every time my dad called someone a bad name.

Of course, when the CB radio was active, and it usually was, our language improved and we all spoke with heavy Southern accents. I don’t remember my dad’s handle, but I picked Bugs Bunny, like an idiot kid would, and later switched to Wild Child, enjoying the rhyme and feeling more like Willie Ames or BJ and the Bear. My dad relied on the CB radio to let us know if any smokeys were up ahead of the convoy blockading us on the right side of the interstate. My sister and I would take turns jabbering on the radio about smokeys and talking with truckers and getting that thrill of the open road. It was like the joy we experienced on school field trips, sitting in the last row of the yellow school bus and coaxing the truck driver behind the bus to honk his horn.

The CB was a wonder on the expressway, but not so great in parking structures. Yes, we were the dorks with the extraordinary antenna perched atop the spitfire orange Dodge Aspen station wagon: the antenna that made the loud scraping sound as we drove through the parking structure at Colony Square or Phipps Plaza.

Reliving my childhood. When I ditched the 1990 gray Honda Accord four years ago after 15 years of service and less than 60,000 miles, I was desperate for a station wagon. Fortunately for me, those spitfire orange Dodge Aspen station wagons are no longer made, and I would never opt for a Dodge unless I won it on a game show. I got the next best thing: a bright red Volvo wagon (if you don’t know what spitfire orange looks like, think bright red).

Now I drive around town in my red station wagon, cursing the frigging idiots who don’t know how to drive their Toyota Prius. (Have you noticed that a Toyota Prius is the new Volvo? People who drive them are horrible drivers. Volvo drivers have much improved and the people who would otherwise have bought Volvos have migrated to the Prius. That’s what allowed me to buy the Volvo in the first place, because I didn’t want to be one of those terrible Volvo drivers. I digress…). I yell at the people who don’t know that the car on the right has the right of way (there is a reason it is called “right of way”) in a four-way stop. I snarl at the people looking for a parking space, the people who drive 10 mph down a street signed for 25 mph. I am an asshole in the car. But I make sure my windows are rolled up. And the music is turned up.

It feels so good. It’s perfect anger management.

If only I could have a silencer wrapped around my mouth when I ride the Muni train. I would love to yell at my fellow passengers who block the doors when people are trying to get off or who wear their backpacks on the train, completely clueless that whatever the hell is making their bag stick out two feet behind their back is banging into me through the backpack fabric. I would love to tell the smelly people to get off the train. I would love to curse the terrible train drivers and tell them to do their damn job. But I cannot.

So, I save my comments for my car. In the four years I’ve had it, I’ve driven about 11,000 miles, which means I spend very little time behind the wheel. That doesn’t give me many hours to drive around yelling at people in my screaming box on wheels. I think that’s a good thing.

If I had more time, I’d have to edit myself to avoid becoming a bitter, belligerent driver. I would be stuck with poopycat. I prefer to grouse without those limitations.
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