AN IMPATIENT PATIENT

I’d love to meet the brilliant idiot who first called a doctor’s client a ‘patient,’ because that’s the last thing I am.  Can you remember the last time your doctor was actually ON TIME?  I can’t.  This has nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the endemic, habitual tardiness among those in the medical profession. Once, I sat in the stirrups waiting for my gynecologist for almost an hour.  Finally, I walked out into the hall, half naked with a paper around my waist, only to be told, “Why, we plum forgot about you!”  
 
Now my grandmother brought me up to “Never keep anyone waiting, dear.  Their time is just as important as yours.”  So, unless a sinkhole opens under me, I’m on time.  Yesterday I arrived at 1:50 for my 2 PM with the dermatologist and asked the receptionist: 
“Is Bozo running on time?”   
“Oh, yes, I believe so.”
“You ‘believe?’ Or is he actually running on time?”
“Well, you’re up next!” she replies cheerily.  (Not a lie—but not exactly the truth either).
 
I poll the patients in the waiting room just to be sure.  Three of us have the same doctor, and we’re scheduled 10 minutes apart.  What I don’t account for are the ones already inside waiting rooms.  At 2:20, I’m finally called back, and the nurse hands me a paper gown.
 
“Take everything off except your underwear and put this on,” she commands.
“I think I’ll wait,” I reply.
“What?” 
“Well, last time I sat here almost an hour wearing that flimsy thing and froze.  So, this time, I’m waiting until the doctor is actually coming in.”
 
She wasn’t pleased and left in a huff.  A full 25 minutes later, she returned.
“You can put the gown on now.  The doctor will be right in.”
 
I put it on, then waited.  I got up and paced until I found a warm corner in the room and stood there–fuming.  At 3 PM, he finally made his entrance.
“What are you doing over there?” he asked nonchalantly.
“Waiting for you,” I replied, “Our appointment was an hour ago and it’s warmer over here.”

No apology–nothing. Why would he? This is how he rolls. 
 
 I wanted to say so many things: “Do you think I have nothing better to do than sit in a cold, claustrophobic room waiting over an hour for you?”  “Given your superior education, why can’t you schedule your patients so you actually see them on time?”  “Do you realize that in the last five years you have NEVER been on time for our appointments, not even once?”  Instead, I smile politely.  After all, he holds the hypodermic and scalpel.  I’m just a PATIENT who plans to send him this blog.

Now ask yourself this when it comes to the remuneration we provide to those in other professions. What would happen if a cop showed up an hour late to a 911 call? Or if a kindergarten teacher left a roomful of 5 year-olds on their own for an hour? Those are the professions that deserve our greatest support.

LAST CHANCE

What does this look like to you?  Me having fun with some longtime friends?  If that’s your guess, you would be very wrong.  I had just met the six people pictured here less than 15 minutes before this was taken.  I wandered up to their pickleball court and before I could even ask to join them, they asked me in. Do your acquaintances bring you that kind of joy?  Your friends?  Family?      
 
A woman who recently turned 100 was asked her secret to long life. “Keep Going,” she replied.  While on the surface that seems apt advice it’s also a bit cavalier.  Imagine the millions whose lives were cut short by disease, murder or accidents.  Surely, they would have loved to ‘keep going.’  Truth is we can only ‘keep going’ for so long then we won’t be going anywhere, period.
 
Today, I read that Tom Petty has been given an honorary degree from the University of Florida, posthumously.  What’s the point of that?  A little ‘buzz’ for the school?  He didn’t even attend there but was merely their groundskeeper once.  It certainly won’t mean anything to Tom.  
 
And there’s the rub.  All this stuff that comes ‘after’ we’re here is meaningless.  I watched part of Bob Dole’s funeral today; a lot of stiff, pomp and circumstance—nothing like the man himself.  Did the folks who spoke at his ceremony tell Bob these things while he was alive?  No wonder that woman in India staged her death.  She wanted to know what others really thought of her.  Few tell us while we’re here.
 
Don’t let that be you.  Make your life sparkle now.  Start that bucket list today.  Draw someone new into your circle.  Laugh with abandon.  And while you’re at it, tell someone who may not even know, just how much they mean to you. Don’t let your first chance become your last one.  The folks in this picture didn’t.  They know what real joy is and how to share it.
 
  

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE?

As a child, I was lucky to have a very, disciplined stepfather.  He was in the military and commandeered the four of us children as meticulously as he shined his shoes. He even timed our showers with a stopwatch.  He firmly believed that one could soap up and rinse in under three minutes and he was right.  It became a habit with me.  To this day, I clean up in under three minutes.  I figure any longer would be a gross waste of water in a world where that precious resource is dwindling.

We’ve seen the oil spills and plastic permeating our oceans.  Now, after 20 years of drought, even the Colorado river is disastrously low.  40 million people depend on it.  It grows our avocadoes, sterilizes our dishes and fills our glasses.  Mandatory water reductions are the only way forward as there will never be, “a return to normal.”  Seven states now have water restrictions but the infighting has begun with Utah insisting on building a major, water pipeline despite the impending crisis! 

Utah is acting like the woman in my gym who takes inordinately, long showers. Once, she stepped into the shower just as I headed out to swim.  After I finished my laps, showered, dried off and dressed, she was STILL in the shower!  The average shower lasts 8 minutes and uses 2 ½ gallons per minute.  You do the math.  Does running water while you shave (or just stand there) or use scads of bath products necessary? Does it make you any cleaner or more attractive?  

Four billion people experience water scarcity at least one month a year.  UNICEF says that half of the world’s population could be facing water scarcity by 2025.  The earth is 70% water.  Our bodies are 60%.  That alone tells you how precious H2O really is.  Your shower is just as important as your vote.  It DOES make a difference.  I wish my step father were still around to admonish not only our water squanderers but our politicians.  Because you really can’t squeeze water from a stone.

SOME TIPS:

  1. Take shorter showers
  2. Rinse dishes quickly and put in the dishwasher.  Run it on express cycle when full.  (Washing them individually uses gallons more water).
  3. Wash clothes on express cycle.  Gets them just as clean with less water.
  4. Don’t run the water while you brush your teeth or shave. 

Roots and Wings and Pretty Things

“One should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of your life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” –Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots, the other is wings.”–Van Goethe
“Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.”–Confucius

P. S. Check out Peter Alsop’s song: “Roots & Wings!”

https://youtu.be/LodtoW3WQUY

MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE

ON THE STREETS OF WAIKIKI

Homeless people have been around since I was a young girl in the 60’s wandering the streets of New York City.  Back then, they were few and far between, sitting quietly beside a sign that read, “Spare change?”  Now, they are up front and very center across America. On any given night, half a million people are laying their heads on the ground, exposed to the elements, disease, filth and predators. Statistics say it’s due to unemployment, unaffordable housing, drug use and mental health issues.  And while those things do affect the numbers, there is something deeper at work:  they have lost connection with others.  Sometimes that connection is lost by accident.  Other times it is a purposeful break due to violence, trauma, or family alienation which now affects 27% of us.  

13 years ago, a Stanford graduate fell off the grid.  His concerned classmates, after a long, circuitous hunt, found him alive and sort of well living on the streets of New Orleans.  That story had a happy ending.  Most don’t but often it’s not for lack of trying.  My own mother spent her later years walking the streets of Long Island pushing a shopping cart.  At night, she slept in a baseball dugout.  Despite getting her into housing, she always bolted claiming that she needed, “fresh air and freedom,” both of which came at a price.

Homelessness is a broken connection.  It cannot be simply fixed by relocation, housing or even treatment.  There is no one size fits all when you are talking about people.  If you want to repair a broken circuit, you first have to turn off the power to it, troubleshoot which breaker has malfunctioned, replace and rewire it.  On a plastic panel, it’s a simple process.  In a human being, the breakers are endless and finding the right one to re-wire is often a crapshoot.  This crisis across America will take a multiplicity of interventions connecting together at the same time.   

I’ve spent the last few weeks in Hawaii.  It is not the paradise I remember from 25 years ago.  Now, I cannot go a single block without encountering a homeless person.  I often take the bus but have yet to be able to sit at the stop, since there is usually someone sleeping on the bench.  Once, I was chased into the street by a man who threw his socks at me because I didn’t have a light for his cigarette.  But I’ve noticed something:  The police are tolerant and the locals leave food and coffee by their camp sites.  Yesterday, a blanket and a cooler filled with water and bananas were left on a park bench.  This morning, I added my own pair of worn shoes.  As Iyanla Vanzant so poignantly said, “You have to meet people where they are and sometimes you have to leave them there.”      

SHAME ON ME

Just when I think I’m at a stage of life where things are straightforward and clear, I get a curve ball.  I’m doing a quick shop at Trader Joe’s.  As I enter the produce section, there is a man fondling the bananas.  Yes, fondling.  He eventually pulls off only one.  I’m intrigued.  His clothes are ill fitting and shabby and the seat of his trousers seems oil soaked.  When he turns towards me, his long, stringy, unkempt hair frames a gaunt face that is missing several teeth.  I peg him as homeless.

Two aisles later, we pass in the frozen food section.  His walk is jerky and odd.  Definitely not Parkinson’s, so I wonder if he might have Tardive Dyskinesia.  I vaguely remember it has something to do with taking too much anti- psychotic medication.  I smile at him as we pass and he smiles back.  

Later, as I stand in the checkout line with my small bag of five items, he comes up behind me, still carrying one banana and a small bottle of water.  I offer to let him go first.

“You only have two items,” I say.  “I have five.”

He insists I go first.  I thank him and checkout, silently wondering if it’s perhaps he is getting his food free from the cashier.  

As I maneuver out of the parking lot, he crosses in front of my car with that stumbly gait.  I wait for him, assuming that he might be going to the homeless encampment half a block away.  However, as he gets towards my side, he gestures at me to roll down my window.  I do.

“I was wondering if you’d like to come over to my house for dinner tonight and watch a movie,” he asks sweetly.  I’m stunned to almost wordlessness.

“I’m sorry, I can’t,” I reply, “but that is sweet of you to ask.”

“Ok,” he says and goes on his way.

I wrestle with myself all the way home.  Does he really have a house?  Is he delusional?  Am I?  Then I realize that it doesn’t matter.  For the whole time I was judging him, he was looking at me with hopeful kindness.  I saw only a burned out car and missed the fact that it was really a BMW.

LIGHTEN UP

Apparently, this is NOT a ballet barre.

There is perhaps no more mournful place in American than the local gym.  Where else can you see a sea of grimacing, grunting faces in various heave-ho positions?  It could be all the mirrors.  I’d be depressed if I stared at nothing but myself, too.  When folks aren’t staring at their anatomy they are deeply involved with their cell phones.  Deeply.  From my observations, the average gym goer spends more time looking at their phone than actually working out.

If you go to the gym, do NOT attempt to converse with anyone, particularly those with ear buds.  They do NOT want to be disturbed from their very, serious business.  Also, do NOT attempt to ‘work in’ with those who have laid sweaty bandanas across the equipment or placed a water bottle at the base.  They plan to occupy that territory for as long as it takes them to do 10 reps, then pause for 5 minutes to look at their phone, do 10 more reps, etc.  They are not in a hurry to work out.  They are, in fact, camping out.  This morning, a man sat on the same piece of equipment while I swam a half-mile.  After I showered and changed, he was still sitting there!

I dare you to go into a gym without your phone and ear buds.  You will get more done in half the time.  You’re also more likely to start up a conversation and burn social calories.  (Yeah, that’s a thing.)  I also dare you to ride a bike without staring at the TV.  Talk about feeling the road.  Distractions are just that.  They keep you from doing the work.  If you don’t do the work you won’t get results.  If you want results, stay out of the gym.  

If you do go, here are some ways to make it fun:

Ask the guy wielding two, heavy ropes if you can, “Double Dutch,” with him.
Ask the 6′ 4″ kid shooting hoops if he’ll take your picture. Explain you’re writing a ‘style’ piece for the NBA.
Pretend to get stuck and ask someone to extricate you from the machine.

But WHATEVER you do make it fun. Life is too short to take yourself that seriously.

USE YOUR WORDS!

OMG!  Hasn’t life been SO much simpler since we reduced words to three letters?  I checked the AQI this morning and decided not to go outside.  Since I don’t take PED’s, I had to do something so headed to the GYM.  (My acronym for Get Yourself Moving)

FYI, more people stare at their phones there than exercise.  So, while they’re texting LOL’s to their BFF’s, I wait and fume.  Finally I say, “Hey.  I’m getting OBM.  Can I work in with you before I GOP?”  A guy wearing a JDI shirt is sprawled in the middle of the mat doing nothing.  I ask if he would mind moving over.  He doesn’t budge.  RUS?  I say, “Don’t wear a JDI shirt if you’re not gonna DI.” 

I head to my car and pass a woman and her mom having coffee at an outside table.  The mom stares at her phone and says, “Honey, what does EMF mean?”  (Had she not told her, I’d have had to look it up). TMI? In the car, I turn the radio on.  WTF is up with all the commercials?  If you have a UTI, STD, PTSD, BPD, ED or OCD, you’re in luck.  There’s a drug for you.  If you just wanna listen to music, however, you’re SOL!   

Back in the day, cops put out APB’s if you were wanted. You were DOA at the morgue and SOS meant ‘Help!’  Now?  We’re living in a 3-letter world.  OIC.  Don’t believe me?  Consider this:  Ariana Grande’s last song was ‘POV’ and 60 Minutes just did a whole segment on NFT’s.  

FTR, I had lunch today with an older friend who doesn’t own a computer or cell phone.  As she struggled to recall where the Red Sea was, I opened my phone.

“Hey Siri?”  I ask.  “Where is the Red Sea?” 

“It is an inlet of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia.”

“Isn’t that cool?” I brag.  She looks askance.

“I could’ve looked it up.  Imagine all the other things I might have noticed along the way.”

Branson and Bezos just zoomed into space; a zillion dollars for 10 minutes of free fall but what did they see ‘along the way?’ Do we really need to spend that kind of money to “realize just how small we are and how fragile Earth is?”  DTS. We’re on the expressway of knowledge but everything is flying by.  Nothing is sticking.  Initialism has become our self expression.

Recently, I helped look after the adorable fellows pictured above.  Oh, how I loved listening to them use their words!  Every syllable was a symphony to my ears.  When the littlest dropped his toy and I said, “Uh, Oh.” He replied: “It happens.” Honestly?  Isn’t life short enough without shortening it even more?  IDK.  I’m thinking of adding all the letters back in. It might just prolong my life.

CHEAT SHEET FOR THE CHALLENGED

OMG: Oh My God

AQI: Air Quality Index

PED: Performance Enhancing Drugs

FYI: For Your Information

LOL: Laugh Out Loud

BFF: Best Friends Forever

OBM: Older By the Minute

GOP: Go Out to Pasture

JDI: Just Do It

RUS: Are You Serious

EMF: Enjoy Mother F…..

TMI: Too Much Information

SOL: S… Out of Luck

FTR: For The Record

OIC: Oh I See

POV: Point Of View

NFT: Non Fungible Tokens

DTS: Don’t Think So

IDK: I Don’t Know

SEE what i SAW

I took this photo from a hotel window.  Ironically, after taking it I was unable to see what had caused me to pick up my camera in the first place.  After enlarging it, what finally emerged was what first caught my eye.  You can do the same now and see what I saw.

How like life that is, I thought to myself.  What we think we see boldly may not be there at all and what we don’t see at all stares hard at us from the horizon.  If only our minds were as capable of opening as wide as our camera lenses.  Imagine what we could really take in? 

 This afternoon, there were scores of children at my health club involved in various summer camp programs.  A large group of six year-olds were playing basketball with a very, low hoop and a very, small ball as I passed by.

            “Can I play, too?” I asked several of the little ones standing along a fence.

They stared at me, considering this.  

Finally one said, “I think you’re too big.”

Then another one added, “And I think you’re too old.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

Several piped up, “Yes.  Yes, we’re sure.”

“Oh dear,” I replied.  “The truth is that I am neither too big nor too old to play with you.  You must use your imaginations!”

“Our imaginations?” one asked.

“Yes!  Because you must imagine that even though I am bigger and older than you, I still have a little child’s heart and I would love to play with you.”

“Oh,” said one little girl finally.  “Then I think that would be okay!”

I almost hugged her.

Later, as I was going through the grocery checkout, the clerk asked me, “How are you today?”

            “Adorable!” I replied.

For a moment he looked confused, then he said, “That’s pretty funny.”

“I wasn’t being funny,” I replied.  “I’m dead serious.”

Now he was getting nervous. 

“You just have to use your imagination,” I said.  “In my case, you need quite a bit of it.”

We both cracked up.

Li-Young Lee, one of our finest contemporary poets wrote, “The moon from any window is one part whoever’s looking.”   If that is so, I want my eyes to be wide, clear and far-reaching.  Above all, I must use my imagination.  Without it, I cannot soar like the person in this photo.  Without it, no one will play with me.  

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW!!

A few months ago, my eye doctor told me that I had cataracts in both eyes and one was a stage 4.  “Oh,” I said upon hearing the news, “I was having trouble playing tennis at night.”  He was incredulous.  “I don’t think you quite understand,” he replied.  “You’re actually legally blind.  You shouldn’t be driving, let alone playing tennis.”  So, I had one removed.  The change after surgery was so dramatic that I was utterly convinced my vision was perfect!

Nope.  Now you may see the difference between these two sets of pills, but my eyes fooled me last week.  The white, elliptical one is my heart pill.  The yellow, oblong one is for the thyroid.  Somehow, in the bright sunlight, I poured my new prescriptions into the wrong, waiting bottles.  Since I only take one of each every day, the mix up wasn’t particularly crucial.  But it did give me pause.  What if my thinking is as faulty as my eyesight is becoming?  What if what I think I see isn’t what is there at all?  And what if my mind makes decisions based on my faulty seeing?

Such was the case this morning at Ace hardware for one, young man.  As the cashier rang up my batteries, she noticed that one was mismarked and asked me to get another one.  The kiosk was only a few feet away.  So, I walked over, grabbed another one and as I returned to the cashier, a man in line yelled at me for, “cutting in line.” 

 I explained calmly that I did not cut but was merely finishing the purchase.  He was so mad he didn’t even let me finish my sentence.  “It’s about time someone put you in your place,” he barked.  “We’re all waiting,” he said, indicating the line behind him. At a loss for words over the absurdity of his behavior and complete Iack of awareness, I noticed that the back of his black, T-shirt said, “Only in darkness can you see clearly.” 

So, instead of saying what I really would have liked to say, I simply repeated the quote on the back of his T-shirt.  He had a blank look on his face.  Completely blank.  Then he said, “You know what?  You are completely wasting my time right now.”  

“Well, darlin’” I replied,  “I can see that.

I walked out thrilled.  Clearly, I am not the only one who doesn’t see clearly!