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Thursday, April 28, 2016

M Is For Migraine

Lynda Robinson

Migraine has been a part of my life for almost forty years now in varying degrees. My Migraine history predates my marriage, my children, and my career. It predates the NBA careers of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the major milestones in the political careers of William Jefferson Clinton and George H.W. Bush, the Oscar win of The Deer Hunter, and the legal career of Sonia Sotomayor. It's older than the entire casts of movies anymore, and certainly older than the playlists of most radio stations.

My point here is--and I do have one--that like most people with any sort of Overarching Thing In Their Lives, I've simply Lived With It, and done so for a Very Long Time.

It is astonishing, however, how much of one's life can revolve around That One Thing.

Migraine has been a part of my life for thirty-nine years. It astonishes me to say that, but it's a Fact Undeniable. I got my first one while I was away at college, and it has been with me ever since, stealing entire days away from me, days that add up to more than a year of my life, and those are only the Headache Days. Sometimes there are Pre-Headache Days, and always, always, there are the Recovery Days. Migraine is the worst kind of thief.

Because along with stealing days, Migraine steals parts of Me, too. After fighting Migraine for so very, very long and losing, I feel at times like a Failure. Each headache feels like a Defeat, a Loss of the Battle to me. Like I'm not Trying Hard Enough. (And that nudges my old Catholic Guilt, which we all know I've railed against for ages.) Between my neurologist Dr. B. and me, we've tried so many things, and I've become so cagey in my strategies against Migraine. I study the isobars on the national weather map; I Never Go To Bed On A Red (wine); I only drink when I have something in my stomach and some water along with it; I gave up my treadmill for a recumbent bike; I manage what little stress I have; I get plenty of sleep; I avoid artificial sweeteners...the list is endless. But Migraine always defeats me in the end.

In my search for a magic cure for Migraine, I had to endure some frightening and awful side effects while my body became accustomed to what eventually became my Wonder Drug. Some of the effects are, unfortunately, long term, but they are not nearly as serious as the earliest ones. They pale in comparison to the more frequent and debilitating Migraines that I used to get before being on this medicine.

To call Migraine a headache is like calling Godzilla a lizard. During some episodes, I have lost all or part of my vision, vomited, sleepwalked, had vertigo and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. I have felt and heard my blood throbbing in my ears and temples. Even though I would run a low-grade fever, I would be freezing. I would be confused and unable to articulate what I needed or wanted. And on top of it all, always the excruciating pain.

Thankfully, because of my Wonder Drug, many of the most severe Migraine symptoms are rare now. Mostly, I get more manageable Migraine Episodes, and thanks to Dr. B., I can truly manage them. I think of Migraine now as a little more like a Caged Panther--still dark and wild and dangerous, but I have the whip and chair and bars to my advantage.

And, unlike some Migraineurs, I've met with nothing but kindness from other people, whether they were fellow sufferers or not. No one has ever said to me, "Take some Advil" or "After all, a headache is just a headache" as I've heard in some cases. Many people have offered remedies they've seen or heard in an effort to be helpful, a habit that can often irritate and frustrate other Migraineurs who have been on this journey for as long as I have, or longer. I am always appreciative of those who want to help, but I will say that the number of herbal supplements and junk remedies and homeopathic treatments claiming to relieve or cure Migraine is ridiculous and annoying. Kale and ginger smoothies will not cure a true Migraine. A cup of chamomile tea and a valerian root capsule will not stop a real Migraine.

I once begged my doctor to remove several vertebrae at the base of my skull if it would stop my Migraines. Do you think some cucumber-lime smoothies and a drop or lavender oil on each temple is really getting it done?

yourhealth.net.au
I think I've made my point.

While Migraines are Part Of my life, they are Not My Life.  And it is important to me that I always remember other people are dealing with far greater challenges, and dealing with them Every Single Day.

M is for Migraine.  But it's also for Moving On.

Lynda Robinson's work featured here

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

L Is For Lots Of Things, So Here Is A List

Oh, hello there. Life--another L Word--got in the way for a time, and things sort of Got Away From Me. Then there was a little Jaunt northward, some Wine Loveliness, and here we are. How about a little

List Of L's

1. Liver
2. Long Hair
3. Lemon Meringue Pie
4. Loneliness
5. Lake Season

Alrighty then; shall we on?

1. It is a small and continuing Sadness in my life that even though I truly love Liver, I only get to eat it once or twice a year. I grew up eating Liver at least once per month, expertly sauteed in gorgeous caramelized onions and served with mashed potatoes. Often, it was accompanied by my other Food Crush, big fat lima beans doused in butter, salt, and pepper. All of this was lovingly prepared by my mother, St. Patsy, much to everyone else's chagrin, at the request of my father, who also loved liver. Now, no one cooks it since Dad has been gone for 16 years, and everyone else hates it except me. Happily, a restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake that we like does it wonderfully (mashed potatoes, even!), so I can at least get it there occasionally.

2. After the Pixie Debacle, my hair has grown out past my shoulders and I could not be happier. Actually, that is A Lie. I could be a teensy bit happier: my hair could stop being recalcitrant and obdurate and, overall, an asshole. But I am trying to Be Mindful and Remember My Growing-Out Angst. I also want to mention my continued impatience? bemusement? overall wonderment? at the (largely male) reactions to my husband's very Long (and always well-kept) silver-streaked Hair. No,  everyone (Men), he is not in a band. Sigh. Wow.

3. Oh, Lemon Meringue Pie, I fear that I will have to break up with you. No one else loves you the way I do, and even when I buy the smallest size of you at the pie shop, I struggle to eat you before you become yucky. And, let's face it, I do not ever eat the Meringue (who does? ugh). What I need is Just The Lemon Part, in jars, and with a shelf life of several weeks. I know--lemon curd--but I want it to be Pie-Perfect.

4. While I was teaching, I found it very necessary to keep my Work Life and my Real Life separate. I was also very Private. I needed that for my sanity and to minimize my stress. And it worked pretty well. I left Work at Work, and Home was my sanctuary and never the twain met. Unfortunately, the Flaw in that plan has come to light now, and that flaw is that sometimes, I get a little Lonely. Teaching--at least for me--was such an intense and intensive career that I didn't make many Outside Friends; certainly not while I was actively raising my boys. Now, with Rick at work and me at home, there are times when, unless I make witty observations to the cats, I go the entire day without speaking to anyone. Please don't suggest a part-time job or volunteering. Both of those would certainly want me to follow a schedule, and I am not going to do that. Honestly, I just can't.

5. Spring has finally come to Ohio (but my snow shovels will stay on the deck until the end of April, just to be safe), but that last Winter Storm this month almost pushed me over the edge. Rick and I are even more eager for Lake Season to start, and I caught him leafing through a fishing lure catalog last week. There will be fewer snakes this year since all the shoreline bushes have been taken out, so my axe is retired. We became quite well-known last year for being The Ones With The Wineglasses On The Boat. (Why are we the only ones?)

Again, sorry for being so Late with the L's. Let's hear some of yours, or, as always, your Comments on mine.

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Monday, April 04, 2016

K Is For Khakis

If there were a sudden and inexplicable Khaki Pants Shortage, I would be unreasonably happy about it. Sharing my joy would be vast multitudes of school-aged boys as well, for Khaki Pants and Collared Shirts (aka Polo Shirts) are the standard school uniform in lots and lots of urban public and parochial schools. I currently own Zero Pairs of Khaki Pants, and I plan to maintain that total for the remainder of my life. If it were up to me, that would be the Current And Future Wardrobe Status of Rick as well.

Why all this Disdain For Khaki Pants? Did I have a Goat Episode, similar to one I described in this post? Did Something Bad once happen to me whilst clad in Khakis?

Nope.

As a matter of fact, I used to wear Khaki--the color--once in a while in skirts and shirts, and I even had a really great pair of Khaki cargo-style pants. It's not an especially great colour on me (some shades can make my olive skin look even more green), but accented with red, it can be a good wardrobe basic.

No, my anathema towards Khaki started when some men began wearing Khaki pants as Formal Wear, and thus began The Great Casualization Of America.

Perhaps it is Different where you live, but here in the Midwest, there is a sort of Anything But Jeans mentality when it comes to Dressing Up. As in, if you are Male, and you are Not Wearing Jeans, you are Dressed Up. (One exception to this rule is Jeans And A Sweater With A Shirt Underneath = Dressed Up.)   Footwear, sadly, does not even figure into this equation. Any sort of shoe can and will be worn.  (I. Know. )  For example, say you are a male of any age at all, and you are attending a 4 PM wedding in a church with a small reception immediately following. What do you wear? Why, your Khakis, of course! Oh, is it an evening wedding and the reception is at a swanky highrise? Well, then...better wear...Khakis! Going out to a play in the Theater District and then for drinks and dinner?

KHAKIS.

KHAKIS. KHAKIS. KHAKIS. KHAKIS. KHAKIS.

Just as I blame John McCain for legitimizing SPalin and begetting the present-day republican party, I blame Dockers for legitimizing Khakis and spawning the Downward Spiral Of Men's Dress. Don't most of us remember their PantsPantsPants commercials, like this one, which shoved Khakis and Khrotches into our Khonsciousness?



Holy Khrap.

Er...Crap.

Sorry.

I feel like it's No Accident that the word Khaki sounds like Piper or Marlowe yakking up a hairball.   That's pretty much how I feel about the pants.

Maybe, in the beginning, they were okay, but like so many things that seemed Perfectly Fine, they got Out Of Control.  Like Kudzu did in the South.  Khaki pants are Fashion Kudzu.  Or, like my Little Problem with Cheetos about ten years ago.  I could not be trusted; I ate almost a whole bag, and Rick had to hide them from me.  The difference there was, I got nauseated and sick from Cheetos and I learned my lesson.  Men are not Learning Their Lesson from Khaki pants, and instead, we are the ones ready to throw up.

Okay.  I think I've more than made my point.  Now go forth and purge Khaki Pants from the closets of all the men you know.


Monday, March 28, 2016

J Is For Jalopy


For most of my life, we had two cars in the driveway: The Good Car and Dad's Work Car. Neither one was ever a new car. My dad used his vast network of friends and family, former teammates and Army buddies, work and neighborhood relationships, as well as hometown politics to tap into a huge supply of used automobiles. Now and then, I would be roused from my Standard Oblivion of library books, Barbies, and schoolwork to hear Dad mention to Mom after work that he was in need of/getting/bringing home a car. Next thing I knew, there in the driveway or parked in front of the house would be the latest car. I rarely got excited or interested. After all, what difference in my life did it really make?

Only one of Dad's work cars ever became interesting to me, and it soon captured the the interest of many of our neighbors as well. We had never had a car like it before, and trust me; after it, we never had another one like it again.

Dad had already seen the car, a stubby little  Rambler American (like the one pictured above) in the possession of some guy he knew named Eddie. Eddie was an aged Car Guy, and he already had our old 1952 Chevy sitting in his huge back field, silently rusting into Oblivion. Dad had pointed out some big rust spots on the Rambler's hood and fenders, among other things, and Eddie said he'd take care of them. I think Dad and he agreed on a price of maybe two hundred bucks.

When the Rambler came home, we couldn't help but smile. It was such a funny-looking car, so boxy and small. And Eddie had simply placed sheet metal over the rust spots, screwed it down with dozens of screws, and painted the patches with some blue paint that was as close a colour match as he could find. It was like a FrankenCar. But it was only Dad's Work Car, and it didn't have to be pretty to sit at US Steel or at the curb on E. 38th Street.

Pretty soon, however, the Rambler started having problems. Or, at least, Dad started having problems with the Rambler. On some mornings, it was difficult to start. He'd go out, try and try, but it would not turn over. He'd come in, fling down his stuff, and swear. My mother would say, "Let me try, honey." She'd go out, clad in housecoat and slippers, and it would start right up for her. Once in a while, a neighbor would be out getting the newspaper or letting his dog out, and offer up some pithy remark. Let's just say that those were not the Best Days.

Finally, the Rambler became too temperamental, and Dad began taking The Good Car to work. We were stuck at home with the Rambler, which had begun refusing to start even for my mother. Dad probably began working his Network at this point, but that didn't help me one evening when I needed supplies for a school project and Dad was on a 3-11 shift. Walking was out of the question: it would be dark by the time I got everything and started back. Mom would have to coax the Rambler into service.

With high hopes Susan and I piled into the car, and Mom ordered us to cross our fingers. My younger sister and I were bouncing on the seat, urging the Rambler to life. And it worked! The car sputtered and caught, and we drove on to Kmart, about two miles away. On our way, Mom explained the seriousness of our situation. "Okay, now, girls. Here's what we have to do. I'm afraid that if I park the car, I may not get it started again. So, what I have to do is this: I'll drive as slow as possible once we get there. When I drive past the entrance, you open the door and jump out. Hurry up and get what you need because I have to keep driving around and around the parking lot, waiting for you. When you're done, come out and stand right where I dropped you off. I'll drive as slow as I can, open the door, and you run alongside and jump back in. Got it?"

We Got It.

One of the things that comes to my Memory immediately about this Incident is not that it was stupid or inconvenient or even dangerous. It was all of those things, of course. It was. It absolutely was. But the thing that comes to my mind immediately is that Susan and my Mom and I all laughed and laughed and laughed together like maniacs the entire time. We were having so much fun. We were having the best time.

And Susan and I flew through that store. We were a team, and we knew our mother, the other part of our team, was out there, putt-putting around the entire stupid parking lot in that stupid stupid car, which might give out at any time, so we had better hurry up. I remember looking out through the enormous store windows as I stood in the checkout line and watching my mother in that ridiculous blue car drive past. And we waved.

We grabbed our bag and ran out to the edge of the parking lot, waiting for her to drive by. She slowed down, threw the passenger door open, and almost stopped the car. Susan and I flung ourselves into the front seat. Mom hit the gas, and we struggled to shut the door. We were laughing so hard that we couldn't even speak. We made it home, and Mom parked the Rambler in front of the house as if it had never left. Knowing her, I'm sure that as soon as she turned off that car, she tried to turn it over again, but I can't really remember.

No, we never had another car like the Rambler. The rest of the cars were much more reliable and much less adventurous. Times with my mother and my sisters, however, continued to be pretty much the same. Thank goodness.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Is For Idiom

Although I am several years out of the English Classroom, I have to admit that there are still many, many times that I have been saddened, frustrated, and Outright Irritated by the abuse of The Language. Most often, it is in print (especially egregious are the ever-lowering standards of my once-proud Cleveland Plain Dealer). But many times, while I am out and about in Society, I cannot help but overhear Terribly Substandard Usages of The Language. Lately, I am noticing more and more people who flog and flay simple, common Idioms.

Idioms, you remember, are common expressions that have a figurative or symbolic meaning. These expressions are ages-old and have been part of The Language for quite some time. For example, if you say, "I had no idea that Vern Sandwaddle kicked the bucket last year!", everyone pretty much knows you aren't talking about Vern's athletic prowess. Rather, it's high time you sent the Widow Sandwaddle your condolences.

Here are a few Idioms that I wish Everyday Speakers/Writers would use correctly:

1. Toe The Line NOT "Tow The Line." This idiom has to do with soldiers, probably, lining up precisely in formation. Imagine all the times that schoolchildren or athletes have to stand precisely at a certain mark. Makes more sense than having to haul a rope, which does not call for precision at all.

2. Cut And Dried NOT "Cut And Dry." I will never stop harping about this, and I mention it constantly. It really hurts me physically to see and hear this. I mean it. Why would anyone misuse this? It makes no sense to say, "The case was cut and dry." Every single time I hear it, I want to follow the person and, if not explain it to him/her, make the missing "D" sound. Can you imagine me following someone at the grocery store harping, "Duh, duh, duh! It's DRIED. DRIED. DRIED!"

3. Tide Me Over NOT "Tie Me Over." I not only saw this recently, but I heard it as well. Two ladies in Walgreens were discussing whether to buy two bags of spice-flavoured jellybeans or just one. "I think just the one," said Capris And Windbreaker. "It's enough to Tie Me Over till Sunday when Iris comes." I hope Iris comes armed not only with more spiced jellybeans, but this URL, explaining the origins of TIDE Me Over.

4. Tough Row To Hoe NOT "Tough Road To Hoe." Get ready to hear this one over and over again, not only with regard to The Politics, but also to Basketball, the Neverending Season. I heard it this morning. Why anyone gets this one wrong escapes me, but with so many oddities in dialect and substandard slang, I guess it is to be expected. The metaphor of farming and hoeing a row for planting is pretty self-explanatory here. An argument could be made that hoeing a road is tough as well, but..oh, shut up. (Why would anyone hoe a road?)

Sigh.  That's it.  Now I'm spent.  It is your turn, and do let's stick to Idioms.  (It is the Letter I Post, after all.)  If we wander off into other Language Atrocities, we'll ruin upcoming Posts; I just know it.


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Sunday, March 13, 2016

In Which I Either Lose Perspective Or Highlight It. Either Way, Here's This Instead Of An Alphabet Post (Which Will Resume Later).


Sweating out whether or not George Hill, a game-time decision, will be playing on my fantasy basketball team Sunday night:

Nance: George Hill is really screwing up my lineup.
Rick: You're winning this week. It doesn't matter.
Nance: I want a decisive victory. George Hill needs to put on his big boy pants and get out there.
Rick: The other team has only one player going.
Nance: And I may or may not have George Hill.

(several hours later, after checking Rotoworld, a fantasy sports news site)

Nance: (dismissively, with snark) That's right, George Hill, you'd better be playing! (reading news item) George Hill, sore right toe, will play Sunday. What a load of bullshit! Do you know how many American workers are on the job right now with bigger problems than a sore right toe? How many go to work sick with the flu or worse? George Hill, women go to work six weeks or less after having an entire human being come out of their bodies! And many of them go on to pump their breasts at work every few hours for months afterwards. And you want to sit on the bench and collect your millions for a goddamn sore toe? Hell yes you'd better get off that bench and play tonight!
Rick: (carefully looks up from his pasta) I'm glad he heard you.
Nance: So is he.

End scene.

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Sunday, March 06, 2016

H Is For...

Way past due for this post--The Letter H--I know. I'm in such a terrible funk. Were it possible to put me in a coma or some sort of State of Suspended Animation until we had sustained temperatures of at least 60...that would be good. Think of how skinny I'd get! Ah, but that's another Issue altogether.

My Letter I Post! Remind me.

But I digress. Here is my

List Of Random H Things I Shall Be Nattering About

1. Hello!?
2. Harmonica
3. Hydrox Cookies
4. Hassock

1. From time to time people become habituated to their Lives and lose the ability to truly see exactly What's Going On With Themselves. We all do it, and it's Helpful if an outsider gives them a Wake-Up Call. Allow me to provide this valuable Service. HELLO!? Can you check your Calendar, please? We are Officially Into March, and next week we will be entering Daylight Saving Time. This is Lent, and Easter occurs this month. It is well past time to TAKE DOWN ALL OF YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. No, really, we are Not Interested in a single one of your excuses. None will pass muster. All of them Must Go, and At Once. (Yes, I am referring to both the excuses and the decorations.)

2. At the risk of offending anyone, I would not be one bit upset if suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, all Harmonicas disappeared from the universe. Whether it be one by one or together in a mass exodus is immaterial to me, as long as it happens in short order. Harmonicas should have gone the way of the musket rifle and the hoopskirt. Why are they still here? And if the answer is Country Music, I might ask the same question about it as well.

3. It may come as a shock to Cooky Aficionados everywhere, but Hydrox chocolate sandwich cookies were the originals, and Nabisco's Oreos came a full four years later. Hydrox were crispier and crunchier, and they were way less sweet than Oreos. They were the preferred snack of Tuffy, the obese cocker spaniel on E. 38th Street where I grew up, whose owners fed him at least six a day from a metal can next to their sofa. Actually, I ate them from that can as well when I went over there, and so did T.W. and Marge, Tuffy's owners. We were all fat, due in no small part to Hydrox.

4. Every so often, I hear a word that rings a little Linguistic Alert for me, and last week it was Hassock. Growing up, I detested this word and preferred that my parents (especially my father) use the term Footstool or even Ottoman. No one--and I mean NO ONE--among my friends used Hassock. But my father stubbornly used that term to denote any piece of small furniture used as a Footrest. He loved them, actually, and used to bring them home with startling regularity. He especially loved the little, round, padded-top things with a big flat button in the middle of them. He only stopped bringing them home when my brother made him a new footstool in Woodshop class. That may have actually ended the use of Hassock, come to think of it, and ushered in The Footstool Era.

I eagerly await your additions to my H words, or your own H words in Comments. Be the Sunshine Of My Life since NEO refuses to.

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