Things I learned this week

 

“As life goes on it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself everyday.”

– Agatha Christie

I learned this week…

…that it appears I correctly self-diagnosed my nagging stomach ailment.  My new doctor confirmed it.  Of course, I allowed him to think he was giving me new information.  I have learned my lesson there – doctors don’t like it when you tell them how to do their job.  I’m not really sure why.  Anyway, I am now dealing with strict tiered dietary changes.  Up first – no more dairy.  I’m not big on the whole milk thing, so at first I thought it was no big deal.  Then I saw the list of forbidden foods.  I have to give up my hazelnut coffee cream, any and all chocolate, and my sugar-free chewing gum.  

Me:  Wait what?  My non-dairy coffee creamer has milk in it!  Are you kidding me?

Nurse:  No, Mrs. Isaacs.  We don’t kid about these things.  However, most people find soy an acceptable alternative. 

SOY!

It smells like dirty feet. 

Not acceptable.

<grumble grumble>

…that, in keeping with the medical theme, pneumonia can sneak up on you when you least expect it.  My house has been passing around a nasty little respiratory virus for a few weeks now.  Up until last week, I had successfully avoided being slimed.  As often happens, my luck ran out.  This week I gave in and went to see my regular doctor for the sinus infection I knew was brewing.  Turns out – sinus infection + pneumonia.  Didn’t see that coming.

…that I received a damn fine grade on my first historical geology exam.  A half a point off a perfect score.  Take that scary geology with your thinly disguised chemistry, biology, and math.

…that sometimes an individual’s real story is much more interesting than the one I make up for them in my head.  For five years, I have spent two nights a week sitting in an old converted grocery store watching my daughter’s gymnastic practice.  I am well-known to the staff and the regular parents.  The smart ones leave me in peace; everyone else soon learns that I am not a stellar conversationalist.

There is an elderly woman who frequents the gym.  She is tall, European – maybe German given her accent, and carries herself with an air of sophistication.  I have never spoken more than a few trivial words to her in all these years, but I have long speculated about her story – it is what I do.  In my head, she is a warm, kindhearted grandmother, who bakes cookies for the children, tends a small container herb garden on the patio of her retirement community apartment, and enjoys peach Schnapps under the bathing glow of summer moonlight.

This week she sat next to me on the low slung module couch that borders the parents’ corral and talked for one solid hour.  I learned:

  1. She is Swiss;
  2. When she was young, she was a chunky chocoholic and her mother sent her to a brutish masseuse in hopes to combat her growing cellulite problem.
  3. Her late husband was some sort of high level Lufthansa executive.
  4. She is now a legal resident of Montreal, Canada.
  5. As such, is only allowed to enter and stay in the U.S. in 6 week intervals.  “Such nonsense,” she said with a dismissive wave.
  6. She flies a lot via stand-by.
  7. She believes this makes her an easy target for security.
  8. One time she was frisked because the TSA agent asked her if she had a gun in her carry-on bag and she replied:  “No.  I like to keep my gun on me at all times.”  She concedes this was not the smartest thing she’s ever done, and is convinced she is now on “the list.”
  9. As revenge for No. 8, she likes to pack her bras and undies in the very top layer of her suitcase.  She derives a sadistic pleasure in seeing the agents handle her intimates when they search her bags.
  10. This past fall, while attending a Lufthansa gala in Washington, D.C. she broke her hip – I’m still not sure I understand how that happened.  Instead of going to the nearest hospital, she got in a car with her friend and proceeded to make the 12 hour drive back to Canada in order to receive “proper” medical attention.  (I didn’t think it wise to mention that she was 5 months post-op – right hip replacement – and still walked with a cane.)
  11. She is pissed that as a woman in her seventies, she must now pay $60 per year for medical coverage.  “Highway robbery,” she declared.
  12. She wears all of her good jewelry at once because she fears it will be stolen.  When I pointed out that she is setting herself up to be mugged, she dismissed me with a brush of her hand and proceeded to tell me about the time she visited India.  The time when she thought her newly blessed Hindu talisman had been stolen by the hotel staff.  As it turned out, she told me, it was just the gods playing a trick on her because she had been careless with her things.  Now she is very careful.

Indeed.

There is much character gold to be mined here.  I hope she sits next to me again real soon.

…that the headline “Genesis Death Sandwich” is a real eye catcher.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to click and read.  I’m still processing:

In the case of Genesis, the slices of white bread are themes of life, and the slimy cold cuts in between are mentions of death.

…that here is another bit of eye-catching nonsense I found tucked in a Salon op-ed entitled “Conservatives Declare War on College“, highlighting the right’s push for cheaper, online higher education in lieu of the more expensive traditional lecture-based programs:

[Daphne] Koller believes that with the right grading “rubric” students can grade each other’s papers even on issues of critical reasoning and grammar, thus solving seemingly daunting logistics problems.

God help us all.

…that Skyfall is even better the second time around.

***Spoiler Alert*** If you have been living under a rock, or are just a slacker who hasn’t found the time to empty your DVR of the amassing Downton Abbey episodes, please avert your eyes now.

…that I may be the only person on the planet who thinks Matthew Crawley had to die.   There was just no other way.

…and, last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Chihuly.  I sure do miss that exhibit.

IMG_6953

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that I am old.  Or so my health insurance carrier tells me.  I received a very nice letter from them informing me that my recent birthday (the one that isn’t until mid-June) has pushed me into a higher age bracket and, though it pains them greatly, they must raise my rate by 2% effective April 1st.  Bastards.

…that once again, I find that I am a few steps behind everyone else when it comes to discovering new and exciting television.  First, the BBC’s Sherlock, and now PBS’s Downton Abbey.  I need to get with the program.  Both of these shows are well-written, well-acted, and well…just plain brilliant.

…that if civilization as we know it should end and the burden of rebuilding and repopulating the world falls to the brilliant minds of the students in my Sociology class, we are all screwed.   Newt Gringrich’s moon colony might not be such a bad idea after all.

…that my daughter’s sixth grade band is amazing.  I am very proud of her.  She’s come a long way in five months.

…that as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I’ve always had the highest respect for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Not anymore.

…that I really don’t like making my own coffee in the morning.  That makes me sound spoiled, doesn’t it.  Well, I am.  My husband makes coffee every night at bedtime, sets the little timer thing, and BAM!  I have coffee when I roll out of bed at 5 a.m.  He’s out-of-town.  I have to make my own coffee this week.  It sucks.

…that my fat cat has lost weight.  This a good thing for he tipped the scales at 19 lbs at his last vet check up.  I am happy to report that his “high fiber, low-calorie food that costs me a fortune” actually worked.  He’s down to a svelte 15 lbs.  Of course, he thinks he’s starving to death and has taken to counter hopping in search of something left unattended.  I turned around the other night and found him perched by the sink, staring a hole through me.  I was a little scared.  For a minute, I thought he was contemplating my nutritional value.

…that me and old Thomas Hobbes are not going to be good friends.

…that I find reminders of my dad in the strangest places.  This week on my way to the office, I was listening to a 60s themed satellite radio station I like and a song I haven’t heard in years came on.   (Don’t judge me.  I’ve made no secret of my opinion on the music produced during that decade – BEST MUSIC EVER)  As it began to play, recognition took hold,  and all I could see was my father dancing around in his stocking feet, lip syncing the words, and making Groucho Marx faces.  I miss my dad.

***Warning:  Pet peeve of the week***

…that I hate pointless art projects.  I hate pointless art projects even more when they are completely irrelevant to class curriculum.  In Yoga for a Grade, we were instructed to make a new friend (shoot me now), ask them asinine personal questions, and create a collage of their life based on what we learned in a ten minute conversation.  We are expected to present them to the class when next we meet.  Really?  I think I preferred the Down Dog into Plank (hold for one minute), then down and up into Up Dog sequences she made us do – fifteen times in a row! – during the last class.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Cousin Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) from Downton Abbey.  She is quite warm and loving in her own way – really.