Friday, June 28, 2013

Could You Pass this Test?

             If you ask me, I spend entirely too much time in the Dollar Tree.  My determination to save a buck here and there has cost me dearly.

             Last week my friend, Cori, and I were cruising the aisles for craft supplies.  This is because we’re Mormons and every month we get craftsy.  Note the s, and do not think we are crafty, although I cannot speak for everyone.
At any rate, we plan a regular enrichment/lecture/party/humanitarian activity/something for the women.

  It always involves socializing and it always includes dinner or refreshments.  Mind you, “refreshments” is a loose term these days and could mean veggies and dip rather than brownies, thanks to the women who keep reading medical studies.

            Cori, it turns out, has a keen eye for comedy and told me she found an at-home drug testing kit that would make a hilarious follow-up gift to my husband’s entrapment, shall we say, by marijuana growers recently.  You can read about that here:
            For a dollar, a drug-testing kit makes a lovely gift, and you can quote me on that.

            Cori sees a young clerk in his twenties, I’d say, and asks him where these marvelous supplies might be.  Now picture this scene:  Here are two middle-aged women with a shopping cart, asking a lanky kid where we can find a marijuana-testing kit, and he looks up from where he is stocking shelves and says, “They’re up here, but you can always use Niacin.” Now.  What value would you place on advice you receive in the dollar store?  
            And how does Niacin work, exactly?  Well, dear readers, it turns out people take Niacin to pass drug tests at their work.

            And how does this fellow come by such rich information?  I leave it to you to deduce this young man’s extracurricular activities, but I’m going to make a wild guess that it doesn’t involve making crafts with a bunch of Mormon women in an LDS chapel.
            “We look like we use drugs?” I whisper to Cori.  I’ve been accused of some shocking things (looking pregnant when I’m not, for one), but never this.  All I wanted was a gag gift for St. Bob!  Maybe this conversation is itself a test, and there’s a candid camera somewhere, taping our reaction.  I feel my eyes jerking sideways in an involuntary search for people I might recognize, who can overhear this guy’s expert counsel for my clearly desperate situation.
            I can feel the heat creeping up my neck as I purchase the kit.  Thankfully, it gets stuffed into a bag with craft items where I can carry it to my car anonymously.  I don’t look around for the Niacin guy.  I don’t look around for cops.  We just drive away and I feel at least a little relieved that no one offered me a home pregnancy testing kit as well.
Here’s an even bigger bargain: Subscribe to this blog for free!  Not even the Dollar Store can beat that.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Prescription for Disaster

            St. Bob and I are in a wrist race.  I had two cortisone shots in each wrist for De Quervain’s Tendonitis and then Bob trumped me yesterday by having actual surgery at the base of his thumb. One of our comedian kids offered to high five him for edging out ahead of me, but Bob declined.
            It was outpatient surgery but he still had to go under general anesthetic.  I told him they’d put a wig and makeup on him while under, then sell the pictures online before cleaning him up and wheeling him out.  And, of course we had to take a narcotic pain prescription to the drugstore on the way home.  I left Bob sitting in the car with the windows down while I dashed in.  It turned out my prescription insurance card had expired, so I asked the pharmacist for the number to Bob’s work, since they have a smart phone and I have a dumb phone.  They looked it up.  But then every extension I tried had a recording saying no one was available.  Twenty minutes into this effort I finally reached a human being who said I couldn’t go to that pharmacy anyway, but had to use the new card they gave us a month ago.  It sounded familiar.  I checked my wallet again and, amazingly, there was a card by that very name!  I had no recollection of this whatsoever, but Bob later insisted he had given it to me.  Surely by now he knows not to do these things when I’m not paying attention.  Which is 90% of the time.
            So I pulled out the new card and the pharmacist said that yes, they could use it after all.  Sheesh.  I am picturing Bob out in the car, the anesthetic wearing off, crying out in pain and passersby calling 911.  I am also worried about the young man with the clipboard, just outside the doors, who will try to get me to sign a petition to outlaw plastic bags like the one I’m carrying, and am planning how to dash past him to groggy Bob.  Finally the pills are ready and I toss them across to Bob as I get into the car.  We go screeching up to the exit light, at which point I also realize my gum is old, so I ball it up and throw it out the open window on his side, since that’s where some bushes are where my gum will biodegrade and no one will step on it.

            Only Bob has rolled up his window, now.  The gum ricochets off the window, hits the dash, then the seat, then the floor and turns completely invisible.  “Why are you throwing your gum at me?” Bob asks.  But the real question is why did he roll up his window?  Isn’t his right wrist out of commission?  And, I do believe, he’s the one who had the car washed recently and made it impossible to tell that the window is up.  And now I have a ball of gum at large in my car, probably never to be found again.  It is probably lodged under the seat and when someone tries to adjust the seat, the whole works will gum up, literally.
            We make it home and I place the pills on the kitchen island.  Bob recalls that in our haste to get to a pre-dawn check-in time at the hospital, we haven’t yet given our dog, Mickey, her daily Prednisone pill for her allergic itching.
           He gets a pinch of a soft cookie and presses a pill into it to disguise it because she’s an idiot and we have to fool her this way.
            He then realizes that the piece of cookie is too large (Mickey is a Chihuahua mix), so he takes a bite to make it smaller.  He swallows.  Now he looks at the pinch that’s left and realizes there is no little white pill embedded in it.  Furthermore, the bite he took was a little bitter.  HE HAS TAKEN THE DOG’S MEDICINE.  I grab his pain meds, lest he swap those out and kill our dog.

            I put him to bed, tell him to stop trying to wiggle the very thumb that is supposed to be immobilized, and keep it elevated, and check my email messages.  There’s one from Bob asking me to sign up for a contest to win a cruise to London, and since I’m the only one of us on Facebook, I have to LIKE the cruise company to enter it.  I scroll to the bottom as fast as I can, because I would love a trip to London, and I press LIKE, just   wishing it could be LOVE. 
Only then do I scroll up again and realize Bob has tricked me into signing up for a LESBIAN/GAY cruise, knowing I would never read the fine print.  Well, marvelous.  If I win that thing I’m taking a girlfriend and the joke will be on Bob.  Besides, he has to stay home and take care of his wrist.
Please.  Allow me to prescribe some humor for you.  Simply type your email address into the box at the right, and real-life comedy will pop into your inbox on a regular basis. Laughter is the best medicine, way ahead of dog pills.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Real Theme of "Iron Man 3"

            Well, hallelujah.  Hollywood has finally made a movie that perfectly captures what menopause is all about.  Or at least hot flashes.  And it’s a top-grossing blockbuster, to boot.  It’s called Iron Man 3.  If you’re among the few who haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry about spoilers, here.  If anything, I offer exactly the opposite: Insights that will help you enjoy the film all the more.

            Never before in cinematic history have there been so many characters ravaged by hot flashes.  Even men get menopause in this movie!  This time Tony Stark fights villains whose inner core temperatures skyrocket so high they literally explode.  And, Ladies, haven’t we all wondered if that might happen at any moment?  Why hasn’t anyone mentioned this in any reviews?  Maybe it’s because all the ones I’ve read have been written by men.

            But read what Matt Zoller Seitz said of these characters at : “…their core substance looks more like molten lava than molten steel and their eyes glow a hellish crimson.” Now if that isn’t a perfect description of a hot flash, I don’t know what is.  For years I’ve been saying we women could all visit the North Pole and melt the ice cap within five minutes, and now this lethal dose of hot has been captured in a movie!

            And, let’s be honest: Peri-menopause can make a person, shall we say, testy.  When you see the smoldering red glow under the skin of Tony’s enemies, you know right away those people aren’t happy.  You almost start sweating in their behalf, just looking at them.  Tony, of course, having no experience with middle-aged women, doesn’t offer them a cold lemonade, an electric fan, or a dip in the pool.  Black Cohosh isn’t even mentioned as a possible remedy.  And, just as in real life, the government in the movie never grasps the vast military weapon potential of the hoards of 40-and-up women who could bring our enemies to their knees with just simple conversation.  So there are some overlooked plot points.

            But the great news is that the agony of menopause is the entire point of the movie!  At last our plight has been depicted better than if this were a telethon for it.  My friend, Cori, and I have toyed with the idea of hosting a Menopause-a-thon, if only to raise awareness, and okay, some spending money.  But now the entire world can see what happens when hormones strike, and maybe folks will start inviting us gals out for ice cream, or tell us we look rosy and radiant instead of sweaty and bedraggled.

            Best of all, I am holding out hope for a TV spin-off about these same individuals, whose burning embers go from “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” to Surface-of-the-Sun-Combustible in mere seconds.  And we women already know the perfect name for it.  We can do better than Iron Man any day.  Our show will be called Lava Mama
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gym Dandy

           I’ve always said that Phys. Ed. is a lot of fizz and not much ed.  In high school I finagled a note from my doctor to release me from P.E., but then discovered a California law that requires that you attend a class for the kids with broken legs and such, where you can at least wiggle your fingers for an hour. Bored out of my wits, I then learned that if you don’t dress for gym, you get sent to (horrors!) the library.  Does “Oh, please don’t throw me into that briar patch!” sound familiar?  I quickly learned how to dodge exercising altogether, and spend the hour with my beloved books.

            I did learn to snow ski and ride horses, but ball sports were out of the question.  Part of this was due to nearsightedness and a lack of hand-to-eye coordination.  And, yes, part of it was due to an overwhelming lack of interest.  Even when I was in news broadcasting I couldn’t understand why sports became a segment in a newscast about, well, news.  I carefully arranged my college schedule to include no Phys. Ed. whatsoever, and except for a couple of disastrous tennis and golf dates, I was in the clear.  
After marrying St. Bob, he twice gave me a gym membership (one of the worst things you can give your wife, and which nearly cost him the Saint status), but those were short-lived attempts at pleasing a man who thinks training is fun.  We have agreed to disagree on this, as I hope my workout-loving readers will understand.

Well, today the guillotine fell and my doctor told me to join a gym.  Aha—you’re thinking it’s to lose weight, aren’t you?  Wrong.  It’s to strengthen my joints, and get my muscles to do the job my ligaments will not.  This is akin to your doctor telling you that the best thing for your health would be to stand on a bed of nails, in a solitary confinement box, for 3 hours every day.  Sharp nails.  And while you’re standing there your work is piling up, you’re so bored you could scream, and you’re surrounded by people who do this all the time and think you’re a big baby for not wanting to join in. And those people were earlier dripping with gross, sticky sweat and getting it all over the nail bed.

            Four wrist and elbow injections of cortisone led to this dreadful verdict, a hideous fate I have suspected since I was diagnosed 30 years ago with hypermobility.  What’s that, you say?  It’s an incurable, inherited syndrome which means I started out life as one of those double-jointed little kids who could put her ankle behind her neck, bend her fingers backwards, the whole limber deal.  You can probably think of people you know, this very minute, who can do this.
           Tell them to stop!  We are freaks of nature whose tendons are too long, we sprain easily (even sleeping), and we are in for a boat load of misery.  Think of those little plastic stick-figure dolls on a round base where you press the button and the doll collapses, then you let go of the button and it springs back up again.  This is us.  Our arms fall out of their sockets, our feet go flat when we stand on them.  In short, we are barely strung together and by the time we’re 40 most of us have a collection of splints and braces for every joint. Pregnancy makes it worse because the body produces the hormone elastin, to make the pelvis loose for birth.  Trouble is it makes all the joints even looser and we hobble around in agony, our knees and hips slipping just from walking.
            People with this condition are to avoid contact sports, running, stretching, and yoga, all of which could lead to injury.  Ultimately we get various kinds of tendonitis, including tennis elbow for which no tennis was ever played.  But I guess that’s better than calling it Laundry Elbow.  Or Heavy Purse Elbow. They recommend two ways to cope.  One is to stand up every 30 minutes, if you happen to be sitting, so your legs don’t try to disconnect.  Can’t you just see this?  I’m to leap to my feet every half hour in movies and meetings, regardless of those around me.  I will become known as “that crazy lady who jumps up every 30 minutes.”  Worse than a cuckoo clock.  The other remedy is what my doctor suggested: Lift weights and strengthen every joint in the body, a task I estimate to take a good hour or two every day.  And this, in a giant building filled with people who liked P.E. and have no problem taking several hours away from their work each week, to get “ripped.”  It’s going to take every shred of restraint I have, to resist trying to enlighten them, and convince them to engage in productive, profitable desk work.  None of them will agree and I will become known as “that crazy lady who never wears workout clothes.”  Please.  It’s going to cost me enough time to drive there and lift weights; I cannot also include outfit-changing time.  Lucky my nose isn’t out of joint.  Oh, wait; it is.

            St. Bob, of course, is trying not to grin and relish the thought of sharing loud, clanging equipment and telling me when to inhale and exhale.  My ADD will kick in and I will not remember how many repetitions or sets I have done, thus I will quit.  It will be painful and I will cry.  Ultimately I will go next door for a milkshake and a Philly Steak sandwich.  There I will meet people from the East Coast who—be still my heart—could be fellow workaholics, and we will commiserate about what a monumental waste of time it is to go to a gym.  We will form a Board of Directors of a software and marketing corporation that will make billions of dollars and I can hire a personal trainer to come to my home.  And I will bake her some brownies and read her my plays and she will laugh her butt off (see?) and all will be well again.
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beat the Heat, Once and For All

                Well, it’s a hundred degrees again. And for all our complaining, does it ever lower the temperature?  News flash: This is Sacramento. You will spend a fortune one of two ways: On air conditioning, or on ice cream because you will spend too much time on the frozen foods aisle.

                Unless, and I say unless the way Paul Popeil says it when hawking the Chop-o-Matic, you try my handy-dandy solution to summertime heat in the state’s capitol.  If you live somewhere else where it gets ridiculously hot, this will work for you as well.

                I have a radical suggestion.  It came to me a few years ago when I slept overnight at the Sacramento Zoo with my daughter’s second grade class (a lot of things will come to you at the zoo, but this happened to be a great idea).  To read my blog about that insane experience, click on
But back to the zoo.  It was the middle of the night, and a noisier location cannot be imagined.  The flamingoes were squawking at a decibel level you wouldn’t allow in your teenager’s bedroom.  The lions were roaring like freight trains.  It was maddening, and so it launched a crazy idea.
                If the animals at the zoo are mostly nocturnal (which is why they loll around like zombies when you visit in the day), why don’t we try that every summer?  You make it official, like Daylight Savings Time, and you have a big kickoff, say June 15th.  Call it “Nocturne.” All businesses and organizations agree to flip-flop their operating hours until September 15, giving us three months of delightfully cool nighttime temperatures to enjoy as we work, chase around town, and pursue outdoor activities.  Then, when the scorching heat hits in the morning, we go to sleep.  Maybe keep a light fan whirring.  Hey, they have three months of darkness in Scandinavia and they still manage fine.

                Can you even begin to calculate the energy savings if we don’t run air conditioners at full blast for three months?  Imagine getting into your car and being able to touch the steering wheel without blistering your fingers.  You could putter comfortably in the garden with just a flashlight. Your kids could learn the constellations.  Sunscreen would be a greasy thing of the past-- something folks do in other cities, who haven’t caught onto reality yet.
                Nobody would get heat stroke or dehydration, plastic water bottles wouldn’t dominate our landfills, sweat-drenched clothes wouldn’t have to be dry cleaned, and women such as myself, wouldn’t constantly wonder if it’s really hot or if it’s just them.
                We’d all eat better.  No one would say, “It’s just too hot to cook,” and we’d be whipping up hearty stews and comfort foods.
                The crime rate would fall, as burglars would be put out of business-- how can you sneak around in a cloak of blackness, when everyone else is up and can see you?

                Best of all, we’d be happy and energetic.  Irritability and sluggishness would vanish.  Productivity in the workplace would rise.  Classroom temperatures would promote learning.  Patience with pre-schoolers would triple.  Marital romance would skyrocket.  We’d be the smartest city in the USA!
                Or, we can act surprised every summer when the temperatures rise so high you wonder if the propane is safe in your barbecue. I suppose we could continue to live like lizards with sweat glands.
                But I say we finally learn from the zoo animals, and outsmart our climate.

                Or is it just me?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Putting the Wrong Foot Forward

Have you ever had a really stupid idea?  Oh, I know you think you have.  But, my friends, you have no idea the depths of stupidity that I have forged ahead of you. You would have to concoct stupid ideas all day and all night to catch up with just this one that I’m going to share with you.
The idea was to sell painted shoes.  It all started with my three friends in Southern California (so it’s really their fault) when we got together for a girls’ vacation.  We always bring each other party favors and this time I thought I’d paint canvas shoes to depict their hobbies and interests.  Karen has a glorious beach house in Balboa, so hers were nautical.  Cynthia is a formidable game player, thus hers were game-themed.  And Christy is the glamorous doll who I decided could use some leopard-print shoes.  I love bird nests and eggs, so I made myself a pair of those.

But this idea doesn’t just have one problem.  It has six.  First, I’m not an artist.  I forgot to consider this little factoid when I covered my breakfast bar with newspapers, paint, brushes, and canvas shoes.  You would think the sudden realization of this limitation would slow me down, but no.  I just thought the idea was so darling I had to see it through.  And, sure enough, my friends loved their gifts.  So much so, that they said the fatal words, “Oh, you should SELL these!”

And I actually believed them.  I came home and launched a business.  I paid the county for my registered name, got a re-sale number, placed the requisite ad, printed up business cards, joined Etsy and Artfire, posted a website, and signed up as a vendor in craft fairs.  This entire debacle was already costing me a thousand bucks, the Second Problem.
My husband (another culprit—would I have done this without his irresistible name idea?) thought I should call my new business “Oh Shoesanna” at which point I squealed, certain it couldn’t fail.  I decided I should buy the shoes wholesale, so I ordered a box of shoes made in China, the soles of which reeked beyond any rubbery shoe you have ever smelled, and which had to be returned at once.  That was the third problem: I was now forced to purchase shoes retail and sell them at craft fairs where folks expect prices to be below retail.
Naturally, you need to haul quite an inventory to craft fairs.  I was painting like the madwoman I am, and finally had 40 to 60 pairs of these in all kinds of themes. Problem Four: Each pair required two to three hours of work, for which one cannot possibly be adequately compensated.

 Once there, invariably a woman would say, “Oh, I love the Paris one, but you only have a 7 and a 9, and I wear an 8” and I realized The Fifth Problem, which is that I needed every theme in every size.  I also started taking special orders (“I’m in 4-H and want a lamb on mine”) which then required shipping as well.

But wait—as they say in frying pan infomercials—there’s more.  Problem Six is the worst one of all:  I am suddenly being mistaken for a Foot Therapist and am hearing about everyone’s warts, bunions, and fallen arches.  I am now spending entire afternoons trying not to grimace, yet show appropriate compassion.  Incidentally, what is the appropriate level of compassion, here?  I just know at any moment someone will come by, pat me on the shoulder and say, “Oh, you poor thing—you thought this could work, didn’t you?”
I finally dropped my prices from $45 to $22 to $10 and still couldn’t unload them all.  The shoes cost more than that to purchase unpainted!  Why didn’t I just bake up some cookies and give them away as a do-gooder, if the point was to throw money into the wind?  Four people missed the pun entirely and asked me if my name was Suzanna. 

Today I still have about a dozen of these shoes in a box in the garage.  I haven’t done it yet, but I should write “Electronics” on there and hope some burglar steals them.  Then he can blog about what a stupid idea it was to be a burglar.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thai'm Out

            It’s vacation time and I want to recommend a place for you NOT to go.  It’s Bangkok, Thailand.  Oh, dang, right?  Just where you were thinking of going this summer! 

Now, I know there are Bangkokophiles out there whose favorite spot on the map is Thailand, but these people are aliens who come from outrageously humid planets and so it reminds them of home.  Let me tell you what it’s like for Earthlings.
            First of all, the second the airplane door opens, steamy air rushes in and takes the crease out of everybody’s pants.  Instantly.  You cough, almost unable to breathe air this saturated with water.  Next, you swim your way to baggage claim where you cannot even get a good grip on your suitcases because the handles are covered with a film of moisture.  You think maybe it’s just extra humid today.  It is not.
            I went there as a model a few years ago.  Alright, back in the day.  But the climate has not changed.  At a local restaurant I noticed a green disk on the window, about 6 inches wide.  It was a tree frog, suctioned onto the glass.
A group of us were interviewed on their version of The Tonight Show, and here you should get an inkling that something is wrong with this place if real celebrities aren’t around to interview, instead of unknown models.  During the program a gigantic grasshopper landed on my shoulder.  Normally I would have shrieked, but I just glanced over at it because I was so weak from Bangkok Belly.

            Which brings me to that.  You cannot eat or drink the local food or water. You hope you will not swallow any of the canal water that is thrown on you (this being festival time) from the gutters of streets where elephants are strolling.

This information resulted in all the models in our show refusing to drink and becoming dehydrated.  I, however, was the only one who happened to be in her first trimester of pregnancy, so it was particularly serious in my case.  The hotel doctor was summoned.  He heard my symptoms, took one look at my tongue, and told me he was taking me to his clinic at once.  I asked him to call the show’s director while I took an armload of clothes down the hall to another model.  When I got back, he was saying, “May die” into the telephone.  I slumped onto the bed, horrified. He then continued on, insisting to the director that he could not allow me to be in that evening’s fashion show.  I began wondering about the heartless director who was arguing when my life was clearly on the line.
            Finally the doctor hung up and escorted me down to the lobby.  “Is that true, what you said?” I asked.  “That I may die?”
            The doctor appeared to be thinking, then broke into laughter.  “No, no,” he said.  “In Thai ‘may die’ means I can’t do that.  He was asking if you could still be in one or two numbers.  I began speaking English again when you came in, to be polite.”  OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
            But wait; it gets worse.  We got to the clinic, I took out my contacts, I got in bed, and was hooked up to an I.V.  Soon I saw four white-clad interns dashing in with a two-by-four, which they promptly smacked against the wall.  I heard a thud.  I am as nearsighted as Mr. Magoo, and I couldn’t really see what was happening, so I asked, “What’s going on?” at which point one of them turned and told me not to worry; it was just a small animal. 
            Is that so.  Well, now I had to throw up, again, so I took my rolling I.V. into the bathroom.  On the way I was told the animal was one of those tree frogs. This did not help.  Once inside the bathroom I noticed the walls seemed to be moving, so I scooted up about an inch away, to see what was on them.  Ants.  Zillions of ants, zig-zagging in frenetic ant highways.  Were they on the toilet and sink?  Probably, but who could tell?
            So if you go there, enjoy your saffron-robed monks, your golden Buddhas, your Grand Palace, your floating market—just try to stay out of the hospital.  As for me, if anyone wants to give me a free trip to Bangkok I’m afraid I’ll have to say may die.  I simply can’t do that.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Attention Deficit Delight

            So I’m sitting on the platform of a train station in France.  My husband and I are trying to get to Paris from Provence, a problem we should all have on a regular basis, right?  We have way too much luggage, so St. Bob piles our bags about 3 feet from the tracks and tells me to sit on the luggage and wait.  He’s going to go to the ticket window and try to figure out which train we need to take.
            Sitting still is an easy assignment for me; I brought along a novel.  I pull it out and begin to read.  The next thing I know, Bob is back and asks, “Which way did the train come in?”  I look at him, puzzled as to why he is asking such an odd question.  “What train?” I say. 
            He stares at me for a few seconds with “duh” in his eyes, then points behind me.  I turn to look.  WHOA-HO!  Where on earth did that come from?  There’s a huge, black train right behind me, as if David Copperfield himself has made it materialize there.  But I’m pretty sure he lives in Las Vegas, so I quickly rule out this possibility. 

            “Seriously?” Bob is shouting.  “Seriously?  You didn’t even know a train pulled in?” 
            Now, in my defense, I was not given the assignment to watch for a train.  My job was to sit on the luggage and wait, a task I have completed, thank you very much. 

Bob is a cross between apoplectic and flabbergasted, now (possibly flabberplectic?) unable to fathom how anyone in their right mind (a clue not to miss, by the way), could be three feet away from a train and not hear it roaring into the station.
A tiny part of me wants to say, “Hey, if you wanted to know which way the train came in, you should have stayed here and watched for it yourself,” but I sense that I am going down in this battle, and waving that small of a pocket knife will not have much impact on his giant bazooka, already finding me in its cross hairs.
The explanation, of course, is a quasi-medical one, that I have ADD and its attendant hyperfocus that keeps me from noticing bombs going off, people screaming, or trains pulling into stations if I am already engrossed in another activity.  Like reading.  I’ve never been diagnosed, but it wouldn’t take a genius to identify the symptoms.  There’s a documented case of a woman who was so absorbed in a paper she was writing that she didn’t notice her house was on fire and her kitchen was engulfed in flames.  Firemen found her working away, oblivious.  If you don’t believe me, read about it here:  Was this woman me?  No, but it could have been, easily. 

“You have no idea the tortured life I lead,” I say, trying not to laugh and instead, to sound truly sorry.
“You don’t have a tortured life,” Bob says.  “It’s the rest of us who are tortured—it’s like you’re on vacation every minute!”  Yikes.  Busted.  He is right, of course (are all writers like this?)  And, technically, I am on vacation, but I choose not to point this out.
Two weeks ago a friend sent me into the house for a box and I never came back.  It was like an obstacle course filled with distractions (making cookies, for one) and after ten minutes he came in at which point I screamed, “The box!  Yes!  I’ll get the box right now!” aghast that I had forgotten it.

Bob forbids me to answer the phone (I do it anyway; call me and you’ll see) because he’s sure the conversation will go like this.  Caller: May I speak with Bob?  Me: Bob isn’t here.  Caller: Oh.  Well, then, can you take a message?  Me: I’m not allowed to take messages.  Caller: Why not?  Me: Why what? 
On the other hand, if you have something you want me to read for you, believe me when I say you will have my complete and total attention.
Here we are in France, before and after Bob has forgiven me.  Provence at the top, then touring Paris, then meeting up there with our good friends, Bob and Karen Rogers.

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