Category Archives: About Life in General

opinions about life today.

Survivor Guilt 2: The Massage Therapist

 

IMG_1180Has anyone had a horrific massage experience besides me?

All of this Kavanaugh stuff is bringing up memories I’m not that fond of. The massage happened when I was forty. My kids were 17 and 13. I thought I was old.

My back went totally out that year when we were on vacation visiting my parents in Palm Springs. “Get a massage,” my husband suggested.

The only massage therapist was male and I said I didn’t care. I just needed some relief.

It all started fine. He was very strong and could get at my tangled muscles.

Then he said, “I can’t believe you’re forty. Your body is perfect.”

I should have heard the warning bell clanging “DANGER” but again I say, I thought I was old so I ignored the comment.

A few minutes later, he had pushed his body so close to my side that I could feel his erection.

That caused all kinds of alarms to go off. What the hell? I thought and scooted towards the center of the table. I tried to be subtle about it, nice girl that I am. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

He moved to the head of the table–it was not good. This kind of thing continued until I was scared to death. “Just let this be over,” I said to myself.

I didn’t know what to do. Now I would have said, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Get out of here.” Then I started praying that my husband would come to meet me.

Which he did. The massage was over and I was standing in the room (I have no recollection of what the room looked like or what I was wearing, etc. ) when I heard my husband’s hearty voice at the door. I’ve never been happier to hear him because the massage therapist had just told me to hug him.

I was a well brought up, polite woman. WHO DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF. I needed my husband to rescue me.

And again I felt guilty. What was the matter with me that things like this happened? What was I doing wrong?

Did I report this man? I thought about it but I didn’t. That’s what I did wrong.

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Survivor Guilt #1

via Survivor Guilt #1

Survivor Guilt #1

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Surviving sexual assault brings with it another load for survivors to carry: guilt. People demand to know: “Why didn’t Dr. Ford  come forward right away? Why can she remember some details and not the others.”
I can’t answer for anyone else but me.
I can tell you this: you never forget the fear.
I was 22 and I can still feel my revulsion as his stubby fingers came at me. I was lucky. I was not raped–I was barely touched, but I get a sick feeling to this day when I think about it.

I was teaching at Meany Junior High in Seattle. Someone had been sending me notes for weeks, each getting more suggestive. I ignored them, thinking if I did that it would all go away. The last note demanded that I meet the sender at a coffee shop. I didn’t go, of course. But what if I had? (Interesting, I remember the notes, but I don’t remember if I threw them away. Did I tear them up?)

The next morning before school, my classroom door was flung open so hard that it sounded like a gun shot when it hit the wall. I looked up. This man I considered my mentor came rushing towards my desk, shouting. He grabbed me, still shouting. He accused me of leading him on. Then he tried to kiss me. I struggled to avoid his lips. Luckily I was hardly touched. The bell rang and a student came into the room. Talk about being saved by the bell.

I was not raped physically but I knew if the situation had been different, I might have been. But had I inadvertently been leading him on? Maybe it was my fault.
I didn’t tell anyone for 25 years. It was the Anita Hill hearings that induced me to tell my husband and parents. My mother had said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s true. Why wouldn’t she have said something over all these years.”
I said so quietly that they didn’t hear the first time, “It happened to me and I never said anything.”
I remember some of that morning fifty years ago, but details have faded. Like I said, I remember the fear. I don’t think I had bruises on my arms, but I can’t remember. I wanted to forget it had happened. So I buried it deep.

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The Art of the Photo

via The Art of the Photo

The Art of the Photo

When our daughter was visiting last month, I asked my husband to take a picture of me with her, her brother and her daughter. Here was his first attempt.

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This from a guy who shoots his age or better on the golf course and wields a remote control like it’s his third hand.

True, he doesn’t use a camera much–he hasn’t needed to because his own personal assistant (me) has followed him around. If you look at pictures from some of our trips you’d think I wasn’t along. There he is with the Masai chief.

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There he is in Venice.

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And enjoying a Hawaiian evening or two.

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But where am I?

This started early in our relationship. Here he is at the Rocky Point restaurant where he asked me to marry him. It’s a charming photo of a young couple in love. Oh, wait, I’m not in it.

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At least I made it into a wedding picture:

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But here we are on our honeymoon.

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You can kinda tell that my husband thinks all of these photo shoots are his due. His family took pictures of him before he could stand on his own.

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I’ve just continued the tradition.

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Someone reminded me about selfies. I’m trying to learn how to take them.

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A Free Spirit I’m Not

You’ve seen those pictures of beautiful blonds with flowing locks streaming behind them as they drive along the ocean in a convertible? They look so glamorous and like they’d be the life of any party. . .

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I’ve never been a convertible kind of girl. I don’t have the hair for it. Nor have I ever been the carefree type. These undeniable truths came back to me the other day when we were driving to the doctor’s office.

My husband, who has a cough that frightens small children and dogs, decided we should take the 1965 Mercedes convertible to UCLA. Even though I had just spent a half hour trying to coax some volume into my hair, I got into the car without protest. It had been his dad’s car and he loves it.

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How bad could it be?

Within six blocks I knew. First, since the seat belts are older than my kids, I couldn’t get mine to work. (Do you think the blonds with flowing hair care about seat belts? Nah!) There I was, without the protection of a roof, sitting next to a driver who doesn’t think following traffic rules is necessary. I started praying.

Then I felt the sun beating down on me. And I hadn’t put on sunscreen! I put my hand up, trying to block the rays. Which made it difficult to guard my hair.

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“Isn’t this fun?” my husband asked between coughs.

“Really fun,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic.

On the way home, I figured out my seat belt, but the sun was even hotter. And the fumes from cars and motorcycles started me coughing.

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“You don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself,” my husband said.

“Oh, no, it’s great!” I tried creating a smile to match my words. I didn’t want to be a killjoy.

 

Today my husband had a better companion in his convertible. He and our granddaughter took the Mercedes to the mall to buy her school shoes.

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They came back all smiles! That’s what grandchildren are for: to make us happy!

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Double or Nothing

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A funny thing happened to me on the way to writing about what a piece of cake my cataract surgery was: I started seeing double out of the cataract eye.

We’re staying in Santa Barbara for two weeks so I thought it was a perfect time to do the cataract surgery. Our ophthalmologist here is world renown–as a matter of fact, he’d just returned from India where he’d done thirty retinal implants.

The cottage we’re staying at is on the golf course. I knew my husband was playing with our son and grandson so I kept watching for them. When they came by, I went out to say hello. The only thing strange was that it looked like they were playing with two golf balls instead of one.

Oh well, I thought. I’m only day 3 from the surgery.

The next day, my husband and I took a walk by the ocean.

“How many buoys do you see out there?” I asked him.

He looked at me strangely. “What do you mean? I see six.”

“Well, I see twelve.” (I’d show you the image, but only I can see it.)

The following morning I mentioned to my sister what was going on.

“You’re going to talk to the doctor, right?” she said.

“Sure, I’ll text him this morning,” I assured her.

There’s a lot of sures in that sentence because I was sure the doc would say it was normal. But, instead he said it wasn’t.

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The actual cataract surgery was a breeze. I was in by 6:30 and out by 8:30.

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The nurse had me get into a gown and took my vitals. Then she started the IV. She had just moved to Santa Barbara from Tennessee and was new to the Surgical Hospital. “But I’ve been doing this for 35 years,” she said.

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The surgical nurse came to wheel my gurney into the operating room. We passed storage rooms in the rather crowded hall, but other than bumping into a wall, it was a smooth ride.

I don’t think the surgery itself took more than fifteen minutes.

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You’re not put to sleep so you can respond to their direction to move your eye as they put in the lens. But, happy juice is pumped into your system via an IV so all is well. As the anesthesiologist had explained, “Being in a very cold operating room where you know someone is going to be cutting your eye can be extremely anxiety producing. We don’t want that.”

“No we don’t,” I said. “Count me in.”

I don’t know how long I was in recovery because the happy juice was still flowing through my skinny veins even if it was cut off at the source. I was impressed by the mix of professionalism and caring nature of everyone.

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Soon I was dressed, in the car and on the way to breakfast at The Pharmacy in Montecito. My eye shield made me a fashion sensation but I was so busy admiring how yellow the hibiscus flowers were that I didn’t notice. I did make some new friends as I heard their cataract stories.

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When we got home, I was tired. I always put a lot of energy into being anxious before events like this. I also eat like there may be no tomorrow. When I had uterine cancer and had to have a hysterectomy, I won’t say I was hysterical, but I did eat a donut. The cataract surgery really was no big deal, but French fries became a staple for a week. As did pancakes.

So all was well except for me being tired—which may be a part of being in my seventies anyway. Your sight is not perfect, of course, because it takes a few weeks for the lens to settle in. But at my afternoon post-op, all looked fantastic. So much so, that my husband took over, as usual, and got a check up too.

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It took two days for my natural disaster karma to set in. It turns out I have monocular diplopia. It’s very rare—it occurs in maybe 1 out of 100,000 cases. I always did say I was unique. My friend, Earl, put it another way: “Do you ever feel like you’re a magnet for trouble?”

Now I’ve been back to my ophthalmologist for a very thorough exam. He even tested for macular degeneration. While I waited for him, I looked at the charts on the all the computer screens in the examining room.

IMG_0818Not being able to interpret any of them, I immediately imagined myself with a white cane and seeing-eye dog by my side in the near future. Fortunately, all those tests came out super-duper.

To be safe, the doctor also sent me to a specialist for a second opinion and another thorough exam.

“Wow, your lens is positioned perfectly,” the specialist said. “That all looks great.”

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I smiled and gave a thumbs up in my head.

“But yes,” he continued, “you do have monocular diplopia.”

My smile turned upside down.

“But that’s better than binocular double vision.”

“Better?” I didn’t sound sure.

He nodded. “It could resolve itself. Probably will.”

That sounded good and concurred with my ophthalmologist’s opinion.

“You also have SPK,” this doctor added.

“What is that? I asked, my poor stomach’s knots getting even tighter.

 

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(A brief hopeful thought that it could be a consonant Words With Friends word flitted through my mind, but then I was back to fear.)

“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a surface inflammation of the cornea. But since you’ve seen some flashes of light, I’m going to have you see a retina specialist.”

What? Another specialist? I was beginning to feel I’d fallen down the rabbit hole.

I could barely see anything when I drove back to Montecito.

My eyes were dilated to such an extreme that my iris was almost completely eclipsed. You could only see the black pupil and a sliver of blue. Although I am partial to that particular blue which signaled my particular eyes, I didn’t think of that. I just thought I was permanently blind.

I probably should have stayed a while in the waiting room, but I’d already been there for two and a half hours. It was already 12:30 and I had a manicure appointment at 1:00. (There are priorities, you know.)

So I Mr. Magoo’ed it along the freeway in the slow lane, making my way to the Nail Shop. I’d never been there before but had a general idea where it was. I only missed by three blocks—not bad since I still could barely see a thing.

I was, to put it mildly, a nervous wreck.

“Take an Uber home,” my wise older brother advised me over the phone.

“I don’t have Uber,” I said.

“Then take a cab. You don’t want to have an accident on top of all of this.”

We talked for a few more minutes until I said, “You know I’m going to drive home.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said.

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By the time my manicure was finished, an hour had passed and my eyesight was returning. Driving home was barely a challenge.

My eyes were almost as tired as I was. I dropped into bed and slept for two hours.

When I woke, my eyes were still very dilated and things were fuzzy, but improving.

Today, things are much better. I have blue eyes again and my sense of humor is returning along with some energy.

I’m also feeling grateful. What’s a little monocular diplopia? Nothing, my friends, as long as I can basically see.

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Keeping An Eye On The Ball

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Tomorrow I’m having cataract surgery. I’m a little nervous, which I didn’t think I’d be. It’s that same feeling—so maybe I can’t see perfectly, but I can see pretty well—I can see enough. Why the hell am I playing around with my sight? I really depend on my eyes—reading, writing and my grandkids are my life. Why take a chance I won’t be able to see any of them? I made the mistake of reading the whole consent form—I was bored and had nothing else to do. Geez, some bad stuff can happen. And having a very active imagination, I can imagine them all happening to me!

I just got up from the computer to put eye drops in my left eye. I’m supposed to put them in every two hours. The first two hours went slowly—I was hyper aware. But just now, it had been 2 and a half hours and I didn’t realize it. (Now, my sight is a little blurry. Oy vey!)

So, I’ll keep doing this until I go to bed. Then nothing to eat after midnight and get to the surgery center at 6:30 AM. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, I’m not very assertive about these kinds of things. I don’t know what kind of lens or what vision it will give me. I talked to the doctor and now I’m leaving it in his more educated hands. He’s a world-renowned ophthalmologist and has just returned from a week in India doing corneal implants. Also, my husband says he’s a great golfer.

A funny thing happened on my way to getting a cleared Pre-Op. My EKG was abnormal. It turns out my heart beats way too slowly. So the cardiologist adjusted my meds. Hopefully that will all turn out well too. I’m taking it as a gift—to know something was wrong before something happened is like getting a free-bee. I’ll wear a monitor and have some tests in August. A pacemaker may be in my future—I wouldn’t be surprised as it runs in the family. (no pun intended! HA)

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I’m grateful that modern science offers solutions to these glitches. But, I’m telling you—once you hit 70, it’s double time patch, patch patch.

 

 

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Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

via Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

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I don’t understand some sorts of destruction—destruction for destruction’s sake.

I get disaster—like in Montecito this winter. These houses were eaten by the mudslides after the rains after the fires. Mother Nature played her hand, and it’s the most powerful one.

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As far as I can tell by reading on-line, the fires were not deliberately set. Power lines, not properly cared for, seemed to have been the cause. It wasn’t an arsonist—someone who started the fire for their own pyschotic reason. It wasn’t even people being careless—Smokey the Bear’s warnings were heeded. But the fires were catastrophic and set up a scenario that could have come out of the diabolical mind of a Hollywood screenwriter. The destruction was horrible but it wasn’t on purpose.

I understand accidents. They happen. But they can be destructive in so many ways. As well as the behaviors that lead to them.

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But people going out intentionally to destroy things, that I don’t get.

The other day on my walk, I saw what could have only been a purposeful act of destruction. I love artichokes and I’d been watching  these lovely  plants develop since Spring.

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I loved the symmetry of the artichokes and the colorful blooming of the flower as they matured.

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But then one day, I came upon this—the smashed remains of part of the plant. It couldn’t have been an accident.

IMG_0713.jpgIt grows on an incline. There’s a wall. I don’t think an animal could gain purchase there—even the mountain lion that people see every once and awhile. No, I’m assuming this was wanton destruction by a human hand. Someone hacked it down.

Why?

Were people so angry, so hurt, so disturbed, that they had to take it out in some way? Does the violence of school shootings stem from this same kind of rage? Is the urge to destroy primal? Or does someone just not care about other people’s property? Or other people’s lives?

And what happens when something or someone is crushed? They wither and die, that’s what.

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We live in a huge, complex country. We’re no longer a melting pot but a stew with the ingredients of different races, religions, languages and ideas. To destroy one branch will lead to the destruction of the whole. History has taught us that. Nature displays it. Let’s learn from it.