Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chantix Update One

One of the side effects of Chantix is reported to be "unusual or vivid dreams". I've always been real big on dreams. I like dreaming. With dreams I can get away with stuff I could never do in real life, go places I'll never go, meet people I'll never meet, and never be bound by the laws of physics. Pesky gravity. So imagine my joy when I woke up one day and realized that I was one of the lucky few to experience unusual or vivid dreams!

Oh, it's magical. I can dream all sorts of interesting stories, wake up to write them down, and only later, when fully conscious, realize that they make no sense and may in some cases actually be disturbing. I blame the medicine rather than my own psyche. My brain would never think of such whacked out shit on its own. Nahhh, must be the meds.

So far I haven't actually tried to quit smoking yet. The information packet that came with the pills says to quit on the eighth day but my doctor said to quit after two weeks. Guess which one I'm going to listen to. I want to make sure my drug level is really high before I try not to light up. I'm nervous. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Political Bullshit

For the past two days the nation has, quite appropriately, been shocked by the Virginia Tech shooting, and has been looking for answers. Now, since I live nowhere near Virginia, and know no one who lives anywhere near Virginia, I am less interested in the shooting. It's not that I don't care; it's just that I simply don't have the time to get panicked about every school or workplace shooting in the country. But the news outlets, television, radio, print AND internet, are full of updates and recaps and theories on the student who decided that the one college experience he simply could not skip was of course, mass murder. Today, while skimming through all of these headlines, I found this.

The third paragraph grabbed my attention instantly. The president is expected to make a statement of apology at an event in Seoul Wednesday afternoon. My question is, why?

Why is the president of South Korea apologizing for the actions of one former resident, who hasn't lived in the country for fifteen years? And why does America seem to collectively think that this apology is appropriate? I mean, this is the same country which has repeatedly refused to apologize to its own citizens for slavery, a legal and government-endorsed practice of mass oppression and abuse spanning much of the nation's history.

So, we can't apologize for what our forefathers might have done, but we can certainly expect a foreign leader to apologize for what someone he has never met and is in no way linked to, other than a common birthplace, did without his knowledge. This is just one more example of the national ego which makes certain parts of the world hate America. Combine that ego with the current president, a man who should have a short yellow school bus heading his motorcade in the interest of truth in advertising laws, and it's not surprising that we are resented by people all the world over.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

But All The Cool Kids Were Doing It

My parents divorced the summer I turned eleven years old. It was hard on me, losing my father (he never really came by after the divorce, not really a visitation' kind of guy) and I felt pretty alone in the world for a while. Anyway, my mother acted in much the same way as many recently divorced women. She lost weight, had her hair done, and went out with friends determined to cheer her up. And she left my little brother and I in the care of a local high-school girl. For two dollars an hour Lori would come over, watch television, and basically ignore us. But she was cool. She had long dark hair, a car, and a boyfriend. There was a constant stream of beautiful people coming through my house, especially when Lori started babysitting all day during the summers.

I wanted to be Lori. I wanted to be five nine and thin with a huge 80s perm and a fake-bake tan so dark it could change my race. I wanted the cute jock boyfriend and the prom queen best friend. I wanted to drive and buy my own Debbie Gibson tapes and smoke long menthol cigarettes. But I was only eleven and I couldn't drive yet, or buy much of anything with my tiny allowance. I burnt if I stayed in the sun for more than half an hour and I would never reach five nine in my life. But I could smoke, and I did.

Fast forward almost twenty years and I am now just a cool as I dreamed. Yellowed teeth, a hacking cough, thirty dollars poorer every week. Yep, nothing says "Cool" better than a dirt-poor nicotine-stained walking ball of phlegm. If I keep it up I can accomplish the single sexiest aspect of smoking: excessive aging. I can hardly wait.

So I'm going to quit. I have heard nothing but good about the latest prescription-only quitting aid and I have made an appointment for five days from today to request a prescription. I think I am finally ready to quit. They always say that if you don't really want to quit you won't be able to, and I believe them. I don't know who "they" are, but I believe them on this one. I have been on the patch before which, depending on the strength, made me either nauseous or had absolutely no noticeable effect. I have tried tapering down, an endeavor which took two months just to convince me that I was more willing to endure the possibility of far-away cancer than the reality of right-then misery. And I have tried quitting cold-turkey, which lasted twenty-three full hours, ten of which were spent sleeping. I've even put rubber bands around my wrist and snapped them until I had a welt that looked like a suicide attempt. But all of these attempts to quit had one thing in common; I was doing it for reasons other than truly wanting to quit. I was dating a non-smoker, or I was having trouble affording the cigarettes, or I had a new job that didn't hand out smoke breaks. Even when I was pregnant I was doing it for the baby, not for myself. I wanted to smoke; I just didn't want the baby to smoke. A small distinction, but a very large obstacle. But now I want to quit smoking. I don't want Ryan to grow up believing that cigarettes are like coffee, nasty-tasting but part of adulthood, like I did. I don't want to be a pregnant smoker again. And I would really like to get in shape, but I seem to run out of breath too quickly to accomplish any real exercise. So I am counting down the days to my appointment (four days, nineteen hours, thirty minutes) and I am looking forward to the day when I wake up in the morning and don't feel every cell in my body screaming for a cigarette. Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An Ancient Evil Claims Another Victim

Today I realized that my mother is becoming my grandmother. I don't know why I didn't see it until today; it can't have been an overnight kind of thing. It didn't occur to me when she got the $25,000 a year raise and still insisted on shopping at Aldi's with the food-stamp crowd. It didn't even dawn on me that she may be turning into her own mother when I arrived at her house to find a giant box of bulk dog-training pads taking up permanent residence on her living room sofa. No, it wasn't until today's phone call that I realized that no matter how different they seemed, my mother was in fact transforming into my psychotic grandmother. Diaper pins and carpeted stairs can only be so far away now.

It was early afternoon and Ryan had spent the night up at Doan's house (she calls my mother Doan, long story), as she does just about every weekend. The phone rang, I answered, and it was Ryan. I could hear Mom feeding her lines in the background. Was I awake? Was I dressed? I asked if she was ready to come home and she said no, Doan had told her to call. I asked to speak to Doan and when she came on the line I asked, like I do just about every Saturday when I get this call, why she felt the need to wake me up for nothing. I mean, I'm thirty years old; shouldn't I be able to sleep all day if I want to? Ryan's having fun up there and I have nothing I need to get done today so why do I have to get up before noon if I don't want to? PLUS, I've been sick all week! If being far too old to be woken up by my mother on a Saturday isn't a good enough reason for her not to make Ryan call me, aren't sick people generally granted a little more freedom to sleep than most? Isn't rest what you're supposed to get when you're sick? Her reply? A very huffy "Well I thought you might want to talk to your daughter!"

Great, the guilt angle. But I wasn't falling for it. Because if that were a plausible reason then I should be able to have Ryan call her at 2 a.m. after a nightmare under the assumption that I thought she might want to talk to her grand-daughter. Of course, this argument in my favor didn't go over too well. Now, keep in mind that I said all of this light-heartedly, not confrontationally. I did want her to see that it was ridiculous to call me to wake me up for no reason on the only day of the week I have to sleep in, but I didn't want to start a fight over it. But the next thing I heard was "Well fine. I'll never call you again, okay? Goodbye." Click. She hung up on me.

This is Grandma Dorie behavior. The absolute over-reaction to anything conflicting with what she wants to do at the time, with no reasoning behind it. No reasoning behind making Ryan call to wake me up, and no reasoning behind acting as though I just told her I hated her and was going to put out a mob contract on her. This is disturbingly reminiscent of the time my grandmother confused her pill timer with the telephone ringer and *69'ed me angry that I was prank calling her every day at 3:15. She knows she's right despite any evidence to the contrary and is upset because I refuse to recognize it. Now I have to wonder, when did Mom become Grandma?

When did my braless, hairy-legged, feminist mother turn into the woman who wouldn't pull the alarm cord in her retirement home bathroom after a heart attack because the EMTs would have seen her with her pants down? When did the lady who refused to buy us any cereal in a box decorated with cartoon characters, the promise of a prize, or even primary colors become the same woman who believes that twinkie is a food group? At what time did the woman who kept condoms in the house just so I would have them, at age 14, mutate into the same woman who called me a whore for taking birth control pills? And what does this say for me? If my mother, who has historically been so polar-opposite to her mother, can evolve into her, what hope do I have? My mom's adopted; there isn't even a genetic reason for her to become the woman who raised her. I don't have that hope to cling to since my mother actually gave birth to me. Am I going to start taking notes on cooking shows, refuse to wax my post-menopausal beard, drink three day old black coffee I forgot was in the microwave? What's next for me?

But even more frightening than becoming my own mother is the possibility that if my mother is her mother, then I may become HER. I may become the semi-suicidal shut-in watching Anna Nicole updates and Montel reruns all day. I may someday find myself screaming at the kids in the playroom at McDonald's to keep it down, oblivious to their parents' hostile stares. I could someday find myself, during the family Christmas celebration, yelling at my nineteen year old grandson to keep it in his pants, with NO provocation. I don't want that. I don't want to be that. Hell, I don't even want to be around that, which is why I avoid my grandmother at all costs.

Please, somebody tell me there is hope. Tell me that we are not predestined to become our mothers. Tell me that the evil that is my racist homophobic grandmother will not attempt to live on through me. And if it ever does, tell me that you will kill me then to stop it. This deep ancient dark force, this slave to bodily functions, must be stopped by someone. Promise that if you ever find me, ten years past menopause and five years past a hysterectomy, buying panty-liners just because "they're free after rebate", that you will put the good of the world first and sprinkle cyanide in my sugar bowl.

Friday, April 13, 2007

So It Goes

Perhaps the phrase has become too cliche in the past few days, but that is only because it is the most, if not the only, fitting statement to be made. It's fatalism is only offensive in that it serves to remind us that in matters of death we have no power. We can kill, end life at will, but we can not perpetuate life beyond it's time. And that is why I feel so depressed today, because if such a great mind as Kurt Vonnegut's cannot be made to stay then what hope is there for the rest of us?

I mourn Vonnegut as I mourn myself. He has died and so will I, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. So it goes.
November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why I Vote Sanjaya

Because I hate American Idol, that's why. I don't watch the show but I do watch a lot of what comes on after it and lately I've been trying to catch the last couple minutes of the show to get the call-in number for Sanjaya so I can flash / redial twenty or so times. Why would I vote on a show I hate for a guy everyone hates? Because it is funny to piss off the Idol fans and because maybe getting stuck contracting this guy will convince the backers to cancel the show. Then House won't get preempted for weeks at a time, msnbc won't devote an entire section of their site to the show, my news sites will stop headlining Idol news over actually pertinent world events, and Simon Cowell will stop making news for being such an asshole.

I don't care if Ryan Seacrest is gay or not. I don't care if Paula cries. I don't care who slept with whom or whose naked pics got posted where or who showed up last night to mentor the contestants. And if the show didn't monopolize the collective consciousness so much I wouldn't care if it ran for next 50 years. But it does garnish way more attention than it warrants and I'm sick of hearing about it and seeing clips every time I turn on the computer or TV.

Randy Jackson punctuating every sentence with the word Dawg, Paula telling legions of tone-deaf hopefuls that they deserve to go to Hollywood when even they seem to know they don't, Simon being needlessly cruel to people just for trying, and Ryan making fun of Simon's breast tissue. Why is this taking the market's share four or five or however many nights a week? And why do people still show up to audition?!

I have seen enough of the auditions while channel surfing to know that the most horrific singers try out. I'm not talking about people who are pitchy (what the hell does THAT mean?) but the truly bad. The kind of people who are asked to keep it down during hymn-time at church. The sort of people who make Roseanne's version of the national anthem sound good. Why do they go? Even good singers get torn into by Simon, so what would motivate anyone to put themself into the firing line?

I'll tell you who: idiot attention-whores. The same people who jump up and down with banners trying to get Al Roker's attention in sub-freezing temperatures at 6 AM. The people who press their face to the glass behind the network morning show hosts hoping to get their squashed features on television for 15 seconds. So now we put them on the air. It's not the attention whores willing to jump over a gorge or eat a giant cockroach anymore; now all they have to do is butcher a Whitney Houston song. No, I can't sing. I sound like a dying alley-cat when I do. But I have more dignity than to try out for a televised talent show. And I have more self-respect than to basically walk up to Simon Cowell and ask to be ripped to shreds. Why are we rewarding people with no dignity or self-respect, and preempting House to do it?

So, if the American Idol fans are going to monopolize the media, monopolize conversations every day all over the US, and monopolize time slots that could be better served by almost any other television show, I am going to do my best to make sure they get Sanjaya every week. Sanjaya in all of his wild-haired tone-deaf glory. Sanjaya, dream-twink to millions, winning the recording contract. What could be better than that?