Coffee heat rising

In the Village Cluster

Ever think of a city not as a single vast sprawling entity but as a set of villages that, for whatever strange reason, happen to have clustered together? That, sometimes, is what lovely Phoenix seems to be. Not just in relation to its endlessly sprawling Southern-California style suburbs, but where its own internal districts are concerned.

And one of the quirks of living here is that you tend to hang out a lot in your own village and, for long periods, to visit only a limited set of other villages. One reason for that, of course, is that you have a routine that puts you on a fairly set path. The other is that driving in this city is not very much fun.

It used to be fun — driving, I mean. Back in the dark ages, when the roads carried about a quarter to a third as much traffic as they do today, sometimes one would actually get in the car and go exploring, just for the helluvit — because yeah, driving here used to be a pleasant way to pass the time. Now it’s just a giant, sprawling headache.

Today I had to revisit the dermatologist whose office is halfway to Yuma. This time I and my fellow homicidal drivers escaped the panoply of wrecks. But I had a couple of errands to run on the way home. This required me to visit my old stomping grounds — the historic Encanto District — and then cruise up Central Avenue to AJ’s fancy overpriced grocery store. Usually I evade driving on Central, because I hate the accursed lightrail train, which makes a hair-tearing mess of the traffic signal timing. But today cruising north on that tangled road seemed like a path of…well, less resistance.

Mid-central Phoenix is one of the “villages.” It’s one my mother and I used to hang out in a lot, and it’s also one I used to drive through with some frequency when the ex- and I lived downtown. Today it occurred to me that my mother would barely recognize it, here in the 21st century. For that matter, the 20-year-old me would be lost there, too. Our favorite venue, the formerly upscale Park Central, no longer houses stores at all, leastwise not so I can see. It’s mostly offices, a modern art gallery, and clutter. All up and down Central Avenue, developers have built four- to six-story apartment buildings, as well as a few new high-rises. These apartments are real rabbit-warrens…all shiny and new now, but the sort of junk that you know will be just that — junk — within a couple of decades: crowded and cramped and tenementy. A few places persist, but most of our old hangouts are gone, replaced with smaller, shinier, more harder-edged hangouts.

So after driving and hassling and driving and driving, I finally arrive home. Let the dog out. Sit down. Turn on the computer. And find this amusing message in the email from WonderAccountant, my neighbor across the street:

Hi–

I guess this is the happening corner.  This morning I looked up from my computer to see a police car parked in front of my house with the officer walking towards the northeast corner of the house.  They began talking to a person that I could not see.  A few minutes later two policemen escorted her to another waiting cop car down in front of Felicia’s house.  Not sure what was happening.  The woman was youngish, African American, wearing leggings, boots, and a knitted cap.  It struck me that she was dressed for the weather.  I didn’t see anything else.

 Perhaps you did?

Perhaps not, this being the first I’d heard of it.

Felicia is Other Daughter for this blog’s purposes, the lesser offspring of the Perp, known to the real world as Tony the Romanian Landlord. Between me and Felicia lives Terri, another freelance accountant. That gives us three lone women living in a row on this side of the street. And of course, facing us we have W.A., who is alone all day while Mr. W.A. works at his partnership’s office.

{sigh}

Yesterday I was mooning on to myself about how much I love my house and how much I love my neighborhood and how really, when ya come right down to it, I can’t imagine moving (because no place is any better and precious few places are as good) and how for sure I’m going to age in place and stay here till I croak over.

Today Prescott and Tucson look better and better…

Driving to Drink…

Arrrghhhh!!!!! I’ve been on the wagon — totally, since the middle of July — a good four months, with no particular cravings or sense of desperation. But I hafta tellya…nothing will drive you to drink faster than 15 miles behind the steering wheel in the lovely City of Phoenix. Add a junket through Costco to that and you might as well buy a giant $40 supply of Maker’s Mark. That, presumably, is why Costco is able to sell the stuff by the flat.

To start with, wherever you’re going in Phoenix, you can’t get there from here. Every damn road is blocked, narrowed, closed, detoured, or hosting a fender-bender. So for any given twenty-minute drive, the smart driver allots thirty and preferably forty minutes.

To end with, you get to share these constricted, limited roads with every moron on the planet! And one of Newton’s Laws of Physics states, clear as day:

If there’s a moron, he’ll get in front of you.

True fact.

This particular natural law extends to the interior of Costco, where patrons flock like leaderless sheep: meandering, pondering, ruminating as they block the aisles so everyone behind them has to detour into another aisle where, lost and confused, they stand pondering and ruminating on the question of where on earth whatever they want might be stocked.

The place was mobbed…and this was around 1 p.m. on a Thursday. Presumably the hordes combined early Thanksgiving shoppers with hoarders — we’re told people are snatching all the toilet paper and paper towels off the shelves again.

Brother!! If that’s the case, I’m feeling pretty pleased about my earlier hoard-fest: the garage, freezer, and pantry cabinets are now stuffed with paper goods, cleansers, flour, and staple foods, enough to last for several months. IMHO, if you didn’t grab as much as you could stock in after the dust settled from the last frenzy, you must be crazy. Clearly, as we can see from our politics and from our antics in the stores, a large portion of Americans have gone off the deep end.

At any rate, back in the Department of Driving: went to try to get some of Costco’s generously marked-down gasoline…and found every gas pump jammed with wannabe customers extending in lines halfway to Yuma. Decided to opt that: there’s enough gas to last for awhile.

It’s mighty early to be filling up for a Thanksgiving weekend in the Rim Country. My guess is, that’s not the cause of the gas-pump traffic jam.

Costco closed its store here in mid-central Phoenix, the decrepit shopping center that it occupied having grown…well…beyond decrepit. That shopping center, ChrisTown, faces on Conduit of Blight Blvd…and when we say “blight,” we’re not kidding. What used to be a middle-income area has slipped to alarmingly lower-income, with drug-dealing gangs holding forth to the west, all along Camelback Road between Conduit of Blight and the I-17 freeway. The store served the ritzy North Central district, the Encanto and Palmcroft areas, and the less affluent strip of historic housing extending north from Encanto all the way up to Sunnyslope. Except for the lawyers & doctors of North Central and Encanto/Palmcroft, the largest part of this demographic was not in the market for a lot of Costco’s fancier products. And you could tell this if you shopped in that store and one or two others — Costco targets its demographic, and many of the chain’s commonly stocked items — such as blue cheese in blocks, for example — never did appear in the ChrisTown store.

So, with that store closed, those of us who like to buy gas at Costco have as our closest choice the store up north on the I-17…and that would explain the mobs at the gas pumps. After this, I’ll have to spring for a few bucks extra for a fill-up at the rapacious QT station up the way, or drive out to the Paradise Valley store when the car needs gas.

So I didn’t get gas while I was visiting the Costco, one of two frustrations of a frustrating trip. The other: that store shares a large parking lot with a Sportsman’s Warehouse. Some years ago I bought a pair of Teva sandals there, which are great walking sandals. The other day the peripheral neuropathy was flaring so badly I couldn’t continue the doggy walk — to get home, I’d had to take off the aging Sanitas (Dansko-style clogs) and go barefoot for a third of a mile. Those clogs are pretty well shot, sooo…out of curiosity, the next day I tried wearing those Tevas for the doggy walk. And damned if they didn’t make it possible to get around the entire mile of the short-course doggy trail!

They’re red. Nice, but gaudy. Realizing that henceforth these will be the New Old-Lady Shoes, I decided to buy a new pair, preferably in black.

Shoot in to Sportsman’s Warehouse, collar the first clerk I see in the shoe department, point to my clod-hopping hiking sandals, and say “I need a new pair of these.”

She says, “We ran out of them.”

Ducky. I drove halfway to Timbuktu to get a pair of shoes that they’re not carrying. And that Amazon reviewers say do not fit the way they used to — so unless you’re nuts, you’d better try them on before buying. Shee-UT!

Back in the car, I decided to cruise down the hated freeway instead of returning home by the surface streets, which had taken me to Costco by the scenic route, via the credit union, where I’d needed to deposit a couple of Medigap checks.

The damn freeway is also jammed, and as soon as I merge into the hectic traffic I spot a sign flashing the message that the off-ramp before mine is closed, screwuyouverymuch.

So that meant at least half the drivers who intended to use that off-ramp would be jamming their way onto mine. Goodie!

And so it went. Managed to get off without killing anyone or getting killed, but it was a challenge. The city is extending its accursed lightrail line along that road — Gangbanger’s Way — taking the train to a now-closed, defunct shopping mall (brilliant idea, eh?). So they’re starting to dig up the pavement, meaning that getting across there without the extra load of traffic is a PITA under the best of circumstances…to say nothing of exiting with the troops who intended to get off at the previous exit. By the time you get back in the house, the thought that floats through your mind is damn, but i need a drink!

Phoenix: No matter where you’re going, you can’t get there from here.

Lampquest!

And so it was off into the rising sun…

With a printout of a candidate glass lampshade from the Lamps Plus manager, along about midmorning I set out for Phoenix Lamps, a venerable shop that has occupied the same hole-in-the-wall on east Indian School Road for years. Nay, decades.

This is not a place to which I would normally avail myself, because years ago — yea verily, decades ago — their staff was unforgivably rude to me. Never have I returned, and never did I intend to return. But the Hinkley’s lady and the Lamps Plus lady assured me that the joint has changed hands, and the new proprietors were capable of behaving themselves as if they cared whether customers ever came back.

Welp…they’re right. Staff there were visibly human, and they managed to be very nice to me, despite the crankiness of my quest.

Traffic, though? Not so much. I dawdled until around 11 a.m. before dragging unhappily out the door. That was a mistake. Traffic in all directions, on all routes was just effing fierce. What are all these clowns doing out on the roads in the middle of the effing morning?

Phoenix Lamps is parking-lot challenged. They have only a cramped space behind their strip-mall slot for customers to stash their cars. No doubt under ordinary circumstances, this would have been fine. Today, though, was not an ordinary circumstances day.

The store was busy — several parties perusing every item in the store. This would explain why the slot I hogged was the only parking spot left behind the place. But despite the demands on his time and attention, the guy I met up with was very kind and very knowledgeable.

Upon inspecting the wounded Restoration Hardware lamp, he agreed that the proposed replacement glass thing suggested by the Lamps Plus manager was probably the best bet. That notwithstanding, he hauled out a gigantic Sears-Catalogue of the lamp industry and searched. And came up with the same choice. But, he allowed, this thing was not a-gonna fit in the RH lamp: it probably would be too short and too loose. However, his crew could fix that: they could build up the base for the thing and adjust it so the proposed shade would sit there with an adequate degree of stability.

So, he suggested, I should order this thing online, bring it and the crippled lamp in to the shop, and they would make it all work.

Holy mackerel. If the gods aren’t snickering, they surely are smiling.

From there, it was off to the Trader Joe in Town and Country (20th Street & Camelback)…after a lengthy wait until the disabled lady who kindly blocked the entrance and exit to the Phoenix Lamps parking lot with her van reached a point where she felt inclined to move the thing. Staff were not inclined to demand that she get off the dime, so this took awhile. Didn’t bother me — I had nothing else to do — but some customers were a shade miffed. That notwithstanding, staff steadfastly demurred to the lady in the walker.

{chortle!}

Town & Country hosts the snootiest and the snobbiest of the Biltmore nouveau-riche set, and by the time I got there — the lunch hour — the twits were out in force. Parking-lot challenged? Lemme tellya… Fortunately, I prefer to walk a ways (exercise, ya know) and I am…well…assertive. No. Of course I’m not aggressive. Who, me? 😉 I manage to shove the mini-SUV into a spot and hike in to the annoying Trader Joe’s.

Really. Was there some reason I didn’t go to Sprouts, where low-brow types like myself belong? Oh, yeah: the insufficient parking lot. Ohhh well…

The place was simply mobbed. Riots of shoppers, fighting kicking and biting to get at the desired products. Some poor lady was there who had a toddler that…well, the child had simply effing had enough of this bullshit and, trapped in a shopping cart’s kiddie seat, was SHRIEKING HER FRAZZLED LITTLE HEAD OFF.

Poor baby.

Poor mom.

Poor Trader Joe’s shoppers.

I grab the stuff I need, one item I don’t need, and learn that no, of COURSE no self-respecting TJ’s carries anything so déclassé as chocolate chips. Pay. Out the door. Back across the hectic parking lot. Into the car.

And there have to do to-the-death battle with the young, the rich, and the overprivileged just to get out of the fucking parking space.

No joke. Between the parking space and the lot’s exit, three different privileged goddamn wretches deliberately cut me off.

God, but I hate rich people.

Having been a rich person for a significant slab of my life, I can say that. F*ck you all, Rich Wretches!….

Westward on Camelback toward the poor folks’ district. Stop off at Total Wine to pick up a bottle of Everclear, which is damn-near pure ethanol.

Don’t drink this stuff, please. It’s grain alcohol and very much of it will make you plenty sick, if it doesn’t kill you. What it kills even more effectively, though, is microbes. Back a few months ago, I learned (purely by serendipity) that it’s about the most efficient killer of MRSA bugs that you, I, or our doctors can get ahold of. I want some more of it, to use as an antiseptic.

The plonk acquired with surprisingly little hassle, it’s back on the road, headed for AJ’s. My GOD the traffic! Bumper to angry bumper to frustrated bumper to lunatic bumper.

Because I stay off the roads during the rush hours and the lunch hour, I haven’t seen mobs of cars like that in years. And hope not to see them again, unless some taxicab or Uber driver is doing battle with them.

Finally crawl into the AJ’s parking lot. Park a good hike away from the door. This, too, is a purveyor of goods favored by the Rich and the Rude, so navigating their parking lot when it’s full is…well…an adventure. Grab a few goodies and lunch, fly out the door…and find myself once again jousting with The Entitled. One sh!thead cuts me off at the exit, so I veer around him to the other exit and get onto the road before the SOB can. Mwa ha ha!

Driving in Phoenix: a competitive sport.

On Central, too — northward into an upscale residential district — the road was just packed. Managed to veer over to 7th Avenue, which for reasons incomprehensible was much neglected, and shoot up north to the ‘Hood, relatively unmolested.

Finally, home!

Yea verily, back at the Funny Farm. Lampshade thing ordered. Chow scarfed down. A third of a bottle of white wine swilled. And now…enough, already! The dog and I are falling into the sack for a nap.

WordPress to the Rescue…partly

Well, that was…uhm…jolly fun… Spent the better part of the night at the Mayo’s ER after spiking a high temperature and enjoying a spectrum of annoying symptoms. Develops that the UTI that I was enjoying returned with a vengeance. The ER doc re-prescribed the stuff his colleague had given me. She’d written a prescription for only 5 days. He said I needed to take it for at least 10 more days. It was after 2 a.m. by the time I got home, and of course I didn’t sleep very well.

Head hurt like hell this morning…but  eventually I realized it was probably because I hadn’t eaten a thing since yesterday morning.

Client mathematician wanted a word count of the first five chapters of his current book, the edits of which I sent off to him the day before yesterday. In editing math copy, I don’t charge for content that I’m too stupid to understand: videlicet, just about every mathematical expression. Word counts every element in a mathematical expression — all those Greek letters, all those numbers — as a separate word. So in order to figure the actual editable number of words, you have to go through it line by line and delete every equation, every mathematical expression, every graph, every table…on and on and ENDLESSLY on.

Well, Word was having none of that. It kept crashing, and even when it didn’t crash, getting this done in any sane manner was almost impossible.

Finally it dawned on me (ever slow to tumble to the obvious…):

Hey! WordPress counts the words in a blog post. And when you paste copy from Wyrd into a WordPress post, it converts to HTML! 

Hot damn! Unlike effing Wyrd, HTML is extremely stable.

Or maybe just…dayum!!!

It took hours and hours and HOURS to paste each chapter into a post and then, in “Text” (HTML) view, to sift through line by line by line and delete every equation and every mathematical equation. Much of this stuff, WordPress converts into tables. You then have to find the table (even though it doesn’t appear as a table in the more easily comprehensible “Visual” view). This entails more sifting: through the HTML in search of tables, and then having to force WordPress to delete the damn things…which it does NOT want to do.

*******

Along about the time this adventure ground to an end, I realized I had a 100-degree temp on top of a number of unpleasant other symptoms. That’s high for me: my normal temperature is well below 98.6, so if I have a fever of 100 degrees, I am sick.

And I have a splitting headache.

Eventually I decide to drive to the Mayo’s ER, which is a distance. What time? Late…the roads were very clear, which is some sort of a miracle.

Though they kindly saw me promptly and were, as usual, marvelously attentive, it was after 2:00 a.m. by the time I rolled out of there and made my way through the black night to the Funny Farm. They called in a prescription to the Safeway near my house, saying I should show up there the minute the place opened — that would be 8:00 a.m. — to retrieve the pills and start gulping them down forthwith. In the meantime, the doc handed me one (1) of the horsepills to take while I was sitting in front of him and said “Get your tail to the pharmacy the minute they open, grab the Rx, and start gulping these things down!” This, as you will see, is a trick easier said than done…

*******

The few hours that remain to the night pass uneventfully and without sleep. Now I have to be at the Safeway at 8 a.m. to try to extract this stuff from their pharmacy.To make things even jollier, I promised one of the volunteer front-desk workers down at the church that I would do her gig this afternoon so she can visit family in California. That chore runs from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m.

So there’ll be no nap time for me. Can’t imagine how I’m going to get through the day.

First off, though, the problematic issue of getting to the Safeway pharmacy at 8 a.m.:

There are essentially three main drags that run from the north parts of the mid-city through the central commercial district to the downtown lawyers’ and bureaucrats’ district. Central Avenue goes through a genteel old-money residential area and ends at the North Mountains. Seventh Avenue also goes up to the base of North Mountain but then flows into Meth Lover’s Drive, which will take you westward if that’s the way you must go. Seventh Street indirectly joins a freeway bringing residents from the far northern bedroom communities, picks up people who live in the north central part of the city, and proceeds downtown.

Our City Parents, in their infinite “wisdom,” took it into their collective mind to convert the left-turn-only central lanes on Seventh Ave and on Seventh Street into one-way NO left-turn lanes during the rush hours: southbound from 6 to 9 a.m.; northbound from 4 to 6 p.m. While this sort of (marginally) speeds commute traffic (but not so’s you’d notice), it creates a GIGANTIC headache, because…well, no matter where you’re going, you can’t get there from here. Everybody who needs to go left to get to a destination travels on Central, so it’s bumper-to-bumper all the way downtown. The other roads move faster, but you have to perform what is known as an “Arizona turn” to get where you’re going.

An Arizona turn? That’s where you turn right to go left…and in the hands of a gifted driver, this can be quite the little maneuver.

This means that to turn left out of my neighborhood during the rush hours, you have to drive around and around and AROUND Robin-Hood’s barn. Because everybody else is trying to get to the same place you want to go, it creates vast traffic jams on the surrounding streets as people try to avoid those goddamn no-left-turn lanes.

Stupidly, I decide to drive across GangBanger’s Way to 12th Street (going north in order to turn south). This lovely boulevard is heavily traveled by my fellow law-dodgers but usually is navigable. BUT….I fail to take into consideration the goddamn high school on Gangbanger’s. At the high school, the city in its infinite stupidity has installed one of those crosswalk lights that holds up traffic whenever some pedestrian pushes a button. The upshot of that is that around 7:30, when I leave the house, traffic on this 7-lane main drag just flat comes to a dead stop, as kid after kid after kid ambles across the road.

But if you know where you’re going, eventually you can circumvent the schemes of Our City Parents and…yes: get there from here.

A hard left across three lanes of oncoming takes me and the pickup ahead of me into a neighborhood. We weave our way through this fairly dire little slum (there’s a reason I call it Meth Central), back to 7th Street, go north (opposite of the direction we need to go), shear right on Butler, cruise through a slightly less dire slum (yes, even this garden spot is beginning to gentrify), and come out on 12th Street. There we cruise southward, he toward whatever his destination might be and me dodging westward (a right turn) on Glendale toward the Safeway that I can’t turn left into because it’s at 7th Street and there’s no left turn allowed there.

Once I reach 7th Street (turning west now in order to go east), I sail into the nearly empty parking lot, shoot through the Safeway’s front door, and accost the two pharmacists, who bless their hearts are in a pretty good mood at this hour of the day.

However…the lucky soul who chooses to take me on has no clue to the Rx that was supposed to have been sent over at 2 a.m.  Finally she realizes: they’ve made it out in my unpronounceable legal name, a little horror that I never use. Being a little frazzled myself at this point, I don’t think of it, but just as she’s about to send me away (having tried and failed to get thru to the Mayo on the phone) it occurs to me that maybe this funny name thing has been applied to the Rx, and lo! So it turns out to be.

Finally I get home around 8:45. It has taken a full hour to make a twenty-minute round-trip drive and grab a bottle of pills!!!!!

Ugh. Now I have three hours before I have to schlep up to the church, where I stupidly volunteered to take on my friend Barbara’s afternoon shift at the front desk.

When will they ever learn?”  NEVER volunteer!!!!!

I’m too keyed up to sleep now; I really should take the poor little dog for a walk; I’m sure there’s a sh!tload of things I should be doing right this very minute (pay the bills?); and I cannot even imagine how I am going to stay awake through three hours and thirty minutes of excruciating tedium down at the Church.

Why do you suppose they have a switchboard-like phone at all? I do NOT understand that. There’s no reason the staff/clergy (all of about 12 of them) can’t have their own phone numbers that will ring direct to their office phones or to a voicemail. They want somebody lurking around the front office to bounce out the homeless and greet the parishioners?? Whaaa? Maybe two people a day come in. Could the office manager, who appears to be a kind of Guy Friday, be parked in an office near the front, where he can see and greet whoever comes stumbling in the door?

Our rector is in the final running for the position of Bishop. That’s good for him: he’s a pretty ambitious guy and an exceptionally worthy candidate. But it means now we have to get a new pastor. That means major hassle, as you’ve no doubt noticed. I’d like to see them plant our associate priest in that job. She happens to be a woman. She also happens to be amazingly sweet and she can give a killer sermon.

The present incumbent was hired to rescue our merry group from a fairly dire financial predicament, after the prior regime took a richly endowed organization and within three or four years ran its finances right into the ground. Having performed what we might best describe as a dramatic rescue, indeed, he’s ready to move on to the next stage in his career.

We, on the other hand, are not and never will be ready for him to move on….

Live-Blogging from the Doc’s Office

So…here I am at the dermatologist’s office…AGAIN. Ten minutes early: didn’t take as long to fight the traffic as usual. Only one moron, all the way across 103 north-south avenues and six east-west main drags.

Ah! This is amusing. I see typing on a keyboard annoys my fellow waiting-room inmates. Some woman just got up and moved herself closer to the (annoying!) yakathon television. To keep the patients calm, this particular practice serenades us with an UNENDING loop of some TV home-improvement show episodes. On and boringly on about ripping out shelving and installing cabinetry and fixing the plumbing. Sooo soothing…

Young Dr. Kildare’s office is right around the corner – this being the dermatology practice he likes to refer his patients to. Consumed a third of a tank of gas a couple days ago to consult with him about a weird traffic event in which I damn near killed four people by trying to pass an aggressive moron who I thought was in the middle lane but who was actually in the left-turn lane.

That was exciting…

And alarming, because in 42 years of driving, I’ve never gotten so confused I didn’t even know what damn lane I was driving in! So I wanted to…

Oh…the woman disturbed by the sound of keys tapping is yapping on her phone, sharing her personal life with one and all! Love it!

…where were we? So I wanted to ask him if he could tell whether I’m starting to Alzheimer out.

He said. “That’s not dementia. That’s road rage.”

😀

Oh, God! Her kid’s teacher called her on the phone earlier to report that the brat was “having an off day” in school: not paying attention in class. She gets into a worried heart-to-heart about this.

Did any child, anywhere, ever pay attention in those interminable, brain-bangingly stupid grade-school classes?

…where were we? So Young Dr. Kildare says the only thing wrong with me is road rage, and I need to get a grip. And, interestingly, he shares the fact that he also is plagued by constant road rage while driving around Our Fair city.

At this point, I share with him my Universal Theory of Phoenix Drivers. This, as you will recall, goes as follows:

Hypothesis 1: At any given time when you are on the road, one in ten drivers coming toward you is a moron.

He says: “Oh! I would have said two or three!”

I say, “Well, given the volume of traffic on a road like 7th Street, that could be so, but I believe that to be an illusion. Fewer people are morons than we perceive.”

Hypothesis 2: At any given time when you are on the road, one in ten drivers going in your direction is a moron.

Corollary: Therefore, at all times when you are driving in lovely Phoenix, you are surrounded by morons.

He persisted in his analysis, that the numerical value is grossly underestimated. This aspect will need further investigation to produce valid statistical results.

At any rate, the dearth of morons at 10:00 in the morning is puzzling. Usually, one would expect to encounter at least three or four of them.

Today must be some kind of moron holiday.

***

That was easier than I expected.

Meeting with the dermatologist’s PA, I explained that I’d gone to the Mayo to get a second opinion, because that is what I always do, after 40-some years of experience in the Land of Medical Science, and that the alleged doctor I’d spoken with would not give me a straight answer to even ONE of the three fairly simple questions I asked her:

  1. Is the most recently treated lesion, which remains red and has a white spot in it, healing properly, or do we need to do more to clean it out?
  2. What is the cause of the apparent nerve pain up and down my arm, which arose when this lesion was frozen off and has only partially cleared?
  3. Is it really necessary to use the Efudex prescribed by the westside dermatologist’s practice at this time, or can we safely wait to see whether freezing these things off works?

Mayo’s doc simply refused to give me an answer to questions 1 and 2. To question 3, said she: “Well…we normally prescribe that when there are a lot of lesions. Like, 15.”

There had only been two, at this point.

I said, “So, are you saying it’s reasonable not to use the product at this time?”

She said, “That’s up to you. It’s your decision.”

WTF??? Why the hell does she think I would ask her opinion if I had a clue about the advisability of applying a product that is going to blister up my hand, inflict an array of unpleasant and painful side effects, and very possibly cause permanent disfigurement?

So when I tell Wonder-Dermatology’s PA about this, she says…

  1. The recently treated lesion is healing quite well. The redness is to be expected and will go away slowly. The white spots are scars.
  2. It’s really unlikely the arm pain could be caused by treating that particular spot, because to reach the suspect nerve one would have to burrow in a great deal deeper than a squirt of frozen nitrogen can do. Young Doctor Kildare’s theory that it’s a variety of tendinitis or some kind of muscle strain is probably correct. But if it doesn’t go away, I should ask him for a referral.
  3. Hilarious! Yes, actually, we can wait safely to see whether any more keratoses arise after today’s treatment. Fifteen??? We often treat even one or two lesions with Efudex.

And then she kindly sprayed not just the latest visitation on the paw, but the big ugly brown spot on my face, too. The one I’ve been trying to get her to freeze off since I first showed up in her precincts.

Adventures in Medical Science…

Driven?

So, did I end up driven to drive, drive, drive around the city yesterday afternoon? Did I reserve a space at this afternoon’s writer’s group, where I would like to peddle my services in the guise of seeking feedback on my half-baked unfinished noveloid?

Well. No. And also, no.

Yes, I did climb in the car and turn on the ignition. About the time I got to the end of the driveway, a thought occurred: Why am I doing this???????

Got about 200 feet down the road…and then drove around the block, returned to the Funny Farm, parked the car, and proceeded back inside. Where I’ve been fairly happily ensconced ever since, except for a dog-walk or two.

Yes.

Thought: Hey, estúpida! What do you think you’re doing?

Human: Driving to the credit union and to the grocery store on…uhm…some road over there.

Thought: You’re kidding, right?

Human: Uhm…

Thought: Tell me you’re not serious. You’re REALLY going to drive FORTY MINUTES so as to avoid farting around with the accursed Internet for 10 or 15 minutes to deposit two measly checks?

Human: Well, but…

Thought: And this vaunted grocery store is on…WHAT road?

Human: I think it’s at 43rd and Peoria.

Thought: NO, you moron! That’s an Albertson’s, not a Fry’s. And it’s not even a halfway decent Albertson’s. It is, in a word, a CRUMMY store!

Human: Oh. Yeah. Well…but…

I gave up. It took less than 10 minutes to deposit $2500 worth of client monnaie online. This was good. There was plenty of food in the house: two chops from a rack of lamb; tiny delicious little beets to grill (this worked exceptionally well, BTW); excellent buttered spinach to heat, also on the grill. And half a bottle of wine.

Truly, I hate farting with the computer and the credit union’s website to deposit checks electronically. But…hate it SO MUCH that it’s worth driving 20 minutes to the CU, standing in line, and driving 20 minutes back?

Maybe not.

As for today’s proposed introduction to the midtown writer’s group: they meet weekly. The local Play-Nooz reported that the police and fire department are occupying lovely downtown Phoenix with a mock Emergency Response today…and that chivaree sounds like something to avoid.

So I decided to put that little marketing maneuver off for a week: Next Sunday, thankyouverymuch. This will give me time to schlep the printout of the current installment of Ella’s story down to the UPS store and put them up to making and stapling together 10 or 12 copies, rather than expending my own ink & paper for the purpose.

Hmmmmm… Lookee here: for $30, you can get 50 pens with your bidness name on them. 😀 The MO of these writer’s groups is that you hand out a few pages of your golden words and people critique the stuff. What if in addition to a sheaf of paper, you gave each person a pen with your editing outfit’s name and URL? 😀

Apparently this outfit will deliver in four or five days, which would get said little treat here by the end of the week if I ordered it today.

If ten people show up (that’s how many were signed up for this weekend), one order would last for five weeks. Lots more then 10 show up at the West Valley Writer’s Workshop, but there’d still be enough to hand out gift pens there and still supply one or two of the in-town meeting’s participants.

Putting it off for a week will also give time for me to get off my virtual duff and write a plot outline. One of the reasons (one of several reasons) this story has petered out is that I’ve been writing it like topsy, as it grows. Frankly, I have no idea where it’s going.

Well. I know where Ella’s recollected life on Zaitaf goes. But what happens on Varnis, where her currently lived experience is happening, is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. It’s topsy…I do need to cultivate that garden.

And speaking of uncultivated gardens, now I need to return to the client’s magnum opus…