Thursday, August 23, 2012


 My name is Jane, and I'm a political junkie.

I am powerless over my addiction.

I pledge to take it one day at a time and turn my addiction over to a higher power.

Well . . . not exactly.  That approach hasn't worked for me.  No, I'm going to pull myself out of this morass by my own bootstraps and lick this thing, no matter what.

Today is the first day . . .

It's 7:24 a.m., and I've already sneaked a peek at the Huffington Post headlines on my iPad.  The pull to check out the New York Times is overwhelming.  But I'm not going to do it.  No, I'm going to shut down my iPad this minute.

But then there's my iMac.  I should have turned it off last night.  But I didn't.  Now my home page shouts out the major headlines from the same NYT.  I try to quickly click on another link but catch the words Clinton and ad before the new page loads.  And as hard as I try not to go back and find out exactly what Clinton and ad are all about, I can't resist.

I am powerless over my addiction.

Last week, I hit the proverbial "bottom."  That's when a judge in Pennsylvania upheld the new Voter ID law, a law similar to those passed in multiple other states since the election of Barack Obama in 2008. 

I started to shake.  My stomach was in knots.  The banging in my head felt like a marching band had taken up residence.  I needed a fix, but what?  Another news story about all the millions of dollars being spent by PACs that don't have to declare its contributors?  The selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt's VP choice?  The complete failure of the Congress to get any work done?  

I turned off the TV, closed down all the computers in the house, tossed the newspaper and recent copy of Newsweek.  I would have no more of it.  I knew withdrawal would test every bit of fortitude I could muster and a lot of luck, but I was sure I was ready.  Nothing could stop me from breaking my habit.  I was going to be clean of all the political chatter and acrimony and sinister ploys that even the best fiction writer could never imagine.  I would detox from all the angst running through my veins.  I would be free of this demon that had taken over my life.

Who was I kidding?

Once a political junkie, always a political junkie.

But there is one ray of hope:  I used to be a diehard Chicago Cubs' fan.  I lived within earshot of Wrigley Field and, when the wind was blowing from east to west, I could hear strains of the national anthem, "Take Me Out to The Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, and cheers when the Cubbies scored a run.

Well, we all know that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908.  Their record has been abysmal now for years.  I haven't watched a game in I don't know how long.  I have no idea the names of the current roster and, though I've heard that they are in or near the cellar again this year, I couldn't repeat their win/loss record if you put a gun to my head.

I kicked the Chicago Cubs' habit.  Maybe, just maybe, I can do the same with politics . . . well, maybe after November 6.


Friday, August 10, 2012

"Strong Is The New Beautiful"


I hear tell that "Strong is the new beautiful."  The media put out the decree sometime after the women gymnasts on Team USA landed the coveted all-around and team gold medals in the Summer Olympics about to come to a close.  Apparently, young girls all over the world want to grow up to be athletic, proud, and, yes, strong.
     Don't get me wrong:  I'm all for celebrating women's strength on the athletic field and off.  But I'm a bit miffed that this apparent transformation took so darn long and, alas, missed a lot of us in the process.
     Back in the day, it wasn't beautiful for women to build muscles, slide across gym floors, or sweat.  Sure, there were girls' sports teams, and I was on several of them.  But no one except a few parents and siblings ever showed up to cheer.  The female gym teacher -- in my case, Miss "D" -- played the role of coach, trainer, and biggest fan all rolled into one.  She may have been strong, but no one thought she was beautiful.  Rumor was she was "butch," but we didn't have a clue what that meant.
     We never heard from weights.  A six pack was the booze our boyfriends bought illegally on the weekends. Still, we swooned when they flexed their biceps or showed off a ripped, twitching chest.  For our part, we wore panty girdles to hide any signs of bulging beef.  Even when we were older and joined a local Vic Tanny, we made it absolutely clear that we didn't want too many muscles to make us look like men.

     Flash forward several decades to 2012.  The Year of the Woman at the Olympics in which, for the first time in history, every country has at least one female athlete.  There are, in fact, more female competitors on Team USA than male.  While the men have won their share of medals, the women have won nearly twice as many.  And there is still a day to go.
     So, all you men out there that like your women soft and cuddly.  Strong is the new beautiful, and you may just be out of luck.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Radioactive Man Is In The House: I Wish I Weren't

Ah, that may sound harsh. But when your beloved is diagnosed with some disease -- in my husband's case, thyroid cancer -- the initial urge is to book a trip to Tahiti, or at least take off for a few days to visit a relative in another state. 

Alan swallowed his dose of radioactive iodine (RAI) yesterday morning.  The stuff can destroy any cancer cells that take up iodine, with little effect on the rest of the body.  While he sat in the hospital for thirty minutes after which a geiger counter was passed over his body to verify that the radioactive stuff was in there and beginning to do its thing (No, I'm not kidding!),  I raced home to finish moving out of "our" bathroom and bedroom, into the guest quarters.

Radioactive iodine is highly contagious and can make everyone except the guy who swallows develop thyroid problems.

I then jumped back into Alan's car (mine doesn't have a back seat where he'd have to sit to "keep his distance") and raced back to the hospital to pick up Radioactive Man.  Just as I approached the entrance to the hospital, I noticed an older man standing by the bus stop.  He was wearing a surgical mask.  Ah, I thought.  This guy must have just gotten out of the hospital and wants to make sure he doesn't pick up any nasty germs that might be floating around.

I looked again.  It was Alan waving at me to pull over.  And that's when I noticed the bright blue plastic surgical gloves he had donned.

What a trooper!  His sense of humor was in tact, even if his thyroid was not. 

To live in the same house without the cats or me getting sick from the highly contagious radiation, we signed off on a set of do's and don'ts that included:
*     No touching for 8 days.
*     For the first 4 days, no more than a few minutes in the same room.
*     Separate bedrooms for 10 days; separate baths for 2 weeks.
*     No contact at all with our two Maine Coon cats for one week.
*     No sharing of food.  And no cooking for each other.  (That's a real killer because Alan is the cook in our house.)
*     Alan is to wear plastic gloves if touching virtually anything.
*     Plastic baggies on all phones, TV remotes, and other shared electronics.

Our kitchen looks like a kosher kitchen, even worse.  Cabinets are labeled with either his name or mine as are alternating shelves and bins in the refrigerator.  "My" spatula and other utensils are on one side of the stove; his are on the other.  Pots and pans are also equally divided.  I cooked my dinner last night, cleaned up, and then vacated the room, closing the door behind me.  Alan then prepared his dinner.  We ate in separate rooms, the cats hanging with me.

I don't know whether it's my cooking or the stress, but I need to drink some camomile tea and curl up for the night.