Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Don't Speak", Quoth the Actor

Having inserted quarters three times over in a desperate attempt to score an icy cold can of “diet cola” (that highly resembled a trademarked Diet Coke) from a vending machine on the back lot at a film studio on one of my first days of work in Hollywood, I wasn’t about to back off my attempts at retrieving said caffeinated beverage, despite the barely inaudible giggling of a rather crusty Hollywood old-timer covered in paint who seemed ridiculously amused by my misfortune.
“You DO know that that’s just a prop machine, young lady” he wheezed, snuffing out his cigarette on the sole of his heavily treaded boot. 

“Yes of course!” I nodded with all due manner of tut-tutting and proper wrist-denials of ‘pshaws’.  (I may have been fresh-from-the-turnip-truck naïve, but I was well-armed with a plethora of extraordinarily arcane vernacular such as “pshaw” loaded for bear!)
“Why, who could possibly be that gullible?” I queried palms-up to the painter as I sucked in my chin stupidly whilst bobbling my head overly-dramatically (secretly searching for an ounce of dignity apparently abandoned on the turnip truck). 

“I mean, duh?!” I think were the last extraordinarily erudite words that tumbled unceremoniously out of my mouth.

Four and a half years of higher education in the USA and abroad, and all I could come up with was “duh”.


“But, but, but, “words”  have always been my “go to”” I explained Spock-logically decades later to a friend of mine who sat ever so patiently waiting for me to temporarily shut the f**k up.
“Back in the day” I rambled on like a finger-wagging point-making elderly geezer sans the paint on my clothes, “I bonded with my very first Stage Manager who would shout out my name haphazardly at any given moment, only to compare our answers in the daily crossword puzzles!” I presented my puny plaint quite judiciously.

“Um-hum” my quiet listener replied respectfully, rising up in a rally to meet my eye, yet sinking back into her chair as I blathered on relentlessly.

“Why, on one sit-com in particular a decade and a half ago, I was blessed with the extraordinary power to call out to an actual  Executive Producer for queries, who, by the way, had an actual personal assistant race up to the offices for internet access should the EP and I be baffled by a ‘variation’ of an arcane answer!”

“I’m sure you did, prior to everyone having a smart phone” my friend tolerantly placated me.
“And did I mention too, that not only do my fellow multitudes of Crew members still solve crossword puzzles today?” I continued self-righteously.  “We share a fiercely tacit understanding as to the complexities of deciphering cruciverbalist constructions, wherein there lies a palpable accomplishment of personal achievement without said digital cheating” I perfunctorily, professionally and rather petulantly buttoned my ‘etui’.

“Anything else?”  I heard a snort; naturally assuming I was in the beloved presence of one of my High Horses (although somewhat taken aback that one of my spectacular ponies suddenly spoke English.)

But as my High Horses tend toward maintaining an aura of strength and silence (albeit the occasional whinny) when randomly appearing to arrive to my rescue, I snapped out of my self-indulgent pity-party to listen patiently to the advice of the acquaintance to my left who had obsequiously taken my hands as a measure of comfort from a confidante.
“Penny, I love you, but I’m just going to say the thing you need to hear, and then you can hate me if you want to.  You’re a freaking open book.  You tell people everything, and like it or not, people don’t really like that.”

Wait, whaaat?
“Everybody has their extraordinarily well-protected dirty little secrets in this town, and you just parade yours around shamelessly like it’s a freakin’ badge of honor.  And I gotta say, your blatant openness may make others feel, well, how should I put it, extremely uncomfortable.”

And so, once again, this “One Red Cent Trying to Make Sense” was plummeted onto a crossroads, sans warning of the possibility of an actual train wreck.

Now, having my relatively unknown deep, darkened personal space on a Google blog location somewhere in the depths of the Internet netherworld, I’ve always embraced this sacred place where I could share thoughts, secrets and true personal honesty. 
Like every other humanoid toddling about the planet I’m FAR from perfect, and quite frankly, I’ve become enthralled by the camaraderie of absolute strangers visiting this page, who maybe too, just suffered a totally crappy day and out of the kindness of their hearts will send me an email from all over the world.

Ergo, if I’m capable of bringing at least a smile to one of you somewhere in The Universe, then by all means, I’m going to fight for my voice here!  
However, as to my friend’s advice?  Yes, for a solid month, I chose to shut the f**k up.  (Not particularly an easy task for a blabberer like myself!)


“Can you open your mouth any wider?” Mimi, the Hygienist scrunched her forehead as I attempted to spindly weasel my way toward the exit and out of the dental chair.  (What can I say?  It’s an extraordinary gift that I inherited from my Dad’s side of the family.)  “I can’t take the x-rays if you’re going to keep squirming, my dear!” she offered patiently.  “Can you just gently bite down here?” she asked pleasantly as I lost grip of the instrument of the mechanical apparatus gauging my gums whilst Mimi trotted over to the computer.  “Okay then!” she chimed happily to the Dentist, whom after one full hour, could only provide 13 of 18 successful x-rays.
“Let’s have a look then, shall we?” he smiled before pulling up his obligatory mask.  “Good hygiene, your gums are fine, no cavities, your teeth are strong, bonding of veneers looks okay too, but you do have some serious staining on the top right tooth” he nodded, creepy hook-shaped metal gizmo in hand .  “You DO need a deep-cleaning.  You’re plaque is 6 millimeters deep, and that’s a threat to periodontihominahah which entails obligatory “scaling” and “planing” of the deep root tissue to prevent the loss of blah, blah, blah, periodentihominaha...”

(I mentally processed absolutely nothing after eyeballing the crooked tool shank...)

“And just where do you think you’re going?”  he asked gently as I once again attempted a desperate eel-like exit strategy half way down the chair.
(Yes, yes, yes, I’m a bad patient.  Sue me.)

“So, here’s the list of everything the Dentist suggested” the Office Manager delineated my statement, reviewing my charts and providing me with the financial responsibility of my Insurance carrier vis-a-vis my actual checkbook.

“As I’m officially unemployed over the holidays, can we NOT buy the Cadillac before Christmas?” I asked, negotiating my way into nothing more than the somewhat terrifying but necessary “scaling”.  (Insert visual of catching actual fish off the pier at our lake house where I grew up.  Blechh!)

“Yes of course!” the Office Manager beamed.  “Just initial here, and here, and here, and here and here.  The last one is the nitrous oxide” he winked sublimely.  “And by the way, there’s a ten percent discount if you pay in advance.”
Well slap my ass, give me happy gas and call me Sally!

I suppose that hard-learned lessons are a day-to-day experience.

1.  I’ve only had one quadrant of my teeth deep-cleaned, with my next visit to the dental practice appropriated to the entire left side; scheduled to endure  a two hour period of relentless scraping.
2.  “Happy gas” is well worth the investment if you’re a spindly expert escapee like me who can slide out of any medical chair, but they DO gauge the breather bag thingy; and properly “pshaw” you if you don’t breathe entirely through your nose.  (I was soooo half out of that room before they caught me!)

3.  Should you choose the nitrous oxide and topical numbing agent, be sure to run a finger over your teeth four hours later after you think that you have successfully gnawed your dinner.  I myself was surprised to dislodge an entire meal of kale salad with butternut squash and sliced almonds, as well as a hearty portion of potatoes au gratin that I thought I had adequately chewed. 
Additional note:  whilst kale salad may be extraordinarily beneficial health-wise, it’s just plain creepy if it’s visibly dangling from a frontal incisor.


I was still quite intent at repeatedly, professionally, keeping my mouth shut aside from extraordinarily performing to the best of my ability at work.  With only two weeks left of guaranteed employment, I understood far too well the importance of sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with only true friends. 
(Again, this was a difficult lesson for a blogger, as words generally allow us to vent!)
Unfortunately, no one bothered to mention this to my moderately menopausal carcass, which quite literally has begun to speak for itself...

Sure, my newfound activities involved some surprising unpleasant bodily functions – the most surprising to me being that should my allergies kick in with a random sneeze, so too does my ass abruptly choose to fart in agreement.

Where I once could have won an Olympic gold medal for hard-core sleeping, I now find myself in an ongoing war of night sweats, a constant battle of forever feeling cold, yet blasting my air conditioning around 4am lest I give in and change my t-shirt for the third time as I’ve become an award-winning sweaty puddle, emanating fantastic odors of my dinner the evening prior.  ("Had some garlic last night, did ya, Pen?") (But I showered!!)

And despite laying wide awake at any given hour listening to an infomercial recommending an actual nightgown for equally sweaty ladies, I logged on to the poot, credit card at the ready, only to be assured that the website didn’t actually exist.
But Heaven forbid we should discuss such things!

The more I think about everything, the more I feel the need to regain my Voice.  And so, despite some uncomfortable bullying in my tiny niche of the netherworld, I’m choosing to officially take back this page on the internet.  As I stated, I'm far from perfect, but by all means, I’ll keep writing here so long as you ever-so patient visitors allow me to do so, and I cannot possibly thank you enough for your kindness.


“You needn’t report tomorrow, but you must call again after 5pm yet before Midnight’ the automated server informed me before clicking into a dismissive dial tone.
And this is precisely why I love The Universe and Its unfathomable Sense of Humor.

Yes, kind readers, for this entire week that shall encompass Christmas and my Birthday, I’m on call for Jury Duty!!!  (And before you need to ask, yes, I've stashed a crossword puzzle in my purse!)

~Wishing you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas, Juror P 

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Bloody Good Halloween Story: Part One

CHAPTER I:  Waking the Dead
“Your Aunt G could certainly use a few days off from the Mortuary” my Mom fretted long-distance over the phone as my fever continued to spike.  “She’s only a couple of hours away, and I’m sure she’d be happy to come take care of you”.  (EEK!)

Granted I was a wee bit hazy from the elevated temperature, but as the phrase “take care of you” may imply a cold compress and a comforting cup of broth to most clans, in my Addams Family, more than likely I was looking at a full-on road trip with my Aunt G in the Hearse, casket with my measurements already on board, a lovely selection of satin pillows awaiting my final consent to descend.

“I’ll be fine!” I conjectured, cranking on the air conditioner until I was a proper blend of cold and clammy; an unnatural shade of gray washing over my face like a pall just in time for my High Holy Holiday of Halloween.  (Hmm...  Did I thereby qualify for the roles of both ‘The Decedent’ AND ‘Pall Bearer’?  But I digress!)
To be quite honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I’d truly walk amongst the living ever again.  Would the postal carrier become frustrated by the overflow in my snail mail box and eventually dial 911?  Would ever-so-handsome EMTs break down my door to strap me into a gurney as I sucked my last earthly breath?  And if so, would I have the strength to daub on a bit of makeup before being rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital where all of the A-list celebrities seem to go to die? 

*knock knock knock*

“You look like Hell” my Midwest friend Tina stood on my doorstep, hamburger bag in hand (acutely aware of the healing powers of Cow).  “I’m taking you to the clinic” she asserted, passing me the beef as if its presence might at least provide an modicum of comfort as I clutched Cow like a teddy bear.
“Can’t tie shoes” I whimpered, staring down at my skull and crossbones pajama pants (with the festive green palm trees!), refusing to budge without my verdant matching sneakers.  (Don’t know why, but in my feverish state, Cow and I determined that this particular fashion choice was non-negotiable.)

With my weight, blood pressure and temperature taken (all a tad elevated that day), a lovely Phlebologist dressed like a Supermodel clippety-clopped in her stiletto heels for a few vials of my vital fluids.  “Do you always dress like that for work?” my friend Tina asked skeptically (Cow and I merely assuming we were suffering from delusions).
“Oh, this?  No, I have an audition in a couple of hours!” the practitioner beamed, temporarily blinding us with her Chiclet-white teeth. “Now you may want to look away” she suggested helpfully (yeah, like I could see anything after the ‘bleach party blingo’ in her mouth), under the guise that perchance I might be faint of heart at the sight of blood.  Unfortunately however, apparently SHE was the one infinitely most uncomfortable as she mercilessly poked and prodded me like a toddler playing her first ever game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. 

“I hope you get the part!” I offered sincerely as the worst Phlebologist whatever lived clopped out the door, leaving me wincing at the disturbingly monster-sized bruise developing in the crook of my elbow.  (“And call me if they need to cast the role of ‘Heroine Junkie in Skull and Crossbones Pajamas’, FFS”, I thought.)
Now despite my friend Tina’s angelic attempts to help keep my spirits up, the longer I sat in that God-Forsaken room, the higher my anxiety levels became.  And picking mindlessly at a patch of dry skin my chapped lip, I suddenly found my face spurting blood like a hemophiliac.  “Here’s a tissue” lovely-but-useless Chiclet-teeth gagged as the paper membranes stuck unpleasantly to my mouth like mummy wrappings.

“A wet towel is best” another woman jostled her way past, urging me to apply pressure to the wound.
“I take care of this” a Doctor suddenly appeared with gauze and a styptic pencil, dabbing at my face until a large black coagulated lump appeared; an ugly blob which left me looking like I’d barely made it through one boxing round with Mike Tyson.  “I speak to you when test results are back” he informed me smugly lest I sat unaware of his brilliance, his intuitiveness and overall generosity for not performing a labial amputation.

“We’ll just get a urine sample from you now before you leave, and you can bring the rest of these items back tomorrow” Ms. Wet Towel informed me, politely handing me a to-go goodie bag.  (Oh boy!  Trick or treat!” I thought happily.  “I hope it’s the good candy like Snickers and not the cheap crap!”)

While I’d not in fact been given any Snickers, clearly The Universe was having a hearty chuckle at my expense; as for the life of me (if you will), I stood stupidly in my kitchen, unable to mentally process the utility of the items before me.
Now granted there’s not much of a formal dress code on the streets of West Hollywood (particularly around Halloween and Carnival), but how on Earth was wearing a plastic cowboy hat with only half a brim going to cure me of that which ailed me?

Regrettably, examining the accompanying vile vials with the “TOXIC” labels and the enclosed instruction manual, I learned far too quickly that whilst the Stetson may be one man’s fashion choice in Texas, my “hat” was clearly designated for a, shall we say, more southern destination – the mere thought of which immediately trussed up my giblets like an uncooperative turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
However, assuming that the worst of my woes were over, and texting my friend Tina for a ride the next day (my fever had broken, but I had no business driving just yet), I simply typed “the eagle has landed”.  And scuttling back to the clinic with my “goodie bag” (joke’s on me!) and the same God-Forsaken room, we waited ‘patiently’ (if you will) for the benevolent Doctor to grace us with his presence.

Unfortunately, “malevolent” would’ve been a significantly more appropriate adjective, as I sat in a stupor whilst Dr. “Ish-Kabish-I-AM-speaking-English” trampled all over my native tongue in an attempt to explain my blood work, my mortally critical condition and my perilously on-the-verge-of-death diagnosis.  Had he his way, apparently I needed to be shipped IMMEDIATELY to a facility in The Valley for weeks of observation, followed by extensive visits to his colleague Internist Dr. “Tabouleh-Salad”, wherein I could theoretically live out the rest of my pathetic life in Western Civilization under the thumbs of a team of Middle Eastern “shah-men” intent on dressing me in draperies and pelting me into submission with rocks until I subserviently agreed to whatever the f**k else they could think of to hemorrhage my insurance carrier.
Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Did he say “The Valley?”  (Insert blood-curdling scream!)

CHAPTER II:  Dawning of the Dead
Blissfully back under the care of my Chicago-born primary Physician (now that’s an accent I can understand!), he admitted to being baffled by the interpretation from Evil Dr. Ish-Kabish.  “Your cholesterol’s good, thyroid’s good, you’re not anemic; frankly there’s nothing here to suggest anything other than you probably had the flu and maybe some wicked menopausal hot flashes that kept you from eating right and getting well” he handed me my clean bill of health.  “In fact the only number which strikes me as kind of low is your platelet count.” 

“Meaning?” I inquired.
“Eat more leafy greens and take a B-complex vitamin with Folic Acid” he suggested.  “Platelets help to make your blood clot.”

And just like that, my world made sense!  No WONDER my lip had bled so profusely!  Why, I hadn’t eaten anything green in probably three years weeks!  And as if The Universe wished me to be in on the joke, I couldn’t help but laugh that with all of my vampirific tendencies of lurking about on unemployed late nights, my monster bed lovingly named Vladimir and the fact that for decades I’ve had a coffin as the centerpiece of my bat-cave’s décor, OF COURSE my body had selected an appropriate albeit unusual malady!  (I was about to insert a blood-curdling scream of delight here, but until I ingested some leafy greens, I didn’t wish to waste valuable platelets on “curdling” lest I needed to clot later.)

CHAPTER III:  Twilight of the Dead
With an early morning appointment set up for a couple of routine ultrasounds as a baseline for Dr. Chicago, I polished off my daily salad (no Cow, but plenty of cheese!) and chilled out for the evening.  As I had been forbidden any food or water 8 hours prior to the testing, I’d barricaded the refrigerator so as to remind me should I sleepwalk for some refreshing H2O in the middle of the night, and as I slurped my last sip at 1:29am, I curled up in Vladimir for a relaxing, rejuvenating respite.

*sniffle, sniffle, sniffle*
And nonchalantly reaching for a tissue, I innocently blew my nose as a warm stream of something very, VERY wrong poured down my elbows.  “Well, that can’t be good” I surmised, stumbling into the bathroom for a look-see as oceans of blood drained from my nostrils like a faucet without a stopper.

Oh, but I’d had nose bleeds before, so how bad could it be?  More than likely, one hearty blow and the irritant would be dislodged, right? 
WARNING:  Those of you who are TRULY faint of heart at the sight of blood, need IMMEDIATELY scroll down past the photo below.)

Forcefully pinching my nostrils shut with fistfuls of tissues and toilet paper, I managed to scrounge under the sink for some old tampons – a nifty little trick I’d learned from an episode of “Sex and the City” – and cramming a couple of Tampax up my nares, I was certain that I’d fixed the problem. 
Unfortunately, saturating useless tampon after useless tampon, each with its own gruesome dangling globule, I was beginning to panic as the Tampax box was nearly empty, and the clock evinced that I’d been hemorrhaging for a full 45 minutes.  EEK!

“911, what is the address you’re calling from?” the lady on my landline inquired as shared my location and asked if she might send over a Paramedic to assist me.  “You just sit tight Penny, and try not to move too much” she spoke comfortingly.
Try not to move too much?  But I had a million tasks to tackle before I could POSSIBLY allow strangers into my Sanctuary!

Remarkably, I had the presence of mind to kick a rock under the security gate to prop it open (as well as slide an area rug over a carpet stain); I too managed to remember to leave my door ajar with the living room lights on (brushing away a cobweb); I’d already pulled on my skull and crossbones pajama pants, but as matching verdant sneakers were un-tie-able with only one hand, the laces needed to be tucked into the shoes themselves.  Additionally, I’d moved my purse with ID, cash, credit cards, proof of health insurance and cell phone onto my coffin-table (and recycled an Amazon box so as not to be deemed a ‘hoarder’), confirmed that my house keys were within reach, and finally settling down in the bathroom to switch out my blood-soaked paper towels (yeah, “twice as absorbent” my ass), I waved in the Firemen and Paramedics who wished me to meet them halfway.  “OK” I replied with a muffle.  “But you’re going to need to see this” I pointed to the carnage splattered all over my restroom like a scene straight out of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.
“Just sit down here” a female voice guided me by the elbow to a chair as I couldn’t quite see through all of the red streaks on my glasses.  “I’m sure it’s not that bad” she assured me as I twice challenged her choice to have me lower my paper towels.  “Okay, WOW, it IS that bad!” she grimaced, immediately placing my hands back over my sanguine streaming face.  “We’re going to have to take you to the hospital” she announced, waving over two EMTs (I couldn’t even see if they were handsome, darnit!) to strap me onto the gurney.

“Where are we going?” I asked as the rest of the life-saving team thoughtfully collected my purse and keys.
“Cedars-Sinai” someone replied.

Of course.
To be continued...

A Bloody Good Halloween Story: Part Two

CHAPTER IV:  Night of the Living Dead

Still clutching a stack of paper towels over my prolifically bloody nose, I continued to exsanguinate all over my hands, arms and clothing as the EMT in the ambulance checked my vitals.  “Here’s a biohazard bag for anything that you need to cough up, as we don’t want you to swallow any blood if possible” she offered helpfully.  (Frankly, I didn’t have the heart (or strength) to tell her that having already gushed like a geyser for forty-five minutes before calling 911, I’d kinda already figured that one out for myself.)
What I also didn’t wish to share, was that whilst ‘coughing up’ seemed to imply a conscious and willful act or choice, I was helplessly at the mercy of the crimson globules which would form at any given moment somewhere in my cranium, slither unpleasantly down toward my throat and then discharge themselves out of my mouth without so much as a warning ala God-fearing “Felicia Alden” (Veronica Cartwright) in “The Witches of Eastwick”.


But gently guiding me into a private cubicle, helping me change out of my blood-soaked t-shirt, and rinsing off my glasses so I could see her face, I was comforted by the smiling lady who informed me that whilst there were three patients ahead of me, there were also three Doctors on the floor.  “It shouldn’t be too long now!” she reassured me, replacing my brimming biohazard baggie of viscous chunks with a clean one, and setting the first aside on a table for what I could only assume was to be analyzed, weighed and shipped to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! 
“Can I ask you a quick question?” I wanted to know before she disappeared to assist what sounded like a screaming gun-shot victim in the lobby.  “Is all of this gunk ‘normal’?” I wondered, as whilst I’d been cursed with the crimson ‘cherries’ for over two hours, my sinus cavities now seemed to be sculpting slightly more elegant and elongated maroon vesicles.

“Why yes!” she responded encouragingly.  “That’s your body’s normal, healthy response.  You’re simply clotting.”  (Oh, the IRONY!)

With various nurses and orderlies traipsing in and out of my room to replace my towel or washcloth as they became saturated (yes I was pinching my nostrils the entire time, but my hands were getting shaky and I occasionally lost my grip), I had just finished filling up Ripley’s biohazard bag #4 when the Doctor finally arrived at 5:44am.  And having a nurse squirt something medicinal up my nose, I marveled that all of a sudden the gushing had completely ceased!  (For those of you working the math regarding the duration of my deluge, I bled from exactly 1:29am to 5:44am – almost the exact equivalent of the time it took my friend Rose to run a 26.2 mile marathon.)

“We’ll need to keep you under observation for a while of course, and if you start bleeding again, we can put some packing in there and see how you do” the Doc nodded, making a notation in my chart.  “Try to get some rest and we’ll check on you in a bit” she smiled as my eyes were already closing from sheer adrenaline and exhaustion.

“Well, that can’t be comfortable!” I heard a nurse laugh, as since my adjustable bed had been left in an upright “L” shape, I’d managed to cat-nap in a fetal position on the flat half of the mattress.  Would you like me to level that out for you?” she grinned as I stared bleary-eyed at the clock.  (Nearly 7:30am.)
“Actually, I was hoping to be discharged (yes, poor choice of word) as soon as possible, since I’d still like to make my appointment at 9:30 for a couple of ultrasounds completely unrelated to THIS” (I ‘wax-on, waxed-off’ my hands in front of my face for dramatic effect). 

After all, I’d arrived in an ambulance, I had no transportation, I had zero clue as to my whereabouts in the massive facility (I might as well have been at a random terminal in Chicago O’Hare International Airport, FFS), my clothes were covered in blood, and quite frankly I wanted to poop in my own toilet!

“I’ll get your paperwork started, but you definitely need to follow up with an ENT” the Emergency Doc recommended.  “I have a great rapport with a colleague across the street, so let me make a call” she smiled, breezing out of the cubicle.
Meanwhile, as 8:30am rolled around, a nurse reappeared to check my vitals as I sat anxiously on the edge of the bed, purse already in hand.  “Oh dear, your pulse is racing” she fretted, trotting off to inform the Doctor who demanded that I lay down flat and be hooked up to an IV for another forty-five minutes, as apparently I’d “lost a lot of blood”.  (Ya THINK?)

Suffice it to say, “discharged” at 9:30am (of course) and looking  very much like one of the globules that had slithered out of my mouth all morning, I oozed out the exit to the Registration desk where the sunniest receptionist whatever lived attempted to chat me up with all manner of “good mornings” and “how’s your day?” before bilking me out of $100 co-pay for using the Emergency Room.  (How’s my DAY?  Look up from the computer, lady!)  And as an official-looking gentleman pointed me to a free telephone with two cab companies on speed dial, I sat outside the famous Hospital waiting for my ride, never more grateful in my life to NOT be an A-list celebrity.

CHAPTER V:  The Day of the Dead
Rolling directly from hospital to cab to clinic for my ultrasounds, still clad head to toe in my Jackson Pollack masterpiece splatter-wardrobe with fashionable matching Emergency Room plastic ID bracelets and taped-up cotton ball in the crook of my elbow, I was greeted most unpleasantly by the antithesis of the world’s sunniest receptionist whatever lived, who merely scowled at me for missing my first appointment.  “I’ll let them know you’re finally here” she said judgmentally as though I’d intentionally run late due to a fabulous morning at the spa.

But welcomed by the kind Radiologist who made me feel at ease by laughing at what must have already been a “very busy day” for me, I laid down quietly as she lubed me up with jelly for my pictures.  “We’re all done here with both ultrasounds” she smiled fifteen minutes later as she handed me a towel to mop up with.   
“That’s it?” I questioned the simplicity of the procedure, taking one swipe with the cloth in utter disbelief.  “I can really go home?”  I confirmed, a small tear welling up in my eye at the thought that my nightmare had finally ended.

“Go home, Penny.  Get some sleep!” she pleasantly ushered me out the door as the warm LA weather wrapped its rejuvenating rays of sunshine around me. 
“Home... home...home...” I whispered the word over and over, reaching for my keys to hop in my car and drive back to the comfort of my... CRAP! 

Now, having come this far on my hellish journey, I’d be damned if I’d give up on myself at that point.  And eyeballing a bus bench across the street at the corner, I lit up a cigarette and heroically strode tall to the pedestrian crossing. 
I was brave!  I was fearless!  I could achieve anything I set my mind to!

Unfortunately, I was also walking braless in a medicinal ointment clingy dried-blood soaked t-shirt directly towards a group of Orthodox Jewish gentlemen in black coats and hats who were gathered together in front of their local Synagogue.
Aww, C’MON!!!

Whilst I appreciated the immediately averted eyes and intoning ‘mitzvahs’ of the sons of the Tribes of Israel looking out for my uncleansed immortal soul, I chose to proceed a bit further up the street to a Bank of America ATM wherein I could grab some extra cash for my final cab ride home.  “What’s the exact address?” the taxi service wished to know as I lowered my cell phone and approached an already occupied teller.

“I need the precise location of this branch” I whispered urgently, not wishing to bother the patron, but quite eager to be on my way.
“Right here, right here, right here!” the man behind the bullet-proof glass squealed, eying my clothing and flinging a business card into the drop slot cooperatively, surmising that clearly my previous bank heist of the day had not ended on such agreeable terms.    

Returning at last to the sanctuary of my bat-cave, I noticed for the first time that the Fire Dept. had secured my location by turning on every single light in the house, presumably to confirm that I hadn’t been secretly concealing the presence of an abusive boyfriend.  I too noted the exquisite horror in the light of day at the massive amounts of spattered blood on the bathroom mirror, as well as the embryotic-looking globules clinging to my sink like a Jell-O mold.  What I hadn’t noticed until after I cleaned up however, was the innocent blink of a voice message on my cell phone...

“Hi Penny, this is Renee at Dr. ‘Ears Nose and Throat’.  Your emergency room Doctor gave us a call, and we’d be happy to squeeze you in today at 4:15.  See you then!”
(Say it with me:  “Aww, C’MON!!!)

But hey, what’s a bloody good Halloween story for, if it doesn’t end with a couple of red hot cauterizing pokers up the nose?!
Wishing you buckets of happy Halloween treats and proper blood-curdling screams,


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Discombobulated Diagnostics of Delving into the Depths of my "Should" Disorder

“You should definitely get a grilled cheese sandwich on Melrose at Greenspan’s” my friend Dev proffered most helpfully as to our upcoming weekend down time.

“When?” I asked quite sincerely, as all thoughts of abandoning four days of solitude in my bat-cave seemed utterly preposterous and ever-so out of the question.
“Why, on Saturday of course!” Dev most verily prattled ala Cary Grant, as Dev apparently rolls smashingly fabulous out of bed all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with perfect hair and glistening teeth on any given day.

“Hmm...” I festered, scrunching up my nose.  “So, I would have to put on make-up?  And pants?” I queried skeptically with a baffled tilt of the head, ever the eremite embracing quietude, boxer shorts and a comfy Humane Society t-shirt on my beloved solitary weekends. 
“It’s just down the street from where you live, darling” Cary Grant Dev nodded.

“Pants... Seriously?   You want me to put on PANTS?” I uttered again, completely aghast and ridiculously incapable of wrapping my pea-brain around this most alien idea of traipsing about on a weekend in pursuit of this quest for Hollywood cheese.
“It’s only $3.25, and it’s delicious!  You really should definitely go!”

“If you were on Facebook Penny, I’m sure you would be nominated to take the ALS challenge and dump a bucket of ice water on your head!” I was informed by friends as I stood rather bluntly incognizant in my tiny cable network pocket. 

“You should sooo be on Facebook!” I was badgered relentlessly by even non-Hollywood friends, as if my world were somehow incomplete in the eyes of others, and I was the bad guy for not wasting water amidst a three year drought in California.

So tell me again, this helps who, how? 

Now please forgive my inherent stupidity, but can at least one person kindly explain to me how this tom-foolery works?  Is there an all-watching Facebook Mafioso-esque Overlord who monitors these “nominees” and sends Joey Pepperoni aka “The Enforcer” to collect due monies for this worthy cause? 

And if I’m to understand these online usury shenanigans correctly, if you don’t accept the ice-bucket challenge, you have to pay $100?  WTF??? 
Quite frankly, I refused to be bullied.  (Harrumph.)

Once again (as so often occurs in my attempts to make sense of the world), without so much as a side-mouthed “click-click” or a whistle, there stalwartly appeared by my side, one of my beloved High Horses snorting his hot breath on my neck; forever at the ready to give me a hoof up into the saddle.

And taking the reins without so much as bothering to acknowledge which chivalrous equine from my noble stable had ironically come to rescue me (hint to my loyal readers who know my fine stable, there appeared a shockingly wild mane of stark white hair), I stuck to my personal values and chose instead to hand-write a check to one of my favorite Animal Rescue sites. 
Now before you all huff and puff at me, please know that whilst ALS is a very worthy cause, social media does not have power over personal choices.  And this just bloody irritates the crap out of me that someone will feel the pressure to be “Liked” on Facebook and risk death for notoriety.  Fat lot of good you’ve done for a charity there, smarty-pants, for bullying people into submission and a casket.

But I digress!
“Whoa, whoa, Einstein” I patted my High Horse on the flanks comfortingly as he pranced about haphazardly; immediately recollecting why I’d chosen the name in the first place. (Some people rescue purse-fitting, shivering Chihuahuas and then dub them with such absurd titles as “Thor” or “Tank”.  My High Horse du jour happened to be titled “Einstein”, and YES, he’s not really very smart...) 

Yet thus, with a clear conscience of resolving the “Should” Disorder, temporarily disencumbered for the day by donating to a worthy cause that doesn’t threaten my sheer existence by ice water on my fabulously fierce ponytail, I continued to prance about the day all hoity-toity on my High Horse.  

Whilst my charitable purchase looks very glamorous “Chanel-ish” for a mere $24.95, I’m comforted by the acknowledgment that my humble contribution provided 28 bowls of food for shelter pets.  (I may no longer be blessed with the “earthly presence” of my heroic feline sidekick “Pretty” guarding my tail, but I still have the occasional ability to assist her unfortunate fellow four-footed rescued friends with small financial “earthly presents”.)

“So how does this ‘hand-car-wash’ system work?” Cary Grant my friend Dev asked me inquisitively, forever the debonair gentleman born of another era wherein refrigerators are still called “Frigidaire’s”, tin foil is respectfully distinguished as proper “Reynold’s Wrap”, and precocious children Cast members are categorized as being “a caution”.

“Oh, it’s so EASY!” I rallied valiantly astraddle Einstein – obviously two phenomenally brilliant creatures with all the answers to The Universe for anyone who wished to tap into our collective geniuses.

Smash cut to the back story.
Having battled the parking wars of Hell with the prostitute upstairs who shares our tandem car space, I’ve finally given up the ghost and succumbed to being bullied by her obliviousness regarding the importance of whenever I need my car.

And as I absolutely REFUSE to be late to work lest the hooker park me in EVER AGAIN (as she’s done on multiple weekends, choosing to gad herself about the town all “willy-nilly”) (if you will), I’ve resorted to parking on the street wherein my dearest Cecilia (my 1997 Toyota) has been repeatedly abused by the armies of Charlemagne as debris, icky-sticky flowers, trees and birds assault her most vehemently on any given morning or night.
Smash cut to present conversation.

“Why, I use the hand-car-wash about once a week!” I acknowledged all confidently.  “You should definitely try it!” I purported, ever the sage upon my High Horse.

And there it was...

The word “should” had erupted out of my mouth.

Like a bubble drawn in the funny pages of printed comics, it just hung there: thriving in its own balloon like an ominous dark cloud as I immediately clamped two hands over my mouth in a panic.

And thus, with the awfully uttered “should”, I’d most unintentionally sealed my unfortunate Fate for the day...

Entering a crisp five dollar bill into the change machine, I collected the tinkle of currency as I attempted to blast the bejeezus of blossoming fauna which had so brazenly assaulted my Toyota.  After all, I was a guru at the car wash! 
My father taught me at an early age how to manipulate and control the washy-thingies; when to adjust for the proper scrubby-brushy utensil-armed-doo-dad, and how to click on the final rinse to compensate for the gentle cleansing wax!

Yet most uncomfortably navigating Cecilia and my very stupid pony Einstein into a stall for a bath, the three of us were a ridiculous metaphorical trio; the likes of which should’ve stood at least a tiny chance betwixt all our ‘brain-iosity’.
“It’s but a dollop of soap on my watch” I confirmed to Horse and car after the scrubby brush tool shat unpleasantly all over my arm.  “Let’s just rinse this off” I nodded, accidentally clicking on the monster power wash water dial.

“Hmm...  Blue denim jeans and red canvas Keds shoes” I sighed, feeling very “Gilligan-esque”; ever-so unable to bail out the “S.S. Minnow” as the water poured in a torrent from the kinky tubing of the spray gun.
“30 seconds” the machine pinged a helpful notification as I stood in the stall, head to toe soaked to the core, my horsey and automobile none the worse for wear.

Whilst I’d never heard of this particular disease before, I just might have to pull out my checkbook once again...

For those of you unfamiliar with PLMD, may I share the following article to Columnist Dr. Anthony Komaroff from August 22, 2014 in a Los Angeles newspaper?
“Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) causes people to kick and jerk their arms and legs throughout the night.  In PLMD, leg and arm muscles may involuntarily contract hundreds of times a night.  You may not be aware of it, but a bed partner probably will be.”

(But wait, there’s more!)
“Unless a bed partner complains, people with PLMD are often oblivious to their movements.  They may wake up baffled at why they feel exhausted despite getting what they thought was a full night’s rest.”  

Good heavens!

Perhaps I “should” retire some of my High Horses.  After all, apparently innocent sleepers are being beaten senseless just trying to catch a few Z’s whilst I’m trotting about on my judgmental ponies...

And perhaps I “should” join a social media network, wherein hoaxes of people’s “deaths” are bandied about like badminton shuttlecocks with no respect or regard to human bereavement.  (Yeah, that’s never gonna happen.)

(Recent reports of my very first Actor/Mentor Dennis Haskins were overly distributed, but as to my email from him tonight, I’m delighted to report that he’s just fine!)

So, “should” I have gone to a regular car wash with professionals?
“Should” I have NOT spent $21.99 for the world’s greatest wallet whatever lived?

Personally I think that at the end of the day, all the intimidating, unnecessary bully “should” words, “should” be let go.
But not quite before Cary Grant my friend Dev sent me the following link, from “Move Over, Darling” (a 1963 film, starring Doris Day and James Garner) which he thought I should appreciate:  (You may need to view this on an actual computer, as some hand-held devices may not be compatible.)  Brilliant!

Tossing a happy coin of peace and contentment into whatever your chosen watery wishing well may be,