Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (POW-MIA)

With no disrespect intended to any veterans, I’d like to borrow the ‘POW-MIA’ letters for my own selfish purposes.I am a Prisoner of Writing, and have been Missing in Action due to writer’s block. Is it the worst writer’s block of all time? I don’t know. It’s been three years. It wouldn’t be an issue, since I’m clearly not a writer, but the problem is that I’m a student. And I have to write papers. And I can’t. I have completely lost faith in my ability to write a paper. I am terrible at estimating how long things will take me. Apparently these are all hallmarks of ADD, which I was diagnosed with at 28 (prior to that, I was just told I was ‘lazy’, ‘not living up to my potential,’ etc.) But I just can’t figure out how to work around it, and it is majorly holding me back. I just felt like putting that out into the internet, I suppose. It’s like the old tree-falling-in-the-woods business. Now I’m going to get myself out of my apartment and go sit at the library. This is how I spend a lot of my between-semester breaks. How can I not feel bad about myself, when I try so hard and accomplish so little?

A Supposedly Awful Thing I’ll Never Do Again


For the record, I only took one...

For the record, I only took one...

I haven’t posted anything in forever, and there’s no good reason. I could try to convince myself that I’ve been too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, but doesn’t it just come down to laziness in the end? I was, for many months, all those things, but now I’m those things minus busy. I broke my ankle on June 30th and am still sitting on my couch, in a cast, with chafed armpits from crutching all over the place when I can’t handle myself (and my non-cable tv) anymore. 


None of that is the ‘Supposedly Awful Thing I’ll Never Do Again’, though. Just needed to ease myself into the confessional portion of this. Over the last year, my dear Aunt has been dealing with The Cancer, as she has taken to referring it.  She doesn’t complain, but she hasn’t had an easy go on any of it; surgery has led to more surgery to correct previous surgeries, and radiation burned her so badly that she had a gaping wound which left an expander in her chest exposed. Her negligent radiation doctor kept telling her to come back every week so he could look at her open wound and continue to do nothing about it. He ultimately told her that he’s never had a patient not heal like her (has he burned people like that before?), so he discontinued her treatments and told her she might want to see a plastic surgeon.

So we went to a plastic surgeon; she started fresh with the amazing team at Memorial Sloan Kettering (which is, unfortunately, not where she had any of her previous treatments). Within 15 minutes of her appointment, they had her scheduled her for surgery to remove the expander and close the gaping wound which, by now, was beginning to have some issues with sanguineous fluid. The night before the surgery, she developed an insanely high fever – I think it was 104 – so we checked her into the hospital early and found out that the wound had developed a Staph infection. Scary stuff.

So because of the infection, she ended up in the hospital for 4 days, and she lives almost two hours away, so the onus fell on me to visit. Memorial Sloan Kettering is an amazing hospital; I say this for many reasons, but I know this mostly because my broken ankle bought me a 4-day vacation in a New York City hospital earlier this summer (see paragraph 1). One of the nice things is about the floor she was on is that they have a lounge with books, magazines, computers, comfy chairs, and a TV, so patients and their families can sit together outside of a hospital room, but with enough distractions so that people can ignore each other in many of the same ways they might at home. More comforting than it sounds.

On the bookshelf, I spied with my little eye a book that I’ve wanted to read ever since I took the most amazing class I’ve ever had the pleasure of randomly selecting to fill a hole in my schedule. The book was David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and the class was Journalism As Literature, taught by the illustrious Harry Bruinius (himself the author of an amazing book, Better For All the World), who introduced me to the tragic genius of DFW through the book’s title piece which was written after his awkward odyssey on a luxury cruise. When visiting people in hospital, be it for treatment of The Cancer or The Shattered Ankle, one will find themselves with some downtime as their loved one intermittently starts snoring mid-conversation. On one such break, I crutched my way over to the lounge and started reading the book. Eventually I got up to check on my aunt, but threw the book in my bag so that my hands would be free to crutch back to the room, but I could continue to read if the patient was still sawing wood. Of course she was awake, of course I forgot I had the book in my bag, so it is now home with me, of course my Aunt was released this morning so I couldn’t put the book back, and I am now, of course, an awful person who has now accidentally stolen (emphasis on the accidentally) from a hospital for people with The Cancer.  

I promise I will bring it back when I am off the crutches, and I do think DFW would be forgiving of my trespass. Maybe people in hospital shouldn’t be reading his stuff anyway. Maybe it should be all Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The one where our parents embarrass us…

It’s the circle of life (and it moves us all)


Christian the lion (center) with friends Ace Bourke & John Rendell

Christian the lion (center) with friends Ace Bourke & John Rendell

In all seriousness, I think I just became a vegetarian. This video is likely the most moving thing I have ever seen on the internet. When I lived in Australia, I had a dog called Jara. I have never, ever loved another thing as much, and doubt I ever will, but when I moved back to New York, I couldn’t bring her with me for a number of reasons. Although I moved back here almost ten years ago, I still dream about her all the time, but lately my Jara dreams have been sad: she doesn’t remember me when I see her. This video gave me hope that she will remember me, and maybe even forgive me for leaving her behind. I know she has a better life over there than she could possibly have here – she’s a runner (half Red Heeler, a breed of dog used to herd cattle), and would be miserable in an apartment. She lives with a friend’s dad, who has other dogs,in a house with a yard that adjoins a large park. Still, my heart breaks a little every day when I wake up and she’s not poking her little head out from under the covers.


Also, for what it’s worth, I went to great lengths to find a version of this video that did not feature Aerosmith or Whitney Houston (the song in this version is Sigur Ros).

Shady Pines, Ma!

A friend, and a confidant

A friend, and a confidant

This is pretty much Blatant Plagiarism. I love, love, love haiku d’etat, Erica’s site. We used to have these amazing (amazingly entertaining, not amazingly brilliant) haiku email threads back when we worked together. Erica now blogs in 5-7-5, and sometimes, waiting for her pithy wit is all too much, and I sit here, willing her to GET THAT SOCIALLY RELEVANT HAIKU OUT ALREADY, WOMAN!

Anywho, I have sleeping problems, but they’ve been taken to a whole ‘nother level lately. So I pretty much spend an hour watching Golden Girls reruns every night. Don’t judge – I never claimed to be highbrow. My heart broke a little when I read that Estelle Getty, aka Sicilian Spitfire Sophia Petrillo, had given us her final “…but I digress”. So my sorrow was somewhat mitigated when I saw that Erica had felt my pain across the 5 states that separate us, and intervened with:

We had so many
Golden nights, Estelle. Thank you
For being a friend. 

Knowing when to leave well enough alone has never been my particular strength (see also: pithy). So I tried to be clever, too, and I left Erica some memorial haikus, and when she sent me an email that she actually liked them, I was thrilled. I will also share with you my feeble attempts at 5-7-5, but I know when I’m beat!

Purse of wicker and
seashells. Sicilian hexes.
Thank God for re-runs.

Pussycat, let us
pray that heaven is nothing
like Shady Pines was

It’s kind of a moot point, anyway, because I think Erica is the only one who reads this…at the very least, she’s the only one who comments!

For any other Petrillophiles out there, this article will warm the cockles of your hearts:

A likely story, but leave a message and I’ll call you back…


Answerus Machinosarus

Answerus Machinosarus

I got a link today to what may be the greatest avoidance enabler ever. First, I, for the most part, hate the phone. I love having a phone, but I get a little irritated at the large amount of idle chit-chat that it promotes. My life is currently pretty boring, and I just don’t have a lot going on to talk about. The other part of the problem is that I have a few friends who seem to call for the express purpose of delivering a monologue, yet have no real desire for any input or feedback, let alone have an actual conversation. Whenever I start to speak, they have an innate gift for turning this “conversation” right back to themselves. It’s an exercise in constant one-upmanship, and I am totally disinterested in these kinds of relationships. They would be having the exact same interaction with a garden gnome or that gorilla who learned how to paint and use sign language (Coco?). 

So Slydial made my black heart flutter. I don’t want to be the Avoiding Asshole. But I am not a therapist, and there’s no point in trying to help people who don’t want to be helped, anyway. So, as passive-aggressive as this may be, Slydia is brilliant. In their own words:

  1. Dial 267-SLYDIAL (267-759-3425) from any landline or mobile phone.
  2. At the voice prompt, enter the U.S. mobile phone number of the person you want to slydial.
  3. You will be directly connected to their voicemail. Leave them a voicemail, sit back and relax.

Slydial is absolutely free! And you don’t have to sign up in order to use it. 

If you’re as anti-social and intrigued by this as I am, check out

I haven’t used it yet, but I am sure I will. Unless, of course, I have your mobile number, and you get a message from me even though your phone didn’t ring…in that case, I have no idea what happened. Bizarre!