The Pill

September 26, 2016

pill

This being in my 70’s has got to stop—NO, WAIT!  That’s not what I mean.  I don’t want to stop-stop.  I just want all the accompanying negatives associated with being 70 to stop.  What are they? You name it: if it is something that brings pain, irritation or decay it is more than likely you will become associated with it and taking a pill for it once you reach 70.

The trouble is, my brain is still functional.  Wait again!  I don’t consider that trouble per sé.  After all, I regularly put a usb plug in my ear and download the weekly updates from the Internet in an effort to stall Alzheimer’s and other mental calamities.

I suppose if you are really lucky you continue on into old age with little or no disruption to the usual services provided by both your body and your brain.  Then I also suppose when it’s time to go, you get one big sudden and massive take-out and be off with-yuh.

I didn’t get that card.  Uh-uh.  I got the fancy smanchy card that came with a variety of agonizing apps and painful plug-in’s and an attached mail-order pharmacy.  As a result, my operating mode is usually an array of itches, twitches, S.U.P.’s (Sudden Unexplained Pain) and M.A.I.’s (Mysteriously Appearing Injuries).

I have been playing around with arthritis lately.  Specifically, psoriatic arthritis.  I’m late in this game.  Most people who have this kind of arthritis, met up with much sooner than I have.  Basically, it’s one of those pesky inflammatory, anti-immune ailments that causes sore, stiff and swollen joints. Add this to my high blood pressure, my sleep disorders and my Parkinson’s-like motion dilemma and I’m a real fun guy to be around.  Invite me to your next party when you need entertainment.

The reason I’m getting into all of this, something I don’t usually do on my blog, is that yesterday was almost laughable if not so tragic.  My arthritis doctor started me on this new hoochie koochie foo-foo pill called Otezla.  You may have seen some of the commercials currently running on some of your favorite older demographic television shows.

She gave me a sample package that looked like something designed by a Madison Avenue agency.  That’s it pictured above.  It’s elaborate as hell with a built-in section in which the pill package resides and another to hold all the propaganda.  The blister pack of pills takes the patient on a gradual, incremental buildup of dosage until 30mg is reached, assuming you tolerate the diarrhea and upset stomach that is not included in the fancy packaging…these two side effects reside in you…no extra charge!

Given the appearance of this pill’s delivery system and the fact that Medicare sent me a personal letter explaining a portion of this “4-tier” medicine would be covered, the rest being my responsibility, I got to wondering just exactly how much that might be?  Waddayuhthink?  Turns out my share for a three-month supply of 90 pills would be $1,244.35.  If you ask me, that’s a little hard to swallow.  I think I shall opt out and instead try a daily bottle of Dr. Feel Good.  Onward to 80!

*****


THE GREAT VOID

September 21, 2016

whereiswhere

I am not sure of the precise hour. I wasn’t paying any attention to the time.  In fact, I’m not even sure I remember what I was doing except I was busy and I told my granddaughter—who alerted me to the problem—that I’d be there in a few minutes to check on it.

I should have sensed danger.  After all, we had a hint of the problem yesterday.  I fiddled with it for a few minutes and—eureka—everything was back in order.  Then everyone in the household settled in for a normal day.

For just the briefest of moments I thought what if I hadn’t been able to resolve the problem. What would we have done?  I don’t even want to think about what kind of disaster could have occurred. But it wasn’t long before I had to.

The next morning, without any warning—unless I consider yesterday’s abbreviated episode a blip on the radar—it happened again and this time there would be no eureka moment.  I came to this conclusion after I went through the same checklist procedure  I processed the day before but this time nothing on the checklist checked out. OMG! This was serious.  I immediately began to feel the void.  I immediately began to feel the shortness of breath.  My world was crashing in on me.

I went rummaging through my paper pile to retrieve a phone number.  Ah-ha! Good thing I ignored all those demands about going paperless.  If I didn’t have my paper pile I wouldn’t have been able to quickly find a phone number in this moment of crisis.

So I called.  Surprise, Surprise!  The person designated to help me was actually located in this country and spoke accent-free English.  Now I realize that sounds a bit off, but when things aren’t going right that’s exactly the time you don’t want to have to be saying “excuse me” every time the person assigned to help you opens his or her mouth.

It wasn’t long before it was confirmed that, indeed, there had been a colossal failure that caused the crisis.  I was told, “Not a problem,” so said the helper on the help line, “I can ship you a new one overnight.  You’ll have it tomorrow morning.

“But, but, but!” I responded in a panic as I explained I’d be without for the rest of the day and then all through the night.  How could he ask that of anyone?  He laughed.  He thought I was just joking.  I wasn’t.

I thought about playing cards to occupy the time. I don’t play cards; don’t know any card games other than fish and war. Then I thought about going to the grocery store, but I had just done the mother load there yesterday.  I had to finally man up and pull out the ultimate go-to when times are desperate—so I went to the hardware.  I bought some things on my try-to-never-do-list and then went home and did them.  I even  treated myself to a new power screwdriver, a tool I have seriously missed since mine broke a few years back.  None of this worked.  Life was miserable and would be until the problem went away.

And it didn’t do that until late in the afternoon the next day and only after the “fix” arrived in the morning and didn’t work; after subsequent phone calls were made and didn’t work. No, not until, hallelujah!, a living, breathing human being showed up on my doorstep around 4 o’clock.  An hour later, life was back to normal.  My new router finally rev’d up, the green and yellow lights blinking in their proper sequence and alignment; the electronic components were purring like ah…well, like a new router.  And, after approximately 32 straight, grueling hours without ANY access to the Internet, my life and my computers were up and running once again.  Nobody, absolutely nooooobody, should ever have to go through this.

*****


MANAGE WELL…OR NOT!

September 15, 2016

mocknewsletI may have mentioned it before and it’s certainly not an original concept, but I thank Charlie Macatee for teaching it to me.  What is “it?”  Well, “it” is a management concept that Charlie used to regularly embed in our brains and thank goodness mine was receptive.  Charlie was a general manager of a radio station I worked for in Washington, D.C. back in the 70’s.  I was among his group of sub-managers who met in his office once weekly to review what was going on in each department.  There was hardly a week when someone didn’t offer Charlie the opportunity to enhance our managerial skills by following his philosophy:

Manage well that which you control, and if you don’t control it, then stop trying to manage it.

I don’t know the whereabouts of Charlie these days, or even if he is still about, but if I had the opportunity to meet with him I would thank him for his teaching me that simple concept that many times over has saved me a lot of frustration.  Too bad some others I know of haven’t been so blessed.  Case in point:  John Flabbergaster.  No, that’s not his real name, but I best keep that private.

I live in a community that has an association that takes care of the common grounds, landscaping and maintenance–stuff like that.  The association is run by a board made up of elected residents.  These are dedicated people who are easily elected because only they want the job…few other residents do.  It is a thankless job and susceptible to chronic criticism and insults from the residents.  I know that because I once served on a condominium board and never will again.

John Flabbergaster serves on the association board where I currently live.  Over the past several years he has taken it upon himself to produce a quarterly newsletter for the community.  Since anything the board does is on a volunteer basis, this is a nice gesture on John’s part.  The problem is, John doesn’t have much understanding of exactly what a newsletter is.  Instead, John uses the guise of a newsletter to mount his quarterly soapbox and tell all us residents about the terrible things we do in his community.

A newsletter is for NEWS!  It should contain worthy pieces of information useful to the community and maybe even some items of social interest that relate to the residents.  The newsletter we get is several pages long, single spaced margin-to-margin and seldom features an illustration.  It repetitively covers association rules that are being broken.  Parking is nit-picked regularly as is the audacity some of us have of putting our trash out the night before pickup instead in the morning.  One highlight appearing in each newsletter is John telling us about his personal power walks through the neighborhood.  As he walks he’ll begin his ever-tiring rants about the unsavory state of dog poop, the numerous unkempt houses, sleazy renters and anything else of a negative nature he can pick up on along the way.  If you go by what John says, you would think our community is an infested eyesore that should be swept under the lawn where it cannot be seen.   In reality it is anything but.  If nothing else, John is definitely state-of-art curmudgeon—not quite condo-commando, but darn close.

John just doesn’t get it.  He cannot grasp the concept that most people DO care about the community but their emphasis is on things other than trash collection and dog poop, unless they get out of hand, which they aren’t.  As for serving on the board, those who do are a unique breed.  Most people simply don’t have the time or motivation to come home from work and take on the property needs of several hundred neighbors.  They have others things to do. They want to live in a nice neighborhood and be left alone.  If necessary, they will pay someone or some organization to take care of the property and common items of interest.  It really is that simple.  But John, by the  nature of his personality, is compelled to make it more than that.

He has a need to express himself, especially about things that bug him and the perpetraters responsible.  He frets over why he must discuss the same violations over and over again in every newsletter.  Little does he know we feel the same way, well sort of.  He regularly says he cannot understand why people behave like they do.  Well, John, people behave that way because that IS the way people behave.  You need to realize two things.  First, people don’t necessarily think the same way you do.  And, second, you will never change them.  Hey, that reminds of something one of my bosses used to say…

 Manage well that which you control, and if you don’t control it, then stop trying to manage it.

 *****

 


TONI THE CAT

September 10, 2016

Toni the Cat had her first appearance on marc’s blog on its original posting back in November of 2012.  I thought after four years I’d do an update on Toni because…well, just because.

toniformal

Toni the Cat has a well deserved reputation for being a nasty little beast. Personally, I just write off her behavior as having poor social skills, that’s all. It’s not her fault. She just got an unsavory mix of feline genes when she was waiting in the gene pool with a gazillion other kittens on their way to life.

Toni became part of our household six years ago. She came with Haley. Haley is one of our grandchildren. Haley lives with us. Consequently, so does Toni.   The other pro-Toni member of the  family is Rosemarie who welcomed Toni to come live with us when she was a typical cute little kitten, always a commodity hard to  say “no” to.  I was the only one willing to say it. It’s not that I don’t like pets…well, maybe is it. I just don’t like the negatives that pets usually bring into the house. Things like urine, fecal matter and hair. Okay, I’m being a little blunt. But these unwelcome elements always come with the cute and cuddly ones we take pictures of.

No one ever shows you pictures of their precious dog peeing on the china cabinet, do they?  And do your cat-loving friends show you photos of the elaborate rug-covered scratching post that sits unused, just beyond the shredded back of the couch in the living room? Nope, don’t think so. Instead you get to oogle over the cute pictures like the  one below.

tonibox

Now obviously, I realize many people aren’t bothered by the pet negatives. They happily overlook them in exchange for the companionship, the slurpy kisses and unconditional loyalty that pets gladly give up in return for a daily bowl of goo.

Toni is the exception. She definitely does not fit the category of lap cat. It is practically unanimous among all the relatives and people who visit us, that Toni is a nasty little creature. They don’t like the fact that Toni will almost always take a swipe at anyone who gets near her. And if anyone chooses to venture even closer than that, she’ll bite them. She is a very consistent cat. She’s not sneaky or unpredictable. Once you get to know her, you know what to expect. I like that about her. I understand that she doesn’t want to have to perform all the adorable pet behavior patterns people expect from their family cat. I think she senses my sentiments because there is really only one person in the family she consistently wants to be with, probably because that person doesn’t expect anything from her and, in fact, never wanted her in the house to begin with. Yeah, you guessed who it is…me, the pet hater.

tonifileI spend a lot of time on my computer. Toni is usually there whenever I am. She curls up and squeezes into the top tray of a file box on my desk. She looks incredibly uncomfortable, but that’s her place of preference. She seems attracted to small, enclosed real estate. She never passes up attempting to occupy an empty box no matter what size.  Curious as a cat?  That she is, definitely

Toni displays another normal cat behavior, although it is more common to outdoor cats. Many of the latter will leave a dead bird, field mouse, or some other small creature on the doorstep of the house. I’m told that the cat is actually leaving a gift.

tonidutchmonkeyToni very deliberately goes through this same process, except she does it with a little stuffed monkey. It winds up everywhere in the house, but always very strategically placed. And there is one thing for sure: no one has ever seen Toni with the monkey in her mouth being carried to its next destination.  It is always a clandestine delivery. I will find it on my chair, on my bed, on the computer keyboard. Others around the house will also be gifted the little monkey when and where Toni chooses.   Even Dutch the Duck, a stuffed animal Toni has befriended, has received the honor (see picture).

So Toni and I have this mutual tolerance thing going, but I am the less forgiving member of the relationship. I want new furniture to replace our current old and abused collection. But I will never buy it as long as Toni is around. She’d be clawing it to smithereens the minute we left her home alone.

In this case, she has the upper hand, or should I say upper paw, because she knows she’s going nowhere.  That sort of pisses me off but, trust me, I won’t be attracted to the china cabinet.

toniprays-2

*****


49 YEARS GLUED!

September 9, 2016

mkrkframed

September 9, 1967. That’s when Rosemarie and I got married. We met at her sister’s wedding four years earlier. The groom was a good friend of mine. Both Rosemarie and I were in the wedding party so there were several visits to her house, plus the wedding itself that afforded me an opportunity to talk with her. Even at 18 I hadn’t quite figured out how to approach and carry on a conversation with a girl of interest AND a girl as incredibly pretty as this one.

Fact is, I was a bit nerdy and a lot insecure, so my chances of getting beyond “Hi” were slim to none. But she motivated me like no one else ever before. She was different. She was not only a knockout to look at, she had this personality and a smile that—I hate to use clichés, but—lit up the room.

Rosemarie was a blur the first time I saw her. That’s because she had curlers in her hair and didn’t expect strangers to be coming in the front door. She had nowhere to hide but she was desperate not to be seen. The blur I saw was Rosemarie as she took a dive behind the couch and wedged herself in between it and the wall. No one paid her any attention…except me. I was led to the kitchen, the place I would later learn was where all the action was in Rosemarie’s household. I looked back as I entered the kitchen just as Rosemarie felt the coast was clear and then another blur as she sped across the living room and up the stairs out of sight.

I know that there were maybe five or six incomplete sentences exchanged between us the few times we were in proximity of each other up until the wedding. I have no idea what we talked about. And that’s not because I can’t remember what was said 50 years ago. Hell I was so enthralled with this beautiful girl who actually conversed with me that I probably could not have told you what was discussed even moments later.

It wasn’t until the wedding reception that I began to realize time was running out. I may never, or at least hardly ever, see this girl again. My mother pulled me aside at the reception and asked, “Who’s that pretty young lady in the wedding party?” I told her it was one of the bride’s sisters. My mother went on to comment about how adorable Rosemarie was. It wasn’t until later that I figured maybe—just maybe—my mother sensed my attraction to Rosemarie and this was her way of encouraging me on. I never picked up on it at the time. I was too out of it.

promOkay, I lied, there was one item of discussion between Rosemarie and me that I do recall and it was critical information. She had mentioned that her high school’s annual drama performance that year was Grease.  Miracles of miracles, the week of the wedding what better movie to open than Ann Margaret starring in Bye Bye Birdie, well acknowledged to be the predecessor to Broadway’s iconic Grease. It was the missing link I needed. No, I didn’t ask her out then and there. I chickened out. Instead, I went home and spent two days fretting over the entire challenge before me: asking a gorgeous girl—the type who would never, ever consider me worthy—if she wanted to go out with me. I had never done this before. I rehearsed my opening line for two days. “Hi, it’s Marc from the wedding party. How would you like to go bye-bye…birdie, that is?” Clever, huh?  Well, to cut to the chase, she said “yes” and I damn near fell off the floor since that’s where I was sitting at the time.

I later found out that it wasn’t my charm and wit that had convinced her to go out with me on that first date. Nope…it was her mother, indirectly. Rosemarie, at the time, was dating nursepix-copyanother young man and her mother was alarmed that the relationship was growing far too fast for a daughter still in high school. Her mother was pressuring her to back off. Rosemarie, always the brainiac, saw me as an opportunity to get her mother off her back at least for the moment. So I was deliberately chosen as a decoy, a deflection, a stopgap…whatever you want to call it. But, ultimately, I had the last word. There was not a weekend to follow after seeing Bye Bye Birdie, other than when we attended schools 200 miles apart, that Rosemarie and I were not together.

It’s been that way all the way from 1963 to 2016. Now, of course, that silly question always comes up: What is the secret to a lasting relationship? I always give the stupid guy’s answer. “It all comes down to remembering two words: ‘Yes Dear’.”  But in reality it is really the exchange of three words and a lot of meaning standing behind them: “I…Love….You.”

*****


DR. MARC’S NEW DIET!

September 5, 2016

MulchCoverI am convinced that almost anybody can write a diet book. The key to writing a successful diet book depends upon whether or not the diet concept works, or at least sounds like it could. In fact, given the amount of diet books stacked up in the homes of chronic dieters, you can almost assume people have no problem purchasing just about any book dealing with weight loss and following its direction for a period of time. If the diet works, the book’s followers will sing its praise and spread the word. Regardless, eventually they will tire of whatever it is the book instructed them to do. Soon after, they will abandon its teachings and, assuming the book had some merit, they will subsequently begin gaining back the weight they lost. Then what? Well, then they go out and buy a new book and begin all over again.

Oddly enough, I was not sitting in my thinking chair on the back patio when I first started thinking about all this. Instead, the entire vision came to me while standing on the bathroom scale. I had just finished an hour or more of mulching the trees around my house. Yeah, I said mulching. I’m a big mulcher. I spread mulch just about anywhere something grows around my house, be it trees, bushes, flowerbeds, whatever. I wait for it to go on sale and then load up on it. I like to spread it on thick. Some of my friends tell me I’m good at doing that with other stuff too.

I live in South Florida where the temperatures and humidity can be overwhelming at times. They represent the dues we Floridians pay so that we can laugh at our northern neighbors when winter comes…those of them who don’t migrate to Florida as snowbirds.

An hour of laying mulch in our current temps is pretty strenuous work. A bag of mulch is a lot heavier than a bag of potatoes. After an hour+ I had worked up a pretty good sweat, enough to soak everything I was wearing and enough to exhaust me for the rest of the day. Before I stepped into the shower I weighed myself. I was lighter than usual, a couple pounds lighter. Now, I do not believe an hour’s work around the yard dissolved two pounds of belly fat, but it definitely had some effect. I’ve noticed this before when I’ve been doing hard labor around the house. By now the question I was pondering is obvious. If I did hard, sweaty, exhaustive labor for a continuous period of so many days, how much weight would I really lose? Probably a lot! And so was born my idea for a new diet book: Dr. Marc’s Revolutionary Mulch Weight Loss Program…lay it on thick and watch your body thin!

Okay, I sense some of you about ready to click your mouse and go elsewhere. I understand that. Sure, the Mulch Weight Loss Program is a bit of a stretch…although I might add in some stretching exercises as part of the program. What? You think this is nuts. Well, don’t take my word for it. Just drop by a Barnes & Noble or go to amazon.com and search “diet books” and see what you turn up. You’ll find everything from the Bone Broth Diet to the Think Like a Thin Person Diet to The Hormone Reset Diet and pages and pages more.

You might also want to note that I am a good researcher. You can count on the Mulch Weight Loss Program to be stuffed with credibility.  In fact, when I have finished the clinical studies phase in preparation for publication of my book, I will prove that spreading so many bags of mulch around your garden will lead to “x” number of pounds of weight loss around your waist, proportionate to the number of degrees of temperature at the time you mulched, divided by the number of degrees of humidity…or something like that.

You laugh now, but just wait until you are stretched out on your chaise lounge, sunning yourself in your beautifully mulched backyard while wearing that bathing suit you haven’t been able to get into for the past ten years. You’ll thank me for it…very mulch!

*****


A SOBERING FAMILY REUNION

August 30, 2016

traintracks

The village of Sobibor was located in the eastern region of German-occupied Poland during World War II. Nearby, the Nazis had built the Sobibor Death Camp. It was the final stop on a railway to hell where 250,000 Jews were gassed and buried in mass graves. Among them were the first three of the following individuals:

Klaartje de Leeuw,  Joachim Bloch, Meijer Stokvis and Andries Bloch (Joachim’s brother)

The fourth person, Andries, was killed at Trobitz, another Nazi camp located inside Germany.   I have just now learned of these four people this week.   It has been confirmed that they were ancestors of mine, albeit distant cousins, but nonetheless…family. Andries, who was killed last, lost his life in 1945, the year I was born.

While I was too young to sense any personal attachment to World War II, even in my first aware years it was not possible to escape the impact the war had on my parent’s generation. There existed a subtle atmosphere that I remember as I began school in the late 1950’s. It was difficult—and still is—to describe. I remember the times having a heightened attention to things like patriotism, a sense of country and definitely an awareness of and respect for the loss many families had suffered.

For example, Memorial Day had an entirely different feeling to it back then. There were no big retail sales or joyful family picnics. The mood was much more somber. I lived in a new post-war development that consisted of endless lines of identical row homes. I can recall seeing block after block of American flags flown or hanging from the windows of just about every house. Lots of people attended memorial services and visited cemeteries that day. These kinds of feelings cooled over the next few decades and were noticeably rekindled for a brief time when 911 occurred.

Only through books and documentary film can I even begin to grasp the impact that the Holocaust must have had on people, needless to say especially on Jews. I once visited Dachau, one of the more notorious Nazi concentration camp near Munich. It was a haunting experience. I remember the trip back to our hotel when the group I was traveling with was noticeably quiet. It seemed each of us was silently numbed by what we had seen. The systematic annihilation of six million human beings based on their religious beliefs and ethnicity has to be the most horrific tragedy ever perpetrated by mankind on mankind.

Until now, any family link to victims of the Holocaust had never been discovered. But then, there was no real source of information available.  My mother’s parents had died before the war and no other known relatives existed.  But ancestry.com has become a whole new resource available to family historians.  I admit the genetic relationship to this newfound personal lineage seems to feel stronger than the religious connection.

The fact is, religion plays little role in my life.  This is likely the result from my not growing up in a religious household. My mother was Jewish; my father was Protestant. Neither one practiced their religion. They were not members of a church or temple, nor did they celebrate any religious holidays. In fact, my father claimed he was an atheist. My mother, meanwhile, never gave up her Jewish background, but that is precisely where it was kept.  My bother and I grew up as lost souls religion-wise, although lack of a specific faith to follow never seemed an issue.  It did not stop my parents from making sure a full package of ethics and morality were–God help us– well embedded in both of us.

So now there are four new individuals, victims of the Holocaust, discovered as legitimate family ancestors, with maybe more to come. I can barely attempt to pronounce some of their names properly, let alone imagine the horror they went through in their final year. But just seeing their names brings them into focus…and into reality.  Knowing what happened to them, along with realizing the connection, has given me pause. These people represent some of the blood lines that stream down the branches of my family tree and no matter how inconsequential the linkage may be, all four of them, one way or another, are a part of me.

*****


%d bloggers like this: