Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Being Afraid of the Dark

"For just as children tremble and fear all
In the viewless dark, so even we at times
Dread in the light so many things that be
No whit more fearsome than what children feign,
Shuddering, will be upon them in the dark.
This terror then, this darkness of the mind,
Not sunrise with its flaring spokes of light,
Nor glittering arrows of morning can disperse,
But only Nature's aspect and her law."
 - Lucretius,  On the Nature of Things Book VI

I was never afraid of the dark. I especially love the twilight. When I was a child, I heard that the some native ceremonies that had to begin at precisely dawn would begin when the officiating person could distinguish a red item from a group of other dark colored items. Somewhere, I was also told that reason fire trucks were red is that red is the first color you can distinguish at dawn and the last you can identify as it gets dark. Even as a kid, I was never sure why this was important, as it seems to me you should be able to see the shape of a fire truck with flashing red lights and a blaring siren regardless of its color. My childhood suspicions about the red fire truck theory were borne out when, as an adult, I observed that some fire trucks are painted a particularly ugly acid green instead of red.

The validity of either of these factoids is questionable however, because I also clearly remember believing when my big brother told me that if I used the toilet when there was an un-flushed cigarette in the bowl, my bottom would turn yellow. Thankfully, my parents stopped smoking – or at least stopped using the toilet as an ashtray – before that happened.

Instead of fearing that there were monsters in my bedroom closet who would creep out after the lights went out, I worried instead about whether I’d be able to see a red fire truck if I was up late, or whether I would remember to check the toilet before using it. I do remember not liking to get a drink of water in the dark bathroom at night because there might be a spider hiding inside the glass. I still maintain that worrying about spiders in the drinking glass is more sensible than fearsome: and still rinse the glass out in the viewless dark before refilling it to get a drink of water.

These days, while I lie away in the sleepless dark I worry about different things.  The glittering arrows of morning don’t disperse my gloomy thoughts about unfinished chores, leftovers spoiling in the refrigerator, the litter box I should have changed yesterday, or my dentist appointment later this week. I suppose the essence of maturity is that we replace our childhood fears with equally scary but more practical stuff as we age. Or maybe we just learn that there is more to fear in the light than in the dark.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Throwing a Shutout

I was talkin’ to my girlfriend
I told her I was stressed
I said I’m going off the deep end
She said give it a rest
We’re all waiting in the dugout
Thinking we should pitch
How you gonna throw a shutout
If all you do is bitch
 - Todd Snider, I Can’t Complain

I’ve been sick. Last night I slept through the night for the first time in about 3 weeks. I feel much better today.

So, instead of bitching, this would be a good day for me to work on the quilt. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Obliviousness Vs Incompetence

"He who knows best, best knows how little he knows."
 - Thomas Jefferson

I’ve been thinking of expanding my mission statement to encompass my dawning suspicion that vicissitudes of my life don’t so much fluctuate these days as they increasingly tend to swirl around and down like water in a flushing toilet. I’d also like to express my inarticulate rage against the hegemony of the normative discourse that persists in believing life should have a purpose. Tough challenge. Like un-homogenizing milk, or growing tomatoes.

Or like dealing with Medi-Cal.

The lovely people at Medi-Cal have sent me a NOTICE OF ACTION. These words in bold caps at the top of a page strike fear into my heart, particularly if I’m not even halfway through my first martini when I read them. While just about any office of the great state of California is run with the bureaucratic efficiency that makes IRS bureaucrats look like precision diamond cutters in Amsterdam, the people at Medi-Cal are exceeded in their incompetence only by the people at CalTrans.

The letter begins: “You told us you were moving/moved to Riverside County. Therefore, handling of your Medi-Cal case will be transferred to Riverside County…”

Yeah, no. It’s actually more likely that the Medi-Cal recipient to whom this NOTICE OF ACTION was addressed would have told Medi-Cal she had used her frequent flyer miles to purchase tickets to the moon and would be “moving/moved” once they recovered her suitcase that fell out of the rocket shuttle while delivering her to the spaceport, and that she planned to depart as soon as her size XXX adult undergarments were gathered up by baggage handlers.

If my frustration could be expressed in the form of a death ray, it would melt glass. If the Medi-Cal bureaucracy could be described as a geographic phenomenon, I would be standing at the intersection of several merging tectonic plates where obliviousness is being subducted by incompetence and binders full of revised policies no longer mitigate the damage.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. I’ll reply in writing on the remote chance that the Case Worker can read. I’m not too optimistic about this because the unsigned letter identifies the “Worker Name” as “L. Case Closed”.  Here’s my first draft.


Dear Mr/Ms Case Closed,

Noooooo! I’m not moving to Riverside County!

While it’s probably true that somebody told you they were moving, please be assured it wasn’t me.

Here’s why:
      a)     I am unable to get up from the toilet without the help of a very strong nurse’s aid, so it’s 
            unlikely I could waddle all the way to Riverside;
      b)    Also, I’m not strong enough to break through the crust on my vanilla pudding, so picking 
           up a suitcase filled with just my prescription meds and some dryer lint is probably beyond me;
      c)    Also, I’m incapable of putting together a thought more complex than the design of a Popsicle 
           stick, let alone articulating it coherently.
      d)    And finally, I can’t remember which end of the bedside telephone to put to my ear so the 
           chances that I would be able to communicate anything more than “Hello? Hello? 
           There’s nobody there.” are about as likely as you figuring out who actually did tell you 
           they were moving to Riverside.

I respectfully request that you check your records to be sure it wasn’t your drunken whore of a mother who told you this while you were both smoking crack, that is, if you maintain actual records, and if you are ever sober enough to read them.

Fondest Regards,
Pissedoffy McTaxpayer on behalf of client M______