Friday, November 25, 2011

Back on Track

After 5 weeks and it seems 15 pounds, I have returned to the gym. It was a good workout. It seems that I gain weight just breathing. Is that possible? No wonder the clothes that fit in October are a tad uncomfortable--read this as deep lines in the belly. Damn thyroid condition. Ok, yeah Damn Hagan Das, damn cheese, damn pizza, damn being in a rut, too. Work through it, other people have, I can too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

All You Need is Friends

Sometimes I think about all the people I know. Some have been with me a long time, some not as long and some come and go. I have been blessed and seem to have a group of The Usual Suspects. Right now in California, I have M, the sisters, Y, and J. I don't get to see J as much as I used to because he moved and got a girl-friend and doesn't seem to have time to go drinking with me any more. But I do get to see him at family gatherings--good thing I introduced him to M's neice and he is part of the family now.
M is a teasure, she was assigned to me as my mentor when I first became a Library Manager. What can I say she took her job seriously. She taught me everything from how to do annual reports all the way to playing slots in Vegas. A couple of years ago, I asked if she could be my emergency contact. Here I am all by myself with the nearest family 1500 miles away. If I pass out in the doctor's office, somehow I don't think my mom or my brothers could come and take me home. Mind you, I hope that the doctor's office doesn't have to call M either. What I like about M is her easy going nature. "Just roll with the punches" she told me early on. She is also very detail oriented and gets it right. I really appreciate this because sometimes, I just seem be scattered all over the place. I would drive me crazy if I were my own friend.
The sisters are great. V & V are twins and I call J my sister. Sometimes you recognize yourself in someone else. The twins have commented that sometimes J and I will be talking, we are nodding and in total understanding, they on the other hand don't have a clue what we are talking about. I think somewhere in the primodial ooze our spirits were fragmented. Sometimes several people hold pieces of a single spirit. When you meet them you can recognize each other. In much the same way that I can recognize in other those traits that I don't have and can really appreicate them, there is a comfort in knowing that there is someone who can understand you because that is who they are, too.
P is also a kindred spirit. P has just returned to my life this past month. I met P in Hawaii. We shared a house with a tall Woody Allen lookalike up in the jungle of Palolo overlooking Waikiki. Sometimes things would get crazy in the house, but I could go out to the converted garage and chat with P while he was doing tech work for our roommates Internet start up. After a while, I left for saner pastures and moved in with C, J, and M--Three's company before M finished college and dubbed the Luv Shack after she finished college. For a little while P and I lost contact but then one night at the Thai restaurant we ran into each other. It turned out that P was living in the same apartment complex that the Assistant Director at the language school lived in. Talk about small worlds. For the next few years, P and I hung out pretty regularly, I would go over to his after work and we would lace up our running shoes for a trek around Diamond Head with a stop over for water at the fire station to watch the yummy firement playing volleyball or basketball. Sometimes C would join us and sometimes a teacher that worked for me and then later worked with P would join us. During this time, we were all fit and into the race scene. Niketown on Wednesday nights, Monday night Diamond Head Run, Friday night Diamond Head Runs and then Kaimana Beach to watch the fireworks, Saturday hashes and Sunday long runs. During this period, P, C, and S were my most frequent running partners and in someways even though not everyone was with me for all these runs, in my memories they are all tangled up together. I can't think about one without thinking about the others.
So P is here now, we are both at a low point in our fitness and we have made a pact that we will get better. The plan is to run either the full or half marathon in March in LA. Yesterday we walked from Venice to Malibu and back catching up. In many ways its like we were never apart. I am so glad that he is back.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

During my commute I listen to audio books. Right now I am listening to our January Book Club selection, School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. It's a good story and I am enjoying listening to it, I should finish by Monday and it will be with reluctance that I will go on to the next book. Some books, I just can't wait to get it finished, but this is a story that I would like to linger. On the way to work this morning, I heard "This is an heirloom tomato, usually we only get them in July and August but today we are lucky." Immediately my mind conjured up the this memory.
I was home from some place far away for a few weeks before I went someplace else far away. It must have been from Japan to San Francisco because it was September, tomatoes if they were still on the vine were heavy with juices and saturated with color. I was at my aunt's house out in the country. In the backyard near a water line, I spotted a rogue tomato plant. On closer inspection I realized that the tomatoes against all odds were still green. Not quite believing my eyes, I quickly snatched them from the vines before they could either disappear or change into crimson before my very eyes. I took them into my aunt's kitchen. She looked them in disbelief questioning where in the world I came up with green tomatoes at this time of the year. We cooked them up for noon-time meal, called dinner in these parts. I retold the story to my cousin, uncle, and the hired hand as we tucked into this last remnant of summer goodness and my good fortune.
I love friend green tomatoes. There is something about the tangy sweetness that sings to soul and makes me grateful for being born Southern. Mom would always make sure that the first tomatoes in the grocery store of the summer wouldn't be left to ripen but would rather end up being dredged in seasoned flour and cornmeal with a stop over in the frying pan before making their way onto the dinner table.
When I was in Japan living in a seaside city with agricultural land nearby, one of my students who had spent time as a cowboy in Washington state and worked for the local branch of the agricultural ministry surprised me one evening with a bag of green tomatoes. He was visiting a farm earlier that day and noticed that the tomatoes on the farmer's vines hadn't turned yet. He asked if he could pick some for his American teacher. He told me the farmer looked at him like he was a crazy but then muttered something about foreigners being a strange while conceding that he could take some of the green tomatoes.
I was over joyed and cooked them up that Friday night when my boss and I would take turns cooking dinner while we waited for her husband, my other boss, to finish his day. We would watch Iron Chef--it hadn't made its way to America yet--afterward we would re-enact our own version in her kitchen. I don't think that Goji ever really understood our giggles and laughter at the table with our critical commentary as we savored the dishes.
So these were the memories that kept me company on the way to work. I will have to go back a couple of tracks on the audio book this evening because I am afraid that I missed a few chapters. In my mind this is definitely the sign of a good book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Re-joining the Digital Divide

On Monday, I decided that I had enough of me wasting time watching TV and playing Bejeweled on Facebook, so I walked down to my local AT&T Store to see if I had a contract and if I didn't what I needed to do to get rid of ATT Uverse. Turns out that you can't find that info out at the AT&T Store. You can set up the account but you have to call an 800 number for everything else. Hmph. I returned home, found my often wayward iphone and called the 800 number. I didn't have a contract so I could disconnect my service with no penalties. I was transferred to the proper person and he began to initiate my disconnect. First he asked me if it was too expensive. I said no out loud but was saying yes, yes, yes, in my head. But really this wasn't the reason I was disconnecting so I didn't want to negotiate my way into keeping the service. The service guy with a strong Southern accent couldn't really comprehend that I just wanted to turn the service off. He asked..."Are you switching providers?" I replied no. Clearly I didn't understand his question because he followed up with "You're getting service from someplace else?" I replied no. He querried again "You're not going to have TV and internet at home." I replied yes, that is right. I'm tired of wasting my time watching TV and surfing the net. He still didn't want to let this go, he added, "Do you want to see if we can get you a better deal." No but thank you, I said sticking to my guns. I could almost hear him thinking "What kind of un-American nutcase doesn't want TV reception at home?" But he took in a deep breath clearly shaking his head on the other end of the phone and started the disconnect proceedings. I had one more day of TV left. After watching my final Big Bang Theory episode and playing a few Begjeweled games, I turned off the TV and computer. Got my book out and enjoyed a quiet evening on my sofa with Misha as a tummy warmer. I was ready to get back to my quiet apartment again.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dental Woes

Last Wednesday night I was cleaning up after Movie Night when I spotted a vanilla Tootsie Roll left in the Halloween candy I had put out as part of the refreshments. I unwrapped it, popped it in my mouth and chewed for a bit when I came across a hard piece. I thought it was just the end piece of the candy where air had gotten to it. That thought lasted for about 30 seconds when my tongue touched up against my tooth and it felt wrong, very very wrong. I tentatively explored around the tooth and sure enough the hard piece of candy that I had just tossed into the trash can was in reality my filling that I had gotten the last time I had gone to the dentist.  Which was when I had lived in Japan about 15 years ago. There wasn't any pain but I hurriedly put some stuff in a basket and placed the basket in the AV Room. I wanted to get home as quickly as possible because I had visions of impending wracking pain. I didn't want to be on the road when such pain visited me. I got home, called M to let her know what had happened. She sent me the phone number for Delta Dental so I could call them the next day to sort out finding me a dentist.
Ironically, I had decided on Monday that I would look for a dentist on Thursday. One of my New Year resolutions for this year was to go the dentist, since the year is quickly fading into last year, I thought I needed to get a start on this resolution before it became yet another one crumpled up and discarded in the corner. I began to ponder the timing and wondered whether I cursed myself or had a premonition?
 I have had a couple of other examples of this very same thing. One time, I decided to wear my bicycle helmet while cycling on a hot summer day. I tended to be pretty bad about wearing a helmet on hot days because it got hot and itchy. Actually, I am pretty bad about wanting to wear a helmet on any day. But on this day I decided to give it a go and snapped the helmet strap under my chin. That ride happened to be  the one and only time that I had a bike wreck where I actually bang my head. Hmmmm?
Then one morning I happened to purchase a first aid-kit on impulse before I went up to the Aiea Loop for a run. I ran Aiea Loop on a regular basis. All was business as usual but then I tripped over a root and found myself splayed out with the wind knocked out of me, my ankle twisted and abrasions on my knees, elbow and chin. I was able to hobble to my car and with the newly purchashed first aid kit I was cancel out the visions contracting leptosprirosus drifting through my head. Again, hmmmm? Am I psychic? Dunno! Anyway back to the story.
The next morning I call Delta Care and get a number for a dentist. I call and get an appointment with Dr.David Pham with the Valencia Dental Group. I gave them the heads up that they had a high maintenance patient on their hands. The receptionist told me that the team was really good with putting people at ease. Buoyed a bit with this information, I  very carefully consumed lunch before I turned up for my afternoon appointment. When Dr. Pham came in to exam me,  I recounted my dental nightmare at the tender age of 5.
I went to Dr. Derryberry for a tooth extraction on my first ever visit to the dentist. He didn't numb me enough and when my cries of pain and panic couldn't be controlled, he told me that little girls like me had mothers that left them forever. Six months after my visit, Dr. Derryberry was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dr. Pham asked "You remember that experience from when you were 5?" I returned "Yes, of course, it was a lasting impression." I was left with a lasting near debilitating fear of dentists. As a result, I have only been to the dentist a handful of times in my life.
They asked what I kind of filling I had had and if I still had it. No, I answered, it was in the trash but what I had before was like the one behind it. I thought what I had was a crown but was quickly disabused of this thought and informed that I had an en lay which is not as complete as the crown. Once the Dr. got inside my mouth he said that the work from my Japanese dentist was quite good and that he took a fairly conservative approach to dental care. He then told me that I had a really small mouth and that they had to squeeze the child size mouth opener into my mouth. I amused myself for a bit with future comebacks to "You have a big mouth."
The doctor excited, the account manager entered, this little trip was going to cost me $800 out of pocket. I wondered what the insurance was paying and she said about $500 which made me instantly glad that I had at least some coverage. Ouch. After signing waivers the accounts manager exited and the dentist returned. We were ready to get serious. He drilled a bit and cleaned a bit, and told me that he wanted to put a temporary on because it wasn't clear if I would need a root canal or not, so please come back in a week to ten days or if you have a lot of pain sooner. I made an appointment for Monday, November 7.
Then this morning as I was eating a cranberry scone for breakfast, I pulled out a tough cranberry which I quickly determined was not a cranberry but rather the temporary. Grrrr....I called the dental office and it turns out that they can fit me in at 1:00. Oh, how nice. I go get a cup of coffee and realize after a few sips that I need a straw because it is sensitive. Dr. Pham welcomed me back and asked how I was, I responded that I have spent my last two days off visiting him. He said that he would give me Saturday and Sunday off. Funny guy. Numbed up, he tells me that it will take about 15 minutes for the new en lay to be cemented and then polished. All is going well but then I start feeling a bit of pain along my gum line, I try to ignore it but then he pings me again and I jerk. He jerks and we all have to settle down before he can continue. Then it is over and I go out to the receptionist who wants to make an appointment for a full work up. I must have looked shell shocked enough for her to ask if I wanted to have a month off. I quickly jumped on that and we set up an appointment for the 3rd Thursday in December. Merry Christmas to me. Woohoo!!!