Virginia Mason’s Blog

January 22, 2009

Get me to the doctor’s on time

Filed under: Uncategorized — virginiamason @ 10:27 am

Had to be in Boston for a 9:00 am appointment, which meant being at the bus station at 6:30. Okay, so far, so good. Bus should get to South Station at 8:00. It takes 30 minutes to walk to my appointment. That leaves 30 minutes to find a quick breakfast. Thank heavens for Whole Foods, which is across the street from my appointment. With me so far? Everything running smoothly (except for freezing to death, negotiating iced sidewalks, bracing the stiff wind).

Glitch 1: Bus runs into terrific traffic and arrives at South Station 35 minutes late. Uh oh, 25 minutes for a 30 minute walk. Which turns into a 25-minute trot (over those icy sidewalks, in that bracing wind). Which also means no time for breakfast. This isn’t an end-of-the-world catastrophe, but the ensuing low blood sugar can get ugly. Arrive at the building and find Glitch 2.

Glitch 2: Building is surrounded by fire trucks with tall ladders reaching up to the 7th or 8th floor. Firemen everywhere. Also patients of the doctors whose offices are in said building. We all have to wait outside while the firemen do their thing. It’s still cold and the wind is still blowing, however. And I’m no longer going to make my appointment on time. Oh well, not my fault. Eventually they let us into the building.

Glitch 3: Run to the elevators. They aren’t working. The power’s not back on, so all us cattle are herded up the stairs. For me, to the 6th floor. Trudge, trudge. Trudge, trudge. Pant, pant. Trudge, trudge. Pant, pant. Panting aside, get there in good time. Go to the check-in desk, where I now have to wait some more.

Glitch 4: I’m waiting at the desk because the computers are all down. “No power” will do that. No power means no lights, either, and some of the reception rooms have no windows. Really atmospheric. I finally get to the proper waiting room, where I’m (eventually) told that, since there’s no power, the machines they use are also not running. Moreover, the power might not be restored the entire day. Swell. For this I got up at 5:45am?

They say (well, Shakespeare said) “all’s well that ends well.” My ophthalmologist asked me to stay around a bit. As I was there, it seemed like I might as well stay. Turns out that there were about 4 rooms on that floor that inexplicably had power. So they were trying to cram all the patients into those 4 rooms. The place is really crowded at the best of times, so I figured I’d be there awhile. And I was. But I did get to see the 2 doctors I needed to see. Eyes are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, so at least I got some peace of mind to offset the low-blood-sugar irritability.

Finally got home at 2:45. Elapsed time: 8+ hours, for a measly medical check-up. Whew. Do I have an exciting life or what?

January 14, 2009

Twitter: An Asylum of sorts

Filed under: Uncategorized — virginiamason @ 12:14 pm

The 7 Things You Don’t know About Me meme has entertained me considerably this week. I’ve read quite a few in the last few days, and you know what I’ve determined? Most (though probably not all) Twitterers are nuts. (I admit, my sample is probably skewed by the folks I’ve chosen to follow.) Insane is a little harsh. Nuts. Is everybody burdened with low self esteem? Attention deficit disorders? Reliance on mind meds? But, especially, what are all these social misfits doing on very-social Twitter?

Before anybody gets offended, let me change the pronouns from “them” to “us.” Not “what are they…” but “what are we….” I was a normal child (I seem to remember it so, anyway) to whom something bad happened. Damaged psyche; I was never the same again. On top of that, about 10 years ago I had an accident which left me with a broken skull and a fairly severe brain injury. My neurosurgeon said to not do that again as I’d become a vegetable. Ok (like I meant to do it the first time). For those of you who haven’t experienced it, you’re left with some dismaying sequelae. As my primary care physician put it, “Brain injury changes one’s personality, almost always for the worse.” This woman is the bluntest person I’ve ever met. And I actually like her; how perverse is that? Her bedside manner runs along the line of “if it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.” But she seems to have been right. Once upon a time I could out-Job Job in the patience department. Now I have a volcanic temper: short-fused and violent. I also have no working memory, which causes extreme frustration. We brain-injured people can’t handle stress well, either. Like so many other Twitterers, I’m ‘way too familiar with Wellbutrin, Prozac, and other psychotropic drugs. Instead of the usual up-and-down (normal) emotional ride, I flatline it. On top of all that, I’m pretty much asocial. Some of us may be anti-social. So, I’m nuts, too.

We’d pretty much prefer to be alone. Why, then, are so many drawn to Twitter? Why are we asocial  beings involved in such a primarily social network? A community. What a concept! Something we’d usually avoid like the plague.  Because – ta da – our emotional disturbances are not the primary defining factors of our life on Twitter. People we meet don’t automatically cross the street to avoid us, as if we carry some malign, contagious disease. We are, instead, valued for our humor, intelligence, perceptivity, insight, and other appreciated values, just like “normal” people. Perhaps people who’ve never experienced emotional problems can’t empathize with us. Sympathize, maybe. But the really important thing is that it doesn’t have to be acknowledged; maybe it’s not even noticed. A reader doesn’t have to “make allowances,” tread carefully, feel responsible…. Nobody can fix it, and the really good part is that nobody feels the need to try. We’re okay as is. We become, on Twitter, just normal folk. Hallelujah! Somewhere, in some way, perhaps for the only time, we fit in just fine, thank you.

January 6, 2009

Seven Things About Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — virginiamason @ 4:41 pm

The question that immediately came to mind was: Do you want to know about me? Immediately followed by: Why?  Well, empirebetty has challenged me, so I’ll answer.

1.  I’m an alien. I do try to pass as human, but I’m not entirely successful. There are many things all humans have knowledge  of, and experience with, but that I just don’t “get.” For instance, human beings are, first of all, social creatures. I’m not. I’m perfectly content with only my own company. Generally, in fact, I prefer (with some exceptions) to be alone. I’m somewhat remote.

Now then, in my family there were 4 children: 3 blue-eyed, towheaded blond males, and 1 brown-eyed, raven-haired brunette female. Didn’t exactly fit in from day 1. Even more to the point, I’m a flawed female. Love of, and great aptitude for, shopping is a prime female directive, so I understand. I, however am completely devoid of that shopping gene. I can’t think of too many things I’d rather do less.

Guys are supposed to like, and be good at, math; girls excel at language. I like both. But then, math is just another language. A professor told me once that the best mathematicians are also good musicians (or maybe it was vice-versa). I am a pianist. I sometimes joke that I could read music before I could read English. That’s only slightly an exaggeration. I learned both concurrently.

Keep it in mind: my being an alien colors everything else.

2. I went to college in my mid-40s. I was married right out of high school. When I was divorced, I decided to go to college to see if my brain still functioned after 20-some years of housewifery. Well–to anyone else considering trying it–I’m pleased to say the brain still worked, and very well, too.

I started out as a math major, but then transferred to CMU to become a logic major. I loved math; I loved logic (see alien, above). I’m a sucker for mind games, puzzles.

3. I’m a supreme, utter, and judgmental snob. I really try not to be. I try to give everything the kindest reading, no matter how idiotic the ideas, or execrable the taste. See the problem?

4. I have almost no concept of time. I think of myself as ageless, in the sense of having no particular age. My first husband was ~20 years older than I; my second is ~20 years younger than I. Seems perfectly natural to me.

If you asked me to meet you at 12:30 for lunch, say, I might, or might not, get there on time. I tend to see the duality of things. Think yin/yang. Cold is another face of hot; good is another face of evil; time is another face of space. Time and space are both plastic, flexible, malleable, always expanding and collapsing, non-linear. 12:30 is not an exact thing.

5. I am a secular humanist; that is, if a non-human alien can be a humanist. (see alien, above). Humans seem to have a need to believe in something greater than themselves. Something that is The Answer to The Question. Something omnipotent, omnipresent. They call it God. I have no need or desire for any belief in God, or gods, to satisfactorily explain existence to me, or to hang over my head as a threat to keep me in line (whatever that may mean). I am perfectly willing to allow others to believe whatever they need to; I ask (no, demand) the same consideration for myself.

6. Gender specificity? I have no understanding of what is a “guy thing,” as opposed to a “girl thing.” When I was very young, my mother put her sewing machine in my room. I very soon mastered it. I can do anything with needle and thread, or needles and yarn, for that matter. A “girl thing?” I could also wield a mean jigsaw, lathe, drill press…. A “guy thing?” Machines were (are?) toys for my amusement. A skill using a “girl” machine may be exactly what’s needed to use a “guy” machine. What’s the difference?

I learned to drive a car (doesn’t everybody?). So cars are ambiguously gendered? But the workings of said machine are thought to be in the province of male expertise. If a guy waxed ecstatic about his car’s engine being a double overhead cam, I knew what that meant, however. I once drove a car so configured, and I could tune its engine.

I learned to fly a plane, too (does everybody?). I can’t “get” the idea that things are gender specific. Maybe we aliens have no concept of gender. Period.

7. I am not master of myself. For the life of me, and in spite of my commands to the contrary, I can’t get my mind to shut up. For instance, I read everything that gets in front of my eyes. I can also read (and write) upside down and/or backwards. How un-useful is that? Mind/brain never takes a break. (Apparently mouth doesn’t, either.)

Thank you for your kind attention.

Yeah, I got a blog. Whoop!

Filed under: Uncategorized — virginiamason @ 4:24 pm

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