Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Now She's a Lucifer to Light Her Fire: The Guinea Pig Romance

Lily the guinea pig has been leading a lonely life; her longtime companion, Scarlet, died of various tumors and an apparent infection a few months ago, so Lily's been moping around her cage and actually starting conversations with me, paws on plastic wall, rather than ignoring all humans, as is her normal modus operandi. My husband drove me to an animal shelter in the neighborhood that had guinea pigs but declined to let us know anything about their gender. Since we needed a male companion with no reproductive capabilities, we could not take the girls in the pen. Lily always fights with girls. She did not play nicely with the ones with whom she was once sent to live--when she returned, she gave me a baleful look--why had I sent her away? And to live with other chicks? Really. So we bided our time. I thought maybe she was the Greta Garbo of piggies, content to live on her own. Little signs of loneliness appeared--the odd, plaintive squeak, the signs, despite her efforts to be cool, that she had missed me when I was gone.
Yesterday, we got a call from another animal shelter. Yes, they had a young male, (tricolor in the video below) and yes, that young male had been rendered infertile. You'd never know from his reactions to Lily. He's clearly under the impression that he still has all his junk. She didn't rip his head off or, in fact, draw blood, as far as I could tell, although she affected to complain when he single-mindedly turned his attentions to her, waggling his hips, growling, and then clicking his teeth when she did not immediately agree to his terms. That teeth-clicking has stopped, as of today--it sounded like "helicopters" according to my son; I considered it saber-rattling. Today, things seem smoother. He chases her--he is, alas, only a fourth of her age: it's the middle-aged lady (Lily's four or five) and the young buck (Lucifer's one) scenario. But hey, how cool is that? Here are scenes from their courtship:
Three days later, they do not appear to agree about everything, but nobody's screaming. Dare I saw they seem rather fond of each other?
Down at the animal shelter, they'd named him, of all things, "Troll." A troll is a nudnik who  emerges from his cave only to be turned to stone. Or, in the Harry Potter version of things, to be felled by his own club. So I have re-named our little guy Lucifer. Besides--as he's nosing around her (Lily calmly snatching a carrot) doesn't he remind us all just a tiny bit of Tom Ellis?

Friday, July 20, 2018

My Life as a Dope Fiend: Me and Lance Armstrong

Imagine my surprise when my oncologist suggested, as she put it, "a little doping" to take care of my anemia. 
The spectacle of my scholarly, prim, stereotypically cautious German oncologist suggesting I inject the stuff that propelled Lance Armstrong first to temporary stardom and then to disgrace, plus cancer of the testicles, gave me pause.
"But he has cancer of the testicles!" I said. I didn't add that one testicle has been gathered to its fathers. But being Lance Armstrong, he's squeezed enough juice out of the other to father children.
"Yes," agreed my oncologist, ever calm, "but you don't have testosterone, so this is not a problem."
I wanted to say I had enough to sprout chin hairs, the kind I pluck with special tweezers marketed just to menopausal women. I have enough to feel energetic and like sex. That's another worry, when you have estrogen-positive cancer. They're injecting stuff into you to banish the estrogen, naturally. But every time you eat broccoli, drink a glass of wine, or have an orgasm, your estrogen levels go up.
"Should I give up broccoli, wine, and orgasms?" I asked. Apparently not, though her explanation was too technical for me. I still don't like the idea of taking a drug that gives you energy. Well, what it really does is make your bone marrow produce more red blood cells, without which you feel exceptionally tired, and pant while walking up the hill to the tram stop.
"Can't I just eat liver and onions?" 
She shook her head.
"But I really like liver and onions!" And I do. Especially with broccoli, red wine, and . . . oh, you know.
Apparently no intensification of my liver consumption will suffice. My cancer drug, Palbociclib, so effective in banishing cancer cells, also banishes white and red blood cells. That's why the very same dope--technically, it's called Aranesp--that Lance Armstrong pumped into his veins to steal the Tour de France is the one she wants to give me.
The necessary side effects having been detailed (thrombosis, but you're probably okay since you don't smoke and you do exercise) and, prescription in hand, I can feel much better. Soon. The Palbociclib leaves me really tired by the end of the 21-day cycle; after a week off the stuff, I feel almost normal. Scuttling all meds would leave me feeling great--until the emperor of all maladies, as Siddhartha Mukherjee put it, returns.
Now that I've doped twice, I can tell you I never had the experience of feeling high. I just no longer feel like I have to nap all the time. Shreds of the normal hang about the middle-aged lady.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Trumpsplaining: When Ondold Rump Misspoke

Our Great Leader, Ondold Rump meant to tell us that Vladimir Putin is a really mean guy, only he just accidentally said he was a really nice guy, mommy. Here's the transcript: "I don't know what you're talking about and it's sick to make such a big fuss. It's real news I mean it's fake news. Fake news! I misspoke and a guy's got to live, he's got so much to do. I'm dumping the country I mean I'm running the country. NBC I mean CNN tells lies. Flox I mean Fox is goodish. Good. You're all supposed to tell me how wonderful I am right about now. I'm waiting. I'm waiting. Maybe I'll just take a very long vacation. My daughter, I mean my wife, says I need a vacation. Ivankamelamawhatever. Commere. So the FBI is a fine institution and that's my people working there and yeah, maybe Putin misspoke too. You don't see his people, the KGB people, bothering anyone. For crying out loud, what I put up with. You should be ashamed. You too. And you. I'm the greatest thing that ever happened to this country. I am. I said so. You should listen to me. You too. I think we're done. I'm ready for my close-up now!"

Saturday, July 14, 2018

That Trump Baby Blimp--Bob on, Blimpies, Bob On

Piers Morgan, whom I normally admire, tweeted his outrage about the blimp, complaining that it was disgraceful--we wouldn't have allowed such a display during Obama's presidency, would we? Of course we wouldn't--Obama behaved in a presidential manner. Trump acts like a tantrum-throwing baby in a diaper--the blimp depicted him perfectly. Of course such a man should be ridiculed--not because "we have free speech" but because ridicule is, at the moment, our only real weapon against that juggernaut of catastrophe that is Donald Trump. 
Daily, I receive numerous inflammatory messages about Trump from do-gooder political organizations: adjectives like "outrageous," phrases like "battle for the soul of America" abound. 
Outrage doesn't cut it. Remember, Trump won by getting people outraged. Yes, by cheating and bribing and all sorts of skulduggery, we know--but he maintains his power by keeping his base outraged and frightened--outraged about all the injustices he says are being done to them, frightened of the terrified people crossing American borders, to whom Trump refers as "infestations" or "criminals." 
The person who gets Trump's base to laugh at him gets my eternal gratitude plus a  home-baked apple pie or batch of Tollhouse chocolate-chip cookies. American sweets to the sweet! Who will fly the next blimp? Who will Saturday-Night-Live the next remark? Keep laughing. That's all we have at the moment as ammunition. Don't forget, the man said he didn't feel welcome in London. That blimp does appear to have wormed its way under his hide, a hide known to be lacking in sensitivity. Never underestimate the power of ridicule. 
And don't forget that today is Bastille Day in France:  On July 14, 1789, troops stormed the prison known as the Bastille, spurring the French on to their rejection of, dare I say, Trumplike monarchs (but that insults the French--we know the American president to be much worse). After the Bastille was stormed, the French revolution ignited, the French found their way to the political values that now inform their happy land and used to inform the politics of the United States, namely, "liberté, egalité, fraternité." Trump tramples repeatedly on these values. I'd prefer laughter to heads rolling, and I think that if enough people really laugh at Donald Trump, laugh hard, in his face and often, he really will just fall down dead. And in that way, we will have the bloodless revolution we so desire. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

It's the Fourth of July: Let's Have a Funeral

Three thumbs down for the red, white and blue. I am so blue. Barry Blitt's July 2 New Yorker cover, "Yearning to Breathe Free" says it all: frightened Hispanic immigrant children peek out from the folds of the Statue of Liberty's skirts. She's not allowed to protect them. We are the land of the caught-out. We are the home of the cowards. I send my three dollar, my five dollar, my ten dollar, sometimes my thirty-dollar contributions to Cynthia Nixon and politicians defending Roe v. Wade, with the nagging feeling that (1) I ought to be in the middle of a refugee center handing out clothes and food and drumming up lawyers and (2) I'm no match for the Koch brothers and their pals.
What follows, below, is the kind of spirit we need (but without the doomed outcome): 

There's also 1776, the musical. Not quite as stirring, but love that folksy faux-New England accent: 

We need every man, woman and child to remember that America is a place that can so easily absorb the people coming across the borders. We need every man, woman and child in America to remember their own immigrant roots. Where ego lurks, let heart invade. As long as Trump is in office, fly your flags at half-mast.