Monthly Archives: September 2012

provenge, the white knights, and my friends

i know what i planned to do–drive from tallahassee to orlando to spring hill to tampa and back again to tallahassee and then fly to chicago–but then there was reality.

the provenge treatment my father justin is engaging in requires that his blood be extracted from one arm and then processed in a machine which sorts out red and white blood cells.  the white blood cells are harvested and then couriered to a lab where, even as i write, they are being enhanced and changed.

leukocytes, or white blood cells, are the fighter cells and without them we have no immunity to disease.  the provenge treatment means an enhanced armor, a better sword before they are shipped back to tallahassee.  my father is the first patient to have his provenge treatment conducted in tallahassee, as opposed to jacksonville which is several hundred miles away.  provenge is a treatment which costs approximately ninety thousand dollars. 

 

justin was feeling pretty awful afterwards and when he has the white blood cells reintroduced into his system, he will not immediately feel better.  in fact, he might feel quite a bit worse.  i have been told that he will need a chaperone as he did on tuesday–this time, there will be a sedative.  for him, not for me, damnit!

we came back from the clinic and justin immediately fell asleep.  i cancelled all my facebook friend plans and was so grateful that everybody was so understanding.  sure, i felt guilty but i was the one creating the guilty–nobody was putting more on me.

but there was one friend i was too late to be able to cancel.  facebook friend #330 ron winegar and i have been facebook friends for about a year.  he drove in from panama city to meet me for lunch.

ron is an air force and marine veteran. he was initially stationed in alaska and we shared stories of our common experiences of the 49th state. he’s a firm believer in ufo’s because when he was stationed there, he had some experience with them. i was fascinated! so much so that for nearly an hour i forgot that i was supposed to be taking care of justin. no worries, justin was still asleep when i returned to the apartment.  sometimes a knight in shining armor is just the friend who has lunch with you and let’s you forget the real world! 

 

i am so grateful for my facebook friends, the ones i see and the ones i haven’t had a chance to see. .. . yet.

 

 


first we take all your blood out of you. . .

at the southeast community blood center in tallahassee, florida, i am watching a frankensteinian experiment.  for the first time in tallahassee, a provenge treatment is being performed.  my father justin is the lucky patient, and lucky is absolutely the word.

provenge is a cancer treatment which promises up to three months of continued health.  it costs $90,000.  luckily, justin is covered by insurance.

when i came down to florida, i had an expectation of renting a car and toddling all over the place meeting facebook friends.  i had a great sense of anticipation. but i was anticipating something that isn’t happening:  instead, justin’s wife left for a business trip and i am a witness to history.  although provenge has been done in other parts of the country, this is new . . . for tallahassee and for justin.

nurses adam and denise are referred to as “vein whisperers” because they can get a needle into the very smallest of veins. over a three hour period, all of justin’s blood will circulate through a machine that extracts white blood cells.

justin’s blood will go through tallahassee airport. .. . i hope it doesn’t get stopped by the t.s.a.  and then . . . they’ll put the blood back into him!


when i’m gone. . . . this is where i’d like to be

get up in chicago, pile into the airplane and sit.

and sit some more.  our airplane had a problem, the pilot explained, one that required bringing a technician onboard to disable the lavatories in the “aft” compartment.  i’m not great on my aeronautical terms, but i figured out pretty quick that “aft” meant that the first class passengers still had a bathroom but the rest of didn’t.  and then, forty five minutes later, we took off.

i am in tallahassee where one of my facebook friends, my father justin, lives.  he is experiencing meta-fan-tastic prostate cancer and will undergo the experimental treatment provenge.  provenge is a one time only treatment that costs $90K and man, i sure hope it works.

it’s a good thing that i’m here, because justin’s wife had a business trip so she’s gone.  and tomorrow morning  justin and i show up for the treatment which involves all his blood being sucked out of his body and the white cells taken out to be sent to north carolina where they will be genetically altered and reinserted into his body in tallahassee on friday.

my plans of meeting facebook friends all over the state are a bit compromise.  nonetheless, i was so grateful that facebook friend william taylor, er, bill, came to visit me and my dad.  and took me to my favorite place in tallahassee.

in the old city cemetery in tallahassee, there is the monument to elizabeth budd graham who died in the late nineteenth century. some people believe that she was a witch because the inscribed face of the monument faces west. (please remind my sons joseph and eastman to face my monument to the east so that there’s no misunderstanding, although certain ex-husbands and boyfriends may beg to differ).

because we were meeting for the first time, bill brought a birthday cake that was a symbol of all the birthdays that we had missed as friends.  he transposed the numbers.  oops!

bill got a little confused: a twenty fifth birthday for moi? no, i’m actually fifty two but a gal can remember can’t she? i was grateful–and i was happy for his upcoming birthday in october! maybe when friends meet for the first time, they should celebrate the birthdays they have missed! and for bill and i that’s a lot of birthdays!

 

tomorrow i have to cancel some plans, some rentals, some tickets, but the most important thing is to take care of my father.  but the most placid picnic ground in tallahassee. . .


the absolute worst thing about meeting my facebook friends. . .

t.s.a.

i made a new years resolution to meet all 325 of my facebook friends. in the year 2011 alone, i was on the road 50 out of 52 weeks and probably on close to a hundred flights.  i have continued to meet friends, past the 325 i had as of january 2011.  and today i’m on my way to florida.

the worst thing?  t.s.a.

they have done everything.  they have swabbed me.  they have sequestered me in bullet proof holding cells while they rifle through my bags (really, you have to hold my panties up to the light to be sure there’s not an i.e.d. in them?).  they have pulled me out of the line at the gate in order to do a “random” second search.  they have body patted me, wanded me, and once a female agent told me “i’m going to start at each of your ankles and move up your legs until i meet resistance.”  i said “isn’t that an r. kelly song?”  and when she was done, she said “nice brazilian.”

and every once in a while, when our citizenry is quiescent, the t.s.a. adds a new level of weird.  they’re now testing liquids a traveler has already purchased (at a really jacked up price) INSIDE the terminal, after they have passed through the slaughterhouse inspection.  i’ve had inner terminal searches when switching planes, but if someone grabs my pre-flight beer and says “that’s for me, baby!”  i’m not going to be happy.

and it’s the not happy that t.s.a. is now aiming for:  video has emerged of a woman who was approached by t.s.a. at the gate and told she was randomly selected to give up her $5 bottle of water.  she swallowed the remaining water rather than do it.  a bonehead move of rebellion?

by the time a typical traveler has reached the gate, they’ve forgotten there ever were founding fathers who were willing to risk their fortunes, their safety and their lives for freedom. can you imagine one of these dudes having somebody grasp their ankles and feel their way up? can you imagine them stripping down for the right to get on a plane to disneyland? can you imagine them standing by while their six year old cries because t.s.a. has to take apart her barbie backpack?

the woman was using her cellphone to video tape this, and lord knows, i’ve wanted to do that in situations when t.s.a. agents have genuinely scared me.  the video is rough and not very professional.  but one interaction is really clear:

“Let me get this straight,” the woman asks the TSA agent. “this is retaliatory for my attitude, this is not making the airways safer it’s retaliatory.”

“It pretty much definitely is,” the screener responds.

i’ve always thought attitude was the key–that air travelers have to present themselves as meek and unobtrusive.  no joking, no protesting.  but it used to be that you could heave a sigh of relief once you got past security.  no longer.

there is a rumor floating around the internet that t.s.a. is attempting to implement “stop, freeze!” regulations that would make passengers freeze on command, as a group.  anywhere in the airport.  i used to think that was crazy talk.  but maybe the point of security is not to find anything that’s going to hurt us, but rather, to make sure we are a passive lot.  because really, we all have seen ground and flight crew sauntering past the security lines–how come nothing random ever happens to them?

i used to drink the preflight beer because i was worried about the plane crashing.  as we all know, alcohol in your bloodstream is secreted into the air in the form of sweat.  the alcohol has a lower density than regular air, so the alcohol lifts the plane.  you didn’t know how aeronautics works?  the next time you see a woman drinking a big gulp margarita at the chili’s just inside the united terminal, you should say thank you!

now i think they should have preflight beers available BEFORE security.  of course, there’s another way:

no need for an inflight movie!  and can i get a tan while i’m in here?


i don’t want to “like” mitt or barack. . . . with socialfixer.com i don’t have to!

i will be in charlotte and in tampa next week, but i seemed to have missed my opportunity to pick up swag at the conventions–you know, like baseball hats and bumper stickers and seamus the romney family dog plush toys.

in 1983, with five sons, a wife, some luggage and dog, mitt romney made the decision to put seamus in a dog carrier strapped to to the roof of the car for his 36 hour drive to a family home in ontario. bad political move! and since everybody’s seeing seamus’ mug on facebook, couldn’t we get a better shot of him?

in tampa, i will bake a facebook cake with my facebook friend jennifer. it will be the first time we have met, but i already know i will like her. for real, not just with a click!

 

but missing the conventions doesn’t mean that i won’t have a bit of politics hanging on me like a piece of tissue on my shoe as i leave the ladies’ room.  people everywhere are a little guarded in their comments about the upcoming elections and the ones who aren’t make me go quiet and start counting fibonacci numbers in my head.  while nodding in agreement. zero, one, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty one, uh, thirty four, fifty five, uh, let me think now. . . eighty nine!

on facebook, it can get pretty annoying when somebody posts something to your wall.  it can also make some of your friends start comment wars.

she’s beautiful, she’s witty, and i like her. but roughly half my friends are going to have smoke coming out of their ears if one of my friends posts this on my wall.

so while i intend to vote — and i have a substantial bet with my ex-husband on the outcome of the election–i am here to advise on how to get rid of politics on your facebook page.

1.  install socialfixer.com and figure out the key words you don’t want to see on your page.

2.  status updates:  go to social fixer’s options in the blue bar at the top of your screen, then click filters in the right sidebar. Under matching text, type what you want blocked, looking like this: /romney|obama|republicans|democrats/i. Putting the “i” at the end ensures that the filtered terms aren’t case-sensitive. After that, click hide and save.

3.  links.  we’re so tired of people posting links to their favorite rant, so why should you have to suffer?  go back to options and click add new filter, putting text similar to what you don’t want in the matching selector box a[href*=”obama|romney|republicans|democrats”].  no more see any links that have these words in the URL.  there’s going to be stuff that gets past it, but not so much anymore.

you can use socialfixer.com for all kinds of things like cute/inspirational/puppies or chicago/cubs/aren’t/ever/going/to/win/the/world/series/ever!

 

i just got this on my page this morning. socialfixer won’t get rid of this picture, no matter how handsome he may be, but i’ve been asked to “like” and for all my friends to “like”.  i might like this guy, i might not like this guy, but if he gets reelected i feel honorbound to “like” him. 

 

i think facebook needs a “i respect your opinion and your thoughtfulness in sharing” button!


invite me to your sorority initiation rites because i sorta know the alphabet

when i was twenty five i shopped around for a therapist for all that ails a gal in her quarter life crisis.  anxiety, depression, panic attacks, a touch of the eating disorder.

me at twenty five. fifteen pounds lighter. damn, if i knew now what i didn’t know then, i would have ate more candy, spent my money on pretty dresses and drinks for cute boys, and wouldn’t have bothered with therapy, waxing kits or underwire bras.

so i tried a gestalt therapist.  interviewed a freudian.  did one session with a cognitive psychotherapist.  even got my chakras manifested.  nothing clicked.  nothing seemed particularly helpful.

when i went to a “blended” psychotherapist i remember he asked me a half dozen questions.  one of them was “who is your best friend?”  i said, well, it’s actually two people.  they’re married to each other and i can’t really separate them.  not that i want to. . . and they’re seventy-ish and they’re retired and well they’re like parents to me.  dick and vivian eastman.  he taught me english in college.”

the therapist put down pad and pen and stared at me in that woeful, soulful, doleful sort of way that therapists are wont to.

“don’t you think it’s a sign of a . . . problem . . . that you consider your best friends a couple who separated by so many years from your peers and . . .”

he didn’t get the whole question out before i moved on.  and i never found that perfect therapist.  and, sadly, both dick and vivian passed on a few years ago.  i felt honored that they considered me a friend.

i find it strange that american culture assumes you are friends with people who are roughly your own age.  your own grade.  and i have reached an age at which i am honored particularly by young than me people who consider me their friend.

this weekend i went to visit my facebook friend taylor jordan.  she is not even twenty years old and all the adjectives apply:  beautiful, enthusiastic, energetic, fun!  i am not her best friend but i am included in the circle of people she counts as that word.

i think my facebook friend taylor jordan (on the left) would consider taylor lufkin (on the right) her best friend! they are both in college–he’s going to be a writer, she’s going to teach. this is our wonderful future and i’m so happy for these two!

 

taylor was the eighty-fifth facebook friend i visited last year.  she is the granddaughter of my friend suzanne’s husband.  although i had often interacted with her in the context of seeing my friend suzanne, i had never really spent time with taylor as a friend unto herself.  last year, i went to her school in wisconsin to visit and discovered a way nuanced, intelligent, funny galpal. this year, i went to her school in central illinois.  next week, she is going to join a sorority, but first there’s an initiation rite that i tried to help her with. . . uh, well, maybe i’m not the friend you want at your side when you do that. . .