The View From Inside

This morning I had an endoscopy. For stomach, esophagus and duodenum.  Not colon, thank G-d.

But first the back story. DOB (father of blogger) has horrible reflux.  SOB (sister of blogger) sometimes has bad digestive episodes, but she never complains.  DOB, however, does complain, but if you ask him, he would say that he just describes the sensations searing through his digestive system.

[You can tell that the family parses these distinctions at the dinner table because, after all, Jews can talk about anything with their mouths full.  A curse and a blessing, that tribal trait.  But I digress from my back story.]

Like DOB, like Blogger.  I try to be more like stoic SOB, but recently I had become concerned about the severity of the reflux.  I even went to a doctor last Friday.  SOB went with me, in case I did not present the key elements of my “case”.  (Doctors are that way.)  The GI Guy (gastro-intestinal doctor) lectured me on how I need regular check-ups and screenings.

All the time I am thinking, “you are a really nice man and come highly recommended but, GI Guy, if I don’t listen to SOB, why would I listen to you?”  But GI Guy is SOB’s friend and colleague and I didn’t want to make waves.

Maybe GI Guy is a mind reader because he suggested that I consider an endoscopy.  Or more probably, based on my sparse history of going to doctors, he must have realized that I must be concerned if I was in his office.  We set today as the date for a look-see down my throat.  Then, SOB reiterated the lecture about getting checked out regularly.  So, I asked her if she practices what she preaches.  Pause.  I told her that she was unashamedly hypocritical.

It is amazing what you can find on the internet.  Pictures of not so good results:


I thought the procedure would look like this:


But not exactly.


Anyway, enough back story.  Fast forward to this morning at 6AM. I picked up SOB in a cab and we went over to fancy shmancy East Side for the procedure.  But at 6AM, even the tony, tony neighborhoods look like hell:

Still, I am not so unnerved by this.  I figure a relaxant and then a tube and a few pictures and that’s that.  And there was a spa two doors down…

Ok, not so much.

Blogger is on a gurney (the first picture is to show off the pedicure) next to really enthusiastic GI Guy – it IS 6am and the civilized world is still asleep or at least in their jammies.  (SOB is in the room (and taking pictures).)

The anesthesiologist shows up.  ANESTHESIOLOGIST?????  He mumbles questions and we had a little Marx Brothers routine, where he asked questions in English mumble, SOB translated into English non-mumble and then I answered in Blogger-ese.  SOB then had to translate into doctor-speak.  It could have been the United Nations, except we were all speaking some dialect of American English.

Thank G-d for SOB. She gave me a good luck kiss on my forehead, but I knew she was staying right next to the anesthesiologist.  She is my bodyguard and I am hers.

In went the IV and the propophyl (the stuff that killed Michael Jackson).  I had to bite down on a plastic ring and off to sleep I went.  I was awakened after the “scope” and tissue was scraped for biopsies.

First question to GI Guy when I awoke:  Did you take pictures for my blog?

I stayed loopy for a while.  GI Guy’s assistant told me: Do not to resume normal activities (she doesn’t know that no one ever ascribes “normal” to anything I do); do not go to work; do not make any important decisions; and do not sign legal documents; do not make business decisions.  As if directed at me specifically, she told me:  Do not do anything that requires unimpaired concentration or judgment.  I don’t get it; that is how I live every day.

So, I went to sleep.  That propophyl is awesome.

Elvis in the House

A portly guy wearing an Elvis wig, over-sized sunglasses and that tragic white jumpsuit that was “signature Elvis” in his final years, walked through the lobby of my office building. Apparently responding to jeers from the security guards, he yelled, “it’s still a free country and I am doing my part!”

Now that struck me. Today, with the news from Japan getting worse, Saudi troops landing in Yemen and Bahrain and pleas for a no-fly zone over Libya, we need all the Super Heroes we can get. Real, imagined or dead. Maybe the Elvis impersonator was doing what he could do to feel in control and perhaps offer comfort as a super human personality (just ask other Elvis fans).

He wasn’t so crazy after all (maybe). I might buy a Star Trek: The Next Generation outfit. They always had the answers. Maybe Counselor Troi, although I would need more gym time as well as implants. But you get the point.

Elvis was in the house. And that was what we needed today.

Unintentionally keeping up with the Kardashians

I went into the local General Nutrition Store to look for topical remedies for peeling cuticles. (Already TOOOOO much information.)

Like most consumers, I left the store with many things — none of them was the purpose of the visit.

Not only did I buy skin emollients which promise youthful transformation in minutes, but I bought whitening stuff for my teeth.  I picked it out and then saw that it was the kind that the Kardashians use.  I paused.  As a point of principal, I should put it back.  But, it is the only non-gunky kind of teeth-whitening I have found in a while.

So, add me — age 46 — to those, reluctantly, keeping up with the Kardashians.  Just the thought alone will make me seek therapy for years.

Mi Cherie Amour

On Thursday afternoon, I slipped into the bathroom of my office and transformed into a girlie-girl.  I traded my clogs for pantyhose and heels and my turtleneck and blazer for a sleeveless black number that swirls when I walk, along with some serious bling and a full face of make-up.  POB (partner of blogger) insisted on the serious bling (she wanted anyone who might flirt with me to know I was expensive).  G-d bless her to think that someone at this outrageously hetero event (for which I was dressing up) would even look twice at me.

Of course, I ripped the hose as I put them on and — uh oh — this was not my pair of hose.  POB and I are different sizes, so I felt the sli-i-i-i-ide down below my waist happening almost immediately.  Ripped and sliding.  Dressing up is always epic.

The event was a fundraiser for one of the most worthwhile organizations (outside of refugee relief) — The Hole in the Wall Gang camps for kids with life threatening illnesses.

I left my office to meet a colleague who was flying in for the event.  We were going to the pre-party that started at 5pm.  Nothing like alcohol at 5pm for pickling your brain.  And goyishe hors- d’oeuvres — meat and cheese or pork.  Not even mixed nuts for the Jews.  I realize this is going to be a long night featuring a liquid buffet.  And that is so not my cultural upbringing — run out of booze, ok.  Run out of food? Change your name and leave town because you’ll never live it down.

We attended the main event — a concert at Avery Fisher Hall, featuring Meryl Streep (looking fab without plastic surgery), Emmy Lou Harris, John Cougar Mellencamp, Bill Cosby, Lyle Lovett (I kept thinking, Julia Roberts, really?), Bette Midler (who got middle-aged), Renee Zellwegger (she looked so much better before all the plastic surgery) and Stevie Wonder.

More important than these luminaries were the campers who helped emcee the show, and the video of Paul Newman, who together with Joanne Woodward, founded these camps.  One of the campers belted out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  I think everyone was crying.  Here is a terminally ill tweenager singing THAT song.  A song of the downtrodden, the sad, the defenseless, those with hopes and dreams that seem destined not to be realized.  THAT song.  My heart ached and my mascara ran all over my face.

Paul Newman (may he rest in peace) was so eloquent — in the video made some years ago — about why he started these camps.  (I am paraphrasing, but I recollect it this way:)  “I have been lucky all my life and I wanted to help people who only knew the other side of luck.” He is a good man but I hate his salad dressings.

He looked at luck as a zero-sum game.   And if luck is a zero-sum game, then our luck means someone else has less (or no) luck.  Contrast that with people who say today, “I make my own luck.”  As if to impart that those who are “unlucky” don’t deserve success.  Ok, let’s super-impose this paradigm on children.  Can anyone with a sense of humanity say to a terminally ill child, “you could’ve made your own luck”?

Surely, we can share our good fortune — our luck — with the children.  The children.

Of course the evening got lighter when Stevie started playing Cherie Amour and a few other standards.  My colleague and I were standing and singing in Avery Fisher Hall while everyone else politely sat.  After an evening of ill children with fight in their hearts, it was good to be on our feet and singing.  It was life-affirming.

There was an after-party.  Cheeseburger sliders were served.  Really?  Goyishe v’hetzi (150% non-Jewish).  Still with the vodka drinks.

There was a Motown band and singers who were awesome.  I dragged my colleague out on the dance floor.  I told her, it’s New York, no one cares if two women dance.   We totally rocked out.  Of course, at that point my hose were dangling dangerously low like the pants on some young men and I was scared that they would just drop.  And it was getting late and really I wanted to get home, get in bed and feel the serenity of having my family safe and asleep around me.  We were waiting for Stevie Wonder to show up at the after-party so my colleague could meet her idol.

Finally he showed up and she was star struck and frozen in place.  The batteries in her camera ran out.  I had to elbow my way to spend a few minutes talking to Mr. Wonder while I motioned for her to get next to me.  Mr. Wonder’s bodyguards were concerned that I was doing something dangerous and were ready to drop me.  Finally she got near enough to put her hand on his shoulder and I snapped the photo using my blackberry.  I thanked Mr. Wonder for his patience (and holding on to my hand for what seemed an eternity as my colleague got close) and the conversation and I receded into the crowd.

My colleague is on Cloud Nine.  We have bonded.  I can call her “friend” now.  Without a hard-headed New Yorker, she would not have even gotten close to Mr. Wonder.  As a friend, I tell her, “I have been in heels for seven hours, my pantyhose are almost falling off, and I need to go home now that we have a picture with you and Stevie Wonder.”  I am walking you to your hotel and I am throwing myself in a cab.  The alternative is to put a sign on you that says ‘return after 3 days to . . . .’  I would get to sleep but I would get fired.  So you decide:  How is this evening turning out?”

Having gotten a picture of Stevie Wonder, she didn’t put up a fight.  Thank G-d.  I got her back to her hotel and in 15 minutes I was in my comfy apple-green jammies in my comfy bed and ready to sleep.

I laughed, I cried, I danced, I shook hands with a celebrity, I was moved to help others.  A great day.

Sanchez and Stewart — A Re-Think

A friend from high school sent me a message and thought I should rethink my prior blog entry on the Sanchez and Stewart dust-up (

I re-read it and my high school friend was right that I was unduly harsh and outrageously judgmental (and, although she didn’t say it, I will add, hypocritical) in my comments about Jon Stewart’s religious observance.  It is none of my business and I was out of line.

I still believe that there was a potential for a teachable moment with Rick Sanchez, where we could talk about the source of the anger.  There is so much anger in our society right now that I just wish we would look more closely at it, together, and find some common ground and possibly healing.

And even as I was trying to make that point in my prior blog entry, I took a needless and shameful pot-shot at Jon Stewart.  As much as I love Jon Stewart and I would bear his children if I could (POB (partner of blogger) knows this and accepts this because, well, it is biologically impossible anyway), some things about him push my buttons and I react irrationally.  Maybe that it why I feel bad (a little) for Rick Sanchez (whose show is, in my opinion, so bad as to be unwatchable).

Anyway, to my high school friend, thank you for “calling me” on this and I expect you to keep me in line as you see fit.

~ Blogger

Another typical day on the road to Utopia

I went out to lunch again with a colleague — one who indulges my need to document life around me.

These photos don’t really need a narrative.  A tender moment (?) on not-so-tender 6th Avenue and 50th Street.  Is this where you want to tell your children that daddy proposed and mommy said yes?  I guess that I’ll leave up to you to decide who is crazier.  I think it is the girl for saying yes. And the outfit requires a 911 make-over.

As if that weren’t enough, I read the Radio City Musical Hall promos and juxtaposed were:

Ok, Chelsea Handler shares billing with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  And we wonder why our civilization is rounding the drain.

Hey, I just show what I see.

“Youthful” moments at the gym

Why, at the gym on a Saturday morning, are cartoons playing on two the TVs?

My son watched these cartoons as a 4 year-old.  4 year-olds are not allowed to work out in a gym.

So, let’s be like Glenn Beck and just go with that.  Hmmmm.  Then, we are a nation of tall, strong, vibrant 4 year-olds.  4 year-olds so strong and impressive that they look like they are between 25 and 55.  That’s why we don’t need universal health care because our youth, if left alone, will thrive.  Ok, I have freaked myself out enough.

Setting Glenn Beck aside, does the scene I describe say something about the mental and emotional ages of my fellow Upper Westsiders?  Actually, the networks had news shows on until 10, when the cartoons start. But it is 11am and no one has asked to change the channels.  In a place where people routinely quarrel about the stations on the big screens, this is indeed odd.


On the urging of my college friends, I entered the Washington Post contest for a new pundit/columnist position.  Ok, they were looking for a fresh face and mine is 45 years old, but, hey, I am younger than some people.

I submitted a short piece about the mixed legacy of Ted Kennedy (whether our nation’s ideals would have been better served if he didn’t get a free pass on his transgressions) and referred them to this blog. 

I had dreams of having a by-line on a column next to those of Pulitzer Prize winners.  My mother would have beamed from Heaven as if I had received a Nobel Peace Prize. 

So, by entering a contest, I was three degrees away from a Nobel Peace Prize.  Three degrees

So, I didn’t get a bronze, silver or gold.  But I was a contender

And that, I think, is close enough for my mother, who believed that EVERYONE is entitled MY opinions.

Three major states of being: Alive, Dead & — in Hollywood — UnDead

Michael Jackson has been dead for months now.  Or has he?

He is coming out with a new movie. 

So, Michael is in that fashionable Hollywood state of the “Undead”. 

The Undead can do what living people do — make movies, have digitally produced voice-overs, sell your clothes to the highest bidder, be immortalized in rare and just-discovered footage.  In order to stay undead, there must be mystery and intrigue and controversy swirling around the person, enough to keep conspiracy theorists thriving. 

And that means more coverage on the newsertainment channels, like CNN, which brings the Undead back to life for years at a time.

The 24 hour news REcycle can take a small story national

The kid with the balloon.  It won the hearts and minds of schnewscasters and newsertainers all over 24 hour “news”.

Then it was a hoax.  Now it is a national disaster, a mark on our national pride.  More time was spent on the kid in the balloon story than on health care reform, gay march on Washington, even the 9/12ers for Goodness Sakes.  The only thing that got more coverage was the three week “Breaking News” headlines that Michael Jackson was dead.