Monday, August 23, 2021

Real time, real Monday, real mad—don’t get mad, get glad

I usually don’t start a blog until late afternoon Monday, after my laundry & weekly chores are done.  Then I sit on it overnight, proofread it Tuesday morning and get it posted by 9am.   

This Monday is different.  I jumped out of bed exactly one hour ago (the only day I don’t want to sleep in I do—why is that?) and put on a pair of sweat shorts, grabbed my laundry basket and ran down the hall.

Every floor in my apartment building has it’s own laundry room, one washer, one dryer, sink, folding table.   A calendar hangs on the wall where everyone is scheduled 4 hours to do their laundry.  Mine is Monday, 8am – 12pm. 

Anyway—I get down there, and on the washer is a handmade sign in black marker.  “WASHER IS BROKEN, SOMEONE SHOULD CALL SOMEONE.”  My face immediately gets hot.  If I knew who put this damn sign up, I’d fix them!  There’s a sign right above the washer & dryer that says:

For immediate service, call: 412-367-2222 – We answer 7 days a week

I stomp out of there and get halfway back to my apartment before I stop and tell myself to calm down.  I should just be glad someone bothered to hang an out-of-order sign.  I get into my apartment, make the call—I’m told someone is on the way.  I undress and head into the bathroom to take a shower.  And that’s when I notice the ceiling tile above my shower head is half-soaked with water and curved downward, ready to fall in.

(Thirty years ago they installed cooling units into all the apartments by putting them in the bathroom ceilings, then installed drop ceilings into the bathrooms to cover everything up.) 

From what I’ve been told, they’re not supposed to leak!  (I’m being sarcastic.)  Mine has leaked 3 times this summer.  In July they had to replace half the damn ceiling!  This is the fourth time since May.

I email the above photo to Nicole, my building’s maintenance manager.  I was almost hoping she’d call or write back with something snarky, but she couldn’t have been nicer.  She called me minutes ago and said she got permission to hire an outside service, she will accompany them here today.  

That’s great news--what was I getting so mad about? 

Last week was my “3 doctors, 3 days in a row” appointments.  I was expecting my PCP’s replacement to be the sour, condescending Doctor Ahman, but was greeted with a lovely Lebanese woman, Doctor Nevratiti.  I told her it’d be easier to call her Queen Nefertiti  and she laughed and told me to go right ahead.  My God, she even looks like a Pharoah’s wife!

The rest of the visit didn’t go as well, unfortunately.  All the weight I lost last summer (when my TMJD was at it’s worst and I was unable to chew for 4 months) I’ve gained back.  My high blood pressure has been recategorized to Stage 2 Hypertension, and I am going from one medication, 2 pills daily to 2 medications, 5 pills daily.  Carvedidol (doubled) and a new drug, Amlodipine.

I asked if this was a 3 month thing, and Queen Nefertiti asked where I got that idea.  I said “Well uh… my urologist put me on a 3 month regimen of Tamusolin.”  She said no, no—I’ll be taking the hypertension medication the rest of my life.  Bummer.

And finally, speaking of bright ideas… yesterday while looking at Youtube videos on my tablet, I was surprised to see one labeled:

Watch Rachel Maddow Highlights: August 20th | MSNBC

I thought “Should I watch this?  I love Rachel but she does get my dander up… “ 

It’s been weeks since I’ve seen her show though, so I said what the hell and watched it on my TV, pretending I had cable news again.  Rachel was criticizing Fox News for telling its viewers to ingest LIVESTOCK MEDICATION to prevent Covid; more specifically, Ivermectin—a horse dewormer.

Apparently, those loyal viewers of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Laura Inghram were doing just that, too.  It wasn’t curing or preventing covid, but if they had worms…

Y’know, I thought this would anger me but truth be told, I laughed about it the rest of the day!  

I hope everyone has a happy FOX-FREE Monday!  Nerd smile


Friday, August 13, 2021

Your office days are never far behind you, y’know

No one tells you when you retire, you’re essentially trading one office for another.  (Or in my case, another and another—and another.)  Yesterday afternoon I went to my dentist’s office, for my “Four Month Exam & Cleaning”.  I was told I’d be working with their new dental hygienist, Kaylee.

This young woman suddenly came bounding towards the front desk where I was standing. She was small but athletic looking and had a big blonde ponytail on top of her head.  I swear she looked like a white version of Simone Biles, in scrubs.  She said “DOUGLAS MAY I CALL YOU DOUGLAS?  I’M KAYLEE AND YOU’RE MY FIRST PATIENT!” 

I said “Hi Kaylee, so when you say first patient do you mean first ever, or first today?  Um…. how old are you?”  

She laughed and said “I LOVE IT, GUESS!”  I said “Over 16 I hope?”   She tossed her head back and laughed again.  “THANK YOU!  I’M 21 BUT I’M FEELING MORE LIKE 40 TODAY, MY MOTHER HAD TO DRAG MY YOU KNOW WHAT OUT OF BED THIS MORNING!  WE SHARE THE SAME BIRTHDAY I WAS BORN JUNE 10 2000 AND SHE WAS BORN JUNE 10 1980!  HOW OLD ARE YOU DOUGLAS?”

Old enough to be her mother’s father.  Omigod that means I could be this young woman’s grandfather. 

As Kaylee picked and clawed at my teeth & gums, she prattled on.  “WE’RE MORE LIKE SISTERS THAN MOTHER DAUGHTER YOU KNOW.  I MEAN, WE BOTH LOVE CLASSIC TV.  FRIENDS, SEINFELD, FRIENDS—“   Suddenly I heard the voice of my favorite conservative, my dentist Dr. Shannon.

“Well, how are you young man!  It’s so nice to see you!”  I told her likewise, and she said “So Kaylee tells me you STILL haven’t had that dead tooth removed from the back.  Douglas!”  

When did Kaylee tell her that?  She’s been talking to me this entire time!  I apologized profusely and promised to have an oral surgeon pull it soon. 

Dr. Shannon said “I also hear you have a new smart phone!  Your first one, right?  Well congratulations!”   I thanked her and fished the phone out of my pants pocket.  As I handed it over for her to look at, it vibrated.  She said “Douglas you better take this, it’s from Mercy Hospital!” 

I said okay, wondering if her and Kaylee would excuse themselves and leave.  Nope!

When I said hello, I heard this:  “Douglas Morris?  Please hold for Dr. Ahman.”  A couple of clicks and then a male voice on the line.  “Mr. Morris, this is Dr. Marvi’s office, I’m Dr. Ahman.  Where have you been?”  I said “Well, today I’m at my dentist’s office and—“ 

He cut me off and said “You went to the Emergency room on June 25 and you never followed up with your PCP.  The attending physician reported you had very high blood pressure.” 

I said “Well, I spent that night in a lot of pain from kidney stones, so maybe that’s why my blood—“  The doctor cut me off again.  “Those factors were taken into consideration.  Are you taking your… carvedidol as prescribed?”  I said yes. 

“Then you need to come into the office and be re-evaluated.  I mean ASAP.  How does Tuesday August 17 look for you.”

I said “Well Doctor Ahman… I have an appointment with my urologist on Wednesday the 18th, the very next day.  Since his office is only one block from yours, and to get there I have to catch 2 buses and walk another 4 blocks uptown, if you could see fit to let me come in on Wednesday I could kill two doctors with one stone.  That’s a joke, but you know what I mean.  Instead of killing two birds with one stone, I meant—“


I let my phone drop in my lap.  I suddenly noticed the room was very quiet, except for the loud rain pattering on the windows.  I felt a hand rest on my left shoulder, and saw Dr. Shannon’s long manicured fingers there.  From behind me she said “Take a deep breath…  now take another.  After Kaylee finishes up with you, come out front and talk to Nina.  You have a chipped filling and I want you back here next week young man.  Try for Thursday, got it?”

Sure why not… I’ve got nothing else scheduled for that day.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Happiness is… a lower Comcast bill, for starters

Do you remember all those “Happiness is…”  expressions in the 1970s?  Happiness is.. a warm puppy.  Happiness is… one soda with two straws.  They were on greeting cards, stationery, those annoying little books in gift stores…

Anyway—the expression immediately came to mind this (Saturday) morning, after getting this e-bill notice from Comcast Xfinity.  It’s my first bill after giving up my cable tv, and to see the amount plummet from $206 to $75 (a $130 savings) is a glorious thing.

But it’s more than the monthly savings… without MSNBC as my constant companion, I’m finally enjoying tv for more than a single cable news channel.  I’m watching a better variety with my antenna than I ever did with cable.

(Actually I’m watching a bit less, but enjoying network tv and Netflix more.)   All I know is, aside from that $9.00 monthly Netflix bill, my TV IS FREE.

What’s funny here is… in the last 2 weeks, I’ve had no less than SIX people ask about my new setup.  Three tenants in the building knocked on my door, I was stopped twice in the lobby, and one giant fellow on my floor cornered me in the laundry room.

(I only told one person, my neighbor & friend Opal.)

I was so accustomed to having the time displayed below my tv (on the X1 box) I got a small LCD clock to take it’s place on the upper right glass shelf.  On the bottom left shelf sits my Mohu Arc, delivering 40 OTA channels in HD format.

(If you don’t own a smart tv, the colored strips only appear when I hit the Home button on my remote; they’re the streaming apps available on my tv.  I’ll be switching from Netflix to HBO Max soon.)

Knowing today is my friend Opal’s laundry day, I went down there earlier and suggested we stop telling other tenants about my free tv setup before Xfinity sent someone around to put the screws to me.

Opal said “Douglas, hand on the Bible, I told ONE person!”  I said “That’s not a Bible, that’s your puzzle book!”  She said “If you knew me, this IS my Bible!”  We both had a laugh and she said “I only told Lorraine, the woman with the red hair on the third floor?”  I said yes, I knew her.  She was one of the tenants who paid me a personal visit. 

Opal said “Do you want to know what she asked about you?”  I said okay.  “She wanted to know if you were gay, because your apartment is very clean for a single man.”  I said “Yep, that’s a dead giveaway.  Did you set this lady straight?  ‘Cause if she’s telling others about my tv… “ 

Opal just laughed and said I shouldn’t worry about it.  Easy for her to say.

Y’know, here I am ready to turn 60 and I’ve been getting asked that question since I was a teenager.  At least it doesn’t worry or bother me like it used to, but that’s for a future post.

In the meantime, I’m going to lean back, put my feet up and enjoy my awesome tv.  It isn’t a warm puppy, but it’ll have to do!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Little Girl Blue: Forty years later and my heart aches just the same

A couple weeks ago, I was laying on my couch reading various book reviews on my e-reader when a pop-up window asked if I’d like to read a sample of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter.  I declined.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know Karen, or the Carpenters.  As a kid in the early 70’s, I loved their sound… who didn’t?  I didn’t see myself as a huge fan, but I think I owned nearly all their record albums.

I can still remember where I was when I learned Karen Carpenter died.  I was working in the Lumber & Garden Supplies at our local Murphy’s Mart.  I was stacking paint and waiting for John E. (my cousin Jonna’s boyfriend and my coworker) to return from lunch so I could go. 

He came around the corner and said “Doug, you’re a big Carpenters fan, right?”

A little embarrassed he knew that but suddenly afraid of what he was going to say next, I just shook my head yes.  He said “I just heard on my car radio, Karen Carpenter died like an hour ago.”

Karen was 32 years old, almost 33.  She was 11 years older than me.  I’d seen her on Good Morning America just a month or so prior, she looked like she had stage 4 cancer.  Her tragic death both was and wasn’t a surprise.

Back in the present, Barnes & Noble sent another pop-up on my Nook.  “Are you sure you want to decline?  The sample is 50 pages long.”  I gave in and said okay, why not.  There was no way I was going to buy this book, I knew her life story inside & out and doubted this book would tell me anything I didn’t already know.  I was also sure it would contain a lot of hearsay which is why I prefer autobiographies over biographies. 

I was wrong, though.  Right away I could tell it was exceptional and halfway thru the sample, I paid the $11.00 for the e-book.  It laid out her life in very exact, chronological detail—from her parents’ parents origins in Chapter 1 to the days & years following Karen’s death in the final chapter.  There wasn’t a single quote that the author didn’t specify who made it, where and when.

A real bonus was readng this in e-book format; as the Carpenters success slowly but surely climbed with each page (and song), I could easily minimize that page, open Youtube and see or listen to every song and performance referenced for myself.  The book took much longer to read this way, but made it a very immersive experience.

It’s no surprise the New York Times gave this book 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

I think we all know their beginnings:  very early on, Richard was recognized as a musical prodigy and treated as such by their mother Agnes.  At the same time, it’s evident Karen was also musically gifted but Agnes chalks it up to Karen idolizing her brother and doing her part to advance her brother’s career.  Agnes never came out and recognized Karen’s talent.  At least, not to the degree she did with Richard.

After the Carpenters achieved stardom, Agnes would often bring guests along to their concerts, and with a mirror installed above Richard’s piano keys, tell them “You’re not watching Richard’s hands!  Watch his hands!”

I thought instead of re-telling Karen’s story, I’d share 3 videos I watched while reading this book, and their poignancy.  This first one is a television performance from 1974, at the height of their fame (and when Karen was happiest).  After 3 years of prodding by Richard and their record label to “stop singing behind the drums”, Karen was finally comfortable being out in front. 

Later on, while watching this at home with her family, Karen asked if she looked fat.  (She was 5’4” and weighed 145 lbs.)  Her father and brother said no.  Always honest to a fault, her mother told her yes.


A year later, Karen would be 25 pounds lighter and the more her mother insisted she stop losing, the more Karen continued to diet.  She was finally in control of one aspect of her life, at least.

In 1976, after Richard completed writing “I Need to Be in Love”, Karen broke down while singing it.  She told her brother she identified too much with the song, but Richard knew this was when she sounded her best.  For the remainder of her life, Karen would declare this “her song” but have difficulty performing it.  

And finally, this is a performance on Danish television in late 1981.  Unlike America, viewers were unaccustomed to Karen’s gaunt appearance and the network’s switchboards were flooded with calls demanding to know what was wrong with her. 

When the Carpenters were told this, Karen was devastated.  After spending the past couple years hovering at 80 pounds, Karen now weighed 98 lbs and thought she looked perfect, even telling friends Olivia Newton-John and Dionne Warwick “I finally have an ass again!”

Fifteen years after her death, her therapist wrote a book on her eating disorder and the 300 anorexic patients he worked with in his 30 year career.  He claimed they were all success stories, except one.  Karen Carpenter.

He added that in all those years, Karen was the only patient who’s family never reached out to him about her progress.  He didn’t understand how someone so loved the world over could be so alone in her personal life.

I made it thru the entire book with only a couple of tears (though I had a lump in my throat for two weeks straight).  And then in it’s last pages, a story was shared about Karen’s solo album.  In 1979, while Richard was in rehab for drug addiction, Karen went to him about making a solo album.  She wouldn’t do it if he said no.  He told her she didn’t need his permission, she said she wasn’t asking for it.  She wanted his blessing.  He finally gave it.

A year later, she presented her album to him and A&M Records.  After listening to it, Richard said it was inferior “and a poor copy of the Carpenters sound”.  Heartbroken, Karen shelved it at his and A&M’s request.  In 1996, 13 years after Karen’s death, Richard decided to release Karen’s solo album and asked the record company for any documents or liner notes his sister had written for the album.  They said the only thing available was Karen’s dedication to Richard “With all my heart, Karen”.  When Richard was told this, he broke down crying.  Darn it, so did I.

Like everything else, her solo album is available on Youtube.  Below is an instrumental piece Richard wrote for a movie about his sister in 1989.  Karen, we love and miss you still.