Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Red Light District

I had to be in Willowbrook this morning, a city not too close to my neighborhood but still a relaxing 20-odd minute Blue Line ride away.  (The Blue Line, for me, comes after the city bus and the Red Line, so that 20 minutes was preceded by another 45 minutes.)  I left early, because if there's anything I know about the Metro, it's that it could take hours to move 10 miles.

So when I got to Willowbrook, which is a low-income area and site of a major subway hub, it was pleasantly chilly.  The Blue Line is an above ground train, unlike the Red and Purple lines, so I'm not really used to the nuances of crossing train tracks.  

But I learned today that when those red lights are flashing, even if you don't see the train coming, or the train is not coming in your direction, stand still.  That's what the cop with the big gun and the somewhat aggressive manner told me merely by screaming "Hey" in my direction.

Of course, there were other women all standing still, waiting for the unseen train to arrive, some of whom had already been ticketed, telling me not to move a muscle until the lights stop flashing.  I thought it was absurd, but then again, the cop didn't really share my opinion.  

So we waited.  The train in question was going the opposite direction, but I guess safety first is the motto of the Metro these days.  They should also try the motto: on time every time, but heck, that would be too much to wish, much less, ask for.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Working Overtime

I'm sure if we all stop for a moment and think about it, we'll notice that G-d has intervened in our lives for the best.  Like today, for example.

I like to carpool with a friend of mine to school Monday morning, and decided this morning to take the bus to her house.  Truth is, with the bus system we have here (see all my posts from last week), even if you wanted to go down the street it's best to start an hour early.

So there I was, an hour before I needed to be at my friend's house, on the street walking to the bus stop.  I was nearly there too, when I realized I had forgotten my cell phone.  My friend lives in a secure building with no ability to be buzzed in, so either I call her and she comes down to get me or I wait for a neighbor to leave and grab the door.

There's no way I could get on the bus without my phone, so I turned around and headed home to get it.  Once there, I realized that it was too late to risk getting on the bus and making it on time, so I called my husband, who had the day off, for a ride.  When we got to the corner of Hollywood and Highland, not far from where my friend lives, we saw it.  Hollywood Boulevard west to La Brea was closed, getting reading for the Oscar presentations this Sunday.

Even if I had left on time I would have been late.  I was headed for the subway stop on Hollywood and Highland, and the bus would have detoured to get to it, adding easy an extra 10 to 15 minutes I didn't have.

So there you have it.  G-d, in a nutshell, ensured that I would get to my friend's house on time by making me leave my cell phone behind.  Even if you all don't agree, it's a great story.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Should Really Thank Metro

El Presidente is in town again.  I guess no one in the country has any money besides the people who live in Beverly Hills.  I mean, please.  There are actually 50 states.  Any way Obama can visit the rest of the people who live in America?

His visit, of course, means driving, and especially riding the bus, was going to be a hassle.  I made it on my first leg this evening, but when I got to my final stop, I sent a text the good folks at Metro (Metropolitan Not So Rapid Transit) inquiring as to when I could expect my final bus.  Try 40 minutes, was the reply.

I couldn't believe it.  Forty minutes?  Just to begin the final leg of my journey home?  A fellow traveller confirmed my finding - indeed, the bus was 40 minutes away.

So I decided to walk.  That's right - I could be home in 40 minutes, or so I assumed.  It was a straight shot up La Brea, some 10 blocks maybe.  So I did it.  Walked all the way home.  Took 30 minutes.  And never a bus in sight the whole time.

So thank you, Metro, for living down to my expectations, and inspiring me to do the right thing - exercise when I'm starving.  I'm lying to myself right now and telling myself that everything I ate (veggie burger on whole wheat with mayo, pickle, mustard, tomato and onion) had a negative calorie intake because I walked home.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feeling Like A Third World Mama

I know I've talked about taking the bus before, sometimes waxing poetic, other times screaming my head off.  Well, today, I am screaming my head off.

I began the second set of 5 weeks for my internship not far from where the first set of 5 weeks were located.  So I know the buses and I know they run like molasses in January.  So that no one misses the point, they run really slow.

Before, during the first 5 weeks, I would wait at the bus stop forever, watching the express bus fly by at regular intervals while the regular line took it's sweet time showing up.  So I got smart.  Or so I thought.

I started walking to the express stop,  because, oh no, the  city of Los Angeles couldn't possibly put the two lines together at one stop.  What was I thinking?  And make it easier for the rest of us to get around?  Oh goodness no.

Tonight, of all nights, there was a bus meltdown going westward.  I counted 8 buses going eastbound before the one westbound showed up, and it was so crowded the driver only let about 25 of the more than 50 people waiting inside.  She said she was sorry, another bus was coming, and she wished us all a happy valentine's day.

The "bus coming" took 15 minutes to show up, and this time, everyone pushed in.  Which wasn't hard because the subway wasn't working so there weren't any riders converging from there to challenge us old timers.

You know, just when I think how wonderful it is to live in a "first world" country, the crummy bus system brings me back to reality.  It's hard to imagine that a city of 10 million people can't get it's buses running on time.  The state with the 17th largest economy in the world can't get it's citizens moving on mass transit.

Oh yeah.  What a great feeling.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Talking To Matti

Finally this morning, after over a month in Israel, I spoke to my son Matti by phone.  I know it sounds strange.  I mean, what's the big deal?  What's so hard about talking to someone on the phone?  It's hard when the person you want to talk to doesn't want to be talked to.

Okay, that doesn't really make sense.  Just know that my 18-year old son is very independent.  I realize the goal of most parents  is to raise children who are self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves, but heck, what happened here?  My boy doesn't even feel the need to call me.

So I overcame my inhibitions about calling him - mainly that he would hang up on me - and spoke to him this morning.  Actually, I called last night, which was very early this morning in Israel, so I felt bad and hung up.  We had a very nice 30 minute talk about things, and believe me, I don't know anything more about him now than I did before I called.

Oh well.  Unconditional love.  That's my lot in life.  I've got to respect my son's privacy.  Deep breathe, exhale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keeps Getting Better

I got up really early this morning to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  At about the half way mark, I couldn't figure out why I was so tired and having a hard time breathing.  But you know my motto - a winner never quits.  In hindsight, it's a stupid motto.

I stuck it out for the full 30 minutes, feeling like I'd been run over by a truck.  I stretched, and then went to take a shower.  I was feeling kinda faint, so I put the cold water up higher.  I thought it would help.

Just before washing my hair, I felt like I was gonna faint for sure. I barely got the water turned off, stumbled out of the shower and put on my bathrobe when I called to my husband.  I just made it to my bed, telling him that I felt really, really weak.

I was about to ask him to call the ambulance when I fell back on the bed, and felt much better.  Wow, what a difference.  My husband asked what was going on and I told him I was feeling bad and could he bring me a cup of water.  Slowly, I started to feel better, laying down for a solid 20 minutes.

My husband reminded me that I had just given half a quart of blood yesterday and that blood brings oxygen to all parts of the body.  So my body was seriously lacking oxygen.

Not that it made me feel better, but I should have figured that out before doing something so stupid.  If you're working out and you feel bad, stop working out.  Hello - it's really that simple.

Wow, it ain't easy getting old.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Drawing Blood

I have this blood condition, a genetic mutation that occurred late in my life (which would be just recently), that sends my platelet numbers through the roof.  When that happens, I am plagued by migraines.  It didn't take me long to realize that two migraines in two weeks meant guess what was in the stratosphere.

So I had my blood checked yesterday, and sure enough, the platelets are high, along with the white blood cells.  Oy vey, things are going from bad to worse.

Well, my doctor wasn't alarmed.  Told me to keep checking my blood every two months and have a nice life.  No way - when I told my doctor about the migraines, he relented and set up an appointment to remove blood.

Because removing 500 ml of blood is the only thing they can do to relieve the pressure building up in my body.  Unless someone stumbles upon a cure for my affliction on the way to finding a cure for something else (the number of people with polycythemia, which is my problem, is quite small), I will be having blood removed several times a year.

It sounds bad, but the only thing truly unsettling about the procedure is the nurses' finding a good vein and sticking the needle into it right.  Doesn't always happen  the on the first attempt, like today.  But the staff couldn't have been more pleasant or more accommodating.  Afterwards, I got a tall glass of mixed cranberry and apple sugar water, which revived me a bit.

After standing steady for a few minutes, I was released to the streets of the city to drive home.  Because my condition is technically a disease, I can't donate blood, although I have lots of it.  Which is a shame - if I could, I'd donate once a month at least.

Still, I found the strength to go to the 99-cent store, my favorite produce center of late.  Amazingly, I shopped only for what I intended to get, which might mean that I should avoid shopping unless I give blood.  Now there's a thought.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Good News

Despite the fact that I'm miserable from fighting this cold, I can take solace in the fact that I can't taste anything I eat and therefore, am eating very little.

I know.  Almost too good to be true.  In fact, I don't miss my inability to taste anything.  At this stage in my life, I've tasted everything I care to and will have to rely on memories.  This could be the impetus I need to actually lose weight.

My mother, may she rest in peace, always said there was silver lining to each dark cloud.  Truth is, lots of people say that.  Regardless, the silver lining here is weight loss.  I can actually visual fitting into my zip up jean skirts (yep - that's a plural) as a reality, not a fantasy.

Which means, of course, I will pass on my husband's offer of Sudafed.  I'm just gonna have to grin (big time) and bear (as in lose) it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sickening Feeling

I started to notice Wednesday that I wasn't feeling okay.  Something seemed to be caught in my throat and I couldn't get it out.  Well, it's called a cold, and there's no getting rid of that any time soon.

In a panic to head off the inevitable, I ran to the health food store first thing Thursday morning to get a cure - a throat spray and some "throat" tea.  Both tasted terrible and both needed to be used 5 times a day.  I was wondering which was worse - being sick or trying to avoid it.

But there is no avoiding being sick.  All these products can do is take the edge off a little, relieve the symptoms and maybe shorten the course of things a touch.

So here I sit, Sunday morning with a full blown cold taking over my body.  Tissues everywhere, my back hurts, my eyes hurt.  I'm miserable.  So much for throat tea and throat spray.  Nature, I fear, must take its course.