Dave Barry, eat your heart out

If you're over fifty, your de rigeur baseline colonoscopy is probably on the books. It is also probable that you laughed and winced through Dave Barry's hilarious and highly accurate account of his own experience. This is fair warning that when you read the following response y0u will do at least one of the following

1) laugh so hard you can't breathe and have to punch your "I'm fallen and can't get up" button repeatedly until help arrives,

2) spray your keyboard, monitor, speakers, wall, photos, papyrus with coffee, &/or

3) blush scarlet and faint at the potty-mouth language.

The Good Ex, one of the funniest writers I know, goes ol' Dave one better--da conzz was awake for his.

And lo, my response:
OMG (snap snap)!!! This is like so freakingly accurate, it should be printed, bound, and entered into the Library of Congress. You'll remember (maybe) that I've had this procedure, and it is exactly as Davey Boy explains it, with one major exception...there's no description here of the Volkswagon that is driven up your ass hole.... Oh, wait. Now I know why...it's because I WAS FREAKING AWAKE THROUGH THE WHOLE DAMN THING!!! Now, knowing that I could have been saved from a lifetime of recall, I'm seriously considering a malpractice suit.

So, after the VW (farfignutten) went in, the nurse basically poured, no... pushed, one of those 32 gallon liters of something milky-looking into me.

Ever feel so full you're sure you're going to throw up if you bend over and get your head below your belt line? Now imagine that feeling going in both directions! But behind that Volkswagon is a fire hose that's at least 18 inches in diameter... and yet... yes, and yet... I had to clench as hard as I've ever clenched anything in my body in my entire life so that I didn't become a horizontal, fifth grader's school volcano project. The term "seepage" is appropriate here, I think. I suspect I wasn't alone in this effort or fear, since I was lying on a steel tray with a full 3 inch wall around the four sides: barely enough volume in this baking pan to hold the "liter" of milk my body consumed... backwards.

You think this is nearly over, don't you. Well not so fast my frisky little used car salesman. Next, the doctor comes in while I'm gritting my teeth and turning beet red in the face...remember the clenching? Now, Doctor Sade proceeds to roll me back and forth...presumably to make a milkshake inside of me (gawd, I'll just bet if Dave Barry knew what he missed while asleep, he'd ask to do it all over again!). I full well expected him to put me on a trampoline next, but instead he put me on TV! There I was, internally exposed, for all to see. Nurse Ratchet, Dr. Sade, and the 2 really cute little interns watching all of this...yeah, I know. I neglected to mention them. I figured the rest was sufficient to describe my eternal embarrassment and degradation...why overdo it? Eh?

But yes, the Pettycoat Junction was there. Actually, now that I remember, I don't think we (author's note: Bonnie and I) were dating yet because their perception of me actually mattered!

So, here I am now, no longer being rolled from side to side, lying flat now, on my right side next, now on my left side, then back to my back... still clenching like I'm holding the fate of the entire world in my... butt.... beautifully projected on a video screen, avoiding eye contact with everybody in the room, and praying... like I've never prayed before or since that I don't go from seepage... to full on colon blow!

Finally, and I don't want to stress the extreme moments when I thought this next moment would never come, the good doctor said "I'm through," and I could go use the rest room. What a freaking euphemism... never gave that one much thought before that day.

The next event is the backing up of the VW Bus... out the sphincter that is now a garage door waiting... no hoping... to slam shut immediately as the vehicle departs. I wait while the "beep, beep, beep" of the backup alarm goes off, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum look at each other and giggle under their candy stripes, then POW! Damn... now I'm a wet grenade with the pin pulled, and I've got to get up off this steel trough, do a half gainer over that 18 inch wall, skip delicately toward that "Rest Room" door where relief awaits.

Now I want you to imagine this veeewy, veeewy cawfuwwy... there is approximately 7,236 foot/pounds of internal pressure on my internal digestive track... and the inside of that garage door is doing it's very, very best to stay shut; I can barely crunch or otherwise bring my knees up to my chest, or otherwise get into any position that will allow me to high jump that 42 inch steel wall on my new steel bed; I'm cross-eyed with the pain of trying to stay... clenched; and seepage is beginning to seem like a heaven-sent notion to consider. Nurse Ratchet finally shows some humanity and helps me by taking one hand and pulling me toward her (doesn't she know I'm now a weapon of mass destruction?). I consider, briefly... no, I probably shouldn't go into that. Let's just say I say "thank you," and with an excruciating cocktail of pain and embarrassment, manage my way over that 5 foot wall around that stainless steel horror chamber, and run with nothing in my consciousness except that door... that beautiful, hard wood, oak veneered, magical, "release chamber" door!

That so-called gown they give you to clothe yourself while undergoing procedures, which we all hate more than the concept of a wool thong, has at least one, exceptionally convenient, event-based feature... easy access to the garage door! With one Olympic-class leap, I closed and locked the door, turned and landed butt down on that heavenly ring of brilliant, comforting relief.

Five minutes later, once the Niagara ceased to run, I was able to get up, dress, and exit the building... again without eye contact... with a single human being... for 19 days.

We will never speak of this again! Go forth and prosper.

da conzz


SXSWi is shaping up

It's exciting to see who of my favorite bloggers/writers/educators are coming to SXSWi. I'm a fan of the quickie, one-question interview. It fits into the lightning-fast environment of the conference. There are so many people, so many sessions, so many planned (and un-) demonstrations and activities. It would be folly to resist the swirl and flow. Think the most wired you can be. Think Tron.

Our man back-stage at SX says that all the developer sessions will be in the Hilton, the other tracks in the convention center. Thank You, Thank You, O Wondrous W. That helps tremendously. The Austin Convention Center is huge, AND it's neither continuous nor contiguous. You can only get to some of the floors by schlepping to the opposite end. Some escalators blissfully bypass whole floors as if they were on another planet. It's a little like walking through a dozen airports for five days, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It's easy to miss a 30 minute session when it takes at least that long to walk to the room.

All in all, they handle the massive, high-maintenance, techie crowd pretty well.

Lists about how to prep for SXSWi bloom like mushrooms in a field of cow patties after a rain (that's a GOOD memory, Cowtown Pattie!). Colleen Wainwright at Communicatrix has some great tips, and a fabulous blog. As a matter of fact, I'm working on #2 this weekend--SXSWi-specific business cards. That's what I'm talking about. I have some cards from work, but they don't have my personal info, and my job title has changed. Not suitable for the aforementioned lightning-fast environment. I'm so experimenting with the 2 on-line vendors she recommends.

I'll be searching for more helpful hints to share...


Axelrod, Jesus, and the Cognitive Dissonance of American Politics and Religion

I'm a preacher's daughter. When you grow up next door to where your dad works, and when he works from home a lot, and when you work in the church a lot--loading the communion trays, ditto-ing and folding bulletins, choir practice, the quotidian tasks of a church mouse--you can say you've been "baptized," "washed in the blood," as it were. Every part of my life was honest-to-god Christian. Poster-family quality. It was great. Until I figured out that some people who also said they were Christian were very mean and hurtful, for no reason I could discern.

1954 Mtn. Grove, Missouri. On the way home from Cabool one night after the movies, we rounded a curve and came upon a wreck. It was pitch dark, and we couldn't see much, but Daddy pulled over. He told us to stay in the car, and ran to the wreck to see what he could do. It seemed like a long time before a state patrol car came along, while we sat paralyzed with dread. My first real tragedy. I later learned that it was truly a tragedy for my father--one of the little boys in the wreck died in his arms, and it may have been the first time I saw my father cry. He was a real life example of a Good Samaritan.

Daddy grew up on a farm, so he was pragmatic about most things--hunted, fished, comfortable with the laws of Nature. But he had a soft spot in his heart, which helped me create an impression of THE Jesus. A man who cared about other people to the point of taking on suffering himself. Who helped others.

At the very same time, this was NOT what I saw some folks doing. Like the whole damn state of Arkansas threatening a few young people who actually WANTED to go to school to learn and grow. I couldn't see Jesus standing on the steps to the school spitting on any child, red, yellow, black or white. Because I learned in Bible School that we are all precious in his sight. Is this not the perfect Jesus all Xtians believe in?

As I grew older, and learned more about the stories and musings behind the daily structure, I found my dad's text from divinity school for New Testament Greek. In Greek. Aha. Coupled (literally) with my mom's influence with words, this propelled me into researching the general topic of religion, especially other peoples' religions. After years of study and reflection, I still believe that Jesus was a man to emulate according to the teachings we've received, no matter how shaky. I have believed since I was around 15, that Buddha and Allah and God are pretty much the same idea, with Jesus, Mohammed, and Zarathustra as the comm link, all swirled around with various colors and flavors of the Holy Ghost, ghospodi, spiritum sanctum, cavorting in Valhalla, Paradise, a sunny beach in Mexico.

Which brings me to what set off this rant. David Axelrod in an interview with someone from the WaPo. Thinking that he is just the person to be where he is right now. Kinda reminds me of Bill Moyers back when he was in politics, LBJ's press secretary, et al. Bill has that Jesus/Buddha-like quality of calm, open-minded reason, willing to do the heavy lifting into researching and reporting the truth. David Axelrod speaks the truth. I think the new administration in general is speaking the truth. Time to act more like Jesus and less like the obliterating Old Testament God of Hate that some self-styled "Christians" like our former VP and other twists to their own ends. It's a hard parallel to make, but it's stunning how politics has become so in service of a wrathful deity to practically self-immolate. At the least, to polarize politics right along with this Christian dichotomy of cognitive dissonance. At least in Hinduism, there is a pantheon of gods and goddesses to more closely mirror the human condition. Even the duality of Buddhism is a cyclical reminder that we are all one, it's all connected.

However, the destructive example of Christianity found in this country doesn't look that different to me than that of Sunni vs. Shi'ia--similar ideology--my god's better than your god, and I'm going to kill you. We're better than that.

Not an especially Christian thing to say. On the other hand, I don't advocate bombing, starving, torturing, or surrounding them with that wretched depleted uranium, or giving all the money to buddies instead of the people who it's supposed to help. I do wish that people would stop listening to them and putting any kind of Jesus-loving link to what they're saying. Jesus is better than that. Don't feed the animals.


SXSWi list time

This March, several of my colleagues will be learning, networking, interacting with old friends, and generally absorbing emerging information at SXSWinteractive. TechieU. I learn so much in a fairly short, very inexpensive (since I live in Austin), and the whole experience is one gigundidas, intensely brain-stimulating, immersion in the internet and those who are expanding its horizons. This is the place to go problem-solve, find new solutions, "get under the hood," in the vernacular.

So. First things first. What do I need to prepare? Here's a sloppy list:

  1. Collect and secure hardware
  2. Initiate communications links, especially with my peeps
  3. Group blog the shit out of it
  4. Groceries: boxed soup, hardy fruits/veggies, h2o bottle, nuts, power bars
  5. Conference in a Backpack stuff for work
  6. Living in the Austin Civic Center for 5 days in a Backpack stuff for me
  7. Laundry
  8. Make sure there's enough cat food for the duration
  9. Make sure everyone is once and for all down with the fact that this is a grueling, deeply-focused marathon that will assault all your senses and nerves for what will eventually become an extremely long week, because it goes over the weekend, and it wears me out
OK. That's a start. #2 will involve a lot of coordination, to do what I'd like to do: videotape it, blog it, Twitter it, lens it, live interviews--it's like The Matrix. You are totally plugged in. Even if you (personally) aren't. They splash the SXSWi live blog on the big monitors. You see what everyone is commenting simultaneously. They text you updates to the programs, reminders to be at this or that session. You get your own page on the site to keep track of all your stuff. There are hundreds and hundreds of sessions. This is the most concentrated pool of internet biz folks there is.

"Coming to you live, from the Internet Cafe!" Whoa. Totally. Everybody get their friends together and introduce them to folks at work. Wonder if we can carry in camera equipment? Put it on the list...


"Going My Way" a musical goldmind

Prague Opera House, where Rise Stevens sang from 1936-38. (I am more and more ecstatic that I had the opportunity to see Budapest and Prague)

Serendipity channel surfing: as I was flipping through my meager broadcast TV offerings this afternoon, I happened upon an announcement that "the following presentation is brought to you without commercial interruptions," or boilerplate to that effect. Up popped the Bing Crosby musical "Going My Way." I've never seen it, but was aware that there are innumerable hit tunes throughout. I settled in with left-over popcorn from last night and a diet Dr Pepper and was immediately drawn in when Rise Stevens flashed on the credits. (The "e" in her first name should have an umlaut.)

I've always been drawn to the mezzo-soprano/contralto sound, even as a little girl, and Rise Stevens' star was high at the Metropolitan Opera as I grew up. Many young women aspire to the soprano range and repertoire, but the lower voices seemed richer, more sensuous. Not quite matronly, unless the role or piece was written that way--quite the opposite.

The hits came rolling in: Schubert's "Ave Maria," Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus," and Ms. Stevens joined in with the boys choir from St. Dominick's. Gorgeous, even with Bing's buh-buh-buh-baaah baritone anchoring it firmly in the musical styles of the day.

And then I realized why this musical stuck with me, even though I'd never seen it before. One of the scenes takes place at the Metropolitan Opera, with Rise singing and flirting her pants off in the sexy, lascivious Habanera "L'Oiseau d'eun" whatever, my French is lousy, but she was fine as a straight-laced, but full of possibilities, Carmen. Any woman who can pull that off without being crass, awkward, slutty, over-the-top, or otherwise not entirely in character, has my complete, total attention.

I'd LOVE to see a punk version of Carmen. OMG. Wonder who I could get to back it? I would totally do it.

That's not all Ms. Stevens is known for. There is a particularly plum pants role in Strauss' Der Rosencavalier that was a signature character for her. Evidently, she owned Carmen. Went from Juilliard to Prague/Vienna, then to the Met. She helped train up and coming singers as manager of the Met touring program, leaving her mark on opera education. I'll see if I can find something on YouTube.

Back to "Going My Way." Lots of fascinating trivia. Released in 1944 and was the first film to win Oscars for Best Film and Best Song (see? I'll bet a lot of readers will recognize that tagline), "Swinging on a Star," later covered by Frank Sinatra. Andy Williams and his brothers debuted in the on-screen performance of that segment.


Elderbloggers are aging...and why that's important

Capricorn/Aquarian birthdays are proliferating, and I'm aware of the wheel turning. A dear friend just turned 50. He was barely in his 20's when I met him in grad school, and I can hardly believe he has only 7 years until retirement.

Every once in a while I get swept up in a deep sense of loss, as it must happen. I've been thinking a lot lately about the very special, critical difference in elderbloggers and younger bloggers. We have less time. We must gather and push our very best adventures and what we've learned from them out on the internet and in person to connect. Clue those youngsters in to what they will need to know to get their little dogies along down the road.

Elderblogrolls, frozen in electronic amber, the penners having passed on into their respective ethers. Links take on an entirely new meaning. The march of generations.

Remarkable elders, caring enough to share in ways that are gifts rather than dictates. After all, is that not our job? My most perfect memories are at my Mamaw's side, learning how to grow flowers as well as veggies, make fried okra, sew and crochet; and my Papaw's--learning how to work with wood, make fried yellow squash, peach ice cream, and fudge with pecans.

Another phenomenon more and more with elderbloggers is contact out of the blue with old boyfriends, school chums, my sisters' school chums, my daugher's school chums et al, childhood friends from 55 years ago. I'm telling you, it's hardly even two degrees of separation now.

I'll have to find it, a post by a woman who was contacted by an old schoolmate, male. Her description was on the nose--hilariously duplicating my own experience. It's just so amazing to see new horizons to explore.

So while I'm sad to lose elder voices, their pioneering work is exemplary and inspiring. It felt good to be a part of the Viet Nam era revolution. It feels great to again be a part of a movement with positive, life-affirming goals.

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