In Our Head

Musings, thoughts, experiences…

Chicken October 30, 2009

Filed under: Dogs — heidi @ 12:16 pm

I’m loading my groceries onto the cashier’s counter when someone taps me on the shoulder.

“I’d steer clear of that if I were you,” says a middle-aged woman in Birckenstocks and a shapeless brown dress. She stands just a little too close, rocking slightly from heel to toe, heel to toe. With her long face and closely cropped hair, she looks more like a cattail than a human. She points to the frozen chicken breasts I had just placed on the belt, staring at the innocent yellow package as if it contained, in flash-frozen form, the very essence of horror.

“It’s not past the sell-by date,” I assure her. “And it doesn’t smell spoiled. I think it’s OK.”

She inches closer still. A pungent mix of pine and underarm odor wafts from her. Her mouth opens but, for a moment, no sound emerges. Then she mouths the words: “It’ll kill you.”

I step back. “The chicken’s for the dog,” I tell her.

She grimaces and shakes her head. “Oh no, no, no! Chicken is much too intense for a dog.”

Pardon? I’ve heard many words attached to the ubiquitous bird: fried, shit, even choking, but intense? Never. Especially not in relation to canines, who are after all creatures that devour rain-soaked road kill as if it were a communion wafer.

I turn away from the advice-doling woman and pretend to search for something inside my purse. Thank heavens for that feedbag I lug around with me. There’s always an excuse in there for ending a conversation, for ignoring somebody, for being overtly rude. “Chapstick,” I mumble, “where’s my goddam Chapstick?”

I can feel her eyes boring into me but I don’t dare look.

“Thirty two fifty four,” the cashier says. I swipe my card and steal a furtive glance over my shoulder. The woman in the brown dress presses her lips together; her nostrils flare. She doesn’t utter a sound, but I know exactly what she’s thinking.



Good things October 25, 2009

Filed under: hard times — heidi @ 2:00 am

I’m holding on, with every fiber of my being, to the notion that good things come to good people. My heart clings to this antiquated idea while my brains scoffs. It’s a load of bull, I know. A fantasy. But I’m desperate for something to believe in. I’m searching for a sapling of hope in a charred forest.

Hope. Hope that in the end, everything will be Okay. Copasetic. Just. When the neurons responsible for gloom and darkness, those that live in the rational part of my brain, begin to fire, my irrational brain responds with dogged repetition of that familiar old refrain: good things come to good people.

Every day, in nursing homes, in assisted living facilities, in any nook and cranny of this city where the aged loll, I meet genuinely good people. They tell of pasts filled with backbreaking work, or with nothing to eat, or of surviving unspeakable horrors, or battling illnesses that no longer exist, that ravaged their bodies and left them forever scarred. But these very same people, whose bellies ached from hunger, shared what meager morsels they had with anyone in need. Those same people sacrificed what little they had, without giving it a second thought, and they did so only because helping their fellow man was the “right thing to do.”

I’m fortunate. For brief moments, I immerse myself in stories of kindness, of goodness, of caring and selfless acts that came so naturally, they were almost reflexive. But things are different now. Younger people, people my age, people who should have gathered enough life experience by now, don’t seem to care about others. They turn a blind eye, walk away, change the channel, tune out.

You know what bums me the most? When that guy who fiddled while Rome burned, when that guy walked away from the smoldering ashes, he found a brand-spanking new violin waiting for him. And the little man below, he just kept getting burned.

Still, I cling to the notion…


H1N1 October 22, 2009

Filed under: hard times — harriettnelson @ 6:11 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So my partner  caught the virus at work and, predictably, I got it from her.

Day 1: I think I’m coming down with something.

Day 2: I’m sick.

Day 3: I’m sicker. Fever and aches. No energy. Cough.

Day 4: I’m really sick and I’m not getting out of bed.  Fever, aches, bad cough.  Energy?  What’s that?  Rolling over is a project.  Watching TV is too much work.

Day 5:  Slept (not rested, slept.) until 4:00 pm, then laid on sofa.  Fever gone.  Cough worse. Back to bed at 10:00.

Day 6: Slept until noon. Feel ok as long as I don’t move. Cough a little better.  Watched the news this evening.  Schools are closed because half the kids are out sick.  Pictures of children in hospital beds.  Interview with a man whose life was saved only by use of an experimental antiviral drug.  All the reporters are shocked and amazed. They seem stunned that people are dying from influenza.

Hello?   Has the world forgotten 1918?  Was anyone at all listening last year when public health officials told us that there was going to be a dangerous outbreak?  Am I living in some kind of alternate reality?  Yes, influenza kills people.  This has been going on for centuries.  Why are we shocked that it’s happening yet again?

Then came the news that really was shocking: reported, of course, very matter-of-factly.  70% of people in my state say they do not plan to get the H1N1 vaccine.  70% oblivious to the danger!  70% putting their children at great risk.  Now I was the one who was stunned.

Looks like we’re in for a doozy of an epidemic.  Hope I’m wrong.