Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: New Take on Night Terrors and Panic Attacks

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: New Take on Night Terrors and Panic Attacks: No one ever said that night terrors had to be realistic, nor did anyone with any real expertise in the subject suggest that the resulting pa...

New Take on Night Terrors and Panic Attacks

No one ever said that night terrors had to be realistic, nor did anyone with any real expertise in the subject suggest that the resulting panic attacks needed to be rational.  I'm now awake and sitting up in bed with my laptop while waiting for an Ativan to take affect. My heart rate was so out of control that my dad gave me a beat blocker as well. He's not heavily into over-medicating me, but even be thought 160 beats per minute was too fast for my heart to be beating for an extended period of time,

In my latest dream, which is how I ordinarily euphemize my night terrors, I was being chased through and couldn't find an escape from a smoke-filled attack by Fruma Sarah, a dead woman about whom Tevye lies and says appears to him in a dream sequence in "Fiddler on the Roof" in order for Tevye to explain to his wife Golde his reasons for reneging on a deal made for his daughter to marry the butcher, Larar Wolfe. Fruma Sarah is portrayed as a rather frightening character, but not like anything out of Nightmare on Elm Street..  The police officers from Venice beach were there as well, but instead of helping me, they were themselves wearing gas masks while blocking my exit from the smoky attic. Fruma Sarah didn't need a gas mask because she's already dead.

My dad is sitting in my room with me and playing his guitar. Sometimes that, combined with the right drugs, will help me to fall back asleep. I hope it works this time because I have two tests tomorrow. The material on the tests isn't something I expect to be overly challenging, but with sufficient sleep deprivation, nursery rhymes can become challenging. Whatever. It is what it is, and I'll fall asleep whenever the sleep fairy makes it this way and sprinkles magic sleep dust on me.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Full Frontal Nudity at Venice Beach

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Full Frontal Nudity at Venice Beach: When people equate California with all that is bizarre -- and many people do -- what they're really thinking of is places like Venice Beach....

Full Frontal Nudity at Venice Beach

When people equate California with all that is bizarre -- and many people do -- what they're really thinking of is places like Venice Beach. It's a community along the southern California coast; the beach there is also called "Venice Beach," so if you say "Venice Beach," no one knows for certain whether you are referring to the town or the actual beach. I think the town is an incorporated city, but I really don't know for certain. The town was given the name "Venice" because it has canals running through it, as does Venice, Italy.

Anyway, I went to the town, but mainly for the purpose of getting to the beach. I don't think it's possible to get to the beach by land without going through the town, anyway. I didn't have a particular reason for going, but an older friend my parents trust was going, and he asked if I wanted to tag along. I said yes because I had nothing compelling to do.

We visited this friend's cousin while we were there, but mainly we sat on the beach and watched crazy people. I know a little about crazy people because I either was one or still am depending upon whose perspective one chooses to accept. Regardless, Venice Beach brings a whole new dimension to craziness when one's sole previous exposure was a psych ward. The people I observed at Venice Beach make the craziest person I encountered in my stay at the psych ward look sane enough to be trusted to work with explosives, sell guns, or to counsel the suicidal.

I can't describe everything I saw, but I will share with you that there was a guy who was maybe in his late  thirties or early forties. He was stark naked, except he didn't consider himself to be nude because he had on, of all things, a sousaphone, which is one of those tubas that wraps around the body, thus making  it easier to carry for marching tuba players.  Depending upon a person's precise dimensions, a sousaphone might theoretically hide as much as would a fig leaf or two, but with this particular guy and his dimensions, everything significant was visible for all the world to see. It was quite entertaining to watch him argue with the police officers. He must have been a regular at Venice Beach because the officers knew his name. As a possible future attorney, I will give the man credit for arguing eloquently, but in the end, he pulled a pair of shorts from the bell of the sousaphone and put them on.

After the police left the man, I wondered away from the person I was with and asked the man if he knew how to play the sousaphone. He said he didn't. I told him I did. As I was taking it from him and putting it on, the guy I was with suddenly appeared and gave the guy back his sousaphone. The guy I was with said I would have contracted hepatitis at  the very  least. I told him I was going to ask a beach-side vendor to rinse the mouthpiece first. His response was that he was certain the vendor would have done a really thorough job of rinsing it.

If you were at Venice Beach early this afternoon, you witnessed quite a spectacle, but you missed my impromptu sousaphone concert that never happened. C'est la vie.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nine-Year-Old Murder Victim Savannah Hardin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, PANDAS in New York

Aunt Maria, hello1!!! I've missed you.

My writing tonight is rather random and disjointed. news channels tend to be overwhelmingly negative in their coverage. My viewing tonight was no exception.

Poor nine-year-old Savannah Hardin accepted a candy bar from someone on a school bus. The child supposedly was afflicted with a bladder condition  which was potentially exacerbated by consumption of chocolate. The child's grandmother forced her to run without stopping for over three hours with breaks and no hydration as punishment. The child's stepmother, who was her primary caregiver because the child's father was serving in the military overseas, was present and did nothing to intervene in the child's defense. The child's father was flown back to the U. S. and was with his brain-dead child before making the inevitable decision to take the child off life support. The story sickens me. I usually find nancy Grace to be a bit strident and extreme, but tonight when she suggested that in lieu of lethal injection or whatever method of death penalty employed by the state of Alabama, perhaps the two women should be sentenced to run until they, too, collapse and die.

As for Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum, on one hand, I like the idea that they and their supporters are spending a great deal of money battling one another. To me, a Romney/Santorum ticket would seem like a rather difficult team to defeat in November. The more they fight it out and make outrageous allegations agains one another, the less likely that seems to happen, which is good i my book. As far as newt Gingrich goes, he has some very wealthy supporters, many of whom can drop $500,000 for a TV commercial o his behalf without ever missing the money they donated. This is all fine, but TV commercials concerning presidential elections are seldom relevant and usually contain only a portion of the truth. I know that, and my readers know that, but not all TV-watching voters are as smart as we are. Some, or course, do possess the critical thinking skills necessary to sort the facts from the  smut. It's the others about whom I worry. This election will be decided in part by a lot of TV-watching people who aren't necessarily able to discern the difference between facts and unsubstantiated allegations.

Another news story I found disturbing was about a community in New York where numerous adolescents suffered mysterious symptoms relating either to OCD and/or Tourette's-related tics and behaviors. A pro-active physician was able to treat most of these patients, and all are reported to be improving; some are back to near-normal functioning. The scariest part is that too many of these cases happened within such a short period for it to be any sort of a coincidence, but the common cause has yet to be found.

Does anyone have any good news to share?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Whitney Houston

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Whitney Houston: I promise not to harp endlessly on any more "Fiddler on the Roof" news for at least a week. While it is a topic that has overcome my life ...

Whitney Houston

I promise not to harp endlessly  on any more "Fiddler on the Roof" news  for at least a week. While it is a topic that has overtaken my life at least temporarily, it needn't bore my few faithful readers practically into  persistent vegetative states. Instead, I'll speak about another current common topic: Whitney Houston. I'm not a major worshiper of celebrities, but since just about everyone else, including Team Judge Alex,  is putting in his or her two cents' worth on the subject, I'll add my views.

Certainly Ms. Houston's death was a loss to the music world and to the world at large. The woman possessed an amazing voice, combining musicality and [not to be racist] that uncanny ability talented singer of African-American heritage often possess to fluidly add acciaccatura, embellishment or ornamtation to  written notes without causing them to sound overdone. [My mom, who has no African-American heritage of which anyone is aware, also possesses this ability, so I know it's not entirely unique to the African American population, but still it seems so much more prevalent among singers of their ethnicity.].My own mother, as a holder of a doctorate in piano and vocal performance, is critical of many popular singers, but said simply of Ms. Houston that at the times she seemed to have her act together, her voice was incomparable. Many debate her greatest song or greatest performance. Some would say it was the national anthem at whatever Super Bowl  at which she performed it. I didn't hear that one live -- I'm not even sure I was born yet -- but it wasn't my favorite. I can't remember if she was one of the artists who turned the 3/4  anthem into 4/4, or what is was  that caused me to be less than enamoured of  it, but it wasn't my favorite celebrity performance of that song, although I certainly wouldn't put my own pitiful rendition of it against hers for comparison. (Off topic, but my favorite semi-recent national anthem performances were by Huey Lewis and the News, the Dixie Chicks, and Billy Joel. I'd love to hear a Simon and Garfunkel rendition.)

Anyway, I think my own favorite Whitney Houston song was the simple Dolly Parton tune that she turned into a mega-hit. An interesting bit of trivia regarding that song, "I Will Always love You," is that the King of Rock and Roll himself had heard Ms. Parton's recording and had requested permission to record the song himself, which would have thrilled Ms. Parton. The only hitch was at that point in his career, Elvis Presley was not recording any material without being accorded the rights to it. Ms. Parton wrestled with the idea. Having Elvis Presley himself record a song written by one was beyond a mere honor, but in the end, she simply couldn't reconcile with giving up rights to the song. Then along came the movie The Bodyguard, and with it the request to Ms. Parton for Whitney Houston to record the song. Permission was granted, and the rest is history. With all due respect to the King himself, it seems highly dubious that he could have done any more with "I Will Always Love You" than Whitney Houston did. (As a side note, Dolly Parton has earned scads of money from royalties coming in from Whitney Houston's version of her song, and probably stands to earn even more in the near future.)

Regarding Whitney's manner of death, I see no cause to speculate. She's gone and there was no evidence of foul play. I would like to think she would have pulled herself together and would have returned to her state of greatness if luck had intervened on her behalf just one or two more times. In any event, she was a woman of faith, and according to her faith, is now in a much happier place.

Regarding Bobby Brown, I can't know much more about their marriage than can the average fan, nor do I desire to know any more than I do. They did appear to maintain a relationship falling somewhere between civil and cordial. I wish Mr. Brown had been allowed to sit with his and Whitney's daughter during the funeral. It would seem that such would have been a source of consolation to the young woman. There are things, however, that I do not know about the situation, so I'll leave that alone for now.

Rest in peace, Whitney. The world will miss your lovely face and your awe-inspiring instrument of a voice.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Day Off from Rehearsals

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Day Off from Rehearsals: I've had a rehearsal ever night this week. Because we're still many weeks away from performance, we're not yet working weekends. The experie...

Day Off from Rehearsals

I've had a rehearsal ever night this week. Because we're still many weeks away from performance, we're not yet working weekends. The experience is interesting. No one quite my age is in the cast. The director rounded up a few children because a village looks silly without any children. My romantic counterpart is a young-looking freshman. he still looks quite a bit older than i do, but that's probably OK, because he was probably intended to be older than Chava.

Personalities are fun to observe. The girl playing Hodel -- daughter number two, whose role would share with Golde's as the major female lead -- is a diva without, in my opinion, the vocal or dancing talent or acting chops to back up a diva personality. That's just my opinion, though. maybe the director sees smething entirely different. I stay out of her way and try not to overpower her too much whe we sing "Matchmaker." I would have cast the girl the director cast as "Tzeidel," the oldest daughter, in Hodel's role. then again, I've never acted, much less directed, so what do I know.

The director chose  "real" students as Tevye and Golde, the parents. One's twenty-three and one's twenty-two, but they look a little older even without age-enhancing makeup, so I think it will be credible. They're also legitimately good. I don't think it will be distracting that, other than the little kids that were culled from the community, we're all within about a seven-year age span.  We've finally had enough rehearsals that the rest of the cast now knows I'm a students and not one of the little kid extras. The director uses two different nicknames for me, both of which come from the song Tevye sings when Chava goes of tomarry the Rusion soldier: "little bird" and "everybody's favorite child." I'm not terrible fond of either, but I suppose it's better than being called a skunk or an opossum.

I'll do some studying this weekend, but I'm finally ready to admit that I've done the work and read the material, and all that is left for me to do is light test review and  last-minute assignments the professors hand out. Before rehearsals, I am doing a little running and hurdling on the advice of my doctor. He thinks if I eat just a bit more and do the exercise, I'll put on a little weight. i'd love to dive, but the timing isn't right for now. Maybe this summer I can work it in.  i'm still considering one sport or the other for next year.

Peace.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Evidence I've Gone Bat-Shit Crazy

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Evidence I've Gone Bat-Shit Crazy: No, I didn't distribute pamphlets for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, nor did I attend the World Ag Expo in Tulare , California. Any of those...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Evidence I've Gone Bat-Shit Crazy

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Evidence I've Gone Bat-Shit Crazy: No, I didn't distribute pamphlets for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, nor did I attend the World Ag Expo in Tulare , California. Any of those...

Evidence I've Gone Bat-Shit Crazy

No, I didn't distribute pamphlets for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, nor did I  attend the World Ag Expo in Tulare , California. Any of those things would have proven that I'm certifiably in need of being locked up for good. What I did was not much saner, though.

Some professor talked me into showing up for an audition of  "Fiddler on the Roof." He thought they needed children, and I look the part. It's better in many ways to use older teens who still  look like children because we have brains that function and know left from right in most cases.

Once I got on stage, the director asked me to read a few lines. I can read, although I don't know that I have any great dramatic flair to my style of oral reading. Others went on stage. Then he called me on stage with several older girls. He had us do dance moves. I'm not really a dancer, but I was a gymnast in a former incarnation, and gymnasts need at least a minimal level of dance instruction to succeed. Then the guy asked about who had gymnastics backgrounds, as he wanted to throw  a  few slow and graceful gymnastics maneuvers into the dance. Only one other girl and I had gymnastics training. We did our gymnastics things, which were not all that challenging. Next came the singing. The other gymnast couldn't sing on key. The director pointed at me and said, "She's Chava." No call-back, no posting, no anything. I'm Chava.

Vocally speaking, Chava has by far the least challenging role of the three major sisters in the play. "Matchmaker" the only song in which she has even a short solo. It's a good song, though, with opportunities for harmonies. The director keeps telling me to tone it down because my voice is stronger than Hodel's or Tseitel's. Hodel really needs to have the strongest voice of the three of us, but what an I do?

Dramatically, Chava has a reasonably full role. She defies her father and marries a Russian soldier. There's a nice dance between the sisters mainly featuring Chava as Tevye sings his lament about her leaving the family. That's where the gymnastics comes in. It's nothing like back handsprings; that wouldn't be fitting. More like some front and back walkovers and a little balletic gymnastics. Tevye sings about Chava being a little bird. The director says I look like a little bird, which is why he wanted me for the role. I suppose there are worse things I could look like, but the idea of looking like a bird is less than appealing to me.

Now I have something besides academics about which to concern myself. I'm still doing my a capella group thing, but the play performances and major rehearsals have priority.

I'll tell you how it goes.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: The Prof Wasn't Making Anything Up

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: The Prof Wasn't Making Anything Up: She has a mountain lion on the premises of her property in an area northeast of the university, maybe thirty miles away. I really wonder wha...

The Prof Wasn't Making Anything Up

She has a mountain lion on the premises of her property in an area northeast of the university, maybe thirty miles away. I really wonder what the neighbors think, or how many even know. The animal is kept in a fenced and sort of moated area that has trees nowhere near the fence, and is covered as well on top with some sort of netting that looks as though my five-week old cousin Blitzen Manx could probably make his way out of it with minimal effort.. The area is far inside the prof's property, and she appears to own about fifteen acres. Timmy and I had to trespass to learn the details of which we're now aware. We weren't afraid of encountering the prof in our trespassing escapades because she had spoken several times of traveling on a a wine-tasting cruise this weekend. It only goes to show that one should, by and large, keep his or her travel plans at least semi-confidential. She's lucky we weren't cat burglars.

Timmy knows more about mountain lions or cougars, both the literal and figurative types, than I do. He estimated the animal to be youngish, as in maybe a year old. He said she weighs about four hundred pounds, which he says is very large for a young female cougar. We have no way of knowing if the prof has the necessary authorization to own the animal or to keep it on her property, but with her libertarian leanings, it's highly dubious. Timmy spoke to several neighbors and asked if they knew of the cougar on nearby property. No  one with whom he spoke was aware, and all were quite taken aback by the idea. Timmy took a few neighbors over to show them. Several neighbors took photographs, and authorities were called.

This is  rural area of which I'm speaking. It's not like a city block with a house on a piece of property abutting  next-door-neighbors' property on either side. Hundreds of yards may separate each house. Still, it's a daunting thought to know that a mountain lion is being kept less than a mile from one's abode. Wild animals have been known to escape their enclosures. Furthermore, some of these families have young children.

My suspicion is that the cougar will have a new home within forty-eight hours. I wonder whether it's a misdemeanor or a felony to unlawfully detain mountain lion on one's property without proper authorization. Perhaps the prof will be rejoining us for class for next week, or perhaps she'll be, instead, enjoying the county's hospitality. In the event that she's freed soon enough to hand out grades for the course I'm taking from her, I certainly hope she doesn't connect me with the discovery of her illegal cat house. (She may be running more than one kind of illegal cat house, if you know what I mean. She just gives me that vibe.) Regardless, it's been a good run and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt, I'm appalled by what you've shared.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Safari in Rural Santa Barbara County

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Safari in Rural Santa Barbara County: I am so jazzed that I'll having a tough time sleeping tonight. My parents' Godson Timmy, who has a couple of days off from medical school, h...

A Safari in Rural Santa Barbara County

I am so jazzed that I'll having a tough time sleeping tonight. My parents' Godson Timmy, who has a couple of days off from medical school, has agreed to me to go to the home of the professor who claims she owns a cougar and keeps it on her personal property. I've investigated and now know precisely where she lives. If she keeps her mountain lion in the house, we may never learn the truth, although Timmy says he's prepared to go to the door handing out campaign leaflets in order to get a good look inside.

Auntie Jillian is out of the hospital and is recuperating on a nearby island. She's a little miffed that we're not waiting until she is able to go along before we make the trip, but we can go again when she's up to it. As for me, I cannot wait any longer, and my parents both think I need R & R from schoolwork as well.

I'm just incredibly curious as to whether or not this professor has a cougar on her premises. The law apparently is that she must have a special permit in order to  own or house  such an animal legally. She appears to be quite libertarian in her approach to laws as well as life in general. I can't see her letting a little thing like the legal requirement of a permit stop her from owning a cougar if she really wanted one. Why she would want one is another question  --  one I'll probably never be able to answer other than that the woman is clearly sanity-challenged.

Regarding nuns, a little bit of knowledge being a dangerous thing, and other mattes. my cousin on my mom's side was a passenger in a minor fender-bender involving another driver who was a nun when he was about three years old. My mom said he loved to tell the story, and it grew to more epic proportions almost every time her told it. By the end, according to my cousin's version, after the accident, the nun hopped out of her car and ran from the scene of the accident, only to be chased down and cuffed by  Officer Terry, a police officer known to the family. When asked why Officer Terry would cuff a nun and transport her to jail, my very creative-with-the-truth cousin  answered, "But he HAD to!" My mom said she asked why the officer HAD to cuff and transport  the nun to jail, my cousin's answer was,"Because nuns are drunk drivers."

Perhaps there was and is more truth to what my cousin said in his very young days than most people assume to be the case. Furthermore, perhaps nuns are not just drink drivers; they may be drunk teachers as well.

Mat, the editing process is much more tedious than it would seem that it should be.

Rebecca, Jillian is on the mend. She's back to tutoring. Uncle Scott thought it would be good for her to get away for the weekend but to do very little other than rest. He just thought the change of scenery would be good for her. As for me,  I srill occasionally bark, but it's reached the point that my teachers and classmates no longer fear getting tuberculosis or something even worse from me.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Which is Worse: Croup or University Courses?

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Which is Worse: Croup or University Courses?: I'm finally over the freaded croup. when I was in second grade, I missed two days of school becuase I had been ill with croup. when I retunr...

Which is Worse: Croup or University Courses?

I'm finally over the freaded croup. when I was in second grade, I missed two days of school becuase I had been ill with croup. when I retunred to school, the note my mom wrote said simply that I had been sick. The nosy (or perhaps concerned; I should probably give her he benefit of the doubt) nun who was my teacher that year asked what illness had been. i told her what I was told, which was that I had been sick with croup. The teacher/nun laughed hysterically as though I was Jimmy Kimmel or perhaps John Belushi in his prime. After her fit of laughter subsided, she explained to me that ibnly babies get crup, and that I obviously was no longer a baby and therefore could not have had croup.

Croup doesn't end abruptly in most cases, so at a few points in the day, I treated her and the rest of the class to eveidentiary  barking seal imitations, but still the teacher/nun was neither impressed not convinced of the accuracy of my diagnosis. She wouldn't leave it alone, either. "Exactly who told you you had croup?' she asked me at one point. "Was it your mother or your fahter?" She knew my dad was and is a doctor. I answered thta my dad had provided the digonosis. "Well, I guess it is pretty far from his specialty. Doctors can't be expected to be experts in all areas," she concluded.  I continued to bark like a seal. "What exactly is wrong with you, anyway?" she asked.


"I 'm getting over croup," I again told her. She threw her hands in the air, then went to the intercom and called some other staff member. They presumably discussed what half-wits my parents were. What I heard from the end I could hear was a lot of laughter, the words croup, infancy, and not terribly smart.  My mom eventually had to come to school and pick me up, I had been sent back to school before I was really ready to be there, and at one point my lips turned blue, which is a sign of hypoxia, which is a by-product of croup. i wonder why the nun thought my lips turned blue. She probably thought I had an allergic reaction to something I ate. She probably never connected that barking cough to the blue lips. In any event, miserable as i was, I'm glad i could at least provide a source of merriment to my nun teacher and her nun friends.

Since that time, I've been diagnosed with croup by pediatricians, internists, pulmonologists, and all sorts of specialists, some of them world-renowned, and most with credentials in the specialty far exceeding those held by my father. The most recent diagnosis came about two weeks ago. If I knew the techer/nun's address, I'd send her copies of all my medical reports, although she'd probably just call her nun friends and hoot about how stupid all the specialists are, because everyone who knows anything at all knows only babies can get croup. However imbecilic I feel that they are, I wish they were correct. I could have been spared a lot of  discomfort over the years.

Anyway, I'm out of bed and my nose is firmly attached to the proverbial grindstone. Most assignmets and paper have been completed except for final proofreading and re-printing. I prefer, even though it's a tremendous waste of paper, to proofread hard copies as opposed to scanning for typographical and other errors on a computer screen. Call it a quirk or whatever, but it's much easier for me to miss an error when viewing it in a computer screen.

So this weekend I'm editing and finishing up final projects in addition to completing all required reading. it will be a rough weekend, but following this weekend of drudgery, the rest of the quarter should be smooth sailing. It's a bit tough to do things this way, but I much prefer it. Otherwise, I'd have trouble sleeping for most of the quarter. This way, only the first month is essentially sleepless, although croup and nonacademic nonsense contributed to this weekend overload of work.

As to the question: Would I rather have croup or do work for university courses? Bring on the course workload..