Monday, June 30, 2014

The Sport of the Civilized?

This must have been before the fat lady sang.

What is is about the sport of soccer that brings out the most base and primitive instincts in its players and, even more, in its spectators?   Even  airlines are injecting themselves into the incivility, with some Netherlands airline tweeting  "Adios, amigos," or something to that effect to the departing Mexican team.  I would not suggest that [U.S.-style] football or baseball brings out the most refined behavior in its fans, but by comparison, it would seem that Queen Elizabeth II is personally presiding over each Super Bowl, and that a pre- "Camp Cupcake experience" version of Martha Stewart models World Series decorum for the rest of us.

When I was a child, I was a gymnast. If one was to be anything more than a once-or-twice-a-week-just-for-the-fun-of-it gymnast, gymnastics tended to encompass most of one's non-school waking hours. That's how it is with most sports now. 

When we were little, however, for my brother  there was a concept known as "seasonal sports." Each sport had its designated block in the yearly calendar. A child played soccer or maybe pre-protective-gear football in the fall. Some little girls started volleyball in the fall  quite early back then as well. (Boys' volleyball typically didn't start until later ages.) Then he or she moved on to basketball. In the spring there were softball and baseball, with just a bit of overlap into swimming. (including diving as children aged and matured),.Water polo was squeezed into there as children got a bit older, as was the sport of track and field.   Children developed different sets of motor skills and even social skills with each sport. Just as a child was approaching boredom with one activity, it was time for another sport. While score was kept and championships were awarded to winning teams, for the most part, the point seemed to be fun and exercise. Most parents (there's always the chance rotten egg in the carton) were concerned  primarily with, in addition to fun and exercise, sportsmanship,, socialization, and safety. most parents were not already into the planning stages for their children's professional athletic careers. It all worked out rather marvelously. I'm not exactly sure why it ever had to change.

My brother was among the last of those to experience sports in the multi-faceted format. What is typically observed now is the "club sports" phenomenon, wherein children and/or their parents choose a single sport. The child plays that sport all year. If it's a rainy day, the soccer and baseball coaches and parents fight. it out with the basketball and wrestling teams for gymnasium space. Schools have traditionally tried to maintain the old-style schedule and have encouraged students to experience more than one athletic even per year, but that, too, is giving way to the one-sport concept. Interscholastic federations seem to be moving the date in which a school athletic team may hold its initial team workout earlier by a week or so every couple of years. I may be off on my dates, but I believe football teams are allowed to work out with pads in June now. It wasn't all that long ago when something like mid-August was the very earliest when that was allowed to occur..

What does any of this have to do with soccer? Not much, I admit, though it does bring to mind an experience I witnessed as a child.  Even though I was a gymnast, my parents were opposed to excessive single-minded devotion to a particular sport or activity, so I was allowed to compete in the bare minimum of events that whatever gymnastics club with which I was affiliated would allow. This meant I had an occasional weekend off. On one of those weekends off, I went with my parents to my brother's soccer  game. I believe my brother and I were eight and were in the fourth grade when this happened.  Looking back upon it, it's hard to believe that it all occurred in a single game and that in my mind it isn't a composite of events from several games, but my parents assure me it all happened on that one day.

My brother's official soccer coach was a nice young mother named Emily, who didn't have much background when it came to coaching, teaching, or playing soccer. She met the qualifications to coach, which was that she was willing to volunteer her time, and her background check came back clean. It didn't take Emily long to observe other coaches conducting practices on the shared over-sized schoolyard used for practices to discover that she was in way over her head. She called the commissioner of the league, who recruited a young man named Tony who may have been twenty-one or twenty-two to help Emily coach. tony had a solid background in soccer and worked surprisingly well with young children. At practice, everything seemed fine.

Then we went to my brother's team's first game.  Coach Emily had asked her own little boy to carry the jerseys that been given to her  three days before the first game for the boys to wear and to place them in the laundry room.  She wasn't sure how clean they were after having been stored for a year, so she wanted to launder them before handing them out to the little boys to wear in the game. Nearly all of the jerseys made it into the washer  and dryer. The one that escaped notice was the one that was a different color than the rest -- the one that the goalie was to  wear. (A goalie is allowed to be in certain places and to do certain things that other players are not allowed. The different-colored jersey makes it clear as to whom is the goalie and holder of those privileges.) It somehow slipped off the pile  of  jerseys and onto the floor, into a space next to the washer -- a space frequently occupied by the family's rather large and smelly St. Bernard mix.  The dog wasn't going to let a small thing like child's goalie jersey get in the way of his resting in his usual quiet place. The dog made himself comfortable atop  the goalie jersey for the next three days.

On game day, Emily and her family were nearly late because they couldn't locate the  goalie jersey. Eventually the dog moved, and they both saw and smelled it. At this point there was no time to wash and dry the  jersey. Emily decided on the way to the game that the only right thing to do would be to have her own child, Max, be the goalie and wear the smelly jersey. It wasn't right, she reasoned, for another parent's child to wear the jersey her family's dog had befouled.  This might have worked had Max not been the tiniest child in the entire league -- only marginally bigger than I, and I was diagnosed as growth-deficient. Max gave the job his best effort, but before the break in the middle of the first half, my brother's team was down seven goals to zero in a notoriously low-scoring sport. A goalie needs to be somewhat tall and long-limbed, with speed in his favor. Reach and mobility would allow him to block the balls kicked in the direction of the goal. Tiny Max had neither reach nor speed in his favor.

At the mid-point of the first half, the coach of a team who had already finished its game noticed the problem and offered his team's goalie jersey to my brother's coach, who was then able to put it on a larger and more mobile child and to stop the onslaught of black-and-white balls being propelled into her team's goal. By half-time, the score was seven to five. Shortly after the second half began, my brother's team scored two more goals, tying the score. At that point, my brother was pointed out by the referee -- a kid who was probably nineteen and was likely being paid minimum wage, and who most certainly had no vested interest in the outcome of this pee wee soccer game -- as having tripped another player. I believe this resulted in my brother being given what is known as a "yellow card," which is some sort of warning.

Assistant Coach Tony, seen previously as a most mild-mannered young guy, did not agree with the ref's call against my brother. He stepped onto the field and unleashed  string of profanities that would gain a movie an 'R" rating at the very least.  Assistant Coach Tony was a married man. His very young and pregnant wife was present. She stepped out from wherever she was seated or standing among the fans and slapped Tony hard across his face. Each team was required to have made a large banner out of felt and held up with PVC pipes, displaying the team's name and mascot. Assistant Coach Tony used the banner to dodge his pregnant wife as he continued hurling obscenities at the referee.  Eventually a commissioner or someone else walked Assistant Coach Tony to the parking lot. His pregnant wife refused to accompany him. I believe she stayed to watch the game to its completion.

Coach Emily was left with a seven-seven game and no assistant coach. She implored the parents to help her. My dad offered his services, but admitted he knew little if any  more about soccer than Emily did. He'd always considered soccer a "commie sport."   A coach of another team standing nearby offered to help out since he had major bad blood with the opposing coach. My dad sat down with great relief and watched as guy called time out, I think (are tie outs even allowed in soccer?) and positioned the players. A few kicks later, my brother scored  the go-ahead goal.  

Then came the dramatic moment of the day, as though there hadn't already been sufficient drama. A woman from the opposing fans' side who must have weighed  a minimum of three-hundred-seventy-five pounds stormed the field and went after the referee. The woman was practically foaming at the mouth and was spewing obscenities that made those previously  uttered by Assistant Coach Tony  seem almost like acceptable catechism instructional language from a nun by comparison. The woman couldn't move terribly fast, but the ref didn't see her coming until very late in the chase. When he finally noticed  --  it probably was the tremble of the Earth caused by her ponderous footsteps that eventually alerted him -- he ran as fast as  he could off the field and to his car in the parking lot, on his way blowing his whistle, yelling, "Game Over! Knights win!"

With the ref absent and  no one left to hit, the  woman grabbed my brother's team's PVC  pipe holding the Knights' banner and with ease  broke it into two roughly equal pieces. No one really cared . The Knights had won the game.

Assistant Coach Tony had sent  word with someone from the league that he wanted to meet with the parents after the game in the parking lot. My parents wandered over with everyone else. Coach Tony offered to resign. "Hell, no!" one of the dads exclaimed. "It was all the ref's fault, anyway."  The parents nodded and spoke in assent.

We walked to the car. "Wow," my mom said once we were inside our car with the doors locked.

"I told you it was a commie sport," my Dad contended.

"I had no idea soccer could be so much fun!" my brother concluded.

I know  examples of parents attacking baseball umpires or basketball referees abound in the world of youth sports, but in our town, the notable incidents in and following soccer games seem to outnumber those occurring in and following other sports by about twelve to one. Is there really a different mentality found in soccer as opposed to to other sports?   

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My New Not-Best Friend: Sorry, Dr. *****

my arch-nemesis

a great man who took martyrdom to seldom-before-seen levels

Some things are best left unsaid, or at  the very least, best left not discussed in polite conversation. Colitis and sigmoidoscopies fall under those categories.  Even here among those of us who are basically friends, I'll try hard to be discreet in the discussion. I've  had both, PLUS a colonoscopy in recent months. 

Note to Judge Alex Ferrer in the event that  this ever crosses his eyes: I've had an endoscopy, too, but I was not so naive/macho/outrightly sub-moronic as to allow anyone to attempt the procedure on me without benefit of sedation simply because I didn't want any of my relatives to have to transport me there and back. WHAT THE HELL ARE RELATIVES FOR? It's a reciprocity sort of thing: you go to your mom's house and tell her that her cell phone is not, in fact, her TV remote control, and she drives you to and from an occasional medical procedure (unless your mom drives the way my grandmother does, in which case you're safer taking your chances in hitching a ride with just about any drunk who crawls out the door of a pub than you are in riding with her at the wheel) for the benefit that you do not convince everyone in the outpatient clinic in which you are to undergo the procedure that you are a maximum of three IQ points above the clinical status of imbecile.

Imbecile, incidentally, used to be an in-use clinical diagnosis, by the way. (It was, in the relative cognitive ranking, considered above an idiot but beneath a moron.)Then imbecile was supplanted by the term "moderately mentally retarded."  School children across the U.S. and probably other English-speaking nations soon adopted "retarded" as an insult at which to hurl at adversaries on schoolyards. This, courtesy of the advocates of a particular cognitively challenged individual named Rosa, caused the Powers That Be to change the name of the category of cognitive deficit to 
"moderately intellectually disabled." Someday school children will insult each other using that term, too, as an epithet, or perhaps they'll just call each other "Rosa" until some new advocate of an individual with intellectual challenges enacts legislation for a new and even less offensive moniker. (I nominate "Matthew.") I'm not sure what it will take for special education advocates  everywhere to get it through their rather thick skulls (my uncle Ralph once told me about special education students that they're best taught, administrated, and advocated for by their own kind) just what a losing battle it is they're fighting, and that the very best they can ever hope to accomplish is to remain one-half step or less ahead of the children of the world, linguistically speaking. I'm confident the same thing happens in nations where other languages are spoken, though I haven't a clue as to how their respective Powers That Be respond to the conundrum.  

I digress, however. The point here is that Judge Ferrer had numerous options for undergoing the procedure and being transported home safely (including but not limited to asking his wife for a ride to the surgical or outpatient center, as he's probably transported her to the occasional E.R. visit or doctor's appointment [driving one's wife to the hospital to give birth does not count, as a husband can  be presumed to have been at least 50% responsible for the condition that necessitated the hospital trip]) none of which had to be the choice  of allowing a sadistic man in a white coat with the quasi-prestigious initials of MD behind his name to shove a tube down his throat sans any form of sedation whatsoever while morbidly laughing at the patient totally at his mercy.

Back to the procedures of which we do not like to speak in polite company . . . Not one of them is a walk through a field of daisies.  Nonetheless, if God comes down and pays you a personal visit to tell you that you are going to have one of the three aforementioned indignitites inflicted upon your body, and you may either name your poison or let God roll the dice for you, DO NOT choose the sigmoidoscopy.  The doctor and his flunkies tell you you're being sedated, but in all seriousness, the amount of sedation that runs through the IV that's been stuck into your arm (the IV is there for the primary purpose of having instant access to your blood supply just in case you clinically die on the procedure table, which has happened more than once; read the fine print on those disclaimers they make you sign) is not sufficient to dull the pain of a mid-sized cockroach undergoing a leg amputation. The cockroach would be thrashing around on its little gurney just about as much as I was during my procedure described so euphemistically as a sigmoidoscopy.

So now the gastroenterologist, who is a friend of a friend of my dad, and I are not on nearly such friendly terms as we were before the procedure. Lest he show up here and attempt to tell  his side of the story, I shall beat him to the punch. I did NOT  use any expletives. He says I did, but I have nurses and God as my witnesses that such was not the case. I did scream at him at the top of my lungs, and I did  accuse him of trying to kill me.

I do not believe that anyone on the face of the Earth would attempt a sigmoidoscopy on an unanesthetized Barack Obama (not because Mr. Prez himself is so formidable but because the Secret Service would be obligated to take the doctor out of commission), Mike Tyson,  or that guy who bit an opponent in a recent soccer match, without first putting on major protective gear.

Note to Jaci: I seriously considered using a display of tampons as my Twitter pic, but there are limits to which even I cannot stoop, plus I didn't want to embarrass the judge if he saw the pic before I took it down.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I',m  testing another picture and heading at twitter. Please check it out if you get the opportunity.


Friday, June 20, 2014

And the winner is . . .

I'm only leaving this here for a day or so. My mom said it's fine in the size of a twitter pic, but that it's too obviously me. If I wish to write about what's really going on in my life without fear of being penalized for doing so, particularly as med school looms, I'll need to take steps to be slightly more anonymous.
Picture Number 1!  Becca thinks it doesn't make me look too young.  Jaci  thinks the flowers make it stand out. Donna, Marianne, and Knotty think it's a pretty picture. I'll go with that. Marianne also likes the picture of me giving the cameraman the death gaze when I was five. I might have to find a use for that as well. It's my godfather's favorite picture of me.

Knotty, I know the self-deprecating thing gets old very fast. It's often just another form of begging for compliments, which I'm honestly not doing.   I think I'm just coming to terms with having grown up with the nicknames"The Tornado Child" (given to me by a teacher after a classmate pointed out that the tornado image the class was viewing resembled me) and "Anorexis," an insult generously bestowed upon me in an English class debate by a middle-school peer who, ironically, would go on to become my friend.  Then there was good old Uncle Mahonri, who took perverse pleasure in calling me "the Ugly Duckling who failed to turn into a swan" when other adults who would've cared were out of hearing range.  On a conscious level I know I'm not that homely child anymore, if, in truth, I ever was.. Still, not one of us escapes childhood unscathed. Sensitivity and perception about appearance are among  the wounds that have yet to scab over completely. I'm getting there.

Anyway, I have a new Twitter image. Thank you all for your most helpful and insightful input.

the death gaze photo


Twitter Photos, the Noticeablity Factor, et al

Note: My mom asked me to remove the extra pictures for security reasons. She said the twitter pic was fine, but that all the pictures revealed more about my identity than I should reveal. I don't absolutely HAVE to do what she says, but I can see the wisdom in her words. If I wish to continue to be open at all here, I can't leave too many  clues about my identity about my identity.

Yesterday I had a chat with none other than the esteemed Judge Alex Ferrer  when the topic of Twitter pictures came up. Judge Ferrer commented that he reads all tweets but doesn't always know who authored them because the pictures are small and he doesn't always take the time to check out the names. He mentioned a couple of tweeters whose tweets he could identify because their pictures stood out in some way-- usually because of color. I made the decision that my Twitter photo must be changed so that Judge Ferrer or anyone else would stand a better chance of recognizing that a tweed had come from me. I'm still not sure how much difference it makes in the long run, but still, it is my choice to wither away in anonymity to no greater degree than I must.

i'm handicapped to a degree in that I avoid cameras whenever possible. if i see someone with a camera at an event, I do my best Harry Houdini imitation.

Last night I posted a twitter picture  and asked those I knew who have Twitter accounts to give me feedback.  Tomorrow I'll take it down and post a different trial picture. The present picture is probably the prettiest picture of me that I'll post.   In all honesty, while I'm not the wicked witch of the east, west, or any other direction, neither am I exactly Natalie Portman.  In all honesty, I know I'm not butt-ugly, and that there are girls in the world who would trade appearances with me. The problem for me is that I grew up as a rather homely child. My dad said that I was so homely that I was cute. My mom said I looked just like  her, so who was she to criticize my looks? I was excrutiatingly thin with wild hair. I had an uncle by marriage who was fond of calling me (never within earshot of my parents) "the ugly duckling who never turned into a swan.". The man was and still is  not exactly Brad Pitt himself, so I'm not sure what he thought gave him the status to be so critical of any child's appearance.

I enjoy pictures that flatter me as much as does the next person, but the object is for the picture to stand out. I could,of course, wear a clown suit, but while I'm not overly vain in terms of my [non-existent]  resemblance to Natalie Portman,  neither do I wish to go so far into the portmanteau of visible and salient color that I'm willing to literally appear as a clown.

I will post here  a few of the the pictures that I will post on my Twitter account. It won't be a perfect parallel because the size won't be exact. I'll also leave the Twitter link so that if you have the time or the inclination, you can check out the photos at the actual site.

Keep in  mind that, other than my size, standing out visually is not one of my strengths.  If  it is determined that I don't actually catch attention in any of these photos, I'll just go for the one where I look the best.  "Sort of pretty" invisible   trumps "ugly" invisible every time.

Link to the Twitter site:



I obviously look better in #1 than in the rest, but I'm trying  to balance looking OK with being noticeable.  If I  cannot be noticeable, I'll go for as un-ugly as possible.

Thank you for your time and for your input.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pediatric Endocrinologists Suck: a reply that was lost in the ether repeatedly.

a rough approximation - one can probably understand why a baby would scream at the sight of him

I made it reasonably far into three responses to the post about my awful day with the receptionist of my pediatric endocrinologist and how she tried to bill me fro being late for an appointment that she rescheduled at the last minute, and even threatened me with law enforcement when I refused to pay for the missed appointment before leaving. It seems that it would be less foolish to type the response as a separate blog, because I can at least save what I've typed after every paragraph so that I'm not stuck re-typing the entire freaking message, not that it's entirely worth saving. Nonetheless, here it goes. Perhaps, however unlikely,  there's something in this story that  I or even someone else may wish to recall at some point.

Amelia and OzDoc, thank you for your kind words, which came at a time when I most gravely needed to read them.

Knotty, I saw this pediatric endocrinologist for the first time either two or three days after my first birthday. I've been told it was a true case of hate at first sight. At my one-year-old fighting weight of fifteen pounds, it took two separate adults besides  the pediatric endocrinologist to restrain me just to the point that the man could as much as  touch me.  The relationship never seemed to get much better.  Since the man had chosen the pediatric branch of his field in which to practice, one might have assumed that he had the magic touch or some other form of rapport with children, but such appeared not to be the case.  From the screams I remember hearing both in the waiting room and from the exam rooms while waiting in the reception room to be called during subsequent appointments at which I was old enough to remember, it seemed that my fellow pediatric endocrinology patients were not significantly more impressed with the doctor than I was. And it's not as though excruciating  procedures were typically being performed in the office. Those sorts of things were normally done at one of the area hospitals. All the man apparently had to do to induce shrieks of sheer terror from his patients was to routinely poke or prod, or in some cases even to look at a patient. 

Considering he's in a pediatric branch of the field, one would think he would have at least average rapport with youngsters, but such is not the case. In retrospect, there must have been a dire shortage of pediatric endocrinologists in the region if parents were willing to endure their children's screams every time they entered the office building from the moment they hit the elevator buttons until they were finally outside the external exit door.  The man is probably so lacking in interpersonal skills yet slightly self-aware,  and was able to discern  that his only prayer of a successful practice would be one consisting of a  clientele in which at least one-third of them could not yet talk.

As I grew older, the situation changed from one of my screaming every time he looked in my direction to one of his blatant lack of diplomacy. My dad would usually be at the appointments, and the doctor would talk to my dad as though I were not even present. he's say things like, "No breast development to speak of, huh? I wouldn't even call her flat. Her chest is concave. She's WAY behind on that. Is her mother especially flat-chested?" he'd comment without any regard to the idea that the conversation would embarrass a sixteen-year-old girl.

"Maybe you need to meet her mother," my dad responded. "She's not exactly Dolly Parton, but I have no complaints in that department, and I've never heard anything negative about her in that regard from anyone else."

My dad tolerated the man's eccentricity to a degree largely because of the fraternal concept of research physicians sticking together, and because the man was reputed to be knowledgeable in his field. The tendency is for physicians to seek out the very best in medical care for their children when specialists are required. Dad realizes after the fact that  signs were present that he should have observed much earlier that this researcher was not worthy of another researcher's  tolerance or loyalty, and that no level of competence in a field would justify such insensitivity toward a patient.  My dad always ended up stopping on the way home and buying me either ice cream or jewelry, depending upon just how outrageous the session had been.

Then once I turned eighteen, adolescent girl modesty, combined with legal rights, took over, and I refused to allow either parent to accompany me into the exam room because I was no longer a minor and felt I didn't need a parent in an exam room with me. In retrospect, that was a mistake on my part. No eighteen-year-old girl should have been on her own in a room with such a  psychological behemoth with no support person to act as a buffer.  A female staff member would, as required by law,  be present,
which spread his staff a bit thin and -- if possible -- sent him into an even fouler mood. Under those circumstances, he would typically examine me without  saying a word. I could never tell from the scowl on his face if he thought development was coming along suitably if a bit slowly, or if the delays had grown more pronounced, or if I was showing signs of developing the fastest-acting form of cancer currently known to medical science. He said or did nothing to reassure me in the least. If I did ask a question, I'd get a one-word answer that didn't really answer my question.

The presence of a nurse or other female staff member would presumably have prevented any
abuse of a physical nature, but psychological mistreatment is more insidious and harder both to define and to spot. Such would be particularly true when the paycheck of the person charged with spotting and/or preventing  mistreatment of a patient was signed by the very person from whom she was charged to protect patients. Then he would  examine me and say nothing. 

My issue is that right now the pediatric endocrinologist is really not doing a thing for me.  even from the pure pleasure factor, I derive no joy in being poked and prodded all over my body, nor do I want more than my share of needle pricks (no pun intended). I 've been  diagnosed as having no syndrome other than benign idiopathic but presumably hereditary growth delay with a prognosis of presumed ultimately small-normal stature and bone structure.  At this point, other than the most routine of nutritional supplements and a common-sense high caloric diet, nothing can be done for me. I'm already well into the small adult height range, and I'm not far off in the weight range. He's not helping me. Instead, I'm supplying data for his research.

Once he looked at my pubic region and blurted out, "Is there really absolutely no hair down there, or are you waxing yourself or using electrolysis?" Even the nurse gasped at that one. There I was with no hips, earliest stages of breast budding, so little body fat that I couldn't have floated in the dead sea with floaties, skinny little eyebrows that had never been plucked, and no one other than a doctor who would ever have looked  -- at least since I had been out of diapers -- at the region where my pubic hair would have grown in had their been any, yet he thought it necessary to ask that question.  The question begged by this is why I ever returned after that appointment.  The reason was that I was too embarrassed to tell my parents what had been said at the appointment.

My issue is that right now the pediatric endocrinologist is really not doing a thing for me.  With my diagnosis of benign idiopathic but presumably hereditary growth delay with the prognosis of presumed ultimate small-normal stature and bone structure, this doctor needs me more than I need him. It's a mystery as to why my insurance carrier is covering appointments and procedures anymore. Medical insurance companies are usually right on top of this sort of thing and are quick to question why they should be asked to pay for medically unnecessary  procedures. Medical research around here, other than that which occurs along with necessary treatment, is usually funded through grants or other means. It's not typically financed by patients' insurance carriers when patients are not receiving treatment.

My dad found out about the debacle when he got home last night. My mom arrived about an hour later and heard all about it. My mom's issue is more with my brother and his role in the missed appointment, which is in and of itself unusual. Matthew can't usually do much to dissuade my mother that he's not the Christ Child, and it usually takes my father's persuasion for her to see the error of Matthew's ways. Such was not the case last night. She started ripping into him at 8:30 last night and still hasn't finished with her tirade. She's concerned about the situation at the doctor's office, but she's going to let my dad handle it.

My dad called my Uncle Steve, who is my primary care physician. Uncle Steve agreed to have  a chat with both the doctor and the receptionist. He's considered threatening the doctor with insurance fraud for billing for purely research purposes. My Uncle Steve said he'll send his patients to Los Angeles or even to San Diego in the future if it's the only way to avoid the pediatric endocrinologist in question and if the office staff cannot conduct itself more professionally. Another pediatric endocrinologist is an associate, and from all accounts he conducts himself professionally (the psychological behemoth is also considered competent in a medical sense but lacks the interpersonal skills required to be considered "professional") but one cannot be guaranteed of seeing him him, and furthermore, the two share an office staff. He is equally responsible for the lack of professionalism of the receptionist and others in the office.

My mom was appalled when she heard the story of the doctor asking if she was flat-chested, and both my parents and my uncle were horrified at the question as to whether or not I was waxing away my pubic hair. Of course everyone is mad at me for not having mentioned it at the time, but they'll all get over it. Then they'll feel sorry for me and buy me presents.  That's the way things work around here.

I'm still not sure what my brother's consequence will be, but my mother is angry enough that there most definitely will be a consequence. Moreover, my mother has promised never again to schedule an appointment of any kind for me unless I'm too sick to make the appointment for myself, and even then, she says she'll inform me immediately and write it down for me. It's unlike her to so quickly accept responsibility for her part in any cataclysm of sorts, so perhaps either she is changing for the better or she's tacitly acknowledging my adulthood.

As for the pediatric endocrinologist, I'm finished with him. He'll need to find his research subjects elsewhere. In the unlikely event that I'm ever in the need of pediatric endocrinological care, I'll seek it elsewhere in the future.





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Self-Pitying, Whining, Cynical Post

The receptionist with whom I dealt did not even pretend to smile.

It's unbecoming of a person to whine and to feel sorry for oneself. Nevertheless, that's exactly what I'm doing. If you're put off by such behavior, I'm offering a disclaimer that you should read no further.

I was supposed to have an appointment with my pediatric endocrinologist on Friday. Yesterday just before the 5:00 closing time someone in the doctor's office telephoned my home phone and spoke to my mother.  The appointment needed to be moved up to today. It occurred to my mother to bring this up to me at about 11:00 p.m. last night.  My car  is in the shop having its windows tinted,  and dealing with warranty-covered defective tires and possibly wheel bearings.  My father is in San Diego.  My mother was to leave for Fresno at about 6:00 a.m.  My cousin Josh has class. It was decided that my brother could give me a ride to the doctor.

In partial defense of the doctor's office, it is a pediatric practice.  In a pediatric specialty practice of this nature, however, patients are frequently seen until age twenty-one and sometimes even longer. While front office staff are accustomed to dealing with parents,  they need to red-flag the files of patients who are legal adults so that in situations such as the ne that occurred with my appointment, they speak with the patient and not the patient's parent concerning the rescheduling of an appointment. Nevertheless, my mother should have known better than to have allowed the appointment to be rescheduled without first consulting me.

Still, everything would have been hunky-dory had my designated ride, my brother, been around to give me the ride he was asked to provide. Matthew does very little work. Almost every penny he spends comes either from gifts or from my parents. My mom had the right to ask him to drive me to my appointment.  My brother, instead, received a call from a friend inviting him to go surfing. The catch was that my brother's car was needed for the surfing excursion.

About thirty minutes before my appointment, I began to become nervous because of  Matthew's absence. I texted him and received no response. I called his cell number and received non response.  I considered calling Jared, but one simply does not call one's ex for favors of this nature.  Ordinarily I could have called PseudoAunt, but she's on bed rest. Almost everyone else in her family is busy carrying for her. Everyone in my family works.

I telephoned the endocrinologist's office to explain my plight. The receptionist was very short with me. She told me that it would be in my best interest to make it to the appointment on time, because if I were more than fifteen minutes late, I would be billed for the appointment, and insurance does not cover fees for no-shows.

 I next called the local can service, which is notorious for slow and unreliable service.  After thirty minutes, it became apparent that the cab was unlikely to appear. I called again. The cab company receptionist apologized for the "clerical error" and promised that a cab would be there shortly. About fifteen minutes, the cab appeared and took me on the roughly fifteen-minute ride to the endocrinologist's office. I hurried into the building and took the stairs to the fifth floor to avoid wasting time waiting around for the elevator, which is, I believe, installed in the 1950's. By the  time I made it into the endocrinologist's office, I was,  I believe, thirty-one minutes late.

I apologized profusely to the receptionist, who didn't want to hear it and asked for my payment for the no-show right there on the spot.  I hadn't wanted to take the conversation in the direction it went, but because I wasn't carrying adequate cash to pay both the $140.00 fee and still have enough left for cab fare home.  I told the receptionist that she had scheduled the appointment with my mother, not with me, and that she could take the matter up with my mother if she so desired, but, in the future, if she wished for me to be at an appointment on time, she should schedule the appointment with me and not with my mother. I asked if she had my cell phone number. 

The receptionist went ballistic on me and started shouting. She pointed to a sign that said, "Payment is due when services are rendered unless prior arrangements have been made."  "Do you see this?" she demanded. 

"That does not apply to me, ma'am, " I answer as calmly as I was able, though I'm sure my voice was shaky.  "No services were rendered."

The receptionist pulled out a loose, unused and blank statement, at the bottom of which read, "Twenty-four hours is required for cancellation of appointments. Failure to provide proper notice will result in the patient's being billed for the appointment fee" She read it aloud as I headed for the door.

"But ma'am," I argued, "you canceled my appointment with fewer than twenty-four hours' notice "

"That's not how it works, unfortunately." she countered. "If you leave, I'll call the police, " she hollered out.  I wonder what the rest of the patients in the waiting room were thinking.

I walked out the door and immediately burst into tears.  I ran about three blocks, crying all the way and avoiding eye contact with anyone,  to a place I knew to be frequented by cabs. Within a few minutes, I hailed a cab, and was home within fifteen minutes. The cab driver looked at me strangely in his rear-view mirror as I sobbed, but he seemed happy enough as long as I paid the fare and tipped.

By that time, my brother was home. "Where the hell have you been?" I screamed at him as he sat on the couch in swim trunks, eating chips and salsa.

"Surfing," he replied, with his mouth full.

"Do you remember that I had an appointment and you were my ride?" I asked.

"Alexis,"  he responded in his most patronizing voice, "I help you when I can, but I'm neither your babysitter nor your chauffeur.  You're going to have to learn to solve problems without me. I won't always be around."

"Bastard!" I screamed as I stormed up the stairs. Before opening my bedroom door, I hollered down the stairs at my brother, "We're soon going to be taking medical school classes, and some of them are going to be very difficult for you.  I won't always be around to explain things to you. What goes around comes around.'" With that, I opened the door, went into my room, and slammed the door shut.

I don't seriously believe that the receptionist will sic the law on me, but if she does, and if the cops show up at my door, I have a trap door inside the closet that holds my rugs and comforters. It holds bedding and pillows. I can hide out comfortably there for as long as I need to be there. I don't think my brother  knows  the hidden mini-closet even exists. He couldn't lead the cops to me if that were his intent, which at this point wouldn't exactly surprise me. My parents will hire a lawyer for me if necessary.

My parents are not home yet. my assumption is that, just for this once, my mom will actually take my side in this fiasco. I doubt she'll do anything about it, but she at least probably won't be upset with me.

The question that is begged by today's fiasco is this: is there anyone on whom a person can depend?  My brother is my twin. For the past few years I've considered him a fairly decent guy. If I can't count on him to be there when he says he will be, on whom can I count?

Boyfriends flake on you more often than they come through for you.

Parents -- even good parent like mine -- break promises, whether theyiint4end to or not.

Boys who seem sincere ask for you number.  Maybe they call you, but mostly they don't.

Friends are friends as long as being your friend isn't too inconvenient for them.

I don't even know where to start where relatives are concerned.  I recognize that they have their own immediate families and lives, but I can't help escaping the idea that, among every blood relative each of them has, I'm the very last on their list of priorities, while when they need a free babysitter or someone to care for their pets or water their plants, I'm the very first one they call.

Circumstances are making me very  cynical in terms of how I see the world and very much unwilling to trust anyone.

As far as the endocrinologist is concerned, I'm no longer a minor. I will see whatever health practitioners I want to see. Those I wish not to see will have to find patients anywhere. Besides, I'm nineteen. My boobs are either going to get bigger or they're not. I'll gain height or I won't. There's very little the endocrinologist can do that will benefit me. His primary reason for seeing me is to pad his own checking account.

Just for added protection, I'm going into the hidden closet now.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

My dad doesn't  usually allow me to post  pictures of him, but you can't see much of his face, and he looks a bit different now, anyway, so he's not really recognizable.. This was  in the brief interval when I had hair. I was probably four months old in this picture.  I had brownish hair that came in not too long  after I was born. Then it fell out and I became a practically bald towhead.  My hair got curly when I was about four, and would still be curly were it not for the marvelous invention known as the hair straightener. The blondness remains courtesy of of Sun-In.

It's not technically Father's Day where I am, but since I haven't yet gone to be, I'm considering that I met the deadline on this blog. That's not necessarily following the rules of the real world, but this blog is  a part of The Land of Alexis and operates according to my own set of statutes.

Father's Day here was somewhat overshadowed by my second commencement ceremony, during which my PseudoAunt collapsed from dehydration and  other things that plague expectant mothers who are sick all the time.  Fortunately, my dad, who was to be one of the performers, had finished his performances, because he witnessed the incident of PseudoAunt collapsing and immediately left to go to her aid.

My dad was on the program for my graduation, as we were asked to perform the Paganini Cantabile for Violin and Guitar, which we had performed earlier for my senior recital. It was an honor in so many ways to have been chosen to perform this. It meant, for one thing, both that the department chair approved of the selection as a recital piece and that he thought that we played it well enough that no substitutions in performers was necessary. I have more to say about the commencement ceremony, but I'll save it for later. Today I wish to talk more about my dad.

In functional families, when children are small they tend to see their fathers as superheroes of sorts -- as men who can rescue damsels in distress, accomplish the un-accomplishable, perform superhuman feats, and, in general, do just about anything. As children grow older, and especially as adolescence approaches, children begin to recognize their fathers' foibles and to see them as  the mere mortals they really are. I went through this phase, and probably did so with a greater vengeance than did the average adolescent. (My dad describes my transformation as having gone from a sweet if slightly wild , driven, and prone-to-voice-whatever-thought-popped into-my-head  little girl into a feral cat practically overnight.)  In my hormone-warped little mind, I'm not sure my dad was even quite up to the level of ordinary man once I reached this stage. I saw him more as someone who probably couldn't have correctly tied his shoes without my input. Everything he said and did in front of my friends was mortifying to me. Any decision he made concerning what I could or could not do was unfair. Jesus Christ could have transformed himself into my father's physical body, yet still I would have found fault with most of his words and actions. The poor man couldn't win no matter what he did as far as I was concerned.

Then nature took its course, and I emerged from that most difficult stage of my adolescence. (In a technical and hormonal sense, I'm still an adolescent, but I'm mentally beyond much of the worst of it.) I don't exactly know how to describe the whole adolescence ordeal other than say that it's like a mega-roller coaster ride except that  whoever designed the roller coaster somehow found a way to include all the curves, plunges, and other typical features, yet, paradoxically, to engineer them in such a way as to make them absolutely no fun at all.  I'm not saying teenagers have no fun in their lives. I had fun, and I believe the majority do. Still, we have our fun in spite of the malevolent roller coaster of adolescence and not because of it,

My emergence from the feral cat phase was not as instantaneous as had been the transformation that sent me there. Still, I gradually began to see my dad less as I saw him in my adolescence and more the way the rest of the world sees him, except with a greatly magnified view. The man is nothing short of brilliant.  He could have pursued and branch of medicine he desired, yet for some reason settled on oncology and hematology. This requires him to spend an inordinate amount of time staring through the lens of a microscope,or staring at those microscopic images transmitted to a computer monitor.

As a younger teen, I just thought this was plain weird.  My dad could have delivered babies for a living. He could have set broken bones. He could have transplanted hearts from one body to another. He chose instead to stare at microscopic images of irregular blood cells all day. I found it unbelievably odd when, in the midst of some other activity, whether it was a game of tennis, watching a movie with the family, or [I'm jut guessing on this one; I have no actual clue as to what goes on behind closed doors] performing conjugal duties, something would occur to him, and he would immediately have to stop whatever he had been doing either to make a note into a computer, to text something into his cell phone, or to call someone who was working with him.

Now, as I'm approaching medical school myself and am very seriously considering my father's branch of the field, I have a little better understanding. Pertinent thoughts come when they come, and not just at convenient times. It's a matter of recording them when they occur or losing them forever.

The consensus among family members has always been that I was the miniature Erin and that my brother was the miniature John. As we've grown older, this is quite obviously less true than was thought. Even my own mother, when she observes the unorthodox [in her mind] way I place the silverware from the dishwasher to the drawer, mutters, "You're just like your father."

The original plan was that I would go to law school. I was so argumentative by nature that it was assumed that law school would be a perfect fit. It was my dad who looked at grades and test scores and said, "You know, you could do law school, and you might do very well in that field, but it bothers me to see a person waste the math and science ability you have on a career in law. You might want to consider medicine." The thought of becoming a doctor had never even occurred to me, but the more I considered it, the more sense it made. I took the MCAT, and the rest is history, or at least my short-term history with medicine as far as it goes.

Even through my feral cat phase, my father has always understood me, often even better than I understood myself.  He's been there through difficult papers with seemingly nonsensical topics, sometimes even offering me half a bottle of Guinness to stimulate the creative thought processes. He's been with me through most nights I've spent in  hospitals. He's come to my defense against a school district which tried to place me partly at fault for an assault that occurred. He's fairly mediated quarrels between my brother and me, and even has quietly advocated for me in situations when my mother was unfair, breaking that unwritten law that parents should always stick together.

He has rescued kittens who couldn't climb down from trees or off of roofs. Last week he helped to calm a little boy who was so upset that he was throwing up when the boy was recently removed from a foster home in our neighborhood. When I was in an in-patient treatment facility for PTSD, he visited frequently and was nice to everyone including the odd girl who had a strange  fetish when it came to everyone's fathers. He paid for a prom dress for one of my brother's prom dates whose father had recently lost his job. He once caught a  foul ball that was directly over an elderly woman's head at a minor league professional baseball game, then gave the ball to the woman's grandchild. He paid for my cousin's ex-wife's divorce when she made a very stupid decision in marrying  at the age of eighteen without knowing my cousin well, and suffered domestic violence as a result. He ran after and caught a little boy who had broken free from his aging grandfather and was running through a parking lot.

I could go on all day and still not cover my dad's good deeds both on my behalf and on behalf of others, but I think I've made my point. He's one of the good guys, and he really is almost superhuman.

Several years ago my dad and I discussed placing a bet as to at what age I would be able to outrun him.   The age I decided on was twenty-one. He wanted to go for twenty. I'm nineteen now, but we decided anyway to race today after we'd changed into casual clothing following my commencement ceremony,  I ran my fastest but was unable to outrun him, although it was closer than our races had ever been before. Afterwards, the thought occurred to me that if we continue to race, someday I'm going to win. The time will come when I am stronger and faster, or at least faster.  There was a day when I looked forward to being able to beat my dad in a race, but I'm beginning to feel different.  I don't want things to change. I want him to remain my young and strong superhero daddy forever.

Why do things have to change, and why must people, especially fathers,  grow older?

Happy Father's Day, Daddy. In my mind you'll always be the young and strong superhero that you are today.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Graduation: Such a Personalized Experience

a deeply personalized experience, as you can see

I made it through Round One of my commencement ceremonies. I'd have to look at the program to tell you who it was who spoke, and I haven't a clue as to what he said. and I'm primarily auditory. The visual and tactile/kinesthetic processors  presumably remember even less. An open bottle was being passed up and down my row. I declined because my parents would have been mortified if i'd stumbled around through the recessional.

The recent mayhem in Isla Vista seemed to have cast a pall over what should have been a more joyous occasion. At least one who should have been among us was not there because of the incident.

I knew there was money involved in graduation with a perfect GPA,  finishing high in classes, and completing a rigorous curriculum, but I didn't realize just how much. I cannot be specific here, but the computer found me to be among the  very top graduates (not number one,  but not far  off) and I was rewarded generously with grants. Since the money is not needed to pay for med school, I'll use it eventually either to help start a practice or to help with the down payment on my first home. It's nice to know that the OCD/craziness/mania or whatever one might call it eventually paid off in a literal sense.

Tomorrow's graduation is expected to be less lucrative but less painful.

Leaving the Island of the Blue Doplhins to Graduate Without Having exposed myself to Pre-Cancerous Skin Conditions

Is it or isn't it the Island of the Blue Dolphins? You make the call.

Our little sojourn to the Island of the Blue Dolphins (Some children's literature experts have theorized that Catalina is the Island of the Blue Dolphins on which Scott o'Dell based his  book of the same name. I haven't read enough of the research to have formed a strong opinion.) is history. 

We spent the better part of four days frolicking  in the fun if not necessarily in the sun. The good news is that I have no sunburn to show for this vacation. The bad news is that there wasn't a whole lot of sun.  As a native Californian, I'm of the opinion that sun is highly overrated. I spent my childhood in the San Joaquin/Sacramento Delta and in the vast Central Valley, where, other than the respite in December and January when we got essentially two months of unadulterated and uninterrupted Tule fog, sunshine was the norm. I now live on the central coast of California, where temperatures are milder in both directions, and I like it that way. Still, the idea of having jeans-and-sweatshirts weather all day long in June  isn't common even where I live, though is far from unappealing to me. 

You can see that at this point, sun cancer isn't pursuing me voraciously.. This, by the way, is my only friend from the trip who would alow her photo to appear, but even she refused to be identified.

I might have liked to have gone go to school in a colder-weather locale -- say Dartmouth -- but my doctor said that while I might think I would enjoy extremely cold temperatures, it would get old really fast, and my under-insulated body is not well suited to sub-zero weather on a regular and continued basis. Once I'm finished with my education and formal training, I can spend as much of my vacation time there as I desire, and I'm satisfied to settle for that.

The weather was a bit iffy for parasailing, but I found someone willing to take me up on Wednesday and Thursday. Once again, I lack the words to describe the ways in which one's senses are totally engaged beyond what I would have considered even possible before having parasailed  for myself. Parasailing is to me what the Rocky Mountains were to John Denver. I was born in that late autumn of my sixteenth year, coming home to a place I'dnever been before, when i first took to the skies in parasailing apparati. 

If I could find a way to be paid -- even minimum wage - to climb in a boat and be propelled into the sky every day of my life , I'd crumple and throw all hopes and dreams relating to  medical school out a twelve-story window in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately, no one is extending any offers of bankrolling my parasailing habit, so it looks like the second love of my life -- medicine -- will have to suffice, along with frequent parasailing excursions.

an incomparable experience

The video I'm attaching here has not all that much to do with parasailing except that it has the word "sail" in its title and it uses the word repeatedly in the song. It's by Lionel Richie, and performed by Richie with the Commodores. It's one of his greatest songs out of an expansive catalog of great songs. My dad and I like to sing it together because we both love it so much, and it has quaint harmonies.

The next video I'm attaching is in reference to a friendly debate I had with a fellow boat passenger, a man of perhaps forty years of age, on the return trip. He was listening to Bocelli's version of Nessun Dorma on his ipod. When he took the ipod out of his ear briefly, I heard, and he noted my interest. We got began a very civil and non-heated discussion on the merits of Bocelli versus Pavarotti with regard to the particular aria of Nessun Dorma. 

My personal opinion is that Bocelli has talent oozing from every pore, and that I would trade everything I own, everything I know,  and everything I can do to be able to sing the female counterpart version to the way he sings. My respect for him is immense.

On the other hand, Luciano Pavarotti owns "Nessun Dorma." It's as though Puccini wrote the aria maybe a hundred years ago (it sounds much older) with the inexplicable knowledge that one day someone would come along and would transform this already perfect aria into something greater than anyone ever knew it could be. Sometimes the sum of two parts is greater than the whole it should equal, and such is the case when Luciano Pavarotti sings "Nessun Dorma."  I can't express it. Just listen to the song; maybe you'll hear what I'm trying to say. If I didn't believe in God, I probably would after hearing Pavarotti's rendition of this magnificent aria. Even if you don't like operatic music, you may still find something there if you listen with open ears and an open heart.

I don't think I changed the opinion of the gentleman with whom I was debating, and I know he didn't change my opinion, but I appreciated the discussion, and I believe he did as well.

Incidentally, I graduate this weekend. My biochemistry commencement ceremony is Saturday afternoon (today), and my music graduation is Sunday afternoon. They're both still combined with other similar disciplines and so are large enough to be impersonal even though they're somewhat departmental, but my parents really want me to go through both. I'm participating in the humanities graduation  with one violin piece,a short piano selection, and an ensemble number with my cellist friend,my pseudouncle (they wanted him based on a couple of recitals even though he has nothing to do with the university; I suspect  they're trying to get him to join their adjunct faculty)and the tenor I just accompanied for his recital. That ceremony will be short on speeches and long on musical performances, so it should be less boring to me than the other one.

It's a tough call: does a  university have a mega-ceremony, or break it down by departments? If it's broken down small enough, each graduate can be recognized. On the other hand, a reasonably prestigious university,if it holds a single commencement exercise,  can usually attract and/or afford a big-ticket speaker. I think if I had my druthers, I'd forego having my name read in order to hear Colin Powell or Bill Clinton speak.  It's out of my hands, though, so I'll go with the flow and be happy I'm graduating.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Clarification of Sorts

the candy shop where I spent WAY too much money
One of my friends -- the one who is technically my "date" on this trip -- read my most recent post and said it hinted of planned debauchery, and he was concerned about my parents reading it and thinking dishonorably of him. He asked that I addend my previous post so that he would not face a lynch mob upon our return home.
evidence that what I'm doing in my hotel room is G-rated
I have my own hotel room.  It adjoins the hotel room in which the other two girls are staying. My hotel room has been rented for the purpose of sleeping. I assume those in the adjoining room are operating on the same philosophy, as to conjugate without privacy would be more than a little  awkward. The males have a similar set-up.

It would be theoretically possible to coordinate things so that one male would be in the males' hotel room doing the wild thing, while the other was in the female hotel room doing the same.  That would leave the other two of us to boink in either of our rooms that have connecting doors with the other rooms.

This would, however, involve hearing each other and knowing we ourselves  might be heard as we did the hokey pokey, so to speak.  Furthermore, is there anything grosser than hearing either one's brother or one's immediate ex drilling his girlfriend's cervix? I'll answer for you. No, there is not.

So while I cannot speak definitively for every member of our party, I personally plan to hold on to my status as one of the twenty or so remaining virgins on the southern portion of California's central coast.

I'm sure this is far more than you ever wanted to know about my sex life, but just in case my dad reads my blog . . .


Courtroom Drama

Nothing was quite this contentious in the sentencing hearing in which I participated..

We've reached Catalina and are having lunch while waiting another half-hour or so for our hotel rooms to be ready. The boat ride was uneventful, which is the way I want my boat rides to be. We did spot a few dolphins about two-thirds of the way to the island.  My mom says that spotting a dolphin in its natural habitat will bring a person good luck good luck. It sounds like an Irish version of an old wives' tale to me, but I'll take good luck in any form and for any reason.

Yesterday's sentencing hearing was a bit more exciting than I had expected it to be.  I'll spare you the complete play-by-play, as if you were that
interested, you probably would have found a way to have been there in person. Still, a couple of incidents are worth recounting.

First, and most important to me, I did have actual participation beyond sitting in the second chair while attempting to look lawyerly. My main reason for being there was to look as though I was a legitimate legal representative of some sort. My PseudoAunt would have been better served in that regard by using her younger brother Timmy in that capacity, as he is old enough to be an attorney and actually looks almost old enough. On the other hand, he has less courtroom experience than I, and in the event that one of us were actually called into service, I was the superior choice.

My first opportunity for action came when PseudoAunt bolted out of the courtroom right in the middle of a defense witness' statement to toss her cookies. She's pregnant and isn't quite through her first trimester, so throwing up isn't unusual for her at this stage. I immediately raised my hand. The judge halted the witness' reading of her statement and called on me. "The people request a brief recess," I announced.

The judge granted a fifteen minute recess. I remained at the table with the court documents. It's against protocol to leave documents unattended, and I didn't want to mess with the order in which papers were laid out. The judge and others followed to determine the seriousness of the situation. Fourteen minutes later PseudoAunt returned after having brushed her teeth, touched up her hair, and freshly applied her makeup. She sat at the defense table smiling and  perfectly poised, as if the recess had been for the benefit of someone else.

I could print the entire transcript here and it would be almost interesting enough to read, but this is my blog and not PseudoAunt's, so I'll mainly retell the parts that pertain to me.

One of the defense witnesses, as she read her statement, opined that the convicted defendant should be sentenced to probation or house arrest at the very most, in part because she was very charitable and had annually purchased at least one hundred dollars' worth of Girl Scout Cookies for the past several years. Without consulting PseudoAunt or anyone else, I grabbed my wallet and rushed out of the courtroom. Once outside the courtroom, I took off my heels so that I could run without tripping.

On the way to the courthouse that morning, we had seen, maybe a block from the courthouse,  a makeshift kiosk where a lady and some Girl Scouts were selling cookies. It caught my attention because the Girl Scout cookie sale should have been over months ago. There must have been some extra stock that needed to be unloaded. I ran at my racing speed in my bare feet to that kiosk.

I told the lady in charge, as I really didn't have time to deal with children, that I needed to purchase as many boxes of cookies as I could easily carry. The lady had generously brought plastic grocery bags for the convenience of the customers. We decided I could easily carry four bags while running. I told her I didn't care what variety of cookies she gave me, but that I needed an assortment. She hurriedly shoved what ended up being twenty-eight boxes of all various incarnations of Girl Scout cookies in the bags.
The price was four dollars a box or six boxes for twenty dollars. I pulled out five twenties, told her to keep the change, and ran back almost as fast as I had run there, carrying both the cookies and my shoes. I quickly made it through the security checkpoint, up the stairs, and down the hall. I very nearly forgot to put my shoes back on before entering the courtroom. I'm sure the judge would have been most unimpressed, and I'm glad I remembered in the last minute.

I walked briskly but quietly down the aisle to my chair, stuffing the bags under the table. PseudoAunt  look down, then smiled at me.

Other witnesses made various excuses for the defendant's actions or praised her character, but nothing was terribly exciting. mostly it was redundant and boring.

Then came the closing statements. The prosecution went first. PseudoAunt began in typical formal fashion, addressing the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, and thanking them for their time and attention. She said the stuff that's always said. She rebutted a few routine excuses, and blew holes in the attempts to extol the lady's virtues.

Then she segued into what she referred to as "The Girl Scout Cookie" clause. She had me hand her all 28 boxes, which she promptly dropped all over the courtroom floor. Incidentally, she stole that move from Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels. The defense attorney objected. The judge said, "I think you've made your point with the visual, counselor. We now all now know what a box of Girl Scout cookies looks like. Move along."

PseudAunt deftly stacked the boxes of cookies and moved to set them on our table. She then turned and headed to the gallery to a man she recognized as a representative of the bank from which the lady embezzled. "I'll donate these to your bank," she announced, "since your bank actually paid for the hundreds of dollars of cookies Ms. S. purchased over the years. it's only a token reimbursement, but it's better than nothing. " she handed him the 28 boxes of cookies. Bewildered, he, handed some of them to those sitting on either side of him.

She went on to talk about how charitable giving is virtuous and is what we should be doing, but A) not with someone else's money and B) not for the purpose of avoiding punishment for a crime.  she pointed at me and said, "Alexis, my assistant, purchased nearly a hundred dollars worth of Girl Scout Cookies. Does that give her the freedom to park in a handicapped only space without paying a fine, or to be in possession of a controlled substance? No, of course it does not! I'm sorry Alexis, but if you do either of those things, you're on your own."

She went on to discuss the Twinkie defense, which happened sometime around 1980 when a man who shot the mayor of San Francisco and a county supervisor, then blamed the crimes on having eaten too many Twinkies and making his blood sugar excessively high. He was acquitted largely on that defense. She told the jury that it wasn't a perfect analogy because the defense attorney had not blamed the defendant's crime on blood sugar issues from eating the Girl Scout cookies -- yet, anyway. He still had his opportunity for a statement, and it might very well be a mitigating circumstance in his repertoire.

She said, though, that it was a legitimate analogy in the ludicrosity of both excuses. She talked about how recommending  light sentences for a serious crime based on purchases from charitable fundraisers would be, in essence, sending a message to all future criminals that all they need do before committing a crime would be to generously buy Campfire Girl mints, Cub Scout popcorn, or Girl Scout cookies. She told the jury they would essentially be giving a "Get Out of jail Free" card to up-and-coming criminals across the nation. she reached into her pocket and pulled out a Monopoly game "Get Out of jail Free" card, held it up, then passed it to juror number one, instructing him to pass it down to the others. She waited patiently while they each took the "Get Out of Jail Free" card. "I'll need the card back, " she told the jurors. "We occasionally play the game at home."

She told the jurors that she would have liked to send the Girl Scout Cookies into the deliberating room with them but !) that would be considered jury tampering, and 2) she didn't expect that they would have to deliberate for long enough to make it through a single box.

She concluded as eloquently as always. The judge gave his instructions and sent the panel off to deliberate. they were back in fifteen minutes with a decision, which was to recommend the maximum penalty of seven years plus restitution and punitive damages. The judge concurred and it was over.

PseudoAunt's husband reimbursed me the $100 I spent on the cookies, so I didn't have to raid the ATM on the way to the boat.

Hotel rooms should be ready. We're now a party of six, and everyone's a happy camper. For the record and in case my dad reads this, girls are in adjoining rooms, and the guys are in two other rooms that do not connect with ours. that doesn't necessarily guarantee anything, but we at least went through the motions of being pure and chaste.