Thoughtful Thursday: Wild

February 28, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayAmong the consequences of my new disease is that I am forbidden from ever drinking again, since one of my medications in combination with alcohol can cause major liver damage. This is not that big a deal to me since I almost never drink — entire years go by in which I don’t drink at all; on the rare occasion that I do imbibe, it’s probably one or two drinks; I’ve had a lot to drink probably half a dozen times in my life; I’ve never had a hangover. Even so, it marks the end of an era.

One of the places I recently went in my mind’s eye was to the last night I spent in Tokyo. I blogged a couple of photos from that trip at the time, 4.5 years ago, but the side of Tokyo I’ll show you now is very different. On our last night, we met up with some expat friends-of-friends, along with an expat friend of theirs (friend-of-friends-of-friends). First, we had a truly beautiful 12-course vegetarian meal.

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One of my best meals of all time. Accompanying one of the courses was a tiny cup of blueberry wine. “Okay, can’t turn that down, fine. Just one little cup of wine. Mmm, delicious.”

Then we went to an expat bar, by and for expats from the home country of the friend-of-friends-of-friends. It’s a beer-oriented bar (and country), but I don’t drink beer. We ordered beer, beer, beer, beer, and nothing. The barkeep would have none of that, so a shot of apple liqueur suddenly appeared before me. “Okay, not going to refuse when the man standing in front of me personally brought the bottle halfway around the world. Hmm, pretty tasty. Okay, no big deal. I’ve only ingested a couple of thimblefuls of booze.”

Not beer

And then we moved on to a specialized Japanese bar. Things in Japan can be oddly specialized. The night before, we went to a restaurant that centers each dish around a different breed of rice. Everything in this particular bar was icy blue: the lighting; the tables; the art; whatever the hell was in my glass. “Can’t say no to this; it’s a cultural experience. Oh. Wow. That is strong. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it. Oh. Ohhhh. Why was my glass so big?”

And then, karaoke. With or without alcohol, karaoke in Tokyo is pretty wild. But there was in fact alcohol. My first and only experience with fluorescent blue alcohol. A little went a long way. “Oh boy. Aw yeah.”

wild

At 4 a.m. we migrated to a fast food place, where I abstained for vegetarian reasons. Eventually DH and I found a taxi and headed home while the rest of the group went back for more karaoke. A couple of hours later, we were on our way to the airport. No hangover, but plenty of jetlag.

That was my last wild night — last meaning most recent, and, I now realize, last meaning final. I can participate in nights that are wild for others (and I have, not that long ago) but that night in Tokyo was my last truly wild night. It’s for the best; I don’t think I could ever top it.

What was your last wild night? How long ago was it? Are there any more wild nights in your future?

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Thoughtful ThursdayYou may have seen a news story this week about a lawsuit in Michigan in which a nurse is suing her hospital for allowing a NICU patient’s father to dictate that no Black nurses care for his baby. Strongblonde and I have been talking about this off-blog, since it’s her neck of the woods as well as her profession (nursing, not white supremacy).

Obviously we both object to the racial prohibition in this case, along with the rationale. However, we’ve both made choices of health care providers based on the providers’ characteristics. Depending on the situation, sometimes I have no preference and sometimes I have a strong preference.

Sometimes I’m put off by very young providers — not enough experience — and sometimes I’m not a fan of very old providers — unsteady hands, and perhaps not up to date on the latest science. As someone who recently moved to a new city, I have also purposely avoided old doctors because I don’t want to lose them to retirement almost immediately.

Sometimes I check where physicians went to medical school and residency, as a proxy (imperfect though it may be) for intelligence.

Sometimes personality also impacts my preferences. One of the dentists at my new practice is quite popular, but I will not be switching over to him based on what I can overhear across the hall: he is such a chatty Cathy. Friendly and personable, but he talks nonstop during people’s cleanings and procedures. For a different kind of doctor I might not mind, but at the dentist I am not interested in extended chit-chat with someone’s hands in my mouth.

I make choices when I’m choosing a doctor ahead of time. When assigned to someone, as I have been in the hospital or with other staff in a doctor’s office, I’ve never refused a provider. I’ve requested someone I liked better when making a return appointment, sure. But I’ve never refused, even when I actively disliked someone. Like the midwife whose cutesy schtick involved blaming pregnant women for premature labor. Ha ha. Hilarious. Even then, I accepted my fate. I was not friendly, but I didn’t demand a switch.

A friend of mine chose a hospital specifically because it was not a teaching hospital, and therefore she would not have to deal with medical students. However, the hospital did have nursing students. After the birth of her baby, a nursing student stuck herself then my friend with the same needle. After that, and the ensuing need to test for HIV etc., my friend banished all nursing students from her room for the rest of the hospitalization. Because of the incident, and because my friend had Dr. before her own name, the hospital respected her wishes, but I wonder if they would obey if a patient just walked in and said, “No students! I don’t like ’em!”

Bringing it back to the news story, a deceased relative who was a Holocaust survivor used to refuse doctors who came from Germany or had German lineage. No one ever seemed to have a problem with that. The two cases are similar in practice but very different in rationale. I wonder, though, where we draw the line: when is it okay to object on the basis of personal characteristics, and when it it wrong? I really have no idea.

Do you ever choose health care providers on the basis of personal characteristics? Have you ever refused to have a certain kind of provider?

Thoughtful Thursday: Romantic

February 14, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayHow was your Valentine’s Day? Mine was exactly like any other day. Well, that’s not quite true. I attended a preschool Valentine’s party and helped Burrito and Tamale celebrate, but it was like any other day in terms of my interactions with my husband. We don’t really Valentine’s Day. We don’t really observe the official romantic occasions — no New Year’s Eve, usually we barely even acknowledge anniversaries. Definitely none of the overcrowded restaurants nor overpriced flowers nor not-quite-right jewelry nor trans-fatty drugstore chocolate nor disappointments that characterize Valentine’s Day.

Ignoring “romantic” holidays like today is one of the things about which DH and I heartily agree (get it? heartily?). We don’t like setting expectations that invariably fail to get met — that is, no female expectations nor male failure around here. We don’t like the calendar telling us when to express love or buy presents. We don’t like crowds nor paying more for things than they cost on every other day of the year.

How did I become a Valentine’s grinch? When I was in 9th grade, I happened to have an appointment at the beauty salon on Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t getting gussied up for a hot date or anything, just a routine visit. In retrospect I’m not sure why my mother scheduled the appointment on Valentine’s Day and not a normal day. Anyway, I was the last appointment of the day, and my beautician was the last one left in the salon — presumably everyone else had left early to celebrate the holiday. In the middle of working on me, she got a call from her boyfriend. She got more and more heated until she screamed, “Then you can just celebrate Valentine’s Day with some other bitch!” Then she slammed down the phone and burst out sobbing. Then she came back to finish working on me. Despite her emotional state, there were no mishaps with the scissors.

That day, I decided that I was on board with chocolate and wearing red and giving out valentines, but I did not want any of the drama. I never wanted to have a conversation like that.

Oh, and then there are the single people. Valentine’s Day totally rubs it in their faces. I always have plenty of friends who are single on any given Valentine’s Day, and many of them are really annoyed by it all. My husband has a friend whose divorce will be finalized next week; that guy has spent all day sending out angry tweets.

Anyway, the best part of Valentine’s Day happens tomorrow. All of the chocolate will be half price!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day and other “romantic” occasions?

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the February Intelligentsia.

#40: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#34: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#33: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#32: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#22: St. Elsewhere
#20: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#15: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#15: Sara from Aryanhwy
#4: Mina from Kmina’s Blog

Thoughtful ThursdayMy father said something the other day that surprised me. Well, I guess it surprised me and it also didn’t. We were talking about someone that he doesn’t get along with, and he said:

I almost never dislike anyone. Well, except for disliking everyone.

My father is not only an introvert masquerading as an extrovert, he is also a misanthrope masquerading as a philanthrope. One of his greatest strengths professionally is his charm, but he’s totally pretending. I think he actually loves humanity, except when he doesn’t.

My husband is totally a secret misanthrope too. I’ll often hear him mumbling, “I hate everyone,” or, “People are horrible.” People who interact with him, though, think that he is kind and gregarious. Because he iskind and gregarious. He just doesn’t think much of humanity.

DH’s father is a not-so-secret misanthrope. He is tremendously warm and engaging to people he likes, but he’s not keen on making new friends nor on superficial social interactions. He succeeds professionally not through charm but through an air of authority (as well as being good at what he does). Being crusty is part of his schtick, but I really think that it’s genuine, much of the time. I have to wonder whether being the son of Survivors contributed to his lack of faith in humanity.

I am also a secret misanthrope. I like individual people, and I dislike other individual people, but outwardly I project the image of someone who truly wants to help other people. Because I do want to help, and I do help. But I also send venting emails to my closest friend or husband that consist of things like, in all caps, FUCK EVERYONE. Unlike the loved ones that I’ve just described, I actually have a lot of faith in humanity, but that doesn’t mean that I want to put forth the effort to actually interact with most of humanity. And, I’ve been burned enough that my lack of faith feels warranted.

Not everyone I know is a misanthrope, of course. My mother loved to meet new people. She didn’t trust new people, but she liked them. She had such a soft spot for the needy and the downtrodden. She’d do things like buy a crate of fruit that was more than she could possibly eat, explaining that she would share some with “my homeless guy next to the mall” or “all of the guys working at the car wash.” She never gave any panhandler a dime, but she’d feed them and clothe them and speak to them with a smile.

One of DH’s siblings is, more than anyone else I’ve ever known, a true humanitarian. A decade ago, when she was 13, we were visiting a relative in a rehab hospital. An scruffy amputee was slowly trying to propel his wheelchair down the hall. Everyone else kept walking past. She stopped what she was doing to help him get where he was going and fill up his water pitcher. But more than that, it was the way she spoke to him. Sweetly, gently, looking him in the eye, like a person. Most 13-year-olds seem to avoid eye contact even with people they’re supposed to talk to, let alone someone who makes most people deeply uncomfortable, but she dealt with him as an equal — not kid to adult, nor able-bodied to handicapped — because in her heart she truly believes that everyone is her equal. She has been the kind of kid who worries her elders because she is so trusting, so good, that she seems poised to be taken advantage of. But, so far, treating everyone with genuineness and respect has resulted in nothing but good things coming back to her.

People like her are almost enough to cure my misanthropy. Almost.

Are you a misanthrope? Philanthrope? A mix?