Archive for the ‘Dear Diary,’ Category

An Eye For An Eye

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

by Liz von Achen

OK, I’m supposed to be moving today. So, why am I blogging instead?

Well, it’s because I’m stuck indoors like a troll, with a severe allergy-attack (or perhaps an eye infection). Exposure to sunlight is out of the question, as it brings on excruciating pain to my right eye. Both nasal passages are dripping like a leaky faucet, and my right eye is bloodshot, swollen, and almost completely closed by a thread of dried up pus. Pus. Pus. It’s such a funny little word that somehow seems so vulgar when you hear or say it. According to Wikipedia, “Pus” is whitish-yellow, yellow or yellow-brown substance produced during inflammatory pyogenic bacterial infections.

So I guess that’s essentially what I’m suffering from today; an inflammatory pyogenic bacterial infection… thank you very much, Wikipedia. Now, what the #*@# does that mean? What is causing this inflammatory pyogenic bacterial infection? Is it a certain flower that may be blooming? If so, then why is only my right eye affected?

Is it due to a scratch on my cornea? If so, then why is my nose running? Is it because I’ve thriftily been wearing the same pair of contact lenses since the day John Lennon was shot? If so, then why is the right side of my mouth all puffy and sore?

Could it be a toothache? I have been in the midst of major dental work with Dr. Fink, my dentist, for years now. I NEVER seem to be done with dental, and frankly, I think Dr. Fink just can’t stand the thought of parting with me. I’m his perfect pet project. I’m his dental Eliza Doolittle.

Dr. Fink proudly shows-off the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots he took of me on his cell phone to friends and colleagues. I’m not kidding. He told me ALL about the great compliments he was getting. Dr. Fink considers himself a “mouth maestro,” and I am his masterpiece. Unimpressed with his gloating, I just said, “Yeah, yeah… good for YOU. When can I eat solid foods again, doc? And, you better not post my ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots on the internet, or I’ll sue ya!”

No, I don’t think it could be a toothache, because then, (and now we’re back to square one) why does my right eye feel like somebody’s sticking tiny little pins into it?

Hmmmm… tiny little pins… I got it! It’s because of the “Haitian Voodoo” curse. Yes, that makes the most logical sense to me. You see, I am moving from an apartment complex that had once been inhabited by mostly Haitian immigrant families. The complex, which is located in “downtown” Fort Lauderdale (if there actually even is such a thing), was purchased by a new owner, and was “redeveloped” to appeal to people like me; people who insist upon living within walking distance to at least one museum and a good cup of cappuccino. All the Haitian families were forced-out by outrageous rent increases, and they were apparently not happy about it. I don’t blame them for being pissed. If I had known of the reality of this building’s sordid past, I would have considered moving elsewhere.

Before moving into the apartment, I did a Feng Shui cleansing with rose petals and holy water sprinkled on all the bare floors. My sister-in-law insisted that it was necessary to cleanse any negative energy that may be stuck there, and to ensure a happy and loving home. Apparently, the Feng Shui didn’t work. My unit has been plagued with one problem after another, ever since I moved in. It wasn’t until October of 2005, during the after-effects of Hurricane Wilma, that I learned why.

Hurricane Wilma blew into Fort Lauderdale like a freight train, and did some severe damage. It blew my bedroom window out, while I crouched in the “safe-spot” beneath the sofa cushions, which I had moved to the center of the apartment. When I ran to grab a Hefty bag and some duct tape to keep the incoming rain from soaking my bed, I saw (and heard) my wooden patio fence rip away from its posts and go rolling away down the street. It looked like a giant clunky tumbleweed. A pvc pipe that leads to the sprinkler system was also torn in two by the crushing wind. Water was gushing all over my patio from the main sprinkler line. It was, I must say, a terrifying and yet remarkably memorable moment.

I watched out my window as a brave but really, really dumb neighbor of mine ran out to try and stop the gushing flow of the sprinkler system by taping a plastic Publix shopping bag to the break in the line. Of course the bag just immediately filled with water and flew right off. ‘Nice going, genius.’, I thought… ‘You just risked your life in the midst of a deadly hurricane to make a friggin’ water balloon!’ Eventually, when the storm was reduced to a safe light rain, I went out and simply turned the sprinkler spigot to its “off” position. DUH!!!

After Wilma fully passed, we all cautiously exited our apartments to meet in the courtyard and assess the damages. Oddly, other than having a lack of power, none of the other units in my building were affected. My unit was the only one with a blown window and a disappearing fence. We were all without power and water. Well actually, we weren’t without water for very long. When word spread that I had the broken sprinkler line on my patio, and that we could turn it on and off at will, I quickly became the most popular gal in town. EVERYONE was stopping by to fill buckets of water so they could wash themselves and flush their toilets.

We were without power for weeks – I think it was 3 weeks, but it felt like months. During the first night of eerily quiet darkness, we brought chairs and a patio table to the front of the building, and we all joined together to share our candles, canned foods and the contents of our wine racks. While I had known all the other residents by name, our relationships were, in the past, relegated to a simple “hello, how are you?” in passing. This was the first time that I had actually gotten to hang-out with my neighbors and while the circumstances sucked, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the ‘adventure’ of it all.

James upstairs and I sort of became the ‘survival gurus’ of the bunch, and have since remained great friends. We were each remarkably well prepared for this emergency. James had a generator, and I had a charcoal grill, and my brother Tom — heading south to rescue us all, with a truck load of beer, wine, ice, and potato chips.

Yes, those were memorable evenings – sitting together in front of the grill, like scouts around a camp fire. It was then that I learned the lore of the “Haitian Voodoo” people… Apparently, while planting a garden, the couple in 102 discovered several curious little voodoo dolls buried in the ground behind their unit. While I thought it was a fascinating tale, I assumed Francisca in 102 was just yanking everyone’s chain, and playing the ole “Let’s put a flashlight under our chin and tell scary campfire stories” game. I really didn’t think there could be little voodoo dolls buried behind our units. And how silly to think they would actually mean anything!

But, now, it all makes perfect sense… it does. It’s just all WAY TOO coincidental to mean anything else — I’m moving out, and the “Voodoo People” are pissed that they won’t have me around to abuse anymore. So they are sticking pins into the eye of a voodoo doll that has reddish brown hair, pointed ears, a mole on her left butt cheek and a nice, cosmetically engineered smile. The “Voodoo People” are trying to interrupt my efforts to move!

Well, listen up, “Voodoo People!” I am loved by “Jesus,” I am surrounded by “White-Light,” and I am protected by the rule of “THREE” — what it is you do or wish for me, will return to thee — (with love, of course) times THREE!!! So, put THAT in your goat tail curry! I still have another full 10 days to move, and you WILL NOT stop me!!!

Hmmmmmm… hmmmmmmm… You know, I was just trying to pinpoint the exact moment that this allergic attack began, and I believe it was yesterday, immediately after I visited with my friend Joel, the right wing, gun-toting gas station attendant / poet who works at the nearby Shell. (Yes, he’s a gun-toting conservative who writes poetry in between ringing-up lottery tickets!) Apparently, writing poetry is a popular trend for people who work in gas station/convenience stores. Go figure.

Joel has been serving my needs for fuel and late-night essentials (such as wine or Haagan Daz) for years. He is my friend. While I declined his offer to take me for a ride on his vintage Harley to the Renaissance Fair, Joel never held it against me, and he actually used one of the tickets I gave him, to come see my singing group’s last show.

Throughout the years, I have witnessed Joel treating some customers (whom most convenience store clerks would quickly chase-away), with the utmost respect, and an incredible sense of kindness. I’ll never forget the time when I was standing at the counter, chatting with Joel about the idea of starting a ‘Gas Station Attendant Poetry’ web site. We were gonna call it ‘The Gas Station Guild.’

It was about 1 am, when a man walked in to buy a package of diapers. He plopped a hand-full of change on the counter, and when Joel spoke to him, it was obvious; the man didn’t know much English. I quickly moved to a distant part of the store and occupied myself by reading the ingredients of a bag of Fritos, because … well, because I’m actually a nice person, after all, and this man didn’t need me hovering by while he painstakingly tried to count loose change to buy his kid some diapers!

Joel kindly took control of the counting, and I could hear the final count. It was nowhere near the mark. The man was short by almost a dollar. Then I heard Joel say, “It’s OK… it’s OK… this is enough.” After the man left, and I returned to the counter to resume our chat, I saw Joel take money from his own pocket and put it into the register.

On my way to clear stuff from my old place, I noticed Joel’s truck parked at the Shell, so I popped in to buy a Coke, and bid him adieu — with promises to visit often.

I happened to be wearing my raggy “Philosopher Garden” t-shirt, which says on the front; “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. — (a quote by) Ghandi” When Joel saw it, he said, “Who said that? Ghandi? Bullshit. I don’t agree with THAT at all!” Oh, Joel, Joel, Joel… such a “closet-case-humanitarian!”

So… there I was, wearing a T-shirt that said “an eye for an eye…” saying goodbye to a guy who, under usual circumstances, I never would have come to know and regard as a friend. I was saying goodbye to a man who, for the past 5 or 6 years, I have seen and casually interacted with more frequently than ANY of my friends or family. I knew full well that unless I happened to be back in town for a special event, or a court appearance, I probably wouldn’t see him very often again, if at all.

It was when I got into my truck to drive away — THAT was the precise moment when my eye started to hurt.

I should’ve worn my “Hard Rock” T-shirt.

© 2009 Liz von achen All rights reserved.


Gotta Love It When You’re Carded…

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Dear Diary,

I actually got “proofed” (or “carded”) today – while buying a bottle of wine!!! “Are you over 21?” the handsome young man asked with an arched eyebrow. He looked like a high school kid, maybe 17, I guessed. At first, of course, I knew the young dude was joking. You know, he was just flattering me. But he kept looking straight at me, expecting me to dig into my purse for my license to prove my age.

‘Holy crap, this kid’s serious,’ I thought. ‘Either that, or he’s a freakin’ GREAT actor!!’ I still felt too old and savvy to fall for the ole “watch the ancient lady joyfully fumble through her wallet for her license” routine… So, I just simply laughed and said, “You CAN’T be serious.”

He looked at me through squinty eyes, like Clint Eastwood sizing-up an outlaw, and said, “Well, okaaaaay, I’ll trust you this time…” I laughed again, and as he handed me my change, I said, “Wow, it’s always nice to be asked…” And he quickly shot me a look as if to say, “Watch your step, lady, I could bust you yet!”  What a flirt!

Hmmmm… maybe there’s something to this “cougar dating” scene after all!