Friday, February 18, 2005


I remember walking into a German deli once, right off the Autobahn, and being so completely disoriented that I had no idea where to even start. I did not know that I had to (1) pay first at the cash register and then (2) order what I wanted from the short order cook. Who knew it was in reverse order from how we do things in the U.S.? It wasn't that the menu was completely different -- I can adjust to that. I certainly know what food looks like, regardless of what words bring about an "egg" in another country. It's the fact that the rules of engagement aren't the same, and I'm totally lost.

Just like that scenario, I tend not to hear things when they're not the way I expect them to be. It's not selective listening. It's more like you-can-shout-all-you-want, I-will-never-hear-you.

And so it was when I walked into the hospital x-ray wing yesterday. I was to receive a mammogram, my first in over a decade. I have a clever doctor, and I suspect the last several meetings -- including two colonoscopies and one colonectomy -- were part of the massive build-up in preparation, just a sly way to get me to agree to this latest procedure. Since she'd done so much for me in the last two years, I felt I owed her this one.

I have been to this same building before. I've gone into the same waiting room, only this time it was 7:45 in the morning, and instead of being stuffed to the rafters with patients, I was almost alone. I went to the wrong window, the one on the left. "No, you go over there," she said, pointing to the one on my right three windows over. While it had #1 written on it, it was completely over to the right. Like reading Japanese.

The woman who greeted me there was very nice as well, despite the early hour and their obvious need to get ready for the day. She asked me to look over the paperwork. I said, "Well, my next of kin is wrong, my phone numbers are wrong....most of this is wrong." She went back to typing in her computer. After a few minutes, she asked me, "Are you finished reading it?" I said yes. She took it and then told me to have a seat and wait for the technician. There was no attempt to correct the wrong things. I think she said something in there, but I didn't hear her. I know I didn't fix anything, and she didn't either. I was still thinking about this, obviously without having done anything to correct it or even ask her why we hadn't, when the female tech called my name, sort of. "Mrs. So-and-So?" I bristled at the "Missus." There was only one other woman in the waiting room, and I doubt her last name was the same as mine. So I guess that antiquated assumption was for me.

She was nice otherwise, though. She told me to take off my shirt and get into that ubiquitous hospital gown. That was just for show, for when she came back in she told me to take it off. I said the equipment was quite different at the last place I had had this procedure. "Metal and cold," I said. She said with a small laugh that it might not be metal, "but it's still cold."

As she positioned me and took four x-rays, i still screwed up her directions. "Look up," she would say and I would look down. She would put my breast on the plate and I'd try to put my arm around the plate, which must've been wrong as she moved it right away. The instructions had read that compressed breasts might hurt for a couple of days and be bruised. I was thinking of that as I disobeyed her orders, well, not willingly, flailing away as I contorted myself for the x-ray monster. I was back on the autobahn, trying to find that egg sandwich in the deli.

At the end, I had to admit it wasn't very difficult. Things have improved in ten years. I still suspect they'll call me back two more times due to false readings, but I won't know that for another week. However, the disorientation in all things medical continues. I think it's probably due to a natural nervousness, trying to interpret every small thing so you can either control your environment or at least figure out if the person in front of you knows something you don't. They do. They know how to get around. They know that you have to pay for the egg sandwich before you get it.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A's FANFEST REPORT, February 2005

Rick and I agreed to meet at the A’s Fanfest this Saturday, Feb. 12th, rather early so that we could figure out what tickets came with our partial season ticket, and then which tickets to buy. Like last year, we wanted to make sure we got tickets for the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants, as those were the hot games.

However, Rick called me as I was parking in the A’s parking lot. He was stuck behind a stalled BART train, and would be late. So I went ahead into the season ticket office, which had only a few people ahead of me. I got a copy of our plan, and then figured out which tickets to buy. After figuring out that Rick would still be delayed, I went in and purchased tickets only for the Boston games, now that I knew that we already had tickets for all the Yankees and Giants games. As always, Rick had told me that he would buy into anything I decided. We always agree on baseball priorities.

So I got in line to wait for entrance to FanFest. I took a look at the autograph lines, but it was obvious that even though I got to the park an hour early, those people were lining up ‘way before that. So, like last year, I skipped those long lines. We both regretted that decision when we discovered that both Dave Stewart and Rickey Henderson were signing together.

Rick found me in line to get in. I asked him if he was going to be this late for Spring Training, too. We are both going to Spring Training in Phoenix for the first time ever, and it was just a month away. While waiting, we decided that I would pick him up that morning for our trip to Oakland Airport. Since we were leaving on a jet plane at 6 am, there would be little traffic.

As we were walking into the A’s stadium through Gate “C”, Rick said to the security guy, “Go ahead and search me!” and spread his arms out wide. Much to his surprise, and laughter, the guy actually patted him down! He obviously doesn’t get much of a chance to use his training, but Rick never expected he’d take him up on his offer! I guess he didn’t find anything on Rick’s person, because he let us go, laughing continuously (and probably for the rest of the morning, I’ll bet, about “that fool who dared me to pat him down!”).

As soon as we got in, we couldn’t get in. “What is holding us up?” Rick said rather loudly. It wasn’t all the women volunteers giving out freebie bags. We finally saw them – players! Standing right behind the turnstiles, saying hello to the fans, having pictures taken with them. I saw Scott Hatteberg and took some photos of him. Rick saw Adam Melhuse. We decided, though, to get out of the melee’ and walk around them.

Where to? I told him I wanted to sign up for photos with the players, so we did that. We found the booth up on the second level. Since there were very few people in the stadium at that point, it was a pleasant walk. Half an hour later, it would not be so. We bought photo tickets with Eric Byrnes, just signed to a new contract, and Bobby Crosby, whose rookie year last year was recognized by the league. Wandering around after that, we bid on a couple of silent auction items (but didn’t win), gave some money to the Leukemia Society, got a bunch of freebies from Comcast and other sponsors, listened a little bit to some of the speakers like Keiichi Yabu say he would pitch inside, and ended up buying pulled pork sandwiches and sitting in Our Seats, right in Section 115, Row 28. What a beautiful day.

When Rick put on his purple wrist band, a gift from the Leukemia Society, I told him that the yellow one is the Armstrong band, but the purple one means you’re gay. He didn’t bat an eye, and said, “Well, whatever.” But then he said, “But I think you’re stereotyping your colors.”

I read in the brochure for Fanfest that women were invited to join an all-woman baseball clinic. Rick urged me on. “What?” I said, “I’m over 50 years old. Those women would probably be in their 20’s!” He suggested that that very fact may be the reason I’d want to go. I was laughing so hard, I almost fell out of one of several lines we were in that day. Rick always makes me laugh. I don’t know what I’m going to do when he retires and moves to… Braves land. National League city. King Knockahoma. That very thought made me wince, and makes me sad.

The highlight of the day for me was the photo with the players. Eric Byrnes, tall with a blonde, ungangly haircut, looked like he had just awakened from a day-long nap. He didn’t reply when I wished him a good season. Bobby Crosby, however, was quite talkative even though I must’ve been 50th in line. He asked me if I was having a good time. I ended up telling him how bad the Giants’ FanFest was. “What, were you having a conversation with the star?” Rick said to me afterwards. “Do you even know what position he plays?” He was testing me. Shortstop. Of course.

When we got home I found out that Shawn had taken Buddy and Chewy to the vet for their latest round of shots. As I was putting puppy Buddy’s rabies tag on his collar, I noticed its color. I told him, “Purple. Did you know that means you’re gay?”