Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pick Me, Cha Cha Gah

In usual Baroness over-zealous manner, when I saw that the lovely Asthma Girl over at "Is My Cape Fluttering?" was selecting readers to be interviewed, I immediately did the "Ooooh! Ooooh! Pick Me, PICK ME" dance. (not to be confused with the Pee Dance, which has very similar steps, reminiscent of a cha cha/bossa nova...).

So entranced was she by my fancy dance moves, she did pick me. Huh. I have ze mad skillz, non?

And while I got my glib "favorite color" and "best Lifesaver flavour" answers ready, she kind of blindsided me.

With questions that I had to think about. I mean, really, really think about.


So, again in usual Baroness fashion, I had to mull.

I've been mulling for 3 days.

I've mulled while I lay awake in the morning before I get up.

I've mulled whilst I have spent the last two days getting decor-o-rama doodads ready for my friend's 50th birthday party.

I mulled today when swimming.

But that doesn't really count, because I'm always mulling over things when I'm swimming.

I think I've got it together. If I don't, it wasn't from lack of trying. "A" for effort for moi.

Here goes:

1. What is the toughest life lesson you've learned?
This one tripped me up big-time, as I've had what feels like a lifetime of lessons learned the last few years.

I guess tough begets tough. So I would have to say that it is this - ultimately, no one is responsible for your health, your happiness, or your care but you.

I came to this realization during an overnight stay at the hospital during my first session of chemotherapy, where 24 hours felt like 24 years.

I'd had a pretty severe reaction to the chemicals, and the only bed they could find for me was in a 4-person room that was the "holding area" for Palliative Care. I didn't go into this particular stay feeling very sunny, and my three roomies didn't do much to cheer things up. Each of them was an illustration of the ways that life goes south - Walter, across from me, had dementia; the lady diagonal to me was in the final stages of kidney disease; and the fellow next to me had a condition which rendered every muscle in his body completely rigid.

After visiting hours, after the lights were out, after we were finally left alone with ourselves and each other, I realized that this was how it could be.

How it could be if I didn't take the reins over my health. How it could be if I didn't try to cultivate and nurture my relationships.

Just how it could be.

The phrase that kept running through my head, as I lay there like a panicked bunny - body perfectly still, mind totally freaking out - was that "we are born alone, and we die alone". This hospital room was living proof of this.

And it was this night that made me realize that I had so much more to do, to be, to act on before my time was up.

It was a tough lesson, taught with zeal by a shrewish, sadistic teacher.

I won't ever forget.

2. As a resident of Canada, how do you feel about their healthcare system?
I have never known any different, but as I get older and have a wider circle of friends, I can really begin to appreciate how lucky we are here.

How a population can put up with, and has put up with a system where money = care and no insurance = too frickin' bad for you, I cannot fathom. Let's all hope that public US Health Care is one of those "Change" promises that come true.

When I read about how families collapse from the burden of debt should they have a chronic health issue, it breaks my heart. No one should have to live this way.

When our socialist health care machine runs smoothly, there is nothing to compare to the quality care one can receive.

On the flip side, when people don't really have to consider what financial impact it might have if they visit the hospital emergency room for a cold or the flu, then the process begins to grind to a halt.

And people who really need the system start to complain about long wait times and inaccessibility. Rightfully so. Because these are probably the same people who truly need the system.

Anecdotally, I have taxed this system quite stressfully in the last few years, and it has never disappointed me. I have had the occasion to visit specialists, surgeons, and have never found them sub-par or unprofessional.

Being a doctor in Canada is not as lucrative as it would be in the US. Does that mean that our doctors are more committed to medicine and not money?

I'm not sure. I think there are subtle ways that doctors can enhance their salaries that we don't really know about, but ultimately might have some impact on us.

3. What's the attraction with the Oompa music?
Growing up, I lived in a multi-cultural surburban neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. All the kids, regardless of age, played together, and all the parents would sit together and visit on front porches after dinner in the summer.

Our Dutch next-door-neighbors and our Italian neighbors across the street were both proud owners of accordians. So, on balmy summer evenings, with a good dinner in the belly and a beer chaser, out would come the Oompa machines.

Polka music - I can't explain it. It's happy, it's upbeat, it completely goes off the right side of the kitsch meter, and it really makes my cynical heart sing and tap its little aortic toes.

It's a reminder of such a wonderful, Rockwell-esque time for me. I can't help myself.

4. What led to your decision to blog?
I am a ginormous windbag.

All through elementary school, it wouldn't be my report card without a comment from my teacher that said "Baroness spends too much time socializing during class".

When I got older, people kept telling me how they would share the letters that I wrote to them with their family. Hilarity would ensue. "You should write a book", they would say.

"You are delusional", I would say.

Then came e-mail, and people would force other unsuspecting souls to read my e-mails to them. "You should right a book", they would say.

"You might be on to something", I would say.

And then?

I would do nothing.

Then came blogging.

Dare I say it?

No. I dare not credit "She Who Must Not Be Named".

Instead, I'll call it my "Oh Ho!" moment.

I could tippy-type to my heart's content. People could read. Or not. Didn't matter.

I kind of look at blogging as sort of a "Schwab's Drugstore" - one day I'll be discovered. Or not.

OK, let's just go back to the beginning here.

I blog because I'm a ginormous windbag.

5. You have so many inspirations (the quadrant!)... Who would the most inspiring person for you break bread with and why?
I think you're referring to these four quadrant posts.

This was another toughie, because you're asking in definitives.

I have many people who inspire me. But the MOST inspiring? That's kind of like asking who my favorite child is (I'll e-mail you this answer privately later...).

I could mull this one for quite a long time, so I'll just jump in and pick one.

I suppose I'm most inspired by writers that are prolific without sacrificing their quality. So I guess I would go with Alexander McCall Smith.

He's a Scottish writer who currently writes 3 series that I love. Each are unique, and each has a series of characters who are charming and enigmatic.

The first series is "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency". Set in Botswana, it is a gentle series that revolves around Precious Ramotswe and her adventures. She isn't perfect, but she knows it, and I love the slow pace and the descriptions of her corner of Africa.

The second series is "44 Scotland Street". This is a compilation of a newspaper series he did.

The final series of his is the "Sunday Philosopher's Series" with its lead character Isabel Dalhousie. This series weaves together a mystery, some philosophical conundrums, and a love of Scotland I find entrancing.

I would be curious to know how he keeps all of this going, and what inspires him.

Blahdee, blahdee, blah.


The real reason I would ask him to dinner?

Merely to serve shortbread cookies for dessert.

They're my favorite, and it's kind of theme-y.

If you've managed to make you way down to here, 100000 fabulous points to you!

If you'd like to be interviewed by me - leave me your request in the comment section.


Mental P Mama said...

Very well done! What a lifetime you've lived through. And I hope you are done with all the specialists....Also believe we may have been the same little girl in school;)

Anonymous said...

Why do I read your posts in rapture and get to the end and sit in my office laughing out loud. Out Loud!
I love your long winded, meandering, full of substance answers. Thank you for mulling! I knew it would be worth the wait.

On my report card the teachers always wrote a version of this... "It's perfectly possible your child slips into a deep and unresponsive coma when alights from the bus. So deep is her daydreaming, that occasionally we hold a mirror under her nose to assure she is still breathing. We have no idea how she passes her tests."

Thanks again Baroness!

Baroness von B said...

Countess MPM: I am so please to know that you and I were disruptive youngsters - this kind of explains a lot.


Countess AG: You laugh out loud?


My job has been done. Another successful day at the virtual drugstore - I'm givin' myself a raise.

"Occasionally we hold a mirror under her nose...." - this time it was ME who laughed out loud.

Our poor, poor teachers.

Cormac Brown said...

You are not a windbag, of any size...much less, ginormous.

Oompah music is good stuff and those who say different, are in denial. They probably listen to Cajun or Tejano and they don't realize that they are all the same music, with slightly different tempos.

Blog Antagonist said...

That was very illuminating indeed.

WHY OH WHY are Americans so damned afraid of nationalized health care. WHY?? It's a mystery to me.

New writer to check out. YUM. And thanks.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I loved your answers. That's always the danger of agreeing to be interviewed. The excitement of just what is going to be asked followed by the anxiety of how honest an answer to give. You were brilliant, my dear.

Baroness von B said...

Count Cormac: Oh, sweetie. You are so kind.

And so wrong.

No one loves the sound of my voice more than I. It is the main reason I spend my days chattering happily to myself. Even the dog thinks I'm nuts.

Countess BA: Historically, I guess, change is bad. Yet it is the platformon which one of the most captivating presidential campaigns was built.

I'm a wee bit confused.

But hopeful.

Countess NATUI: Thanks for the support - what I thought would be a lark was a bit like a root canal.

Word to the wise - Just. Say. No.

thetravelingb aka thecountessofyy said...

I loved your column. I love that I don't always know how you are going to answer questions you are asked. You are kinda of like Merril lynch.....people want to know what you have to say. The only other time I compared someone to ML was when my dad passed away and I compared him to that company. For different reasons in that he was a quiet person that when he did speak it was usually pretty profound with a bit of dry wit.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I gave you a "root canal" interview? I'm so sorry...

I was actually going for insightful and interesting. I'll have to adjust my aim should I ever do this again.

mea culpa...

Baroness von B said...

Darling Countess of YY: I find it hard to believe that people are waiting to hear what I have to say. Thank God that I find my thoughts so amusing and insightful...

Countess AG: Apologies to you have been sent.

Your questions were thoughtful and brilliant - the "root canal" comment is just because I am terrified of exposing myself, and was very anxious about answering the questions in a way worthy of their value.

No "mea culpas" required - it is me who should apologize to you.

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