Monthly Archives: February 2013

Put A Lid On It

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I know, I don't get it either. I too, really  wish she'd get the cake off the floor.

I know, I don’t get it either. I too, really wish she’d get the cake off the floor.

Maybe I could have been a 1950’s housewife. I’m happy in the kitchen. I don’t even mind doing laundry, and conquering a stubborn stain makes me feel positively triumphant. I find a certain amount of joy in a well organized, drawer, cupboard or closet. I enjoy the entire art of home keeping, so I can sort of see the appeal of being a June Cleaver. Of course, if I happened to get a little stir crazy in my June Cleaver world, and wanted to earn some “mad money” I’d put on a crisp dress, a set of pearls, and become a Tupperware Lady. I could supplement the household income, while still maintaining my family obligations and responsibilities around the house.

During the 1950’s and 60’s a brisk business was being done at home parties. The Tupperware Ladies recruited their friends and neighbors to be party hostesses. The parties also gave women an opportunity to socialize. Unlike the variety of home sales parties today, a Tupperware “girls night” took place in the afternoon of course, while the man of the house was at work and the children were in school. Tupperware Ladies were able  to enter the business world before the E.R.A. The products were modern, colorful, convenient and practical. The designs evolved to match the change in home decorating trends. Pastels gave way to earth tones. It was all super nifty, including the marketing tagline:  The Burping Seal!”

So how did Tupperware and its empowerment of women,  evolve into something that brings me down, and makes me feel more like Roseanne Conner than June Cleaver? It’s true. I have a dirty little secret, and I am comin’ clean about it, because I suspect I’m not alone. I’m referring to that shameful, miserable home-keeping failure: The Tupperware cupboard or drawer. C’mon, fess up, do you have one?

Mine contains my Tupperware from the early 90’s in sickly shades of Wedgewood blue and mauve. It also contains the modern and more disposable incarnations of plastic food storage ware including Rubbermaid, Gladware and Ziploc. No brand loyalty, here. It is all a source of constant aggravation, and often gets the better of me. It is the weaselly Eddie Haskell in my kitchen.

During the after dinner cleanup, I have sometimes found just the right-sized container, filled it will gloppy leftovers, and stood back, full of pride at my accurate spatial analysis, only to discover the corresponding lid no longer fits. Neither does any lid in the cupboard, for that matter.  So much for the old adage “a lid for every pot.” Then, I have a “no more wire hangers” meltdown moment, and  the sorting and purging occurs immediately. Countless time I’ve sorted it: paired tops with bottoms, and tossed all strays. I’ve attempted various storage bins and racks, organizational methods and strategies. These last on average, about three weeks. It can’t be tamed.

The plastic storage ware is unruly &  as it makes it way around my kitchen. The bottom rack of the dishwasher is too hot for it, so I let it have the top bunk. It takes more than its fair share of space, and doesn’t leave room for the glasses and coffee mugs. It still won’t behave. It gets a touch-me-not attitude and jumps out of the rack at the slightest bump. It occasionally flips over when I’m not looking. When my dishwasher finishes, I discover it has somehow managed to elude the heated drying cycle. It demands to be hand dried. How is all this cheap plastic as high maintenance as fine crystal?

Once the dishwasher is emptied and the hand drying is complete, the real fun begins: Tupperware Jenga. Shoving it all precariously back into the cupboard and quickly getting the door shut before it all comes tumbling back out. Don’t we all play the game? We know picking up the mess will become the problem of the next unlucky family member who happens to open that door. As hard as I have tried, my Tupperware cupboard has never looked like this:

Or have I ever walked away from the dinner table to gaze at my Tupperware cupboard in this way.

Or have I ever walked away from the dinner table to gaze at my Tupperware cupboard in this way.

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I officially surrender. I’ve given up the fight. Clearly, I’m no June Cleaver, and it isn’t possible to go back to the 1950’s, so I’ve given up on the fantasy, too.

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Instead, I’m heading to 1947 with these little gems:

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They are classic, cheery and the color coding possibilities are perfect for an organizational freak. They don’t pretend to be dishwasher safe. They are well-behaved, and remain stacked and orderly in the cupboard and look like little jewels in the fridge.

They make it easy to put a lid on it. The glass lids don’t exactly provide an airtight seal, but I don’t mind.

I mean, really, who needs one more thing around the house that burps?

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Rights and Wrongs

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In my late-30’s I was referred to a urologist. This was a new frontier for me, and not something I was at all comfortable with, because, well…. because I have lady parts.  I mean, don’t only old guys see urologists?  Naturally, I was apprehensive.

On the day of my first visit, the waiting room was in fact, full of senior gentlemen. To say I was feeling embarrassed and awkward would be an understatement. I felt as if I had accidentally walked into the men’s restroom, and instead of saying “oops!” and making a hasty exit, I had pulled up a chair and taken a seat near the urinals.

The nervousness continued once I was in the exam room.  I know my way around a gynecological exam room, but a urologist has a whole different bag of tricks. Ladies, even the stirrups are different. That embarrassment and awkwardness disappeared when Dr. Ronald Gilbert walked into the exam room and introduced himself.

He was close to my age and just had an easy way about him. He made me feel comfortable with him, and the situation. His upbeat, high energy, talkative nature, simply didn’t allow for any awkwardness. We talked about his kids, his wife’s interior design talents, travel, local events and music. He was a great balance of professionalism, kindness and good-humor.

He was also an excellent Doctor. After being misdiagnosed for a few years, he very quickly diagnosed me correctly, and successfully treated me for a rather pesky autoimmune condition. That was 12 years ago, and under his care, I have remained basically symptom free. Had he been a great restaurant or movie, I would have insisted everyone should go immediately. But urology doesn’t come up in conversation often, so it is not something I ever really talked about. My family and close friends, who knew I saw Dr. Gilbert, were aware of how much I sincerely liked and respected him.

My reason for sharing this so publicly now, is that my wonderful Dr. Gilbert died on Monday, January 28th just 2 days shy of his 53rd birthday. He didn’t die of natural causes or a prolonged illness. He was gunned down in his Newport Beach office in the middle of the afternoon.  An office that I know well, located in a beautiful building, in a complex filled with of some of Hoag Hospital’s finest physicians. As the cliché goes – things like this just don’t happen here.

When I heard the news, I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to imagine the shooting, or how terrified the front office staff, and the sweet senior gentlemen in the waiting room must have been. It has left me shaken. The combination of gun violence and (presumed) mental illness has now claimed the life of someone I know, in an unlikely location: a location that I frequent. This was a horrific and senseless event that resulted in the tragic loss of an exceptional man.

Since December 14th, the topic of gun control has been hotly debated. Full disclosure: I have family members who are responsible hunters. I respect that tradition and all that it entails.  I personally own two guns:  a .32 and .38, both Police Specials with 2-digit serial numbers that I inherited from my Dad’s handgun collection.  However, I am reconsidering my gun ownership.  They make me uncomfortable. It almost makes me nauseous to think about them. As I have previously written, I don’t have any answers to the debate on gun control.

However, I do have many questions: starting with questions about how mental illness is viewed in this country.  Why is it regarded and treated any differently than a physical illness? When asked  if a condition was  “mental” or “physical” a neurologist replied with an annoyed, but firm, “There is only one brain. Of course it’s physical! It is all physical!” He is correct.

Why then, do we differentiate between the two? Why is insurance coverage for mental illness so limited, compared to coverage for physical illness? Why do we label people with mental illness as if they are their disease? Why do these mental disorders make us uncomfortable, and cause us to distance ourselves from those afflicted, when we are so supportive of people with other illnesses.  Why is there still such a stigma associated with these disorders and illnesses? Why is it still acceptable to use the word ‘crazy’? Why are some families left powerless and helpless when it comes to dealing with a family member with a mental illness?

We might as well change the saying “I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.” and replace it with “I could be shot tomorrow...” Sure, we have secured our airports, courthouses and banks, but that’s it. Contrary to what we would like to believe, our schools are not secure.

The combination of gun violence and mental illness has resulted in mass shootings, and deaths at schools and on school buses; as well as hospitals and medical offices; at shopping malls and in movie theaters; in hair salons; at political gatherings; on U.S. military bases; and countless places of business. Can we keep ourselves safe as we move throughout our communities, while we go about our daily business? How? Where do we begin?

People are calling for more controls and legislation. How do we find our way through the already-tangled web of rights and legislation that has complicated our current situation? In my opinion, the NRA, ACLU, and HIPAA legislation, all play a role here.

According to the lead story on the Huffington Post this morning, gun deaths since the Sandy Hook shootings now top 1,280.  Dr. Gilbert was one of those 1,280, but I am not concerned with his rank in those statistics, and my intention is not to politicize his death.  He was so much more than his death:  he was a family man; a husband and father; a man true to his Jewish faith; a solid member of our community. Many of his patients considered him a friend. He was important to so many people, and he is exactly the kind of person the world needs more of.

The fact that we have lost yet another exceptional human being due to the combination of gun violence and (presumed) mental illness makes me sad and angry.

How ironic that in this great country, our combination of so many freedoms and rights, has in some ways, contributed to so very many wrongs.