Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whatever Will Be

My favorite song when I was a child was a darling little tune called Que Sera or maybe it was Que Sera Sera. Anyway, it was a wonderful song about this anxious little girl who nagged her mother with a bunch of silly questions. The girl wanted to know what she would be like when she was all grown up. She asked her mother: “Will I be pretty?” and “Will I be rich?”. The mother didn’t seem to have an answer for any of the girl’s questions. All she ever said in reply was Que Sera Sera whatever will be will be…

I recall wondering if the girl was real ugly since her mother wasn’t sure if she’d ever be pretty. I also wondered if the singer stuttered because she kept repeating everything. It seemed to me that she could have at least encouraged the child to get an education and always be friendly or something. But it was a great song anyway. I think that the woman singing that song was Doris Day or maybe just some lady that looked like Doris Day. When I was a kid, everyone on television looked like Doris Day to me.

None of that will make a catfish like earthworms, but I mention it because that little jingle popped into my head the other day after all these years on the dusty shelves of my memory room. My son, who is already quite handsome, asked me, “How do you know when you’re a grown-up?” (I'm pretty sure this is leading up to a request for an apartment.)

Wow. My first thought was the age thing, like when you turn eighteen or twenty-one but most of the people I know in that age group are still very dependent on their parents. Then I thought about jobs, homes, children and a few other landmarks of maturity but none of them seemed like a definitive answer. Finally, I said, “Son, have you learned the phrase que sera in Spanish class yet?”

He said, “No, but comida means food.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well, I can’t give you an exact moment or event that makes you a grown up but I’ll give you a few clues to look for as you grow older and wiser.

You may be a grown-up if:
1. You own lawn and garden equipment.
2. You change your oil before the warning light comes on.
3. You choose loose fitting clothing over tight but cute clothing for Thanksgiving dinner with the family.
4. You watch the weather report before you select your outfit for the next day.
5. You volunteer to work on holidays and weekends because you want to pay off some bills.
6. You wear your hair short because long hair is “too much trouble.”
7. You sacrifice something you really, really, really want so your kid can have the birthday present he really, really, really wants.

“Umph,” he said shaking his head, “being you sucks doesn’t it?”

“Nah,” I said, “it’s not so bad. I done with college finals and I can buy my own comida.”

“I’m never gonna grown-up,” he joked as he pilfered my remaining segment of two dollar a pound not-even-organic green apple.

I simply smiled and replied, “ Que Sera, Sera.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fabulous New Diet Plan

It's official. I'm really going to do it! I really, really mean it! No excuses! At 6:00 AM on Sunday morning, I'm starting a diet.
Actually, I go on a diet every Sunday. Once, it even lasted for four months. Usually, it last anywhere from four days to four hours. Every Saturday night, I weigh myself and then I look at myself in the mirror from every angle.

Consequently, I have a theory about the middle aged spread. It seems to me that decades of sitting on your behind, pushing a pencil, would inevitably cause your bottom to change shape. Some of the fat moves out, to the sides but the rest is pushed into your abdomen causing your stomach to protrude. I have no scientific evidence to support this theory but just look around - isn't it obvious?
So anyway, I'm going to try a new diet. I've tried everything else. I did the grapefruit diet. I ate nothing but grapefruits and drank eight gallons of water everyday. My bladder pulled the plug on that one. I was so tired from getting up seven times a night to go to the bathroom that I couldn't concentrate during the day.
Then, I tried the bran muffin, brown rice, most-boring-food-in-the-world, Fiber Diet. Let's just say I believe the intestines were designed for temporary storage. I don't think my colon is supposed to be that clean!
Several years ago, I did the system diet. It required paying a premium price for dehydrated peas in a box and weekly pep talks from hungry looking women. I lost weight because I was too broke to buy real food.
And I know, I know - you shouldn't diet. It's a lifestyle change right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a diet. A lifestyle change is winning the lottery and getting a live-in housekeeper.
I'm a little leery of people who leave half of a tender, well-seasoned, charbroiled ribeye on their plate and skip French silk pie to choose herbal tea. Yum yum. Come on! I finally get out for a fun evening and a nice dinner and you want me to eat a boiled chicken wing and a celery stick? Go ahead. Just lock me up and throw away the key! Why go on? My friends who order dinner just to admire it don't work outside the home. I believe they eat Twinkies and M & M's all day so that when we go out, they're not hungry.
But I digress. This new diet is simple. I'm going to eat my meals at the grocery store. You know, they have so many samples you can have a four-course meal while you shop. Think about it. They give you small portions. There's lots of variety. You walk from table to table. You're too embarrassed to ask for seconds. (Well, some of us.) And best of all, no cooking. I get my grocery shopping done at the same time. It's got great potential.
Besides, if it doesn't work, I'll have food in the pantry and I won't have to hear my sons say, "Mom, there's nothing to eat around here." A win-win situation - now that's a lifestyle change.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Texting My Way to Heaven

It's getting harder and harder to get into heaven. The Ten Commandments and Great Commission don't ask that much of us. The police and Congress have way more rules governing behavior. I'm not implying it's not challenging to obey the laws of God and man. I'm just saying we should be able to get through an ordinary day without choking an annoying neighbor or parking illegally. Of course, I moved recently so I don't know my neighbors in the biblical sense and I don't work downtown where parking is at a premium. Nevertheless, as the daughter of a Babtist preacher and retired football coach, I have confessed my sins, excepted Jesus as my Savior, and stopped betting on the outcome of the Super Bowl. Good stuff, right? Well, apparently, not good enough.

Today, I got a text that read, "If you love Jesus and you're glad he woke you up today, forward this email to ten people and you will receive a blessing. Act in the next sixty seconds or something bad will happen to your family."

When did this happen? Was there an amendment to the Bible to bring it up to date? I thought it was timeless. I don't recall reading anything about forwarding text to prove my love for Jesus. Geez. Like I don't have enough to do and not do. Now, I gotta forward text and emails to get a blessing. If I don't act quickly, something might happen to my peeps. If I do send ten text, I'll lose ten friends and deplete my remaining text for the month. Since it's an electronic omen, will my peeps iPods malfunction or will their cell phones stop working? I'm busy. I don't have time to scroll through my contacts to find ten people who won't curse me with a plague for sending them this text. I know! I'll send it back to the person who sent it to me ten times.

Hopefully, they'll get mad and stop texting me. I'd consider that a blessing indeed. LOL.

P.S. If this blog made you laugh, forward it to ten friends in the next sixty seconds.

Copyright 2008 Monica F. Anderson

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Perfect Love

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my, my, my! So nice to be cared about. While I've made a career from writing about my personal life, I really hesitated to post that last blog. No, I'm not afraid to admit fear or failure. I simply didn't think anyone in the mysterious black hole of the Internet would care, especially MySpace. That's where the blog appeared originally. MySpace is a social network. It's a big commercial. It's a place to pretend, not to be achingly authentic. I assume most blog readers are kind and compassionate. I also assume they are very busy. Busy with their own issues. Too busy to take on mine. Or so I thought. Still, on the chance that I might help one person pursue their dreams in spite of their anxiety, I posted that blog about my recent move to Austin. Apparently, I touched raw nerve. I received calls, cards, emailed testimonies, and comments like the ones posted below the original blog on my MySpace page.

I appreciate every outpouring of encouragement and love. My favorite words came from the dear friend who quoted 1 John 4:18 -

There is no fear in love: true love has no room for fear, because where fear is, there is pain; and he who is not free from fear is not complete in love.

or if you're a King James fan -

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Hmmm. I really like Austin. I do have imperfect concerns about where and how I'll live but, more than that, I have perfect love...I'm not afraid anymore.

copyright 2008 Dr. Monica Anderson

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hope is a Four-Letter Word

In a world where students literally die in crowded classrooms, it is not unusual or unforgivable to hear someone on a grieving campus utter a four-letter word. Some golfers mumble obscenities when they miss a short putt. Passionate hoopsters yell R-rated profanity when they are fouled. Sometimes they consist of four letters, sometimes more letters.
It seems to be human nature, rather American human nature, to react to external stressors with expletives. Though, I try to avoid the practice of using profanity for a linguistic crutch, there are times when I’m in public that the duct tape on my tongue does not censor my mind.

For example, last week I had a horrible encounter with a new patient in the state of the art facility where I practice dentistry with three other doctors. In twenty years of practicing, this incident ranks among the top three most unforgettable occasions. I won’t share the other two because they’d make you cancel your next checkup. Let’s just say my job is mentally, academically, and physically challenging everyday. Generally, I keep a tight rein on my emotions because I have to. My compassion cannot overrule the standard of care dictated by law. I am there to prevent and treat disease. It’s not a pretty job but somebody has to do it. You can make jokes and disparage dentist all you want, but I dare you to have a toothache or get your front teeth knocked out by a steering wheel a week before your wedding. Okay?

My second patient of that morning was a middle aged white man with multiple missing and infected teeth. He’d been in pain for years, ducking and dodging the dental office with Orajel and Advil. At that point, the home remedies were no longer effective and he decided he wanted full dentures. From my office, I reviewed his digital radiographs and it was clear, he needed antibiotics before any definitive treatment. My goal when I went into the operatory was to relieve his pain and devise a treatment plan.

Unlike Michael Jackson, I’ve been a black woman all my life. There are some things I know intuitively. One look at the expression of horror upon that patient’s face when I was introduced, told me he racist and sexist. There is a peculiar way the eyes narrow and the cheeks pucker when someone doesn’t approve of your gender. I know that look as does every female firefighter and police officer. And when a person believes segregation yesterday, segregation today, and segregation forever, it shows. However, the ugliest and most intimidating glare of all comes from someone who hates everything about you and your ancestors. If you don’t know the look, I pray you never see it. It is evil.

The patient wouldn’t shake my hand, look at me, or allow me to examine him. Twenty years of experience, licenses in two states, awards and honors, hundreds of hours of continuing education, thousands of patients, bestselling books, faith in God—none of my credentials meant anything to him. He insisted on seeing another doctor. For the record, patients in pain will see Mickey Mouse if he can help them.

At that point, the feeling between patient X and me was mutual. I courteously left the room. I quietly left the building. I was speechless. In 2008, someone younger than me—of any race—still displays such blatant discrimination. I sat in my car, looked at the ashy heavens, and whispered a four-letter word. I said, “Hope.” A word many have relegated into the category of f##k and s##t. Thankfully, the American Heritage Dictionary list one definition of an expletive that is more profound than profane. “A word or phrase that does not contribute any meaning but is added only to fill out a sentence.”

In my country, the USA, it feels like hope truly does not contribute any meaning to millions of cynics, skeptics, and narrow minded people who have forgotten how to dream. I pray my colleagues in healthcare never fall into that category, nor my neighbors, or my children. We need researchers who won’t give up when a new drug doesn’t work. We need citizens who believe a 70-year old veteran, a former first lady, or a black man with an unusual name can lead this country. And we need children who never inhale the lingering smoke of that peculiar institution known as slavery.

As for me, after a moment of meditation, I got out of my car and went back to work believing my day would improve and my tomorrows will be even better. Na├»ve? I don’t think so.

In the words of someone who inspires me, “Hope is never false.”
Copyright 2008. Monica Frazier Anderson