Monthly Archives: July 2013


In its day, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was considered creepy, but it’s nothing like the real thing, which is truly a horror show. When you have vertigo, the world seems to careen and spin, causing nausea and its attendant panic. Yes, panic, because if you’re like me, there are few things scarier than the feeling that you have to throw up. Not surprisingly, there’s a name for that fear; it’s called emetophobia. I’m not claiming to be an emetophobe mind you, primarily because it’s defined as an irrational fearof vomiting, and if you ask me, there’s nothing irrational about it.

For two days (and perhaps three, I’m teetering even as I type), I’ve been feeling dizzy. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but I know that feeling dizzy is most likely connected to some kind of inner ear disturbance. When I alerted my friends on Facebook that my world was spinning, many of them advised me to see a doctor. A doctor friend suggested that being dizzy could be “self-limiting,” but even she said that if it was not, seeing a doctor was in order. The question is, how long does one spin before calling their doctor?

I was raised by a doctor and the answer to “when does one call a doctor” was typically never, unless, of course, you could demonstrate that something was broken. As a result, I have to be pretty sick to call in the experts and I always start with my dad. In this case he suggested I take Antivert, an over the counter medicine for motion sickness. I thought I had some related drug in the house so I dragged myself upstairs to look through the medicine cabinet, but couldn’t find anything. Unwilling to give up, I spun my way through a couple of other likely places and finally found some motion-sickness medicine in a kitchen cabinet: expiration date 2000. Another thing my father modeled for us was that expiration dates don’t matter if the pill still works. The only way to find that out, however, is to take the pill. I knew from experience that the active ingredient in motion-sickness medicines, meclizine, could bring down an elephant, so I figured if it was slightly less effective that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Many years ago (pre-daughter), Andrew and I were going out to dinner with another couple in VT. Even though my motion sickness usually entitled me to ride shotgun, I sat in the back so Andrew could give directions to the driver over the windy, twisty, hilly, curvy roads we had to use to get where we were going. After about twenty minutes I made the driver pull over because I couldn’t stand it anymore. I got out of the car, dug a motion-sickness pill out of my purse and swallowed it. When I thought I could stand getting back in the car, we started up again. Within a minute, yes, sixty seconds, we arrived at the restaurant. By the time the food arrived, the pill had done its job and I was face down in my soup bowl. So this time, I took a quarter of a pill. Maybe it was the placebo effect, but I felt a little better.

Today I have a date with an old friend that I refuse to miss. I’m going to chew up a few milligrams of meclizine and hit the road. For your own safety, I suggest the rest of you stay home. If I’m still dizzy tomorrow, I’ll give in and call the doctor.


I send you greetings

Last week I put two belated birthday cards in the mail. While I felt bad about missing the actual birthdays, I was excited to be able to shop for the cards, because belated-themed cards are typically more amusing. Birthday sentiments have been done to death, on-time or otherwise. If the card is meant to be funny, nine times out of ten I can guess the punch line before I open it. You try it: A little bird told me that I missed your birthday… Say it with me, so I ate him!

I try to avoid this problem by buying blank cards and writing my own message. Sadly, the artwork tends to feature cute animals and flowers. I love cute animals as much as the next person, but it’s not about me, it’s about you.  There are interesting cards out there, but you pay a premium for them. A traditional card from the local pharmacy, produced by Hallmark or Shoebox, may cost as much as three dollars, but if you wander into a local boutique shop to find something more interesting, you’ll easily pay twice that.

There is a designer I’m quite fond of that you may be able to find in Target. Her name is Kate Harper. Kate made a name for herself with a line of greeting cards called Kid Quotes that use funny things that kids have said on the front. I’m not talking saccharine, here. I’m talking funny.  For instance:

kid_kharper3But she has quite a few card lines, including Tech Humor, Grunge Graduation and Atomic Romance.  Sadly, Kate’s work is so successful that it’s only available through stores.  Fortunately, my two other go-to-artists for greeting cards both sell online.

My absolute favorite is Thomas Philbrook. He does photography, with Photoshop enhancements. According to his Etsy site, his subject matter is, “…either the natural world around us — or the whimsy that leaks out of my imagination.” Here are two examples, both of which can be purchased online:

philbrook duckies

philbrook heart in nest

Another greeting card artist with a whimsical touch is Caroline Gray. I list her blog on my blogroll because I find her work fascinating. Her cards, called Teeny Tiny People Greeting Cards are available online as well. She photographs little figures in odd circumstances, like the man glued to the television, literally, or with unexpected accessories, like the woman with a walrus on a leash. While she does have birthday cards, I particularly love the cards whose sentiments can be used for anything. For instance, there is one whose caption is, “Emily accepted it was just going to be one of those days.” Caroline has very cleverly engineered her site so that I can’t download any of the images, but I urge you to go explore her work.

Now I’m off to order more cards since my list of birthdays keeps rolling along. Which of my favorite artists would you like to find in your mailbox next year?

Massage done right is a wonderful thing

A German friend once said, “You Americans and your therapists. In Germany I saw a massage therapist once a week. That’s a therapist worth seeing.”  I had not yet had a massage, so I was in no position to argue, but in the years since, I’ve come to appreciate the value of a good massage, and if the proliferation of Massage Envy locations is any indication, so has the rest of the East Coast.

The first massage I had was given to me as a present, to be done at a fancy, new-agey, wellness center in Cambridge. The lobby had muted lighting, stone walls, and a fountain, a little babbling brook pouring over a tower of smooth rocks; it radiated relaxation. And the experience continued to be soothing, from the background music, to the warmed blanket, to the incredibly strong, gentle, hands whose touch brought to life my friend’s assertion.

The next time I went to that wellness center, the original masseuse was not available and they were doing construction. I was directed to a trailer, the kind you would expect to see at a construction site with a Steelcase desk and a couple of guys in hardhats inside. I was relieved to discover that they’d dolled it up with all the appropriate massage trappings, but the soothing music could not drown out the noise coming from the jack-hammers outside, which turned out to be the perfect accompaniment for the woman who was giving me my massage. Whatever she was doing was so painful that I had to bite my lips a few times to keep from crying out. It was the antithesis of relaxing.

Years passed, the memory of elbows digging into my shoulders dimmed, and I decided to try again. The place in Cambridge had disappeared, along with all traces of the original masseuse. I visited a few other masseuses and while I never had a repeat of the horrible trailer experience, neither was I able to find the bliss of my original massage. And therein lies the rub. (Let’s pause while we all acknowledge what a great pun that was.) All masseuses are not created equal. I have learned that it is folly to pay for a massage unless you have gotten at least one recommendation from someone you know.

If you are reading this, you probably know me. If you don’t know me, but you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know me well enough. I’m going to recommend a masseuse for you to see the next time you’re in Burlington, Vermont. Genevieve Henry is a massage therapist who has just opened her own practice, Massage Journey. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that Genie is part of my extended family and I would promote her business even if she was selling dog food, but that is not was she is doing. She is giving wonderful, relaxing, restorative massages. And I speak from experience.


Genie is a loving, caring, supportive woman. For the past several years, she has been a partner in Birth Journeys, also in Burlington, VT, providing doula services and childbirth education. Imagine having a woman expectant mothers trust dedicating an hour to your well-being. It’s almost worth traveling to Vermont for. I know most of you don’t live in Vermont, but surely you have friends there. Be sure to tell them about Genie and her business, Massage Journey. They will thank you. I promise.

Never too old to rock ‘n roll

Rose is Rose is a comic strip that appears in The Boston Globe. Rose is a wife, a mother, and a cat owner, with the attendant husband, child and cat. She also has an alter ego, a kick-ass, rock ‘n roll-biker chick named Vicki. Rose spends a lot of time revisiting her youth, sometimes going all the way back to when she was a little girl, too young to ride a bike much less a motorcycle. In this representative strip, we see her as both little girl and biker chick. I love Rose, especially when she’s channeling Vicki.

Vicki embodies all the feelings Rose keeps tucked away inside because she never was a kick-ass, rock ‘n roll-biker chick. I, on other hand, saw myself as Vicki-like when I was young. To be fair, I never actually kicked anyone’s ass and the biggest motorcycle I ever drove was a 125cc Honda, but still, Vicki and the younger version of me have more in common than Vicki and Rose ever did.

Even as I phased out the physical trappings of edgy I remained stubbornly nostalgic for it all. When I got married, to a manifestly non-kick ass, non-rock ‘n roll, non-biker guy, my friend, Mary, gave me a card with a picture of a bride wearing a leather jacket and cowboy boots. I will never forget how grateful I felt to have her honor that part of me at that particular crossroad in my life.

I continue to regard my younger self fondly, with all her rough edges. If I had my life to live over again, I might not change anything. After all, if a butterfly can cause a tsunami, one small deviation might change the entire course of my life! I couldn’t risk that, not when I managed to end up with the world’s best husband and most marvelous daughter. And while my life is nothing like I pictured it would be when I was younger, it is a pretty darn good life. Still, when I see Vicki in Rose is Rose…

Recently, I had the opportunity to step back in time for an evening, to a charity event for Right Turn, “a creative place for recovery.” The event was at Royale in Boston and featured a bunch of local bands from back in the day. I went with my friend, Susan, who I’ve known since we were both in college and working at the Strawberries record store in Harvard Square with Carter Alan, then an aspiring DJ. Carter, currently heard on WZLX, introduced Jon Butcher promptly at 6:45pm.

me and susan at channel

What followed represented a cross-section of Boston rock and roll from the 80s, from new wave darlings, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, to everyone’s favorite bar band, The Stompers. The Fools and Lizzie Borden and the Axes played, as did Charlie Farren. Even New England came back together for a set. I said hello to Johnny A., but missed the blues he served up later in the evening because by 10:30pm, I was ready to go. My 7:45am appointment with the endodontist the next morning was a handy excuse, but the truth is, I was wiped. I know I will never be too old for rock and roll—as long as I can be in bed by 11.