February 2012 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


One question: am I really supposed to mow the lawn in February? It certainly seems to be growing. And when I took the dogs out yesterday, I was absent-mindedly brushing away a fly circling me for a full minute before I realized that a fly was circling me. That ain’t right. I’ve also just realized that my computer is operating, for some unknown reason, with a UK dictionary and wants me to spell “realized” as “realised.” I must fix this, as I have lost a big chunk of my formerly crackerjack spelling ability in recent years and thus may not notice subtle changes in the colour of my prose.

Speaking of losing my mind, right after I was diagnosed with ms a few years ago, I came across a book called something like “Cognitive Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis.” Cheery, right? Bad enough you can’t walk and can’t see half the time, but it turns out you can’t even sit quietly and think convincingly. The book had been written by a guy with ms and proved to be absolutely unreadable, which sounds like a joke, but I think it was because he was simply a horrible writer, not because he had cognitive problems. I also tried to read “Blindsided” by Mr. Meredith Vieira (Richard Cohen), who has ms and seems like a really nice guy, but I had to give up because his writing style reads like the voice-over on a network news report, bland, shallow and impersonally descriptive, which makes sense since he is/was a network news producer.

I had, back then, gone through six hours (!) of cognitive tests at OSU, the verdict of which was that I had developed some quite peculiar gaps in my mental hedgerows. I am unable, for instance, to add long columns of two-digit numbers in my mind, something I used to do routinely in my job at the Catplex. My short-term memory is dodgy, and I tend to misplace the dogs. I also tend to get turned around downtown, which is pretty scary since our town consists of a gas station, post office, one traffic light and not much else. I can never remember which way the high school is. Thank heavens I don’t go to high school.

Sunday in the Park with Treacle.

All of which brings us, inevitably, to Downton Abbey (not to be confused with Downtown Abby, who hangs out in the high school parking lot on weekends). I swear to god that if there were anything else on TV I would never watch this show. But Storage Wars and Shipping Wars and Hoarders have all started to blend together quite disturbingly in my dreams, so we tivo Downton and watch it in small chunks during the week. I think we’re about two weeks behind at this point. I don’t want to flog this thing too badly, because the only alternative is Dog the Bounty Hunter, but someone in the Guardian the other day called it “the Epcot Center version” of England, and that seems about right. In a bit of classic Disneyesque all-your-tie-ins-are-belong-to-us behavior, PBS apparently tried to open a tawdry online gift shop (“Lady Mary knotted pearl necklace and earring set”) on the coattails of the show without permission of the producers and got itself smartly slapped down.

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