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Muriel’s Metamorphosis

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Last night, I went to bed. I was me. My ordinary self. All was well. I snuggled into a comfortable space and took a deep breath. It had been a busy day. I turned the radio on. I like to listen to it when I go to sleep. All was set for an ordinary night’s sleep. Ahhh….

Muriel, probably 19:20 yrs. old

The night before

The next day I awoke. What happened? Where were my arms? They were around here somewhere. I opened my eyes and looked around. Ah, there they were. They reluctantly moved over, obviously still tired. They had been dancing.

happygirlarms

The arms had been dancing

I tried to place those arms where they belonged. One ought to be able to do that. But it isn’t that simple. There is a right arm and a left arm. The flesh had been firm the night before. But, if there had been a breeze in my room, these began to look like they would flap about.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka, why would he visit me????

I couldn’t stop there. I needed my legs. They were here when I went to bed. This was getting too weird. Was Kafka visiting me from his grave? And why? I looked around. There were a few sets of legs to choose from. They just lay there waiting for an invitation to join me. I don’t usually give invitations before breakfast, but this was an unusual occasion, so I chose a pair.

‘Would you two legs kindly move over and join me?’ I asked tentatively. Was that MY voice????

They looked around doubtfully and conferred before making a final decision. Since no one better was hanging around, the two closest to me decided I was the best they could do at the moment. Where these legs will go tomorrow, I have no idea. Be aware. They may choose your bed instead….

Just last night, I was young and strong. I felt invincible. My skin was smooth. I had no wrinkles. After those legs settled down I dragged my new body (including arms) out of bed to wash my face.

old woman in mirror

The strange lady in my mirror…

There was this strange lady in my mirror who had never been there before. Who was she? And why was she hanging out in my bathroom? Didn’t she have a place of her own to wash up in the morning? Poor thing. One can’t throw an old lady out so early in the day — before breakfast yet.

I dragged that old woman into the kitchen with me. What else could I do? I prepared enough coffee and toast for both of us. What would you have me do? Perhaps I made a mistake because now she won’t leave. She keeps hanging around and her face looks at me from every mirror in my apartment.

gray hair and old glasses. jpg

She’s opinionated

However, there is one compensation. I’m never without company. Sometimes she even has interesting things to tell me when we chat. She’s kind of opinionated.

 

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Okay, I’m brushing, I’m brushing…..

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

A while ago my grandson, Remy, asked if I had false teeth. Huh? He must have heard something about old folks and teeth. I put that kid straight right away! I, indeed, have my own teeth. However, because I have more luck than brains, I admit it may just be genetic. My roots are so long, whenever I change dentists and they see my x-ray, they comment and chuckle about my small teeth and huge, long roots. For all I know, they reach my toes! I’ll probably never lose my pearly whites.

I’m feeling lucky right now. I had a call from a friend who lost all her teeth some years ago due to gum disease. She also suffered several devastating strokes, which I had attributed to her smoking. What disturbed her most was being told, too late, that had her gums been looked after properly, it wouldn’t have happened. (She had seen a dentist regularly that she liked and felt betrayed.)

Dentalimplants

Tooth implants

She subsequently went through a time-consuming, expensive and painful process of getting implants. (This procedure may have

false teeth

Ordinary false teeth

improved since.) Later her implants became infected and had to be removed. With her medical history, she was advised to stick to ordinary dentures.

With a mouthful of fillings and crowns of my own when I was still young, I was sure I’d lose my teeth early. “Don’t worry,” my dentist said, “we can always

Dentist tooth#2

Take care of your gums

fix them — just take care of your gums.” The man was right and I’m grateful to the dentists and periodontists who have educated me and taken care of my mouth throughout my adult life.

Recently I read that gum disease may be connected to strokes and heart disease. Could it be? Was smoking not the only risk my friend dealt with? It is impossible for me to make such an assumption, still I wondered, so asked my periodontist.

“Periodontal disease,’ he explained, ‘is a bacterial infection of the gums, bone and attachment fibers that support teeth and hold them in the jaw. The bacteria are found in dental plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on teeth. Toxins produced by the bacteria irritate the gums and cause infection. If untreated, it can result in bad breath, bleeding gums and eventually, tooth loss. Almost half of all adults have some form of periodontal disease and may not know it.

Winking tooth

Keep me happy and I’ll help you stay healthy

“Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs, beginning new infections. The heart is one of the most susceptible organs. Thus, theories explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease — oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream.

“Researchers have found people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those without. It has also been linked to other health problems, including respiratory diseases, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis and premature and underweight births. A new study of fat deposits in the carotid arteries of stroke sufferers shows that 70% contain bacteria, and 40% comes from the mouth.”

Wow! I had no idea there was so much more at stake. I’ll go brush my teeth. Okay, I’m brushing, I’m brushing….

blk:wht:I'm brushing

Okay, I’m brushing, I’m brushing…..

If you notice me singing, do join in…

mom-thinking-2I often walk to my favorite cafe in the morning. Since my right knee complains with every step, I sing as I walk. My brain isn’t capable of multi tasking, so trying to remember the words of old songs seems to lessen the pain. It works to some degree. When someone comes by, I lower my voice so I won’t be heard. Yet, what fun it would be if strangers joined me in song just like they did in the old musicals I so enjoyed when I was a kid. Ta-da….

judy-garland-fred-astaire-in-easter-parade

Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade

Even then I remember feeling a little silly as I watched some of those movies. The goings on onscreen could be unrealistic. For example, all the passersby knew the words of the songs and the dance steps and so were able to join Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in the ‘Easter Parade’ — dressed in their Easter best. Young as I was, I knew that didn’t really happen.

Yes, there were a few mindless plots weakly held together to

singing-in-the-rain-gene-kelly

Gene Kelly in Dancin’ in the Rain

showcase the talent of the stars in them, and Gene Kelly did dance in the rain on the sidewalks of New York in ‘Dancin’ in the Rain’, but you can’t deny he was entertaining.

Were musicals all silly, mindless fluff? I think not. Many important issues were covered in Broadway musicals — issues which society would not have been ready to confront in any other format at the time. Just as comedy was, and continues to be, used to help us deal with the serious and even unbearable, musicals often sugarcoated difficult themes. Without realizing it, audiences were encouraged to look at and hopefully rethink their ideas and attitudes.

thomas-carey-carol-brice-porgy

Thomas Carey and Carol Brice in Porgy & Bess, 1934

Gershwin and Heyward’s ‘Porgy & Bess’ is often regarded as the first great American opera. The music is brilliant but at the same time, the story makes a strong statement on the difficult position of blacks in America — as valid today as when it first came out in 1934, years before Martin Luther King came along.

Even earlier, in 1927, Kern and Hammerstein touched on black and

paul-robeson-1936-old-man-river-showboat

The great Paul Robeson, Showboat, 1936

white issues in another timeless musical classic ‘Showboat’. (In my opinion those who protested against the show in Toronto some years ago, could not have seen it.)

Then, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific’, which came out in 1949, tackled racial discrimination head-on. A real inter-racial love affair takes place on the stage/screen. It was a daring move which clearly defined the needless tragedy that results from racist thinking in Lieutenant

mary-martin-and-ezio-pinza-in-sp

Mary Martin & Ezio Pinza in South Pacific

Cable’s romance with a Polynesian girl, Liat. The American Nellie, portrayed so well by Mary Martin, is shocked when she discovers Emile, a Frenchman, has children who are half-Polynesian. In the end, Nellie chooses to deal with her own prejudices and marries the man she loves. (By the way, Mary Martin, who washed her hair in each performance, claimed all that hair-washing did no harm.)

‘Hair’ about the hippy movement, free love and the drug culture, raised many an eyebrow with its passive nudity in 1968. I remember being shocked myself when I first saw it. Those scenes seem mild to us today. Modern audiences probably don’t understand what the fuss was all about.

I’m reminded of these productions when I find myself singing some of the old show tunes while I walk in the morning. If you catch me at it, do join in.

 

She only looks as though she knows

I found it. I found it! I was looking for something else amongst my papers and found the poem my late friend Hans wrote for me some years ago.

Here it is:

SHE ONLY LOOKS AS THOUGH SHE KNOWS

By Hans Muller

Hans Muller, Award-winning playwright. Most used comment: 'Muriel, the things you do!'

Hans Muller, Award-winning playwright. He loved words… Most used comment: ‘Muriel, the things you do!’

What are all those ahs and ohs?

She only looks as though she knows,

She assumes a knowing pose

And everybody thinks she knows.

Though all she does is sit and doze

Everyone’s convinced she knows.

Be it market highs and lows,

Be it poetry or prose,

Current economic woes,

The benefits of pantyhose,

She always looks as though she knows.

Any subject that they chose

Makes the public think she knows.

It’s not really that she blows

Her own horn — somehow she glows

With an aura she bestows

Both in turmoil and repose.

Is there a reason to suppose

That she knows what gives — what goes?

Does she laugh at life’s cruel blows?

Does she sweat where others froze?

Can she paint — can she compose?

She only looks as though she knows.

Yet, she never brags or crows

Or looks down her pretty nose

At folk like you and me who chose

Their ignorance not to disclose.

The fact remains, from head to toes

She always looks as though she knows.

Can she tell her friends from foes?

The difference between tos and fros?

Above and belows?

Fingers and toes?

Cons and pros?

Yeses and nos?

I don’t think she knows any of those

She only LOOKS as though she knows.

—————————————————————————————————————————

And brilliant, loving daughter Susan figured out how to copy the original post, so here it is:

May, 2013

Recently, there was a retropective on PBS TV about Wonder Woman. It covered the years since her introduction as a comic book character up until the present.

Wonder Woman in the comics

Wonder Woman in the comics

A weaker Wonder Woman

A weaker Wonder Woman

She had changed many times through the years — for instance, after WW2, when women were supposed to go back to their kitchens after doing “men’s” work in wartime factories, she was not depicted as all-powerful for a time.

The program also showed the lovely Lynda Carter in her role as Wonder Woman on television. Seeing her playing that part took me back…..

I was living in Los Angeles and working as a writer for a public relations firm. My boss was tall, blonde, and beautiful. With my black hair and short round body, I was very aware of my lack of glamour in comparison. Lovely Lynda Carter was one of our clients.

What can I tell you about Lynda? She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, and certainly, her unusual eyes were so beyond beautiful, I can still picture them in my mind.

Lynda Carter's Gorgeous Eyes

Lynda Carter’s Gorgeous Eyes

What I liked most about Lynda, however, was that she was extremely polite, friendly and really nice. Even when she ran into me years later (after she had become more successful) she remembered and greeted me warmly. I liked her for that especially.

Lynda Carter as television's Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter as television’s Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter was just starting out. My boss was trying to get her a movie contract. Boss Linda surprised me when she asked me to go with her to an appointment she had set up with the president of a movie company.

“What in the world for?” I asked, “I don’t know anything about movies or movie contracts.”

“You don’t have to know, ” she responded, “You look like you know.”

I didn’t understand what she was talking about and with much trepidation, accompanied her to the meeting a few days later.

Now, my friends know me to be outgoing and talkative, so it may be difficult for them to believe I actually remained silent during the whole meeting. But I did. I felt out of place, uncomfortable, and certainly had nothing to add to the discussion. I was introduced by name, sat down, and let my boss do all the talking.

When the meeting ended, we rose to leave. The president of the movie company stood, shook my hand and said “You don’t say much, Mrs. Kauffmann, but I can tell you’re the brains of this operation.”

The brains of the operation?????

The brains of the operation????? photo by Susan Kauffmann

I hope he didn’t see the confusion on my face. It took all the control I could muster to behave like a normal person as we left his office. In the elevator, my boss laughed.

“You have to learn to use what you have Muriel.” she told me, “And you look smart.” I was fascinated by how that woman’s brain worked. One doesn’t forget an experience like that.

Since then, I have learned she was right. Perhaps I was never glamourous, or tall, or gorgeous, but there is something about me that makes people think I “know”. Whenever people ask my opinion about things I know nothing about I remember the day I attended that meeting with my boss to try to get Lynda Carter work in film.

Years later, I told my friend Hans about it. He laughed and wrote a very funny poem for me. Unfortunately, that was long ago and I seem to have lost it. I only remember the first two lines….

“From her head down to her toes

She only looks as though she knows…”

I remember these two lines because Hans would recite them when we were together and someone approached me for information I didn’t possess — yes, it still happens.

So, don’t be fooled by whatever it is in my appearance that lies. It is a sham!  And, let me assure you, appearances ARE deceiving.The truth is, I know very little!

Doctor-assisted suicide for Canada

Muriel black and white Kudos to Canada’s Supreme Court, which this week voted unanimously for doctor-assisted suicide. It seems they’ve given a reluctant Conservative government a year to put it in place. This is something I have wanted for myself for years and I heartily approve. Hurrah for Canada, the country that made Gay marriage legal, and now has passed another important act of compassion.

Normal people don’t move mountains, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, crazy as he may have been, was a hero in my eyes. He assisted 120 people to die. To my friend who is writing about serial killers, that is what he considers Kevorkian was — a killer. Interesting….

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine

People have strong feelings on this issue, and I will not argue. I just know how I feel, and lately, it has been front and center in my own life because a friend asked me to help him end his suffering. (And, this was not the first time I have been approached in this way — I don’t know why.)

“C” was a member of the organization I started 15 years ago for people with balance and dizziness disorders. When I first met him, I was sure the guy would kill himself at work, which sometimes required climbing ladders. He had Ataxia, which compromised his nervous system and his balance was severely affected even then. Fate sometimes plays cruel jokes on us, he had been a Tango dancing devotee.

His co-workers thought he drank. He let them think so. They would chuckle, and he would smile with them. But it was a charade — he didn’t drink — though if you saw him walking, you would certainly think so. He was determined to keep working until he was 65 so he could collect his pension. I was sure he wouldn’t make it….

No one fought harder than “C” to continue functioning, he attended Tai Chi classes, and regularly worked out at a gym. His arm muscles looked strong and powerful, but his illness was even more powerful. However, every step I thought he should take, he delayed. He drove longer than I thought he should. He walked without a cane longer than I thought he should — and he fell, again and again. When I felt he needed a walker, he finally gave in and bought a cane — and kept falling. When I thought he needed a wheelchair, he purchased a walker.

They must have known him well at the emergency department of his local hospital. Once, it was nine stitches to his scalp, another time it was twelve. Too often he sported ugly scrapes and bruises. I worried. He drove me nuts. It became too dangerous for him to live on his own. Long after I thought he should give up his apartment, he finally gave in. The falls, however, never stopped.

When things became more than he could bear, he asked me to help him end his life. I contacted “The Farewell Foundation”, an organization which helps people in his position as much as they are legally permitted to. They cannot provide anything for you, but they will stay with you when YOU, yourself, obtain or do whatever you decide on, until you are dead. I understood their position.

Sociologist Russel Ogden, founder of The Farewell Foundation

Sociologist Russel Ogden, founder of The Farewell Foundation

Things became more and more unbearable. He could no longer write. He could no longer speak clearly. He could no longer hear much. I met with him and the kind people from the organization. They warned me to be careful and told me of possible dire consequences. A woman who had helped someone spent over $100,000 in court, lost her passport and could no longer leave the country. My children live out of the country. I love them. I want to be able to visit them. I was scared.

We visited his doctor together. He was sympathetic, but not willing to help — too frightened to I assume. Again, we understood. I bought the most recent copy of “Final Exit”. I read it cover to cover. I marked and underlined everything I felt could be helpful, brought it to “C” and read those parts for him. We talked about the various options. However, as usual, everything he decided to do, he decided on too late.

The last fall I was aware of cost him an eye. They had to remove it. After that, he was permanently hospitalized. Things were now truly out of his hands. He again begged me to help. I was told if he chose not to eat in hospital, they wouldn’t be allowed to force him, and they are required to keep him comfortable. Did he understand? Was the information I was given correct? I’ll never know.

He then asked me to take him to Switzerland. He could no longer walk at all. I would not be physically capable of helping him make it. It was too late. In desperation, he asked me to get him a gun. He was no longer able to hold one or to shoot it. It broke my heart to watch his suffering. Can a caring person be relieved and glad when a friend dies? I was….

For “C” and the other person I knew who would have opted to end his life on his own terms had he been able to, I hope this new law will be enacted and be there for all who wish it. You need not agree…..

“She Only Looks As Though She Knows”

Recently, there was a retropective on PBS TV about Wonder Woman. It covered the years since her introduction as a comic book character up until the present.

Wonder Woman in the comics

Wonder Woman in the comics

A weaker Wonder Woman

A weaker Wonder Woman

 

She had changed many times through the years — for instance, after WW2, when women were supposed to go back to their kitchens after doing “men’s” work in wartime factories, she was not depicted as all-powerful for a time.

The program also showed the lovely Lynda Carter in her role as Wonder Woman on television. Seeing her playing that part took me back…..

I was living in Los Angeles and working as a writer for a public relations firm. My boss was tall, blonde, and beautiful. With my black hair and short round body, I was very aware of my lack of glamour in comparison. Lovely Lynda Carter was one of our clients.

What can I tell you about Lynda? She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, and certainly, her unusual eyes were so beyond beautiful, I can still picture them in my mind.

Lynda Carter's Gorgeous Eyes

Lynda Carter’s Gorgeous Eyes

What I liked most about Lynda, however, was that she was extremely polite, friendly and really nice. Even when she ran into me years later (after she had become more successful) she remembered and greeted me warmly. I liked her for that especially.

Lynda Carter as television's Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter as television’s Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter was just starting out. My boss was trying to get her a movie contract. Boss Linda surprised me when she asked me to go with her to an appointment she had set up with the president of a movie company.

“What in the world for?” I asked, “I don’t know anything about movies or movie contracts.”

“You don’t have to know, ” she responded, “You look like you know.”

I didn’t understand what she was talking about and with much trepidation, accompanied her to the meeting a few days later.

Now, my friends know me to be outgoing and talkative, so it may be difficult for them to believe I actually remained silent during the whole meeting. But I did. I felt out of place, uncomfortable, and certainly had nothing to add to the discussion. I was introduced by name, sat down, and let my boss do all the talking.

When the meeting ended, we rose to leave. The president of the movie company stood, shook my hand and said “You don’t say much, Mrs. Kauffmann, but I can tell you’re the brains of this operation.”

The brains of the operation?????

The brains of the operation?????

I hope he didn’t see the confusion on my face. It took all the control I could muster to behave like a normal person as we left his office. In the elevator, my boss laughed.

“You have to learn to use what you have Muriel.” she told me, “And you look smart.” I was fascinated by how that woman’s brain worked. One doesn’t forget an experience like that.

Since then, I have learned she was right. Perhaps I was never glamourous, or tall, or gorgeous, but there is something about me that makes people think I “know”. Whenever people ask my opinion about things I know nothing about I remember the day I attended that meeting with my boss to try to get Lynda Carter work in film.

Years later, I told my friend Hans about it. He laughed and wrote a very funny poem for me. Unfortunately, that was long ago and I seem to have lost it. I only remember the first two lines….

“From her head down to her toes

She only looks as though she knows…”

I remember these two lines because Hans would recite them when we were together and someone approached me for information I didn’t possess.

So, don’t be fooled by whatever it is in my appearance that lies. It is a sham!  And, let me assure you, appearances ARE deceiving.The truth is, I know very little!