Thursday, August 31, 2006

yellow flowers redux

I've got three paintings going today. Three because three is a sufficient number to juggle the distraction from the glaring and obvious fact that my report from the heart clinic is still held up in the U.S. Mail.

A nurse from the Clinic called me yesterday evening, around six, to let me know the report is on its way.

Please, I begged. Give me a brief synopsis. I'm dying inside, here.

She began speaking in tongues. I struggled valiantly to keep up but could not. I scrabbled for a pencil and jotted down phrases in a memo pad roughly the size of my ear.

You'll have to follow up with your referring doctor, she said.

My referring doctor is out of town until next Tuesday for the Labor Day holiday, because people who make two hundred dollars an hour can pretty much work whenever they want. Not to inject any kind of class-biased cynicism into the dialogue, but you know.

The report will probably arrive in your mailbox tomorrow, she said.

And yet tomorrow has come; it's not here. And I really wanted it, these scrolls in Hebrew that will clarify the meaning of my suffering, even if I don't comprehend it (the meaning, or the suffering, either one).

I called the clinic back. Have you got the right address? Did you, perhaps, mistakenly send the report to my doppleganger in Greenland? No?

Sometimes it takes three days for mail just to leave the building, the guy answering the phone said. He sounded a little weary. Probably contemplating picking up another degree so he can advance out of the switchboard and get out of the mainstream, where the irritating public is. I can read his mind. No really. I can.

Wow, three days, I said. That's impressive. I envisioned a very elderly man, shuffling along in manner of Tim Conway from The Carol Burnett Show, holding my report and muttering to himself softly.

He's not the only one.

I called the other doctor's office back. I know I already called you guys, but I know you already have the report because they told me they already faxed it to you and so, is anyone there sober enough yet to interpret some Aramaic for me? Think you could see your way clear to do that? Maybe? Even if only because you're a human being and I'm a human being and we're all in this together, somehow? Huh?

"I can't tell you anything that the other nurse hasn't already told you."

Okay I say sadly, and hang up. I hope they can hear the shoulders drooping in my voice. I want them to feel good and guilty about their reluctance to help me.

Then the doctor's office calls me back. We don't have the report, they say. It was never faxed to us. This may all be a psychotic episode on your part, this report of which you speak. Don't have it. Not looking at it. Nothing here, nada.

(Any time the phone calls and it's a doctor, my children's antennae perk alertly and they begin to screech. This is because the call of a doctor is more painful than a regular kind of phone call. It hurts their ears. I have no other explanation, rational or otherwise. I get up and leave the room to get away from the screeching and filter out the noise pollution and the children get up and follow me. They stand outside the door I've closed myself behind and continue screeching. At times they even bang on the door to punctuate the yelps, creating the unwelcome ambiance on the phone that I'm entertaining a gang of bongo players.)

But am I deterred? I am not. I call the clinic back and report my findings like the good scout that I am ("they say they never got their fax yesterday. Can you resend it?"). And they refer me to a secretary whose first name is the same as a large country and when they tell me that they're connecting me there I almost believe, in my disoriented state, that I am being patched through to some other continent. Transatlantic calls! This is service.

Who names a child after a country? I ask you. I didn't name my children America. I could have named them Captain, Major and Sargeant so they'd automatically get the proper respect they seem to demand, but I wasn't savvy enough at the time. My bad.

The Large Country tells me she was given the wrong fax number.
I give her the right one. Like I know what I'm talking about. Like I didn't just misplace my caffeine-free Coke and write myself a note to remind myself I DID take my beta blocker this morning, yes ma'am, so don't take it twice.

I feel like a messenger boy. Like I should be wearing knickers and one of those golf berets, maybe with the requisite scabby knees and Buster Brown loafers.

If I were a patient person, or an indolent one, these trials would be but paltry trifles, an errant fly in an otherwise silent room.

They've pinpointed a problem -- two, to my knowledge -- and I want to blitz it now that I've honed in on it. It's like finding the field wide open and making the touchdown play and getting almost to the end zone when you realize you haven't got the ball. Where is it?

No clue. Think it might have unraveled somewhere along the fifty-yard line.

So I paint, instead.