Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Turn to Kvetch

Kvetch: an ancient Greek term meaning “to complain incessantly, but not to the level of bitching.”

A rainy day in Manhattan's Kips Bay
So, where to start?  Right where I sit is probably as good a place as any: a Manhattan dermatologist’s office on a rainy, windy, miserable day, wondering what that mysterious rash on the back of my legs may be.  The pain is yet to come.  No, not from the rash or paying for the visit—he’s worth every penny—but getting from the sitting to a standing position, for I’m also strapped into a back brace and leaning over like a politician trying to pick a school kid’s pocket. (Warning: Bitching Level Approach Alert (“BLAA”)).

I don’t need a doctor to tell me why that is.  It’s the residual effect of my Sunday night/Monday morning air odyssey into New York City.  The same one I first complained about Monday on Leighton’s blog.  Did you miss it?  Too bad, here are a few choice bits leading up to this kvetch:

“It was a dark and stormy night. Yes, last night surely was. And as I sat into the second hour on an otherwise deserted eastern Pennsylvania runway with 200 pilgrims from Minneapolis diverted by prudent flying (and wind shear) from reaching New York City, all seemed lost. We were in Allentown.  Billy Joel lyrics kept running through my mind.”

But it didn’t end there.  We finally reached NYC’s LaGuardia airport at two in the morning.  So did hundreds from other flights, all of them waiting in the rain in a line for taxis.  Godot would arrive sooner than my cab.  I’d been up since 4 AM Sunday and had to be up again in time for an 8 AM meeting, then another at eleven, and the rest of the day spent among lawyers, my former breed.

By the time I made it home from LaGuardia I had barely enough time to catch a few hours sleep before the meetings.  But I made it through them all without dozing off (too often) and was back in bed by eight…falling off to sleep, perchance to…

I never should have answered the phone.  “Jeffrey, where are you, we’ve been waiting since seven!”

OH, NO.  I’d completely forgotten dinner plans I could not miss.  It was with friends who’d shared extraordinary insights for my just completed novel, and were offering even more for the next.  So, forty minutes later I’m sitting on a barstool, and remained there for three hours talking, eating, and drinking.

Next morning my back said, “And just where do you think you’re going?”  For most of the day we negotiated over the subject of my being able to walk, but finally reached an agreement that allowed me to make my NYC book signing that evening at Greenwich Village’s Partners & Crime, provided I wore a corset-like contraption and popped ibuprofen like jellybeans.

The plan was a simple in and out and back to bed.  But, I should have known better, for no event involving Greeks, food, and wine ever ends predictably.  This one went on until nearly midnight, shifting venues along the way.

Today, I’m paying the price for dissolute ways.  My back’s out, I’m scratching like a dog with fleas, and wondering what in the world to write for my blog.  I feel as if a Kathy Bates Misery moment would be an improvement.  BLAA, BLAA.

Whoops, got to run, time to see the doctor.  I’ll let you know what happens.


Ahh, relief.  It’s just poison ivy, contact dermatitis to be precise.  But how, you may ask, did I contract poisoned ivy in the middle of a winter book tour?  Perhaps touching up against some contagious sort of material in a book aisle?  Possibly, but I doubt it.  More likely it’s tied into a two-day break I took clearing brush at my farm.  Maybe I should consider this a warning to stick to writing and leave the chainsaw work to critics?

Office of the world's greatest dermatologist
Bottom line, all is right again with the universe because this super doctor is also a magician.   He made my back feel better and changed the outlook on my day with just a few simple words added to his poison ivy diagnosis: “By the way, Jeffrey, I loved Prey on Patmos and am a big fan.”

How little it takes to cure a writer of kvetching.

Jeff — Saturday


  1. I am glad that you have a convenient reason for the back problem. Blame it on the plane and the terribly uncomfortable seats at the airport. Just block out the 20-somethings who jump right out of them.

    As to the poison ivy, I and my yard reached an agreement a long time ago. I will not go near the poison ivy, the snakes, the raccoons, the fox, and all of the other slimy, disgusting, many-legged things that are out there. For their part, they have agreed not to come into the house.

    So far, the deal has worked.

    I hope your airport days are over for a little while.


  2. Beth,

    You're so cruel. I can't even spell twentysometings any more.

    On outside/inside arrangements, I live in the middle of a forest and my deal (successful so far) is "just stay in the basement."

    Only two more weeks in the air. But whatever travel it takes to make this Wednesday (March 16 @ 7 PM) at the Reston, Virginia Barnes & Noble will be well worth enduring whatever pain it takes. For it will be joint appearance with the inimitable Leighton Gage! Looking forward to that one, BIG TIME.

    Might even invite some of the basement critters and twenty-whatevers to come along:))

  3. Hi Jeff,

    That was a cute story.

    Is Kvetch really a Greek word?
    I grew up thinking it was Yiddish.


  4. Susie,

    If you ever saw "MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING" I'm sure you understand that all words come from the Greek. Though I think it's pretty safe to say that this one truly belongs in the other Orthodox aisle.:)