Category Archives: Random Acts of Kindness

TYOLD Day 46: Examples of Irony

Example #1: I have always wanted to go to the Petersen Automotive Museum here in Los Angeles but the primary thing that has stopped me is that I didn’t want to sit in all the traffic I’d need to sit in to get to its mid-Wilshire location.

Example #2: When I finally decided to go today, on a Saturday afternoon mind you, it took me longer to drive to the Petersen Automotive Museum than I spent actually inside of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Alanis should redo her song and include that.

The Petersen is two floors of automotive art, with vehicles from the earliest days through today’s modern electric cars.  In between are stops at hot rods, town cars, cars used in movies, pick ups, motorcycles, and even the world’s most complete collection of Hot Wheels (one of every body style ever cast).

The first floor is the most interesting where they put the cars in front of Hollywood-worthy backdrops helping to explain their context to society.  It is very heavily focused on Los Angeles, with explorations of how the car culture drove the development of the city.  Here’s a fascinating tidbit… up until the 1920s, markets were in street-facing buildings just like any other urban setting, mostly accessed by locals in the neighborhood on foot.  But the automobile created a need for a place to park, so they developed the first “drive-in markets,” which were set back from the street to allow for room for people to pull in and load groceries.  The modern mini-mall, with a strip of stores (often in an L-shape) and a small parking lot, is the direct descendant of those original drive-ins.

The second floor is mostly just vehicles grouped thematically and without a lot of explanation or context so it’s a little less successful, but it’s still got some crazy beautiful machines to drool over.  Even if you’re not a “car guy,” it’s easy to appreciate these as the works of art they really are.  Take a look at the photos below and tell me that you don’t agree.

They also offer tours of a climate-controlled “vault” with about 100 other cars for an additional $20 (over the normal $15 admission) but I didn’t have time for that.  I had to get back on the road to get home.

BTW, after the museum I stopped at the grocery store (using the parking lot, of course) and did a random act of kindness involving coupons.  I had a bunch that I didn’t want but instead of throwing them away, I left them by the products on the store shelves so somebody else could.

Work of Art

Work of Art

1939 Packard

1939 Packard

Showing the Drive-In Market

Showing the Drive-In Market

Dig the White Walls

Dig the White Walls

This Was Liberace's (big surprise)

This Was Liberace’s (big surprise)

Stylin'

Stylin’

Low Ridin'

Low Ridin’

I SO Wanted One of These as a Kid

I SO Wanted One of These as a Kid

From the Movie "The Hangover"

From the Movie “The Hangover”

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Who Ya Gonna Call?

TYOLD Day 43: It’s Always Something

NOTE: this is a long, rambling post that winds up being a little sad.  You have been warned.

A lot of disparate things happened today that qualify for the Differently pile but they all seemed to be connected, in ways big and small, to cancer.  I wish the theme for the day had been unicorns riding rainbows through a field of sunflowers, but alas.

I started my day with a new oncologist.  My former – the guy I called Dr. Wile E. Coyote on my Year of Living with Cancer blog because his actual name sounded like a cartoon character – left the practice he had been with and moved to Pasadena and I’m just too lazy to schlep that far.  So instead I transferred to a different doctor in the same group and today was my first meeting with him.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote was great, but his office staff was always a bit frantic; like they had too much to do and were freaked out about it.  The new doc’s support staff was obviously busy but were friendly and joking around with me and the other patients, giving people high-fives and hugs.  It was a nice change of pace.

As was the fact that I got there at 10:15 for a 10:30 appointment and barely had a chance to sit down in the waiting room when they took me to an exam room, did the weight/blood pressure/temperature stuff, and had me ready for when the new doctor walked in at 10:30 on the nose.  I’m not naive enough to believe that will ever happen again but it has never happened EVER before at any doctor’s office so I’m impressed already.

I’m going to call the new guy Dr. Kangaroo, because he reminded me a bit of the Captain of the same name only without the mustache or the bowl haircut.  It’s weird where my mind goes but I have learned to accept it and move on and I think you should also.

Anyway, I really liked this guy – he had read my chart, asked all the right questions, wanted to know my opinion on things, was concerned about both my physical and mental well-being, and just generally seemed like a nice man.  I’m a fan.

I wasn’t a huge fan of what he said, which involved the word “indeterminate.”  When you’re having a check-in with your oncologist, or any doctor really, what you want is “everything is fine, grand, great, and rosy and it was practically a waste of everyone’s time that you even had to come here today.  Your unicorn is parked out front.”  Instead what I got was “indeterminate.”

Every four months I have to get check-ups to make sure that nothing has gone awry with the whole “remission” thing.  I get a variety of tests including some blood work, x-rays, and a few others.  This time some of the results came back as “indeterminate,” which is to say that there is nothing specifically wrong but it also isn’t fine, grand, great, and rosy – or at least they are unable to definitely say so.  In other words, no unicorns for me, yet.

This most likely means nothing.  Dr. Kangaroo and I both firmly believe that it’s a blip but we have to make sure so I have to go in for some more tests including a PET scan.  That’s the one where I have to get radioactive and lay in a tube for a really long time.  This is all being done out of an overabundance of caution and I’m sure it’ll all be fine so nothing to worry about.  I don’t have a date for the test yet but it will probably be late next week or early the following, right before I go to Vegas to watch The Academy Awards with a bunch of friends.

The weirdness of all this is that it was exactly one year ago that I had another set of tests that came back indeterminate and then had to go get a PET scan right before I went to Vegas to watch The Academy Awards with a bunch of friends. That PET scan didn’t turn out well, so while I’m certain that it’s all fine this time, to say I’m not just a little spooked would be a lie.

Anyway, as I left the doctor’s office I went to stand in line to pay for parking and there was an older woman in front of me.  I don’t know that she had cancer – there are lots of doctor’s offices in the complex that is served by this garage – but since the Roy and Patricia Disney Cancer Center (where my oncologist is located) is there, I figured it was at least possible.  I needed something to make myself feel better after “indeterminate” and so I said, “Excuse me, Ma’am?  This is Random Acts of Kindness Week so I’d like to pay for your parking.”

She looked at me, stunned, and said, “Really?  You have no idea!  I left my purse at home and was standing here not knowing if I was going to have enough change to pay for parking.”  Turns out, she only had about $3 and the charge was $5.  Weird how the world works, huh?

The woman, the person working the register, and the guy behind me who heard the whole thing were all kind of gobsmacked by this random act and it made me realize that we just don’t expect kindness in our lives.  We usually expect everything to be a hassle and for people to be dicks and often it is and they are, but sometimes kindness exists even if we have to make it so ourselves.  I have to say that afterward I felt better and there was no “indeterminate” about it.

The last bit of cancer-related Differently I partook in was going to The Falcon Theater in Burbank (for the first time) with my friend Maureen to see “Bunny, Bunny,” a play by Alan Zweibel about his friendship with Gilda Radner.

I have a deep connection with Gilda that is related to my friend Mary In fact, in a way, Gilda is the reason that Mary and I met.

I was working in the mail room of a big talent agency in 1989 and I had a bunch of things on the wall above my desk including a copy of a “Bloom County” cartoon.  It was this:

bloomcounty

Mary, who was working upstairs at the same talent agency, loved Bloom County and Gilda Radner.  She saw it over my desk one day when she swung through the mail room and she stopped to talk to me about it.

Flash forward about 20 years.  I was getting ready to move and was cleaning out the clutter I had accumulated since I had lived in that particular apartment (about 14 years) and stumbled upon the cartoon strip – THE cartoon strip.  The one I had hanging over my desk.  I put it in a frame and gave it to Mary.  She told me that it was the best gift anyone had ever given her and she liked to carry it around with her, holding it tightly.

Flash forward another few months.  It was about two in the morning and her husband Steve took a break while I sat with her, quietly at first.  It had been hours since she was responsive in any meaningful way, although occasionally she would seem to respond to direct questions by trying to move her body or with noises as if she wanted to say something but couldn’t.  Whether this is true or not – whether she really was cognizant of her surroundings – is probably up for debate and yet not worth debating.

Although others were talking to her, I really hadn’t been all that much.  For some reason just being in the room… being with her was enough.  And on top of that I really couldn’t think of anything all that interesting to say.

But this time I managed to find my voice.

“This sucks,” I said as I sat next to her bed.  “I mean really sucks.  But you know it’s okay, right?  It’s okay that you go.  I mean it’s not okay.  It’s about as far from okay as you can get, but it’s okay.  And I’m going to be okay, too.  I know you were worried that I wouldn’t be, but I will be.  Okay might look different than it does now, but I’ll be okay.  I’m saying okay a lot, aren’t I?  I promise if I ever write this as a movie script or a book I’ll make this much more intelligent.”

I was quiet for a moment.  So was she.

“I’ll be okay,” I said.  “But I wanted to ask you… Can I have the ‘Bloom County’ cartoon strip back?”

She hadn’t moved or done anything in the entire time I was in there but as soon as I asked that question, she made a noise, like a low moan, and struggled a bit.

“Afterwards!” I said quickly.  “After you’re gone.  Not now!”

She calmed down.  Like I said, debatable.  But not worth debating.

She passed away later that morning – February 16, 2010.

“Bunny, Bunny” is not a great play.  It’s disjointed and a bit frenetic at times and the actors are good but not fantastic.  Having said that, the second act, as Gilda is diagnosed with cancer, has some really lovely moments in it including what I think is the best line of the play, almost at the end: “She’s been dead for years, but I’m still not ready for her to die.”

It’ll be four years this Sunday since Mary died.  I’m still not ready.  That, my friends, will never be Different.

TYOLD Day 42: Random Acts of Kindness Day 2

Lately I have been obsessed with fruit smoothies – I have one almost every single morning, often from Jamba Juice.

Today, I got my medium Razzmatazz, paid for it, and then handed the clerk a $20 bill and one of the ROAK cards.  I told her to pay for the drink of the next person to come in the store and that whatever was left over should go in their tip jar.  She thought it was really cool and wanted to know where she could get some of the cards so she could do something herself.

FYI, I just did a google image search for “random acts of kindness cards” and then printed out one of what I found.  You can also lift the image from below, paste it into a word document a few times, and then print it.

To prove that random acts of kindness don’t have to involve money, I also did two other things today.  I went to the grocery store at lunch and there was a parking spot right in front, just steps from the door.  But instead of taking it, I parked a little further back so as to leave that space open for someone else to enjoy parking right next to the door.  Maybe it would be someone who needed it more than I did.

Lastly, as I was leaving work today, there was a woman carrying a large box into the parking garage.  I offered to carry it for her.  She wouldn’t let me, but I still count it as a random act of kindness, especially since it seemed that she was grateful that I had at least offered.

I have several Differentlies on the docket for tomorrow including meeting a new oncologist and going to the Falcon Theater for the first time, but am going to try to squeeze in a random act of kindness just to keep up the week’s theme.

I highly recommend this folks.  It’s good soul soothing.

random

TYOLD Day 41: Random Acts of Kindness Day 1

This is Random Acts of Kindness week, so I’m going to do a bunch of them this week as my Differently items.

I started today by going to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf next to my office and I bought a $10 gift card.  I paid with a $20 and the barista said, “And I owe you $10,” as she laid down two $5 bills.  I said “No, you don’t,” and pushed the $10 back toward her.

She looked with suspicion at first and then confusion and then like she was a little freaked out.  She said, “No, you can’t…” and I said, “Sure, I can.”  And then she asked, “But… why?”

I thought there, right there… that a person who is most likely a minimum wage employee at a coffee shop who probably rarely gets a few coins thrown in the little tip jar by the register would ask “why” when someone gives them $10 is exactly why.

I showed her the little cards I had printed out (see below) and told her it was Random Acts of Kindness Week and then told her to pay it forward as I walked out of the store.

Then I went to the parking garage and left the $10 gift card and one of the RAOK cards on the car parked next to mine.

I wasn’t having a great day but I feel a lot better now.

To find out more about National Random Acts of Kindness Week visit actsofkindness.org.

random