My doctor last week not only told me the bad news — my ouchy knee is probably arthritic — he said that making it less ouchy is in my hands. He prescribed ibuprofen in horse-size tablets, unspecified weight loss (“every little bit helps”) and strengthening exercises on the torture machines. All this by way of saying, you guys get the blow-off today, because I gotta go to the gym. The one closest to my house is not only highly recommended and reasonably priced, they’re having a “women work out free” promotion for the month of March, so I’m going to check them out before I sign anything.
Why, you ask, might a gym around here be willing to give away services free? Why, read on:
Ashley, let us clasp hands and hold them high! Wayne County, my county, the 313, lost 19,079 residents in 2005-’06, a full 89,000 since 2000, surpassed only by Orleans Parish, La., site of Hurricane Katrina! Anybody want to buy a house? Sinn fein!
Cathy Seipp doesn’t need another blogger standing in line to sing her praises; she doesn’t need anything now, having died yesterday of lung cancer, at 49. I hope she might find a glimmer of grim humor in the fact her lack of a smoking habit is the first phrase after her name in her obituaries, in the place where “Nobel laureate” or “designer of the space shuttle” would normally go: “Journalist Cathy Seipp, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer Wednesday, at 49…”
I didn’t know her. We corresponded a few times. Five years ago, I blogged a blackly humorous piece she did in Reason magazine, about the inability of public-education zero-tolerance nanny types to deal with not-particularly-complex subtleties of their students’ medical needs, which I thought was devastating. As she told the story, her daughter has a type of asthma where she needs to carry two inhalers at all times — one to be used immediately (as in, IMMEDIATELY) after an attack, another right after. She carried these in her backpack for years until a teacher spied her using them, and demanded that she adhere to the school’s official prescription-drug policy; that is, that they be kept in a locked drawer in the office, where they could be asked for under the proper procedures.
Obviously this is absurd. Asthma attacks come on swiftly and can be deadly; you’d think a simple explanation to school administration would suffice, but Seipp did what she was supposed to do — got a note from her daughter’s doctor that laid out the nature of her illness, and assured all that the girl had been properly trained in the use of the inhalers, and so forth and so on. Not that it did any good:
I spoke to Ivanhoe’s then-principal, Kevin Baker. He said I’d been “breaking the law” for five years by keeping the inhaler in the backpack instead of in the office, and that he would “confiscate” it if he found it there in the future. If the school had allowed this before, he said, it was an oversight. “So now what we need to do,” he explained, in a sing-songy, Romper Room voice, “is set up a series of intervention meetings to help you understand our concerns about you breaking the law.” My arguments about doctor’s orders went nowhere. “When your daughter is at school,” Principal Baker said, “I am the ultimate authority concerning her health.”
If that isn’t about the best capsule description of a certain type of public-school official, I don’t know what is. (My sister can tell a few more stories along these lines.) Seipp sent me a note, I wrote back, and that was pretty much it. As a media critic, she had few peers, and as an observer of Los Angeles, her hometown, she was always worth your time. She was conservative, but not in the amen corner; she wrote about her politics in an interesting way. (At first I didn’t understand why she wrote for those lemon-suckers over at the Independent Women’s Forum, but she was a freelancer, and now I am too, and so I understand perfectly now.) She was funny and smart, she was honest, she told the truth and, from the abundant testimony of those who loved her, she was a good mother and a fine and loyal friend. A life too short, but well-lived.