INTERLUDE (10.04.2020)

We interrupt this plodding narrative to bring you an emotional interlude.

My Mom died in February of 2016. She was very politically astute and active. She really wanted to live long enough to vote for Hilary Clinton. I made a Herculean effort to vote that day, flying halfway across the country to do it, then took a nap, then headed back to the airport to fly half-a-country back. Sure, I did it to make my own voice heard in the national conversation, but I was deeply motivated to cast that vote in my mother’s memory and honor.

She died the same day as Justice Antonin Scalia. Gathered together in mourning, one by one the family phones rattled and dinged with the news alert about Scalia’s unexpected demise. It was startling and odd and amusing. It made perfect sense to me. Mom & Scalia were meant to be in the afterlife waiting room together so she could hear him out, then give him an eloquent but empathic speech about why his views were crap. She loved intellectually stimulating conversations like that, especially when she had something personal at stake. She’d no doubt regale him with tales of my - not one, but TWO same-sex marriages (to the same woman) - no thanks to his rulings. So, now I chuckle whenever I think of Scalia; really Scalia & my Mom chatting it up in Purgatory’s lobby. Him waiting to take the elevator down, and her waiting to take the elevator up. That brief meeting of the minds in the middle as the last vestige of the corporeal world they would share.

Why so sentimental on a website about a van conversion? Because I re-injured my knee again tonight. No, I did not eat too many of those CBD peanut butter cookies that my dog walker baked for me. As Joe Biden would say: “Here’s the deal…”

I’m building FifVANella to travel safely from Los Angeles to Baltimore/Philadelphia/New York. Why go to such an extreme just to get from Point A to far away Point B? Because my underlying health sucks.

This weekend the amazing John Haywood installed 4 SunPower 170 watt solar panels on the van roof. I assisted by making masked runs to Home Depot for extra adhesive and to the McDonalds drive-thru for large unsweetened ice teas. I also handed him things and talked a lot and crawled under the van and up the ladder to the roof and brainstormed a way to see the stars at night in my little metal cocoon. All of this under the 98 f degree sun on a hillside in the Southland. We’re installing so much solar in order to power the CruiseNComfort 12-volt AC system to keep the van cool when the engine is off.

“That’s overkill for such a small van.”

“You’re putting too much into it to get the value back when you sell it.”

“That ain’t cheap, lady.”

All of that above wisdom from the Promaster Forums is spot-on. Remember when I made all those lists of my needs? Staying cool wasn’t just for my temperature-sensitive life-saving medicine; when I get hot, which is often, then my body loses even more of it’s limited ability to regulate my already too low Calcium levels. That could kill me pretty quickly and painfully. So, as much solar as can fit in order to power as much independent efficient Air Conditioning as can fit is truly a matter of life and death for me.

One of the symptoms of extremely low calcium is random and sometimes violent muscle spasms. I used to warn whomever sat in the airplane seat next to me that I may poke or slap them involuntarily, and that I was very sorry in advance of that embarrassing possible eventuality. It only happened twice out of dozens of flights. Forewarned is forearmed.

Yesterday and today were spent sweating out what felt like half of my body weight. To say that I got overheated is an understatement. What happens when I get too hot? My already-too-low Calcium drops even lower. And I burned like a furnace for two out of the past two days. As I sat in bed tonight, lazily scrolling through Facebook and petting my dog, my left leg abruptly and violently straightened, locked up and twisted itself. It’s like 1) Some really evil marionette contortions jerking me around or else 2) My EX is playing with VooDoo dolls again or 3) Maybe I’m just dangerously low in Calcium. I know the answer is 3, not just because “been there, done that” but because my faithful elderly dog senses when I’m hypocalcemic and alerts me, which she did about 10 seconds before the phantom leg twist. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it had happened to my right leg, but my left knee has been through Hell this past year. So when my left leg decided to Do The Twist, it did so at the expense of my already fragile meniscus and tibial plateau-challenged left knee.

As I sit here with ice wrapped around my swelling knee, I am reassured that I have made the absolute right decision to build FifVANella at all, and to do it in the seemingly over-outfitted fashion I’ve chosen. I must keep my medicine and my body cool to save life and limb, literally. Nothing stock on an RV lot or van trading site or Craigslist could fulfill all of my vital requirements. I wish that my Mom would be in Baltimore, waiting in person to welcome me home. Baring a bizarre divine intervention allowing for her to hug me, I know that she would approve of the next best thing: FifVANella and the way I’m building her, so I can safely come home to Dad and my sister and other beloved family and friends. She was adamant that experiences, especially with loved ones, were the best Life investments of all. FifVANella has already surprised me with experiences and lessons I never knew existed or that I needed so much. And we’ve only just begun the physical work of transformation; imagine how many more small miracles of coincidence will be revealed on this journey.

My California vote by mail ballot arrived yesterday. I filled it out today. I’m dropping it off in person tomorrow. I imagine RBG had a similarly fascinating afterlife waiting room discussion with a newly dead citizen; maybe she even got to see her dear opera buddy Scalia one last time before he slunk back down and she ascended to the heavens. Clearly, the 2016 election echoes are ringing in my ear, but I refuse to let them haunt me. I’m moving forward, just as my parents taught me to do. That election came in the middle of an important cross-country road trip for me, and relatively soon, I plan to make the reverse trek. I’ll do it while blasting Mom’s CDs of Barbra Streisand, Michael Feinstein and as many showtunes as possible.