Wednesday, July 20, 2016

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1)  I'm here and still alive, so far.  Thanks to everyone who has been concerned! I'm glad you guys care. :)  I have an appointment with the cardiologist today, and I sincerely hope that it doesn't end with another appointment to run on a treadmill and have my left boob make another new friend.  I mean, because really, if that's going to happen, I'd like it to be in a much more relaxed setting. ; )

Ugh.  You know what makes me mad about the whole situation?  Ever since the original stress test I had, and after finding out that my left arm periodically going numb was due to the spine problems I have, I have not been worried about my heart at all.  Not even a little bit.  Granted, I know hereditary stuff is still a possibility and all, but the fears I had due to my dad's heart attack had gone away.  Do you have any idea how rare that is for me?  I worry about things. To be free of one of those worries was such a relief.  Then out of nowhere, my heart decides its going to do a dumb thing and I have to start all over.  It pisses me off! I'm too young for this! (Young being a relative term, obviously.)  I'm (kind of) young and shouldn't be worried about things of this nature!

I do have a theory of my own about what happened, though.  I think I have a food allergy that maybe I didn't have before. The only thing I did differently that day that I do everyday is that I ate a Cliff Bar.  I don't like them, but I was in a hurry to get out to the door and do what I had to do, and it was the fastest thing I could get my hands on.  I ate it, and 20 minutes later everything went to hell.  I didn't think of that at the time, but when everything else came back normal, I thought maybe that could've been it. Who knows?  Since the fiasco with the probiotics, I apparently can't eat dairy stuff anymore, so it's not out of the realm of possibilities that something in that bar caused me to have a bad reaction.

So, there you go.  Hopefully it was a one time thing and I can go back to being a normal person who does normal things after I see the doc.  However, if there is a new problem, and I'm talking worst case scenario stuff, I might need a few of you to help me cross some things off of my Bucket List!  I've got too much I want to do in my life for this kind of nonsense. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

2) Steve got a new job!  I have no idea exactly what he does, but I do know that he is one of the few people in the US that does that particular thing. I mean, I know his title, but what he does has something to do with a an acronym and even though he's explained it, I still don't really understand. It's computer stuff that goes too deep for me.  His new company will be sending him all over the place for consulting.  I think that's neato!  Go Steve! 

This will mean he'll be traveling more, but apparently I'll be able to go with him to a few places.  I'm hoping he'll go somewhere interesting so I will want to tag along. I hope one place will be Alaska.  There are sled dog puppies there somewhere, and I'm going to find them and bring them all back with me!

3)You want to hear something weird?  I know you do.  :)  Heh!

Years ago, and I mean around 17 or more years ago, I was having a very slow day at work and so I passed some time by drawing out what I considered to be (at the time) my dream house.  I didn't draw the blueprints, just the outside, but in my head I knew exactly what it would look like and how it would be laid out.  I could describe it in detail, but that would be boring.  All you need to know was that it wasn't a big house, but it was an older style, two-story cottage that had a staircase that started just inside the front door. It was one of those things a person thinks about when they're bored, so for a while, I thought about it a lot!

Of course, knowing how way leads on to way, I just sort of forgot about it all and went on with life. But a few months ago I started thinking about the house again out of nowhere.  That part isn't weird.  I don't know what jogged my memory, but the house just started popping into my head a lot.  The setting and inside decor would change depending on my mood, but it was always the same house.  Then a few weeks ago, someone on Facebook "shared" a picture of an old, abandoned house.  I don't even know the context of it, but it was my house!  My "imaginary" house!  There were even pictures of the inside, and it was laid out like it was in my head.  I suppose I should mention that I've never been inside a house like that before, so to see an actual photograph of a house I knew, but had never been inside of, was a little creepy.  I could understand the outside being something I'd seen before, but not the inside.  I saved the pictures, but don't have them on me at the moment, or I'd post them.  Not that it matters, I guess.  You guys can't see inside of my head.

Or can you?

*Twilight Zone Music*

4) I have been getting grief over this from all sides, but this presidential election will be the first one since I registered to vote that I will not be voting in.

I know it's a right and a civic duty, but I just can't do it.  There is no lesser of the two evils here.  It's all a giant dumpster fire and America is sitting on top of it.

I hope you'll forgive me.  I just can't, with good conscience, vote for anyone that is running.   Please don't make me!

5) Oooh!  Another weird thing.  Two nights ago I was in the living room by myself after Steve went to bed. The television was off and I was reading something, so it was completely quiet, when I heard what sounded like a robotic voice outside of my window.  It scared me BADLY.

Well, let me be more clear.  At first it sounded like a cicada, you know, the "reeeee reeeee reeeee" sound they make, only it wasn't.  The tone was the same, but there was inflection to it, and the pattern wasn't consistent like a cicada would have been.  It sounded exactly like something with a metal voice box trying to speak a long sentence.  Maybe a better way to describe it would be to think of one of those poor people who have had cancer and have to have that thing implanted so that they could talk, only imagine that being distorted and the battery running down on it.  There were no intelligible words, just a scary, metallic voice that was trying to say something, but didn't quite know how. 

Scared nearly pantsless or not, without looking at the window, I calmly walked to the house alarm and turned it on, and then walked into the bedroom and said "Steve, I'm not crazy, but there is a robot talking outside of our window."  Steve asked what I was talking about, and I tried to explain, but of course he didn't believe me.  He just laid back down (BECAUSE HE APPARENTLY WELCOMES OUR NEW ROBOTIC OVERLORDS) and I had to go back to the living room by myself so that I could turn off the lights.  I know how stupid this sounds, I promise, but whatever it was unnerved me enough that I couldn't make myself go into the living room right away because the big windows are right there.  I finally had to sternly talk myself into it so that I could go and turn off the lights.  I did it, but didn't hear any other weird sounds.  I was still scared, though. Before I got into bed, I strapped one of the heavy police flashlights we have onto my arm and turned it on.  I figured that if whatever it is that made the sound broke into the house, I'd have both light and a blunt instrument. I left it on for a long time. I also didn't sleep for a long time.  It's been a while since anything scared me that badly. 

I still don't know what it was, but I swear if it was some kid playing Pokemon Go (Does it make sounds like that? No idea.) or something outside of my house, I'm going to hunt them down and beat them with my flashlight for scaring me.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

SILVER LINING: I DIDN'T DIE

Everyone knows what a bucket list is, right?  You know, the list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket?  I'm pretty sure everyone has one and we all get to do something on our list every once in a while.  I also believe that everyone has something called a F*uck That list.  Its the things you don't want to do, ever.  We all try to avoid doing those things. Unfortunately, I got to experience one of the things on my F*ck That list on Friday.

I was going to be SO productive on Friday, you guys, I really was.  I was going to do some shopping and then come home to do a much needed boxing up of stuff I've been wanting to send to goodwill.  Then, if I had some time, I was going to eat ice cream and watch a movie.  I even had the movie picked out so I could watch it when I had time. 

I started out my day going to one of my favorite stores, Hobby Lobby.  I didn't even really need anything, but that never mattered before.  I was just there to see what I could find and have a little fun. Everything was fine until I knelt down to look at something at the bottom of a shelf, and when I stood up I almost fainted.  You know how you'll stand up too quick and get a head rush?  It was like that, only really bad.  I had to steady myself and when I finally did, I couldn't take a deep breath.  I've been having some trouble with the deep breathing since we were in Ireland, so I did what I always do and puffed on my inhaler. Usually that helps, only it didn't this time.  My heart started beating so hard and fast that I thought I was going to pass out.  I didn't, thank goodness, and so I kept on shopping.  The feeling didn't go away.  My heart was going a mile a minute and I was dizzy and couldn't breathe, and as I happen to wear a Garmin Vivosmart HR now, I remembered that I was wearing a heart rate monitor on my arm and could see if I was just imagining it.  I don't know what my normal heart rate is, but I was walking slowly through a building, not running, and my heart rate was going crazy.  It was a 134 beats a minute when I first checked, it went down to 112, then went back up to 135 while I was watching it.  My chest wasn't hurting, and I wasn't having a panic attack, so I didn't understand what was happening.  I shopped for a bit longer, paid for my stuff, and went out to my car to go to the next place. On the walk to the car, my heart rate fell to 41, and then jumped back up to 120.  I almost, almost went to the walk-in clinic right then, because the last time I was feeling like this, it turned out to be walking pneumonia and easily taken care of.  By the time I had sat in the air conditioning for a minute, though, I felt a little better and decided to go to Target instead.  Just walking to the building from the car started my heart racing again.  I was dizzy and was still having trouble breathing, but I thought it would pass.  It didn't.  I went to the pharmacy and sat on the bench with my face in my hands and tried to take stock of what was going on.  I was dizzy, my heart was slamming inside my chest, I couldn't take a deep breath, but I wasn't in pain anywhere.  Physically, it felt exactly like one of those massive panic attacks I have had in the past, but my mind wasn't racing about anything.  I sat there wondering what I should do, when I broke out into a sweat and my skin flushed.  I was afraid someone from the pharmacy would see me and call an ambulance (I really didn't want that) and so I got up to leave.  I called Steve to get his advice on what I should do, go to the clinic, or go to an emergency room.  We both decided I should go to the walk in clinic after all, just in case this was walking pneumonia. I just hoped I could get seen quickly because I was feeling very wrong.

I got to the clinic and got called back within about 10 minutes.  When the nurse came in, I told her what was going on and she took my blood pressure.  She walked out of the room right away and grabbed the doctor and brought her in.  I kept my composure. The last time I was in that clinic with a similar story and didn't stay calm, that doc prescribed me an anti-depressant I didn't need.  I didn't want her to do that again.  She listened to my heart and listened to me breathe and told me to lie down.  Then she came back in and told me I needed to go to the emergency room.  I told her I could drive myself, but she said no, they'd call me an ambulance.  Well, crap.  So I said that was fine and I called Steve to tell him to meet me there.

You guys, I was literally handed to a couple of paramedics, strapped to a gurney, and wired to an EKG machine.  They were super calm, thank goodness, because if they'd been in a panic, I would have panicked.  I was wheeled out of the clinic in front of everyone in the waiting room and loaded into a waiting, lights flashing, ambulance in the parking lot.  I was actually embarrassed.  I've never had anything like that happen before and had hoped I never would!  The paramedic gave me baby aspirin, then nitroglycerin (which is so gross, BTW) and I was driven - sirens off, thank goodness - to the nearby hospital.  The medic kept me calm, trying to explain what could be wrong, and she said it didn't look like a heart attack, but they couldn't be sure.  She started an IV and called the hospital. She asked me questions the whole time. I tried to keep a good sense of humor about all of it and I felt oddly calm, but really, I was scared. 

I got wheeled into the emergency room (and I smiled at everyone I saw, mainly because I felt like such a tool for being wheeled into the emergency room) and they settled me into a bed and started hooking me up to things.  I had the IV, a bunch of ID bracelets (and one that said "FALL RISK" which I'm keeping to wear for other times because, really, I am one) blood was being drawn and I was being fitted with a blood pressure cuff and wired up (again) for a new EKG machine.  One of the nurses told me to get undressed from the waist up, and he covered me with a gown for privacy, and then I had to answer a million questions and swear on two sets of paper work that I wasn't pregnant.  Steve came in around that time and the nurses and stuff started leaving me.  Soon, we were in there alone.

I was still weirdly calm about everything. I hadn't panicked once, even though I was scared, and Steve being there to talk to helped a great deal in keeping that together.  People would come in and out, and I think I had to tell the story of what happened four or five times. One thing I had to admit to was taking too much of a certain kind of medication I was prescribed, just in case that was what was causing this.  I know, I know, I was being dumb, but I hadn't felt like the medicine was doing me any good at the strength I was given,  so I decided to take a half a pill more just to see what would happen.  It's such a tiny amount of medicine that I didn't think it would matter, and the Nurse Practitioners didn't think that would do it, but they did blood tests (again) to check on that.   The tests that they'd done on my heart had come back fine, and my blood tests came fine - even the one where they could check the levels of medication was normal.  No one seemed to know what was going on. During this time, the power kept going off in the hospital, which slowed everything down a lot.  It also turned off the air conditioning, which, as you understand, was no fun.  I told the NP that I had been in Ireland, and he said that because I'd been on a very long flight and because of my *ahem* age and because I have birth control pills, I could very possibly have a blood clot that had traveled to my lung, which could be why I was having trouble breathing.  So the sent me for a CAT scan, and I got as far as being wheeled into the room and rolled into the machine when the power went out again and caused the dye injector to malfunction.  So I was rolled back to my room and told that I would be taken back when they'd fixed it.  The power never came back on, so they did a different test that said I didn't have a blood clot. I think I was in that room for a total of 6 or 7 hours, mostly alone or with Steve, and the NP came back in and said I could leave.  They couldn't find anything wrong.

So my heart starts beating out of control, I can barely breathe, I almost pass out, another doctor sends me to the emergency room in an ambulance, and there isn't anything wrong.  Well, OK then.  I'm not complaining or anything, because I certainly didn't want to die or whatever, but still...that's weird, right?  Huh.

So I got unplugged from everything, and I had to pull off about a hundred sticky things from my chest and torso where leads had been attached (and they left sucker marks that look like I'd been hugged by an angry octopus) and I was discharged. I'm covered in needle pricks and bruises.  I was told to make an appointment to see the cardiologist that had done my stress test and that was that.  I guess I'll call him on Monday.

I still can't really do much without my heart beating really fast, and I still can't always take a very deep breath, but I guess I'll be OK for now.  Hopefully.

That was really not the kind of adventure I wanted, but at least I got my ice cream in the end! 


Friday, July 08, 2016

TO BE FAIR...

OK, to be fair to Steve, when I asked him about it this morning he says he didn't call me "Homely" he said I looked "Holiness," but he did admit that it meant the same thing.

He also says he was preemptively trying to make me feel better about my haircut, because he thought that I didn't like it.  He was jumping ahead of me actually saying I didn't like it, I guess.  All I said was that it was shorter than I'd wanted.  I'll give him points for trying to help, even though he didn't!

He finally said that he'd never comment on my appearance again, so really, it's win-win for the both of us!  :)

Thursday, July 07, 2016

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) I had the most random memory pop into my brain this morning. Maybe I've told this story before, but I'm not sure.

Just to give you a bit of background: when I was in the 8th grade (I think) I went on a trip with our Junior Beta Club to Washington D.C.  If you knew me back then, you'll probably remember me as a very quiet, very geeky kid. This was before being geeky was as socially acceptable as it is today.  I can admit that now, so it's ok to agree with me!  Haha!  I was really only friends with one girl on the trip, and if you have ever traveled with a bunch of people you barely know, some of who were the kind of kids who would purposefully alienate you from their groups because you weren't cool, you can probably guess how I was feeling a lot of the time: a little left out and very unsure about what to do with myself.

We were at Colonial Williamsburg, I believe, and we were taking a tour of some house.  I don't remember, exactly where we were, but I know we were in an old dining room and the costumed lady was telling us about the kinds of foods they would have had for dinner.  She mentioned beef tongue, which I'd never heard about people eating. I said out loud "Yuck, I don't want to taste anything that could taste me back!" It was a dumb joke, I know, but everybody laughed.  It was the first time that I remember making people laugh.  I'm sure I had done it before then, because the law of averages kind of leans that way, but it was the first time I remember making a LOT of people laugh. I was hooked. That was a kind of turning point for me. I think that moment prompted me to stop hiding behind my books and try to be a little bit more outgoing, and I knew I absolutely wanted to make more people laugh.  I still do!  I think that when people say I'm funny, it's one of the nicest compliments they can give me.  Well, say I'm funny and smoking hot, and THAT would be the nicest compliment, but I'll still take funny any time. :)

I think it's odd that I suddenly remembered that moment so clearly, though.  I've been remembering a lot of very specific moments lately.  I hope this doesn't mean my life is flashing before my eyes or anything.  Geez.  There's a thought that'll keep me awake later.

2) I am still a little bit blue, but there are way more sparkly bits today. I just hit a weird pocket of yuck, I guess.  People do leave those things lying around, don't they.  Very careless.  Well, whoever was feeling depressed and passing it on to me, I hope they are almost feeling better.  I also want to say sorry again for being a morose jerk.  The world already has enough of those guys and they don't need my help mucking things up.

[Seriously, I said "bits." What is wrong with you?]

3) I got a haircut last week and it wasn't a complete disaster!  I didn't really plan on what I wanted. I just decided to do a throwback and get a reverse bob, or whatever they are called, because it seemed easiest.  The lady who cut my hair did as I asked (for once) and my hair turned out just fine. Well, I think it did, at least. As with most of my haircuts that aren't immediately recognizable as a dumpster fire, I was fine with it for a while and then basically went around with my hands on my head for a while after trying on almost all of my hats. 

I mean, it's fine.  I don't know if I'll ever just get an awesome, perfect haircut unless I wind up on one of those shows where professionals do makeovers, but it's fine.  I hate getting my hair cut and I just go wherever it's cheap, usually.  I could pay more for a haircut, but it's not a thing I like to do, so I don't want to pay a lot for it.  Does that make sense? 

It's shorter than I'd intended, though.  The lady who cut my hair (a very sweet Asian lady) said "You got curl. I cut it shorter. It stick out wrong." I agreed the first time, but not the second.  I'll stick with curl. I don't care if it stick out wrong. :)

What really prompted me to get the haircut was Steve.  I apologize for throwing him under a bus, but I'm totally going to throw him under a bus.  Y'all, it's hot as balls here in Alabama. Seriously, I don't even really know what the temperatures are on the Balls Scale, but I know we're somewhere at the high end of that.  Add to that that I'm only just now getting my feet back underneath me from jet lag and so on this particular day, I was also tired.  Me being tired and hot means I'm going bare minimum of girly. We went to grab some dinner, so I pulled on a dress and pulled my hair up into a pony tail.  While we were waiting to be served, Steve looked at me and out of nowhere said "That's not a good look for you. You look homely."  The fact that he's still walking around without black eyes is a testament to how tired I was.  So I just stood there, feeling homely, until I could go home and spare the public from my hideousness.  I guess it kind of subconsciously weighed on me, though, because I thought "Haircut!" about a week later.  So I get the haircut and had just come to terms with it (i.e. had taken my hands off of my head) when Steve comes home.  He says "Oh, you got a haircut!  Don't worry, it'll grow back.  You know, if you went to a real salon, it wouldn't end up looking like that."  Sigh.  At least I have a lot of hats.

Oh, well, he's bald, so what does he know? ; )  

4) Today is World Chocolate Day and I haven't had any chocolate yet.  I need to remedy this.  Would anyone happen to be going to Belgium today?  I have a shopping list for you. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

BLEH: A QUICKY

Yikes, what a day.  What a yucky day.

Have you ever had one of those days where it just seems like you lose at everything?

Nothing you do, or say, or write or anything seems to be good.  Whole conversations just seem pointless. Everything seems stupid.

I'm having one of those days.

I was complaining to a friend earlier about morose jerks, but I think I may be the morose jerk today.

I'm strangely calm about it, too, which makes it even weirder.  It's like the feeling isn't even mine.  It's like I'm feeling someone else be depressed.  I'm getting a contact depression.  Is that even a thing?

I just want to roll up in a blanket and be a blanket burrito.

I'm hungry though, so I'll have to wait until I eat to become a blanket burrito, because I'll need my hands.  

Anyway, I hope that you, whoever you are, are having a good day, at least!

Oooh, maybe I'm taking one for the team. Maybe if I'm sad, then someone else isn't!  That makes me feel a bit better about it.

So, you know, yeah.  I'm sorry to complain.  I'll be fine.  I'm just a bit blue.  Blue with sparkly bits.

I said "bits" you perv.

Now go away and have a good evening.  Do it for the blanket burritos.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY (KIND OF): ERIN GO BRAGH EDITION - SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2016

(I'm actually writing this a about a week later. I wasn't awake long enough to do it once I got home!)

I kind of hate that this entry on our adventure is sort of anticlimactic, but really, aren't return trips always a little bit that way?

We drove the two hours to Dublin in the rain and got to the airport almost exactly at the time the tour company said we would!  If you ever need to book an Ireland trip for a group, go with Donoghues of Galway!  Ask for Desmond or John.  They were both awesome!

The airport was packed. PACKED, people.  Our group snaked our way through the Delta line, and I swear, security comes out early in the process.  Someone was going through, getting some of the info for our trip out of the way early so they could print something for us, but they were asking questions that sounded suspiciously like we were getting screened. What do you do for a living? What were you doing in Ireland?

When we finally got to the head of the line, I tried taking my suitcase to the counter, only to be rebuffed by an incredibly fey Irish Delta employee who "Sorrrrrry, can't help you heeeere. I'm just supposed to help the preferred memberssssssss."  Well, OK then!  Of course, the next person to step up to the counter was an actor I recognized, even through his Full Incognito Disguise of hat, glasses, and full beard.  He was on a show I used to watch, and I liked him, so, you know, fine.  He had to get his golf clubs checked.  I understand! :)

We got the bags checked (and didn't go over the weight limit, which caused me to break out in a celebratory dance) and four of us headed off to what I learned was the complicated security labyrinth of Getting Back To the USA!

You know, I've complained, and complained bitterly, about going through security in the U.S.A.  I don't like taking off my shoes, I don't like having to pretty much unpack my backpack and repack it again while irritated people are shoving past me, and I don't like having to stand in a booth and have an X-ray picture of myself taken to make sure I'm not concealing a weapon in one of my orifices. I can appreciate the situation, as I'd rather not have someone on board my plane have a bomb or a machete, but it is always an irritating process.  Now I think I'll feel a bit better about the situation when I'm flying within the US, because that is NOTHING compared to getting back into the United States from overseas.

All four of us had been giving this cardboard ticket that we were supposed to fill out.  It was a customs thing, asking who we were, what our boarding pass number was, what were we bringing back into the country and etc.  We stopped at a row of garbage cans and filled out our cards.  Great. Fine.  If it'll make things go faster, then I'm all for it.  We pass through the first step of security, you know, that person who checks your ID as well as your boarding pass.  We got past him and into the line for the x-rays and stuff.  I was wearing boots, which I'll admit was not the smartest move, but I wanted them out of the suitcase because they were heavy.  I unzipped them and carried them a ways before I noticed that people weren't taking off their shoes, so I put them back on.  By the way, knee high, zip up boots are not easy to take on and off while you're walking.  When I got to the conveyor belt, I was asked to take them off again, and I was also asked to remove my iPad from my backpack, which I've never had to do before, but whatever.  I'd had to take off my belt, watch and bracelet before stepping through the metal detector and I STILL set it off.  One of the gate agents rubbed my hands and around my waistline with a thing.  As it turns out, my underwire was what set off of the metal detector and the thing that they rubbed over my skin was testing for drug residue.  Apparently I passed the drug test, so I got to grab my stuff, go through, and get redressed.  I'm also glad I got to keep my bra.

As we walked through the airport, there were a couple of places I wanted to stop, but I didn't get to because we still had to go through "pre-processing" for customs.  We followed signs until we got to a line that terminated in a row of computer kiosks.  Steve and I got to go to the same one since we were traveling together, and it turned out that it was a digital version of the cardboard thing we'd filled out earlier.  SIGH.  Ok, then.  It asked us all the same type of questions and then took your picture.  Y'all, I wish so hard I could have kept that picture, because it was hilarious.  I was too short to reach the square in the middle of the screen where you were supposed to position your face, so I had to stretch way up to get near it, and Steve was looking around me to see what I was doing and ended up photobombing me, and the picture was just weird and hilarious.  Once we both got through the line and had a chance to look at it, I swear I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants!  So we thought we were done and through, but alas, we were not!  We approached yet another series of conveyor belts.  We didn't have to walk through metal detectors again, but I had to take off my boots and take out the iPad again. I wonder what they thought I could get from one security line to the next in the airport?  I have no idea, but I had to repack the damn backpack again and put on my shoes again.  You think we were done?  Nope.  The four of us who had been together wound up getting split up about this time, and we were directed to go into a new line that ended with yet another gate manned by security guards.  By then I was just preparing myself for a cavity search, and really, at this point, the thought didn't bother me all that much if it just meant I could get to the danged boarding gate!  We had to go forward one at a time, and the man or woman at the gate we ended up at asked a series of odd questions.  The lady in my line took the printed out customs form and my passport, looked me up and down and we had this conversation:

Her: Where do you live?
Me: Alabama
Her: What do you do for a living?
Me: Secretary (and how she'd know if I was telling the truth? I have no idea because that isn't on my passport!)
Her: What are you bringing back with you?
Me: Uh, sweaters? (I mean, I had other things too, but volume wise, sweaters were the most.)
Her: Did you purchase any alcohol to bring back?
Me: No. (Which is the truth. We'd gotten some whiskey for my brother in law, but Steve bought it and it was in his checked bag.)
Her: Is this your bag? (shows me a security photo of my suitcase.)
Me: Yes.
Her: Go ahead.

Of course, by this point, I was nervous and probably would have said anything just to get through.  She waved me on and I waited for Steve (who apparently just looks more trustworthy than I do, I guess) who didn't have to answer nearly as many questions.  From here on out, we could finally go towards out boarding gate.  I also finally got to go to the bathroom, which had become very important since security took as long as it did.  I was hungry and thirsty by then, but I didn't have any change and the vending machine wouldn't take paper money.  There was one tiny Duty Free shop where I bought a magnet so I could get change, but they didn't give me enough coins to use for anything to drink, so I got some chips and made it to the seating area right before we had to start lining up to board the plane.  I was very grateful that we hadn't stopped  anywhere before we went through the rigamarole of security, or I might not have made it to the plane in time.

We also found out that one of the members of the band had been detained at the last gate.  There was never any explanation why, because he hadn't done anything wrong, but they took him back to a security room where they had his checked bag open and searched, and they asked him a lot of questions about the people he'd been traveling with.  Apparently they knew every place we'd stayed, every venue the band had played in, and lots of other things about who we were.  That's kind of scary.  But to be fair, I suppose it's necessary these days, so I won't do more than a token complaint.  Luckily the guy made it back to the boarding area in time to get on the plane.

Steve and I were seated in the middle row of the plane, which wasn't as uncomfortable as I'd feared.  I kept trying to sleep, but couldn't get comfortable enough, and we were being constantly fed on the way back.  We also had an impressive amount of movies to watch, which I can appreciate, but still, we were crammed in a cramped metal tube, flown 8 hours back to the US, and constantly crammed with airplane food. I suppose it could have been worse.

When we touched down in Atlanta we went to grab our bags and I saw that the TV actor had been on our plane!  I surreptitiously took a photo of him, but immediately felt like a creep for doing so.  The man had just been on a long flight, he was wearing flip-flops, and I'm fairly certain he was on the phone in a panic because his ride wasn't there yet.  I won't post the picture online.  He doesn't deserve that!  I'd make a terrible paparazzi!  Steve and I caught a shuttle to the parking area, got the car, and after stopping for lunch (again with the food!) we started home.  I had originally thought we'd stay in Atlanta over night, but Steve has a new client and had to be back for meetings on Monday, so we drove home.  I tried to stay awake for his sake, I swear I did, but I kept dozing off.  I was basically delirious by the time we made it back to Huntsville.  Once we got ourselves and and our stuff inside, we went to bed and slept until the next morning.

In the days that followed, I did learn a couple of things. 1)  Jet lag is real, and it is awful.  I didn't think it was a real thing, but I was exhausted for nearly an entire week, except when I'd wake up in the middle of the night and be wide awake. No fun! 2) This is such a stupid thing, but I did find out that I wasn't allergic to the pillows in that hotel, at least! I hadn't felt well almost the entire time I'd been gone, but I was never as bad as I was that one night.  My nose was terribly stopped up, I was so freaking tired all the time, my face broke out, of course, I was nauseated constantly and I was just feeling generally blah. It was annoying, but not terrible. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that maybe some of the medication I'd been on was making me sick.  One of my prescriptions had been changed to generic right before we left, and I hadn't been able to keep on my normal schedule of taking any of my meds because of the time change. I felt the same way for a week after I got home and got back to my normal schedule, though.  I finally decided that I'd just start eliminating my medicine one thing at a time until I found out what was going on.  As it turns out, it wasn't any of my prescription meds at all.  Right before we left for Ireland, I started taking a probiotic pill every day, hoping that it would stave off any issues that might arise from the change of food, water, and the kinds of unpleasantness that sometimes comes along with travel.  I eliminated that one first, and immediately felt better.  My skin cleared up, I was able to eat normally, and I could stay awake.  Apparently, I was allergic to something in that OTC pill that was causing every symptom I'd had the entire time!  I'd only been super sick that one day because I'd barely eaten, and had really only taken that probiotic!  I felt so stupid.  It was like someone with a non lethal peanut allergy just swallowing one tiny peanut a day. But at least it was a relief to know what was going on.  Live and learn, right?

Anyway, so my Irish adventure is over, and I had so much fun I'd do it all again exactly the same (sick and all.)  Now to plan our next adventure!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: ERIN GO BRAGH EDITION - SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2016

Late last night Steve and I realized that if we didn't get up early and go down to breakfast, we'd have to eat at the same time as a hoard of screaming, half-dressed, ill mannered, non-supervised children.  Ick.

So we got up early and went down to eat, even though we technically had more time to sleep today.  Our schedule was going to be fairly low key, and since this was our last full day in Ireland (BOO) we wanted to enjoy as much of it as we could!

My mother had bought me a really pretty sweater from a boutique in Athens so that I could take it on this trip.  It's not something I'd have ever picked out on my own (mainly because I'm an adult woman who doesn't know how to properly dress herself) but it's long, it has a fringy bit around the bottom, and the back has a panel of inset lace right in the back.  I really like it.  I call it my Coachella sweater, because it's hipper than pretty much all of my other clothes.  People from our group kept stopping me and petting the sweater, and telling me how beautiful it was and asking me if I'd bought it while we had been in Ireland. I guess it was the lace? I have no idea, but it happened so often that it started to get silly.  I kept telling everyone that it was bought in Athens, Alabama, but who knows if they believed me. 

We didn't have far to go today, really, as our two destinations were in Galway.  We first stopped at King John's Castle, which was located right on the River Shannon.  King John's Castle is a legit castle, built by the King John that we know from the Robin Hood stories (although he was never there, apparently) in the 13th century.  It was a major fortress that had kept control over the area for centuries.  It had been turned into a museum that actually reminded me a lot of Constitution Hall Village in Huntsville.  It was a neat museum that explained the history of the area and what had happened during the castle siege.  There was even an archeological dig going on underneath the building where they found some old viking house foundations.  It was fun, but it seemed more like it was designed for children than for adults.  There were some costumed characters around who had to stay in character, but I did not engage.  I didn't need bored teenagers forsoothing at me!

 King John's Castle is behind our big heads

The courtyard at King John's Castle, and the River Shannon, the slowest river in Ireland.
No offense. I'm sure it goes as fast as it can.

Our next destination was described to me as Ireland's Colonial Williamsburg, called Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.  It really was like Colonial Williamsburg, in that there were costumed characters (although thankfully they didn't always stay in character,) and it had recreated an area of houses, a blacksmith shop, and things like that, all with the big castle (not a recreation) on one end of the property.  Des, our tour guide, was going to give a tour of the place himself to anyone interested in going along.  Steve and I were going to go, but the first thing the group voted on was to immediately eat.  I wasn't hungry and didn't want to waste time sitting and watching other people eat, so I split off from the group to explore on my own.

I actually came across the same guy I'd walked around with at Blarney Castle and Cork, so we walked a ways together and looked at the mills and the animals.  I lost him at some point while I was taking pictures, so I ended up wandering around the place alone, which was fine.  I went at my own pace and asked questions if I had them.  It was a beautiful day, so it was a very nice walk.  I actually made it over to the castle at the same time as Steve's tour group, so I joined them during the first part of that tour.  Bunratty Castle was a 15th century stronghold for the O'Brien Clan.  I say that like I can explain it, but I can't.  It was another big-ass castle, though! Also, I learned that William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, once lived there for some time. Use that info for whatever you want.  Maybe you'll need it for trivia one of these days!

Sheeps! I tried talking to them, but they never answered me. Maybe they don't speak English.

Bunratty Castle! It was very tall. Yea, verily.

This castle really was huge, and when we walked inside, we ended up in this big room filled with tables.  Apparently they hold medieval-style dinners there (like Medieval Times, maybe?) but it had once been the main room that soldiers had chilled out in.  There was another tour guide (not Des) that told us about the room and what went on in there.  Several members of our group sat down at a long table that ran up one side of the room while he was talking, and in the process of telling us what the room was for, he pointed to out table and said "And that table right there is over 500 years old!" Every single person leaned back from it in unison. The guide didn't care, though, because apparently it is still used as a table.  If it had been someplace in the States, we would have never been allowed to get near it, much less sit down at it!  I hope no one scratched it.  I stayed with the tour until it disbanded.  I lost Steve while I was climbing up to the top of the castle, but this time I didn't make it up the spiral staircase.  I couldn't!  I don't know if it was the lack of windows, or the knowledge that I was climbing so high, but I had to come down.  I wish I'd seen the view from the top, but otherwise I don't care a bit.  I'm not going to risk my mental health just to see a view.  I did that once at the San Jacinto monument in Texas and almost ran down some old ladies trying to get down from the top!

I walked back to the main gift shop and looked around for a bit.  There are so many pretty things in Ireland.  I had to exercise my self control not to bring back one of everything! :)  I did happen to notice that just up from the castle was a Blarney Woolen Mill store, just like the one that had been at the hotel we'd stayed at earlier, so I was able to go in an buy the thing I'd forgotten before.  It was yarn, ok, yarn!  I couldn't help it!  I needed some!  You'll be proud to know that I didn't buy a case of it, though, only three skeins, and I will not make a hat out of any of it!  So there, I bought yarn while in Ireland.  It is very nice wool yarn. :)

It had started to rain again by the time I made it back to the castle and folk park.  I went to the coffee shop and bought myself the last thing I had on my "must eat" list, which was a scone.  I've made scones before, but the ones I made don't look like the ones here.  So I bought a fruit scone, with cream and jam, and it was delicious.  It was really just a fancy biscuit with raisins in it, but it was good!  Afterwards I stayed in the gift shop and wound up buying some kind of skin cream in hopes it would help my faux leprosy issue.  It smells weird, but I'm willing to try anything at this point.  Not long after the group came through and we got back on the coach to go to the hotel for a bit.  We were supposed to return to Bunratty for one of the medieval meals, but as it turned out we wouldn't be doing that.  Instead we would be having some Traditional Irish Food and Folk Dancing.  I thought we'd already done that bit, but I guess you can't have enough of that, really!

When we got back to the hotel, the little girl dancers had pretty much gone rogue.  They were everywhere, and they were absolutely not supervised at all.  I don't think I saw one parent with any of the roving, screaming groups of children that ran through the place.  This didn't bode well.  We got cleaned up and changed for dinner, and we sat down at the bottom of the stairs while we waited for it to be time to leave.  The dancer girls came in and out of the area, and then a a grown up, adult woman walked down the stairs, and y'all...she was pretty much naked.  I mean, she was wearing a dress, sort of.  It was like two scarves tied around her shoulders and crossed across her chest (although she had some severe boobage hanging out all around) but that was about it.  It was cut down to her navel, cut up to her armpits, and if she had turned too sharply, that whole stairwell would have been her gynecologist.   Of course I stared, how could I help but stare?  As it turned out, she had something to do with the dance competition going on, so that mostly naked lady was in the same place as the little girls.  I have no idea what the hell is going on in this hotel!!!!!

We made it back to the Bunratty Corn Barn, where our dinner was going to be served.  We were immediately given alcohol.  Like, literally, before we walked into the door I was given a glass of mead.  It was sweet, and it tasted fine, but I was being careful.  We were all seated family-style around long tables, and there was a stage along the front of the room.  This show was so much fun to watch!  We saw some of the same kind of dancing that we saw earlier in the week while in Howth, but there was traditional singing, a small band with a violinist, guitarist, and a, uh, squeezy box lady (sorry, I don't know what they are properly called!), and 4 step dancers!  It was just a lot of fun to watch and listen to, and we had some really delicious, simple, traditional food. We had a great time tonight!  It didn't seem to last as long as I would have thought, but it might have been because there were no breaks in between the acts and the food and things.

Once we got back to the hotel, we finally had to start getting things organized for the trip home.  We were lucky that neither Steve nor I had over packed (for the first time ever) so we had no trouble getting my sweaters packed away! Yay!  We pretty much packed everything except for the essentials, because tomorrow morning we have a 3:30 AM wake up call so we can go back to Dublin to catch our flight.  We weren't supposed to have such an early start, because we originally were supposed to fly out of the Shannon Airport which was very close to where we were staying, but apparently Delta stopped flying out of Shannon after we'd already organized the trip, so back to Dublin we must go.  Bleh.  That's a long trip before another long trip!  Oh, well, what can we do?

So now it's time to get some sleep.  The little bastard children are running up and down the halls and knocking on doors on our floor tonight.  Just a minute ago I heard an argument between two people, one of which is a dance mom, I think.  I don't know what the Irish equivalent to trailer trash is, but I'm pretty sure one of those people out there fits the bill.  Oy, vey.  I just want to get some sleep before we have to get up again.

But bastard children aside, I have had an amazingly wonderful trip!  I'm so glad I got to come to Ireland!!!!