Sunday, December 30, 2012


Do you remember last year when one of Steve's more influential co-workers threw a Christmas party and I had a small, but powerful come-apart about being worried that I'd been strange and awkward the whole time?  No?  Well, you should follow that link and read about it. Geez.

Anyways, the man had another Christmas party this year, and believe it or not, I wasn't the least bit nervous about going.  Part of it was that I knew what a lovely couple the host and hostess were, and I guess the other part was that, at the time, I was still on medication for whatever mystery illness I was being treated for and it made me feel too terrible to think about all the things I could do wrong.  Who knew feeling like death was good for the self esteem?  The only thing that had been worrying me about this party was the fact that I wasn't sure if I'd done the right thing for a host/hostess gift.  See, I know I could have gone to that party empty handed and it would have been OK.  Had they been good friends of ours, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to give a gift, but it just seemed like good manners to take something to this party. 

Well, everything started off better than I could have expected.  I was feeling a bit better by the time we got there, and our gift was a huge hit.  Seriously, they weren't just being polite.  I mean, they seemed genuinely thrilled about the towels I'd embroidered the name of their farm on.  (Yeah, they live in a place with a frickin' name! Awesome, huh?)  So I relaxed and figured that the rest of the party would be a piece of cake!

That's when God punished me for my hubris.

The host gathered us all together, prayed over the food, and we filled our plates with various little nibbles. Steve and I found out of the way seats where he could tell me who everyone was without them hearing us talking about them.  Things were going well, and we were laughing and talking, when someone came over to tell us goodbye.  We were sitting and the man was standing in front of Steve.  He shook Steve's hand, and I leaned forward - plate in hand -  to say goodbye.  I didn't realize how close to Steve I'd apparently leaned, but when the man released Steve's hand, Steve's elbow went into my plate.  Hard.  It was like a wrestling move.  Almost in slow motion, a jumbo shrimp, covered in sauce, sailed across the room.  The rest of the sauce, which had puddled on my plate, immediately fell onto Steve's lap. Crumbs fell, napkins fluttered, Steve froze in place and the crunch of my plastic dinnerware hitting the floor echoed around the room.  Now, of course, it probably wasn't really like that. It all happened so fast, but it felt like time had slowed to a crawl.  Steve's face had a look of panic on it that I rarely see, and of course, I lost it.  I started laughing so hard all I could do was sit there as Steve retrieved the shrimp and started piling the trash into my plate.  The man who had been shaking Steve's hand made a "yikes" face and fled, and I still sat there laughing like a lunatic.  Apparently the medicine I was on made me not care how loud I was laughing either.  Poor Steve was so embarrassed, and he couldn't even stand up because of all the sauce on his pants!  One of the caterers (the one I hugged last year was back, and I'm fairly certain he recognized me) quickly walked over and took the plate from me.  I sat and snort-giggled until Steve was able to get up and find a bathroom to clean himself up in.

When he finally got back, I was calm enough to go back to the food and get some dessert.  Now, what they were serving were these tiny little chocolate shells filled with various and sundry flavors of whipped cream, or something like that.  I got two, and walked back to the seats.  I sat down, picked up my first little dessert thingie, when my plate - which was sitting on my knee - tilted sideways.  I managed to catch the plate before my food went into the floor, but not before almost crushing my chocolate thing.  It startled me into saying "SON OF A WHORE!" a little bit louder than I meant to.  Of course, that set me laughing again.  Then Steve started laughing, and we were like two little kids in church trying not to laugh too loudly.  Once again, the caterer was at my elbow, taking away the plate.  It was then that I knew they had noted the frequency of my messes and had targeted me so that they could keep everything around me clean!

At that point I felt that Steve and I should walk around and talk to some people, so that we wouldn't have to hold plates anymore.  While we were doing this, I started feeling very ill indeed, so I walked outside on the deck to get some air and there were the dogs!  Of course, I immediately started petting them and talking to them.  When I started feeling better, I was getting ready to go inside when I noticed the sweet dog faces looking at me.  I could tell that they really wanted to go inside, and dummy me thought I remembered that they were trained only to go as far as the screened in porch, so when they followed me back into that porch I didn't think anything of it. I walked back into the house, and the dogs followed me!!  I don't think this would have been a problem, had they been small dogs, but the 110 pound lab decided that not only should it visit as many people as possible, probably to see if they had food, she was also just the right height to pretty much stick her face into the chafing dishes.  Luckily, very luckily, I managed to stop her before she did that.  The woman caterer walked over to me and said "I don't think they're supposed to be in here!" and she chased out the smaller of the two dogs.  It took longer, but the man caterer managed to shoo the giant lab.  By that point, I was fairly sure the catering staff was very tired of me!

After getting the dog out, I somehow managed to lose Steve.  Now, this house is big, but not so big that I could lose my husband in, but I swear he just disappeared!  I stood in the middle of the room kind of non-plussed, looking towards all the different groups of people and not seeing him. I finally had to start asking people if they'd seen him.  Of course, no one knew where he was, and I had a very bad moment of wondering if I'd embarrassed him to the point of just leaving me at this party to find my own way home!  After some searching, and more than a few more moments of panic, I discovered him, wedged into a hidden corner of the living room (seriously, I hadn't found him that whole time because of a stupid bend in the room) talking to some of his coworkers.  Yeesh.  As I made my way over, I stopped at the bar to get a cup of apple cider.  It was in one of those silver, heated coffee dispensers that you have to press a black flipper thing on the spout on its front.  Since I'd pretty much spilled everything I'd had in my hands that night, I only planned to fill my cup half-way, and as I was doing that, the fricking catering lady jumped over to my elbow to make sure I was doing it right.  Seriously.  I was starting to feel stalked.  I got away and made it over to Steve without spilling it, so IN YOUR FACE, CATERING STAFF!

After sitting there for a while, the yuck feeling came back fairly badly.  I had to surreptitiously tug on Steve's sweater and let him know I was feeling bad again and wanted to leave.  Although I'm sure he would have liked to have stayed longer, he was gracious enough to realize I honestly didn't feel well, so we got up and made our goodbyes to the host.  I'd like to say that we managed to get away without any further embarrassment, but no.   Because of where we parked, and because people had pulled in behind us, we couldn't get out of the driveway without some fancy maneuvering.  In fact, in our attempt to figure out how to get out, we had to drive up and reverse pass a giant picture window that looked directly into the party about 37 times.  We had to drive past and reverse so many times that it got stupid and we started laughing again.  Big Ben...Parliament.   I had to get out and direct Steve in what was probably a 42 point turn, one in which he drove a tiny way into the flower garden and almost hit one the dogs.  We finally managed to get turned around and we left the party, our dignity in tatters and flaps, but everything else luckily all in one piece.

I think there's a part of me that would love to think that my antics (for want of a better word, I guess) were adorable and that possibly I could pull off being seen as sort of a poor man's (or in my case a very poor, homeless, and possibly meth addled) man's Zoe Deschanel: a precious, elfin creature that can't help but be awkward and freakishly cute while knocking things over and spilling everything, but I don't think that's the case. Instead, I'm fairly certain I'm more like that kid your mother made you invite to things and they were always the one to spill the red punch on the couch and break your new birthday toys. 

I wonder if we'll be invited back next year?

Monday, December 10, 2012


I feel kind of icky about something I did the other day.  It was actually about 3 weeks ago and I'm still uncomfortable with myself for it.  It wasn't anything bad, per se, but still, I did something I can't stand when other people do and it made me not like myself very much.

There is a store nearby that sells artisan jewelry.  You can tell it's artisan because some of it is gorgeous, some of it is frightfully ugly, and it's all way overpriced.  That being said, Sara and I were perusing the shelves one day a while back and the sales girl was doing her salesperson thing hardcore.  Instead of letting us look on our own, she basically followed us around the entire store and told us about the stuff we were looking at.  Sometimes that can be a good thing, but when you're really just looking, it can get old fast.  Still, she was just doing her job, and she was annoying me.

I'd stopped at one of the cases to look at something and she launched into a spiel about how the designer is "so talented" and had won an Emmy award for costume design by designing jewelry for the Showtime/HBO show, The Tudors.  She went on to tell me "She had to design each piece separately. You couldn't just go an get stuff like that, you had to make it individually!"

OK, first off...the history of Tudor England is kind of my jam.  It's one of the only historical time frames that I've purposefully researched on my own, without having to do it for a class or anything.  I enjoy the whole sordid mess and I'm fairly knowledgeable about it, especially the reign of Henry VIII.  Second off, as someone who studied art history, I've done a LOT of looking at portraits of the time, and I've studied them as closely as I can without being able to actually stand near them with my nose pressed against the frames. Third off (thirdly?) I love jewelry. Not just wearing it and making it, but I love knowing about it, especially historical pieces of significance, and the dynastic portraits of the Tudor line have a lot of wonderful, beautiful pieces included.   I guess what I'm saying is that I'm quite familiar with what she was talking about.

I don't know why what she said rubbed me the wrong way, and I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I went into smug mode and proceeded to pretentiously tell her that of course each costume piece had to be specifically made, because the real pieces would have been made specifically for the people and blah blah, Holbein, blah blah...smug.  She was kind of taken aback, I think.  I used my education to be a know it all bitch, and I am really uncomfortable with that!  I hate when other people use what they know to try and sound smarter-than-thou, especially when they're talking to someone who would have no reason to know the things they're talking about.  The only thing that accomplishes is making them sound like a pretentious ass, and I don't want to be like that.

So, I'm publicly calling myself out for being an art-snobby, know-it-all beastie.  I'm sorry the universe had to see me like that!

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Well, it actually isn't pneumonia, either the walking or running kind, this time.  What is it?  I dunno.  Neither the doctor or her PA was very specific.

I suspect I've got the black lung, Pop. (koff koff)

Oh, wait...let me start at the beginning.

*flashback waves and harp sounds*

I'm fairly sure whatever I had got it's humble beginnings while we were in New Orleans.  If you read my story from the night after Sara's wedding, when we went down Bourbon Street and wound up with the funk of the ages all over us, you might remember that my eyes had apparently taken the brunt of whatever was in the air that night.  I'm certain that there is some kind of mold in the air down there that comes from an old-ass city constantly being flooded and dried out again.  Whatever it is, it really, really tried to blind me.

Ever since then, my eyes have been painful, itchy, burning, and crusty.  I know that's disgusting, but I don't care because I'm being CLINICAL here, you guys!  Anyway, I thought it might be pink-eye, but it wasn't the same as the last time I had pink-eye, and that is certainly something I'd remember *shudder.*  I'd mostly be fine, but my eyes would get cloudy and I'd constantly have to rub them, and then they'd get watery, and then I'd wake up the next morning and my eyes would be welded shut with...whatever the crusty stuff was.  It was unpleasant.  I had some antibacterial drops that I'd put in, but they didn't do anything except make the inside of my eyelids peel off.  (CLINICAL, y'all!)

Anyways, not long after that, I started feeling bad almost every night.  I'd be OK during the day, but every night around the same time I'd start running a low grade fever, had chills, and had to lay down and wrap up in a blanket until I felt better.  Every night.  It was weird.  I probably should have gone to the doctor then, but I didn't want to take the time to do it because it seemed like a dumb idea when I was feeling fine.  Pretty soon after that I was sure I had some kind of weird sinus thing going on.  It wasn't an infection, but maybe some kind of allergy to something.  It made my head and face hurt, my nose stop up, my neck and shoulders hurt, and face and head misery in general.  Basically I just felt so awful all the time that it started to seem normal.  Once again, I should have gone to the doctor, but I kept putting it off for one reason or another.

All this was going on until a week ago when I began to get sharp pains in my chest.  They weren't heart related or anything, it just hurt when I breathed.  It wasn't all the time, and since the pains went all the way through me from my chest to my back, I thought maybe I'd just pulled a muscle or something, and every so often I'd tweak it just the right way to make it hurt.  Then I noticed my back would hurt on the left, then on the right, and then my chest would hurt again, and it wasn't until I started having trouble breathing that I realized it wasn't my back after all, it was my lungs...and it felt exactly like two years ago when I got walking pneumonia.  Seriously, it took me a month and change to get rid of walking pneumonia, and I didn't have a job back then so I could take the awful medicine that made me trip balls and hear the neighbor's thoughts. I couldn't deal with it now. after two days of huffing an expired inhaler, and suspecting that I had somehow grown sea sponges in my lungs, and feeling exponentially worse, I finally sucked it up and went to the doc-in-the-box.

I decided to go after work Monday, and it was packed in there.  By then I was feeling really terrible, my voice was almost completely gone (a new development since that morning) and the walk-in clinic had apparently just updated their database, which meant I needed to fill out new forms! Joy!  I was wheezing and glassy eyed, but why not?  When I went back to turn in my form, it turned out that I'd left my driver's license at home in the pocket of the jacket I wear to the gym.  She was nice enough to try and find the scans of my ID that they had on file, but since scanning it had obliterated my picture, she wouldn't accept my new form.  I completely understand the bull-crap bureaucracy of the whole thing, but by that point I was feeling so terrible that I almost cried when she told me I'd need to go home and get it.  Well, the crying feeling actually was secondary to wanting to reach across the counter and rip her arms out of their sockets, but THEN I felt like crying.  I didn't though.  Luckily, I don't live that far away, so it only took me about 30 minutes to go home, change out of my work clothes, grab my license and get back.  Of course I had to sign in, again, because "We can't hold spaces, ma'am."

I almost punched her.

I shoved my license and insurance card to her and pointed to the form that was still out on the counter (I didn't have a voice, remember) and she told me to go sit down until they called me.  It took a long time before they even called me to come up and pay the co-pay so I could get my license back.  By then, I'd gotten over wanting to kill them all because I realized that the whole day must've been hectic and busy, and they weren't just being evil.  They were just tired and ready to go home.  Since I've worked customer service, I have a soft spot for others in that position, so instead of bodily harm, I just made a few jokes and waited until they called me back to a room. Friggin' finally.

I told the nurse what was going on and she took my vitals.  Then the doctor came in and I told HER what was going on.  She listened to my lungs and asked me if I smoked.  Nice.  She said "Yes, it sounds pretty pitiful" and then she pulled out the bed extender and told me I could lie down if I wanted.  She also informed me I'd need some blood tests and a chest x-ray.  A new person, I'm guessing a tech of some kind, came in and took about 9 pints of blood from me and then took me in for a chest x-ray.  Again, I had to make the bra-less walk of shame from the exam room to the x-ray room, but luckily it didn't take long.

When I got back to the exam room, I sat for ages, waiting on my results.  I had a book, but I mostly just sat there staring at the walls.  At least the room I was in didn't have one of those "The Various Ways a Body Part Can Be Diseased" posters on the walls.  They are both disgusting and fascinating all at once.

Finally, the doctor came in and said "Well, you tested negative for everything."  I was all...OK...thinking she'd at least tell me what I was being tested for.  She did not.  So I asked her "So, I'm not contagious?"  She said, in her musical Indian accent "Oh, yes, you're contagious. You will be until you stop coughing."  I'm over there thinking WTF?  I haven't been coughing!  What does she mean?  What do I have?  She asked me how I felt about getting some shots, which I agreed to only because I wanted to get better much faster. I started to ask her what I was sick with, but she left before I could get my wits about me to ask.  Then the PA came in and had to calm me down when I saw the needles, but I took the shots to the *ahem* hips like a champ. When she was done I said "So, what...I have some kind of crud?"  Instead of clarifying, she just said "Yes" and left.  Ok, then! Fine!  I don't need to know what I have!  I'll just hope it isn't monkey pox or anything!  After that I was given my prescriptions and I left.

I had to stop by church, and by then the injection sites on my hips were sore and my kidneys were on fire.  Like, I could actually feel my individual kidneys sitting there, burning.  It was a weird sensation, and it scared me because I thought I was having a bad reaction to it, but that part didn't get any worse.  I stopped by McDonald's on my way home to pick up a quick dinner, and then I went home.  That's where things got fun!

Almost the second I'd finished eating, I started tripping hard core.  I hadn't put two and two together when the PA told me I was getting a shot of steroids, but that is the medicine that puts me into a complete loop.  I felt exactly as if I was drunk, albeit I didn't get the urge to email anyone.  I was stumbling around and babbling and everything seemed like it would be fun to touch.  I finally had to just lie down before I fell over and that is when my day ended!

I've had time to think on all of this, and I'm fairly certain that I had various kinds of illnesses going on in my body for a while.  After I got the shots, I felt hot and tingly all over, plus I felt like...well, have you ever seen the movie "Transformers" when two of the big robots start fighting and you can't tell who is who, and it's just a big, confusing tumble on the screen? I felt like that on the inside.  I also had high pitched sounds in my ears, like a bell that was almost out of hearing range, but just audible enough to nearly drive you crazy.  The various prescriptions I'm on are the same ones I was on when I had walking pneumonia, and one of them is a cortico-steroid (I think), which is the medicine that whacks me out.  I've been at work since yesterday dizzy and doped up, and I had to work A/V duty for a funeral while I was under the influence.  Fun, right?   The ringing in my ears is still there, and I'm still on antibiotics and steroids, but at least I'm not contagious anymore.

So that's my story!  It was too long, probably, but I'm currently taking my steroids and I'm feeling chatty.  Also, they make me not care at all about anything, so if it was too  :)