Thursday, December 01, 2011

Some consequences of being scheduled for sinus surgery

One consequence of having a sinus surgery in the near future is that I have had to learn more than I want to about sinuses.  While I was consulting my new doctor the Internet, I came across a website discussing acute ethmoid sinusitis.  This website kept referring to something called the “middle meatus.”  So now I have finally found a term I find more unappealing than “bolus.” 

I do not want to hear the word “meatus” spoken.  I do not even want to hear it in my head.  I do not want to think about a part of the body being described as “the meatus.”  And somehow adding the word “middle” to it just makes it worse.  And yet I know I will find myself saying it, for example, to demand that the heat be turned off.  “Turn off the central heating! The meatus commands it!”  This will simultaneously amuse and disgust me. I'll laugh at my own comment, and then feel disappointed in myself.

A more positive consequence of having sinus surgery is that I won’t have to get any flak for my usual New Year’s Eve celebration of kicking back in my jammies and watching movies.  My surgery is just a few days before, and I may be puffy or have facial discoloration, and if they're going to put in splints or anything like that, they'll probably still be there.  Also, I may have to be sporting what they call a "mustache bandage," and there ain't no way I'm going out in public like that.  

As much as I like the idea of attending a glitzy New Year’s celebration, I don’t enjoy staying up that late or drinking champagne or mingling with strangers.  But I do enjoy being at home, watching movies, and wearing my pajamas.  People always seem a little disappointed when I tell them my plans, but since as a person I tend to be a little disappointing generally, I think they shouldn’t be surprised.  “Oh, you want to hear about my work as an attorney? Great. Let me tell you about this argument we had the other day about whether we should say that ‘the plaintiff’s claims should have been dismissed’ or ‘the plaintiff’s case should have been dismissed.’  I thought for a minute there it would come to blows.”

But this year, all I have to do is preface the discussion of my plans with the statement, “Well, I’ll still be recovering from surgery, so . . .” and then I’ll get nothing but sympathy and understanding.  Win!  My meatus and my mustachioed self can enjoy the evening in peace.

Nosebleed season is upon us

Ah, winter.  Although it hasn't started staying cold during the day yet, it has been cold at night and in the mornings.  I love this time of year because I can wear cute plaid skirts with fun tights, and boots, and cute jackets, and scarfs.  I love cold-weather clothes.  I love flannel pajamas.  I love cuddling into bed to read under a thick pile of blankets.  And of course, I love the holiday season.  It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year. 

What I do not like about this time of year is the dry winter air and the even drier inside air.  My sinuses, alas, are pathetically wimpy.  The minute the central heating gets kicked on, the nosebleeds begin. 

I’ve had nosebleeds all my life.  When I was a kid, they could be really bad.  Once I reached my teens, they became a lot less severe and more infrequent.  Now, thanks to the wonders of saline nasal spray, I hardly ever get blood running out of my nose.  But I do, however, spend most of the winter with blood in my nose.  Sneezing? Blood in the tissue.  Using the neti pot? Blood clots in the sink.  It’s gross.  It’s annoying.  And the inside of my nose always feels raw and irritated.  That makes me irritable. 

It also makes everyone around me irritable because I insist that the heater be run as little as possible.  If I’m in the car, I hope you have heated seats, because that’s all the warmth you’re gonna get.  In my townhouse?  My poor sister freezes because I set the heater high enough to keep the pipes from freezing and not much above that.  At the office? My office has the thermostat that controls my office and the ones around me.  It’s mostly guys, so they haven't complained, but my friend in the office next door?  She freezes.  The other day she asked me, “Does it seem cold in here to you? I’m freezing?” I feigned ignorance.  “Not me, I’m hot,” I said.  I was hot, but only because I’d just sneezed several times in a row. I didn’t tell her that I’d spent the previous 5 minutes sitting on my hands because they were too cold for me to type. 

It’s only going to get worse at the end of the month because, like hundreds of thousands of people do every year, I’m having surgery on my sinuses to get rid of a chronic infection.  Is this surgery common the world over, or just here in the U.S.?  I don’t know if we have defective sinuses over here or just bad environmental factors that make us prone to infections, or if maybe it’s a design flaw in the human body generally.  But in any case, I’m having my problem taking care of.

Getting information from my ENT about this procedure has been like pulling teeth.  When the nurse called to tell me that a CT scan had shown that, yep, despite round after round of antibiotics, that infection was still hanging on, so the doc wanted me to have surgery, she didn’t ask if I wanted to talk to the doctor about it. She just asked, “When do you want to schedule it?”  I asked her, “Um, are there any, like, downsides, or anything?” (Ok, yes, I sounded like a teenager, but I was so taken aback at the “YouneedtohaveananteriorethmoidectomyandabilateralmaxillaryantrostomyWhendoyouwantoscheduleit?” that I couldn’t form a coherent thought.)  Her response?  “Um, not that I know of.”  

Dude, there are always downsides to any medical procedure.  I asked her if there was some place I could get some information and she told me I could google it.  I could google it.  That’s how I could find out about pros and cons of surgery.  But she warned me that of course there’s a lot of misinformation out there.  Yes, I know.  That’s why I asked someone at my doctor’s office about it instead of asking the Internet.  Fabulous.

Anyway, according to the Internet, you are at risk of nosebleeds for about a week or so after the surgery, and you need to keep your sinuses from drying out.  Considering that they are already in a constant state of dried-out-ness, I’m not sure how to accomplish this, but I’m pretty sure I’m now required to buy the Hello Kitty humidifier I’ve been eying for a few years.  It also means that everyone around me is about to get a little bit colder.  Sorry, RR.  Sorry, coworkers.  You’re just going to have to suffer for a bit.  The Internet said so. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

My Halloween: The Trouble With Harry

Thanks to a healthy dose of professional-grade guilt trip served up by mom, I spent Halloween night at my parents' house helping my dad hand out candy. My mom couldn't be there because she was at the rehabilitation facility with my grandmother because my grandmother had guilt-tripped my mom into staying until she (my grandmother, not my mom) went to bed for the night.  It's true what they say--guilt rolls down hill.
But the night before Halloween, RR and I celebrated by watching The Trouble With Harry, our favorite Hitchcock film.  
It's not a Halloween movie, but it is a fall movie, and it seemed appropriate.  I haven't met many people outside of my family who like this movie, and I think it has something to do with expectations.  This movie isn't like any other Hitchcock movie other than the fact that the sense of humor that runs through it.  It's not a suspense movie like Rear Window or a scary movie like Psycho.  It's a comedy, the only one Hitchcock ever made to my knowledge.  But TTWH is a black comedy, and that may be another reason some people don't like it.  

Not a lot happens in the movie (one more reason some people may not like it); the whole point of the movie seems to be to showcase the quirky inhabitants of a picturesque New England town.  The trouble with Harry is that he's dead, and nobody is quite sure what to do about it, and the question of how he died and, more importantly, what to do with his body are basically the entire plot of the movie.  I can't explain why we like the movie so much, but it might be because we love dark comedies, and we love the dialogue. And the skeptical and deadpan reactions of Mildred Dunnock, the actress playing Mrs. Wiggs.

I want to be this woman.

And everything about John Forsythe's character. And Shirley Maclaine, charming the socks off of everyone. And the adorable Edmund Gween and Mildred Natwick. 

And of course, Jerry Mathers in his pre-"Leave It To Beaver" days.  Here he is trying to explain to Sam Marlowe (Forsythe's character) about days of the week (see about a minute in).

And last but not least, the score by Bernard Herrmann is absulutely perfect for the movie. I defy anyone to listen to it and not feel the urge to get into mild mischief.  (You can listen to it online if you have Spotify.)
All in all, I'd say it was a perfect way to celebrate Halloween.
Speaking of black comedies, if you're a fan of the genre, you should consider watching Kiss Me, Kill Me (킬미).
It's a Korean movie from 2009. The movie is about a suicidal woman who hires a hit man to do the job for her, his reluctance to carry it out, his evolving feelings about his chosen career, and the connection the two characters come to feel to each other.  I'm not sure if it's available on Netflix, but it is available online at various websites.  It's heavy on the "black" part of "black comedy," but it actually made me laugh out loud in some moments, and that's rare for me when it comes to movies.  It also made me cry, so fair warning.  I would definitely recommend it if you like that genre of movies.  
Any suggestions for good movies along these lines? 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

State Fair 2011

A few weeks ago, Hils, RR, and I made our yearly trek to the state fair. It's a rather mild trek, as far as treks go amongst the three of us.  While we were in college together, we took a number of road trips together, but something always went wrong on those trips.  Our first trip together included such fun activities as having a flat tire, then nearly getting hit by a train at a "look and listen" railroad crossing.  We apparently were not looking in the right place and didn't know there was a train there until we felt the tracks rumbling right as we crossed them and then heard the train behind us right as we got over them.  Actually, one of us suspected that bright light heading toward us was a train, but the other two shot down the suggestion because the light was "coming right at us" and therefore had to be oncoming traffic. 

Ahem. Anyway.

After two subsequent trips, one that involved getting stuck on a roundabout and the other that involved two separate (minor) car accidents within a 3 hour period, we realized that the incident rate was escalating to the point that the only thing left was something involving death by fire for one if not all of us.  Now we stick to local outings. 

And for years now, one of those local outings has been the fair. We love the fair.  If you have never been to a state fair, and in particular a large state fair like the one here in Texas, you are missing an excellent people watching opportunity.  You see the most interesting mix of people there. And by "interesting," I mean "I did not know those people actually existed" kind of interesting.  It is America at its best and at its worst.

If you want to know why Americans are so fat, here is a perfect representation: a butter sculpture that was almost as tall as I am. Is it only in this country that every year we build a monument to fat?  It's pretty impressive work, and I am always both charmed and horrified by it. 

Butter sculpture [2] 2011

From the butter sculpture, we proceeded to what we call "The Hall of Crap." That's where they sell a lot of stuff that you see on informercials, like the ShamWow. I seriously love the Hall of Crap. That makes sense, considering how much I also love informercials.  But not everything in the building is garbage or "As Seen On T.V.They also sell some quality craft-type goods, and I buy a scarf there every year.   

We also stopped by the building in which they sell Texas-made products. They were selling these pecans there.  

Pecans at the State Fair 2011
This packaging really bothered me.  First of all, "Sinamen"? No. Just no. Please stop changing the spelling of words so that you can have to words that start with the same letter. And cinnamon is not "sinful" no matter how good it is. And cinnamon ends in "mon" not "men." And also, it's never, ever "sassy." Second, what is going on with that poor man's arms? One is completely misshapen, and the other is missing!  That does not make the label cute.  It makes it either sad or scary, depending on whether the arm situation resulted from a tragic accident or some kind of science experiment gone wrong that turned him into a mutant who could go "sassy" on you at any minute.

We also saw the world's tallest mattress stack, which actually was not that impressive.

As much as I love the fair, the best part of the weekend was when we made nachos using homemade Rotel dip.  And when I say homemade, I mean we made the American cheese used in the recipe.If you aren't familiar with Rotel dip, then you probably aren't from the American South.  It's just Velveeta "cheese" melted with a can of Rotel (which is just chopped tomatoes and peppers). It's mildly spicy, it's terrible for you, and it's kind of disgusting, seeing as how it's Velveeta. But it's also kind of wonderful and addicting. Whenever you have some, you think "I am never eating that again because I don't want to die this young."  Then you recover, time passes, and you decide once again that fake cheese and chemically preserved vegetables sound like a good idea for dinner. And it was a tradition of our state fair weekend for years, right up until RR and I got diagnosed with our many allergies and had to stop eating both Velveeta and Rotel.

AND THEN RR found a recipe for how to make your own American cheese, a discovery she announced to me via an email with the subject line in all caps and multiple exclamation points (because yea! nachos!). We made it, melted it down and added a jalapeno, a Fresno pepper, some tomatoes (except for RR, who is allergic), and some gochujang.  It was fantastic. In total honesty, though, I have to acknowledge that although homemade American cheese tastes better than Velveeta and is less toxic, eating too much of it will still make you feel nauseated. 

But all in all, it was a good weekend.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fact Friday!

I have hypermobility in my elbows, which means I sometimes accidentally freak people out, but also means there's no spot on my back that I can't reach.  Jealous?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Before the Rain

Here are some more pictures of the Texas sky, this time before the rain.  Nights like the one in the pictures are why I love living in Texas.  Yes, this part of the state is flat with short, stubby trees (compared to other parts of the country, anyway), but that just means you see more of the sky.  Of course, I say it's flat, but then I took these pictures looking up at slight hill, so maybe these aren't the best illustration of the big sky I'm talking about.

These pictures were taken yesterday from and near the parking lot of the rehabilitation hospital where my grandmother has been staying, where they force her to grudgingly exercise to rebuild her strength, so that she can get out of the wheelchair she's been in since she fell.  She doesn't think she needs to do them, and she gets mad at my mom for making her, so she pretends to be asleep when my mom tries to make her go through her routine.  I have already talked to my mom about how she's not going to be stubborn like that when she's her mother's age.  She says she won't be, but she already kind of is, so I imagine in 20 years my mother will be pretending to be a sleep when I visit her. 

I took some of the pictures on my way into visit my grandmother, about half an hour before I literally bored her to sleep (I think at one point I tried to talk about how new and clean her socks looked--and that was me making an effort) (I was tired! I did not bring my conversation A-game).  

The rest of the pics I took as I pulled out of the parking lot on my way home.  Yes, while driving. Don't worry, there were no other cars around, and I was watching the road, not the camera (hence the slight blurriness).

As expected from the pictures, we had quite the storm last night.  Don't you love the way the air feels after it rains? 

I hope everyone has a great week!

sky2 oct 22 2011

sky3 oct 22 2011

sky8 oct 22 2011

sky10 oct 22 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Fact Friday!

Well, hello there!  I don't have time to post anything substantive today, but I don't want to put off posting, either.  I figure that I have time to post a very quick fact about myself.  And maybe I can make this a regular Friday feature?  That would be an easy way to make sure that I post at least something every week.

So here's something:  I'm left-handed.

(I didn't say the fact would be interesting.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The view from the parking garage this morning

I think I speak for everyone in the North Texas area when I say, YEA FOR RAIN!!!  Even though the storm was very loud, and I was a little afraid our windows might break, I can't feel anything but happiness that it rained during the night.  And then this morning, the sun coming through the clouds was breathtaking.  These pictures don't do it justice.  It was pretty easy to be in a good mood after this.  

Trinity3 10.12.11

Trinity2 10.12.11

Trinity1 10.12.11

 Courthouse 1 10.12.11

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If These Events Were Sports, I'd Always Win Gold

I'm not athletic, not every close, although I sometimes take a stab at it.  But that doesn't mean I don't have certain areas in my life in which I perform better than the average person.  Oh, no, my friend, I have skills. 

Unfortunately, although the kind of skills I have make my life a little easier, they aren't exactly marketable.  For example:
(1) Tossing a bag of trash into a dumpster--even when the dumpster is really full. 
This really is a skill that takes developing.  You have to know where the bag will fit and how hard to throw it so that it sticks the landing.  You can tell that not everyone can do this by the bags of trash that can always be found surrounding a full dumpster. 

(2) Changing into comfortable clothes. 
I don't like wearing constrictive clothing, a category that for me includes jeans and everything I wear to work. As soon as I have verified that I won't have to leave the house for the rest of the day, or at least for a few hours, the pants are off like a flash, and (usually) the yoga pants come on. I'm seriously fast. 

(3) Getting out of the vehicle as soon as it's come to a stop. 
I'm always the first person out of the car. I don't know what takes everyone else so long. I don't see what they're doing because I'm out of the car. It baffles me.  Seat belt off, grab your bag, open door, exit.  Where the delay comes in is a mystery.  What are you people doing in there?

I'm thinking I need to develop some new skills, or else find a way to make these skills work for me in a way that pays.  I'd be a terrible actress, so I don't see how the quick-change ability could come in handy.  While trash-tossing could be a fun hobby, I don't see that translating into a job.  So that leaves the getting-out-of-the-car thing.  I can't think of how that would work in a job that's legal.  I can see that getting out of the car fast would be useful if one was fleeing from the police after knocking over a bank, but that's it.

Ideas? Anyone?

Thursday, September 29, 2011


So, RR and I went to Portland, Oregon.  We've never been to Portland, Maine, but I hear it's lovely there.  But we can only speak about Oregon.  It was pretty.

One reason we went was to visit our friend who just moved there.  She doesn't know anyone in Oregon, and she's starting her Ph.D. program and was a little nervous about it (I don't know why, she's brilliant).  Another reason is because we'd heard that there are lots of restaurants and bakeries that were willing to accommodate people with multiple food allergies--that, unfortunately, turned out to be true (see references to weight gain, below).

I had never been to the Pacific Northwest, but I'd wanted to for a long time because I love trees and green things, and they have lots of coffee there.

So we did a lot of this:

You know what they also have a lot of there?  Chocolate.  CHOCOLATE, y'all.  [side note on the importance of commas: without a comma in the previous sentence, I would have been saying that they have a lot of "chocolate y'all" in Portland, and I don't know what a chocolate y'all is, nor do I know if Portland has any. Commas matter, y'all.] 

Anyway.  CHOCOLATE.  That even I can eat.  And I did.  A lot.

RR and I were a little afraid that the housekeeper at the hotel would open the fridge and see it stuffed full of partially eaten chocolate items and think "this is why everyone in this country is fat."  That's not incorrect, but I really don't want to be Exhibit A in the case of The Problem With The American Diet.

That is one of the reasons why we kept the "do not disturb" sign on the door for most of the trip.  The other reason was that I don't need housekeeping to notice that I pack each article of my clothing in its own individual Ziplock bag and decide that I'm crazy.  I'm not crazy.  I'm just really, really paranoid about bedbugs, and Portland has problems in that area.

We also visited the Portland Farmer's Market, where they had a lot of beautiful vegetables, some good coffee, and, oh, yeah, a stand that sold chocolate pie we could have.
We bought two.

We ate one that night with a coffee stirrer, being unable to make ourselves wait until the next day when we could acquire cutlery.  In our defense, I can't tell you how long it's been since we were able to buy pie we could safely eat.  And we seriously love pie.

To help balance things out, we walked a ton, and I love that Portland's downtown area is very walkable.  Some of our walking was due to our repeatedly getting lost.  Even with phones with GPS, we still had problems. Yes, we are that talented.  But it is always a little bit of a blessing getting lost, however annoying it is at the time, because you get to see parts of a city you might otherwise not ever visit see.  Of course, when we got off a bus at the wrong place on the Pacific Highway, it didn't feel like a blessing. 

That bit was kind of my fault, as I'd insisted that we take the bus out to this one particular grocery store that we all like here in Texas. I thought it would make my friend feel more comfortable in her new city, and she could stock up on her favorite groceries. But not only is it not close, but it's a smaller store than the one she's used to, and it didn't have some of the items she was really looking forward to buying.

I won't consider it a total waste of time because now my friend won't spend any time thinking she'd like to go there but feeling too afraid to get on the bus to the suburbs.  No, she won't be going back there soon, if ever.  I think it was the nearly missing the bus on the way back that did her in.  Or maybe the weird guy at the bus stop in the middle of Sketchyville on the Pacific Highway.  I'm not sure.  But either way, she's seen it, and now she knows she's not missing anything.

They did sell this:

I've seen this mistake before, but only on the Internet, never in person. I was delighted to see it. I don't always laugh at mangled English.  It's not hard to learn enough of another language to get by in restaurants or at grocery stores, but it's very hard to learn another language really fluently.  So I try to give people a break.  But I do laugh when the language mangling is done by a company that surely has access to people who speak fluent English.  And I do laugh when, by merely changing a letter placement, the company changes the name or description of the product from something people want to buy to eat (bean curd) into a word that people use to avoid saying "sh!t." 

So that was our trip to the suburbs.  Tigard, Oregon, I salute you and your bean crud.

We didn't just walk around in circles while we were there, although sometimes it felt like it.  We saw "Dial M For Murder" in 3D.  We, of course, went to Powell's Books, where I bought Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.  It was an enjoyable, interesting, easy read, and I managed to get most of it read on the plane ride back.  That was a huge deal for me because I usually get too nauseated on planes to read.  Our friend was so happy that we didn't get sick on the plane, she jokingly said, "Hey, now you're ready for the trip to Korea!" Yeah, not so fast. I haven't even made it to Europe yet.  And I still get antsy if I have to sit on a plane for four hours.  But still! Progress!  Maybe one day I'll even make it to Australia, although I've kinda given up on that dream because of my fear of all the deadly things there. I can't pack myself in a giant Ziplock. Right?

And of course the Farmer's Market and the chocolate places.  Thank you, Moonstruck and Cacao, for making us a little fatter.  

Cacao chocolate
Cacao.  The picture's a little blurry because I was too excited to have a steady hand.

Oh, and, the cafe at the Nordstrom in downtown carried a cookie that we had over a year ago and haven't been able to find since.  

Yea, peanut butter fatness.

Oh, and we went to the Oregon DMV.  Twice. 

I don't mind going to the DMV, generally, because it provides cross-section data of Americans. Everyone has to go to the DMV (well, everyone who wants to legally drive or go places that require I.D.), so you see all types.  But it can't truthfully be described as a pleasant experience, and twice seems excessive.  And sadly, our friend will have to go yet a third time because even though we had all the right forms by the second trip, we weren't told on the first trip that she needed to wait until school started so that her enrollment could be verified.  The DMV employees were all very nice when they turned us away, but it still gave one the feeling of defeat.  That was ok, though, because as we discussed with our friend, going to the DMV is a universal American experience--meaning, wherever you go in the U.S., the experience will be the same.  You always know what to expect there.  So it kind of makes you feel like no matter what state you're in, you're still home.

I guess that's enough about our trip for now.  I don't have a good ending for this post, so here's a picture of trash that was in a chair in the lobby of the hotel we stayed in.  

Stay classy, Hilton! Thanks for charging us pages we tried to print on your computer that never actually printed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"They tried to make me go to rehab, but I won't go because they're trying to kill me."

I know I shouldn't joke about this, but my grandmother is in the hospital and thinks the doctors are trying to kill her. She fell and broke her hip, and she's going to have to have rehab after her surgery, but she's Not Pleased.

I would say it was a symptom of mental deterioration related to old age, but she has always been, as my dad said in a moment of understatement, "suspicious." Her motto in life might just be "Trust No One." Nobody knows more than her about anything, and the fact that the doctors were not letting her go home, and were giving her treatment that she did not agree with, that could only mean one thing: they wanted to kill her.

My mom was not having it. "What information do you have that they need to kill you to keep you quiet?" she asked. My grandmother did not have an answer. She also did not have an answer to my statement that yes, she's right just because people are doctors does not mean they know what they are doing, but "they know more than you do." I am quite certain that she is still, days later, thinking up a response to that, which I will hear about later.

She was so indignant the other night about the fact that on the day she was admitted, the medical staff had referred to her as "uncooperative." Apparently, at some point they had to strap her down just to treat her. She referred to this as "putting [her] in handcuffs." She's a little free with the hyperbole.

"Can you imagine?" she asked me the next day, shaking her head. "Calling an 85-year-old woman 'uncooperative?'" Y'all, she was so offended. I mean, the very idea.

Oh, but I can believe it, alright. That's basically what we've been saying about her my whole life, only we don't say "she's uncooperative." We say "That's How She Is."

But I resisted saying anything. I'm just glad that my mother had warned us that our grandmother was being a tad difficult. She doesn't think of herself as difficult, of course. She thinks it's everyone else.

I know I shouldn't make jokes about the subject, especially since my grandmother is not in the best of shape right now. But that's the family way--do whatever grandmother wants, but gather in groups behind her back and complain about how she is not inhabiting the same plane of existence as the rest of us.

She really is being ridiculous, y'all. As far as I know, her sisters (the eldest of which, in traditional Southern style, she has always referred to as "Sister") do not even know that she is in the hospital. I don't know why, I didn't ask, I just obeyed my mother's frantic early-morning text (waking me up while I was on vacation, I might add) telling me not to say anything on Facebook. Oh yes, my great-aunts, who are all over 80, use Facebook more than I do. So, yeah, we have to protect the news like some secret family shame.

Of course, this is the same grandmother who, only a few years ago, asked my mother if my sister and I, since we were then over 30, were old enough to be told that one of my relatives had been divorced. So what would be shameful to my grandmother really doesn't have to be that shocking to anyone else in the country.

On the upside, this whole thing has provided an opportunity to see my uncle who lives out of state. He flew in to be here from my grandmother's surgery, and it was nice to see him again. He asked at one point if we were Facebook friends with his daughter, my cousin. He's a nice man, so I said only that I rarely go anywhere near that site. I also thought but did not say, "dude, we are not any kind of friends with her as she does not see fit to associate with this side of the family, and we only ever mention her in connection with that time she got attacked by the alligator and how we were glad she wasn't permanently injured because that way we can say how she kinda had it coming after skipping out on our grandparents' fiftieth wedding anniversary just so she could have a slumber party, and yeah that probably makes us terrible people, but she hasn't visited in at least 12 years, even though during that time period when she apparently had the time resources to fly around the country exhibiting pugs in dog shows. The End."

Spending time with my family can be very stressful because I never know when one of them, particularly my grandmother, will say something that I disagree with, or even something that I find horrifying, which will put me in the awkward position of choosing between being rude by contradicting an older family member, or not saying anything, thereby indicating apparent agreement, which kills me. Thus the reason I have the reputation in my family for having "a little bit of a mouth on me."

At one point yesterday, my grandmother proudly told her nurse, who is Vietnamese, that my sister and I were learning Korean. My sister, the nurse, and I all just looked at each other, the nurse with a look that said "How do we get out of this conversation because I am not sure how to react to this" and us with looks that said "We know that Korean and Vietnamese are not the same so please don't hate us." I gave a slight shrug and shook my head a little bit.

In her defense, I know that my grandmother was just searching for safe small talk topics and that she knows that they are not the same language. But I don't think she knows that Korean and Vietnamese are so different that identifying her nurse as Vietnamese and then following up with a remark about Korean was a total non sequitur. And I don't think that she realizes that assuming that a person from Vietnam would give a damn about someone learning Korean, when the only thing those two languages have in common is that they are spoken on the same continent, is a teeny bit racist.

The nurse just said, "I . . . don't speak Korean. [pause] But learning another language is hard."

She's a really tactful woman, that nurse.

Then my grandmother helped a bit by saying that we also spoke French, which allowed us to move the conversation to learning languages generally, a topic that I'm always happy to talk about, seeing as I would like to learn every language ever spoken. And it enabled us all to pretend that she was only bragging about her grandchildren's language learning abilities and not implying that all Asian languages are the same.

But that brief awkward moment? That's what hanging out with my family, and in particular my grandmother is like, all the time.

I guess I should just be relieved that that's all she said. It really could have been anything. I mean, it could be anything. My grandmother is what is sometimes referred to as a "loose canon."* Going out with her in public has always been an adventure because her sense of humor and her sense of propriety, though generally proper to the extreme, has a tendency to go off at the most inconvenient moments. This is not because she's old. She's just like that.

Oh, she also asked the nurse if she was a Christian. That was a tense moment. I wanted to quickly divert the conversation to something else, or shout out, "You don't have to answer that!" but I was frozen in horror at what might come next. The nurse said that no, she was a Buddhist, but she would pray for my grandmother (that's what started the conversation--my grandmother asking us if we'd pray for her). My grandmother thankfully waited until the nurse's back was turned to roll her eyes.

I'm from the South, and we respect our elders, but I was fully prepared to either walk out of the room or apologize for my grandmother right in front of her if she had started trying to convert that poor, patient nurse. But for once, my grandmother let the awkward conversation drop.

I bet the nurse is totally used to that kind of thing if she works around old people a lot, so I guess I shouldn't worry about her being offended. But it was exhausting trying to stay one step ahead of my grandmother. Grandmothers! You can't live with them, and you can't go out in public with them, but they sure do make life interesting, n'est-ce pas?

할머니 사랑해! But please spend the rest of your time in the hospital in quiet reflection.

So, anyway, that's what's going on with me. Next post: my recent trip to Portland. It was fun!

*EDIT: My grandmother is sometimes referred to as a "loose cannon," not a "loose canon." We never refer to her as a clergyman or an authoritative set of written works, loose or otherwise.  Nor do we refer to her as a body of principles, although she kind of is, but in that way she is more rigid than loose, if sometimes somewhat contradictory.  Sorry if that caused confusion.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Time to Buy Eye Cream, Apparently

Today at Whole Foods, somebody thought I was my sister's mother. We're twins. We're twins, but I apparently look an entire generation older than her.

This is at least the 3rd time this has happened.

I think I'm going to stop hanging out with her.

Monday, August 15, 2011

In which I lose my temper and storm out of Radio Shack

Oh, excuse me, “The Shack.”

I guess I didn’t really storm out of That Place so much as just say “never mind” to the cashier and leave, but it felt like storming out.

See, I had a little disagreement with the saleswoman about whether I would or would not be buying a Tracfone. She seemed to think that this was something I should not do. I explained that I was buying it for a friend that would be returning to the States next month from overseas and who would need a phone for the first few days until she had a chance to sign up for a cell phone plan.

[She is totally fine with being stranded in a new city with no way to contact anyone in case of an emergency, but I am paranoid and am not fine with it, so I'm sending the phone to her in Korea]

That's a decent reason to buy a disposable phone, no?

Well, no, apparently. We had to go a few rounds over whether in fact the best idea regarding cell service would be for my friend to spend 14 hours on a plane, and then 2 hours on a train, and then, when she arrived at 8 o’clock at night in the city that she had never been to before and in which she knew no one, with all her luggage, without a car, to march herself immediately and directly to a Radio Shack and get herself a phone plan. Yes, that sounds like a great idea, I will pass that along to her. Now will you please sell me this $10 phone in case my friend does not want to do something that insane?

My favorite part of that conversation:
Her: She can just call when she lands to get her account activated.
Me: Uh huh. And how would she do that without a phone?
Her: [pause] She doesn't need a phone. She can come by any Radio Shack. We don't close until 9:30.

I was about 20 seconds away from asking her point blank if she was refusing to sell me the phone when she finally relented and allowed me to proceed to the register. But by that point, oh, was I annoyed. I thought that there couldn't be anything left in the transaction to annoy me, but I had forgotten about Radio Shack’s ridiculous policy about not selling you anything without you providing your name, phone number, address, and a blood sample. Ok, not a blood sample, but you know that's coming. Anyway, I was annoyed enough when she asked for my name and number, but when she got to my address, I snapped and said, “You know what, never mind. I’m not going to buy it.” And then I left.

Oooo, dramatic.

Yeah, that’s my version of storming out. You do not want to mess with this. I am clearly a force to be reckoned with.

But I was pretty proud of myself. Then I had to call my sister and tell her that I had to find somewhere else to buy the phone on account of me losing my temper at Radio Shack. Fortunately, there’s a Target in the same shopping center, and they sold the exact same phone, advice-free. I’m now in possession of a pretty craptastic (crap-plastic?) cell phone that I think will serve its purpose.

Needless to say, I will not be programming the number for Radio Shack into my friend's new phone before giving it to her.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Coworker serenaded us at lunch again. Oh, and my cat ate a plastic bag.

That was a nice $500 trip to the vet. After he threw up one piece of plastic, I thought, "well, that's gotta be all he ate, 'cause why would he KEEP eating plastic?" Turns out I was wrong. Turns out he's high-strung and a "stress eater" like his me. Only I eat jars of cashew butter and boxes of ginger candy. He eats the wrapping on the roll of paper towels.

RR and I do not know what to do about that cat sometimes. We spend a lot of time asking him "Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" WHY does he refuse to eat his food when we know he's hungry? WHY does he stand on my neck in the morning to wake me up to feed him because he's hungry from not eating his dinner the night before? WHY does he insist on trying to get in the cabinet door that he can't quite manage to pry open more than a few inches before losing his grip, thereby slamming the cabinet shut again, producing a constant "kuhTHUNKuhTHUNKkuhTHUNK."

He never gives us an answer, though. He just looks at us blankly and goes back to eating the carpet on the stairs. And that's why we love him. We do not, however, love the vet bills.


So, yeah. Got sung at during lunch at a barbecue joint. And my boss ended a three hour lunch week before last by making me and one of my coworkers go to a store that sells supplies to magicians. I hate that store. I've said so, repeatedly. She said it would be a reward for our hard work. I said, "it wouldn't be a reward for me." She still made us go. And then she made us pick out a deck of cards for doing card tricks, which she bought for us (after having the poor employee demonstrate the tricks for us). I'd say it was nice of her and it's the thought that counts, except she knew I didn't want it, so I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I seriously almost cried in the middle of the store. That's kind of what my whole job has been like lately, which is why I haven't posted much. I've way behind, and my boss seems to be engaging in some kind of psychological warfare against me. Boss, if you're testing me, let me save you the trouble and just tell you: yes, I will give up company secrets if I'm locked in the magic store.

One month until vacation. One month until vacation.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Back soon, for reals

This is the busiest time of year for me at work, and it's kicking me in my sit-me-down-upon. I'm taking a break, though, to tell you that I have actually thought of some topics to blog about, so you have that to look forward to. Of course, by the time I have the chance to blog again, I will probably have forgotten what I was going to say, so it will be just more of the same ol' "I don't know what to blog about anymore, so here's my grocery list" type posting. (hint: LOTS of ginger)

(By "ginger" I mean the plant and not, say, Damian Lewis or Julian Rhind-Tutt, although don't I wish this was an option at my local Whole Foods.)

(I think "by ginger!" should be a new exclamation of surprise. "By ginger, we've been hornswoggled!")

(And by "hornswoggled," I mean bamboozled, not smacked down by the WWE wrestler, about whom I knew nothing until spell-checking the word hornswoggle, and about whom I wish that I still knew nothing.)

(And by "bamboozled," I mean taken for a ride, not beaten with bamboo sticks.)

(And by "taken for a ride," I meant a nice drive through the country, of course.)

This post appears to have gone out of control, so I'm getting back to work now.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Haters gotta . . . be as petty as possible, apparently

Not much news on ParkingGate, but based on today, either Coworker McPettypants doesn't have much of an "A" game, or she's lulling me into a false sense of security. Today's story is about a pot of coffee, a note, and a serious inability to leave well enough alone.

Here's what happened. Every day when someone makes the first pot of coffee in the morning, that person takes a paper towel, writes the date on it, and sticks it in front of the coffee carafe. This is a wasteful practice paper-wise, but it does help prevent those moments when you take a big swig of your first cup of coffee in the morning only to discover you're drinking yesterday's coffee. Anyway, I was the first person in the break room this morning, so I started the coffee maker going and went ahead and wrote the note and stuck it in front of the carafe. I was about to leave to go check my mailbox while the coffee brewed when McPettypants walked in.

She was startled enough to see me that she let out a "good morning." She seemed to regret it immediately. And then she ignored me.

I left to go check my mail. While I was gone, the coffee must have finished brewing because when I came back, McPettypants was gone, but before leaving she had poured the coffee into the carafe.

And she had replaced my note with one of her own.

And her note had a smiley face on it.

That's stupid, right? I mean, that's really stupid. You're feeling a little let down in the story, right? This seems like such a small thing, not something to get worked up about. Why am I even telling this story?

But that's my point. Why did she do it? What is her motivation? What went through head that made her throw out my note and write a new one?

Is this really her idea of sticking it to me? Because that's pretty weak. Or does she just hate me so much that she can't stand to get coffee from a carafe next to a note with my writing on it? Or does she need to take credit for making the coffee? Is the smiley face her way of flipping me off, or does she actually think if she pretends like she cares about cheering up any of the people we work with, they will start liking her even though she blames her screw ups on them?

I stood there for a good 30 seconds, coffee cup in hand, staring at that note and that stupid smiley face, trying to convince myself that it was my note and I just wasn't recognizing my handwriting, and she'd just drawn a smiley face on it for some reason. My brain could not accept the idea that someone would actually use the time and physical effort to do something so completely pointless. I was baffled. I still am. So I guess if her goal was to waste my time, then, well done, McPettypants. Touché.
You got me.

If this is the best she can do, if this is the kind of thing she's got lined up for me in her quest to . . . whatever she's trying to do, I look forward to seeing what comes my way.

Oh, and by the way, she's now parking one space over from where she had been parking, in a spot that is still not her assigned parking spot. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Maybe she's a robot designed to make my head explode

I cannot even describe for you just how ridiculous is the latest work drama that I'm involved in. It is so stupid that I'm embarrassed to be associated with it, even though it's not my fault that it turned into this nonsense. It's so stupid. It involves parking, y'all. Drama over a freakin' parking space.

I won't go into the whole story, I'll just give you these four facts:

(1) I was assigned a new parking space at work.
(2) A coworker started parking in the spot next to my new space, even though that was not her assigned space, because she liked it better than her assigned space, and the person who is assigned to park there apparently never uses the space.
(3) Because of the size of the parking spaces and her vehicle, it is impossible for me to get into my space if she's parked there.
(4) I asked her to not park in that spot that was not her space because if she parked there, I cannot get into my assigned space.

And because of this, she became very, very angry. Because of a parking space, she hates my guts. Because of a parking space, she has started telling random coworkers how much she doesn't like me. Because of a parking space. BECAUSE OF A PARKING SPACE. Because I asked her not to park in the spot that wasn't hers, because her parking there meant I could not get into the spot that is mine. This is apparently worth of a blood feud.

I think what really set her off was when she came up with what I guess she thought was a winning point--she asked me, "well, what are you going to do if the person whose spot that is starts parking there"--and instead of getting flustered, saying "you win, keep parking there," or arguing with her, I just said I'd deal with it when it happened, "and anyway you said no one ever parks there, so it shouldn't be a problem." At that point, if she could have turned me into dust with her laser eyes, she totally would have.

I just can't, y'all. I just can't understand it. People who so badly need drama that they have to create it over stupid stuff, I just can't . . . I just . . . I JUST CAN'T. I really want to laugh, but also I am afraid that she will show up at my house one day with her crazy eyes and a knife.

Despite my fear, I seriously cannot wait to go to work tomorrow.