Archive for the ‘health’ Tag
Before I begin, I would first like to show you the deepest trough of a customer I have had to deal with to date.
The phone rang. I answered it.
Kelsey: Thank you for calling Home Depot, how can I direct your call?
Customer: Yes, I have a question. How much does your building cost?
Customer: I mean, it’s a big store. I can’t imagine how much it costs to heat and air condition, it must cost a fortune. It’s a huge store. Just the land must be hugely expensive. So I want to know, why does your management bother having that giant brick-and-mortar store if they’re just going to put everything on their website?
Customer: So anyway, the meat of my call is that I saw this chandelier in a magazine and it said that you could buy it at Home Depot so I went into your store but you didn’t have it. I asked a guy and he said it was on your website and I asked him for more information on the chandelier but he said he was new and couldn’t help me and walked away.
Sears Home Appliances — We Got a Guy (Cavernous)
Damn you, accurate criticism!
Kelsey: Well ma’am, I can definitely try to help you. Can you tell me about chandelier?
Customer: Well it was only a little tiny image in the magazine but it was a five-light antler chandelier for $189.
Hampton Bay 5-light Natural Antler Hanging Chandelier
Kelsey: I have it pulled up here in front of me. What would you like to know about it?
Customer: How big is it?
Kelsey: It’s…let’s see…it’s 26 inches in diameter.
Customer: What…what’s a diameter?
Kelsey: It’s the size of a circle from one side to the other side.
Customer: I’m sorry?
Kelsey: It’s…the measure of a circle from one side all the way to the other side.
Customer: What does that have to do with the chandelier?
Kelsey: Well it’s a circular base. So you would measure it from tip to tip, and that’s 26 inches. It’s 19 inches high and 26 inches wide.
Customer: 26 inches from what point?
Kelsey: Uh…you know what, the radius is 13 inches.
Customer: What is a radius?
Kelsey: That’s the measure from the middle of the circle to the end of the circle. So from the center of the chandelier to the edge of the chandelier, that’s 13 inches.
Customer: Why would I want to know that?
Kelsey: I don’t know…I just…the chandelier is 26 inches.
Customer: And you don’t have the chandelier in front of you?
Kelsey: No ma’am, just a picture from the website.
Customer: This is so useless. How can you know from a picture if it’s a good fit or not?
I don’t know, how can you tell from a tiny magazine photo if it’s a good fit or not? Cheese and crackers, I spent the rest of the conversation explaining that no, you have to pay for the chandelier before anyone will ship it anywhere. I just. After the conversation ended, I just had to sit back and think about the fact that this woman called to complain that we have a website.
Anyway, I am sick. I don’t know why. For the past week, I have been experiencing nausea. I’ll stand and make phone calls and I’ll have to pause and put a hand over my mouth because I just experienced a sudden, intense wave of sickness. I haven’t thrown up or anything, but I just…I just feel overwhelmed by the sickness or something and I have to sit down or put my head in my hands. I also have some heartburn and I feel flush and warm sometimes, but mostly it’s the nausea.
I’ve had random spells like this before. I just get sick sometimes, for no reason.
Cropped and edited version of a pic by thepan
I remember when I was on the verge of turning 26 and I mentioned to Mom that hey maybe I didn’t need health insurance, and she said, “Remember when you randomly got hives for weeks on end? You just get sick! You need health insurance!”
What’s weird about this is that while eating definitely makes the symptoms worse, it doesn’t matter what food I actually eat. I tried to deal with the problem by eating small meals made of up mild foods, like rice and crackers. Then one day I snapped and had James take me out for Mexican food. I had exactly the same after-meal nausea.
So this morning when I nearly threw up trying to process an appliance refund, I decided that I would wait until my mid-shift coverage arrived, and then I would go to the doctor. Because seriously, it has been a week and there is just no sign of stopping. It has been long enough that I can classify “good days” and “bad days” and today was a “medium day” while yesterday was a “good day” and the day before was a “bad day”.
Fortunately Home Depot understood because Home Depot has very good management. I went to the urgent care closest to my townhouse. They did the tests: I have a very mild fever (I am normally in the upper 97s but am currently in the mid-98s). I explained my symptoms in between belching because goodness gracious whatever it is that I have gives me gas.
First thing they did was test for pregnancy and No, I Am Not Pregnant. So they gave me a prescription for anti-acids (for the heartburn) and been referred me to an ultrasound person to test for gallstones.
The Awkward Yeti
And now I’m sitting here waiting for my body to finish processing my lunch. After I finish this post, I’m going to make some phone calls, get the utilities for the new house set up because we close on Friday. Then I guess I’ll do word puzzles until I feel okay enough to start sorting books and packing.
So Deb was out of the hospital, and now she’s back in the hospital. But today they decided that she was doing well enough that they could take her breathing tube out, if her family agreed. Deb is sick of having the tube out, so James agreed, provided that someone in the family was there. Since I got off work at noon, I volunteered to go to the hospital.
I showed up around 3:00, and they removed the tube at 3:10. It went swimmingly. At least I assume it went swimmingly. Once the respiratory specialists showed up to take the tube out, I was ushered out of the room. I chatted with a nurse about a new movie theater in town, but mostly I just stood in the lobby of the ICU, trying not to look casual. The room next to Deb’s has way comfier-looking chairs than the ones in Deb’s room. I plotted.
Anyway, the tube removal went swimmingly. I took out my book of word puzzles and a pencil and began working on a puzzle.
After a few minutes, Deb began murmuring. I went to her. Because of the damage from the breathing tube, her voice was really shallow and hushed; I could only pick out a few words. I finally managed to get “forgot the handle” out of her. It sounded medicalish, so I went and found a nurse.
“She’s saying something about a handle?”
The nurse went to investigate. She listened carefully, then finally:
“Ma’am, where do you think you are?”
Deb whispered an answer.
“Well you’re at the hospital. You’re in your hospital bed.” The nurse produced her staff badges as proof. Deb studied them, and reluctantly agreed that she was, indeed, in the hospital, and not at her friend’s house. The nurse smiled and said that James would arrive soon. The nurse told me that, as Deb was getting off of the sedatives, she was going to be a bit loopy. Whenever she got like this, we just had to explain nicely that she was in the hospital and that everything was okay.
So Deb coughed and moved her hands from her lap to her mouth, and I did word puzzles. I checked on her toes to make sure they were covered up (they were), and I brought her tissues and a washcloth when she asked. I also had to keep pulling the sleeves of her gown up, to keep her modesty.
I looked up from my word puzzles one time to see her gesturing at the remote on her lap. It was a TV remote, but it also had the giant red button asking for a nurse. It’s plugged into the room.
I struggled my aching body up and went to her.
“They can take the plate away now,” she said.
There was no plate. Deb hasn’t had solid food for days. Surely I had misheard. I leaned in closer and asked her to repeat what she had said.
“The waited can take the plate away, I’m done with it.”
“Uh, Deb,” I said, “You’re in the hospital. You don’t have a plate.”
Deb gestured at the remote and said, “I don’t care if it’s a paper plate. They need to take the plate away, I’m done with it.”
“That’s the remote.”
Deb stared at me.
“James will be here soon,” I said, as much to myself as to her.
I had difficulty looking at her for a while, I was so embarrassed over how I handled her hallucinations. When I looked up, she was carrying on a conversation with the wall. She didn’t seem to need anything, and indeed seemed quite happy, so I buckled down and focused on my work puzzle.
When I looked up again, Deb was staring at me. She was wide-eyed. She looked…concerned? Panicked?
I hopped up as quickly as my stupid body would let me, and hobbled over to her. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Who’s giving you a ride home?” Deb asked. “Are you riding home with me or James?”
I sucked in my breath. I was supposed to remind her that she was hallucinating, but I really couldn’t do it. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “James and I came in separate cars. I drove myself here, so I’ll drive myself home. James isn’t even here, but he’ll be here soon. You just get some rest.”
Deb nodded and went back to coughing and dabbing at her mouth. She started drifting in and out of sleep.
I texted Lacey and asked if it was okay that I found Deb’s hallucinations funny. I wasn’t laughing, but I thought it was pretty funny anyway. But they shouldn’t be funny, right? She was hallucinating. Lacey replied that it was okay to use humor to deal with stress. Deb would probably find it funny, too, once she was all better.
Finally James did show up. He checked up on Deb, talked with the nurse, helped Deb get comfy, then helped me finish my word puzzle. We chatted about how she had been for the past few hours. I took off the ace bandage on my ankle, and we reapplied it while we explained to Deb that I had sprained it. And somehow I started talking about how my sisters are doing and how Katie and I are going to take our children to art museums.
Deb murmured something. James immediately went to check on her. He leaned in and listened.
“Who’s Kevin?” he asked.
“Kelsey’s wife,” said Deb.
“Uh,” said James.
Eventually Deb’s sister, Lynette, showed up, and James and I went to dinner. When we returned, I left, as I had been at the hospital for five hours, it was 8:00, and I had been up since 3:30AM.
I said goodbye to Deb.
“Don’t hurt yourself at work,” she said.
“No more wild parties,” I told her.
I stepped out of the room.
“So Deb says you’re three months pregnant,” said Lynette.
When I came back from my honeymoon, everyone at Home Depot asked me, “So what part of your body is injured now?”
I’m getting a reputation for this, guys.
And it hurt, because I had to reply, “My tailbone. I broke it while skiing. So now I can’t sit down.”
They would laugh, so I would laugh, and then we would move on to other things.
So because of my tailbone, I’ve been sitting with my legs at weird angles, so as to not put pressure on my tailbone. It’s been hurting less and less, so now I can sit almost normally for short periods of time. One of the most comfortable ways for me to sit in a chair is sitting on one foot. This puts my bodyweight all on one buttcheek, away from my tailbone. It’s fine. I’ve done it a ton of times in the past few weeks.
So last night I had a normal dinner (chicken tenders and frozen veggies). I played SimCity and Plants vs. Zombies. Then I decided it was time to clean up, so I stood up, not realizing how completely dead my left foot was from sitting on it for a while. My leg completely folded under me, and down I went.
I screamed in pain for a minute or so. I inspected my foot and saw how swollen it was. I tried to rotate my ankle, but it didn’t move very far. I had definitely heard a noise from my ankle as I went down — was it a crack? A snap?
I called 911. I felt like an idiot for doing so, since I wasn’t, like, dying, or anything. But I couldn’t stand. I had heard a sound. I actually had to crawl up the stairs to the bedroom to get to my phone. I had never called 911, but I told myself that I wasn’t a prank caller, at the very least.
I had thought I would start by stating my emergency, but actually the first question out of the dispatcher was “what is your location?” I gave her my address. Then my phone number. Then my name (do I say Hancher or Meyers? I went with Hancher) Then I explained that I had fallen and hurt my ankle.
“An ambulance is on its way,” she assured me a moment later, after a few more questions about how I had injured myself.
An ambulance? Surely that was overkill? But I had called 911. Ambulances were part of the equation.
“How old are you?” the dispatcher asked.
I considered saying 29, since I’m a week away from my birthday, but I said 28.
She asked if I had any free-roaming pets (yes, so get them locked away). Did I feel safe hanging up? Yeah, like, it’s just my ankle (it’s not like I was getting murdered). Okay, make sure to pack up any medications in case they have to take you to the hospital. Feel free to call back if I needed further assistance.
And that was that. That was my first 911 call.*
Fortunately Cornelius had been following me around, so it was easy to just take my phone and crawl out of the bedroom, then shut the door behind me. I sat on the stairs and hopped down, then grabbed my medication and my crossword puzzle book and put them both in my purse. Then I crawled over to the recliner and grabbed my Hamilton biography and then crawled over and set that next to my purse. I decided I didn’t want to be seen in my pajamas by the ambulance people (you know, just so I didn’t look so much like a screw-up), so I crawled back upstairs and exchanged my pajama pants for jeans. Then I slid back downstairs, unlocked the front door, turned on the front light, and then sat on the stairs and waited.
Well, I called James and told him not to panic if he came home and there was an ambulance. It was my ankle, not anything serious. He sounded tense. Well, of course he was tense. His mother is in the hospital and his wife called an ambulance.
After a few minutes I noticed that my ankle didn’t hurt nearly as bad. It was still really, really swollen, but it didn’t hurt. So I stood on it. I could stand on it, but I couldn’t really walk. It could share my weight, but it couldn’t hold all my weight. What was that weird noise from when I fell down? Maybe it was just the same sound that comes from when you crack your knuckles.
So when the ambulance arrived, I said, “Guys, I have to be honest, I think I called you in the initial panic. I think it’s just a sprain.”
They checked me out anyway. They agreed that I had really, really bad swelling. They had me rotate my ankle (I was able to move it way farther than a few minutes prior, which I pointed out). They had me stand on both feet. The fact that I could do just that was a really good sign that it wasn’t broken.
They had me sit on the recliner. The woman asked me questions while the man took my vitals from a weird boombox-looking machine. I could remember the name of my doctor but not her practice (but I assured that I couldn’t remember that in the best of times, I always have to look it up). I told her my birthday and reiterated my phone number. I had to tell them that I took Sertraline for depression. I told them that I had recently sprained my toe, and broken my tailbone and my ring finger.
“Do you want us to take you to the hospital for an X-ray?” they asked.
Here’s the part I regret: I said no. I genuinely thought it was just a bad sprain and that an X-ray wasn’t necessary. So they wrapped up my ankle in an Ace bandage and gave me an ice pack and left.
But today I want an X-ray. I want to know if it’s broken or just sprained. I want crutches in any case, because I can’t walk around a whole lot and that’s getting really old really fast. I have work at 5:00 and I want to be able to tell my managers what it definitely is when I call them. I think I could drive, but I don’t know how to get to my car, or if I should call 911 and say “hey, can you drive me to the hospital?” or if I should call a taxi. I don’t think I need an ER, but I should visit Urgent Care.
So now I’m just sitting on the couch, trying to figure out my next move.
James is being great. He fed the cat and put my phone on the charger and offered to make breakfast for me, until I said that that would involve making coffee. He helped me get settled on the couch last night with my computer and painkillers and water and a heating pad. He clipped Cornelius’ toenails when I complained that his back paws were hurting me (at one point he did the head bump thing with Cornelius and it was so cute). But James had to go to work.
Maybe I’ll call my mother.
*Once, I called a non-emergency number, because I got cat medication in my eye back when I first got Marty McFly. But that was a non-emergency number and the answer was “does it hurt? No? Okay well flush your eyes out and call us back in a week to let us know how it goes.”
My grandmother died in August 2009. She had been very sick for a long time, and when it came time, her insides were eating her, slowly shutting down one by one. It was time. I remember how swollen she was; she had always been a slender woman, and in her later years her skin had become delicate and paper-like. The woman on the bed before me didn’t seem like my grandmother at all, a red, swollen, Gramma-shaped creature.
This is her in December 1987. I am the baby on the left, saluting.
We all arrived at the hospital to say goodbye, and to watch her die. My grandfather told us that someone had to hold her hand at all times, so that she wouldn’t feel alone. I replied that hearing is actually the last sense to go, and so talking to her would be better. Grampa snapped at me for being so cold. I felt stung and walked away sulking, but I know now why he snapped at me.
She died surrounded by her family; her husband, her two children, their spouses, several of her grandchildren. Unable to come up with words, we took turns reading the Bible aloud. When all of our voices gave out, we sat in silence, watching her chest rise and fall, less and less and less.
Two hours had passed.
Gramma’s chest rose.
Gramma’s chest fell.
Mom stood up.
Gramma’s chest didn’t rise.
“Sit down,” Katie hissed.
Mom sat down, but Gramma’s chest didn’t rise again. Gramma was gone.
Most of James’ family did not attend our wedding. They live several hours away and have small children, so it made sense. We invited them, but didn’t expect them to attend. But at the last minute, several of the Yesses on his side of the family dropped out. Even one of his groomsmen cancelled. James’ grandfather was dying, and most of them felt it was more important to say goodbye to him than to see James married. Which made sense. If we weren’t getting married that weekend, James probably would have gone to see his grandfather as well.
This is one of the few members of his paternal side that was able to attend. Almost everyone else from James’ side that attended was from his maternal side.
My grandfather’s girlfriend also wasn’t able to attend. She was still recovering from surgery. In fact, she’s still in recovery. We were able to see her the next day after the wedding though, which was wonderful, because she’s a lovely human being.
James’ grandfather died while we were on our honeymoon.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in a public setting ever, but James’ mother has been in and out of the hospital for the past four years. It was a trial for her to be able to attend our wedding. But James is her only son, goshdarnit, and Deb was bound and determined to attend.
Deb was admitted to the hospital while we were on our honeymoon.
She ordered everyone not to tell us because she didn’t want to disrupt our honeymoon. We found out as soon as we came back.
Today, her spasms returned with a vengeance. We spent five hours in the hospital with her today, doing what we could to ease her pain. She took a strong painkiller, but she was too tense to have it actually work. She panted and squirmed and shook on the bed. We helped her with her bedpan. I waved a magazine, hoping to cool her down. We helped her drink water through a straw. James helped bend her legs at the knee, hoping to ease the tension. It didn’t. Nothing helped. For five or more hours, Deb could do nothing but sweat and writhe in pain on the hospital bed.
I took a break and got some coffee from the Starbucks downstairs. I did a crossword puzzle. I watched Deb gasp into the phone that she wanted a strawberry milkshake for dinner. The nurses arrived to try to get a liquid painkiller in her, so we left and sat outside the room. We listened as the nurses struggled to get an IV in her, but she couldn’t stop shaking. I worked some more on the crossword puzzle, sipping the coffee and trying to think of something, anything.
James drank some water. The nurses were gone. I didn’t want her to be left alone, so I came back into the room.
I looked down at Deb. She gasped and shook with pain. The spasms were much less violent, but they were still there, and they were still painful.
“They should put you on some knockout gas,” I said.
Deb chuckled. “They should,” she said.
Then a strange look crossed her face.
“It’s gone,” she whispered.
Then she closed her eyes and went still.
I thought, Oh my god she’s dead. Oh my god I killed her.
But a quick look showed that her chest was rising and falling. She was fine. She was just asleep.
Starbucks is currently running a contest among its partners. We try out all the new, secret frappuccino flavors, and I guess that the most popular flavor gets put on the menu? Maybe? All I know is there’s a chart where you write which one is your favorite. So far I’ve tried Lemonade Frappuccino (meh) and Cinnamon Bun Frappuccino (white mocha was overpowering — caramel would have been better). Today I decided to try out the Red Velvet Frappuccino. Red Velvet is actually regular chocolate dyed red, but I figured that wouldn’t be a big deal. I would just replace it with white chocolate mocha.
So I measured out and then poured in the milk, ice, base, 3 pumps of white mocha, 2 pumps of vanilla, 1 pump of raspberry, and then I hesitated. The recipe called for frappuccino chips, which are just chunks of dark chocolate. I considered. On the one hand, they’re chocolate, and that could make me sick. On the other hand, the recipe called for the chips, I had already deviated from the recipe, and I have chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream without any problem. So I tossed two scoops of chips into the blender as well.
This was a mistake. Within an hour I started feeling a little dizzy. I started getting a little achey in the head. I thought eating lunch would make me feel better — get more things in my system that aren’t chocolate. I was wrong. By the time I came back from lunch, I felt worse, and the longer I stood on my feet the weaker and achier I felt. I could feel my stomach swarm. I asked permission to leave, got it, and left with three hours left in my shift.
Today is James’ day off, and he was confused when I got home. When I told him that I had eaten chocolate, he looked concerned at the garbage bag in my hand. “Oh, no, those are coffee grounds for the garden,” I said. “I wouldn’t bring home a bag of my own vomit.”
“I thought you had gotten sick on your clothes and had borrowed someone’s to get home,” he said.
I handed over my card and asked him to buy gas for my car. I had been planning on filling up the tank, but I had driven straight home instead.
I laid in bed with my heating pad and let my legs and shoulders stick out. I couldn’t look at the ceiling fan. The movement made me sick. I sat in bed and burped and winced in pain every time my head moved.
James brought me water and some painkillers. After a while I felt okay enough to move to the second bedroom, which doesn’t have a ceiling fan, so I could look around the room if I wanted to.
This food sensitivity was diagnosed twenty years ago. For twenty years now, I’ve been so good. I’ve avoided chocolate and yellow cheese and hot dogs. I’ve found other foods that make me sick, like pepperoni, sausage, and anything from Subway (although they don’t make me feel as sick as those chips made me feel). Like I said before, I eat chocolate chip cookie dough, and I’ve even eaten ice cream sandwiches without a problem. I haven’t had a reaction like this in twenty years.
I actually felt a little scared when I was laying in bed. I hadn’t dealt with this in so long. I had almost become convinced that I didn’t have the food sensitivity anymore. I don’t know what would happen. What did I do when I was feeling so sick? I remember laying in bed with the covers over my head. How long would this last? Would there be long stretches of pain? Did I feel this hot inside when I was eight? Would I be able to keep anything down?
So far I’ve kept the painkillers down. I’m just laying on the futon now. I’m going to write some more of the fairy tale story. I was having trouble for a while, feeling blocked because I couldn’t figure out how to make the physician interesting. Which was weird, because he’s an unimportant character. But I did some research on humorism and bloodletting, and I feel more comfortable now. I can write again. Maybe I’ll work on Pizza Boy too. I’ll have some soup tonight, and I should be okay by tomorrow.
I haven’t posted in a month! It’s been a very busy month.
-James and I moved to a townhouse! We’ve been here for ten days now, and it’s been great. We have so much space. We can fit all of our furniture here. The most difficult part was getting the kitchen fixed up. We hadn’t realized how little storage this place has, so we had to buy a bunch of shelves.
They’re filled with dishes. The cabinets are full of food. Everything seems laid out nicely now!
-Every time I sit down to start a blog entry, I started writing fiction instead. Which is good. Except for the fact that I went a month without updating. Will my future children want to look at this blog and see what all of my thoughts were when their father and I were moving? (no)
-We bought a wedding dress! It is beautiful! Now I have to pick a printer for the Save-the-Dates and start working with my Ladies to pick out their dresses. The process of picking out the dress could be the fodder of so many blog entries, but, alas, that stuff has to be secret.
-I finally sought help for my depression. I visited an independent doctor (hard to find in this area, the intersection of UNC and Duke). My doctor introduced herself and explained the concept of the clinic (less patients, more time with each patient). We went through all the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and yes: I have anxiety and depression. Not a severe case, but definitely a case. So she prescribed regular exercise, medication, and visiting a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.
Something I was surprised to learn: my tendency to not want to get out of bed is a fairly common sign of depression. My tendency to not want to leave my car when I get to my destination? My inability to get off the couch when I’m hungry or have to pee and want to get up, but can’t? That is exactly the same symptom. Who knew?
Doctors. Doctors knew.
-Look at this writing though:
Asking about any sort of magic would look suspicious, and for days Martha was held up by not knowing how to proceed. In her twenty-two years of governing, she had never had a problem like this before. She turned the question over in her mind. She would be tickling Lily and start wondering if the local laundry girls would know anything. Hyacinth would take her two girls out for walks and would start making sniping statements, but Martha would be wondering if the local coven had some sort of signal to signify a meeting, and if so, what could it be?
The answer came rather undramatically. Lily woke up one morning red in the face, coughing, and hot as an oven. Martha and Dawn worried over Lily while waiting for the physician. For a while Martha forgot about the frog and the witches.
The physician explained it was just a sort of generic fever. He prescribed fluids, and stated that the room be kept as hot as possible to help the fever along. They were to summon him if the fever became any worse.
As he left the bedroom, he paused by Froggy.
“Has this been attracting bugs?” he asked.
“No,” said Martha. “But look.”
She tore off a small piece of bread from Lily’s bedside and put it in front of Froggy. Froggy considered the bread, then snatched it up. “He won’t eat bugs,” she added.
“Interesting,” said the physician quietly. “Have you consulted the Sisters?”
“I haven’t consulted anyone,” Martha whispered.
“The sisters meet at the full moon where the tributary meets the river,” said the physician. “Speak of this to no one.” Dawn and handmaiden entered the apartment. The physician said, louder, “Keep me informed on your girl’s condition, and make sure she stays in bed. Little girls get antsy after too much rest.”
“I’ll keep you informed,” said Martha.
“On the girl,” said the physician.
Martha smiled and curtsied.
I am a terrible writer. Just the worst. I don’t want to be blunt. I want to be light. I want to be like Jane Austen. I want to write sentences backwards just to point fun at social conventions. Believe it or not (especially given this example), my main writing strength is in dialogue. I couldn’t think of a way to get all this information across lightly.
So I’ve had to step back from wanting to write well and convince myself to just write. It might help that I joined a writer’s circle. They gave me a lot of good advice on improving a scene I’ve been struggling with in Pizza Boy and Maggie.
I was in DC for a few days! I didn’t get to see a lot of people. But that’s okay! It was for my birthday, and for my birthday I wanted to see my family, especially my favorite twin sister.
I took the train up, and let me tell you: I love traveling via train. Like plane rides, someone else is driving (score one over cars). However, the seats are bigger, you have a little bit more legroom, and it’s easier/less annoying to fellow passengers if you get up and walk around. You also have somewhere to walk to! It’s the dining car. Which is great: you don’t have to sit and wait for a flight attendant. You are your own master.
Plus, for some reason the actual act of flying always leaves my body stressed. I can’t relax or sleep on a plane, no matter how comfortable I get or how much I read or distract myself. There’s something about the pressure your body is under that stresses me out. I remember going to Europe with Lacey and Beth. We were on an overnight flight from New York to Heathrow to Berlin. I was awake the whole time. As soon as we got on the train to go to Paris? I was out like a light. I remember another time, flying from London to New York to Dulles. I was absolutely, devastatingly exhausted, but I could not fall asleep on the plane. I started hallucinating.
Anyway! So I took the train to DC which was very convenient. I carried my sister’s present onto the train with me; the ticket person warned me that the conductor might not let me (it’s a painting with a glass cover, the ticket person was worried it would break in a crash and make things worse). I had already started texting Lacey about back-up plans in case I wasn’t able to bring her present with me, but the conductor didn’t even glance at it as I walked onto the train. Thankfully, because of the awkward size of the painting, absolutely no one sat next to me the entire trip. I tried to make room as best I could, but no one sat with me. I could spread out, leave my stuff on the extra seat, and stretch out my legs. I finished the first half of translations for Chapter Seven in my Latin textbook. After I had done all my translations, I carried my Julius Caesar biography (given to me by the handsome James Meyers) into the dining car to have lunch. Another passenger and I waited together while the dining car attendant worked with the microwave.
“Where are you heading?” we both asked, as is the usual opener on trains.
Then she asked, “What school do you go to?”
It was the first of…well of a few times that I was mistaken for a college student. I suppose it made sense. I look young for my age, I had been doing work out of a textbook, and I was carrying around a biography. All common signs of a college student.
Lacey met me at the train station, helped me get my bags, and lead me through the metro system to Ballston, where we met Mom and headed to Tysons. Lacey is more comfortable with the metro than I am. I was convinced that I hadn’t entered the system legally (perhaps jumping on her open entry?) but apparently I did enter legally. All was well.
The food at Tysons was excellent and the company was even better (the parents and the twin sister!). After dinner Dad headed home, but Mom, Lacey, and I explored Barnes and Noble. I bought two new biographies to add to my collection, and Mom bought a birthday present for me.
It’s called Wreck This Journal and look what I’ve done to it:
It’s not every day that you want to call up your mother and say “you know that present you got for me less than a week ago? I wiped my dirty shoes on it and broke it nearly in two.” I am so happy.
But of course I cannot call up my mother. Lacey drove over my phone. It was an accident, of course: I dropped my phone unknowingly by her car and so she drove over my cell phone with absolutely no idea that it was there. It is absolutely gone, dying alone and broken in the cold Arlington snow. It was a jerk anyway.
Moving on to Saturday, Lacey and I worked out for a bit. First we (probably) annoyed her neighbors by dancing to the music we were playing too loud (Uptown Funk, Shake It Off, Bie Mir Bist du Schoen, Come With Me Now), and then actually going to a gym and working out (featuring an attendant who laughed too hard at Lacey’s joke).
Then we went and got ourselves cultured like red wine and gruyere. First we attended Taffety Punk’s annual Riot Grrls. A few years ago, Shakespeare Theater Company in DC did an all-male version of Romeo and Juliet. Annoyed that women were once again being denied good acting roles, Taffety Punk threw together a quick all-female version of Romeo and Juliet, which turned out so successful that every year they do an all-female production of a Shakespeare show under the name Riot Grrrls.
This year’s flavor was the Tempest.
From Lacey’s facebook feed.
All but one of the principle actresses had been in last year’s Titus Andronicus, so it was interesting, this year, to see them play new roles. Only one of them (the woman playing Miranda) played a really similar role to last year. Last year’s Lavinia was this year’s Miranda. Both roles clearly are girly-girl types, but Lavinia is a mostly silent role dealing with death, despair, frustration, fear, anger, and sadness, while Miranda is a blithe spirit who loves everything all the time and is so happy. The actress was clearly more comfortable playing the sailor Trinculo, who was drunk and petty. Lacey, meanwhile, found it interesting to watch the quality of performances diverge between actors playing multiple roles: Ferdinand and Sebastian were played by the same person, which works with clever staging. She played Ferdinand straight and dull (to Lacey’s annoyance) but found her Sebastian to be sardonic and hilarious.
After The Tempest, we went and ate at Ted’s Bulletin, because it was right around the corner and obviously.
Ted’s Bulletin liked this on instagram
Our super-serious discussion about Acting was interrupted when several people from Taffety Punk walked into the restaurant!!!!! I didn’t say anything but OH MAN.
Then we rushed off to E Street Cinema to watch the Oscar Nominated Shorts (both live-action and animated). Obviously the awards have been given out so we know who won, but here are my thoughts anyway.
You can skip them if you want, I noted in all-caps when it ends.
[in order of how they’re listed on the Oscar website]
The Bigger Picture
I absolutely loved the Bigger Picture, which is how I knew it wasn’t going to win. I always go for the animated shorts that have a unique or fanciful art style, while Oscars tend to be given to the animated short with the cutest or most comfortable story. That being said, I loved this film. I loved how simple the story was; I loved how the art style and fantasy sequences helped to tell the story, or rather the emotion. The emotion that two brothers feel as their mother is slowly dying. Their mother’s friend would insult the caretaker brother as he was filling her teacup; he would imagine the room filling up with water and drowning her. But despite his annoyance, he was ultimately able to keep his head up as his more-successful brother lost it, because he was able to focus on…the bigger picture I love this film you guys I love it.
The Dam Keeper
Neither Lacey nor I were particularly impressed by The Dam Keeper. In a city full of anthropomorphic creatures, a small pig is put in charge of the windmill that keeps the Darkness at bay (if a movie calls a vague thing to be feared “the Darkness” you know it’s going to be stupid). He also goes to school, where he is bullied frequently for being a pig. Then he makes a friend. Then that friends turns out to be false. So he decides to let the windmill wind down, which would kill everyone.
Here’s where Lacey and I disagree: I think they should have ended it there. Just let the pig sit there with his gas mask on and let the darkness come and kill everyone. The last shot should have just been the gas mask. Lacey disagreed. I don’t remember exactly where she thought the movie should have ended (or maybe she thought the story should have gone in a different direction?).
In any case, the pig saves everyone and it’s a happy ending for everyone, which doesn’t make sense, in the same way that Frozen’s ending doesn’t make sense. I’ll elaborate later. This entry is already pretty long.
Feast is a decent-looking piece with an easy-to-swallow story (hah!). Of course it was going to win. Unlike last time Disney won Animated Short, I’m not angry. I hated Paperman. Feast was good. There were better entries. But Feast was fine. It told a story from a unique perspective. It had a good metaphor. It made me want a Boston Terrier. All good things.
Me and my Moulton
This was Lacey’s pick for Best Animated Short, and I can’t say I blame her. It was probably my #2. It’s a story about a quirky family and accepting that family or happiness or normalcy or whatever is…what you make of it? What no one has? What looks weird from the outside is in fact normal? That supporting or loving someone takes a big effort? Don’t be embarrassed by your family? It didn’t have one, simple message, which is something that Lacey tends to go for. And certainly that was a big bonus. It was a slice-of-life about growing up, about accepting…maturity? I don’t really know what it was about, exactly. But it was funny and sweet and the art style was simple and quirky, and it tells a story that will stick with you. It’s a good film and it should have won, really.
A Single Life
It’s all on youtube guys! Go get yourselves some culture.
A Single Life starts with a woman sitting down to eat a delicious pizza in a comfortable apartment like it’s the only thing anyone would ever want. It is the most relatable thing ever. The art is really weird though. I don’t think it served the story very well at all. She looks like a giant white cucumber with a wig. Considering the theme of the story, she should have been more human-shaped, not less. It had a good punchline and excellent pacing, but overall it wasn’t a very good film.
Live Action Shorts
Look at those two. Look how happy they are. Look how thrilled they are to be alive, to enjoy all of life’s greatest splendors.
At 39 minutes, this film was the longest entry in the Live Action Shorts, and boy did it feel like it. The whole movie was filled with long, awkward pauses of silence. I joked to James that 30/39 minutes of the movie was awkward silence. The thing is, I’m not sure I was exaggerating.
Aya, the driver there, is at the airport to pick up someone (a lover, presumably) when through a weird series of circumstances she gets mistaken for a professional driver and she just goes along with it. It’s a good set-up…if the characters were interesting, if the final plot twist hadn’t been given away the first time we saw her hands on the wheel, if the characters had anything interesting to say, if the actors had had any chemistry, if there had been any sense of danger, if they had gotten lost and had to find their way, if they had talked about anything deeper than “what do you do for a living?” The film is actually about the car drive from the airport to the hotel.
Lacey visited the facilities in the middle of the film. When she came back, she asked if she had missed anything important. After giving it a moment’s thought, I realized that no, no she hadn’t. Absolutely nothing had happened in the five minutes or so she had been gone. That’s forgiveable in a feature-length film, but this is a short film. Every second should count. A few minutes after that, I went and bought a bottle of water (this is a relevant plot point for this entry — remember that I bought a bottle of water). When I came back, I asked Lacey if I had missed anything — and nope. Nada. The whole film was an exercise in patience.
We went online to see if there was any explanation for why Aya scored a nomination, only to discover that the very things we hated about it were the things people loved about it. Critics raved about the “tense periods of sexual tension” or whatever. They loved the long silent pauses. They loved…the fact that no one said anything? They loved the “twist” at the end. They said that it was “a story exploring what would happen if you gave in to your impulses” (or something). Except that Aya did the opposite of that in the end. Also, one critic said that if you hate this movie you’re an anti-semite. I guess I’m an anti-semite now.
Boogaloo and Graham
Boogaloo and Graham was never going to win. Unlike the Animated Shorts’ tendency towards heart-warming stories, Live Action Shorts goes for art and Feelings. If it had been animated, Boogaloo and Graham would have had a chance to win. It’s about a Northern Irish family that adopts two chickens, set against the backdrop of the Troubles. It was adorable. I thought for a second the chickens were going to die. It toyed a bit with my emotions. It’s what you want in a kid-friendly film. The only thing Lacey and I didn’t like was that the one black character in the film was the one who killed a dude in the end? Was given scary framing and everything? What the double-hey racism?
Source Watch it here!
Butter Lamp was also never going to win, but you really, really wanted it to. It was a story about modernity forcing its way into a small Tibetan village and — back up, Hancher, back way way up. It’s about a whole bunch of Tibetan families getting their picture taken. Everyone is cute and charming and it tells each family’s story in its own way. The underlying theme is — stop it, Hancher. Watching the movie for the message takes away from the story.
This was Lacey’s choice. She has a weakness for stories about female friendship. It’s a story about unlikely friendship between an Iranian immigrant and a Swiss teenager. They beat up a dude. There’s casual racism. They bond. Unlike Aya, this film really did explore two characters dropping boundaries and seeing what happens next. Both Lacey and I loved this film. Lacey just loved it more than I did. I would have been happy if it had won.
The Phone Call (winner)
I absolutely adored The Phone Call. It follows a woman at a crisis center as she handles her first phone call of the shift. It is absolutely intense and nerve-wracking. The vast majority of the film is just a wide variety of angles of her sitting at her desk and talking and writing, but every single frame is filled to the brim with intensity as a man’s life is on the line. I could hear the sad voice of every old man I have ever met on the other end of that phone call. I cried along with Heather. I loved this movie and it absolutely deserved to win.
And it did! Yay!
AND HERE ENDS THE OSCAR TALK IF YOU JUST DECIDED TO SCROLL PAST IT OR WHATEVER
After the movies we headed back to the car and mostly just bad-mouth Aya. We tried to shove as much praise for Parveneh and The Phone Call in as we could, but we just could not get our minds around how awful Aya was.
As we drove past the White House, Lacey made a left turn that may or may not have been legal, the lights were changing. So Lacey made a joke about President Obama coming out in his boxers to arrest her. I put on my best President Obama voice. Lacey and President Obama began discussing government-issued patriotic boxer shorts and laughing. I was only about halfway done with the water I had bought during Aya. I raised up the bottle to take a sip as Lacey was saying something funny.
The next thing I knew I couldn’t stop coughing. I could feel the water going down my throat and I was coughing, coughing, coughing, my whole world was just me and coughing. Suddenly there was banana milkshake and cole slaw all over my lap and I couldn’t stop it and it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t stop coughing and I couldn’t breathe, I realized I couldn’t breathe and everything was getting dark.
We drove all the way down Constitution Avenue before I could breathe again. It was the shallowest breath I had every managed. But it was new air, enough that my vision began clearing up. I still couldn’t stop coughing. But I could suddenly gasp. I realized that Lacey was freaking out next to me, shouting and screaming. We were well onto 66 before I was even able to get out a few words. Lacey asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said either “no” or “I don’t know”, I honestly don’t remember. She refused to take no for an answer. My brain was too addled to really say anything sensible, and I was still coughing a lot. Lacey finally pulled out her phone and called her insurance company’s 24-hour hotline and asked if she should take me to the hospital. The nurse said yes.
So we arrived at Virginia Hospital Center at midnight. I nearly slipped on the ice outside the emergency room. Lacey said that it was bad luck to break your leg outside the hospital. I said, “*cough* I woul *cough* wouldn’t have t *cough* to go very fa *cough* *cough*” I’m sure it was very annoying.
There was only one other person in the waiting area. The person at the desk took in my basic symptoms and gave me a bucket in case I vomited again. Lacey gave me a bunch of paper towels and I wiped off my jacket and coughed into the bucket.
The one other person waiting was there for his wife. We were shown in within ten minutes. A nurse took my vitals and I said that really my cough was a lot better than before. I’m pretty certain that my strained, weak voice combined with frequent cough breaks didn’t help. But I really was feeling better. I was literally no longer dying.
We were given a room to wait in. I changed into a hospital gown. The doctor and trainee doctor walked into the room and checked my breathing. They asked me a few other questions about how I felt. The doctor told me that the worst was over. I might still have some water in my lungs, but I would be coughing it out over the next few days. My chest was sore, but it was just inflamed from all the coughing. I could take some ibuprofen to help. It had been a good idea to come to the hospital, just to make sure the worst was over. I mean, I had just almost died.
They left and an administrator immediately came in, saying that everything had been cleared by my insurance company. I wouldn’t have to pay a dime. Lacey commented on how amazing it was — we had been cleared to leave before the insurance paperwork had even finished processing! Modern technology!
In the car ride back Lacey told me how relieved she was that I hadn’t died. If I had died in her car, Mom would have killed her. She asked me several times if I was feeling okay. If I died on her couch, Mom would kill her.
I discovered going up the stairs that I could not handle stairs anymore. I had to stop twice, but only briefly. I tried to make sure Lacey didn’t notice.
On the hill waiting for Dad to pick us up the next day, I noticed that I couldn’t handle hills very well either. I lagged behind Lacey. Apparently five minutes of coughing completely destroyed my lung capacity. I’ll have to work on cardio…when the weather gets better.
At brunch, Dad teased me about the fact that I was drinking water. Even though twelve hours had gone by, my body was still reeling from the whole thing. By evening, I would feel completely over it, except for the very rare hacking cough (and even that has gone away). But during brunch, my body still felt like it was processing what had happened. I feel like I didn’t say much; I feel like I couldn’t be as involved in the conversation as I normally was. Maybe it was in my head.
But still. I left Cary Station in one piece. When I came back, I had a broken toe, no cell phone, and had nearly died. One heck of a weekend.