Health Rant

OK, So Where’s My F’ing Wisdom?

The lucky among us often get their wisdom teeth extracted before the teeth have the chance to really make themselves known. I am not one of the lucky ones. Half of my wisdom (the top half) was removed in an emergency situation, and the other half, as they were not problematic yet and I couldn’t afford the $400 for general anesthesia to have them cut out, were left where they were.

They are no longer where they were. Now, they are halfway-in, halfway-out of my gums and growing forward. There is a “T” shaped intersection of enamel in the back of my mouth, and I am, of course, still broke. Now that I think of it, I’m not a heck of a lot wiser, either.

Last night I did not sleep, but it was not for the normal reasons (party, work, stress, company). Instead, I lay my tired self into my bed, ready to immediately drift off into la-la land—and then an invisibly pygmy shoved a screwdriver in the back of my jaw. And kept it there. For six hours. I’m not one to bawl like a melodramatic child, but that’s exactly what I did. I sobbed, I choked down handful after handful of Ibuprofen, and I thrashed around in my bed like an agitated mental patient. I watched the sun rise through my window, and was thankful–it meant the dentists’ offices would be open soon.

So now I’m going. I’m going to the place that I fear only slightly less than I would fear a garage full of giant, vengeful skunks. And I’m going to let them poke and prod, and I will probably cry, and I will make plans to have the remainder of my wisdom extricated from my body. I’ll pray that they give me some form of drugs that will knock me into an immediate but not-too-prolonged coma. And at the end of the day, I’ll put the expense on a credit card, because that’s what adults without money or wisdom do.

Baseball People Work

The Best Tip I’ve Ever Received

A pair of tickets to the Red Sox v. Orioles game on July 31 at Fenway. Sometimes I really do love my job.

Blather Islands Music Nature Ocean People Pointless Narcissism Rant

A Tale Of Boredom In The Form Of Lists

Things I Love About Summer:

THUNDERSTORMS! (There’s one going on right now… wish I were near the ocean)
Swimming in the ocean
The feeling of having gotten just enough sun to make me tired, not enough to fry the hell out of me
Ice cream sandwiches
Eating lunch or dinner on a dock, dangling my toes in the drink
Going barefoot (even better than flip-flops)
Salty skin
Night-swimming when there’s phosphorescence (or really any old time at all)
Long, protracted beach days
Reading books that are not required for school
Wooden sailboats
Live music at sunset in Menemsha
Attempting to surf
Giordano’s pizza
Wandering the beach at 3 a.m.
Tiger Lilies and Snap-Dragons
Explosives (fireworks–but not the big organized sort)
Wraparound skirts
Baby turkeys in my yard on the Vineyard
Shark sandwiches
Super-fresh fish

Things I Decidedly Do Not Love About Summer:

Tourists who walk around agape, as if they’ve forgotten what species they are
Swimming in pools
Long ferry lines and crowded boats
Belligerent New Yorkers (I know, this falls under tourists, but they deserve their own mention)
Men in pink pants
People who refuse to put sunscreen on their kids (who are so white they’re practically blue)
High-heeled flip-flops
Fake tanner
All of Giordano’s’ food besides the pizza
Having sand lodged in my unmentionables
When the air is colder than the water
The dreadlocks salt water turns my hair into
Miniskirts that are so short that you can see the girls’ underwear
Fiberglass sailboats and most of the people who wield them
Litter on beaches
Mosquitos and No-See-‘Ems
The reappearance of my arch enemy, the skunk
Poison Ivy

Insomnia Music

Insomnia Playlist

Alberta–Eric Clapton (Unplugged version)
A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun–Tom Waits
Om Ah Hum–Colin Ruel
New Mexico Rain–Bill Hearne
Beautiful Girl–INXS
To Wish Impossible Things–The Cure
Not For All The Love In The World–The Thrills
Alexandra Leaving–Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Fool–Matthew Ryan
The Blower’s Daughter–Damien Rice
Goodbye–Eddie Vedder
All I Want Is You–U2
Little Martha–Allman Brothers Band
Innocent When You Dream–Tom Waits
She Talks To Angels–The Black Crowes
Something In The Way–Nirvana (Unplugged version)
It Can’t Rain All The Time–Jane Siberry
Sara–Bob Dylan
Homesick–The Cure
Stormy Weather–Etta James
Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave–Morphine
Into My Arms–Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Kristen and Jim–Eric Clapton
Hallelujah–Jeff Buckley
Release–Pearl Jam
Dark Water & Stars–Natural Calamity
Witchi Tai To–Harpers Bizarre
The End–The Doors
Wish You Were Here–Pink Floyd

Blather Music Observations People Pointless Narcissism Rant

Whiskey River, Break My Mind

For the past thirteen hours, I’ve had Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” stuck in my head. And I’m not talking about a song that you end up humming every half hour or so, I’m talking about a single line that comes out of my mouth every time I stop talking, listening, or thinking. Every thirty seconds for thirteen hours. That means I’ve sung Whiskey River take my mind approximately one thousand five hundred sixty times.

 Don’t get me wrong–I love Willie Nelson, and “Whiskey River” is one of my favorite songs of his. I also know why it’s there: this morning while I was sitting on my friend’s porch, trying to bribe my hangover into submission with a vat of black coffee, his roommate turned on the radio, and Willie belted out “Whiskey River,” and even with a headache (partially attributable to whiskey) that felt like I had midgets repeatedly punching me in the eyes, I enjoyed the hell out of the song.

Until about the thirtieth time that I heard myself sing, Whiskey River take my mind…

I made the mistake, of course, of telling the friends I was hanging out with this afternoon and evening that I had an internal form of auditory torture going on–and I made the even bigger mistake of telling them what song it was. Not that I could have hidden it for long–every time there was a silence, awkward or comfortable, I filled it. I hummed. I don’t hum, particularly not when I’m hung over, but I hummed all goddamned day. Like a lovesick little girl with a complete inability to recall more than five words of the lyrics. I hummed, I whistled, and I sang. The same five notes. Over and over and over again.

Then on the car ride back from Menemsha, where we’d gone to listen to some live bluegrass music on the dock (which did nothing to tear me away from Whiskey River), They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse In Your Soul” came on the radio… and that got stuck in my head. It’s a much more amenable song to be stuck with, seeing as I know all the words to “Birdhouse,” and can keep the hum going for longer than five notes.

 But then I opened my big fat mouth and told my friend that the voices in my head had changed their tune, to which he replied, “Well, at least it’s not ‘Whiskey River.'” A few minutes went by, then between bites of my dinner, I spontaneously busted out in song again, loud enough for only me to hear: Whiskey River take my mind…

“You’re an asshole!” I said to my friend. Of course, a few minutes had passed, and everyone at the table thought that perhaps I had Tourette’s. There was an awkward silence… and then I filled it.

“You’re right,” my friend said. “I am an asshole.”

Blather Family Observations People

…And Really Bad Eggs.

This morning I woke up to the most unwelcome sort of phone call: the hospital calling to tell me my father may have an infection in his abdomen (which he and I have both been told could kill him, rather quickly, should it occur). I called Dad and he said he felt awful, nauseous, and weak–and that he was headed to the hospital as soon as possible. When I got there, he was frustrated and berating the nurses because they hadn’t brought him any nausea medication, which he’d demanded as soon as he checked in. I understand his urgency: Unlike most people, to whom occasionally throwing up when ill is normal, we don’t do that. I haven’t been physically sick without the involvement of alcohol since I was four years old, and even with alcohol, it’s infrequent. My father, before this afternoon, hadn’t been sick in about ten years. It’s a terrifying thing for those of us with strong stomachs, at least it has always been terrifying for me. I chimed right in with Dad and started demanding on his behalf, and they got it to him–but they were too late.

I have become accustomed to hospitals recently, which I never hoped or expected to do. When I walked in this afternoon, one of the nurses recognized me, and was surprised and disappointed to hear that my father was back–he was the nurse that was treating Dad on Tuesday, and had hoped not to see him back so soon. Still, regardless of how routine the hospital bit has become, I have yet to leave there a single time without crying. This thing is defeating us both, Dad and I. I think perhaps Dad’s physical and emotional weakness is taking an equal toll on me–it’s a reality check I’m not quite ready to deal with. But, then, I suppose we never are. The ups and downs are maddening–even a plateau would be stable, if nothing else. The fluctuating condition of Dad’s illness is like the little curly-headed girl I was compared to as a child: “When she’s good, she’s very very good, but when she’s bad, she’s horrid.”

There was a philosopher or a wise man who once said that often the solution is the simplest of the possibilities. I don’t know who it was that said it, or how badly I’ve paraphrased it, but the saying has particular relevance to this afternoon, where something which appeared so incredibly complicated and dangerous turned out to be pretty simple after all.

Dad was nauseous, but after he’d received the much-demanded nausea medication and the family with three squawling toddlers left the other half of his room (Dad’s intolerant of other people’s misbehaved children), he seemed to improve almost instantly. I noticed, and so did the doctor. Would someone who had an internal infection that was potentially lethal improve with something as simple as an anti-nausea drip in his IV? Likely not. He’d have a fever, and chills, and redness, and a plethora of other symptoms. Dad had none of these. His color was good, his eyes were clear, and when he could speak again, he was his old chatty, lecturing self.

When I was grilling him to find out if he’d eaten enough or drank enough fluids, he mentioned that he’d had eggs for breakfast and that he hadn’t eaten eggs for a long time; perhaps the eggs were bad. I immediately and involuntarily thought of Jack Sparrow’s song in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies: “…and really bad eggs.” Could it be that the test results which showed “contamination or infection” were indicating that the specimen had just been contaminated, and coincidentally at the same time, Dad had given himself food poisoning with his simple boring breakfast? Or could it be that Dad, like me, has developed an intolerance for eggs from not eating them? Was it really that simple?

Apparently so. According to the doctor, Dad doesn’t seem to be in immediate peril. Not this time, anyway. In fact, when the nausea medication kicked in and made him drowsy, Dad all but kicked me out of his hospital room. “Go,” he insisted, slurring, his eyes drooping. “Get out of here and go do what you do. I’m gonna go to sleep now.” I walked toward the door and by the time I got there, Dad was sleeping. And though he probably didn’t need to drive all the way up to Boston over a simple case of food poisoning, I was comforted by the fact that while I was out of town, he’d be looked after. I suddenly realized–not that I would ever do this–why people sometimes put their loved ones in nursing homes–just to know that someone is watching over them when you can’t be there to do it yourself.

Over the past three months, the journey to a diagnosis for Dad has been a labyrinth of tests and hospital visits, adjusted medications, fluctuating symptoms and mysteries. His history defies the diagnosis–cirrhotics are usually alcoholics, and Dad’s probably the most notorious teetotaller I know. Before he ended up hospitalized the first time, he’d had no symptoms that anything was wrong at all. And despite drastic muscle loss from inadequate nutrition, Dad’s got a strong constitution, and he’s managed to ward off infection twice, it seems. And when the bad gets bad and he starts to get down, things seem to turn around just in time and he gets optimistic again. It’s been a long, strange trip but, like many trips I’ve taken, the bad days seem to have made the good days that much better.

Today was both a very bad day and a very good day–bad in the immediate sense, because Dad was uncomfortable, but good in the long-term sense, in that it looks like there is a long-term after all.

And at the end of the tunnel is not just a light, but a party. Hopefully a good party–a great party. By night’s end I will have run the full gauntlet of emotions, from terror to relief to, hopefully, joy.

And really bad eggs.

Observations People Pointless Narcissism

House-Struck, At Last

For the past few weeks, as I mentioned in my last post, I have been looking for a place to live. But I am not simply looking for a place to lay my head, I am looking for a place that feels like home. A place that I can be proud of; a place I can invite my friends to without having to apologize. I’m a sucker for hard wood floors, which I’ve yet to have in any place I lived in, and I have an equivalent weakness for porches and decks. More than any of that superficial stuff, however, I want to find the right people.

The other night while I was at work, a customer overheard me mentioning to a friend that I was looking for a place to live, and he mentioned that he and his roommates were looking for a roommate. I had my computer right there, so he directed me to their ad, which I’d looked at a few times but not responded to because I was looking for something a little closer to the T. I was scheduled to look at a place that proclaimed to have a “built-in loft bed,” which I also find rather fantastic–but, upon visiting the loft-bed place I found that their definition of “loft bed” was a two-foot high plywood structure nailed to the wall, not the overhead, only-reached-by-ladder version I had in my mind. So I was predictably disappointed. I emailed the contact for the place that the customer, Phil, had mentioned, and I started to get a gut feeling that this was where I belonged.

I made several appointments to see other places, one of which I’ve seen. It was not nearly as disappointing as the loft-bed place, but it was small and lacking in personality. Tonight, I went to see Phil’s place, and when I walked in the door, I was immediately house-struck. It has beautiful hard wood floors, two large porches, a basement, a back yard, and most importantly, three very interesting and cool roommates, all of whom I feel like I’d get along with. When I left the apartment, several hours and three beers after I’d arrived, I had a giddy feeling of anticipation which told me, If I don’t get this place, I’ll be devastated. My gut was right, after all.

I even took an experimental sock-footed slide (Risky Business-style) across the kitchen floor, and I got a good five or six feet of slide. Not too shabby.

They told me that they’re showing the apartment this weekend, and that they should know after that and they’d be in touch, so I suppose I’ll just have to cross my fingers and wait– but I’m the daughter of the most impatient man on the planet, and I hate waiting. I want to know, because in three days, I could move myself into that house in my mind, and it would be truly disappointing to have to start the process all over again, knowing that the perfect place had already been found.

**David, Phil and Michael: If you’re reading this, NO, I am not sucking up. You practically dared me to write this post. So I wrote it.

Family People

In Which The Salt Girl Loses Her Marbles

Why is it that bad things-stressful things, things capable of breaking people down–always seem to come all together in one big wallop? Two weeks ago, I found out/decided that I’m moving out of my apartment and I’ve been spending all of my time trying to find a new place, which I thought would be easier this time around since I’m in the city and not on Martha’s Vineyard. It hasn’t been. I’ve gone to see a few places, all of which have been either disappointing or… not right.

So, basically, I’m staring down the barrel of homelessness.

And this afternoon, I got a phone call from my father, who’s been having serious health problems in the last few months but was in relatively stable condition, and he said that he was going back to the ER because everything had gone south again, and fast. I won’t go into detail because it’s truly grotesque–I will only say that it’s utterly heartbreaking to see someone you love going through something so awful, something so unpleasant, and to know that there’s very little that the doctors can do to alleviate his discomfort. The condition he has is not life-threatening, so there’s only so much that they can do. He needs a liver transplant, but will only be moved up the list when his organs start failing and it does become life-threatening. To top it off, he lives by himself an hour and a half away, I don’t have a car, and I’m his only living family.

This evening while I was sitting with him in the Emergency Room, he told me we had to fool the doctors into thinking that I was driving him home because they didn’t want him to be driving himself–but I can’t drive him home because I don’t have a license. “They don’t know that,” he said. “I’m fine, I’ll be fine to drive, they just want to know I’ve got a support network.” When I heard him say that, I realized that I am his support network, in its entirety, and I’m ultimately useless beyond conversation and an excessive dose of “I love you.” It made me feel completely powerless, defeated. I am this man’s entire family, and I can’t even give him a ride home. I can’t ask him to come live with me so I can take care of him, because I don’t even have a place for myself to live, and I wouldn’t know the first thing about taking care of what he’s got going on.

So I cried. I cried in front of my father, who’s already upset enough as it is. I cried so hard I almost hyperventilated, or puked. “I’m so sorry Dad,” I kept saying, to which he responded, “Don’t worry about me, worry about your own things. This is not your fault.” But if I don’t worry about him, who will?

I have always considered myself a strong person, a mature person, a person capable of adapting to and dealing with almost any sort of situation, but tonight I felt weak, inadequate and immature. I felt like a child. I wanted someone to come make me feel better, when I should be making him feel better. The problem, I guess, is that I just don’t know how. And in spite of his condition, he’s still trying to take care of me. I know that’s what fathers do, but I don’t feel like I deserve it.

I know in my rational mind that I’m being hard on myself, that I’m internalizing things I have no way of controlling, but I can’t make the feeling go away.

Tonight I got a glimpse of what his daily life has been like for the past few months–a reality which he has masked with reassuring words, either so that I wouldn’t worry, or so that he wouldn’t make himself more depressed than he already is. My father is not one for self-pity, which I fear will prevent others from helping him–he simply will not ask for help. He wouldn’t even call his best friend of 55 years for a ride to the hospital, because he didn’t want to be disruptive or needy. I’m supposed to go to a baseball game tomorrow night, but I know if I do go, I will think only of my father, suffering strongly and silently, alone in his house, and it will make me feel guilty for being there at all.

There is nothing more humbling than powerlessness, and today, I’m humble. I’m low-down. And I want more than anything for my daddy to be okay. There is nothing more heartbreaking for a daughter, in my mind, than to watch the pillar of strength she has grown up with crumble. My father has shrunken–he’s lost over fifty pounds in the past six months. He once looked like Santa Claus–jolly, round, healthy if a bit on the cushy side. Now he looks like St. Nick deflated–skinny arms and legs, sunken cheeks, the light in his bright blue eyes dimmed ever-so-slightly but enough to break me in pieces.

When I was younger, I thought that losing my mother at the age of 12 was the hardest, most painful thing I’d ever have to endure. I know now that I was wrong. At 12, reality is filtered through the ignorance of youth, therefore the pain is filtered, too. The irony there, I suppose, is that I don’t think I’ve ever needed my mommy more than I do right now. But I’ll survive, I always do.

At least I still have Dad. As long as he’s around, whatever condition he’s in, he’s still my rock. I just want to find a way to be a better rock for him, because I’m all he’s got and I don’t feel like that’s enough. He deserves so much more.

Animals Nature Observations People Pointless Narcissism Rant

I Went To Work And All I Got Was This Mystery Wound

Last night at work, I was bitten. I do not know by what, as the culprit was never found, but I did consider a visit to the Emergency Room at two-thirty in the morning (roughly seven hours after the assault) because of the size and color of the hideous bruise that had developed at the site. Though the likelihood of a Brown Recluse spider being in the kitchen of my restaurant, or in my bag, is extremely low, what else could produce such ugliness in a non-allergic person within mere minutes?

I didn’t notice the bite at first. My hand itched at some point, and when I scratched it, it hurt–and I noticed that the area around my pinky knuckle was swollen and blue-ish. I immediately iced it, as it appeared to be swelling fast. I was reassured by the fact that I could still make a fist, and that the feeling in my hand was intact–also, there wasn’t any local hotness, just dull pain and and ever-growing black and blue mark. Truth be told, it looked like I’d punched a fence-post. Or a gorilla.

My coworkers tried to convince me that I’d just whacked it on something and hadn’t noticed. I may be daft and unobservant, but if I’d whacked my hand on something hard enough to make it swell and turn blue, I’d fucking notice. Particularly if I wasn’t drunk, which I (shocker!) wasn’t.

I’d arrived at work with a rather gnarly sinus headache, which seemed to get worse after the bite, and for three or four hours, I was a miserable, achy, exhausted, stuffy-headed hypochondriac wreck. The other server I work with on Saturdays is not strong enough to handle the whole room by herself, so there was no chance of my going home. I wasn’t entirely sure I should sleep, anyway. (What happens when you sleep after a varmint with flesh-eating venom has attacked you in your workplace? Do you die if you’re not shot with steroids soon enough? Do you lose that limb by morning? Do you wake up with Club Hand?)

So I stuck it out. And by “stuck it out,” I mean that I delivered food and drinks to people who asked for them, but I forewent my usual waitressy banter, and spent every moment I could spare sitting on the patio and chain-smoking, stifling the urge to run inside and grab my fellow waitress by the hair and holler, “When will I be allowed to get sick?”

During one of these patio sits, my manager asked to take a look at it and upon close inspection noticed what appeared to be two fang-marks (they turned out to be, on my own inspection before bed, merely miniscule freckles with unfortunate placement). Dude, it looks like you got bit by a bat, he said. A baby bat. A preemie bat. It was at this point, of course, that my sense of humor returned and I realized that the entire situation was utterly ridiculous and would only happen to me.

Eventually, the headache miraculously subsided, my appetite came back long enough for me to force down some Orange Chicken from next door, and I no longer felt like killing the other waitress. My hand, however, was still black and blue, and painful, and according to everyone else I showed it to, the bruise was growing. It had developed a half-inch diameter rouge-colored spot to the right of the center, which looked like it would be the epicenter of things, but it didn’t hurt to the touch as other areas did, so I was befuddled. The security guard to the building, who used to be a Marine Corps medic, advised me to go to the ER. My coworkers were split–one said go, the other two said I should sleep on it and go in the morning if I woke up to find I’d grown another human out of my hand or something.

Due to an absolute intolerance of bureaucracy and a general aversion to all things hospital-related, the last thing I wanted to do–after having finished a nine-hour shift and finally expelling the headache that had been plaguing me all day–was to go sit in the waiting room of the ER for endless hours, surrounded by sicklings and lunatics, and eventually be told, There’s nothing we can do, your arm’s gonna fall off, go home and get some rest.

So I did. I ignored the prudent advice and took the path of least resistance…straight to my house.

Before bed, I spent about an hour relentlessly searching the internet for anything related to Brown Recluse spider bites that looked even remotely like the lesion I had on my hand. And… nothing. I didn’t have a blister, which was said to develop in 4-8 hours (it had been 10), there was no hotness, and my skin had not begun to decompose (whew). I washed my hand, shook out my sheets (and pillowcases and laundry and messenger bag) and went to bed. This morning when I woke up, the only change in the appearance of my hand is that it’s a bit more rouge-ish and less blue than it was yesterday.

So there it is. It’s highly unlikely at this juncture that I will experience sudden necrosis of the flesh and wind up with a gaping hole in my hand. I still have feeling in my hand, though the joint is tight around the bruise, as joints tend to be around hideous marks of contusion. I still haven’t found my assailant, though I’ve emptied my bag and searched my room (and rolled around anxiously in bed, kicking violently every time I felt the slightest sensation anywhere on my body). And for a few more days, I’ll have this attention-getting stain on my hand–and people, being naturally nosy, will ask about it.

I could tell them I got in a fight. That I got frustrated with being at the beck and call of idiots and work and I finally snapped. Oh, that? Some asshole was asked me for a glass of water and I popped him. Broke one of his veneers. It was great.

I think I’ll tell them that I was bitten by a bat, though. A baby bat, with itty-bitty fangs. Just you wait, I’ll say. In a couple of days, I’ll be Bat Girl>.

Insomnia Nostalgia Observations People Pointless Narcissism Rant

Those Who Do Not Study History Are Doomed To Repeat It

Last year, about this time, I was searching for a place to live for the September school year. Now, I am looking for a place to move into in the next three weeks. I happened across a blog I posted last year about the exact experience I’m going through right now:

Foul and deeply perturbed individual seeks room

This week I have been exhaustively searching Craigslist for a new room to live in in September… of course these ads are so shamelessly self- and house-promoting that you can really glean next-to-nothing from them. So…I have been responding mostly to the ones that say something about the people living there, mostly to ads where all or most of the roommates are guys (more difficult to offend, less likely to offend me). Then I happened to come across one that had a little bit at the bottom along the lines of “we’re laid back, easygoing, etc., but who’s gonna say ‘I’m a foul, deeply perturbed individual, deal with it.” And I said to myself, I think I could dig this guy. So I responded with the opening line, “dear so-and-so, I am a foul and deeply perturbed individual. Okay, so I’m not, but I am a writer, an insomniac and a coffee drinker, all of which tend to be pretty dodgy, no?”

I have gotten so sick of the self-selling emails, one of these days I’m going to just respond with:

Dear So-and-so,

I would like to move into your house, but be warned. I keep very odd hours, and have bizarre habits. I tend to sleep naked, but I will defiantly keep my door shut when I do so. I drink a ridiculous amount of coffee, which means my moods may be unpredictable and I may be prone to high-speed, snappish remarks that make absolutely no sense at all. If you step into my room, you might experience momentary fear–but as long as you fuck off out of my space, you needn’t worry. I cut magazines into little shards and tape the pieces in my journal, on my walls, on postcards, and pretty much anywhere I feel like it at the time. I have a smart, foul mouth and if I get high I’ll shoot it off a whole hell of a lot more than you really want to hear it. I’m stubborn and bull-headed, and absolutely guaranteed to make fun of you at least once a day. I work too much and get laid too little, which means I’m exceedingly bitter.

I hope to hear from you soon, as I believe I’m the perfect roommate. If you do not respond I’ll just have to assume you’re a complete idiot and a total fuckwit wanker.

Thanks for your time.