I am guessing I have now paid off about 7/10s of the temples I burned down in a past life

March 22nd, 2014

I take some steroids for breakfast, some codeine for DIZ-sert/
By the time they bring the pancakes, I’m only partly alert

(With non-apologies to Kanye West but I will link to the lyrics page because that seems to make them send me emails to ask me to stop linking to them. Jolly times.)

Up betimes and pretending to do my taxes, except actually emailing with my contractor, Jolly Mike Ehrmantrout, about some last minute plumbing stuff. It turns out the pipes under the bathroom sink faucet are not long enough to make a connection to the water below. Ha! Solutions are being solicited and bandied. I had to ride my tauntaun to the outlands of West Seattle yesterday to see if they carried a faucet that would come with long pipes.

Also:

Me neither, JME! This means I get to see Jackass Plumber again. The last time I saw him around Xmas he “fixed” my laundry set up, then left, and my basement trench flooded. I was not supposed to see Jackass Plumber on Thursday when he was here and was to be finishing everything up, since I was supposed to be at work, but I got derailed again (more on that soon). He came up to talk at me about pipe problems and give me some bizarre recommendations for faucet brands. I brought one recommendation to the plumbing store in West Seattle and they pulled out the catalog and said, “Er…see, that brand doesn’t really do residential, just mostly pretty plain industrial-purpose stuff.” Er okay.

Since Jackass Plumber woke me up, he kind of figured out I was sick. That and the giant pile of pill bottles on the table, which were not arranged so artfully then.

If we are keeping score at home, that’s two types of steroids now, an inhaler, Tylenol 3, Vicodin, and Ativan for sleeping. Last month I was taking the occasional Advil, and now look at me. My pill regime comes with a booklet with FUCK YES CAPLOCKS instructions on how and when to take all of these pills. Stapled onto it is a helpful pamphlet titled: “Will You Ever Poop Again? Your Guess is as Good as Ours.”

This could be the motto for blogging, yes? I should cross stitch this onto something.

I told the plumber, briefly, that it happened in Hawaii last month and was still kind of a mystery. He launched into a story about Kehei and how his wife tried snorkling but her fake boobs were too big and she kept popping up again? He said something about saline, but it seemed just as likely somehow that he thought that’s what regular boobs are made of. I am barely standing, here, bub. I don’t want to hear about The Wife’s (I think that may be her actual given name) “pontoons.”

Jackass Plumber promised to be quiet, but I was really worried about P., who was trying to sleep so he could function well when the girls got home. We are trying to stay very engaged with them in a normal way. For the first two weeks I was home when I was sleeping, sleeping (pre-steroid wakies) I would force myself to get up around the end of school and let them yam on about their day and ask questions and sign field trip forms and make promises for upcoming kid functions I hoped at least one of us could fulfill.

P. was so tired because he had gotten up with me Thursday morning at 3:30 to take me to the ER, since my breath was getting so short I was wheezing. This was one on my list of red flags supplied by urgent care on Thursday. “Go if your breathing gets worse or is labored.” This won’t get any worse, I thought. And then it woke me up. I’ve never had asthma, but I was told that’s what it looked like and sounded like. The ER is pretty nice at four a.m. on a Thursday. Apparently no one was out getting their arms sliced off or anything, so I had the joint to myself.

They checked for congestive heart failure, since the inflammation is traveling inward and that is a likely place for it to go, and cleared that. I had a CT scan on my lungs to look for blood clots. Being injected with iodine, if you’ve never experienced it, was not fun. It really burned going in, which I was not warned about, since it wasn’t supposed to happen. The pain hit my toes and I started crying. The tech started out by warning me that when it went into my veins it was very warming and I would feel like I was peeing myself, but I wasn’t. That hit me suddenly, and I did have to go, and I was convinced it was happened. “Well, this is it. I’m going to have to tell her now that I actually did it.” But I hadn’t. Dark magicks!

This bad boy took four jabs and two nurses to get in, but thank heavens it worked so they could proceed to poison me with iodine.

I was also given some kind of breathing mask thing that issues a mist that I was supposed to suck down for ten minutes to open me up. “I’m skeptical that this will work,” the ER doctor said, “since I don’t think this is an asthma-type reaction but some other kind of inflammation. But it won’t hurt.”

The nurse removed the mask when the medicine was gone. “Now how’s that?” she asked.

“Are my lungs supposed to hurt now?” I asked, in the most polite tone I could muster. No, she told me, surprised. I knew they were trying to help. Holy hell did I spend the rest of the day annoyed about that every time I coughed. Lung rage. I told them I felt like I had a small cat on my chest now instead of a great big one. I was back to wheezing by last night but now I have an inhaler which seems to be helping?

Also as of yesterday I am losing my voice, so I assume my vocal chords are inflamed as well? My nose is bleeding too (lightly), but I think it’s because my whole body is dry. I douse myself in the take-no-prisoners, wait fifteen minutes before sitting on a slippery surface, industrial-strength moisturizer anyway, because that is how my skin rolls, and it usually is happy for twenty-four hours or so. But my skin on my legs and arms is peeling off in sheets and pills, as if I sustained a bad sunburn weeks ago.

Everyone I see says the same thing–they cannot decide if it is auto-immune attacks (extreme body pain and inflammation), or if I still have an infection (extreme body pain and fevers). Or both. The roulette wheel has been spun and my primary care doc has referred me to an infectious diseases specialist. So I’m going to pay him a visit on Monday. More tests have rolled in–no dengue, no HIV. Still waiting on Lyme’s.

I’m thinking about writing up a little history of this to bring in since it’s long. The timeline. What I feel like now. What I felt like when it was acting like “normal” flu at first. What I feel like when they taper me off steroids right now. (Like this: ;;;;____;;;;) There’s a lot there.

I’m trying to get on part time at work next week and for the next little while. I tried to work full time last week and the first half of the day was decent and productive and the second part of the day was extremely painful and distracting. It’s pretty weird being on a double dose of steroids, now though. I think it’s making me a little manic. So I am shuffling around very productively. I cleaned the leather in my house, and busted out the Murphy’s oil soap and went to town on a midcentury tiled tray that needed some spiffing up. I used to eyeball trays like these at Antika (r.i.p) but they were always four times as much there. But now I have the hook up. I also oil soaped a giant tiki shield that I am going to hang in the bathroom as well, in case some Visigoths invade and I cannot find a towel. Basically I want to oil soap all of the old wood in my house now, especially my velvet painting frames which I can never quite undust completely. I think spring is making me projecty, which I will do very sloooowly.

I’ve been hitting my hook up spot for ye olde crap in search of tiki theme thinggummies for the basement bathroom, which is going to be a janked up fruity paradise wherein I could entice magically undead Gauguin in take a bath with me. (Note to self: procure Gauguin prints.) But of course I see other things there. Like the tray.

No scotch, which is for the best right now, but still kind of a sad look. Part of me wants to fill them with tea or pus or something decorative for just now.

Also, asking for a friend, do you know anything about the care and feeding of these jobbers? This is a lamp, which, when turned on, oil beads cascade down the strings. It is very classy, like courvoisier and pina colada butt lotion However, alas, a couple of strings are “jammed” and the spice does not flow. Also her center needs to be dusted so it’s off for now.

Observant readers will notice that this “friend” also has decided with her impeccable taste and infinite wisdom to paint her dining room bronze as well. Quelle co├»ncidence!

Seriously though I am going to have to sign P. up for some clubs or something so he can be gone more at dinner time, so he will not obstruct my view of her perfectness.

Okay, I don’t appear to be receiving my life’s guarantee of death today, so I better start its counterpart, taxes.

Feral Dwarf Rides Again

March 19th, 2014

Strudel had lunchtime detention today, I am informed. She had already confessed to the crime last night, though.

Strudel: I put a “pinch me” sign on my friend’s back today!

Me: That’s not very nice at all.

Strudel: Well, no one pinched him very hard.

I’m at a party/at Echo Park

March 18th, 2014

Guess what’s back? They call it…breakbone fever. Sinister! It seems unlikely but not impossible. You know you’re in a good situation when they’re testing you for weird tropical shit. I kid you not, they took about a cup of blood today, not just a couple of wee vials.

“Are you lightheaded?” asked the NP.

“Not more than I have been lately,” I said.

They also took pee and a chest x-ray. There are weird spots in my right lung and some fluid. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my past as a huffer delinquent. The NP pushed on my ankle and it left a dent like memory foam. AUUUGH x infinity.

I got tapered off Prednisone and it was awful for a few days, but they gave me more at the urgent clinic today. So I am feeling a lot better already, whew. I kind of made a resolution to go back to living life now that I’m out of paid time off and it’s been a month, but I’m not going crazy. And I’m not really doing anything at night since that’s the worst.

Did you know that you can cook a lot sitting down? I didn’t. Heh.

Strudel helped me decorate Irish whisky cupcakes and I interrogated my sister about how Irish we are. Half maybe? American mutts. My sister knows more than I do, and she remembers more from our mother. She reminded me that a lot of our family is orphans out of burned down orphanages and whatnot. I know nothing about my father’s family except that his father died of something brain related (?) when he was young.

“The Don Drapers,” I joked. I expected to feel a yearn when she told me all this, but really I feel let off the hook. Genealogy is a real rabbit hole. The girls and I buy old timey photos we like and call the people in the “Aunt Helen” or whatever and give them backstories and I hang them up. Close enough.

After dinner, which mostly cooked itself, I lay on the floor and we watched Saturday Night Fever. I’d heard it was campy and dark, but I didn’t know there was a gang rape scene in a car. AY CARUMBA. I just wanted to see some disco dancing after watching Freaks and Geeks with Franny recently.

I also made peppermint patties sitting at the table.

Strudel turned nine last week and I rallied (codeine) and took her to Benihana. She had a nice time.

“I have an electrical kit! It’s from Australia!”

I am delighted and thrilled to say the bathroom is almost done. Last week I was (almost) sleeping through the tile saws, etc. I felt bad because I was making the guys coffee every day, but I fell off when I fell off. These guys are so easy to work with, I love them. What is left is the plumber for fixtures and a couple of little tweaks.

The bathroom’s quite modern but I feel I’ve captured some of the flavor of the upstairs bathrooms. The nice thing about building a dated bathroom is that you don’t have to feel sad that it’s out of date when you try to sell in 10+ years. I realized not too long ago that I have been spending my whole adulthood trying to get back to the happy part of my childhood, which was spent in the houses of grandparents who had a bunch of 50′s and 60′s crap. Bad taste–it’s Freudian, man.

Superpower: Smug Designated Driving

March 14th, 2014

You ever see someone from the past, or the not-so-distant past, and just get a BLEAH feeling? Isn’t that funny how a long time later you can still get that?

A couple of weeks ago, when I was kind of hovering between getting over regular flu and lurching into “it hurts to walk” I stopped at the grocery with my sister. There I saw one of my ye olde Seattle roommates. I recognized her immediately–she looked exactly the same. Same terrible clothes, same stumpy self. Just older.

It’s a paradox, really. I find when I dislike someone, they become unattractive to me, no matter how conventionally attractive they are objectively. So of course if I see them again, they are still going to seem unattractive and leave me with a smug and shallow feeling. Of course if I like someone they are quite fetching, even if they have a Nazi penis antler protruding from their forehead. It’s science.

Where was I? Oh yes: BLEAH. I turned down the aisle and pulled a face.

“WHAT?” Morgan asked.

“Oh. Glenda’s here,” I said.

“Her? Christ! You always run into terrible people at this grocery store.”

“I know, and this is my grocery store, so this is really uncool.”

But I was not planning on running into Glenda at all. It would be easy to avoid the aisles she was doing her sinister shopping in.

Glenda was not supposed to be my roommate at all, but she was the best choice among a few bad options. I was being (justifiably) kicked out of my apartment in Illinois and had nowhere to go, really. I wasn’t even eighteen yet. Glenda expressed interest in having a roommate and I jumped to Seattle, turning my upcoming visit with her into a one-way trip.

There was already some bad blood under the bridge, to mangle some metaphors. Before she had moved to Seattle and when we all hung out together, she had slept with one of my boyfriends, basically just because she had felt like it. I never really talked to her about it, because I didn’t know how to handle things like that then. He told me he’d slept with her, and I knew it was his choice as well, and I guess I was just supposed to take it on the chin because it was just sex and now it was over, and hey, wasn’t it great that we were all being honest?

I spent a lot of time crying in secret and plotting revenge, because if there was one thing I was learning from my new older friends and the world of adult work was that you had to pretend you were cool with everything. I learned that the movies were lying liars, and you couldn’t really assume monogamy, and I was the super unreasonable one, not them.

The two of them knew each other before I showed up, and I realized later I was horning in on her unrequited situation. It set this weird dynamic of Glenda seeming to have crushes on guys I was into and dated, and her spending a lot of time subtly negging and slut-shaming me for dating people. I had gotten a weird vibe that Glenda was after him before they slept together, but I didn’t see her as a “threat” because she was straight-edge and acted weird and uptight. My high school boyfriend sleeping with her was just kind of doofusy collateral–he told himself it was just a one-night stand. It meant more to her.

Then Glenda and high school boyfriend drove away together to start a new life in Seattle, while I was left behind, sentenced to one more year of high school. As I watched her car and trailer disappear into the horizon with him in it I had a twinge of jealousy, and a bigger twinge of sadness over missing my toxic friend and ex-boyfriend. I had an image of her as Tantalus–she would have him all the time now, as a roommate, but I was certain that as soon as he entered the limits of a large city with public transit he would become the Hottentot of Twat and she would be just a friend. He moved out again for other reasons, but things were souring, as I heard from both of them separately via whispered conversations on the telephone.

So I had an idea of what living with her was like (terrible, and involved dozens of identical unshared and labeled bottles of sauce), but as I said, I was desperate once I had been kicked out. I was game to make the best of it. She had spent a year living in a big city–I had been disowned by my mother a few months prior–we both had been through some shit and I was sure we’d grown and changed. At least her former roommate and my ex-boyfriend was behind us. We could laugh about that now.

Once we found an apartment together, her number one move was to claim the only bedroom, and to assign me the living room. Reasoning: I was a whorey slutbag, and she didn’t want to be disturbed by the queue of suitors who would be waiting in the hall, clutching onto their paper numbers like in a deli, waiting for me to shout, “NEXT FUCK!” Looking back, I’m really not sure what the thought was there. I mean, she had enough game to sleep with my boyfriend, why was this the agreement? And why did I agree to split the rent evenly in exchange for no privacy?

The other big issue with us was food. Surprise, white girls in the United States having food issues. I’ll bet you’ve never heard this one. I was a french fry vegetarian at the time, which is to say I didn’t know about tofu or beans or vegetables that weren’t canned or frozen. I started branching out a little, and began buying mushrooms (which was a thing that was always canned, limp, and slightly odd-colored when I was a kid) and small onions. Being a lazy vegetarian suited my situation quite well, since it was probably one of the cheapest ways I could have eaten at the time, and I was broke, of course. I bought tiny frozen “meals,” three for a dollar for lunch, and marveled at my sexy protruding hipbones, which were actually saying, “Hey, nutrition moron, you are actually not eating enough calories or protein.” I attributed it to all the walking I was doing, which I’m sure helped.

Glenda generously took me to Safeway with her in her car once a week to shop, for which I was very grateful. She was a vegetarian as well, teetering on the edge of veganism–eschewing dairy and eggs. The fridge was full of “smart” “cheese” and other soy products. We both obtained copies of the weekly coupon circular beforehand and would dutifully tear out coupons we needed. I had discovered before she moved to Seattle that she split checks down to the penny at restaurants, which has never, ever been my way. What I think none of my friends know is that sometimes they will go to the loo and I will SNEAK ATTACK and pick up the bill, in part because of Glenda’s inability to say, “You can make up the difference next time” or “I am not going to make a fuss over thirteen cents.” It was NOT POSSIBLE for her to do this. However, it made me discover that I like treating people, as well as being treated, and I like saying things like, “Next time it will be my turn.”

This annoying penny-splitting propensity of hers carried to the grocery store somehow. We would leave the store and she would demand to see my receipt. What had I spent this week?

“Uh…$47.63?” I’d say.

“HA!” she’d shout. “I spent $46.18!”

I’d look at her, my face nonplussed, but secretly annoyed underneath. What kind of weird game was this? And was the ride to the grocery store worth it?

Then there was my cooking. I was an indolent kid, and sometimes I would scramble some eggs with cheese and then flee off into the sunset. I should have washed my pan, I know. Glenda gave me lots of grief about the torment of having to smell cooked eggs and real cheddar in the kitchen, and how disgusting it was, and therefore how disgusting I was by extension. She did not like meat, eggs, dairy, alcohol, chocolate, or drugs, and informed me of all of this on a regular basis. Then she would retreat to her vestal virgin fortress of smugitude, muttering something about chicken abortions before closing her door and blasting Pearl Jam.

I turned eighteen in that apartment, and Glenda, two years older than me, turned twenty. The summer after high school in Illinois I worked with a friend who turned twenty-one, and she kicked down a still-unexpired ID of a woman from Minnesota, who was a good match for me. We both had black hair and were similar sized, and our faces were close enough. I memorized every detail of it and practiced her signature. I even knew her star sign. Naturally I brought this with me to Seattle, of course, and used it to get into shows. Occasionally I used it to buy a terrible jug of Carlos Rossi or Gato Negro, but that was a rare thing.

One of Glenda’s favorite bands was touring when she was about two months shy of twenty-one. In spite of the fact that she had frizzy blonde hair to my dyed black, and outclassed me by at least 50 pounds, I let her borrow it. It never came back again.

“They confiscated it.” No offer to try to find me another one, and no offer to make it up in some other way. She was mostly mad she couldn’t get in and bootleg the show. Seattle didn’t have much of an all-ages scene then, and suddenly I found myself at home most nights, reading.

I had introduced her to another high school ex-boyfriend of mine while we were still all together in Illinois, and interestingly he had moved away at about the same time she had, but to Phoenix instead of Seattle. I couldn’t really blame all of my young adult friends for fleeing, but it still sucked. Ecstatic to get away from Illinois on my school breaks, I visited him during my senior year a couple of times and he talked about us getting back together after I graduated, but I wasn’t totally keen on this idea. I had heard him drop some racist slurs when he lost his temper on one visit, and I knew we weren’t a great match in other ways. I wanted a fresh start after high school and was hoping to meet some new douchebags in my shiny new future before I ended up in jail or whatever was coming.

After I moved to Seattle to live with Glenda he almost immediately came to visit, hoping to rekindle things. Glenda orchestrated the visit–it really wasn’t really discussed with me. It was made clear to me that she had decided that her friend was visiting her. I expressed my displeasure at having to share close quarters with him. She worked during the day and I was so newly arrived that I was still job hunting. When I was not turning in applications, he spent his visit following me around on the bus and trying to be extra perfect nice guy. I was so, so not feeling it. I wanted to be alone, to explore Seattle by myself. He told me he was considering moving to Seattle. Meanwhile I got the same creepy feeling that she had a huge crush on him, much like with my other boyfriend. They can have each other, I thought.

But he wasn’t interested in Glenda. He spent one of the last nights of his visit talking at me for hours about how we should get back together and how great it would be and how we could get an apartment and make horror films and get tattoos together and by the way could he see my labia piercing? He had heard about it.

NO. NO. Also, no. He went back to Phoenix for a couple of months and got hit by a car when he was bicycling to work, which made me sad, but he was okay. I think that was kind of a last straw for him, because as soon as he recovered he moved here.

“So I was thinking he could live with us for a while until he can find his own place,” Glenda said. “He can stay in my room.” She always had a bunk bed–why? WHY?

“NO NO NO NO NO,” I protested. “He CANNOT live here! We’re not getting along! He’s being creepy right now! He has a HEAD INJURY!” This last part was technically true, from the car accident, but he was acting weird before that. He had pushed me over the edge with his last visit and the four-hour attempt to “wear me down” into getting back together with him.

“Well, I’ve decided. He’s coming to live with us.”

UGH. I knew I had to move out, pronto. I looked around for a second job so I could save some money.

Living with him did not go well. Sometimes we would sit on my bed and read comics together. Other times there was so much tension we would literally fistfight (I won). I was so stressed out I was getting weird and would do things like drunkenly roll around on hallway floor, singing PJ Harvey at the top of my lungs, no doubt picking up loose kitty litter while my fake eyelashes fell off. (I was going through kind of a a Dorothy Vallens from Blue Velvet thing then.) (Token goth.)

A good thing that happened was that Glenda began to keep her door closed at night, after my ex began sleeping in her room on the top bunk. This meant she could no longer wait until I’d gone to bed to call Nietzsche into her room and keep her there with treats so Nietzsche would sleep with her. That’s NACHO CAT, lady. I would lay in bed and steam as I would hear her call, “Here kitty, kitty” so softly. I was such a doormat then.

In the midst of all of this tension, the three of us were all still attempting to be friends. We still hung out and went bowling and talked, and did other pre-dotcom hip urban grungy Seattle youth things with other local Seattle youths. My relationship with SeaFed was coming along, though no one knew he was haranguing me about marriage, so I saw that there was an end in sight of living with Glenda, at least.

One day she called me from work about something and we chatted for a few minutes.

“Did you still want to borrow that Henry Rollins book?” she asked. “I’ve finished it.”

She told me it was just under her bunk bed and I could go into her room and grab it. I was rarely in her room at that point and I felt kind of weird coming in. My ex was going out more, and had found a job, and was preparing to move into his own place, finally. I knew he had spent the last night out at show and that she and I were alone in the apartment. I didn’t immediately see the book. I walked to her bed, got down on my knees and took a look.

I saw it there–the corner of it, and reached for it. The book was surrounded by some kind of trash, I noticed, which surprised me. Glenda was a packrat but I didn’t think of her as a person who would keep garbage in her room. Then I figured out what it was. Fast food wrappers, dozens of them. Wrappers for burgers made with real beef, egg sandwich wrappers, all with congealed American cheese stuck on them. Next to that, giant bags of bulk Valentine’s chocolates and empty foil wrappers everywhere. I pictured my quasi-vegan roommate, alone in her room, chowing down on burgers and chocolate, two things she claimed to despise. I thought of the months of grief I’d gotten for scrambling eggs and shamed for being indulgent enough to buy half of a pudding cake on sale at Safeway. I suddenly felt very, very tired.

My perspective changed then and became less combative, more compassionate. I didn’t really understand what was going on with her, but it was obvious there was a lot of conflict there. I don’t believe for one second that Glenda wanted to be me, but maybe she wanted to be a little freer. I have often thought over the years about how she surrounded herself with people who used drugs, often hard ones, who drank, who smoked, who enjoyed chocolate and sex. I know what when we’re young we often find ourselves with people who are bad matches (case in point), but I still wonder about her weird guilt/vicarious living thing.

I hope she’s happy now, and can do what she wants without guilt. Maybe she grew up into not-an-asshole, but I wasn’t going to find out. I kind of lingered around the grocery store, letting her go through the line first, and then we spied on her like creeps from inside as she loaded her groceries into her car.

“She looks so old,” my sister observed.

“I know, it’s weird, isn’t it? She’s only a couple of years older than me.”

“Really? Wow.”

“Well, it’s our evil genes on Mom’s side that causes more of a contrast,” I said, patting my unlined, petal-like cheek.

“Ha!”

“She was a bad friend to me,” I said, watching her drive off. But it was complicated.

“What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.”

March 11th, 2014

1.

It’s good that I’m writing so much this week, even though the reasons are crappy. I don’t think I mentioned I was supposed to be at FogCon again last weekend, and I’m super bummed I had to cancel due to not being able to walk or stand. SMALL DETAILS. I did a metric asston of writing after I got back last year and I didn’t even care that I had just started a new role at work and that it was super stressful. Then I think work kind of ate me for a while and I did no writing except around xmas. I tried to substitute running for writing last fall, but it was boring and then I got sick for a month in October. Writing begets writing, too. When I am writing offline, I am blogging more.

Can I say as an aside I feel like I almost never run into anyone who has, like, a three-day or even a week-long cold anymore? It seems like it’s always this epic that lasts for a six weeks wherein three different things are contracted? I know that happens to me and all of my friends.

Maybe the point is this is like one of those time travel tropes where you can go back and give the girl the tampon/ray gun/std in time, but the writing will still happen somehow. You cannot stop it. That sounds good. All I am doing right now is sleeping (exhausted) and peeing, like a baby.

2.

I think of my dogs as coworkers, perhaps in part because I do actually take them to work most days. There are always there, reliable, acting sane (for dogs). They would lay down in front of an avalanche of waffles for me and their little jaws would not stop moving until they went into a carb coma. Edith would probably poot herself to death since she doesn’t seem to handle wheat well.

And yet I think there is this part of me who still likes cats better. They speak to me more with their fickleness and irrational hatreds. I know that dogs have become our mirrors, and I hear a lot of people say that they are more like people, but I think cats are more human. Tiny walnut brains. Confusion. Taking out against something for obscure reasons. Loving other people, things, or cats for even more obscure reasons. Dogs, at least ones who aren’t severely damaged or bred to only love people who are 5’3″ falconry buffs who smell of sage, have public hearts. Cats have secret, unpredictable hearts.

Goethe’s heart feels she should make sweet love to every device I try to interact with.

This is my take on cats: some cats like no one. That’s unfortunate. Some cats like everyone okay, or even a lot, but don’t seem to have a special person. Some cats are lucky, and they love multiple people, which is good, because sometimes people go away or are separated. I have acquired used cats and they have taken a liking to me. I hope they are not pining too hard over lost loves.

Goethe likes me best. I am her person. I realized recently that everyone else I live with finds her slightly hateful, because she is, to them. She is pretty much always nice to me. When I bailed her out of the pound in November the volunteers in the back cheerfully went back to retrieve her and then one returned a few minutes later, empty-handed and frowning, sporting some new claw marks on her forearm.

“Could you…come back and get her?”

“WOW!” Gertie said, when she saw me. She always yells at me with this little pinhead squeak. She swirled around her cell and came forward when I reached for her. “MEW! MEW! MEW!” She sank her claws into my shoulder as she hugged me and banged her head on my face. “Where have you been?” she asked, drooling and purring.

“Oh, good,” the volunteer said, relieved.

“Has she been a jerk?” I asked.

“Well…I’m just surprised to see you holding her. No one else has been able to touch her.”

“I’m her person,” I explained, which was the first time I realized it was true. “And I’m sorry about your arms.”

Sometimes I pet her and sometimes she pets herself on my finger or knuckle. And sometimes we have a lazy standoff where I press my finger to her face and she does nothing. She is no Nietzsche but she’ll do.

My coworker. Note the sliver of my sad red feverish face in the background. SMEXY.

3.

As a small catty P.S., I will say that something interesting happened when I was out of town last month. I boarded the cats, even though my sister was house sitting, because between her coming and going and the contractors, I did not want a cat to disappear and have that be my sister’s problem.

Last time I boarded Mere and Goethe together in their “large” room, which was a nice cube not quite wide enough to hold a bed…maybe like a large closet. It has a window and many levels. This was not available for our recent trip, so I went with two separate cages in a room with a few other cats. There was the option of Mere and Goethe being let out a couple of times a day together to look out the windows and stretch their legs.

Something that always made me sad about their mother-daughter dynamic is that Mere would always beat Goethe’s ass, and Matilida’s, before we lost her. When we got them back from boarding I expected a huge explosion of fighting as they settled down again, but it didn’t come. A day after we got home, I discovered that Mere was grooming Goethe, which was a thing she had not done since Goethe was a tiny kitten.

I thought of this just now when Goethe came to visit me in bed this morning and bang her face on my Kindle, and I discovered the back of her neck was all wet. Thanks, Mom.

Cautious Optimism

March 10th, 2014

Good news, I suppose. Things seem to have stopped getting worse. I am in kind of a holding pattern now and am still crazy tired. The doctors have officially settled on viral myositis, which is nice because it goes away eventually. I am really hoping this will be the last week of my convalescence. I don’t think I’ve had a fever for 24 hours, but it’s gone away and returned before, as has the pain. We’ll see.

Strudel’s birthday is Wednesday and she will be nine. She wants to go out to dinner, which is a typical thing here at Rancho Asshole. If I am having trouble walking I’m going to take some codeine and suck it up. We’re going to have FUN. Dammit. I am also on the hook to make her usual pineapple upside down cake, which blessedly she is not making me dye blue or anything this year. Don’t tell her I said this, but YUCK.

She has demanded Indian food and submitted a long birthday list before we went out of town, which I cherry picked from as usual. Several years ago Franny began including “surprises” on her birthday lists, which I think is a very legitimate ask. Strudel twigged to that idea and has run with it. I like to be surprised sometimes as well–a good one is a gift in itself.

On Sunday night P. and I were laying in bed at the late hour of 8:30 or so, and we had done all the necessary marshaling to send the girls off to blow zees. Strudel came in to have her fine, thick, long hair braided into two chunks before laying down, which makes it less of a tangled nightmare when she wakes up. She took in the picture of her destroyed parents in repose. For a moment I imagined we looked like Charlie Bucket’s grandparents, just ancient and broken.

She said goodnight and turned to leave the room, but lingered in the doorway for a moment.

“Are you two going to…flake on my birthday?”

“NO!” we said in unison.

I’m not going to lie, that hurt. The thing about this kid is that she says things like this, which is exactly what’s percolating in her roiling, evil brain, and has no idea how things may come over.

Franny, hypothetically in the same situation: “I am worried that you two are too sick to execute my birthday in a satisfactory fashion.” Franny’s first word was “poopbubble” (while pointing at an airplane) and while I don’t quite remember her second, I’m pretty sure my little Betazoid’s second word involved an “I” statement.

Strudel: “Sup, flakes.” Ouch.

But you can decode the message easily enough. I have never flaked on a birthday, though I think she was less than impressed at our tired, lackluster Xmas decorating in the first year in this house. There was presents and Feast though.

Franny was feeling better this weekend. She never got the voms like the rest of us, but she was still pretty knocked out with the virus. This weekend her volume went up again so I knew she was doing okay. She was chattering about Stephen King’s IT, which she read recently and brings up anytime she sees a clown, some balloons, or even something like a funny-shaped cloud. I think it’s made itself home in her psyche.

There were balloons tied to an open house sign on the way home from the store.

“BALLOONS! ‘They all float, motherfucker!” she said in a funny voice.

“Is that what Pennywise says?” I asked, laughing. I skipped the whole IT experience.

“Well, I added the ‘motherfucker’ part.”

She made me laugh so hard I peed a little. She doesn’t drop the MF bomb too often lately, but when she does, it’s pretty effectual. And a good sign for her health.

I just found a summary of my brain

March 10th, 2014

On something called Tweetails. This app sifted out my most used words. I have not been tweeting much this year in my desire to be less chained to my phone, but I have been tweeting for quite a while now. Maybe I will get back to it when I recover, since I don’t want to be sick on twitter. So annoying. Almost as annoying as SICK BLOGGING.

I will update on the mess that is my immune system after I go to the doctor this afternoon.

In conclusion,

OMG fucking cheese butt

Give them an inch and they swim all over you

March 7th, 2014

Luncheon in bed.

Edith Ann.

Escandelo! Poor Horace, always eyepologizing for his sister.

Passive sentence construction with overuse of certain words, see me after class

March 6th, 2014

I think being ill makes me think of being young and vulnerable and poorly cared for, hence my maudlin trip down memory lane a couple of days ago. Plus the similar physical feelings. I’m in decent spirits though.

This is where I go to remember. If you talk to me in real life, I hope I seem like I’m planted in 2014 most of the time. I don’t know who I’m writing this to, ultimately. I’m glad I’ve been keeping am online journal since 2001. My secret is that when I write with a pen it’s a slog and demoralizing. Typing is my medium and it always has been. I did okay when I was a child, and in college as a note taker, but now when I put letters to paper the letters jump into the correct words, but often out of order. I am a decent speller but I cannot make my brain tell my hand to do it in the correct order. I have to concentrate to write a check or a grocery list. Typing flows like water.

I’m grateful that I’m read and heard at all. Part of me is writing to my future self, because sometimes I go back and cringe and make sense of things, sort of. Maybe I am hoping my children will read this someday and try to make sense of it some point. I have had to reflect back into the past on my own and try to impose some sense of compassion onto my family, which was obviously a mess. Maybe I am trying to leave a map for my girls so they can see that the stew is attempting to be equal parts “mom is flawed” with “but she was trying.”

Today I feel–the same. It’s distressing to have too much pain in my legs to stand in one place. It’s hard to go to the fridge and get a glass of juice. The first round of results came back and I have a marker in my blood that is saying that I have inflammation, which. Yeah. I’m on orders at this point to rest for 5-7 days and if there’s no change then it’s advanced testing. The hope from my doctor is that I have Worst Flu Ever, or “Flu Part Two” as I’ve been thinking of it, since your typical flu symptoms cleared up in about a week. He’s hoping this will subside it and it will kind of be Mystery Viral Myositis What I Kicked Eventually. I am running out of Prednisone in two days which makes me nervous because it is uninflaming (it’s a word now) my body and I can sleep.

This has been so consistent and ongoing since the onset that I don’t really have a gut feeling which way it’s going to go at this point. Being off Prednisone on Saturday will be the moment of truth I suppose. Will it be less pain, or the same as Tuesday, when I went to the doctor. I think I’m being tested for Lyme disease, but if not, I will make sure I get tested. I keep thinking about these two bug bites I got on my ankle on the first night in Hawaii that were irritated for days, and stung horribly in the ocean. Everything could be a coincidence, or it could actually mean something.

It’s only a flesh wound

March 5th, 2014

THE PROBLEM with effective medication is that when it is working I somehow manage to tell myself I was kind of imagining the whole thing in the first place. I felt pretty good last night, except for my poor pounding head, but I stayed in bed anyway, sensibly. Still, part of me was going, “Wow, what a drama queen. I knew I would get better. Too bad I wasted everyone’s time. I bet I’ll be back to work tomorrow.” Likewise if I saw my severed head across the room somewhere I’d be like “Eh I must have an ingrown, bring me a tweezer.” It’s stupid.

I did the same thing in Hawaii recently. I mentioned we went on a short hike in a pretty national park after the jellyfish stings and before we all started having the 2014 Asshole Ranch Sing-a-long. While I lay in bed and in between trips to the hotel room’s loo I noticed my calves were stiffening up.

“You’re limping,” P. said.

“Am I?” I asked. LYING. Could anyone be more annoying? JUST ADMIT YOU ARE LIMPING, idiot. I probably even said something like, “I can still fight you.”

My calves knotted up and he insisted on rubbing them, which was really nice. After three really gentle tries (the skin was painful to touch) he got them to loosen a little so the muscles resembled normal calf muscles again, and not lumpy steel bars.

“I have a problem with those stupid shortie stairs,” I said. “I bet this is why I’m sore.” You know those weenie stairs that are supposed to make a climb easier but they are just annoying and make you feel like you’re skittering along like Pekingese or a centipede or something. WHO ARE THOSE FOR? The park was riddled with them up to the lookout area.

So that was the beginning, I guess, which I kind of ignored.

“I feel like I’ve been poisoned,” I told the doctor yesterday. I actually kind of know what that’s like. I told him the only other time I’ve had a headache like this when when I was about Strudel’s age and I had blood sepsis. I will never forget that headache.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I had keratosis pilaris as a kid, which I was very self-conscious about. My friends always noticed and asked about them, and some people thought it was contagious. I had no idea what it was, that it was no big deal, really, and that a large percentage of the population has it. I asked my mother about it when I was little but it was considered one of the great mysteries of our time.

“I have no idea,” she would say for the umpteenth time, exhaling her cigarette at me impatiently. “All I know is that it appeared two hours after you were born and never went away.” Translation: I had a stupid baby and then it got covered in an ugly rash. Once, for reasons I cannot fathom, I was fretting about “leg bumps” and she told me that she got them too. MAN, what a relief! I wasn’t just a mystery mutant. Years later in high school I told her how nice that was to hear.

“Oh, that,” she said. “Well, I don’t remember that, but I think I was just lying to make you feel better.”

Strudel has inherited my KP but she’s fairly philosophical about it since we know what it is and how to manage it somewhat. She went through a phase of ripping her arms up like I did, and was always covered in a few scabs. I wore long tee shirts and no tank tops for years to hide the damage. She is less self-conscious. I have gently pointed out the results of her excavations and the scars and she tries to leave them alone. I keep a loofah for her for when she can be cajoled into showering, and we talk about the importance of moisturizing.

Needless to say, I was not allowed to pick at myself. I have an early memory of sobbing and trying to read a book with mittens on, which I was forced to wear sometimes. On a good day, my parents were rather Victorian in their parenting techniques.

So when one of my little bumps went awry on my arm, I kept it a secret. I think I was almost ten. I guess I got some dirt in it from my disgusting kid fingernails, because it went toxic. My grandmother was visiting and I remember we went to a little former mining town that had become one of those cute tourist traps. We had lunch and toured old homes which had been turned into museums. There is a picture of me in the corner of one of these preserved Victorian homes, pale and strained-looking.

“Why won’t you smile?” my mother asked, wielding the camera at me. Because I feel like laying down and dying but I think it’s my fault and I don’t want to be punished. I had gotten over a lot of things on my own, in secret, even lying about how ill I was. I could lick this as well.

But my body couldn’t fight it off. I woke up in the middle of the night, my head pounding. I knew I would be in trouble if I woke my parents up over a trifle like this. I came to my grandmother, crying, who sensibly woke my parents up when she discovered I was on fire and crying from the pain I was in.

“Do you have any idea why you’re so sick?” the doctor at the hospital asked. I shrugged. I had my suspicions. I reluctantly pulled back my sleeve to reveal the throbbing source of pain on my arm. I uncovered a festering scab, only about the size of a pencil eraser, the skin around it red and tender, with a three-inch red streak that was snaking its way up to find my heart. His eyes went wide.

“What happened there?” he asked, alarmed.

“I think it was a bug bite,” I lied.

“WHY didn’t you tell us?” my mother hissed at me after the doctor left.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” I said.

My poor grandmother had to spend the rest of her visit minding a sick kid, but she was probably happy in a way to have a captive audience to watch her soaps with. I remember her being on the phone with my Aunt Kesa from back home while I convalesced on the couch.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” she said, sotto voce. “I have never seen a kid cry silently before.”

So this is that headache. And the Predisone is only lasting about 18 hours. I hear back about my first round of bloodwork today so I hope this will be short-lived. If not, I’ll just walk it off. Ha!