Friday, November 30, 2012

It's all in the name

It isn't that difficult to change your name once you're married.  The only hard part is remembering all the various things your maiden name is attached to.  I've been married for a year and I thought I'd covered them all.  But apparently not.  My mom called me the other day and left a message on my phone... "The library just called and informed me your Oral History of WWII that you placed on hold is now available.  So you need to change your name and address with them so they won't call me anymore.  Oh, and why do you want a history on WWII?  Bye!"

At first I was confused.  Because for those of you who know me, I enjoy fictional, happy-ending stories.  Granted WWII had a happy ending in a general sense, but I still don't need to read about all the death and destruction.  Because real stories make me sad.  But fictional death and destruction?  I'm weirdly not as depressed by that, because I know it's make-believe.  But ONLY if there is a happy ending.  All of this to say, I also wanted to know why I was getting a book on WWII because I was pretty sure I hadn't wanted to.  Until I remembered, I had put a hold on WW...wait for it... Z.  As in Z is for Zombies. 

When I told my mother that was in fact the book I had placed on hold, not something on WWII, she was mildly disappointed.  "Here I thought you were being all intellectual and it's just one of your weird sci-fi books," she lamented.  But now I know how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse.  Need to go and start putting our house up on stilts now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rainbows and Marshmallows

Do you want to hear something gross?  This is invariably the start of my conversations about work, and almost always seem to happen at the dinner table.  It's not my fault that that's when my largest audience congregates.  And whatever response I get to that question, I always tell my story.  Like when I got mucous in my eye.  Or poop on my head.  Or pee on my shoes. Fun stories like that.  But finally my brother could stand it no longer.  "If you're going to talk about poop all the time, can you at least call it something else, like, I don't know, rainbows or marshmallows?"

So one time I stepped in a pile of rainbows that had slid off the edge of a patient's bed.  And then got marshmallows all over my shoes when someone missed the commode.  He's right, that does sound better.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


       Spiders love me.  The feeling is most definitely not mutual.  In my old apartment, I didn't see them too much.  That's because they knew they would feel the wrath of "Julia the Spider-Killer!"  Okay, I need a better super-hero name.  But that is my super power, killing spiders.  Unless they're really big and hairy and my husband is home.  Then he gets to be my sidekick and kill them for me.  Hey, even sidekicks need the spotlight every now and then. 
   The worst experience ever of spider interaction was when I was waiting at the bus stop. I leaned my head against the bus stop shelter trying to catch a few more winks. Then, as I was boarding the bus I felt something wispy brushing my forehead. I thought it was a stray hair or my bangs and kinda brushed at it and the feeling went away. Then as I took my seat, in true horror movie style, I felt something crawling down the side of my face and down my neck. I looked down and there was a giant spider. Big and black and leggy and spidery. I had one of two options: 1) jump around in the bus screaming wildly saying "getitoffgetitoffgetitoff!" or 2) calmly brush the spider to the floor and stomp on it with my slayer skills. I went with option two because I wasn't interested in a trip to a mental institution that morning.
      However, spiders have yet to receive the message here in my new home that I am the ultimate spider slayer.  The day after we returned from our honeymoon a spider greeted me in the bathtub.  Hiya!  Dead, instantly.  Then I found one on the kitchen ceiling.  Ninja stealth chop!  It met it's demise. But wait, there's more!  My husband and I were reading before bed when movement caught my eye.  Another spider!  Crawling across my lap atop our bedspread.  I shouted "don't move!" to my husband who immediately jumped out of bed squealing like a little girl and I almost lost the spider.  But thanks to my spider killing instincts and years of intensive training with monks in a mountainous region far from civilization, I was able to keep tabs on it while I maneuvered it onto paper and then squished it in my mighty fist of justice!  So, if you ever find yourself in need of a spider killed, just call my name, I'll hear you.  And then I'll give you the number of the exterminator man.  Because just one super hero can't kill them all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to get blood off a hardwood floor

Apparently all it takes is some water and a little elbow grease.  Because when my plumber came stumbling up the stairs holding a bloody hand to an even bloodier face, that was the first...but fleeting, I swear... thought I had.  "Aaah blood! Dripping on my brand new floors! Aaaah!"  But then the compassionate, competent, calm nurse side of me came out and I grabbed some towels to help put pressure on his laceration, all the while asking pertinent questions such as: "are you dizzy/light headed?  What's your name?  How many fingers am I holding up? Etc.." He was feeling okay, so I put him in my car and drove him to the emergency room.  A few minutes and a little super glue later he was back to hooking up my sink while I scrubbed out all the blood.  With water from the toilet's water tank.  Now how do I get THAT out of a wood floor?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

An ode to remodeling

To be read in the style of If you give a mouse a cookie

If you give a girl a microwave, she's going to want to put it over the oven.  And if you put the microwave over the oven, you're going to have to move all the cupboards over.  In order to move the cupboards over, the pantry has to go.  Once the pantry is gone, you will have to decide to build in a soffit where the pantry was, or just tear out all the soffits.  You tear out all the soffits, and then discover there are some wires and a pipe hiding in one side, along with some mold.  You partially rebuild the soffits you just tore out.  Since all the cupboards are hanging out in your garage, you might as well paint them and then rearrange them so you have more counter space.  And to make room for a dishwasher.  Which means you need new counter tops to fill in all the new counter space.  And if the cupboards and counter tops are new, well, then you might as well get a new floor that may or may not take twice as long as you originally thought to be put in place and finished.  Which means you have no sink for two months and end up doing dishes in the bathroom and rinsing raw chicken in the bathtub because you want to finally cook something in a crock pot instead of eating microwaved meals.  In fact, you vow once the kitchen is done, to never use a microwave again.   


Working in a neuroscience intensive care unit, I saw lots of crazy things.  But it never ceases to amaze me how long people will let things go until they finally get checked out by a doctor.  For instance, there was a gentleman I cared for who had lost his hearing in his right ear at the age of thirty.  Inexplicably.  Suddenly.  Perfect time to get a medical exam, right?  Naaaah, it wasn't *that* debilitating.  He continued to live his life, got married, had some children.  Then one day he's like, huh, the right side of my face is all numb and tingly.  Oh well, it's probably nothing.  And continues to live his life.  But soon he's finding the right side of his face is starting to get all droopy, complete with drooling and slurred speech.  His wife suggests going to the doctor, but no, "hesh jusht phine."  Shortly thereafter he can't chew or swallow, so he starts pureeing his food.  He is MASHING up his food because otherwise he'll choke, and he STILL won't go to the doctor.  His family ends up kidnapping him and taking him anyway.  No lie.  A head CT shows a large, slow-growing auditory tumor.  It was so large it not only had severed his auditory nerve, but had been putting pressure on his facial nerves causing the recent difficulties.  It was so large that after a 16 hour surgery they still hadn't gotten it all, so the surgeons had to stop and come back another time.  So please, the next time you find yourself severely altering your behavior to compensate for a physical ailment, go to the hospital.  I think I'm going to go get my hip checked out now... 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Descriptive Descriptions

Have you ever read a book and wished it were less descriptive? Like this: She got into the bright blue sedan with chrome hubcaps that sparkled in the sunshine like giant sparkling diamonds and rubbed her hands along the braided leather steering wheel with sweaty palms that oozed all over the rough leather of that round steering wheel all in black. The black leather upholstery was sticky in the summer heat and she could feel the leather stitches holding the dull black leather together digging into the backs of her legs as she placed her well-heeled foot against the gas pedal that also happened to be black with tiny ridges for traction pressing against the sole of her shoe which was, did I mention, well-heeled?

Sure, some descriptions are nice, but sometimes I find myself skimming until I find the action or the dialogue. Now, does this mean that I am a lazy reader, or is the author too indulgent? Sometimes I feel bad for skimming because I'm sure the author went to a lot of trouble to craft a captivating paragraph and I read maybe one or two words of it just to get the gist. It's okay to tell me it was cold outside, but to devote an entire paragraph to say just exactly HOW cold it was?  It seems a little much. A sentence would do: it was so cold it hurt to breath and the moisture in her nose froze her nostrils together with every inhalation....aaaaaand end scene.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

To keep or not to keep...

My husband is a keeper.  And in this instance I'm not referring to the fact that he's a great guy and I'd like to keep him around.  He is that, of course, but what I'm referring to is the keeping of stuff.  My husband keeps stuff.  And I, like any good opposites-attract story, am a discarder.  A thrower-awayer.  A declutterer, if you will.  In other words, I like to put things in the garbage.  For instance, a receipt from the year 2001 recording that epic purchase at Taco Bell probably doesn't need to hang around.  A to-do list from the mid twentieth century... if it didn't get done then, it ain't gonna get done now.  A used paper towel.  Pretty sure we won't be using that again.  So I throw it away.  It just feels so right to throw away scraps of paper, toss out old ice cream buckets, random bits of metal, instructions to a machine you no longer own.  I am a disposal.  A ravaging machine of destruction.  A tempest that cannot be stopped!  A whirlwind of whirliness!   You would think then, that I am a very organized, neat and tidy person.  But you would be erroneously engaged in such a thought pattern if that was what you were thinking.  Because as my family, former roommates and current husband would tell you, I'm really rather messy. 

Here is the important thing though.  I know where everything belongs.  So maybe my clothes are on the floor in a big messy pile.  But, I know which ones I should hang up, which ones go into the wash and which ones are just plain ugly and should be donated to Goodwill.  Maybe the kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes but I know where each one belongs, the exact spot on the shelf.  There is a dust ring there to prove it.   Sure I might not file that neatly arranged pile of papers on the desk, but the point is I know where each one SHOULD be placed, they each have a folder nicely labled and ready for them.  But there they sit.  And this fact of knowing the place for everything, skipping the part of everything in it's place, makes me feel organized, whether or not I truly am.  But any scrappy scrap of paper or object that has no place and no potential for any organized spot in our home gets tossed quicker than you can say "hey, I needed that receipt!".