Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas

I went to Houston over the holidays, and there - in addition to playing with my adorable niece - I had a gustatory revelation: pomegranate.

I had only tasted pomegranate juice, previously, and was a trifle confused when my epicurean sister presented me with a fruit salad one morning at breakfast. Contained therein were the little fleshy pips of the pomegranate.

After a confused silence on my part, followed swiftly by "How do you eat these?", I launched into tasting my first unadulterated pomegranate pip.

It was heaven, Dear Reader!

When I finally returned to my own little home - thankfully migraine-free - I realized that I had absolutely no food to eat, so I sashayed over to Whole Paycheck to pick up some artisan cheeses and pita bread and apples and... Lo and behold: pomegranates!

Of course, I bought two, not realizing just how difficult they are to cut.

For a few minutes after the cutting ended, my kitchen resembled the shower scene from Psycho, with me in the role of blood-spattered shower curtain (I wore an apron).

One thing About.com forgot to mention in its "How to Cut a Pomegranate" article: lay down tarps and drop-cloths everywhere that you don't think pomegranate juice will reach, because that is exactly where it will go.

There is probably pomegranate juice on the ceiling along with last year's spaghetti sauce.

I also miscalculated the number of pomegranate pips in a relatively small pomegranate.

In case you're wondering, there's a bazillion. That's a lot of pips, people.

I couldn't eat all of them (my tongue is sore, as it is, from sucking the flesh off the seeds of 1/4 cup of pips), but I couldn't let all that yummy goodness go to waste.

So I broke out a sieve, a metal spoon, and a bowl, and proceeded to manually juice the pips, according to About.com's instructions (again, sans tarp warning).

Fresh-smushed pomegranate juice is so much better than anything you could ever buy at the grocery store, fancy schmancy or not. By the time I was finished, I had about 6 oz. of juice, and that was with my lazy crazy way of juicing them and giving up because I'm a wuss and my wrist was tired.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Forever Amber" by Kathleen Winsor

I was, as usual, in need of a book, and I decided that - if I was going to spend good money for literature - it had better last me a long while.

I looked initially for Emile Zola's Odette, but failed to find it in Barnes & Noble's notsohallowed grounds. My eyes alit on Forever Amber, and I plucked the weighty tome from its shelf. I scanned the back of the book, which described it as "unforgettable." The fact that it was banned in multiple cities when it was first published in 1944 helped seal the deal, and I headed home to read away.

I have never been so infuriated in my life at a book's characters. If you've read my tirade against Gone With the Wind's Scarlett and Ashley, you know I get miffed at characters pretty easily.

Scarlett's got nothing on Amber St. Clare. Ashley Wilkes' mind games pale in comparison to the incessant teasing Lord Carlton gets up to.

To put it this way: the main characters both get the plague, and you find yourself rooting for the plague! It's absolutely insane.

Essentially, Ms. St. Clare only has two things going for her: her beautiful face and her shapely body. Other than that, she has nothing: no common sense, no intelligence, and - unlike most canines, lab rats, and parrots - no ability to learn. She's a bit of dull-as-dishwater fluff who is absolutely certain that THIS TIME he will marry her, and that THIS TIME she will be happy.

The only people in the whole damned book who I liked were: 1) one of Amber's lovers who gets himself killed fighting a duel over the idiot girl; 2) King Charles II; 3) yet another guy who will love Amber, treat her like a princess, and actually marry her, but who she throws over for his best buddy.

In the end, Amber doesn't get what she wants, the reader wants to strangle her, and none of the other characters can stand her (so the reader isn't exactly alone).

If you want the most frustrating read of all time, then pick up a copy of Forever Amber (presumably named as such because she is forever making the same mistakes). If given a copy of Forever Amber - but wanting to preserve one's healthy blood pressure level - then use it to fuel a barbecue or something.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dr. Useless

In the past seven days, I've had three doctors' appointments. I saw Dr. Pain last Wednesday, and he prescribed physical therapy (woohoo!) since the previous treatment didn't work at all.

I saw my neurologist/best friend on Thursday, and broke the news to her that, although I hadn't called the office to complain, I'd had a headache every day since Dec. 4 (my trip to the ER). I thought she was going to cry. Somehow, I managed not to. I told her I was going to go to the Baylor Headache Clinic, and she thought it was a great idea. She encouraged me to go.

Yesterday, I hit the Baylor Clinic - which is neither in Waco, nor is it at the Baylor Hospital campus east of Downtown Dallas. No, it's across Park Lane from Northpark Mall, which meant that mumsie and I spent a good time battling pre-Christmas traffic to get there. We cut off several people who don't understand that "Yield to Ramp" means you yield to the people on the highway's exit ramp.

Hopefully, they have now learned their lesson.

So I arrived about ten minutes early for my check-in time, filled out all my paperwork for the appointment, and sat down in a chair next to my mom to read until I was called back. We waited for about 30 minutes.

I went back into the examination room, talked to the nurse for a while, and then sat down to read while I waited for the doctor to show up.

Forty-five minutes later he waltzed into the room, and began to ask me questions that were all answered in the comprehensive medical questionnaire I'd filled out a week before to give to him. I was kind of irked by the fact that he was AN HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES LATE and yet hadn't even looked at my paperwork. And he didn't apologize for his tardiness either.

First impressions, Doc. First impressions.

After an exam, he informed me that migraines tend to come in waves, so what I was experiencing wasn't abnormal. When I looked at him and said, "Two month waves?" he just shrugged. This after I'd told him that I wasn't able to work because of my migraines.

His solution? Here's some more pills to try to prevent the migraines, and I'll see you in six weeks.

EXCUSE ME???? I wanted to tell him that, in six weeks, without being able to work, I won't be able to afford to see him, and it was nice meeting him (although that last bit would have been a lie).

He didn't say anything about changing my diet, doing physical therapy, or anything else that I'd seen on multiple websites for other headache clinics across the country. No, it was just, "Here's more pills, see you in six weeks."

At this point, I'm positively drowning in pills, what with the ones that I'm already taking to prevent migraines (that aren't really working), the ones that treat my nerve pain, the ones that are supposed to help prevent the nerve pain, the ones that treat a dietary problem I've had for years, the ones that treat another digestive problem (partially caused by all the other pills I'm on), and the ones that help treat eczema. Oh, and the ones that treat nausea brought on by migraines, and the ones that are supposed to treat acute migraine attacks, but which only work sometimes.

So I'm back to square one, essentially, and I have no intention of going back to see Dr. Useless at Baylor. It's time to look for other headache clinics, and to possibly be hospitalized (again) by my neurologist/best friend after Christmas.

The not-so-Merry-Go-Round continues.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Wait for Me!" by Deborah Mitford Cavendish

I just finished reading Wait for Me! by Deborah Mitford Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. I recommend that everyone - not just Anglophiles and fans of Mitfordania - read it.

Debo, as she was known to friends and family, was the youngest of the Mitford brood. Although her oldest sister, Nancy Mitford, nick-named her Nine (the mental age beyond which Nancy teased she never matured), she went on to be a prolific authoress who graces the page with humor, poignancy, and interesting tidbits of information.

This is one of the few books I've read that is literally laugh-out-loud funny, and I frequently found myself having to get up to close the door to my bedroom so I didn't disturb my mother, asleep across the hall, as I hooted hilariously upon reading her anecdotes.

The book is Deborah's memoir, and gets its title from the fact that she was youngest, and as a child had short legs that meant she couldn't keep up with her older siblings (she had one brother, and five sisters). Her father nicknamed her "Stubby" for her short little legs, and called her that until his dying day.

I first began reading about the Mitford family - all fascinating characters - when I received The Sisters as a Christmas gift. I have since gone on to read the collection of their letters to one another, and own a rare copy of Unity's biography, now out of print. I have two novels by Nancy (and look forward to buying the re-released Wigs on the Green, last published in 1937 as a parody of her sister Unity's Nazism), and Communist Jessica's memoirs. I have yet to purchase sister Diana's memoirs, but they're on the list, too.

Deborah was married to her husband, Andrew Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, during World War II in a ballroom, the windows of which had been blown out by a bomb, and whose curtains were destroyed in the air raid. Her creative mother bought rolls of silver and gold wallpaper and pleated them to look like curtains, before nailing them to the walls. Her wedding cake had a cardboard cover in lieu of icing, because sugar was rationed (along with everything else).

She talks at length of the fight to keep one of the Cavendish family's homes, Chatsworth, from being sold to pay death duties when her father-in-law died, leaving her husband to wear the mantle of Duke. He was not supposed to be duke, but his older brother was killed in World War II, along with many of Debo's friends. She discusses these young men in detail prior to the advent of war, and it's tear-jerking when she describes their deaths.

Debo was friends with everyone. She attended John F. Kennedy's inauguration and funeral. She attended Elizabeth II's coronation, only weeks after the premature birth of her fifth child, followed hours later by that child's death. She gave birth in all to six children; only three of them survived.

She talks about being a duchess, living in a huge house, and how she and her husband used to wander the grounds of Chatsworth before they moved into it, and she teased him by exclaiming "What a lovely house! I wonder who lives here?" (His response, "Oh, do shut up.")

She discusses with candor and yet with respect her husband's battle with alcoholism, only won when she deserted him in the middle of a house party, only agreeing to return if he took sobriety seriously and vowed never to touch a drop of alcohol again.

Such was the force of her attraction and her character that she was not forced to follow through on her threat; Andrew never touched a drop again, and they spent the next 20 years happily married.

She discusses her sister, Diana, and her marriage to the leader of the British fascist movement, Sir Oswald Mosley (father of Max Mosley, former head of Formula One Racing), and their subsequent imprisonment as enemies of the nation during World War II, as well as sister Nancy's treachery in trying to convince MI5 not to release the couple from prison. She makes no apologies for the fact that, despite their politics, she continued to love and cherish Diana and Unity (who was great friends with Hitler), and somehow you don't blame her for this blindspot. They were, after all, her sisters.

Fascism served to end her parents' marriage, and she discusses this with her brilliant clarity and incredible empathy; her mother had met Hitler and admired him, as did her father, but when World War II broke out, he renounced his admiration, whereas her mother did not do so. They separated, only finally reconciling when Debo's father was on his deathbed.

If you have the money, I highly suggest you buy a copy of Wait for Me! It's one of those biographies that I already look forward to reading again and again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sounds of Silence

I haven't been writing much.

I know, I'm a bad blogger.

I also haven't been reading the blogs I usually check on a daily basis, because... well, I forget. And too much computer time gives me a headache, whether I'm lying in bed or not.

Why haven't I been writing?

Well, there's not a whole heck of a lot going on, these days. I write, I run one or two errands each day, I get myself lunch, sometimes (but other times it's cereal for me), and then I scratch good old Major Tom (who is very lazy, this winter, and is almost constantly lying on his bed in the living room).

I don't want to blog constantly about my health problems, although this space has sort of become a clearinghouse for 'what's wrong with me today.' I feel kind of whiny when all I blog about is my health, and I'm sure it's not very interesting, and is possibly distressing, and the last thing I want to have in my already super-guilt-riddled-for-no-good-reason mind is the added guilt of causing my readers - who are mostly family and friends, and a couple of people of whom I have no knowledge (Bangladesh, what up?) - to worry about me.

Example of guilt-ridden Ms. Strainedconsciousness: A couple of years ago, a harmless garter snake was on my parents' back patio. I flipped out and killed it, and it took longer than I'd thought it would to actually kill the thing. I've felt awful about it ever since for depriving the harmless little snake of its life.

A couple of days ago, there was a snake in my parents' kitchen (um, I'm living with the folks, since I can't really take care of myself right now. I'm a toddler all over again... but a toddler who's paying rent on an unused apartment). Instead of killing it and smushing its little serpentine brains out, I put on garden gloves and carried it outside, flinging it into the yard to go about its happy little life.

The snake was maybe 5 inches long, cold (so lethargic, kind of like Major Tom), black, and had a slightly triangular head.

It was a baby water moccasin.

Guess what? I didn't kill it. +5 points for me. It's a water moccasin and might 1) re-enter our home at some point and kill us all in the night and/or cause abject terror; 2) it could kill Major Tom while he's in the backyard "powdering his nose." So -475 points.

More guilt. It's an issue. And occasionally, someone will chide me for feeling so damn guilty all the time and... then I feel guilty about feeling guilty.

Vicious cycle, people. Vicious cycle.

Almost as vicious as a water moccasin a.k.a. cottonmouth. But not nearly as deadly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time to Kill

I am not working, at present. Seeing as I am plagued almost daily by migraines, it's pretty much impossible for me to work. I haven't lost my job, though, and I will get back to the office as soon as I am well again (or, as well as I ever will be). Granted, I'll be hourly when I return, but them's the breaks, and you can't really blame them for changing the terms of my employment, seeing as I require so many days off for medical leave.

So for now, I'm working on my portfolio (always good to keep it updated) and writing.

But Ms. Strainedconsciousness, you haven't been writing much, you chide.

I've been writing stories, Dear Reader, ones that have been locked in my addled brain for years, and that only now have the chance to flow out onto paper (and then into the computer).

Several years ago - 20, in fact - I came up with a ghost of an idea for a fairy tale of sorts. Later, influenced by reading The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, I refined my ideas, and they started taking shape more fully.

A month ago, I made a first pass at the story, but it had ventured too far from its starting point, from that original idea, and so I scrapped it and started over, stowing the legal padful of scribbles away so some of the ideas wouldn't be lost.

On my second attempt, I blazed through the story in a handful of days, filling a legal pad and part of a spiral notebook, then jumping onto printer paper because I'd left my writing at my apartment and couldn't get to it. Now, all of those pages are typed and printed out, to be revised and added to in copious amounts.

There are additional events and places still to be visited, and more trials and tribulations to be overcome by my character, but we'll get there eventually. I typically launch into writing and then, just as quickly, stop, bored or frustrated because I've worked my character into a situation that she needn't be in. Instead of going back, culling the wheat from the chaff, I just abandon the whole thing.

My invalid author status has a few significant precedents throughout history: Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind after either an illness or a car wreck, I can't rightly remember. And it's no wonder, really, because lying supine or on my side - the only positions in which my head doesn't pound like a kettle drum - are two of the best possible positions for writing. And I've already got an idea - another long-gestating one - in my head for another story, one I have had for a long time, but couldn't come up with an ending to.

I have an ending, and once I've finished with my current story, I'll start at the beginning of the next one.

At least I'm not bored out of my mind!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Ms. SC

I was hospitalized, as you know, and released last Thursday, December 2. We rejoiced, thinking my migraines were gone.

Chickens. Counting. Hatched. Right.

Saturday, I was back in the hospital, but the emergency room, my insomnia - caused by steroids to treat the migraines - having cause another migraine. My prescription migraine medicine had no effect on my headache, and my mother and one of her friends came to get me from my little apartment. I took with me the pearlescent green plastic trash can from my bedroom, since I was - um - not feeling too well, my green snake-skin purse, and an overnight bag.

My mother's friend remarked that only I would think to coordinate my sick-can with my purse.

I was doped up right proper in the ER, slept a bit, and was then sent home to my parents' house.

I'm now stepping up my medical game: I have, in addition to an appointment with my neurologist, an appointment at the Baylor Headache Clinic.

You hear that, migraines? It's on. Bring it!

Seeing as I'm now talking trash to myself, I might also need to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Hmmm...

I wonder if multiple personalities all get migraines, or if there's one in there who's migraine, free?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

While hospitalized for my migraines, I received copious quantities of steroids.

I look something like the Creampuffs Marshmallow Man from Ghost Busters, as a result. Meaning, my face is puffy, as is my tummy.

I hate the word "tummy," just FYI.

Another fun tidbit about steroids is that they cause insomnia. INSOMNIA.

I don't need any help with the insomnia department, as it is fully staffed and operational at all times of the week/month/year. Need someone who can't sleep? Oooh! Call me! Call me!

So I've spent the past two nights not sleeping when I'm supposed to be recuperating from my hospital stay. Because you have to recuperate from recuperating. Yes, really.

Thursday night, I read and wrote in alternating shifts, because I get restless when I have steroid insomnia. I want to do something. Now. Something different. Now. Something different again. Now. Okay, thanks.

So I read for five minutes, then wrote for five or ten, then back to reading for maybe 15 minutes, then back to writing for ten, etc., etc., ad adendum, ad infinitum.

I did the same thing Friday night. It was just as exciting the second time around, except I wasn't 3/4 of the way through a book I wanted to finish.

So I'm running on 4 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours, and that seems to be how things are going to stay, for right now. Awake. They will stay awake. For a long time.

The last time I had steroid insomnia this bad, I was on chemotherapy. I was also 17 and reading Harry Potter, so it wasn't like I lacked for something to do. I plowed through those books. And dreamed of pancakes and sausage, because in the first three books, J.K. Rowling talks about food a lot.

This time, there is no thrilling boy-wizard trilogy (at that time - now there's 7 of the books!!!) to get through, nor is there much of anything to do. I've cleaned out all I can clear out of the soon-to-be-office that used to be my (onetime) bedroom at my parents' house, and I've almost finished the first very rough draft of the story I'm working on.

So I'm blogging at 6:45 in the morning, as my dad gets ready to go jogging in the cold (for Texas) December air. He's crazy.

He's crazy for jogging, but I'm the one who's been up all night, and will probably be up all night again, tonight. Hopefully this doesn't trigger another migraine...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blogging Under the Influence

I was released from the hospital, today.

Okay, wait.

Back up.

Tuesday, I had an appointment with my neurologist. She entered the exam room, in which I'd turned off all the lights, still had on my sunglasses, and I was curled up in the fetal position on the exam table.

I am never on the exam table when she comes in, nor do I wear my sunglasses or turn the lights out. She pointed to the darkened ceiling, and said, "I don't like what I see, here."

After about five minutes, she informed me that I was going to hate her, but she was hospitalizing me for my migraines.

I definitely didn't hate her for that. Yet. But I knew that I needed something other than the "wait and see" approach we'd been taking.

Four hours later - after 3 hours in the emergency room - I was in a hospital room, and my mom was on her way to pick up my schtuff from her house. I'd just missed dinner at the hospital, so I had Chik-Fil-A for my first hospital meal.

I was in the hospital all day Wednesday, and spent most of the time reading a novel by Henning Mankell called "The White Lioness." I recommend it, by the way. It's a novel thriller mystery type thing, so obviously, it was purloined from my mom's collection.

Wednesday night was pretty hellish, though. I couldn't sleep, so the nurse had to give me a super-sedative, and I only fell asleep after 5:00 a.m.

Bummer.

But my migraines had stopped, and I was doing much better, I thought. So did my neurologist, who announced Thursday afternoon that I could go home. Three hours later - yes, three - I finally left the hospital for my parents' abode, and here I am.

Sweet!

Once home, I discovered that my brain isn't working, properly. I've been loaded up with demerol, Atavan, and gobs of migraine drugs and steroids for the past 48 hours, and they're all working their way out of my system, now. So I can't concentrate on reading, writing, or even scratching the dog (whose back leg starts shaking, threatening to topple him over).

So I'm blogging. Blogging under the influence.

Hope the internet police don't pull me over for this one.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Human Pincushion

In the past 21 days, I have had 17 days of migraines.

It gets old, dear readers, very quickly.

Although the Thanksgiving holidays are over, I have yet to return to the office, because I am physically incapable of driving myself. The sunlight and movement of a car, combined with the need to sit up and the ever-present skull-cracking headache, mean that I get nauseous.

I briefly considered driving with my seat laid back, but I'm not gangsta enough to pull off that move.

I have tried all the migraine medicines I can, to no avail. The ones that previously staved off the worst have thrown their hands up in frustration at being called into action so often. Even the previous champion - the one that costs $24 per pill before insurance (!) and $10 per pill with insurance (that's $20-48 per dose, dear reader) - has admitted defeat and slunk out of the ring.

In desperation, and at the urging of two of my doctors, I sought help through acupuncture.

No dice, yet. But it was a fascinating experience.

A couple of light taps, a tiny prick, and a needle stuck out of the skin just above my umbilicus. Then, three more were inserted - one below and one on each side - and I started looking like a Buddhist mandala.

Five pins in each foot - one of which hurt, and drew blood, which surprised the acupuncturist and myself - and four in each hand, three in the legs just above and at the knee level, and one pin in each arm, three inches above the knobbly bone of my wrist.

Did I feel anything (apart from that painful foot pin)? Yup.

The pins in my legs sent electric shockwaves down my calves, into the tops of my feet and the outside of my ankles. The pin in my left arm sent a dull ache up to my shoulder.

But my headache wasn't relieved.

For a time, it changed, granted, but it was the location of the headache that changed, migrating from my forehead down into my upper jaw, of all places. Another pin here, another pin there, and the headache was back where it started, albeit slightly dulled. But not eradicated.

I have another acupuncture session on Thursday, which is preceded by a doctor's visit Tuesday afternoon (my mother is acting as chauffeur, at present, while I luxuriate, supine, in the heated leather embrace of the minivan's passenger seat).

I have no idea what my neurologist will tell me to do for my headaches. Will she end up hospitalizing me? I was about to demand that my parents take me to the hospital on Sunday, after my sister, brother-in-law, and beautiful niece departed Plano for their Houston abode. I was only halted by the glimmer of hope that my Monday acupuncture appointment provided me.

That flicker - although not completely snuffed out - is not as bright as it was, but it was worth a try, and I haven't completely given up on it, yet.

As the acupuncturist said after reviewing my intake forms, I "have a lot going on," medically speaking, and taking care of one or two other things might help with the migraines.

Once again, it's the game of Wait and See.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Out of Touch

I'm out of touch
With my own time
And I'm out of my head because Ryan Reynolds is People's Sexiest Maannnn.

Second day in a row that I've butchered song lyrics. Yesterday, The Beatles. Today, Hall and Oates.

The music definitely says something, because as the lyrics above say, I'm out of touch with my time.

I've known this for a while. One of my friends thinks it's hilarious. She loves telling people that I have no idea what Justin Bieber sounds like (at which point I thought to myself, "They play his songs on the radio? I thought he was just a Disney thing..."), but that I can pluck the title and artist to some obscure song playing in a bar (The Doves aren't that obscure. And just because I know who Bonnie Tyler is, jeez...)

So today, I posted on Facebook about how disappointed I was that People selected Ryan Reynolds as their Sexiest Man.


Adorably goofy. Okay. Fine. Whatever.

Apparently, there are plenty of women out there - some of whom are my Facebook friends - who disagree and think he's a total studmuffin.

Heheh. " Studmuffin."

BUT HE WAS IN VAN WILDER. NO ACTOR WHOSE MAIN ACCOMPLISHMENT TO DATE IS VAN WILDER CAN BE SEXY.

Or maybe that's just because I'm not up on pop culture, so I don't know what else he might have been in since then. Hmmm...

Then I started thinking about who I would have selected for Sexiest Man Alive.

Er. Honestly? First guy that came to mind (granted in his form of 20 years ago)?


Yup. And for the record, yes, I think he is still very handsome today, but I think he needs to go back to the mustache instead of the goatee thing. Just sayin'. Nevermind that he's older than my dad...

Okay, so if Tom said, "Nope. Not doing it. I'm too old for that business," who would I pick then?


Er... Yeah. Not old enough to be my dad, thankfully, as he's only 13 years older than I am (so that actually puts him inside the acceptable range of ages for dating, in my opinion).

So Tom Selleck is "too old for this" and Javier Bardem is off frolicking with Penelope Cruz. Option #3?

The -ahem- most surprising option?

The one that my friend looked at me and said, "Wait, who? You mean the guy who played....


Ghandi?"

Yeah... Ben Kingsley (sigh. Flutter eyelashes). But she apparently hasn't seen him in Sexy Beast.

The movie title says it all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Day In the Life

I read the news today, oh boy, while I was waiting in the doctor's office.

Okay, so it isn't quite as catchy as the Beatles' original, but I do what I can.

I started my day, shivering on a construction site, with mud clinging to the hem of my $180 jeans. I don't put my jeans in the dryer, so I hang them by their hems to dry because it usually prevents wrinkling (if the denim is soft and/or has a high lycra content). Unfortunately, this tactic also stretches the pants legs after a few washes. After you've had them hemmed. And that 1-1/4" lug sole on your ohsostylish steel-toe boots doesn't do diddlysquat when the mud is 2" deep. At least.

And Superdeeduper informed me that I should have called him over with the forklift to take the envelope containing the contractor pay-applications, seeing as it weighed more than I did.

It was a beeeeeeeeg envelope.

I stopped at Starbucks en route to the office from the construction site. Okay, it's not really on the way, and it added a good 10 minutes to the trip, but I was freezing, and I can't stand the coffee the guys in the office drink.

I was the only woman in the Starbucks who did not have at least shoulder-length hair, bleached blonde and with a straw-like consistency, and who was not dressed in yoga clothes, or something resembling yoga clothes. Half of them had cell-phones glued to their ears, and were shrieking about shoes, and organizing their closets (one thing we have in common) and how little Madison has ballet at one.

And the Uggs. They were every where.

Ugh.

I caught a couple of odd looks, standing amidst them with my cropped brown hair, voluminous paisley shawl over an aubergine turtleneck, and mud-encrusted boots (and pants hems). I smiled at the women when I caught them looking, and they looked quickly away.

Back at the office, I got to work picking up redlines for an enormous project we're doing just across the Dallas North Tollway from my little apartment.

It's a project I'll be managing next week, while Scooter is on vacation.

I meet the clients, contractor, and construction superintendent tomorrow, so they have the chance to get acquainted with me and comfortable before Scooter flees for the tropics.

Unlike Pacman, Scooter tells me before he up and vamooses, and I'll also be going to the Friday morning site meeting. It's at 8:30. I will be setting twelve alarms to make sure I get there on time. With an Egg McMuffin in my belly.

I workworkworked until 1:00, then scrammed and drove helterskelter up to Plano for a neurologist appointment. I have another one in two weeks (lucky me). I've had 10 days of migraines in 14 days (I think, I need to check the migraine Excel), and my neurologist is slightly freaking out.

But just slightly.

So now I'm tapering off my current migraine medicine (woohoo!) and will start a new one Friday night. She wrote me a prescription for a new "acute migraine" medicine (although must of my migraines are a-ugly. Sorry, I had to), but I can't take it, yet, because:

I'm starting a new migraine medicine to try to stop the cycle of migraine violence. I was exposed to lots of public awareness ads as a child, can't you tell?

The medicine is the same one you receive if you're hospitalized for migraines. The difference is that, in the hospital, they give it to you via IV. I cannot haul an IV bag around on a construction site with me, though, so I'll be taking it through the nose. Every 8 hours. For three days. And then we see if it has worked its magic.

"But what do I do with the migraine I have now?" I queried, squinting to shield my eyes from the light, even though we'd turned off the fluorescent lights to spare my poor optic nerves the strain.

"Dr. Pain gave you pain medicine, right?"

"Well, yes, to take at night."

"Snow yourself."

"Um, I'm not really supposed to do that." Visions of DEA raids danced in my muddled head.

"I'll call him."

"Okey dokey."

Granted, I still can't take my prescription pain medication during the work day because I might have to drive Oldsmobile somewhere, or drive myself somewhere, or be driven out to a construction site where I'm expected to be able to dodge flying wood pieces, if need be.

Oh, and I'm supposed to start acupuncture. Stat.

Back at the office, everyone wanted to know how the appointment had gone. I reported on my progress, or lack thereof, and shrugged.

Radio suggested I have blood work done, a full chemical workup, to make sure everything's okay.

Yeah, okay. But that will have to wait until next year. I'm flat out of vacation days, at this point, and I've still got doctor's appointments (okay, I will be out of vacation days once all the appointments are taken care of).

And now I'm in bed, writing a blog post, my belly full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, because it's the only thing that sounded good to me, and waiting for 11:00 to roll around so I can take my last dose of migraine spray (but without inhaling; it's not like sinus spray, and if you inhale , you taste it, and it tastes awful).

If you are still reading at this point... my goodness, you must be easily entertained.


Monday, November 15, 2010

About to Whine About Things Not Worth Whining About



It's getting a bit slow in the office. We were given the go-ahead today on a project (hooray!), but there's nothing for me to do on it, yet, and it's a little project, and I don't know how much we'll have to do in the way of construction drawings and millwork details, which happen to be my specialty.

I finished my assignment for Radio. He had no more tasks for me.

Pacman? Nada.

Scooter? "Uhhhhh... Yeah, but I need about thirty minutes to mark up the drawings. Do you have something to do for thirty minutes?"

Chortle. "Surf the interwebs."

"Sounds good. Go to town."

Hmmm...

I already spend about 30 minutes each day brushing up on design blogs, making sure I know what's going on in the world of millwork details, interior finishes, and the newest soft-furnishings offerings from companies I cannot afford (are you listening, Century, Henredon, and Hickory Chair? Okay, I know Hickory Chair is listening, but Century and Henredon?)


My daily blog perusal is why the guys were astonished when they said wistfully that they wished we could do interiors and I squealed and cried, "Oooh! Pick me! Pick me! Mrs. Robinson and I can do it!"


So I went back to my desk, with Scooter's blessing, and proceeded to venture into digital worlds hitherto unexplored.

I tell you, most design blogs - that is, blogs devoted exclusively to interior design - are depressing. They're cutesy and try to be hipsterish, riding the wave of zombie mania currently sweeping the pop culture beaches... or something


or they look like Z Galerie threw up all over them


or they have terrible grammar and sentence structure.

I know that my proofreading skills occasionally fall short of the mark or that I end a sentence with a preposition. I know I am definitely guilty of the rampant and irresponsible overuse of parentheses. But I also know that my sentences do not sound like a fifteen year old wrote them, and that I don't egregiously capitalize words in questions submitted to my inexplicably wide readership, the answers to which I will never respond or even read.

And I know that, although my dream house looks like the result of an Andy-Warhol/Billy-Baldwin/Dorothy-Draper orgy fueled by Dr. Pepper and lightly salted roasted almonds, I would never feature an apartment on my blog, billing it as something that is wonderful when in fact it is straight-out-of-the-Ikea-box boring. Unless it is as an example of an apartment that is boring, like so:

The above apartment was featured recently on one of the most widely read design blogs in a post entitled "Why does Barcelona have the best apartments?"

The only thing I see that this apartment has that apartments in Dallas don't have is a radiator.

That's it.

There's the cheapo flat-screen. The Panton chairs. The boring Ikea-ish white chairs. Boring rug. Minimal wall art on a boring beige wall. Light-tone wood floors (boring? Check). Why is this one of "the best apartments?" Why was it even in the running?

I save pictures I find striking to folders on my desktop at work, then email them to myself at home (compressed into zip files) where I print them off and paste them into my little OCDesign collection.


It seems like lately, there are fewer images for me to save, to collect.

Am I just becoming more discriminating (my word) or picky (in the words of an ex-boyfriend)? Or am I jaded after wading through all the cutesy, un-chic garbage (see Little Augury for a lovely tirade against overuse of that particular term)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Week From Hell


This past week was, to put it mildly, awful.

I had my pain management treatment on Monday, and then another doctor's appointment that afternoon.

No, there is no abatement in my pain, so I'm not too hopeful, as things stand.

Following my migraine Saturday, I started to get one Sunday, but staved it off with some medicine (whew!). Monday, I had one in the afternoon. Tuesday, joyfully, migraine free. But then Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I had migraines. All day.

I've begun keeping a migraine journal - er, spreadsheet - so I can track them. I chronicle what I've done to try to stop them (medicine X + medicine Y and sleep, for example) and whether or not it had any effect. If no steps were taken, then why not?

The only reason why no steps will be taken is that there's so many triptans in my body that I'd explode if I had any more, just in case you're wondering.

I have an appointment with my neurologist - a.k.a. my new best friend, because I see her more often than I see any of my other friends - to discuss what the hell we are going to do to get me back to normal.

The guys in the office have been pretty supportive, helping me remove most of the fluorescent lights from my cubicle so that it's now a dark little cave (I still keep my sunglasses on half the time, as the glare from the computer screen is so bright). It's no fun. No fun at all.

And my other doctor's nurse - the one I saw after my appointment with Dr. Pain on Monday - gave me a little lecture because my weight has dropped again. I'm back down to where I was when I was "too thin" in her estimation, when she wanted me to gain at least 5 lbs. at the beginning of August. I told her I hadn't intended to, but that I've been nauseous because of the migraines...

The nurse frowned. And then asked me why I take so much Benadryl.

Fortunately, she forgot all about my weight loss as I regaled her with steps she can take to help combat her recent outbreak of eczema (it's new to her, old hat with me, and the reason for all the Benadryl on the long list of daily medicines: something else my doctor doesn't like).

So my week: awful.

On the up-side, I think I figured out why I almost passed out at the construction site. And why I almost passed out on that date last year. And why I almost passed out during a staff meeting 3 years ago. There is a form of hypotension (low blood pressure) called neurally mediated hypotension that results from your brain failing to send your heart the proper message to step up its game when you've been standing for longish periods of time (30+ minutes), after which blood will pool in your feet, so your heart has to pump harder to keep it circulating properly.

In people with neurally mediated hypotension, your brain doesn't recognize this, fails to send the proper message, your feet become big ole sacks of hemoglobin, and your brain then fails to get enough oxygen. Badda boom badda bing: hey, presto! Unconscious.

Or, at least, pale, sweaty, and scaring the crud out of your construction superintendent.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Interior Mania Continues

My mother and I went to see Antony Gormley speak at the Nasher Sculpture Center on Saturday (he was fascinating. If not for the fact that I was felled by a migraine, I could have listened to him all day. As it was, I still stuck it out through the whole damned lecture. THAT AMAZING.)

Prior to the lecture (little artist crush, now), my mom came into my apartment to survey the new lampshades in situ, seeing as she gave them to me for my birthday and all.

We have decided that my current picture frames have got to go.

Sigh.

It's a vicious circle, Dear Readers. You think you're getting things just right, and yet there's something nagging at the back of your brain...

We've decided that the frames should be gold/gilded.

Oh, Ms. Strainedconsciousness! you cry. You don't have the money to buy loads of new picture frames!

No, Dear Reader, but I do already have in my possession plenty of gilding supplies, for I went on an art supply binge a few months ago (prior to surgery, pain management treatments, and daily migraine attacks) and bought gilding fixative and foil. It's not real gold, of course, because I can't afford that, but it looks quite like the real thing, and it's doing a smashing job of transforming the taxidermy mount for a set of deer antlers I have.

Ahem.

Gilding is actually, I've found, a wonderful way to relax. Brush on the fixative, do something more productive for 20 minutes while the fixative dries a bit, and then return to the object to be gilded and start applying the foil, using waxed paper and a dry paintbrush. It's very minute work, very tedious, and really quite brainless. I don't have to worry too much about it, whether I'm doing it wrong. If the fixative gets too dry, I just put on some more, wait a bit, and start again.
It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be solid on the first go round. It eventually begins to look even, although the surface is made up of a mottled agglomeration of foil bits.

It's a craft I can get behind.

Although really, I tend to stand over the objects when I work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Funday

I should, by rights, be at Happy Hour, right now. But I am not allowed to drink alcohol for several days prior to the medical procedure Dr. Pain will perform on Monday. Anyways, I'm broke.

Two strikes, and I'm already out. What the hell kind of baseball is this?

Instead of imbibing, I'm at my apartment, having picked up an enormous armload of dry cleaning from the love of my life (a.k.a. my Korean dry cleaner... who has a leggy blonde girlfriend... who probably has phenomenally clean clothes in addition to her BMW). I began unshelling my clothes, removing their plastic wrappers and mentally counting the dolphins the dry cleaning industry strangles every year, and I saw the first one: a dead sweater.

It's not the dry cleaner's fault. The sweater is - or rather, was - five years old, purchased as part of my inaugural professional wardrobe. It's been a good run. But now, alas, the elastic threads in the knit are separating from the soft merino, and they create shiny little loops as they swirl out from the black fabric. It's not attractive.

I put the sweater on, comforting myself somewhat with the fact that my anatomy has changed shape, so the sweater no longer fits properly anyways.

It's cold comfort. Especially once the sweater is off, because my apartment is freezing.

Another sweater has fallen prey to the same malady. And then, I find that the oatmeal sweater I bought last year, faithfully de-pilling as my purse rubbed its woolly threads into nubbies, has nubbed itself up again. Perhaps beyond redemption. I worked on de-pilling for a good ten minutes, giving my grandmother's old embroidery scissors and my electric pill-remover a good workout, and then called it quits for a time.

The electric pill-remover was getting a wee bit warm for comfort. Nothing like trying to salvage your clothes and setting them afire by mistake, eh?

A tan wool sweaterdress - which once garnered me a date request from a client, which was entirely inappropriate but still flattering - is also incredibly pilled. And snagged. The snag is in the bum region, and it pulled the threads of one row taut across the tush. I worked at that for a time until the one particular thread that seemed to be the worst offender snapped. Whether or not the dress is a lost cause has yet to be seen.

It might take an exploratory wearing for a few hours to find out. Anyways, the turtleneck I had to wear under it to keep from breaking out in a not-so-attrractive rash bit the dust last year, so I have to find a replacement before I can wear it again.

Millionaire clients do not (inappropriately) ask you on dates if you have a rash on your neck, or so I assume.

It appears that I'm now down to a four black turtlenecks, two cream-colored ones, a soft pink one that doesn't stay where it's supposed to because clothing designers don't account for the fact that women have hips (this shirt will sit above the waist, but we will only design pants that ride below the hips! I imagine them cackling fiendishly) and a couple of thin-ish cardigans that I bought because I could wear them during the spring and summer over a shell/camisole without burning up (outside) or freezing (in the office). I have one grey sweater/blazer and an olive green cardigan (that's pilling where my purse brushes against my hip - it will also encounter the electric de-piller tonight) and a multitude of shells and camisoles to wear under the cardigan and blazer.

I used to be a total clotheshorse, but that was in the days before my spate of unemployment, before I began economizing, before 1/4 of my gross income went to medical bills (yeesh). Now I get excited at the prospect of buying a couple of T-shirts at the Gap, whereas before I wouldn't have deigned to do so. It would have been silk blouses from Neimans or nothing.

Well, almost nothing. I've always been something of a champion of high/low dressing.

It just seems like there's considerably more low, of late.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's 6:00 : Do you know where YOUR intern architect is?

It's actually 6:15 pm, on the Thursday, and I should by rights still be seated in my cubicle, plugging away at millwork design for a 10,000 square foot house a hop, skip, and a jump from my 700 square foot apartment.

My apartment fits tidily in the master suite.

Instead, I am at home, where I have been since 11:40 this morning.

I awoke with a migraine - to be fair, I went to bed with one, too - and trudged off to work, hoping I could make it through the day. My neurologist recently increased the dosage on my migraine preventive medicine, and it had seemed to be working. Until last night.

I made it through two solid days of rain and storm, and then BAM! migraine when the sun came out. I want to be like the little girl playing outside my building and whine, "That's not fair!" but I will refrain. Even though I did just sort of do it.

I came home for lunch, to bolt down some sustenance and to take a nap, hoping that a slight recharge would help. Also, I took my migraine "rescue" medicine at that point (dose #2) hoping it would help out a bit.

It didn't help out immediately, but it did knock me out immediately. I slept until 1:30. And then I called Mrs. Robinson and told her I would not be back today, because of the migraine.

I went back to sleep, and awoke again at 4:15, still groggy - partly from the migraine "hangover" and partly from the pain medicine I took because my back was killing me. I still have some residual photophobia, and although the sounds of my new washing machine installed by Gustavo and Alan yesterday should be music to my ears, they are causing a bit of a pain somewhere behind my left sinus. Hopefully, that will dissipate by the morning.

It came as a surprise to Mrs. Robinson and the guys that I had a migraine, today. And Radio expressed disappointment that I hadn't informed him about the one I had last Friday (which had actually started on Thursday). But if I told them every time I had a migraine, I would probably sound like a whiny little brat. I don't tell the blogosphere every time I have one.

And why does the Blogspot spellchecker not include either Blogspot or blogosphere in their dictionary? Seriously? Sigh...

At least my migraine is not further egged on by the jumping racket created by my previous washing machine. At least my new one is quieter and less mobile.

At least.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Post-Flood Contrition

I've felt guilty about my rudeness to my downstairs neighbor ever since my blunt, "I know" comment when she embarked on her final lecture about the evils of washing your clothes when you're not home.

I had contemplated the idea of sending her flowers to apologize, and I decided, this evening, that I would do so.

Sorry, First Born, but FTD Florists gets you.

I think I've only sent flowers once or twice before. Definitely once. And I didn't pay for them. They were sent on behalf of my former employer. I just picked them out.

My rudeness just cost me $70, including "handling fees" and sales tax. So much for the $49.99 price tag, right?

And, unfortunately, I don't actually know my downstairs neighbor's name, and the reverse address lookup websites all come up with a billion names. I thought that, since my neighbor is an elderly Hispanic woman (pile on the guilt), it would narrow things down. Nope. The first three possible names listed are for Hispanic women in their early to late 70s. So in the "name" blanks (required), I entered First Name: My; Last Name: Neighbor.

I briefly toyed with calling the apartment office in the morning to ask her name, but feared they'd ask me why I needed it. "So I could send her flowers to apologize for being a royal b***h the day my apartment flooded. The usual." The prospect of calling started sapping my will to apologize, even if I'm not brave enough to do it to her face.

I'm hoping the florist doesn't call me for name clarification, thinking I'm a nutjob. Particularly since my card reads, "I wanted to apologize for 1) accidentally flooding your apartment (I no longer wash clothes when I'm not home); 2) my unpardonable rudeness. I am truly sorry. Megan (third floor)."

I also hope I don't end up with a defiant elderly Hispanic woman on my doorstep, throwing the flowers in my face and cursing me in Spanish. Particularly since I'd probably understand the cursing (I don't know much Spanish, but I understand enough to know when to be offended).

On another, more cheerful note, my apartment management is replacing my whole washing machine. I informed them that I'd washed small loads of clothes, and the thing was jumping all over the place, and could they please come look at it again, as I was afraid the jumping would throw it out of balance again, potentially flooding the apartment again. Ahem.

Jaime the beleaguered maintenance man left me a cheerful note saying that he ran the machine, there's something wrong with it, and he thinks the jumping could be what's wrecking the balancers. As opposed to their previous assertion that the wrecked balancers caused by my overloading were causing the jumping. Ahem.

So I get a new washing machine.

I can't wait. I bet my downstairs neighbor will be happy, too, once The Jumping Washing Machine of Dallas County is no more.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In a Continuing Theme


Sunday was also busy. My weekend has been fantastically productive, although I haven't accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish. I'm working on those last unfinished tidbits as we - er - write.

I was up by 9:30 a.m. which prompted Major Tom to ask if everything was okay, and did he need to take my temperature, because something was certainly amiss. I assured him all was well, gave him a treat, and he quit questioning my motivations and let me shower in peace.

I restocked my makeup bag, seeing as my concealer decided to explode and spew its contents everywhere - the military should look into this, I think, as a new form of IED - and I was using samples of mascara accumulated over the past few months instead of my usual. The samples weren't as good, and I was having flashbacks to the Great Lash Mascara debacle of 2009: mascara everywhere on my face except my eyelashes.

I also looked for a new pair of shoes, because my brown flats are looking kind of flat. I struck out, but I did find some lovely dark green patent leather ones for $26. And I bought shoe polish so I can take a run at rejuvenating the boots and shoes I already own that just need a bit of buffing.

I returned to my parents' casa for a while, scratched Major Tom for a good long while, and then decided it was time to head to my own humble abode. I needed to do a bit of laundry - since I can only do tiny loads - and I wanted to rotate my wardrobe, swapping out summery things for fall/winter items.

At the same time, I culled the herd, so to speak. Summer skirts I hadn't worn in two or three years were relegated to a trashbag, awaiting delivery to the Genesis Women's Shelter Resale Store. A slew of T-shirts went into the bag, and some turtlenecks that are still wearable, just not colors that are particularly flattering, I've come to realize.

Purple = Hello, undereye circles!

The unpacked sweaters were mostly placed in a pile to be delivered to my dry cleaner, because they're almost all some blend of cotton or silk with cashmere. Winter gets expensive, around these parts. It's the curse of having delicate skin that won't tolerate more than about 30% wool or cashmere in anything worn next to the skin.

Seersucker pants went into the underbed storage boxes, as did white jeans and trousers, sundresses, and the white cotton skirts printed with politically incorrect stereotyped Mandarin Chinese scenes and Native Americans that I bought at a resale shop.

My Korean drycleaner loves the Chinese and Native American skirts, and his Hispanic employees love the one I have with sleeping sombrero-clad Mexicans printed around the hems. I have another one with barnyard animals, but I have yet to get a solid opinion on that one from horses or cows.

It's frustrating putting away all my summer clothes: there are armfuls of skirts I no longer wear, either because I don't work in "that kind of office" anymore, or because the shirts I used to wear with them have died, being worn too often with too many other skirts and pants. So the brown floral skirt hasn't seen service in over a year, and neither has the tan one with the embroidered flowers (which might be because it doesn't fit properly these days... I can't remember).

I can't bring myself to part with them, quite yet, because there is always the possibility that I will work in an office where I will be back to wearing skirts and heels again, or the skirt might fit me and I might decide to wear skirts as an everyday matter of course in the future, like next year. Will I still want to wear the sort of skirts I've just packed away? Possibly not. My taste, as I matured in my role at the last office, began gravitating more towards pencil skirts, and less towards swishy circle skirts like I used to buy.

Mexican and Chinese-printed skirts excepted, of course.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

All Operators are Busy


At least, I'm busy.

I woke up at 8:00 a.m., startling Major Tom, who stared at me groggily and grumbled at me for waking him up (he's a grumpy old man). I dressed, and drove to Dallas, swinging by Starbucks for a cup of coffee and an apple fritter en route. And I filled up my car with gas. And got it washed.

All before 9:30 a.m., baby. That's right: I'm productive!

I got to my apartment and began straightening up, putting things away. I ironed some pants (I loathe this chore, above all others), reupholstered an ottoman, the usual.

Yup, I now have an ottoman - okay, it's a repurposed vanity stool - that was once upholstered in goldenrod cotton damask, and is now covered in lovely saffron silk. It is currently in my living room, where it holds a metal tray, upon which I can rest a drink when I'm lying on the sofa, watching a movie.

I picked up my lampshades - the ones my mother bought me for my birthday - and squealed with delight when I removed their cellophane wrappers.

The carpet cleaning guys returned my rug, unrolled it, and put my furniture back where it belongs. I then put my lamps on their beautiful chinoiserie tables, with their pretty new lampshades, and oohed and aahed at the results. And decided I need to rehang some pictures, but that can wait until my mother returns from her vacation.

I washed clothes. I washed miniscule loads of clothes. As in, two pairs of jeans, or the equivalent of two pairs of jeans in underwear and T-shirts.

Guess what? There's something wrong with my washing machine. It is still jumping and rotating like a teeny-bopper at a sock-hop, so I emailed my apartment complex about it. And asked them to please tack my carpet back down in my bedroom and replace the porch lightbulb, while they're at it.

I updated my apartment inventory (the spreadsheet of everything I own) and documented the contents of my humble abode with a camera, then printed out the pictures and put them in my firesafe.

And then, I went shopping.

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Ms. Strainedconsciousness, and my oh-so-generous mother left me a little cash gift tucked inside a Halloween card before she hightailed it to Santa Fe for her birthday. The card read "Do something fun!"

There hasn't been enough fun for me, lately.

So I went to Northpark and bought a couple of shirts - within the defined color spectrum - and some new jewelry. The shirts set me back $20 each, and the jewelry was $45 for both a necklace and a cocktail ring.

The cocktail ring has an enormous cognac-colored gemstone, and it will look ravishing with my steel-toed boots.
Ha. Haha.

I've discovered that, in addition to not being able to carry heavy purses, wearing heavy necklaces gives me a headache. So I bought a lightweight necklace in matte gold (I don't look all that great in super shiny gold).

I filed some more paperwork. I paid my rent. I put stuff away.

I calculated the taxes I will either owe or be refunded, depending on how the IRS calculator works. I'll either owe $415, or get back $2,000. I'm hoping it's the latter. I can't tell if their calculator defines "federal income tax" as including the social security and medicare taxes, or if it's just the federal income tax. I guess I'll find out in January.

I was productive. It felt good to be productive.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Perusing the Interwebz

I just finished stalking Craigslist for a good 45 minutes.

I think physicists need to study Craigslist, just for the record, because it warps the space-time continuum. I could swear I was only on Craigslist for 10 minutes tops, but nope, it's been 45 minutes. Okay, an hour, but who's counting?

Not the physicists, who seriously need to get on this mystery pronto.

I'm in the habit of looking for treasures in the form of armchairs that might need to live in my apartment (now that it's dried out), and so I decided to kill some time browsing the offerings, when I should have been paying attention to Major Tom.

Major Tom is not a fan of Craigslist, in case you were wondering. He wants the physicists to study it so they can declare it a hazard to humanity's survival so I'll pay more attention to him, and less to the offerings on - er - offer.

What is there on Craigslist on a typical Friday evening?

Crap. Lots and lots of crap.

That "wingback chair" is no wingback, honey - it's a La-Z-Boy recliner. And that Queen Anne chair? Good grief! Don't you know an Eastlake style chair when you see one?

Jeez...

Beautiful typically means run screaming as fast as you can and gorgeous usually translates to don't bother opening this posting.

In fact, the postings I tend to look at aren't the ones that include designer in their headline - because La-Z-Boy is not "designer" - but are the ones that give a brief description and the brand and the color.

So Red Hickory Chair Wingbacks definitely gets a look, even though they're more than I can afford right now, and the wrong color, because this lady 1) buys nice furniture and 2) I'm a sucker for Hickory Chair. It's described perfectly. I really wish I could use them in my house, somehow (especially since the price has dropped from $1200 to $800 to now $500 for the pair... want the info? Leave me a comment).

I've learned that certain terms - Queen Anne, for example - are horribly abused. Antique is by far the most overused. Armchairs from 1974 are not antique. Armchairs from 1910 are. In case you didn't know, the strict definition of an antique is that it's at least 100 years old. Anything less than 100 years is just vintage.

None of the posters on Craigslist appear to know what Queen Anne style actually is (cabriole legs, shell motifs, figural-profile back splats on sidechairs, etc...), and they bandy the term about with abandon.

Bandy about with abandon. Say that one five times fast.

After I'd hit all the chair postings I cared to see, I decided to take a peek at art.

It is yet another term loosely applied by frequenters of Craigslist.

Call me strict, but I do not consider an original painting to be something you bought at Z Galerie. Because it wasn't actually painted. If there are multiple of them on a rack in a store, then it's not original.

Original means: Not derived from something else; fresh and unusual.

Original does not mean that you are buying the 80th one of something. It means that there is only one, that you are the first to do it or to make it or to find it or to say it or to write it.

And now, I'm thinking of Eddie Izzard's riff on original sin. I think I'll leave you with that for your listening pleasure.

(Warning: some offensive language... and a man in drag.)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

Okay, I didn't eat worms.

I ate snails. Escargot if you will.

I'm classy like that.

Tuesday was my mother's birthday, and we went to eat Wednesday evening with family friends to celebrate. They treated us to dinner at Rise No. 1, a restaurant that specializes in souffles.

Yes, Blogger, I mean souffles, not snuffles, or scuffles, or snuffler.

One of the savory souffles on offer was the souffle escargots a.k.a. souffle full o' snails.

I have never eaten escargots, and never in my wildest dreams could I imagine encountering souffled snails on a menu in a Dallas restaurant.

So, of course, I ordered it.

J'adore les escargots.

Yes, I know, I probably mis-conjugated that verb, because my French is atrocious, and for that matter, I don't know if "escargot" has a plural, or if it's like moose, where one word serves all quantities. I'm blaming it on the evil French teacher I had in college who demanded I present her with doctors' notes prior to my chemotherapy sessions, instead of after them (because I had all the time in the world to drive to Dallas to get them, deliver them to her in Denton, and then drive back to Dallas for chemo. Right, Lady.)

The escargots were tender and juicy - as you'd expect, if you've ever seen a snail's trail - and floated in garlic and butter, with a light souffle crowning each of the individual snails. It was fun to dig down through the poufy souffle to get to the pseudopods, before whispering "Come here, little invertebrate, so I can eat you!" and stuffing the steaming snails into my mouth.

Mmmmm...

We followed up with two souffles for the table for dessert: one chocolate, one pumpkin.

The chocolate was good. The pumpkin was amazing. Get the pumpkin, if they have it, because it's like putting little fluffy bits of heaven into your mouth.

Mmmmm...

And now, I'm off to bed, full of snails and pumpkin puree and creme fraiche and bits of deliciousness.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aftermath of the Great Flood of 2010

I returned to my apartment, Tuesday, for the first time since Sunday's flooding disaster.

Monday was spent having a minor medical procedure and recovering from said procedure.

I found a little pink piece of paper in my kitchen, from my apartment complex, informing me that they had fixed my washing machine. It malfunctioned because the balancers - little rubber strappy thingies - had broken, and that caused the hose to detach, spewing water everywhere.

The note mentioned that balancers breaking is a direct result of overloading the washing machine.

Okay, I can buy that. I had more in the washing machine than I typically put it in.

As a rule, I don't cram a ton of clothes in the washing machine, because I don't have a ton of clothes to cram into the washing machine, so they are washed more frequently, in smaller loads.

But why, pray tell, was I not informed of that when oh-so-helpful Jaime replaced the balancers on my washing machine twice before? Why was I not told that overloading the machine might be causing them to break? I definitely wouldn't have put as much stuff into the washing machine as I did on Sunday, when I was desperately trying to get washing finished, chores done, etc... so I could get to my parents' house pre-minor-medical-procedure to have dinner and rest up.

It's my fault, I know, but if the girl in the third floor apartment has to have her balancers replaced twice don't you think you should address the potential cause of said replacement with her, instead of just doing it and saying, "Okay, that's done. Have a nice day!"

He also wrote, helpfully, that I should only use the washing machine when I'm home.

Fat chance of that happening, since I have a job, and since the woman on the second floor requested I not run the washing machine or dryer after 10 pm.

The dryer makes a terrible noise when it finishes its cycle, and even I hate hearing it. The thing could wake the dead.

Maybe she's less fond of listening to me run to the kitchen to make the loud blaring foghorn sound stop, though, followed by my yelling, "Shut up, you stupid machine! I hate you!"

That could be it, too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Great Flood of 2010

Sunday was supposed to be a day of efficiency, when I would do 4 loads of laundry, organize medical receipts from income taxes, and in general get stuff done.

Sunday was not efficient.

Sunday was a disaster.

In a fitting metaphor, my life is a beach, and the waves of misfortune crash on me ceaselessly.

Thank you for indulging my soppily sentimental side. Pun intended.

I put a load of clothes in the washing machine - after filing some receipts - and walked out the door to go get lunch. I was washing things I would need for Monday, when I was slated to have a minor surgical procedure, because it is inadvisable to show up to places without pants as a general rule.

When I arrived back at the apartment, my neighbor on the first floor was hauling a soaked rug out of her apartment, which was flooded. I asked her if she needed help.

"There is water coming from my ceiling, from the floors, from everywhere. You live above me?" she asked.

Well, crap. Yes, I do. Directly above her on the third floor. I dashed up the stairs, opened the door, and confronted a 1/2" of water standing in my living room. In my kitchen, my washing machine was spewing water from its top and from behind it.

I turned off the machine and surveyed the wreckage. I called the property company. The emergency repair dispatch lady informed me that, yes, Jaime (his real name) was on his way to help out, because the lady in the apartment on the first floor had called about her apartment being flooded.

I hauled my dining table into my bedroom - which only had a little bit of the carpet wet, fortunately - and proceeded to heft a drenched sisal rug over my shoulder, carrying it out to the narrow strip of concrete landing outside my apartment door. I rolled up my pants legs, abandoned my shoes in the bedroom, and called my parents.

I cried. They said they'd leave immediately.

I went downstairs to tell my downstairs neighbor that my washing machine had malfunctioned while I was out, to take ownership of the difficulty. Mea culpa. She glared at me, her arms crossed.

"I never run my washer or dryer when I'm not home. Never. I cannot go in my house now, I will be electrocuted!" she said. I was about to launch into tears - nevermind telling her that she's not going to be electrocuted - and she seemed to sense this, because she said, "Is an accident. Is no one's fault. But I never leave anything turned on when I'm not home. Never. You should not leave it on when you're not there. Never. I never leave nothing on." Her mouth said, "It's not your fault," but her body language disagreed completely, as did the expression on her face. And her claims that she's the Mother Teresa of home appliances.

I could hear my phone ringing upstairs, and I had my own apartment to look after, so I excused myself hastily and ran up the three floors of stairs, answered my phone, and started thinking.

I moved my dining chairs into my bedroom, tucked the skirt of my sofa - my beautiful brand new sofa - up under the cushions, and prayed that my loveseat was ruined beyond all hope.

I was looking for a silver lining, okay? And in this case, that silver lining would be money with which to buy two chairs.

I put a towel across the door to my bedroom to try to prevent any more water from seeping into the carpet, and dragged my load of clothes out of the washing machine, depositing them in the bathtub (they were heavy with water, and it took me three trips).

My parents called me and told me to call my insurance company, to find out what to do with The Rug.

When I had my "cancer wish" granted through The Make A Wish foundation, I wished for an oriental rug. Ladies and gentlemen, I got it: an 8'8 x 10'6 Karastan Kirman rug.

For future reference, Karastans make excellent sponges when you need to soak up 30 minutes worth of washing machine gusher.

The insurance dispatcher told me to go ahead and call a company to come get the rug, since it would ruin the parquet in my living room (yup: income restricted apartment with parquet flooring), and I called a company. They sent a guy out, who claimed over the phone to be able to lift an 8'x10' rug, but retracted that statement when confronted with the Multicolor Panel Kirman behemoth.

My parents arrived while I was talking to the claims rep at my insurance company, and my mom was harangued by the lady on the first floor, about how she never leaves her washer on when she's not home. Mom excused herself to come help me.

We toweled up as much water as we could, moved my end tables out of the room, along with the floor lamp, and thanked heavens that my apartment building sags in the center of my living room so the water pooled there instead of infiltrating my bedroom and ruining my sofa.

The other rug from my dining area - a relatively (compared to the Karastan) inexpensive jute rug - was a goner, so when the rug guy arrived to assess the damage and haul it away, I didn't bother to show it to him.

According to my claims handler, to whom I spoke on Monday, I have to keep it to show it to the rug people so they can write on the invoice that the 5x7 Pier One Imports special is not salvageable so the insurance company can pay me money to replace it. I have to let it dry, and then keep it until they return my Karastan and give me their verdict in writing.

I lost a full day of productivity, which I badly needed, and most likely made an enemy of the lady downstairs - particularly since, as I was leaving to go to my parents house in preparation for the medical procedure Monday, she started in with "Like I said earlier, I never -"

I kind of lost it, and said, a bit too forcefully, "I know," and walked off. She apologized faintly, according to my mom, but I didn't hear her because I was halfway to the courtyard exit by that point. Definitely not one of my better moments. I think I'm going to send her flowers and a note of apology.

Mea culpa.

On the upside, there is -kind of- a silver lining: the Karastan needed to be cleaned, anyway.