Category Archives: baltimore

if you say you don’t have a crush on kate middleton you’re lying

claire danes, who played angela in the short-lived mid-90s drama "my so-called life"

i can’t believe i was jessica’s crush in the mid-90s. it’s so…so…unfair i didn’t know her then. i’m going to have to tell ricki the next time i see him in the girls’ room.

first things first: yes, i kind of abandoned you. kind of like when i went to under armour except this time i didn’t dropkick any ladies’ rooms bathroom stall doors and/or split my pants down the middle, then have to take a boat home, then have to go out for pizza with holly with my underwear showing. (gosh that was kind of funny now that i think about it.)

no actually i just felt severely unfunny the past couple months. so instead of turning this blog into an episode of my so-called life (omg loved that show; loved angela (loved her too much, probably), loved jordan, loved ricki & his eyeliner in the girls’ room, even loved rayannei decided to step back and “let the storm pass.”

so yeah, the storm passed. and one day i’ll write about it in a sensibly priced e-book. until then, i’m back to help you procrastinate to the best of your abilities. so here we go!

first: a number of revelations i’ve had over the past few weeks. let’s start with kate middleton.

1. kate middleton:  yes, if you say you don’t have a crush on kate middleton, you’re absolutely 100% lying. or else you’re of a grandmotherly-type age–or you’re actually a grandmother–in which case it feels quite wrong to crush on a real-life 30-year-old princess. but i’m not a grandmother yet so i’m just going to say that i suddenly noticed it’s probably almost impossible not to have a crush on her.

she’s just so…so absolutely heartbreakingly lovely. not only is she beautiful, she’s graceful and loves children–and they love her back! she’s the type of girl that, if she were to, say, walk into a forest–which i imagine she would once in a while, as she seems like the outdoorsy type–animals would gather around her feet. like bunnies and deer and baby animals in particular. puppies, especially. i know puppies don’t live in forests, but they would sense her presence and run into the forest to find her.

anyway, i’m not going to deny my feelings anymore. instead i’m embracing and sharing them and suggest you do the same.

2. facebook: i took a two-week hiatus from facebook and i kind of loved it. i felt so…so 90s. it kind of made me want to listen to some gin blossoms and…pick up my home phone and call someone. (of course i didn’t. but i could have. except for i’d text them first to tell them i was calling.) it was like: i wasn’t bombarded with 10,000 pieces of information every five seconds and i actually started liking people again. but then i got back on and got disgusted and started hating people again. it’s really a catch-22, facebook. i’d say more about this, but i have to go check my notifications. kthanks, brb.

3. growing out my bangs: ok, i’m back. speaking of the 90s, i’m growing out my bangs. yes, growing out my bangs. i should note i’ve had bangs since 2003 so this is major for me.

in hindsight, i’m noticing that bangs kind of held me back. like, creatively. now that i’m nearly sans bangs (that’s fraaanch. “sans” means “without” and no, i don’t remember anything else from five years of french, so help me, what a waste of time that was–i should have taken spanish so i could communicate with all the hispanic guys that probably say such nice things to me in their native tongue) anyway, without the baggage of bangs, so to speak, i’m able to do all sorts of fun things with my hair now: flipping it this way and that, using hairspray and clips and all sorts of things.

note: i haven’t used hairspray since the early 90s! i feel like buying some guess jeans, pegging them, splashing on some jean nate (pronounced GEEN-naTAY; also fraaanch) and doing the running man to some c+c music factory. i probably won’t. but i might. then i’ll go to friendly’s and get a fribble. WHAT. get outta here. i totally would but it’s 2012 and most of the friendly’s have closed down. i also don’t have to peg my jeans anymore. that’s what jeggings are for! 

4. the blue angels: the the blue angels came to baltimore and omg. we watched them practice and perform from our roofdeck and holy crap wow. seeing and hearing them so up close and personal from the comfort of home was like this big free gift wrapped in a bow dropped on our house–like a big ol loudass exciting present for persevering in this hot mess of a city. who knew a neurotic jew like me was an airshow fan! instead of complaining oy it’s so loud! oy they’re so close! OY ARE THEY GOING TO CRASH INTO OUR HOUSE CALL THE SISTERHOOD WE HAVE TO PUT THIS IN THE NEWSLETTA!  i was like HELL’S YEAH DOGGIE BRING IT ON!

5. middlesex: i finally read middlesex by jeffrey eugenides and woah. dude, that is a good book. i seriously felt myself getting smarter while i was reading it. also who knew a, ahem, love scene between a 14-year-old hermaphrodite and 14-year-old a red-headed girl could be so…special? oh shuddup. i’m not a sicko, just read the damn book, you’ll see what i mean. (p.s. I WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RED-HEADED GIRL, DAMMIT, JEFFREY!)

6. new jersey housewives: i know she’s kind of a bee-otch, but jersey housewives wouldn’t even have a storyline if it weren’t for teresa. so even if you don’t like her, i suggest you just deal with it or else you’re not gonna have a show to watch. also: i love rosie. and, i hate myself for saying it, but joe gorga‘s kind of a hunk. and if you don’t watch the show don’t worry about it, you’re probably better off without it, let’s go to the next revelation.

7. more with the hair: i need a keratin treatment. i tried to deny it. i said i wasn’t interested but i am. i’m going to get carpal tunnel in my right arm from straightening my hair in this damn humidity. put that in your sisterhood newsletter. no wait. don’t. my mom probably gets that newsletter.

til next time!
xxo!
jessica, i.e. the one in synagogue with the mouthpiece and all the hard candies

ladies, shave your legs b/c you never know when you might end up in the ER

in our quest to become responsible senior citizens, holly and i went to bed on friday at like 9pm. there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to tell you that, as it will ruin my “street cred,” but honestly? i don’t know if i actually have any “street cred” other than wearing black all the time and let’s face it: you can wear black even on a good night’s sleep so i guess i actually don’t even care.

so we get into bed, take out our dentures (psych!), turn on the tube and…my left leg gets all tingly. like pins & needles, but ever so slightly, from my toes up to my knee. soon, my left arm–from my elbow to my fingers–gets tingly, too. this sort of thing happened to me once years ago, and i’ve since heard it can be a painless migraine-type thing. since i’m a migraine sufferer, i didn’t think too much of it. but then my left cheek started feeling weird.

i told holly, who immediately asked me if i wanted to go to the ER.

“ew, no,” i said, grossed out.

a baltimore city ER on a friday night? i pictured people with knives sticking out of their foreheads. no thanks, i thought.

i figured i was just being neurotic and was imagining the feeling in my cheek anyway. i told holly i was going to sleep, would probably be better in the morning and that she was giving me anxiety by bringing up the ER and it was only making me tingle worse. we put on “something borrowed” for the gazillionth time (OMG GREAT MOVIE) and i fell into a deep sleep, despite the helicopters overhead and tumbleweave rustling by.

we woke up and i was better. in fact, i forgot i even felt weird the night before. but by around 9:45am, the feeling was back–and stronger. and it really was in my cheek–and behind my eye and the left half of my tongue, too. despite my apprehensiveness googling medical stuff (i only trust NIH, the mayo clinic and webmd), i googled something like “painless migraine numbness on one side of body” and found this.

while reading the symptoms i was experiencing aloud to holly, it was like there was a delay between my brain and my mouth. like i had just taken half a low-dose xanax (on my way, for example, to san francisco, where i would wear a sparkly chico’s holiday sweater to nicole’s pre-wedding party in…october). all joking aside, that’s when i really started to worry. i told holly i wanted to go to the ER after all.

baltimore may be dirty and dangerous, but it’s chock full of great hospitals.  we decided on hopkins because, well, it’s hopkins. if there was something wrong, they’d find it.

as soon as i told the registration lady my symptoms, things started happening–quickly. before i knew it, i was in a wheelchair with a blood pressure cuff on my arm. then i was being pushed through back hallways and finally through a stainless steel swinging door into a bright room that looked…gosh it looked a lot like an operating room, i thought. this…suddenly felt a lot like the movies. and not in a good way. in a really really scary way.

a team of doctors and nurses were waiting for me, and i was told to get on a gurney. suddenly lights were being shined in my eyes, and i was being asked question after question. a gruff woman strapped my right arm with one of those rubber blood test bands that freak me out so badly.

“wait! wait!” i told her. “I’M NOT READY FOR A BLOOD TEST WAIT JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE.”

“ma’am! MA’AM, you need to stop moving. YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR ARM DOWN NOW MA’AM. PUT. YOUR. ARM. DOWN.”

holly was on my left side. panic-striken, i looked in her big brown eyes for support. she usually smiles at me while i’m getting my blood drawn (*thump* sorry i just fainted as i wrote that) and distracts me with something funny and touches my hair and says you’re doing great, babe, nothing to worry about. but this time all i saw in her eyes was…worry. panic, even. and she started to cry.

“babe! babe you’ve got to tell me something funny. keep it together, honey! I NEED YOU. TO TELL ME. SOMETHING. FUNNY. TO KEEP. ME. FROM. FAINTING.”

“babe, i’ve…got nothing funny to say. there’s nothing funny!”

i’m getting really really scared at this point because, i know you won’t believe this, but out of the two of us, holly’s the one that keeps it together.

while i’m begging her to make me laugh, the doctors and nurses are all asking us questions: when did the symptoms start? what exactly do they feel like? has this happened before? and on and on and on. and Nurse Gruffy McGruff is still taking blood. then she ties another damn rubber band on me and sticks me with an IV. then she instructs me to take off my shirt and my bra (the nerve!) and i’m handed a gown.

it dawns on me: holy shit. this is the stroke unit. they think i’m having a stroke.

after a lot more questions and some neurological tests, they decided that i wasn’t having a stroke–or at least not the kind that necessitates immediate treatment. so they took me down, on the gurney, to the main ER area. and this is where the baltimore city fun started.

no rooms were available so they put us in the hallway. this nice nurse brings holly  a chair. and we sit. and sit. and sit. we sat in the johns hopkins ER hallway for a total of almost 12 hours. and at some point–i can’t even tell you how long we’d been there–we hear an ambulance call in over some sort of speaker system saying some guy had just overdosed, they’d probably need to call security and etc.

holly and i looked at each other.

“can’t they put us somewhere else?” i asked. “i don’t want to be here for this.”

“i don’t think there’s anywhere else they can put us, honey. otherwise we wouldn’t be in the hallway.”

“don’t get snarky,” i told her.

“i’m not getting snarky.”

“by the way, why couldn’t you just have said one funny thing while that beast was drawing my blood?? just one thing! i was this close to fainting! you couldn’t have told me a joke??”

“babe. i was scared. how could i have told you anything funny? what kind of joke could i have possibly told you?”

“oh i don’t know! how about: what’s invisible and smells like worms?! BIRD FARTS. bird farts, babe! that would have been a great one! remember we heard it the other day?!”

“yes i remember! but there’s no way i could have remembered it at that moment.”

“i know,” i said quietly, trying to avoid thinking about the prickly needle in my arm and wondering when i might eat the peanut butter sandwich i packed before we left home. yes, i really did pack a peanut butter sandwich before we left the house. who knows when we’d even eat next?? i mean, they don’t feed you in the ER, do they? i had no idea and hell if i was going to be left stranded without food.

thankfully, i ate half my sandwich and had some time to digest before they brought in Over McDosey. we knew he was on his way in because we heard him screaming. 

“oh jesus,” holly said, watching. “he’s coming this way. right behind you. don’t turn around.”

“HELP ME HELP ME HELP MEEEEEEEEEE!” he shouted as they pushed him down the hall.

i watched holly’s face, her eyes bulging, as his voice grew louder and louder.

“drugs are bad, babe!” i whispered, probably too loudly. “DRUGS ARE BAD.”

our luck being, well, our luck, they put Overdose–no, actually, let’s call him Speedball, because according to the paramedic that brought him in, that’s what he took, some kind of combo of methadone, cocaine and prescription pills–in the room right next to my head.

a line of nurses filed into his room carrying a tremendous amount of bedpans. more bedpans than i had ever seen in my life at one time.

“he said his stomach really hurts,” the paramedic told the nurse next to us.

“IT’ COMIN OUTTA ME!” he shouted. “OH IT’S COMIN OUTTA ME!!!!! UHHHGGGGGGG!!!! HELP HELP HELP ME IT’S ALL COMIN OUT!!!!”

“holy shit, babe,” i said. “what the in HELL. we can’t stay here! i don’t want to be near this!”

holly, at this point, was nearly gagging. with her t-shirt over her nose and mouth, she helped me up from the gurney and we walked to the other side of the ER’s nursing station, as far away from Speedball as possible.

and that’s when we saw him: someone we recognized.

now, around our neighborhood here in southeast baltimore, we have an array of characters, some more unsavory than others, and we have private nicknames for them.

Jerry the Drunk
Janet the Drunk
Raspy-Voiced Unemployed Dry Waller Drunk Guy That Lives at Jerry’s
Guy That Drinks From Jerry’s Hose
Hooker We Thought Was Pregnant But Just Turned Out to be Bloated
Steelers Fan That Beat Her Teenager With a Cane in Front of our House
Blond-Haired Hooker
Hoops The Hooker
Big Bubba the Drugdealer

and then there’s the best one of all: Feral Cat Guy, named such because he actually looks like a feral cat. he has chunks of hair missing and is just…dirty. it’s like he’s the druggie, adult version of pigpen. we once heard jerry, janet, all the hookers and the raspy-voiced unemployed dry waller drunk guy shouting at him:

“get lost! you smell! YOU STINK!”

“honey,” holly whispered to me as we cowered in the corner, holding our breath trying to ignore Speedball’s screams. “is that…it couldn’t be…”

“FERAL CAT GUY,” we said simultaneously.

“Feral Cat Guy is here at the ER? with us?” i said. “oh you have got to be kidding me.”

he was skulking around the doorway of his room trying to get the nurses’ attention, any nurse at all. asking for some sort of medication. it looked like he had been, well, it looked like he had been in a cat fight, actually. i kind of couldn’t believe it. here we were, on a saturday afternoon, with Feral Cat Guy, for hours and hours. and i’m not even wearing a bra. wonderful.

the nice nurses set up a little station for us in our new corner of the ER, with a gurney and blanket for me and a chair for holly. and that’s where we sat. and sat. and sat.

eventually Speedball was wheeled out by security to go night-night, one guy holding his arms and another holding his legs. we tried avoiding Feral Cat Guy’s stare, lest he recognize us from the neighborhood, which we didn’t think he did.

eventually it was unavoidable: holly had to walk past him to get her phone, which was charging near the nursing station.

“Feral Cat Guy just talked to me,” she said when she got back.

“huh?”

“yeah. he said, ‘hey homie, you got the time?'”

“he called you HOMIE?! what is this, 1996?”

“yeah. i know. seriously.”

more hours went by. then transport came to take me for an MRI. i hate MRIs. i’ve gotten a bunch of them, but it’d been a while and i was out of practice. holly came along, and as we walked (well technically i was being wheeled) i prayed i wouldn’t have a panic attack while i was in “the tube,” as i call it.

we arrive and the techs tell me i can listen to music. in fact, i can choose whatever i’d like, as they have pandora. i tell them frank sinatra.

“old blue eyes it is,” the male tech said.

the techs, a man and a woman, take me in and i say i’m scared. the lady tells me it’ll be fine and instructs me on how to use this little squeeze device to notify them if i’m having a problem.

i close my eyes and they cover them with a cloth. then they put this weird grate thingy over my face. i feel the MRI table move backwards and even though my eyes are closed and covered, i feel the space close in. it takes me about two minutes to let go of the lady’s hand. i’m suddenly paralyzed with fear–40+ minutes in this MRI tube and what will they find in my brain??

i tell the techs i’m ready, and they leave. my heart is racing. i try to remind myself that they’re just outside. in a few moments, the music starts. the sound of sinatra’s voice is comforting. then a home depot commercial comes on and i feel irritated. home depot ruins everything. then more music. i’m shaking like a leaf. the machine is pounding and i imagine magnetic waves slicing through my brain.

i take a deep belly breath and imagine dancing with holly in our living room, as we often do, with comcast’s “singers & swing” cable radio station on. i imagine the soft feel of her cheek next to mine, the warmth of her arms around my body.

“i love you, honey,” she says.

“i love you, too,” i say, swaying to the music.

suddenly i imagine us folding sheets together, matching up the corners, holly teasing me, telling me, “stop walking towards me, babe! walk back, go back.”

“i can’t help it!” i tell her. “i just want to be near you.” and then we laugh.

i imagine us chopping vegetables at the island in our kitchen. well, i kind of suck at chopping vegetables, so i decide i’m peeling potatoes, that i can do.

“this is called a mirepoix,” holly says, pushing the onions, carrots and celery into a hot sauté pan. the mixture begins to sizzle and our first floor starts to smell like the start of something delicious.

i snap out of my revelry and realize i’m still in the MRI tube. i start to panic. i take another deep breath and instead imagine us on our bed. we’re lying on our cool, white bedspread. our windows are open and the ceiling fan is on.

i think of my dear, late grandmother.  i’m in middle school running up her apartment building’s stairwell with my bookbag on. i’m climbing up the stairs two by two, i’m so excited to see her. i open the stairway door and i’m in her dimly lit hallway. she’s cooked for me, i can smell it. it’s chicken soup or stew, i’m not sure, but it smells warm and delicious and i’m hungry. i’m at her door, i ring the bell. she opens the door and i wrap my arms around her. oh jessie, i’m so happy to see you! she says. you’re the apple of my eye, you’ve always been the apple of my eye. she steps back and sings me this little old-timey song she used to sing to me all the time and we dance together.

i can’t give you any-thing but loooove, baby. that’s the only thing i’m thinkin of, baby…

my eyes well up with tears. grandma, i think, whispering to her in my mind. please don’t let anything be wrong with me.

the machine shakes my entire body and i force myself to imagine holly and i in our living room again. we switch between dancing and folding sheets and cooking dinner until the lady tech announces over my earphones, “you’re all done, jessica. you did great. we’ll be right in.”

transport comes back to take holly and i back down to the ER. we’re there, back in our corner, i don’t know how much longer, hours and hours, and finally a neurologist comes to speak to us. she says my MRIs and CT scan looked great, and that i didn’t have a stroke. holly and i breathe out. everything will be fine, i think.

she does a full neurological exam on me and says she’d like to admit me–something about my reflexes being jumpy and she’s concerned that my left cheek was somewhat numb to her touch. my stomach sinks. i’ve never stayed overnight at a hospital.

we ask her why and she says she wants to do more MRIs, this time of my spine, to rule other things out. i ask her what other things? she says let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and just see what the MRIs say. i look at holly and suddenly i’m scared again.

finally, around 11:30pm–nearly 12 hours since we arrived at the ER–we’re taken to a room on the ninth floor in the neurological unit. everyone is so nice it blows me away. they bring holly a cot and pajamas and we both fall asleep watching, yup, you guessed it, “something borrowed,” until the nurse comes in at 4:15am to take me down for more MRIs.

trasport is waiting for me with a wheelchair. i start shaking again and this time i can’t stop.

“i love you, honey,” holly says as they wheel me out. “you’ll be fine.” but i know she’s freaking out inside. she’s been crying on and off all day.

i get down to the MRI area. the lights are low and it’s silent except for the hum of the equipment. the same male tech is there, but the lady’s gone. the buzzer rings and a new patient comes in. it’s a woman–she looks like she’s been in an accident or beat up or had a stroke or something equally terrible. she asks for water and throws up off and on while i wait in my wheelchair in front of the MRI room. i know it sounds terrible, but i’m relieved my back is to her. i read the warnings on the door over and over again to pass the time while i try to keep myself in check.

another patient comes in. he’s on a bed and i find out he’s just had a stroke. i remind myself just how lucky i am. things could be a whole lot worse, i tell myself. but i continue to shake.

i go through the same routine again. my earphones are on and sinatra’s being piped in. i imagine all those comforting everyday things that kept me calm the last time: dancing…folding laundry…cooking dinner…a cool breeze as holly and i lie on our bed.

the tech comes back in and puts dye–“contrast” it’s called–in my IV. six more minutes, he tells me. i’m covered with sweat. i can do this. i can do this. and then i’m done. it’s over. soon i’m back in my room next to holly. we squeeze each other’s hands and the sun rises over the city. we sit up and try to see our house in the distance. i want to be there more than anything. i never knew i could ache for our neighborhood like this. i just want to be home, healthy. folding sheets. dancing with holly. in our bed together, not in this hospital.

a nurse comes in to draw more blood, and this time holly’s able to distract me and make me laugh. she leaves at 7am to get a shower at home and change her clothes.

“i don’t want to leave you,” she says.

“it’s ok,” i tell her. “i’m not going anywhere. i’ll see you soon.”

i lay alone, trying to fall back asleep but i can’t. i flip the channels on tv over and over again. breakfast comes in and it’s pretty gross: eggs (powdered?) and cream of wheat (??) and…overly sweet blueberry coffee cake. and coffee. i gulp the coffee and before i know, holly’s back, looking adorable in her UB sweatshirt and her comfy, loose-fitting yoga pants i always steal. i feel so happy i could cry.

“honey! you’re back! you look so cute.” i can’t stop smiling. just looking at her makes me feel like i’ve slipped into a hot bath.

she walks over, crawls on my bed, puts her head on my chest, curls up and starts to cry.

“honey…what’s…what’s wrong? honeybear, don’t cry. i’m ok. i’m ok.”

she lifts her head and looks in my eyes.

“i hated being at home without you,” she says. “i couldn’t stand it. i’m gonna be a better spouse. i’m gonna…i’m gonna do more dishes. i’m gonna clean up more. i’m gonna be better.”

she starts to cry again and i shoosh her and tell her she’s a wonderful spouse, to not be ridiculous. but i know what she’s really saying: i am so worried about you and i don’t want to say it out loud. i don’t want to say what i’m worried about. i’ve never had to imagine you not in my life before. we’ve never had a scare like this. i want you to be around forever. and i’m so sorry if i haven’t been everything you’ve needed because you’re everything to me.

i hold her and she calms down. soon we’ve found a movie to watch: tyler perry’s “i can do bad all by myself.” little-known fact: holly loves emotional african-american comedy-dramas (dramadies?) and now i love them, too.

by the end, they’re singing in the church and i’m bawling, covered in goosebumps.

“oh these tyler perry movies get me every time,” i whimper, wiping my eyes. “i’m starting to think i’m part african-american.”

we laugh and soon there’s a knock at the door. the head neurologist and two residents file in. they introduce themselves, and the doctor says he has good news: everything checked out just fine. i didn’t have lesions on my spine and i don’t have MS or any number of things they thought i might. i breathe out deeply. i had no idea i was even a candidate for something like that. no wonder the neurologist in the ER didn’t want to answer all my questions.

he does a neurological exam on me. i groan inside when he asks me to take my legs out from under the blanket.

“just a disclaimer,” i say. “it’s not like i knew i’d be here so my legs aren’t…well, being that i’m of eastern european descent, i pretty much have to shave them every four days, so, uh, yeah.”

they all laugh. not a problem, he says. after the exam, he says the neuroradiologist just needs to confirm that everything is ok. and then i’ll be released. i feel like jumping out of my bed and clicking my heels together.

after everyone leaves, holly and i look at each other. i put my hand in hers and she wraps her fingers around mine. there’s so much to say but we don’t need to say much. she climbs up in my bed and wraps her arms around me.

i tell her about all the things i imagined while i was in the MRI tube.

“it’s funny, i thought about all the most mundane things,” i say. “even folding sheets with you. after a while i was like, how many sheets can we fold? i just want to get out of this damn tube!”

we laugh more and watch tv, talking about this and that until lunch comes. holly’s finally able to eat a little (she was so nervous she was barely able to drink water). a couple hours later, the neurologist and the residents are back with the official word–the neuroradiologist examined my MRIs and agreed: i was in good shape. what i experienced was what was called a “migraine variant.” i’d be going home soon.

the relief we felt was…indescribable. unfortunately, there’s nothing like a health scare to make you realize how lucky you are. lucky to be healthy. lucky to have your spouse. lucky to see the sun shine another day. or feel the rain on your face. i don’t care how cheesy that sounds, it’s true.

when we got back to our house sunday night, i was so thankful. thankful to see everything. all the rowhomes, their formstone saturated by rain. the wet sidewalks. even the mini liquor bottles in our tree pit and the doggone puffs of tumbleweave. i’d probably even be happy to see Feral Cat Guy skulking around somewhere.

i was home. i was healthy. we were together. it was an ordinary day in every sense of the word, but to me it was extraordinary. even though it was only 8pm, we were exhausted. we took showers, got into our pajamas and climbed into bed. we turned on the tube. i cracked my window and the fresh air blew in. just what i imagined during my MRI. only this wasn’t something i needed to conjure up in my imagination, i thought. this was real. we were here. i cuddled up to holly and fell into a deep sleep, feeling lucky, so completely and totally lucky, and awoke, still grateful.

……

i want to send a special thank you to ms. jennifer weiner–my literary idol and #1 new york times bestselling author–for reading, loving and retweeting my last post to her 43,000+ twitter followers. you are fabulous.

to all my new readers (and there’s lots of you now!), welcome! things are not usually this emotional around here, but it’s good to get a good cry in once in a while. and listening to cyndi lauper’s “true colors” on repeat doesn’t always work. nor does watching the last five minutes of “pretty woman” because you get to a certain age when you realize hookers are never that pretty and she really did deserve more than $3,000 for that week.

you know you live in baltimore when…

inspired by an upcoming 48 hours away from “the greatest city in america,” i wrote this list on the stankass megabus to philly last week while listening to yes, “welcome to the jungle.” which makes me wonder: was axl rose in los angeles when he wrote that song? or was he really in…southeast baltimore??

you know you live in baltimore…

when your alley looks like a thrift shop
when you think you saw a squirrel in your yard, but it actually turned out to be a really big rat
when your “yard” is actually a cracked concrete pad
when you find chicken bones in your yard and you haven’t eaten chicken lately
when you discover the “trees” in your yard–and the trees in all of your neighbors’ yards–are just really big weeds
when you get a cat just to catch mice
when every dog you pass on the street is a “pit mix”
when you can’t figure out if the methhead across the street is 30 or 90
when your neighborhood crime listings read like the funnies
when the whapwhapwhap of helicopters lull you to sleep at night
when half your block smells like mothballs & old church basement during open-window season
when scary-ass ice cream trucks circle your neighborhood til midnight–and you’re not sure if they’re really selling ice cream
when there’s an earthquake in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and everyone’s home
when a construction dumpster is a community event
when half the basements on your block flood because someone stole all the copper piping out of rehab
when you roll over at least three plastic mini liquor bottles every time you park your car
when people save parking spots with orange cones in one inch of snow
when someone gets stabbed over a coned-off parking spot in one inch of snow

live in baltimore? recently escape? add yours below…

probing my ladyparts, part 2

Nurse Ratched. "no i won't hold your hand!" (i hope you have surgery one day and some mean nurse won't hold *your* hand!)

since all you sickos seemed to just love my last surgery story, (the most popular post in the history of lunch at 11:30) i figured you’d like to know the glorious details of my recent surgery, which, yes, was also gynecological. making it even funnier for you but worse for me.

let’s see. it started with a bowel cleanse. no, wait. it actually started with a clear-liquid diet, excessive hunger, extreme low blood-sugar and hallucinations. then came the bowel cleanse.

when i decided to have the surgery, the dr., we’ll call her Dr. MSG (Mean Sexy Gyno; you’ll learn more about her in my book, yes, my e-book, the one i’m self-publishing BOOYAH) was like, yeah, it’s routine, no big deal. and so i was like yeah, it’s routine, no big deal. i’ll go to the hospital, take a nap (that’s what i tell myself when i’m going under to make myself feel better–like saying oh just give me a little piece of cake i’ll just take the littlest piece! at a party and then you get a big ol piece and eat the whole damn thing anyway, saying well i *asked* for a little piece!), wake up from my nap, we’ll go to the diner. no big whoop.

so holly and i go to to see MSG, who was looking especially sexy but luckily not acting quite as mean as usual, a few days beforehand to discuss the procedure. honestly, i didn’t know what we’d talk about. i already planned on plugging up my ears and shouting LALALALALA if she even tried telling me how she was going through my bellybutton to probe my insides.

“so i’ve written you a prescription for a narcotic bc you’re going to be in a lot of pain,” she said, deadpan, as we sat around a small round table in her sunny office.

“w-what?” i said. “a lot of pain?”

“yeah,” she said.

“so i’m not going to be able to go to the diner right after the procedure?”

“uh, no,” she said, taking notes on her computer, obviously not interested in answering my questions.

i tried not noticing her nails, which were perfectly polished. or her high sexy boots, short skirt, and looooong jacket (just like the cake song!) bc you’re not supposed to notice things like that about your gyno for crying out loud, esp when you’re a homo. esp when she’s cutting you open in a couple days.

“you’ll be fine when you get home, bc you’ll be drugged up,” she continued. “it’s the next day that’s going to be your worst. i’ll be filling your abdomen with gas during the surgery. afterwards, the gas is going to migrate to your diaphragm and then settle in your right shoulder. i’m telling you now so you don’t think you’re having a heart attack. it’s going to hurt like hell. you’ll start your liquid diet monday and you’ll do your bowel cleanse that night. nothing to drink after midnight. no tea. nothing. if you even have a stick of gum i’m canceling the whole thing. let’s see, your procedure’s tuesday, so plan on being out of commission until monday.”

w-w-w-wait. gas in my abdomen? settle in my right shoulder? feel like a heart attack? out of commission til MONDAY? LIQUID DIET? BOWEL CLEANSE?!!!!!!!!!

HOLY SHIT LADY. WHAT IN THE HELL.

apparently, for MSG to a) see if i had endometriosis and b) remove it if i had it at all, my digestive track needed to be completely clear so she could LALALALALA. i don’t know what she said bc i put my fingers in my ears and let holly listen to the rest.

the day before the surgery i was to wake up and only ingest clear liquids which hello! is practically a death sentence for someone like me who has to eat every three hours. at 2pm i would take two dulcolax, which was bad enough. then pour entire bottle of miralax–that’s a two-week supply–into a 32oz. bottle of sports drink and then drink 8oz. every hour starting at 4pm until it was gone. then i would crap my brains out and be ready for MSG to filet me like a fish.

needless to say i was not happy. all i’m going to tell you is that i spent that monday delirious with low blood sugar and i will never ever drink blue powerade–or anything BLUE– again. ever. again. (i just got chills as i wrote that.)

by the time i checked into the hospital the next day, i was so hollow that if i passed gas i was sure it’d sound like Old Man Winter at the south pole. i went back to the little pre-op room and put on my gowns, then told the IV lady not to tell me what she was doing but then she said the word “vein” anyway and i almost fainted.

then MSG came in and ignored me while i asked her questions. i wanted to tell her that she looked pretty with her hair in her scrub/net thingy, but i thought that would be inappropriate. instead i complimented her orange crocs, which she also ignored.

soon, holly was allowed to come back and sit with me. it wasn’t long until everyone and their mom started to come in and introduce themselves, which, i have to admit, was pretty nice. the anesthesiologist stopped by and after he told us he was “heavy-handed” with his drugs (!!??), he and holly talked about ballpoint pens and which were their favorites, both agreeing that these silver fine-point clicky pens from staples were the best. yeah, i know. i don’t get it either.

then this nice nurse lady came back to say hi and just when she had me somewhat relaxed, pulled a fast one on me by saying she was ready to take me back. that’s when i started to sweat profusely.

holly gave me a hug and a kiss and the nice nurse lady held my IV bag as we walked to the operating room. this was a far cry from being wheeled into the OR 100% high on drugs last time.

as we approached the door, i noticed a small ravens sticker on the little OR window. as a steelers fan suffering from low blood sugar i decided i could not stand for this.

“a ravens sticker? on the OR door?! you have got to be kidding me.”

the nice nurse lady whispered to me that she was an eagles fan so she understood how i felt. then i engaged her in a discussion about the city of philadelphia so i could keep myself from fainting.

so i get to the operating table–and i can’t even believe i’m still conscious by this point–and she tells me to step up to the table with the help of this little step stool. she helps me up and i lie down on this padded table, which mysteriously seems…really wet. NO I DIDN’T DO WHAT YOU THINK I DID. I WAS STILL CONSCIOUS JUST LISTEN TO THE STORY.

i tell the nice nurse lady that the padded paper stuff underneath me feels really wet.

“well you mentioned you were sweating,” she says.

“yeah but it feels really wet. i’m not sweating that much.”

“hmm, let’s see. here, let me help you sit up.”

the nurse leans down while i raise my arms up so she can help me up. suddenly i hear the anesthesiologist say, nurse, i already administered the…

the last thing i remember is reaching for the nurse and wanting to say hold me! (i get alarmingly mushy when drugged, more on that in a sec) then i fell back. then i woke up.

oooh it’s so bright, i remember thinking.

“am i still in surgery?” i remember calling out to no one.

“no, you’re in recovery, sweetie,” said the recovery nurse. we’ll call her Nurse Ratched. it was one of those times someone calls you “sweetie” but you know they totally don’t mean it and are only saying it to you bc they’re pretending to be nice bc they feel like they have to or else they’ll get fired.

usually i come out of anesthesia feeling relaxed and pretty excellent. but this time i was totally freaking out. i was shaking and i could hear my doggone heart beating on this monitor thing, which only made my heart beat faster.

“i’m shaking,” i told Nurse Ratched. “i’m so nervous. can you hold my hand and just talk to me for a little bit?”

“i’m sorry, sweetie, but i have other patients to attend to.”

“oh.”

i waited, shaking, for a little longer and then asked again, trying not to sound too desperate.

“do you think you could just hold my hand and talk to me until i calm down? just for a few minutes?”

and you know what that bitch said? she said no. again. i did a breathing exercise i heard about on the today show (i need a t-shirt that says, “everything i ever learned i learned on the today show”) except for i couldn’t really remember it. was it breathe in for 4 seconds then hold it for 7, then out for 8? or in for 7, hold for 8 then out for 4?

“why am i so nervous?” i asked her as she typed on her computer. “why am i shaking?”

“it’s just your nature, sweetie.”

it’s just…MY NATURE?! i swear if i wasn’t drugged up at that moment, i would’ve  given that bitch a jersey backhand into the next century.

you wanna get all existential on my ass? i wanted to say. i’ll show you existential!

instead i continued shaking and tried to remember more breathing exercises while i listened to my heartbeat on that damn monitor, which of course made it beat faster. when Nurse Ratched left, i took the monitor off my index finger. it set off an alarm so i put it back on and shut my eyes like i fell back asleep.

obviously the breathing exercises weren’t working, so instead i forced myself to think about funny online videos, like this one, which i know is mean but c’mon ppl i was desperate. and this one (is megan mccarthy not the funniest woman on the planet?!).

who’dya have to f*ck around here to have someone hold your motherf*ckin hand! i thought, feeling mad and alone.

then i decided to ask Nurse Ratched if holly could come back every two minutes until she would break down and let her back to see me.

her name is holly and she’s my partner, i slurred. can you have her come back here please?

then she asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how bad was my pain? i said 5, then she administered something, then i felt tingly and didn’t feel the need to talk anymore.

before i knew it, Nurse Ratched had me standing up and was putting those weird little hospital boy shorts on me (what are those things made of? i kind of love them, do they come in a five-pack?).

“here, let me just put a pad on you in case you bleed,” she said.

oh great, Nurse Ratched. sure, put a pad on me. you won’t hold my damn hand but you’ll put on my underwear and slap a pad on me? i didn’t have any energy to fight so i put my arm around her and tried not to feel too violated. hell, i already had enough people messin with my downstairs, might as well have one more, i thought.

holly came back and i swear i was so happy to see her i just about bursted out of my skin. i tried to talk to her but the words wouldn’t come out. so instead i held her hand and whispered that the nurse was a real bitch and i would tell her later, could she get another pair of the stretchy boy shorts to take home with us?

MSG came back and told us that i had just a mild case of endometriosis, which she removed, and to eat a very light diet for the next 24 hours. i was pissed bc i wanted a bagel, cream cheese and lox (lox! the jewish sushi) and now that was out of the question.

Nurse Ratched was playing it reeeeal nice now that holly was back there, but i saw right through it and yes, i was going to call her manager.

a clueless nursing student wheeled me downstairs while holly got the car. we got home and within a couple hours, i felt like i had been hit by a 10-ton truck. i’m glad i skipped the bagel, cream cheese and lox bc let’s just say it took a while for my digestive track to get…back to normal.

the next day, a woman from the hospital called to see how i was feeling and i took the opportunity to tell her how mean Nurse Ratched was to me, that i was nervous and shaking and if she didn’t have the time to hold my friggin hand and talk to me for a few damn minutes, then she could’ve found someone that could have. she sounded kind of alarmed and told me that she would pass that along though i kind of doubted that she actually would, as she probably just wanted to get off the phone with me by that point.

so anyway, that’s why i left you in connecticut last month when i really needed to be telling you about our wedding blitz vermont wedding. i was freaking out about my surgery, then i had my surgery, then i was recovering from surgery and picking up the pieces of my broken life that i pretty much ignored for a couple weeks while i sat motionless at my computer watching my facebook newsfeed, hitting “like” at any and all photos of dogs and/or babies and/or dogs and babies together. so that’s where i was. in case you were wondering.

speaking of our wedding blitz, we’re totally famous now. well, more like regionally famous. ok we’re famous with the university of maryland undergrad newswire service. but we’re available for interviews, and we’re gonna keep gettin married til we can’t get married no more!

part one: my big fat jersey high school reunion

i invented post-its, bee-otch!

ok so i posted a million years ago that we were about to embark on weddingpalooza 2011 (three weddings! three states! one day! click here for background) and now that we’re back in town, post-honeymoon, post-holiday, i’m ready to break it down for you, despite the fact that i’m tempted to divorce holly’s ass in multiple states for many reasons including but not limited to:

1. her inability to throw used tissues from her side of the bed into the trash when she has a cold–which she does now, which she continues to remind me of by saying, “baaaaabe. i’m sick. make me tea.”

2. the fact that she continues to butt-dial every single contact in her phone, since she refuses to carry it anywhere but her pocket, like a five-year-old. or my purse. and hello, i don’t want to carry her phone all the time, esp bc it’s always dinging with email notifications from kohl’s, bed, bath & beyond, bath & body works, every single deal-of-the-day and who the hell knows what else bc she signs up for everything while i’m grumpy and sign up for nothing and mark everything as spam.

anyway, there were many stops and much adventure on our wedding blitz. in the interest of time, space & procrastination (yours, not mine; i’ve heard from more than a few of you that lunch at 11:30 is a top workday procrastination station and you know i live to make you happy) i’ll be breaking it down into a few parts, starting with:

1. my high school reunion, i.e. we’re gonna party like it’s 1996.

saturday, november 12th, late afternoon

my high school reunion is in a few hours. while copywriting is a perfectly respectable career, i’ve decided i’m telling everyone i invented post-its.

when we get to the hotel in Livingston, NJ (hometown of my longtime fave chelsea handler WHADDUP CHELSEA! love ya! call me!), the lobby looks like a wanna-be jersey housewives convention. it’s noisy, crowded and smells like a variety of overbearing perfumes–like the mall. or a synagogue function. or perfumania. i wonder what the commotion is all about. is there a hairspray-and-mousse giveaway? eyeliner rally?

holly joins me in the check-in line and i discreetly point out a couple women in leather pants and hooker heels pushing baby carriages. i assure her that yes, this  really is where i come from. this is the land, these are the people, that nurtured my first 17 years on earth. so, really, the daily jeggings, frosty lipstick and occasional chico’s holiday sweater isn’t all that bad considering what i was up against.

a couple hours later we come back to the lobby area for the reunion. luckily the mascara convention is over, and i suddenly see a bunch of people that i think i recognize that i think recognize me. thanks to facebook, i get some names right. this one nice girl, i don’t even know how i remember her name. when i get it right, i feel an immediate sense of pride. i see her again later and get her name wrong bc it’s not actually her, it’s her identical twin. shit! twins! i think.

we walk into Ballroom B or whatever, and it’s pretty fancy. candles, centerpieces, real silver. the whole nine yards. we immediately realize we’re severely underdressed since we’re in jeans & sweaters while all the girls are pretty much in, uh, gowns.

“did we miss the memo?” holly asks me.

i told her there was no memo. just a facebook event page. someone inquired about “dress code,” and i enthusiastically wrote on the wall “jean chic!” since i suggested it, i figured that’s what we ought to go with. brilliant, i know.

“whatever,” i say, suddenly aware just how snug my jeggings really are. and that maybe my boobs look too big in my sweater. “we’re gay. everyone probably expected us to show up in bad pleated chinos, brown boat shoes–the kind with the white stitching and the two-tone laces–and unfortunate plaid flannels. tucked in. oh, and brown belts, also with white stitching. so i actually think we look great. plus i’m wearing my nine west reptile high heels. and jeggings plus high heels equals fancy. so we’re good.”

“well i’m not wearing jeggings. or heels,” holly says quietly.

“you’re fine,” i tell her. “you’re wearing black boots. that have small heels. plus your sweater is black. plus your jeans are dark. plus this is my high school reunion and i don’t even care.”

holly was definitely the hit of the evening, as many of my old classmates already felt like they knew her from this blog. on my way back from the ladies room, i made eye contact with this one guy and figured it’d be rude not to stop and say hello even tho i really wasn’t all too sure who he was.

“hi!” i say. “dave, right?”

“no, rob,” he says. “dave’s my brother,” and he points to the guy sitting next to him. his twin. shit! another pair of identical twins?! what class of approx 144 has two friggin sets of identical twins??

lovely gals that i wish i’d spent more time with in high school tell me stories of fun things we did or funny things i said or did and i realize holy crap, i don’t remember anything about high school. it’s kind of frightening how much of a blank i’m drawing. later on, i realize that, while other people had no idea, high school as a closeted teen was so horrifically painful for me that i think i just left and never looked back.

i tell people about our “wedding blitz” plans for that tuesday, and everyone is so excited. i get hoarse from catching up with people, answering everyone’s questions about our weddings and our life in baltimore. i love that i can finally stand proud with my partner of 10+ years by my side. i love that all my self-doubt is so far in the past. i love that i finally learned how to put a damn arch in my eyebrows b/c dang! i needed a makeover! HOLLA!

“did you really just call me a b—jerk?”

where's my chapstick? my lips are totally killing me! gawd!

ladies know: there are fightin’ words and then there are fightin’ words.

if you have a spouse/partner/girlfriend/significant other that is a woman, you know calling her something along the lines of, oh, i don’t know, a bitch is pretty much the wrong thing to do in all cases, no exceptions. even if she trash talks your mom, turns off the tv when you’re watching it, steals the covers or drinks the last of the milk when you’ve been craving a bowl of cereal since you went to bed the night before, or tells you that yes, your butt really does look big in those jeans. (who would do that is beyond me. basically a death wish.)

however, sometimes it’s tempting. that temptation is times two when there are two women in a relationship. (if you’d like to read more woman-woman annoyances i suggest you click here.) because, inevitably, one of you is usually acting like a bitch. or being bitchy. but you never, ever call the other one an actual bitch because you’re likely to get elbowed in the mouth, kicked behind the knee or have something thrown at you, like your car keys, which signals that you’d better get the hell outta this house and drive far, far away, perhaps to your family’s in western pee-ay, before i start throwing dishes like we’re at a big fat greek wedding except for i’ll be throwing them at your head and there will be no dancing.

in the 10+ years we’ve been together, holly and i have pretty much avoided calling each other “the B Word” by generally sidestepping the actual word and instead opting for you’re acting like a bitch.

QUIT ACTING LIKE SUCH A BITCH, BABE! i have yelled, loudly, on more than one occasion.

I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU JUST CALLED ME A BITCH! she usually yells back.

I DIDN’T CALL YOU A BITCH! i yell back. I SAID YOU WERE ACTING LIKE A BITCH. THERE’S A DIFFERENCE. (truly, there is no difference. you and i both know that and so does holly and so does everyone else.)

so yeah, on saturday morning i was kind of acting like a bitch. i’ll admit it. i had worked til like 10pm the night before. and worked, like, 10-hour days at my computer every single day before since sunday. i was tired. and didn’t want to friggin clean the house.

i especially didn’t want to flip the bed or whatever the hell holly wanted me to help her with at 9am in the morning. it irritated me so i acted out and then we got in a fight and didn’t talk to each other for the next three hours. holly stayed upstairs watching, most likely, bad reality tv or whatever was on bravo, and i stayed downstairs doing laundry and watching napoleon dynamite on comedy central trying to forget about how bitchy she was acting as well as raise my serotonin level bc i was starting to feel downright depressed, not to mention hungry.

we eventually started talking to each other again, and i immediately began trying to convince her to take me to chipotle for lunch. she eventually agreed–score!–and we went down to the can company to get some tacos (me) and a burrito bowl (her) and perhaps heal our wounded relationship.

why did you have to act that way? holly asked me, dipping a chip in guacamole. why were you being that way? you ruined the day.

despite my urge to throw black beans at her, i couldn’t help but think she looked cute. dammit. why do you have to be so cute?  i thought, stuffing my face with vegetarian tacos, trying my best to avoid the question and distract her by talking about the weather and pointing at dogs walking by.

babe, stop ignoring me.

i am not ignoring you. i’m talking to you, aren’t i? look at that dog out there! look it’s so cute!

babe. answer the question.

BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO HELP YOU FLIP THE DAMN BED OR SHIFT THE DAMN BOXSPRING OR WHATEVER THE HELL ANNOYING THING YOU WANTED ME TO DO AT 9AM. i whisper-yelled.

well why did you have to be such a b…jerk about it?!

a WHAT?! i stopped dead in my tracks. suddenly i wasn’t the bad one anymore.

did you just call me a b-jerk?!! i whisper-shreaked

what? no! 

she knew her mistake. her mouth had betrayed her brain. the secret was out. she basically called me a bitch.

did you really just call me a “b-jerk”???

no. yes. wait, what? no, i said you were acting like a jerk!

no, you said i was being a B-JERK! you starting calling me a bitch but covered it up!

then she started laughing with her mouth full of burrito bowl and almost choked bc she was laughing so damn hard. then i started laughing, too. then we hugged. psych! we didn’t hug in chipotle! 

then some big scary dude with a long white beard in a red-and-black lumber-jack type shirt at another table saw the steelers emblem on my t-shirt peeking out of my jean jacket and yelled YOU’RE IN RAVENS COUNTRY!

instead of shouting something really memorable back i just stared at him, slack-jawed, and shouted “NO!” nice.

just four more days to vote for lunch at 11:30 as baltimore’s best lifestyle blog, personal blog AND best overall blog! hurry up and click below! you can vote every day, once a day! xxo!

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i stepped in great dane poop & lived to tell about it

*this post is dedicated to my sister-in-law heather who hasn’t been feeling well lately and could sure as hell use a good laugh.

my sister-in-law heather–the very same one i’m writing this post for–lives on a friggin hillside in washington, PA. don’t ask me why but she does. i swear every time we drive up her driveway i almost have a heart attack. it’s that steep. after we park, i ask holly if we have the emergency brake on so many times she gets this close to elbowing me in the mouth. yeah every trip to heather’s starts off really well.

washington, PA is a unique place in that every single person in western pennsylvania actually calls it “washington, pee-ay” as not to confuse it with our nation’s capitol–what, with all the cows grazing all over the place, i can see how that’d be really confusing–or washington state, which is about 4,000 miles away on the west coast practically in canada.

over the weekend, on sunday, holly and i drove to washington, pee-ay to meet her family at a mud pit and deep-fried food festival disguised as a christmas arts & crafts fair. after eating a late lunch at the washington, pee-ay reb robin (reeeeeed robin. yuuummmmm. sorry, every time i think about red robin i have to sing their jingle), holly went with her mom, twin sister, niece and nephew to some outlets. since i kind of hate shopping (that’s my gay gene rearing its boat-shoe-and-chino-wearing head), i said i’d rather go to heather’s to hang with holly’s gram, who was going back to heather’s, too, and who is fabulous.

holly politely asked me to drive our car back to heather’s. i snapped at her that i didn’t want to b/c the country roads are too damn windy and i’d get lost and maybe even have a panic attack following her sister to the house and i didn’t know where my xanax was. (total lie. i’ve kept it in my bag ever since i flew to san fran for nicole‘s wedding. i know exactly where the hell it is.)

c’mon, babe, she said, her impatience growing. it’s only like five minutes away. that way i can go in the car with my mom.

i said no until holly was good and pissed and then i said yes. i do that a lot even tho i shouldn’t.

i managed to follow heather and her gram back to the house on the windy roads without having a panic attack. we got up to the house and i was like oh beejesus, the driveway. i had totally forgotten about the damn driveway.

well here we go, i thought as i gunned our pearlescent white rav-4 up the hill. (yes it really is pearlescent white.) tho it kind of looked like a rolling turd considering how much craft fair mud was on it.

there were all these damn cars in the driveway so i had to park on the grass. i chose a bad place to park. at that moment i didn’t realize just how bad it was, but from the outset i knew it wasn’t a good idea but i didn’t know what else to do. i felt like the car was going to roll over and tumble down the hill. i rolled down the window and asked her husband if it was an ok place to park. he told me to watch out for the dog shit, which i assumed meant the car wouldn’t flip.

whatevs, i thought. i can a handle a little dog poop. hell, i live in southeast baltimore. home of loose pit bulls that crap in the middle of the sidewalk.

i got out of the car, careful not to let the gravity of the hillside slam the car door on me. (note: this has happened before. it’s not pretty.) i got out to look at the car and see about this dog poop.

i should note that they have a great dane. her name is lena and she is enormous. i love her deeply but she scares the hell out of me. we’re basically scared of each other. i walk in the house and she runs from me. and when she comes near me i run from her. it’s like a game except we’re both scared for our lives.

anyway, her poop was so big it literally took my breath away. i’d never seen dog poop that big in my life. kind of hard to miss, i thought. not gonna step in that. no way no how. i am totally in the clear. you’d have to be a major idiot not to see that.

i walked back around to the other side of the car to help gram up the hill. and then it happened. i put my left foot down and slipped. it happened so damn quickly it was like i stepped on a banana peel. it was like a cartoon.

whoooaaaaaaaa, i said, feeling like it was happening in slow motion. i had to grab heather’s arm to stop myself from tumbling down the hill and in the process almost took down heather, her baby and her grandma.

“that is some serious mu-,” i said, turning around to look at the mud i surely had stepped in.

it wasn’t mud.

i had stepped in the world’s largest pile of dog poop. in my new boots.

there was massive streak of great dane poop about two feet long leading from where i was standing at that moment straight back to the car. and it was deep.

a shiver went down my spine and then i got goosebumps. i was trying very hard a) not to gag and b) not to curse as there was an impressionable baby in front of me, not to mention holly’s 82-year-old grandma who doesn’t know what a cursing sicko i am.

instead of bursting into a tourette’s-like stream of swearing, i shook off my nausea and let out a very unsatisfying  “oh man.”  it was very hard to hold in all that cursing and i think i injured myself in the process.

i wiped my shoe off in the grass but i don’t even know if i got it all off. nearly a week later, there’s still something on my left boot. it could be craft fair mud, i’m not even sure.

i’m trying to figure out how to end this story. i feel like there should be a moral. i guess the moral of the damn story is that it’s easy to step in dog poop, even when it’s so big it’s basically visible from space. don’t think it won’t happen to you.

heather, i hope you enjoyed this story and that it made you feel better. i’d put in a smile “emoticon” here but the damn blogging software i’m using will turn it into a cartoon smiley and then this looks like a ‘tween blog. i love you and i still love lena even tho she’s the size of a small horse and her poop is huge and i stepped in it and almost fell down a hill and when i see her i want to suck my thumb while rocking back and forth in the corner.

important sidenote!

i’ve been nominated as “Best Lifestyle Blog” AND “Best Personal Blog” in the Baltimore Sun’s annual blog competition!

for Lunch at 11:30 to win, you have to VOTE for it! every day! (yes, you really can vote everyday!) so click on the icon below, register (it takes like 10 seconds to register) and then choose Lunch at 11:30 for both “Best Lifestyle Blog” and “Best Personal Blog.” then write it in for “Best Overall Blog.” xxo!

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

well apparently i’m 60 because i started shopping at chico’s

before nicole’s wedding, i went to chico’s looking for a dress. i went to chico’s b/c they make “dressy” clothes specially designed for ladies with curves. sometimes, but not all the time, these “curves” are actually rolls. (not dinner rolls, folks; the other kind) other times, they are actual curves. the kind that used to be revered, but are now frowned upon b/c ppl think they represent a poor diet and lack of exercise–even if your diet is actually pretty much fine and you occasionally drop-kick bathroom locks in the ladies room at under armour–when you’re actually just of eastern european descent and hello, hispanic guys totally love you.

chico’s gets a bad rap amongst the younger set, and it really doesn’t deserve it. here’s why:

first of all, chico’s makes clothes you can roll up in a ball and they won’t wrinkle. it pretty much blows my mind. (see “travelers collection.”)

they also have fives sizes: 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4. size 4 is actually, like, a size 22. for example: i wear a size 2 and i’m basically like hell’s yeah bitches! i’m a size 2, kiss it! kind of like going to a weight watchers meeting in suburban baltimore (like i did before our big fat gay wedding) and you look around and think: damn i’m fine! which prompts you to leave early to buy an 8,000-calorie celebration frappacchino no whip (hello, whipped cream probably adds like two points!).

chico’s also has the best damn salesladies on earth. they are so friggin attentive i can’t even deal with it. i want to be like YES! yes i’ll take The Big Lady Belt–in black and silver! b/c i love you. b/c you are not judging me like those skinny bitches at Express. and you remind me of my mom. and i want to hug you, let’s hug right now, i don’t even care that i don’t know you, let’s just hug.

so i go to chico’s looking for a dress–this is, yeah, like a week before the wedding. and they don’t have anything for me. i wind up finding a dress at macy’s. oh but what did i find at chico’s? i zero in on this silver sparkly tunic sweater that i decide i really need to have. hello, it’s a TRAVELERS piece, which means i can take it to san francisco without it wrinkling to wear for…something!

oh it’s so sparkly, i say to Judy the Attentive Saleslady.

oh i know, isn’t it *fabulous*? she says back. and it looks wonderful on you. just wonderful.

ohmygoshthanks, i say breathlessly. but it’s too expensive, i continue. i…i couldn’t. 

i’ll give you $25 off, she says.

how could i possibly say no?

ring it up, judy! i say. ring it up before i change my mind!

so i bought the damn sparkly tunic, much to holly’s dismay. and i bring it to california, and of course need to wear it to the pre-wedding party at nicole’s parents’ house in sebastopol. as soon as we arrived i knew it was a mistake.

you know how, at every party, there’s that girl who’s overdressed? you try not to look at her but you have to? i was…that girl.

that’s because it’s a *holiday sweater*, holly told me when i got back to baltimore.

what, because it’s sparkly? i said.

holly: yes because it’s sparkly! it has sequins in it! 

me: so you mean to tell me that i wore a chico’s holiday sweater to nicole’s parents’ party–in october. in california. because i felt really overdressed. 

holly: yes, honey, you wore a chico’s holiday sweater to the party.

me: why didn’t you tell me i was buying a holiday sweater at chico’s?!

holly: i tried but you didn’t listen to me! it looks good but it’s for the holidays!

me: so you mean to tell me i spent $75 on a sweater i can only wear one month a year?

holly: yup. i tried to stop you. you didn’t listen.

ladies, this is the magic of chico’s. while everything else there fits like mom jeans, there will be that one item that absolutely dazzles you. you will be blinded by its beauty. an attentive saleslady will bring it to your dressing room, pump you up with compliments and then give you a coupon. bolstered by a false sense of self-esteem from the fact that it’s a fake size 2, you purchase it and then wear what turns out to actually be a sequined holiday sweater to san francisco in early fall.

so yeah, i play bingo. and i stare out our windows at our neighbors. i shop at chico’s. i’m a senior and i don’t even care. and so help me i’m going to rock that damn sweater the entire month of december. so if you’re here in baltimore and you’re blinded by a silvery tunic’ed figure, it’s actually me. and shut the hell up b/c i’m still from jersey and i’ll kick your ass or hire someone else to do it for me.

a jersey girl goes to under armour

aside from my early tomboyish years (before my muscles had been warped by absorbing years of frosty lipstick & elizabeth arden green tea perfume), i would have to classify myself as a fairly unathletic person.

i mean, i can catch a ball. and i’m a damn good walker. and sometimes i run when we’re walking back to our house after 10pm and we hear footsteps behind us. but honestly? aside from the occasional yoga session—which usually annoy me b/c of poses called “corpse,” “cat,” “cow,” oh and let’s not forget my favorite, “happy baby,” which is just another way of saying “unhappy adult”—i’m not so into sports. which is why it’s so incredibly, fantastically ironic that i wound up contracting (as an SEO web copywriter) at under armour for august/sept./part of october.

yes, folks, that’s where i was. i know you thought i was, hell, i don’t know where the hell you thought i was. but you probably wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that i was at under armour.

i had a lot of fun there. in fact, after a few weeks of writing about staying cool, dry & light on and off the field, i felt inspired to be athletic. so i started climbing the stairs in my jeggings to the e-commerce floor. then one day when i was feeling exceptionally inspired, i drop-kicked the lock closed in one of the ladies bathroom stalls.

(have you ever thought about all the germs on those locks?? ppl touch them after they use the toilet but before they wash their hands. whatever, if you touch them, it’s your business, but don’t try to high-five me or use my computer afterwards)

anyway, as soon as i kicked it, i heard a rip. not just a baby rip. i’m talkin big-poppa/granddaddy rip. rrrrrrrrrrip.

it was…my pants. the entire crotch of my american eagle black jeggings split down the middle–like, up to my butt. like a cartoon. this is what i get for karate kicking the lock closed, i thought as i stood dumbfounded in the stall.

looking in the mirror proved it was every bit as bad as i thought i was.

i felt helpless. like the time i was listening to phonics records in my elementary school library and peed my pants (probably bc i didn’t know where the bathroom was–hello this is important  information for a newbie 5-year-old library-goer. it was my first time alone down there!). i didn’t even know i peed my pants until this really nice second-grade teacher lady asked me if i had to go to the bathroom and did i want to go to the nurse so she could call my mom to drop off another pair of pants for me. i was like, why do i need another pair of pants?

what i’m trying to say is that i felt pretty ridiculous, at under armour w/my black jeggings split down the middle. i was about to miss my boat [yes, i took a boat (a water taxi) to work–i’ll need to tell you about that next time] home so i thought fast and called my project manager, who was off-site at the time.

“renee,” i whispered. “i have a…a problem. a girl problem.”

“what, what is it?” she asked. tampon emergency, she probably thought.

“i…i split my pants. down the middle. can i tie the jacket hanging over your chair around my waist and give it to you tomorrow?”

“oh my gosh, totally,” she breathed out. “i didn’t know what you were gonna say, but yes, sure!”

yeah, luckily she didn’t ask how i ripped them down the middle. but she was incredibly cool to let me borrow her jacket even tho she’s like a size zero and the jacket arms barely tied around my jewish birthing hips. so i caught my boat and then holly picked me up on the other side of the water and wanted to go out for pizza.

“but babe,” i said. “my pants are split down the middle.”

“it’s ok, honey. the jacket covers it up. let’s get pizza.”

honestly, the pizza wasn’t worth me worrying that my butt was two to three inches of microfleece away from being exposed to all of fells point but “marriage is about compromise” so we got the darn pizza and then ate it on our roof while we listened to the sweet sounds of baltimore, like helicopters flying three feet above our heads and hookers fighting at jerry’s house.

so that was me at under armour. i have to say that the past 2.5 months have been some of the most ridiculous yet. there was an earthquake. my mom learned how to text. holly began using my health & beauty aids (HBAs) as household tools. i got high on xanax and took a flight to san francisco for nicole‘s wedding. and one time i almost fainted.

to top things off, we now have rogue, psycho mice, so we called shumakers animal control b/c i saw the owner (dave) standing in the middle of the woods in his tv commercial and figured, hell, if this dude can catch raccoons and coyotes, he can sure as hell deal with these crafty sonsofbitches mice.

i’m starting to feel like this is karma is for giving my hamster “baths” in middle school and then drying her with a hair dryer. in my defense, she looked really cute with her fur puffing out and hello, i kept the blow dryer on cool–what do you think i am, some kind of monster?

talk to you soon! aren’t you so happy i’m back? xxo!

this is me, at the hospital, on drugs

one week ago today, i made a mix for my ipod designed specifically to calm me down before outpatient surgery at john hopkins. the most logical thing to name it was, of course, “surgery mix,” (or “don’t bolt out the door mix,” “don’t barf mix,” “don’t look at the IV needle mix,” or, my personal favorite, “don’t think about the fact that strangers are putting you to sleep in order to probe your ladyparts and remove things from you mix”) but just the thought of “surgery mix” made me want to faint so i named it something  mysterious and vague only i could recognize: “new mix.”

“new mix” was a choice selection of what some in the “lite hits” radio industry might call the best of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today. artist & song highlights included but were not limited to:

barry manilow (“daybreak” “it’s a miracle”)
billy joel (“say goodbye to hollywood” “new york state of mind”)
madonna (“true blue”)
fleetwood mac (“gypsy,” the appropriately titled “hold me” & more)
john mayer (“half of my heart”)
michael jackson (“human nature” “pretty young thing”)
roxette (“(i could never) give you up”)
dave matthews, steve miller band, prince, the b-52s, the list goes on & kind of ruins my street cred [b/c unbeknownst to most, i’m actually huge in the baltimore hip-hop/rap scene, so, you know, i need to keep my street cred and not tell you that go west’s “king of wishful thinking” was on there, too. (c’mon, i’m sure there are at least a few rappers that dig the pretty woman soundtrack)]

i’m telling you about my mix to drive home the point that i was a sweating, shivering, shaking nervous wreck last tuesday that did not want surgery and needed a mix so i wouldn’t bolt out the building in my gown and tan hospital socks (the kind with the rubber tread on them) and run home. (yes, technically i could run home from the hopkins campus, and, yes, holly and i once saw a guy in a hospital gown on baltimore street tho he asked us for a prescription for pain meds so i don’t think he was actually coming from the hospital.)

i was there to have a polyp removed from my uterus. nothing too serious, but serious enough that they had to put me under. despite the fact that they were going to put a camera and a vacuum and who knows what else inside me, it wasn’t the procedure per se that i was nervous about. it wasn’t even the forms i had to sign at a pre-op appt signing off on the fact that, you know, i could die while unconscious. it was the mere notion that they were putting me under with drugs.

i was confident that i’d be safe and come out, you know, alive. it just freaks me the hell out to be put to sleep. i suppose this is because  i’m a neurotic, jersey-born, overthinking jew that has to know exactly what’s going on all the time and can’t let go even for one minute. (G-d bless holly. i am living proof that even the most neurotic among us can find a mate and be happily married.)

i’ve been lucky enough to have surgery only one other time in my life. it was sinus surgery (oh man, won’t even go there) and i was so nervous about it that i actually gave myself a fever beforehand. once again, it wasn’t the fact that they were going up my nostrils with drills and whatnot. no. it was b/c i was scared shitless they were knocking my ass out.

as i lay there feverish and shaking (with holly and my parents looking on like three deer in headlights), the anesthesiologist noticed my fear (i think my fear that morning was visible from outer space), smiled and said he was going to give me “a morning cocktail.” i had no idea what he was talking about, but it sounded oddly comforting. (probably b/c i had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.)

before i knew it, he shot up my IV with who know what and, folks, lemme tell you, after an initial bout of dizziness (and my “initial bout” i mean i bolted upright in my wheely hospital bed shouting at holly, “HONEY I’M SO DIZZY”), i was FLYING. i don’t remember much but i do remember waving with my entire right arm–like i was at an 80s stadium concert (or doing the nkotb “hangin tough” dance)–back and forth, back and forth, shouting “BYYYEEEE! LOVE YOU GUYS!” as they wheeled me out the door.

while zooming (in my mind i was indeed “zooming”) down the hospital hallway, i had myself completely convinced that i was on “ER” and i was the star of the show. i felt so cool, you have no idea. (holly tells me she and my parents heard me laughing down the entire hallway.)

 i vaguely recall the OR team asking me if i could get on some kind of metal operating table (my body felt soooo heavy), then i saw an MRI on the wall and thought heeeeey, coooooool, that’s my skull. i woke up hours later holding this really pretty nurse’s hand (that’s how you know you’re really, truly gay–you have the hots for some random nurse while you’re coming out of anesthesia) with my nose and sinuses packed full of cotton.

yes, everything worked out just fine. but that was september 2004. i’ve developed a lot more neuroses since then, not to mention am much more aware of my mortality, and thus was much more nervous about being put under. and having an IV put in. and basically being at the hospital altogether.

things started to suck when i found out holly couldn’t come back and be with me while they put in my IV. yes, i am that much of a baby. then these two resident doctor-in-training dudes come by to introduce themselves and tell me that they’d be “observing” my surgery. they were nice enough, but what i really wanted to do with kick them in the teeth with my tan rubber-soled socks and tell them i didn’t want them there staring at my ladyparts while i was unconscious. before i had a chance to let my true colors shine, the nurse came by to give me an IV, at which point i plugged in my earphones, pumped up my “new mix” and pretended to be on a beach while the nurse punctured my vein (thump–oops sorry i actually just fainted while i wrote that).

shortly thereafter, holly and my mom came back to keep me company, which i was grateful for, but unfortunately didn’t help that much b/c i was pretty much inconsolable by that point. then another resident came by to tell me she was coming to watch the surgery, too. GREAT! HOW BOUT YOU INVITE YOUR MOM AND GRANDMA ALSO! INVITE THE WHOLE FAMILY. WHAT THE HELL DO I CARE, I’M GOING TO BE UNCONSCIOUS! then another resident came by, this time an anesthesiologist in training, introduced herself (tiffany–i remember her ID card) and, since she would be one of the ppl knocking my ass out, i proceeded to babble on and on to her about how nervous i was about being put under until i proved that i was certifiably nuts. or at least needed anti-anxiety medication.

she smiled and inquired if i wanted something to help calm me down before surgery. a normal person would say, “you know what, tiffany? that sounds like a mighty fine idea. yes, please. thank you for asking, that would be lovely!”

instead i said something about being anxious about taking anti-anxiety medication and maybe i shouldn’t take it but then again maybe i should. then the lead anesthesiologist and the OR nurse came by to introduce themselves (total count in the OR, including the doctor doing the surgery, was up to seven at this point) at which point i announced i had to pee.

a nurse helped me up and gave me instructions on how to hang up the IV bag on the back of the door. while i birdnested the toilet (hello, it’s a hospital but i’m still not sitting directly on the toiletseat) while simultaneously trying to both talk myself out of a panic attack and not see the blood collecting in the IV tube (what the?!), a young doctor-looking guy wearing a scrub-thing on his head and mask opened the door.

“oops! sorry!”

“no problem,” i told him.

hell, it wasn’t a problem. my modesty had gone to hell in a handbasket anyway, what with the entire staff of johns hopkins about to see the inside of my uterus and who knows what else while i was “sleeping.”

so i get back to my little pre-op area and tiffany wants to know what i decided about the anti-anxiety meds. she tells me she’ll just give me just half a dose.

“honey, it’s ok. you should get it. it’ll help,” holly said, holding my hand.

“no, it’ll just make me dizzy,” i said, more panic setting in.

before i knew it, i had agreed (tiffany was very convincing–she told me it would feel like i drank a cocktail) and she was dosing me up. it didn’t hit me til i got in the operating room.

“wooah, it’s BRIGHT in here,” i said covering my eyes as tiffany wheeled me in. “WOW I’M REALLY DIZZY.”

and i was–really really really dizzy. but instead of making me really really nervous, it seemed really really funny. everything just seemed so funny.

“it feels like i drank a wholelottacocktails,” i slurred.

“it’s supposed to feel like that,” she told me.

i remember looking at the big operating table under the bright lights, thinking, gee, the looks of this insanely large operating table under all these bright lights with alllll of these doctors and residents and nurses around should be making me nervous but instead it seems funny! this is all so funny!

then i saw the gynecologist that was doing the surgery. she had her hair back in a net-scrub-thingy and i remember thinking oh my gosh i know you! you’re the doctor! i recognize you even with your hair back!!!!! this, of course, seemed even funnier. i also felt very, very proud of the fact that i recognized her. i was high as a kite.

i got up on the table somehow and they told me to put my head in this head-holder thing, which, of course, seemed really funny. they asked me to “scoot down a little” (when you’re a woman and you regularly go to the gynecologist, they’re always friggin telling you to “scoot down a little) and i think i was trash talking the scheduler who arranged the surgery for me? (i think i slurred something along the lines of that mary, shhhhhhe’s reaaallly nice but she has noooo idea whaaaaat the hellllll she’s doing. (drugs = truth serum) and i think i remember the doctor laughing and saying she’d be sure to tell her that.)

someone told me they were going to cover me up with warm blankets. oooooh, those are so warm, i thought. they felt like the best friggin things in the world. i think i remember tiffany hovering above me saying…something. except i couldn’t hear her. your lips are moving but you’re not making any sound, i wanted to say.

then the head anesthesiologist told me they were just giving me some oxygen and put this clear plastic mouth/breathing thingy over my mouth or nose or both and told me to take a deep breath. i remember the air coming thru the plastic thing smelling bad. oooh that smells really bad, i garbled. then he held it above my mouth and told me to take some deeeeep breaths. that’s so nice he’s giving me oxygen before my surgery, that’s so nice i remember thinking. then i woke up two hours later in recovery. oxygen my ass.

i was in and out of sleep and so comfortable in recovery. and everything still seemed so amusing. things that would normally bother me (the guy across from me with a bowl over one eye; the guy next to me saying he was nauseous) didn’t. a nurse came by and asked me if i wanted some ginger ale and brought me graham crackers. this delighted me.

mmmmm these are delicious, i thought, still clearly under the influence. mmmmm this ginger ale is so nice and cold

the same nurse came by and asked me on a scale of one to 10, how much pain was i in? i said eight, which, honestly? i don’t know why i said that. i don’t think it was really an eight. then she gave me painkillers and came back some time later asking the same question. i told her three. then she asked me if i wanted some oxy-something or other and i was like, “no, that’s ok.” (thank goodness. i don’t want to ever take anything beginning with “oxy”)

i kept telling her i felt like i was bleeding and when could i see my family. then she put some weird hospital boy-shorts underwear on me and walked me into the next recovery station. another nurse came by and gave me more ginger ale and shortbread cookies (lorna doones!), which, yes, absolutely delighted me. the doctor came by and told holly and my mom–who had arrived by then–about my uterus and how they found two polyps and everything looked good and etc. but i don’t remember that. all i remember thinking is: man these cookies are soooooo good. num num num.

holly told me i looked pretty darn good (drugs) and i felt sooooooo proud i had made it thru the ordeal (again: drugs). when we were leaving she told me to take the remaining packet of cookies with me (we don’t keep fun things like cookies in our house) and when we got home i realized i had taken the empty packet with me. drugs, people. drugs.

i slept a lot when i came home and throughout the next day. as i came to, i told holly about everything. pretty much exactly what i just told you guys.

“maybe you didn’t think all those things,” holly said. “maybe you said them.”

“holy crap. maybe i did.”

i gave tiffany my card before she drugged me up, telling her that i’m not actually this crazy, i’m actually an established writer that’s really not nuts (beware of people that tell you they’re not crazy; they usually are. also beware of those that claim to be “spiritual” as they’re usually satan’s children) and that i’d be blogging about this. she pledged to check back and comment. so we’ll just have to wait and see.

i would like to thank the staff of the johns hopkins outpatient surgery center for doing such a great job. if i ever have to go under again, you guys are the crew i’d choose. and if i said something offensive to you while i was high on drugs, i apologize. i’m sure i didn’t actually mean it and you can blame it on tiffany for overmedicated me.