Tag Archives: memories

a note to manufacturers: not everyone likes rosemary so stop putting it in everything.

rosemary

WHY WHY WHY.

apropos of nothing (mental note: learn how to spell “apropos” so google can stop correcting you. also learn: synagogue, initiative, occasional. oh and aesthetic, which, hello, practically impossible.) — ANYWAY, apropos of nothing, i’m going to rant about rosemary, which, in my book, is long overdue.

first of all, if you have an intense love of rosemary, i strongly suggest you stop reading right now. just click the X and close out of this page. then run to your local produce department. once you get there, grab armloads of rosemary. throw it up in the air like you just don’t care. squeeze it between your fingers so the rosemary oil gets on your skin and then smell your fingers. that way holly and i can easily identify you. you, with the smell. sniffing your fingers in the supermarket. you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

so yeah, go ahead and buy all the rosemary in the world, we don’t even care. wanna know why? IT’S IN EVERYTHING ANYWAY. we can’t get away from it.

let me tell you a story. the story goes like this:

in my continuing effort to eat less grains in order to keep my blood-sugar steady, which therefore prevents me from getting hangry (i.e. so hungry you’re actually angry) while simultaneously helping me ward off type 2 diabetes, an affliction of the jews (the hiatal hernia i actually already have – OY. mental note: learn how to spell “hiatal” ), not to be confused with the bread of afflictionHEY OH! passover joke! (passover starts soon, biznatches! overeat pizza now so you don’t miss it. wait don’t. wait…nothing. forget i even said that.)

…so yes, in my continuing efforts to limit grains (SERIOUSLY I DON’T EVEN EAT PIZZA THAT OFTEN SHUT UP), i often purchase mary’s gone crackers, which, despite their odd name, are actually pretty good. they’re gluten-free and made of a variety of seeds, which, i don’t actually understand? regardless, they’re actually quite delicious. i usually buy the “original” crackers. they have served me well despite the fact that i continue to be confused about how they’re made.

at some point over the past two years, i decided to, you know, spice things up and picked up a box of the “herb” variety. BIG MISTAKE. listing “herbs” on an organic product (these crackers are organic like everything else we eat–yes, as i said years ago, we have truly become one of those households with nothing to eat, where you have to make everything. like a hippie. or a colonial person.) is not only vague but it’s also dangerous for those of us that don’t like rosemary. i feel like if an organic food lists “herbs” in its ingredient list, it probably contains enough rosemary to kill or at least choke a small to medium-sized mammal. oh and forget about salad bars. (YEAH WHOLE FOODS, I’M LOOKIN AT YOU. PEOPLE THAT DON’T LIKE ROSEMARY EXIST.) i’ll get to that in a minute.

anyway, as you can probably guess, the predominant flavor in these crackers was rosemary. it was like munching on a pine tree. ON A PINE. TREE. mary, (as in: of Mary’s Gone Crackers) would it be so hard to list ROSEMARY as an ingredient in your herb crackers? WOULD IT BE. SO HARD. no! i don’t think it would be!

i was recently reminded of this debacle yesterday when i delightedly opened a box of mary’s gone ALL NEW super seed crackers. which, hello, i was totally excited for! i mean, pumpkin seeds AND sunflower seeds AND poppy seeds in ADDITION to all the OTHER SEEDS. it was too much.

i bit into a cracker and at first i thought: oh my gosh. it’s almost like: an everything bagel! but then: NO. no no no NO. the familiar and unwelcome flavor of rosemary–of pine and soil itself–bloomed in my mouth. i shook the crackers at the sky. WHYYYYYYY. i shouted. WHYYYYYY.

no, i didn’t do that. who even shakes anything at the sky anymore? only people in biblical movies. i’d be more likely to throw the damn box across the room but i didn’t want to clean it up. anyway, it made me want to rant. so here i am.

why my intense dislike for rosemary? (oh hooo, this is going to get me in major trouble with some of you but whatever. it was bound to come out sooner or later.) first of all, if you break it up and toss it in things before you cook them–say, red-skinned potatoes, for example–it dries out and becomes these pokey little needles that can not only stab you in the throat, but choke you if they flip sideways in your esophagus! (go figure, i can spell esophagus.)

this very thing happened to me years ago. luckily, i was able to push the offending needle or needles down with a gulp of water or a slice of bread but it was touch and go there for a minute. it was touch and go. and it probably irritated my hiatal hernia.

and yes, if i wanted to gnaw on a pine needle, i’d gnaw on a pine needle. if i wanted to taste the earth’s rich, bountiful soil, i’d just eat a handful of rich bountiful soil.

and now for the kicker: THE WHOLE FOODS SALAD BAR. guys. c’mon. is it necessary to put rosemary in every single dish?? IS IT? i’ll tell you what: it’s not. because i don’t do it at home. this is the universe telling me to avoid the whole foods salad bar. it’s too damn expensive anyway. i already had words with the sushi guy. i should forget their prepared foods altogether.

so. in closing, does rosemary have its place? yes. but in small doses. (and YES, it can be good in a roasted chicken dish, so please don’t mention roasted chicken to me. i already know.)

if you are a manufacturer of something PLEASE list it on your ingredient list as not all of us want to eat pine sol. and chop the damn stuff up dammit! you want a lawsuit or something?? i should not have to review a heimlich maneuver chart before i eat your food.

heimlich maneuver

“help…i have rosemary…stuck…in my throat.” “i gotcha, buddy. i gotcha.”

next up:  my recent-ish 30-minute flight from pittsburgh to baltimore, also known as I Took Too Much Xanax & Held a (Kind) Stranger’s Hand. until then, please don’t choke on rosemary. or at least avoid it if you’re with me because you know my ass isn’t gonna know how the hell to save you and before i can do anything, i’ll have to google “heimlich maneuver” and you know i’ll spell it wrong.

remember that time we got in a fight before downton abbey and i made you watch it by yourself?

A photo of the cast from the hit HBO series Girls.

I MISSED GIRLS, TOO. NOT HAPPY.

i barely remember what happened in the last episode of downton abbey (season 4, episode 4) because it’s been so long since i watched it. actually. actually no. it hasn’t been that long, i guess, because i watched it monday, not sunday, because holly and i got in a fight sunday night and i made her watch it by herself, which pretty much killed me because i desperately wanted to watch it, just not next to her because i couldn’t stand to be around her because i was so irritated.

doesn’t that suck? when you get in a fight with your spouse/mate/significant other right before your TWO FAVORITE DAMN SHOWS, WHICH RUN BACK TO BACK, AND THEY’RE NOT NORMAL SHOWS EITHER. NO, YOU HAVE TO WAIT A DAMN YEAR FOR A NEW DAMN SEASON AND EVERY EPISODE IS LIKE A LITTLE POT OF GOLD (sunday night is a twofer: downton abbey, then Girls on hbo, which hello. best show ever.) and then you’re so mad you want to punch them in the throat, not only because they’ve wronged you but because they’ve ruined everything. the night is ruined. the shows are ruined. and the only way you can avoid said punch is to walk away, which means you have to walk away from the tv also. don’t you hate that?

anyway, i guess this post needs to address the last episode at least a little. so here’s some commentary based on what i can remember, which, admittedly, is not that much.

-the cooking teacher. the french guy? did anyone understand what the hell he was saying? because i sure the hell didn’t.

-“her ladyship’s” new “lady’s maid”–obviously another freakazoid weirdo! cora is so…i don’t even know. i’m beginning to think her and her asshat husband deserve each other. i remember going to a farm as a little kid for a school trip and there were turkeys there. i looked at a turkey, at its eyes, and it was like, there was just…nothing there. and i wondered: what’s behind those eyes? do they even have a brain? that’s what i’m starting to feel about cora. also: does she suck helium? oh well. at least she likes orange juice. at least there’s that.

-mary’s really swinging some zingers at edith these days, isn’t she? geesh. (WHY’D EDITH GO TO THE DOCTOR? WHY? OMG WHY.)

-poor daisy. why’s she always pickin the wrong men?? the first one’s a homo. the second one dies. the third one doesn’t like her back. she’s really not all that bad. daisy needs a man. so does thomas. i stand by my earlier statement that thomas would be a whole lot nicer if he had a man. i’m sure he’d have better coloring, too.

-why’s lord grantham being all nice and whatnot to that farmer? give him time. i’m sure he’ll screw everything up.

-mr. bates is going to do something bad. we all know this.

-the new gardener. the letter opener. i have no idea. these ladies need more to do.

-molesley: still an idiot. i called that one last season.

when downton abbey was over, holly called up to me and asked if i wanted to watch Girls with her down there or did i want to watch it upstairs with her in bed. i told her i was too tired to watch it, which was a lie. what i really was saying was: DON’T EVEN ASK ME. COME UP HERE AND CUDDLE UP NEXT TO ME AND LET’S WATCH IT TOGETHER WHILE YOU APOLOGIZE FOR BEING A JERK. THEN EVERYTHING WILL BE BETTER AND THE NIGHT WILL NOT BE COMPLETELY RUINED AFTER ALL.

instead of reading between the lines she was like “you sure? okay.” and she watched it downstairs without me.

OH MY GOSH DID THAT MAKE ME MAD. sometimes i wonder: why did i even bother marrying a woman? why did i struggle coming out of the closet the way i did? why am i even gay? she thinks like a man. she acts like a man. she doesn’t understand that when i say something i actually mean something else. 

anyway, i was so mad i couldn’t even watch Girls upstairs in bed. instead i turned on the grammy’s and stewed and listened to holly watching Girls downstairs by herself. then i got madder. it was a vicious cycle. i tried breathing out the bad feelings down to my feet the way my acupuncturist says do so but it was no use.

when she came upstairs, i shut my eyes and pretended i was asleep. i made sure i was way the hell on the other side of the bed, too, so she couldn’t put her doggone cold feet on my legs. OHHHH NO. YOU GONNA USE ME AS YOUR PERSONAL HEATING STATION YOU BEST NOT BE WATCHING GIRLS WITHOUT ME, UH-UH NOT HAPPENING. WARM UP YOUR OWN DAMN FEET DAMMIT.

so yeah, we made up the next day. of course we made up, we always do. part of making up was, of course, making her watch both downton abbey and Girls again, which was all about death and kind of upsetting. the fact that holly watched these again with me means that she loves me. even though she was on facebook on her phone or her ipad or whatever. she loves me. this is what marriages are made of people. compromise.

sidenote: please make GIRLS an hour an episode, lena! PLEASE. WE WAIT ALL YEAR FOR THIS. WE WAIT ALL YEAR.

we watched “poltergeist” the other day. that was a mistake.

The little old lady from Poltergeist.

IT’S NOT CLEAN! IT’S NOT. CLEAN!!!!

you can add this to my list of recent bad decisions, including but not limited to after-lunch hula hooping (i hiccupped every five minutes for about, oh, five hours) and other things of which i am purposely forgetting at the moment which may or may not include getting into a fight with the sushi guy at whole foods.

if you’ve read this blog even one time before, you’d probably guess that i’m not emotionally or physically hearty enough to watch horror movies. i watched jennifer’s body like three years ago for one damn kiss scene but i nearly collapsed from fright in the process. was it worth it? maybe. no.

seven years living in this city has given me some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder–except for the trauma isn’t actually over, it’s ongoing–in that blocks and blocks of boarded-up houses and you know, zombie heroin addicts don’t freak me out, but if i see a shadow in my own house i freak the f*ck out. or  a friggin firework goes off a few blocks over, i think it’s actually a gun and shout HIT THE DECK to holly, who’s sitting calmly on the couch looking at me, smiling as if to say oh baby, i love you. but could you please calm down a little bit maybe sometime? 

i was feeling particularly curious (never a good thing with me) a couple weekends ago. holly was flipping through our endless comcast cable guide and i saw poltergeist was listed.

oh poltergeist! i said, half-kidding. let’s watch that!  and you know what? she turned it on.

watching it was a mistake. i knew it would be a mistake the moment we turned it on and yet…we watched it anyway. even though the “special effects” were 80s and therefore sub-par, it still shook me to the core.

DON’T LAUGH I HAVE A VERY SENSITIVE SYSTEM. PLUS THIS WAS A VERY SCARY MOVIE BACK IN 1982.

shortly afterwards i heard a kid yelling outside (there are a ton of kids where we live) and i was like sh*t! is she stuck inside the tv? WHAT IF THAT IS ACTUALLY NOT A KID OUTSIDE BUT A KID STUCK IN OUR TELEVISION.

i managed to calm down but then i kept thinking about that weird little old lady. the ghost-fighting lady? the one they call in for help when they’re desperate to get the little girl back and rid the house of ghosts? i kept thinking of how she looked and her voice and her huge glasses and the things she said and i was like shit! that was really freaky! she was really freaky! also: why did she say the house was “clean” when it clearly wasn’t?!! if she knows everything there is to know about ghosts wouldn’t she, like, know? that the house wasn’t clean like she said it was? that freaked me out for some reason.

then when it was quiet in the house (our house) i started thinking about all those decayed old bodies, you know, the skeletons? with the hair still on their skulls? popping up in the rain…when the mom’s stuck in that huge hole with all the water in it? while her kids are upstairs, like, being attacked by that big ghost and it’s trying to suck them into the other side? and coffins keep popping up from the ground? and they swing open and bodies fall out?

and the DAMN CLOWN. that damn clown toy in the kids’ room! that is burned into my brain now. i need brain bleach! do they make that??

i also thought about the weird red jello-type stuff that was stuck to the mom and the little girl when they fell through the ceiling. what was that anyway? ew!

and THEN, then i kept hearing the dad shout at the evil boss:

YA MOVED THE HEADSTONES BUT YA DIDN’T MOVE THE BODIES! WHY? WHHHHHYYYYYY?

after it was over, i had to sun myself outside for 15 minutes, which, as you may know, is the minimum amount of sun needed for your body to produce mood-enhancing vitamin D.

i have no memory of the rest of the day because i blacked out. but i’ll tell you what helped me a couple weeks later:

watching st. elmo’s fire. which i had never seen before. it’s a pretty good movie! here are some reasons why:

1. a young rob lowe.

A headshot of actor Rob Lowe in the 80s.

look at that bone structure! gorgeous!

2. a young rob lowe playing the sax!

Rob Lowe playing the saxophone in the hit 80s movie, St. Elmo's Fire.

hey now!

some good 80s sax really calms the soul. and when i say calms the soul, i  actually mean makes you stop thinking about that weird red poltergeist jello sh*t.

3. a young demi moore. again: the bone structure.
4. a young demi moore smoking at her desk. i know, right?! the 80s were crazy!

Demi Moore smoking at her desk in the hit 80s movie, St. Elmo's Fire.

what’cha workin on there demi?! looks important!

5. the nerdy girl GETS THE GUY!

Wendy from the hit 80s movie,  St. Elmo's Fire.

YOU GO GIRL.

6. i googled where it was filmed while i was watching and some of it was filmed at my alma mater, university of maryland, college park. HOLLA CLASS OF 2000! SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM WHAT WHAT. look at me now! i blog in lowercase! WHAT!

7. the theme song. hello. that’s some good instrumental sh*t! if that can’t make you forget about the damn red poltergeist jello, the clown, and the little girl in the tv, i don’t know what can.

The cast of the hit 1980s movie, St. Elmo's Fire.

thanks for the memories, guys! i’ll never forget you. if i had your yearbooks, i’d write, “never change!” in each one of them. except you, demi: you need to stop smoking. and the cocaine. thanks for that sweet sax, billy. rock on, nerdy girl. if you wanna be a social worker, you go ahead and be a social worker. your dad will get used to it.
always ‘n foreva, jessica

THAT SH*T’S F**KED UP: downton abbey season 3 finale

The original cast of the hit 90s TV show Beverly Hills 90201.

the original cast beverly hills 90210 in mom jeans. i know this is a post about downton abbey but bear with me here.

let me tell you a story:

back in the day, back in jersey, in the 90s, i was a big 90210 fan with equally big hair. BIG fan. HUGE hair. i loved that show with every fiber of my being. i even had a 90210 poster (reminiscent of the photo above except they were on a beach. cut me some slack, i was in seventh grade.)

anyway, everything was going ok but then everything changed: brenda “moved away.” tiffani amber thiessen from “saved by the bell” came on the show, which was totally disorienting. someone bought a nightclub. everything got all mucked up and confusing and stupid. the show totally lost me so i stopped watching and moved on.

that was sunday night’s downton abbey season finale. the writers should probably just go ahead and write in a part for tiffani amber thiessen now. lord stupid grantham should probably turn the library into a gay dance club. jan brady edith should “move away.” because i’m not watching anymore.

some thoughts:

so apparently some people knew that matthew was going to die. yeah i wasn’t one of those people. i was pretty  horrified.

as matthew lay DEAD under his convertible with his eyes freakishly open and his mouth dripping with blood, i decided that downton abbey sucks like all other soap operas. it just seems high-class because everyone has english accents, but at it’s core, it’s an overly dramatic soap opera that i can’t bear to watch.

RIP downton abbey. it was fun while it lasted.

additional thoughts:

BITCH BETTER STAY AWAY FROM TOM. the guy just lost his wife and has a little baby! people are sick. i can’t even deal.

why the F*CK would anyone ask O’BRIEN for advice on HAIR? just look at her! if i ever see that woman i’m gonna elbow her in the mouth.

that was a noble thing of thomas to do but damn it was dumb. BOY NOTHING YOU DO WILL MAKE WHASSISFACE WANT TO GET WITH YOU. YOU HAVE GONE SO LONG WITHOUT ANY ACTION YOU’RE ACTUALLY DELUSIONAL AT THIS POINT.

c’mon mrs. patmore. did you really want to go out with that guy? i don’t think so. you and thomas need to go manhunting together. you’ve been in the kitchen too long. you need some air.

i can’t believe that guy’s nickname was shrimpy. shrimpy? really?

yeah even i know not to sit on the damn couches upstairs and i don’t even work at downton.

molesley. still an idiot.

rose‘s hair: still really bad.

everyone was wearing headbands. what was that about?

PLEASE PLEASE  PLEASE GIVE EDITH A MAN HER OWN AGE.

finally, mary. of course she doesn’t even gain one pound while pregnant. i’m about ready to force feed that biznatch a burger, fries, and a milkshake. her friggin braid probably weighs more than she does! sigh. i miss sybil. she was the only normal one.

lastly, i’m not live tweeting anymore, at least not with this show. hot damn. it’s hard enough to follow the damn plot, let alone understand what they’re saying. sometimes i wonder if they’re even speaking english! would it kill all of you to speak slower??

in conclusion: i’ve had about enough. i don’t know if time will heal my pain or what. but i’m done for now. i need to start reading spoilers so i’m not so damn shocked at these sorts of things anymore because i just don’t have the emotional wherewithal to deal. i really don’t.

(ok i just looked at that photo again: DAMN THEIR JEANS WERE SO HIGH!)

what is it with jews and seltzer anyway?

if i have a choice between plain water and seltzer i will always choose seltzer. why is this? i really have no idea. for starters, seltzer doesn’t even have a taste. second (secondly?), it has virtually no advantages to one’s health, only disadvantages, namely gas.

i’ve been thinking about seltzer a lot lately, as my parents very kindly gave me/us a seltzer-maker (a sodastream) for my birthday. well actually, it’s more of a soda-maker (you add flavored/colored powder), but since neither of us really drinks soda, it’s basically a seltzer maker.

we got it a while ago, back in the fall, but only started using it a few weeks ago. i think holly may have forgotten we had it at all. i, on the other hand, was simply scared of the carbon dioxide canister exploding in my face. anyway, it turns out it’s not all that scary (and quite simple to use, i may add). and let me tell you: since then, i have been drinking a lot of seltzer.

as i walk around the house hiccuping wildly proclaiming to holly you know, i probably shouldn’t drink so much seltzer, it’s got me thinking: what the hell’s up with jews and seltzer?

for some reason, there’s an inexplicable link between the jewish people and seltzer. or maybe it’s just jews in the northeast? or tri-state area (ny/nj/ct)? i have no idea. but i’ve met very few people in my life that drink plain (or flavored) seltzer that aren’t jewish. even the word seltzer sounds jewish. like it’s someone’s last name. as in: “honey, who was at synagogue today?” “oh, you know, the usuals: the rosenbergs, the greeblatts, the goldsteins, the seltzers.”

i honestly think there’s a jewish seltzer gene (JSG, if you will). i really do. every jewish household has or has had seltzer in the fridge. and it’s always “seltzer” to us. not “club soda.” it’s seltzer.

sometimes when we go out to a bar, since i’m not much of a drinker, i’ll order a “club soda with lime*” because we’re not in kansas anymore (kansas, of course, being new jersey). but truly, in my mind, i’m the jewish grandma shouting GIMME A SELTZER WITH LIME, DAHLINK. OY VEY DOES YOUR MOTHA KNOW YOU WORK AT A BAR? YOU’RE VERY PRETTY HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT MODELING INSTEAD?

*please note that i won’t be ordering anything with sliced lemons or limes at a bar or restaurant until at least april, as most, if not all, restaurant or bar-sliced citrus have norovirus all over them and, as G-d as my witness, i will do nearly anything to avoid the norovirus. 

the JSG (jewish seltzer gene) makes no sense to me, since jews, by their very nature are a) gassy (ok i made that up but it sounds about right) and b) complainers. we have very sensitive systems and complain about everything. why would we be inexplicably drawn to a beverage that will not only give us gas but compel us to complain to our spouses, friends and family about how gassy we are? it seems all wrong. and yet….we just can’t stop ourselves.

(is it because we’re bad swimmers? an…evolutionary adaptation to protect us in the event of a shipwreck? so we float to safety?)

one of my earliest and fondest memories of my late grandmother is the two of us standing side by side at her apartment’s kitchen counter–yellow formica speckled with gold–as she taught me how to make “orange soda,” my curious five-year-old eyes just barely making it above the counter.

“orange soda” was, of course, just orange juice and seltzer. but oh i adored it. anyway, i have continued to make it ever since (and think of my gram every time i do).

in conclusion (is there a conclusion here?), seltzer does have a taste. it tastes like seltzer! yes, it tastes like bubbles. thousands of teeny tiny bubbles. which beats the hell out of regular water. i’ve also started to make a less carbonated seltzer (two shots of carbon dioxide from the sodastream instead of four) to protect my sensitive jewish system.

p.s. about downton abbey (the subject of my last post)

WHY LADY SYBIL? WHY!!!!!!!!!! she was the nicest one! DAMMIT THIS IS WHY I DON’T WATCH SHOWS LIKE THIS.

also: lord grantham is an idiot! he’s always making the wrong decisions! AND THOMAS IS CREEPIER THAN EVER! WHY CAN’T THEY JUST GET RID OF THAT GUY? HE’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GET RID OF! LIKE A ROACH! HE JUST KEEPS COMING BACK!

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner, part 2

the fourth and final installment of the “what i did this summer” series.
[part 1 (shot guns/cooked a fish) is here. part 2 (flirted with siri) is over here. part 3 (took a 30-minute flight without xanax, made a scene) is over there.]

you may recall my post a few months ago in which i met my literary idol, new york times bestselling author jennifer weiner, and promptly turned into a blubbering idiot, scaring her by saying things like, “i think i’m going to faint.” and the very unique “i’m a writer, too.”

it was my mom who wound up rescuing me from myself, miraculously and stealthily popping up behind my shoulder, announcing in a way that only a jewish mother can that i really was a writer, making me look far less crazy and perhaps only emotionally deranged.

when i found out that jen would be stopping by the philadelphia public library on tour for her fab new book the next best thing, i called my mom immediately on her new iphone (that she bought at best buy for $49; please oh please don’t ask her about her iphone–more on that later) and told her we needed to go. a longtime jennifer weiner fan, she immediately agreed.

we got to the library and there was already a line to get into the auditorium. once the doors were unlocked and everyone filed in, it soon became absolutely packed. despite the crowd, i knew with great certainty that i was still jen’s #1 SuperFan.

what i’m saying is: if she had a fanclub, i’d be president and i’d make holly treasurer and we’d hold bake sales. i’d make holly bake everything, of course. and we’d name the baked goods after her books, like Good in Bed Brownies and Fly Away Home Flan (ok wait: flan’s probably not good for a bake sale.)

my mom and i found seats towards the front right, and after this funny library guy gave an introduction, jen walked out and the crowd went wild. well, as wild as a library crowd can get.

she started speaking and five minutes later, i see my mom covertly open her purse and unearth a small mass of chocolate chips. and they’re wrapped in plastic wrap. she “secretly” unwraps them, then begins sneaking them out a couple at a time.

she’s trying to be quiet, but it’s no use. she’s the kid in synagogue trying to wrestle a hard candy out of a crinkly wrapper in the middle of the torah service. (if you’ve ever been to synagogue you know this isn’t a good thing.)

mom,” i whispered.

“do you want some?” she whispered back. (and by “whispered” i mean not whisper. jewish mothers are not renowned for whispering. it’s like an evolutionary mechanism to protect their children from wild animals and cold weather.)

“they’re ghirardelli,” she said, pushing them in my direction. like the fact that they’re a name brand was going to make me want to snack on chocolate chips during a jennifer weiner event.

“no thanks, mom.”

then she informed me she had “cheese wedges,” in her purse, too, which i could only surmise meant laughing cow cheese wedges, which are actually meant to spread on crackers at home or at the office, or even at a picnic, not enjoy on their own in the philadelphia public library’s auditorium during a jennifer weiner event.

“mom, what? cheese wedges?” i whispered, my eyes wide.

“well, it’s protein,” she non-whispered back . “and carbohydrates.”

“oh i am so blogging about this,” i told her.

“do you want one?” she asked, trying not to laugh.

“no, mom, i don’t want any cheese wedges!” i said, trying not to crack up while simultaneously trying to remember what she was saying, since i knew i’d be writing it down.

then she offered me chocolate chips again, which i declined–again.

after jen’s talk, (which was hysterical–you can listen to it here) all us superfans ran out and got in line for her to sign our books. i guess the problem with sitting in front at an author event is that you’re pretty much dead last in line for the signing.

i really didn’t mind, as i feel a special kind of kinship with other jennifer weiner superfans (JWSFs). i quickly befriended my fellow line waiters, thrilled to discuss my fave JW books without holding back. we also animatedly discussed jen’s foxy new look, which featured glamorous extensions and fabulous shoes.

my mom joined the line, also thrilled to be part of the JWSF excitement. i don’t know how it came up, but one of my new JWSF friends started talking about coupons and wouldn’t you know, my mom has an app for that. on her new iphone. that she got for $49 at best buy.

“i have the greatest coupon app!” my mom told my new friends. (this from the woman who never figured out how to use a VCR–and yet she’s mastered the world of apps. i know, i don’t get it either.)

“i got my iphone for $49 at best buy,” she continued.

mom,” i implored, gently touching her shoulder. but it was too late. the levy broke. the i-got-my-iphone-for-$49-at-best-buy-yes-i-really-did-no-i’m-not-kidding speech had begun.

“…you see? it’s a real iphone. yeah i really did get it for $49. i can’t believe it either.”

“i think you’re calling someone,” one of my new friends, i think her name was emily, politely informed her.

“what? i am? how can you tell?”

“look, the call counter’s on,” i said, pointing to the screen. “it’s ruth.”

in her coupon app excitement, she had accidentally called her friend ruth. i love ruth.

she held the phone up to her ear.

hello? HELLO? ruth? hello?”

when it comes to cell phones, jewish mothers have no volume regulator. it’s only loud or LOUDER. it’s like they think whomever they’re talking to is connected to their cell phone by a piece of string and if they don’t speak loud enough the other person will not hear them.

“i think she hung up,” she told us.

then my mom did what any sensible jewish mom would do after accidentally calling her friend ruth while waiting in a jennifer weiner booksigning line at the philadelphia public library: she called her back.

“ruth? HELLO, RUTH? hi, it’s susan! IT’S SUSAN. right, i called. by accident. uh-huh, i’m at the jennifer weiner event right now with jessie. oh it’s so fun! yeah. ok i can’t talk. but i’ll…what? what? i think we’re…hello? right i’ll call you, i’ll call you back. ok, talk to you later.”

“that was ruth,” she said.

“i know,” i said.

i think everyone in line knew it was ruth.

the line was moving at a decent pace. before i knew it, it was our turn.

jen greeted us warmly, and i mentioned that i was the crazed SuperFan that blogged about meeting her months earlier.

“and this is my mom. again,” i said, smiling, proud of my effervescent champ of a professor mom that, if i invite her, will come with me to any and all jennifer weiner events in the philadelphia area, come hell, high water, or chocolate chips. she will get there three hours early with me to sit in the front row (like she did last time), and she will stand in a book signing line with me for who knows how long, make friends with other JWSFs, and educate them on handy, money-saving apps.

jen laughed and said it was nice to see us again and yes, of course she remembered my blog post. (how could she not? if you had a psycho fan write a 1,000-word blog post about how she met you for two minutes, you’d remember it, too.)

then she asked me why i was so nervous about meeting her the last time.

i blubbered something about…oh hell. i actually don’t remember what i said because i’m probably repressing it as it most likely sounded mentally incompetent or at least slightly demented. however i do remember saying something about madonna. (i have the unique ability to insert the topic of madonna into any conversation.) 

jen announced that i needed a beach towel. before i knew it, i was holding a huge JW towel.

then she mentioned something about thinking about her when i was hot and steamy just out of the shower and then i really forgot everything i planned to say.

in my JWSF stupor, someone handed me a JW tote bag. then, tote and towel in hand,  i waved goodbye to jen and my new JWSF friends–just another 30-something emotionally deranged superfan with her sensible mom.

i put my JW beach towel in my new JW tote and stepped into my dad’s waiting highlander, amped up from the delicious combination of literary celebrity, community, and free fan merchandise.

suddenly i felt my blood-sugar dropping.

“mom, do you have any of those chocolate chips left?”

of course she did. and man was i glad they were a name brand.

as the chocolate chips melted in my mouth, i held my new JW tote close and thought about all the fun things my mom and i have done over the years: playing hooky when i was a kid to hit the MET and the hard rock cafe on a school day (YES REALLY!); getting miraculously bumped up about a hundred rows closer to barry manilow when he played madison square garden a few years ago (yes i took my mom to a barry manilow concert; it’s called love, people–and besides, he still has a voice like buttah and moves very well for a man his age); countless mall outings, coffee shop chitchats, and trips to buy me bare escentuals make-up and warm winter coats (jewish parents live to buy their children warm winter coats).

i suddenly kind of wanted a cheese wedge, too.

“i love you, mom. thanks for coming with me,” i said.

“i love you, too, honey. i had a great time. i knew you’d eventually want some chocolate chips. that’s why i brought them. here’s a cheese wedge. the chocolate’s not enough. you need protein, too.”

aw, mom.

——–

this concludes the what i did this summer series. it was a busy summer full of mystery and intrigue: grilled cheeses. guns. flirting with female robots. a 30-minute flight to pittsburgh without xanax. literary celebrities. moms. chocolate chips. free totes.

special thanks to jennifer weiner for once again being a good sport with her more…excitable fans. and the towel. and the tote, which i proudly tote around, proclaiming my superfan-ness.

an additional special thanks to jen’s fab assistant meghan, who not only remembered me, but didn’t run away when she saw me coming towards her. i believe she orchestrated the free towel and tote, but i was too excited to understand it at the time. love the towel, love the tote, love that you didn’t kick us out for chocolate-chipping. (do you want some? i’m sure my mom has more.)

next up: tacos with the in-laws. and how i thought i just scratched my throat with a corn shell but wound up coming down with a two-week cold that’s resulted in me becoming an alcoholic.

hurricanes upset my hiatal hernia

(a breaking news interruption in the what i did this summer series)

like most jewish girls in the 21st century, i’m not known for my hearty nature. my straightened hair frizzes easily, my joints tend to ache before rain, and i need to eat every three hours or my blood-sugar will drop severely and i will undoubtedly act out.  (trust me, you don’t want me to act out.)

i also have a hiatal hernia that gets irritated during stressful situations. so you know i wasn’t happy to hear there was the worst hurricane in like 50 years headed our way.

to be quite frank, even before sandy’s arrival, i’d kind of had it with the natural disaster type things around here. we’d already had two hurricanes and we’ve only lived in baltimore since 2006. oh and then there was THAT EARTHQUAKE which i mistakenly thought was an underground gas explosion, which propelled me to make the wise decision to stick my head out of our second-floor bedroom’s wide-open windows and shout at the jackhammering work guys outside WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING MY HOUSE IS GOING TO EXPLODE.

as luck would have it, a drugdealer across the street looked up at me and shouted EAAARTH-QUAKE!!!!!! oh so it wasn’t a gas explosion, i thought as i my socked feet slid across the rumbling floor. relief quickly turned to guilt, as i really gave the confused-looking workers a verbal lashing. i kind of felt like a dumbass but whatever. it could have been a gas explosion. what the hell do i know? i’ve never felt a friggin earthquake before. this isn’t california, it’s maryland. so i did what any jersey girl would do: i threw on my sneaks and jean jacket, grabbed  my purse and ran the hell out the door. it doesn’t matter that it was 90 degrees out. hell if i’m going to let our house crumble on my very best jean jacket.

anyway, as soon as i heard about the hurricane, my hiatal hernia started acting up. (have you ever had bad gas pains? yeah, it’s kind of like that but higher and it burns.) i put on my brave face (and yes, my jean jacket) and went to safeway friday afternoon to buy water only to be confronted by soviet-era empty shelves, then promptly threatened to cut a girl and pull out her weave for two bottles of smartwater. (no i actually didn’t do that but i could have don’t tempt me)

i bugged holly all weekend about getting ice, buying more drinks, buying more food, making sure the gas tank was filled, recharging all the rechargeable batteries we bought before the last hurricane that we haven’t used yet. i also bugged her to cook me hearty hurricane food like guinness beef stew and chili even though they would probably all upset my hiatal hernia.

i finally remembered to fill up the bathtub sunday night, when the hurricane was already well under way, of course. i’m not exactly sure why you should do that? because storms make the water go out? and then you use it to flush the toilet?

whatever, they kept mentioning it on the news and it was stressing me out. so i turned on the tub then went downstairs and started doing dishes until, panic-stricken, i remembered OH MY GOSH I LEFT THE WATER ON BABE TURN IT OFF HURRY!

“oh i love how this is my responsibility now!” holly shouted as she frantically ran up the stairs.

i knew she was right but i was also in the middle of doing dishes. sue me, i panicked and she was closer to the stairs. anyway, in those moments before she got to the bathroom, i had visions of the tub running over and telling people, yeah we had a really bad leak and our ceiling collapsed but no, it wasn’t because of the hurricane, it was because i left the bathtub on for like 30 minutes.

“IT’S OKAY!” holly shouted downstairs.

i breathed out, eternally grateful for our oversized tub.

i rewarded myself for getting through such a stressful time by drinking some cranberry-lemonade honest-ade, which we bought in case the water went out and/or became poisoned, so it was strictly off-limits. i took a few gulps and irresponsibly encouraged holly to do the same.

then we decided to go downstairs to our children-of-the-corn basement, which, yes, once smelled like dead people but doesn’t anymore, to check how much water we were getting.

we quickly discovered that we’d sprung a new leak, which was saturating the ceiling. i immediately started worrying about how much it would cost to fix and would it lead to structural damage, simultaneously patting myself on the back for even knowing such a term. then i realized holly had been talking to me for like a minute asking me to help her pump the water out of the basement through our street-level basement window.

while we were pumping, all i could do was think about how much i wanted to wash my hands and would i get a spider bite and would patient first be open and what if i needed antibiotics?

we went back upstairs to the living room, and by then the wind was really going. between the howling winds, the leak downstairs, and pounding rain, i doubted i’d be able to fall asleep.

suddenly holly was next to me on the couch in her pajamas wanting to watch one of her dumb comedy/action movies. you know, the kind where one thing after another goes wrong? (this one was “the sitter,” which, though kind of annoying and crude, was also kind of funny.)

she’s always stealthily changing into her pajamas. seriously, i turn my back for a minute and the girl’s in her pajamas. i don’t even know how she does it but it never ceases to amaze me.

“you really want to go to sleep in your pajamas?” i asked her wide-eyed. “what if we need to run out in an emergency in the middle of the night? i’m sleeping in my clothes. i’m not even taking off my bra.”

“what kind of emergency?” she said, trying not to laugh.

“well…like if the windows break. if the wind blows the windows out and we have to run out of the house away from flying glass!”

“i think we’ll be ok,” she said, settling into the movie.

i gave her the evil eye, jealous of her cozy pajamas. my jeggings suddenly seemed restrictive, and my ironic flannel shirt felt too hot. but whatever. i was prepared. she’d be the one sopping wet in her pajamas outside with the neighborhood perverts if our window blew out, not me.

when the movie was over, we went to bed. i decided to wear sweatpants to sleep because hell if was going to run out of the house in the middle of the night in boxer shorts amongst the perverts and whatnot. i had a moment of hesitation regarding my bra but decided i could put it on while running out of the house if need be.

i’m happy to report that besides the new basement leaks, our house withstood the wind and rain. and i did manage to sleep. and there were no emergencies causing us to run outside in the rain amongst the perverts. i was relieved i didn’t have to put my on bra on the run. to be honest, i’m not sure if that’s even possible.

my heart is heavy for all the folks that lost their homes, lost everything, even their lives. i spent many happy times with my family at the jersey shore. but, as a one-time jersey girl, i have to say: new jersey folks are damn resilient. if anyone can rebuild, it’s them. the same goes for those in queens.

last night i thought about posting this entry, wondering if it was too nonchalant considering the damage that’s been done. but then i decided everyone could use a laugh right about now. and what better way to cheer up than to read about my multiple neuroses (and my hiatal hernia) during a hurricane? exactly.

in unrelated news, if you love lunch at 11:30, and i know you do!, please help me win best personal blog in the baltimore sun mobbies competition. signing up takes about…5 seconds. and voting takes about the same! just click on the badge below and look for lunch at 11:30. you can vote once a day, every day! not to try to bribe you or anything, but i’ll totally send you leftover halloween candy if you vote for me. i promise it won’t have any needles in it. promise. and no raisins. i don’t believe in giving out raisins. or pennies. just candy. THANKS.

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

i’ll be eating grilled cheese for breakfast, lunch & dinner from now til october

except for breakfast it’ll have an egg in it with only one slice of cheese (see: egg & cheese sandwich). this is because holly’s away in western pee-ay mon-thurs from now til the end of september taking care of her gram, who just had hip surgery.

what i’ve come to see is that, when holly leaves and i’m left to my own devices, i promptly forget we have an oven and thusly only cook things a) on the stove b) in a frying pan with c) melted butter. and if i’m not cooking with melted butter, it means i’m making a quesadilla. before you turn up your noses please note that i add spinach which makes it healthy.

it’s not that i can’t cook, it’s that i’m spoiled and now lazy. you see: i married a fabulous cook. no no, i married a fabulous gourmet cook.

i mean, she’s so damn fancy these days she can’t even make a freakin tuna sandwich without making it a spanish tuna melt with smoked spanish pap-freakin-rika, garlic powder and who knows what else. then she goes and adds manchego cheese, made from sheep’s milk from organic sheep living in the spanish alps. (hah. just totally made that up. also there are no spanish alps but you knew that right? of course you did!)

here’s what i bought at the store today:

hot dogs
fries
american cheese
two frozen dinners
an amy’s pizza (mushroom & olive)
smoothies
english muffins
milk (yes milk)
eggs (yes eggs. see: egg & cheese sandwich)

i didn’t buy peanut butter because we already have some here. same goes for butter.

yes, folks, i am really living the life. i am also sleeping with my diva defense (“pepper spray with style!”) next to my pillow. see below.

Leopard print Diva Defense pepper spray with sparkly blue jewel.

as i always say, if the pepper spray doesn’t blind you, the bedazzling jewel will! i have the one in green leopard print w/the lime-green gemstone, however i think it might be discontinued.

i’m also sleeping with a police baton from holly’s days with the military police in the navy next to the bed and i will bash your skull in after i blind you with my gemstone.

i’m also blasting madonna day and night because holly’s not here to say BABE MADONNA AGAIN?! (to which i always reply: YES BABE MADONNA *AGAIN*) also i’m going to do my nails with these, which my mom happily purchased for me with her $10,000 worth of “cvs bucks” while i visited my parents in philly a couple weeks ago.

not my hand or nails. some random person’s hand from the internet.

when i showed my new fabulous sally hansen salon effects nail strips in yes, houndstooth (see above), to holly at her parents’ house last week she promptly rolled her eyes and told me she “didn’t want to date a teenybopper.” to which i promptly replied that “we’re not dating, we’re married. and i don’t want to be married to someone that doesn’t like me to have fun with my nails and get over yourself, have a sense of humor and you don’t know anything about fashion or style and etc.”

then she told me to move my morroccan oil because it was blocking the tv. then i told her i was going to blog about all of this, which, true to my word, i am now.

if she says anything about my houndstooth nail strips again i will divorce her ass in multiple states. then blind her with my gemstone.

except for i won’t because dammit i miss her already and she’s only been gone since sunday! (sniff)

now i’m actually getting a little emotional, tho it might be because i’m listening to roxette’s epic ballad “it must’ve been love,” as featured in the 80s hit movie pretty woman. (oh shuddup, you know you totally got emotional when she leaves and richard gere goes after her.)

anyway, if any of you want to cook for me, please, be my guest. or if you want to do your nails with me. or take me to the store because holly has the car. otherwise you will find me here, at our house, eating grilled cheese at approximately 11:30am (lunchtime, duh) and 6-ish. sometimes alternating with quesadillas. and eggs, if it’s breakfast.

xox
jessica

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.