Tag Archives: new jersey

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner

if there’s one thing you need to know about me–besides my penchant for frosty lipstick, eternal love for madonna and the fact that i’ve married holly like 100 times–it’s that i’m a jennifer weiner superfan.

she’s pretty much my literary idol. so when i saw she was coming to philly’s head house books, i made it my personal business to rearrange my schedule so i could be there. two hours early. with my mom. and snacks in my bag in case i got hungry.

i introduced myself to the the bookstore worker, who proved to be both patient and kind as she listened to me blubber about how excited i was to meet my fave author.

“there’s only two people i want to meet in this world,” i breathlessly told her as she stood trapped behind the counter. “jennifer weiner and madonna. and i’m not sure if i even want to meet madonna because there’s a good chance she might be kind of mean.”

once that came out of my mouth there was no taking it back. i was that person. i was the overly excited fan waiting around to meet the star. but i didn’t even care.

“oh yeah! and this is my mom!”

yup. i really was that person. and i brought my mom! all i was missing was a star wars t-shirt and a juice box.

in my former life as a journalist, i interviewed rock stars, television personalities, politicians, federal officials, heads of state (ok i totally made that last one up but i know people that’ve interviewed heads of state–does that count??) and i’ve never, ever been as nervous to meet/talk to anyone ever in my life.

jen (despite my distaste for using nicknames when you don’t really know someone, i’m going to call her “jen” because everyone kept referring to her as that) and fellow fab author liz moore did a great job speaking to the audience, which had grown to fill the entire store.

as soon they were done, i made a beeline for jen.

“hi! i’m jessica,” i said, putting out my hand for her to shake.

“hi, jessica!” she said, smiling as she shook my hand. “it’s nice to meet you.”

don’t faint don’t faint don’t faint. do. not.  faint. i told myself.

a lightening speed battle between the dorky side of my brain (you know, the side with the juice box and star wars t-shirt) and the sensible side commenced.

this is your big chance! the sensible side shouted. this is what you daydream about! you’re meeting your literary idol! say something meaningful and witty about your writing background. don’t say “i’m a writer, too!” because hello, everyone tells their favorite author they’re “a writer, too.” make yourself stand out from the crowd!

say something cool! the dorky side shouted back. TELL HER YOU LOVE HER! wait! don’t tell her you love her because that would be weird because you don’t actually know her. maybe you should ask her out for coffee? no wait, don’t do that. wait…no, you definitely should. yeah, see if she wants to get coffee! there’s a great place just down the street!

no! absolutely do not ask her out for coffee! the sensible side advised. say something clever. be friendly but not overly friendly. pretend like you’re about to interview her. act cool, you’re a professional! 

so what did i wind up saying?

“ohmygoshican’tbelievei’mactuallymeetingyou. i think…i think i might faint. i’m a writer, too!”

niiiice.

dorky side: 1. sensible side: 0.

then i started to sweat and my mouth went dry, at which point the sensible side of my brain threw its hands up and left me alone with my dorky side, which took a noisy sip from its cranberry juice box, delighted to take over completely.

unfazed, she laughed, obviously used to weirdo superfans like me, and said no, don’t faint, it’s ok.

i felt the heat of the crowd behind me. i had to act fast and turn this thing around.

i told her i came in from baltimore to see her, that i was a former journalist, had a blog and brought my old paperback copy of “good in bed” for her to sign. then she asked me what kind of blog i had.

“it’s a humor blog,” i said, sounding completely devoid of humor.

this was a trainwreck. i watched as she signed my book. the clock was ticking. my time with one of the people i most wanted to meet in this world was quickly coming to an end and i had to make an impression other than Potentially Psycho I’m-A-Writer-Too! SuperFan. and, without warning, who comes to my rescue?

my mom.

suddenly she was over my shoulder–hell, i didn’t even realize she was behind me anymore!–and sang my praises as only a jewish mother from new jersey can.

“there’s something my daughter neglected to tell you,” my mom said in all her proud jewish mother glory. “she was in the It Gets Better book!”

YES MOM YES! i totally forgot about that! yes i was published in an actual book! that made me sound way less crazy!

jen looked up and said she loved the it gets better project, and that her and her siblings were going to be making a video. then she asked for my card.

jennifer weiner asked for my business card. 

i died a thousands small deaths. right there. i really did. i took a card out of my bag and put it on the table, at which point she tucked it away and said she’d check out my blog. 

the dorky side of my brain and my sensible side did one of those running/jumping shoulder-bump things that guys do. then the dorky side did the running man and the sensible side shook its head and walked away.

leave it to a mom to be your best publicist. she totally saved the day. not to mention a) happily agreeing to arrive at the bookstore ridiculously early b) tirelessly keeping me company while c) simultaneously not judging me for being overly excited.

since that day, almost three weeks ago, i’ve felt that special kind of peace that only comes with checking a life goal off your list. now all i have to do is go to a madonna concert (ACTUALLY HAPPENING THIS SEPT *goosebumps!*), have a baby and publish a book. oh and also go to england and ireland. and an organic spa with holly in arizona or new mexico (do those even exist?). and take a road trip with holly to visit my great uncle ben in florida. not necessarily in that order, but those are the biggies.

anyway, i may have acted like a complete dork, but at least i got out there, stepped up to the plate and met my number one superstar. so jen, if you’re reading this, thank you for your kindness–and for not backing away from me.

yours truly,
jessica leshnoff, superfan
baltimore, md

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 four: connecticut kind of sucks, and not just b/c it’s almost impossible to spell

part 4 of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

holly determined the best place for us to get married in connecticut was hartford. i just asked her why and she said she doesn’t really remember, which seems appropriate for a city that’s fairly forgettable in a state that’s not only nearly impossible to spell but can’t decide if it’s part of the tri-state area or new england.

yeah i’m bitter about connecticut. i’ll tell you why in a minute.

since holly’s not interested in giving me input here, i recall she zeroed in on hartford b/c of its central location and the fact that it was on interstate 91, a great but boring road that crossed thru all of our wedding blitz states.

so we get on the road just minutes after our first wedding of the day, our mouths and hands full of sandwiches and chips we bought near the brooklyn municipal building. i had both of our cellphone GPS systems going so two different julies were telling us where to go.

i call any sort of “GPS lady” julie after julie the automated amtrak lady.

(back when i used to call amtrak in the late 90s/early 00s, an automated lady used to come on and say “hi! i’m julie!” it was always kind of fun to scream “AGENT!!! I WANT TO TALK TO AN AGENT!!!!!” right off the bat. unfailingly chipper, she’d say, “i…think i heard you say you’d like to talk to an agent. is that correct?” and then i’d yell back, “YES! AN AGENT! I’D LIKE TO TALK TO AN AGENT, JULIE!”)

(this is what i did for fun before texting & facebook.)

(holy crap now i feel kind of bad bc i just googled “amtrak julie” and found this article. there’s actually a lady named julie that does the amtrak julie voice and she seems really nice! damn. now i kind of feel like a jerk.)

anyway, after about 90 minutes on interstate 91 with our two talking julies, we saw a drab skyline appear.

“babe!” i shouted. “that must be hartford! it looks…it looks…so…boring! i can’t wait to get married there!”

we roll into hartford and quickly find the city’s municipal building. as soon as we park, sketchy panhandlers came up to us asking for money. this confused me.

isn’t everyone in connecticut supposed to be rich? i asked holly, who shrugged, dodged the panhandlers, got a parking ticket thingy to put on our dashboard and told me to hurry up and finish putting on your lipstick already, we still need to get to vermont blah blah blah i blocked the rest out.

so we run past some kind of hartford PR event (oh i am SO glad i don’t do that for a living anymore!) into a room with a bunch of cashiers and tell the lady behind the glass we want to get married. she points at paperwork and we get to it.

we need a justice of the peace, so the lady gives us a few cards for local justices of the peace. yes, justices of the peace have business cards. it felt weird to me, too. 

as she starts typing everything up, we start calling the justices of the peace (ok, i’m just gonna stop and clear the air: “justices of the peace” sounds weird. it’s been the elephant in the room since three sentences ago) leaving voicemails like, hi, we’re holly & jessica and we need a justice of the peace in like five minutes. can you make it?

i don’t know where the hell all the justices of the peace were. it’s not like there’s that much going on in hartford.

once again, we start to panic. no actually i start to panic. holly doesn’t panic much, unless, of course, i push her to the brink of panic with my new jersey-induced neuroses, which i’ve never done so shut up. i’m jewish, it’s in my genes, i can’t even help it.

she tells me she’ll be right back and walks out of the room with all the cashier windows (what does one call a room like that? i have no idea). i refresh my facebook newsfeed every two seconds until she comes back five minutes later.

“i found a justice of the peace, babe. she’s meeting us outside in five minutes.”

you see why i keep marrying holly? INGENUITY. turns out there was a justice of the peace somewhere else in the building and she actually found her. leave it to holly to find a justice of the peace when you really need one.

just when everything seemed to be going so smoothly, we hit a snag. (cue the record scratching and the silverware clinking)

the cashier lady looks down at the paper and then back at us.

you’re already married to each other? she asks.

yes, we say. in washington, dc, and we got married again this morning in new york. 

not surprisingly, she goes to get her supervisor. who, of course, is unnecessarily grumpy.

grumpy supervisor: so you’re renewing your vows?

us: no, we’re getting married to each other. again.

grumpy supervisor: right, you’re renewing your vows.

us: no. we’re getting married.

grumpy supervisor: but you’re already married to each other. 

us: right. but we’re doing it again.

grumpy supervisor: why?

us: because we’re celebrating our anniversary by marrying each other in three states in one day.

grumpy supervisor: (confused look)

us: until same-sex marriage is federally recognized, we’re going to keep marrying each other in every state we possibly can.

grumpy supervisor: (still looking confused) well you can’t do that here. because you’re already married somewhere else. 

holly: but someone in this office told me last week we could.

grumpy supervisor: well that person didn’t talk to me. 

we went back and forth a little bit more until this we decided this woman wasn’t interested in taking our money and giving us a piece of paper.

that’s when i decided i didn’t like connecticut.

i mean, i never really had feelings about connecticut before, other than it seemed like a boring state that didn’t have much to offer other than…hell i don’t even know. it was kind of like skim milk: never really impressed me, would rather avoid it if i could.

fuming mad, we left the building. it was starting to rain and the justice of the peace was waiting outside for us, smoking a cigarette with an effeminate male colleague. (writing that just made me laugh. i don’t even know why.)

“you gals ready?” she said, raspy-voiced and smiling. she reminded me of ladies in our neighborhood.

we sighed and told her what happened. she furrowed her brow, blew some smoke and said that was ridiculous and that the city ought to just take our money.

she put out her cigarette and told us that by the powers vested in her by the state of connecticut, she pronounced us married.

so we were half-married in connecticut. it was better than nothing.

we said thank you and ran back to the car.

“happy anniversary!” they shouted, blowing smoke out into the rain. “good luck!”

(so many complete strangers wished us well that day. it was really touching.)

i mentally gave the entire state the middle finger as we drove away but then felt bad since connecticut actually passed same-sex marriage, which is more than i can say for our home state of maryland right now. plus i really liked the smoking justice of the peace (and her effeminate male colleague!) and she was in connecticut. so instead i gave it a ross & monica finger, which seemed not as bad, and told holly to step on it. it was already 2pm and we had to get to the brattleboro, vermont courthouse before 5pm.

ok i just lied. i’d never tell holly to “step on it.” (who even says that??)  i think i actually told her not to go too fast b/c i didn’t want us to get a speeding ticket. then she pretended not to hear me and went 80mph anyway.

ready to get your maple syrup on and get hitched in vermont? i asked.

hell’s yeah i am, holly said.

come hell or high water, we were going to have at least two weddings in one day. it was on like donkey kong, folks. we were doing this.

part two: it’s cold & bright on the set of the anderson cooper show

"hi, i'm anderson. i know it's cold here, but my smoldering eyes will keep you warm ."

part 2 of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

we determined the most sensible thing to do after my big fat jersey high school reunion was, of course, go to a taping of the anderson cooper show.

i mean, what else are you supposed to do after an evening saying things like oh yeah! i totally knew that was your identical twin! (twice!) and yeah yeah! i totally meant to wear jeggings while the rest of you beeotches had to wear GOWNS.

the next morning, before getting on the road to nyc, we hit the ritz diner, where we ate unnaturally large, fresh cheese blintzes (delicious) while holly joyfully discovered taylor ham. (as a non-pork-eater, i’d never tried it.) no one at the diner could actually explain what taylor ham was, which, personally, would worry me a little. this did not bother holly one bit, as she announced to the cashier that she’d like to get some for her family for christmas.

anyway, yes, anderson. anderson cooper is holly’s gay boyfriend. as soon as his new show hit the air and she found out it taped in manhattan, she decided we needed to go. being a planner, i.e. the one in our relationship who’s able to plan beyond what’s for lunch that day, she got free tickets like a month in advance. we were pretty  psyched.

we rolled into the park slope neighborhood of brooklyn, i.e. the place where almost everyone i’ve ever known from every facet of my life–i’m talkin jewish sleepaway camp, middle school, college, first jobs, you name it–lives, sunday afternoon to stay with our fabulous friends meredith & tiffany, who are basically famous for being one of the first same-sex couples to marry in new york. they also both have great hair and seem too attractive to actually be gay. (sorry to go there but i’m gay and i’m totally going there)

to add insult to injury they’re able to run up to their fifth-floor walk-up with vegan-food-stuffed reusable grocery bags, laundry and bikes all strapped to their backs while holly and i basically had small heart attacks every single time we went up there while each carrying a single ikea pillow.

whatever. we live in baltimore. we dodge bullets. we feed stray pitbulls. we…oh hell. we stay inside hiding all day. that’s why we’re both out of shape and i have a vitamin D deficiency.

so of course i wake up monday morning, holly’s big day, w/a five-alarm migraine–the kind where i can’t even eat or look at a ray of sunlight–and we get to the building where his show tapes just as the last elevators went up.

“sorry, ladies,” the fancy elevator guy told us. “you just missed the last elevators up to the show. you’ll have to wait on standby.”

it was like i could hear holly’s heart literally breaking. i felt so bad. i obsessed over how bad i felt until anderson’s psycho fans came along and then started obsessing about how the hell i could get away from them while staying in line.

first, a disheveled looking lady came up to the surprisingly friendly elevator guy to tell him she had “a message” for anderson. and that she needed to go upstairs to give it to him since she couldn’t find his email address on the website anymore. i kept wanting someone to tackle her bc she was holding a lot of bags. (hello! bombs!)

then a lispsy gray-haired guy came up to us and asked us 10 million times how we got tickets for the show even tho he said he had tickets for the next day. then, while holly was in the bathroom, he had me take a photo of him standing next to a photo of anderson. then he asked the elevator guy if the fact that he worked on a cruise ship would get him up there while i covered my hands in antibacterial gel bc i had touched his camera.

then the crown jewel of psycho male anderson fans came along: this mustached middle aged dude with an on-and-off-again yarmulke (i.e. the little skullcap jewish, mostly orthodox, men wear on their heads). he immediately honed in on holly as a friendly bystander and started loudly singing to oldies to her. i was rude to him, of course, i don’t even remember what i said, i just wanted him to go away. then holly got mad at me bc i’m always freaking on the crazies.

you only make them crazier, she hissed thru her teeth. even tho i told her she was wrong, i knew she was right. but it was too late. the damage was done and, to be completely honest, he really did just get crazier. in the meantime, bc of my pounding headache, everything seemed very loud and very bright. things were not, as you might say, off to a great start.

our luck changed fast tho. the elevator doors opened–DING! “ok, they have room for four more,” the elevator guy said. “you guys are in.”

YES. things were getting better.

we got into the elevator and crazy mustache yarmulke man asked the poor anderson cooper lady that happened to be in there already a million questions until we got up to the 5th floor.

we wound up sitting in a balcony above and off to the side of stage for the first segment while mustache man stood not sat two inches behind me, breathing on my hair while simultaneously waving to anderson like he was on a navy ship about to set sail for five years.

despite the little voice in my head that warned me not to freak out on him, i finally turned around and whisper-yelled, directly into his face, can you move back??? then he loudly mumbled about how i act just like his bitch sister-in-law and then i prayed for the remainder of the segment that he wouldn’t hit me on the head with a chair.

we moved down to the main area for the rest of the segments. i should note that the set of his show, like all big television sets, i suspect, is outrageously cold. i’m usually five to seven degrees warmer than everyone else around me so this is really saying something. it’s also pretty much the brightest place on earth. not the best place to have a migraine, is all i’m saying.

and of course! of course anderson had to stand right next to us for what felt like half of the damn penn state show (it was a special on the penn state sex abuse scandal). i kept telling myself to keep my head up so i wouldn’t have a double chin on air but i knew it was useless so i focused on the view outside and my relief that psycho mustache man wasn’t behind me breathing into my hair and comparing me to his sister-in-law who probably isn’t as much of a bitch as he says she is.

we had a pretty good time, all things considered. kathy griffin (LOVE HER) showed up for a new year’s segment and they practiced slicing champagne bottles open with knives. and his fabulous mom, gloria vanderbilt, suddenly appeared. i kept wanting to tell them all we were getting married three times the next day but i figured i’d hold it in bc anderson would be reading it here on my blog anyway.

anyway, if you happened to see the penn state show, that zombie girl with the ponytail, double chin and massively dilated pupils next to anderson is me. and i was totally wearing the sweater i wore to my big fat reunion, so if you were there and you saw me on tv i don’t want to even hear about it.

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!

wedding blitz: THREE WEDDINGS IN ONE DAY!

in celebration of our three-year wedding anniversary (i.e “the BFGW“) this tuesday (nov.15th), holly and i are going to get married in THREE STATES IN ONE DAY: new york, connecticut and vermont!

(massachusetts is annoying and won’t let us get hitched there, too, since we’re already legally married in d.c. so whatever, we’ll bypass mass. and go get our maple syrup on in vermont.)

(did i just say go get our maple syrup on? omg i kind of love that and i’m not even that into maple syrup.)

of course holly came up with this idea. she of the “b—jerk” (which is pronounced “bah-jerk” not “bee-jerk,” in case you were wondering. and if you haven’t read that post yet, you really should right now).

i guess she thinks i’m not that much of a bitch jerk after all since she wants to marry me three more times, bringing us to a total of five. if she wants to divorce my ass, she’s gonna have to travel up and down the friggin northeast so good luck with that, babe! you’re really in it now!

(holly was laughing and then suddenly stopped laughing and looked scared.)

since we’ll be in north jersey for my 15-year high school graduation on saturday night–HOLLA JAMES CALDWELL HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 1996 WHADDUP!!!! (hello, i totally don’t feel that old! 15 years?!!)–which is just a couple days before our anniversary, she was like BABE, I HAVE THIS IDEA.

i was like greeeeat. (holly always has “ideas.”) at first i was like, could we really do this? and then, after some phone calls to different cities/counties in ny, conn. and vermont, i was like we COULD really do this!

so we’re doing it!

we’re doing it to celebrate our 10+ years of love, to take back our wedding day (unfortunately,  it was so filled with drama/discomfort, it wasn’t everything we wanted it to be) and since we can’t be married federally, we decided we’re gonna get married in every friggin state til we can. (fyi: since maryland recognizes our legal marriage in dc, we file our maryland taxes as “married” but have to file federal taxes as “single,” which is ridiculous). we also want to do it so one day, when we have kids and they’re older, we can show them all of our marriage certificates and they’ll see that we lived thru this historical time and fought hard for our love and to be recognized as equal–hopefully marriage inequality will be ancient history by then.

btw: if you’re new to lunch at 11:30 and would like a jessica & holly wedding primer (it gets confusing, as we’ve been married twice “without a divorce in between,” as i like to joke to people) i suggest visiting the BFGW (Big Fat Gay Wedding) page here.

yes, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably need a snack break. (i often need a snack break just writing posts. then again i’m ready for lunch at 10am so i think it’s fair to say i have a problem. that or a tape worm. which is also a problem. ok i think i’d rather just be hungry early.)

so here’s hoping we can can hitched three times in three states between the hours of 9am and 5pm. ready! set! WEDDING! xxo!

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.

my modern love essay that the new york times didn’t publish

i know, i know. i kind of suck b/c i haven’t been blogging lately and you’re sick of seeing that androgynous goth person staring at you every time you visit to see if i’ve updated. (in all honesty: not a clue if that’s a man or a woman.)

i’ve been so busy working (pbbbbt! work! i know, right?!!) that i’m going to cheat and in lieu of one of my typically ridiculous entries, i’m going to share my modern love essay recently submitted to and politely and promptly rejected by the new york times. not a huge surprise they didn’t publish it, as i’m sure they get about a trillion submissions a month, but a bummer nonetheless.

the great thing is that essays like this don’t go to waste when you have a blog. so i am self-publishing my essay. please enjoy all the capital letters and proper punctuation and i promise i’ll be back soon…

You’re Gonna Meet a Prince(ss) 

Throughout my youth and adolescence, my grandmother predicted three things:

1. If I ate any more than 10 grapes (red or green, didn’t matter), I would get a “bellyache.” (This wasn’t just me, either. This was all people.)

2. I’d meet and marry a prince. A “Jewish prince,” she declared, despite my argument that Jewish princes hadn’t existed for at least a couple thousand years, if they ever existed at all.

3. That using a blow dryer every day would ruin my hair.

Which do you think turned out to be true? (I’ll give you a hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with fruit or princes.)

When she died nearly 11 years ago (she was 91, I was 21; “A babe in the woods,” she’d say), I probably had never eaten more than 10 grapes at any one time, and I was still on the fence about the hairdryer thing. But even in high school, I secretly knew in my heart of hearts that the prince she predicted I’d meet might actually turn out to be a princess. And who knows if she’d even be Jewish.

Losing my grandmother was devastating to me. Our coffee klatsch of two was now a coffee klatsch of one. I had lost my best friend.

Who would I have toasted bagels and lox with? Who would I call at midnight just to say hi? And now that she was in heaven, what would she think of the fact that her granddaughter was a rainbow flag-waving homosexual? Surely she would find out (after she hit the Heavenly Diner all-you-can-eat cheese Danish/macaroni salad/pickles and smoked fish buffet, of course).

I tried not to focus on what she’d think, and kept my head down and focused as a young community reporter in suburban Washington, D.C.

And then it happened: I met my princess. I met Holly.

It was an unusually hot April night in downtown Washington. We were both wallflowers at ladies night at a gay bar on 17th Street. Soon we were talking outside. She wrote her email address on a square napkin in blue ink. I emailed her a week later. She wasn’t Jewish. I went out with her anyway. I mean, how long could it really last?

That was 10 years ago.

Since then, we’ve been married twice (once “unlawfully,” once lawfully—both times in Washington, just up the street from where we met in 2001). We bought, gutted and renovated a boarded-up crackhouse in southeast Baltimore, which we now call home. Our life is one big adventure. I love her more than life itself.

While Holly never had the pleasure of meeting my walker-pushing, hell-raising, unfiltered Pall Mall-smoking grandma, I’ve kept her a part of our lives by reminiscing almost daily about our times together. Sometimes I’ll even call someone a bastard (“bas-tid” in Grandma’s Jersey-ese) in her memory. Usually behind their back, but not always. This would have made her incredibly proud.

I don’t wonder anymore what she’d think of the fact that I’m gay. She wouldn’t care. I don’t wonder what she’d think of Holly. She’d absolutely adore her.

My grandmother had four younger brothers. My 90-year-old Great Uncle Ben was the baby of the Leibowitz clan, and is the last sibling standing. He’s become like a grandfather to both Holly and I. He’s been our biggest supporter, and was up front and center—fresh off the plane from Fort Lauderdale—at our legal wedding in Washington in March 2010.

He is the male incarnation of my grandma—kind, funny, generous and always ready with a dismissive “ah-who-the-hell-needs-‘em” hand wave to anyone who does me wrong. I love him so much my eyes fill with tears when we’re together. We both do. And he loves us back.

Holly met him for the first time in August 2009, and he gave her a huge bear hug from his couch.

“My new niece!” he announced, holding her hand, his eyes shining with delight.

He took my parents, Holly and I out to eat that first evening. As he and I walked into the restaurant, he paused—his wheelie walker (the kind with the breaks) and south Florida humidity between us—and turned to me.

“Are you happy? Does she make you happy?” he asked, touching my hand.

“Yes,” I said, tears in my eyes. “Yes, she does.”

“Well, that’s all that matters. If someone doesn’t like it, they can go to hell,” he said. “Let’s eat.”

And with that, I knew. It wasn’t just Uncle Ben speaking. It was Grandma, too.

I’d like to think it was more than serendipity that brought Holly and I together that warm April night 10 years ago.

“That one,” I imagine Grandma saying from her regular booth at the Heavenly Diner, her mouth full of potato salad and beets and everything else she loved from Jersey diner salad bars that I couldn’t stand as a kid.

“She needs to meet that one,” she said, pointing down at Holly. “That’s the one. They’re going to have a wonderful life together.”

And we really do have a wonderful life together. I have my coffee klatsch of two again. Sometimes, when we’re lucky enough to all be together, it’s even a coffee klatsch of three—me, Holly and Uncle Ben.

my chiropractor thinks i’m goth

me, according to my chiropractor. i have gorgeous baby blues, don't i? ok, stop staring at me or i'll put a hex on you.

i want to start things off here by saying that i have nothing against anyone goth. some of my best friends are goth. (actually they’re not. i totally made that up to make myself sound credible.) no but seriously. i like the cure as much as anyone (ok mostly their greatest hits but still). and i’ll admit to spending a considerable amount of time at hot topic in my youth (and by youth i actually mean last year). but dammit, people. i’m not goth. can someone please convince my chiropractor of this?

our chiropractor is kevin. we’ve been going to him, like, forever. (ok, maybe four or five years, but two of those years i was working at a boring/evil office where every year was actually 10,000 years, so i suppose he’s actually been our chiropractor for just over 20,000 years.)

if i go in for an appointment and i’m wearing a white shirt or (gasp!) something even mildly colorful (this is rare, but still) he totally freaks out and says something along the lines of woah, jessica! i see you’re breaking out of the whole goth thing today! what’s up with the bright shirt!? you’re not goth anymore? the worst part is he’s not even kidding.

my first instinct is, of course, to say something kind of obnoxious but i think we all agree it’s best not to piss off people that are about to adjust your spine.

i don’t know how many times i have to explain to him that i’m not goth. i just have extremely dark hair and wear mostly black. it’s called northern new jersey, folks. it’s my heritage. it’s programmed into my DNA. and anyway, usually i’m not wearing black pants and a black shirt (tho i do from time to time–it’s called dressing up). i’m typically wearing jeans and a black shirt of some sort. so i’m more like a walking bruise than goth. no white makeup. no dog collars. no chains from ear to nose.

(if you’re goth and offended by my stereotypical portrait of goth ppl, i invite you to chime in re: diversity in the goth community, i.e. please don’t hunt me down and kill me. or put a hex on me. unless you want to hex the curl out of my hair so i don’t have to break down and get a keratin treatment. which would save me both time and money, but really it’s up to you. more on that in a sec.)

anyway, the last time i went in for an appointment i was wearing a white shirt and white capris (hello, do you think anyone goth would wear capris?) and he nearly blew a gasket. i’m telling you his world was flipped completely upside down. i wanted to say, kevin, it’s 200 degrees outside and 1,000 percent humidity. even lady gaga’d be breakin out the pastels today. but my resistance was futile. to kevin i am always and will forever be goth. so i’m just going to have to accept it and move on or else risk losing feeling in my toes and/or find a new chiropractor.

now that that’s out in the open, some other notables:

1) many thanks for making my surgery post pretty much the most popular lunch at 11:30 post ever. (if you didn’t read about my surgery, you really need to b/c it’s mostly about me high on drugs at the hospital and you’ll pee in your pants or at least laugh really loud at work and disrupt your coworkers. the best part is that the anesthesiologist that drugged me actually read the post and commented. i died a little inside. it was that funny.)

1.5) if you read that post, you know about my surgery mix (i.e. the vaguely titled “new mix”). well it turns out “new mix” is great not only for IV insertion (*thump* sorry i fainted again as i wrote that) but also doubles as a fabulous daytime work mix. email me if you want the track list. just call me dj jazzy jess. (wait no. don’t.)

2) last week i made fun of holly on facebook  for sneezing (while driving) and simultaneously honking the car horn saying it was–and i quote–quite possibly the dorkiest thing i’ve ever witnessed.  well over the weekend i sneezed so hard in home depot that my sunglasses slipped off the top of my head and landed lopsided on my nose. my arms were too full of boring home depot sh*t to put them back on my head and some lady yelled BLESS YOU! across the entire garden section and then shouted something about allergies. karma.

3) i’m lucky that holly loves me so much b/c my hair has reached new levels of hugeness lately, due not only to the merciless baltimore heat/humidity but the fact that i think i have  blackberry thumb from data phone addiction and therefore can’t properly straighten my hair. if it gets any larger we may just split up and not b/c she’s going to leave me. because she’ll get pushed out of the house by my hair. there simply won’t be enough room for the both of us. i wish i was kidding but i’m not. yours truly, jessica the non-goth

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.