Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Trip To The Hospital

I woke my mom up at about three thirty this morning. You see, since Thursday, there’s been a pressure on my heart and I was getting random shooting pains that went into my chest and sometimes down my arm. I didn’t say anything for awhile because I thought it would go away.

But I was tired and couldn’t sleep because the pain was nearly unbearable.

On the way to the hospital, I laughed, “If this is my trick, I better get a damn good treat.”

My mom chuckled too and helped me remain positive. Whenever the pain would get too much she would start telling me a story and just keep talking until it passed.

The lady at the Triage desk was...unpleasant. My mother and I quietly discussed her miserable attitude while waiting for the lady at Registration. Key Banger (Registration lady) made us seriously miss Long Face (Triage lady).

In our haste to leave the house after calling 811 (they succinctly told us we shouldn’t be messing around with chest pain like that, “You should have called 911!”) I forgot to grab my wallet. My Carecard is in my wallet.

(You see, we were both scared about the intense pain a twenty-year-old (me) was having and the lady on the phone freaked me out when I talked to her. My Carecard was the last thing on my mind.)

Key Banger (rudely) asked for my care card. She was not at all happy I forgot it (or when I told her I had been to the hospital a hundred times already). She banged her keys viciously – she could not have hit those things any harder (trust me) while she entered in my information. Like really take a hammer to it already! It’ll get the job done quicker.

She was the kind of lady people write short stories about (I told my mom as much).

My mom was disappointed when the room (or curtained off enclosure) I got just had a swivel chair and no bed. I was too. Regardless, I sat there innocently reading the King of Horror’s book on writing again. Instead of reading her book, my mom would sneak out of the enclosure and spy on other people.

Every couple minutes she would come back with some interesting information.

“There’s a guy over there, I think he’s writing a novel.” She said, as I turned a page in my book, “He’s been sitting there for fifteen minutes writing.”

“I think it takes more than fifteen minutes to write a book mom.”

Also, the people across from us had been jumped and one guy got fifteen stitches in his head. My mom had some theories on them...

I got a blood test done (gross). The nurse (who had just finished calling me normal – for my fear of needles) looked at me like I was nuts when I asked, “My blood looks pretty cool, can I have a vial?”

My mom snorted. “I think you’ve been reading too many vampire books.”

“No, no. I read somewhere that an author had a vial of his own blood on his desk. I thought it was kind of cool.”

“He sounds crazy.” The nurse offered as she finished removing the needle (We use this needle on babies, no need to worry about it....obviously that wasn’t very comforting, for someone who is afraid of needles!)

What the nurse didn’t say but was written all over her face was, "You are crazy."

So the only time someone calls me normal they rescind it within five minutes...

My mother – being the light in the dark she is – assured me I was loopy and the nurse calling me normal was just a bad first impression.

Thanks mom.

My three hours at the hospital finished with me getting stickers on my legs, arms and chest. I felt like I was six(that was the last time I ever wanted to cover myself with stickers).

I’m not entirely past the this-situation-is-awkward-teenage-girl-giggle thing. Because I went red (apparently) and giggled hysterically as the nurse put stickers around my heart (on my bare skin!).

By the time she came back to my chest to hook me to the clips and the wires, my mom, in her unfailing wisdom, pointed out, “at least you’re not red anymore.”

“Yeah well, I figure you went through more embarrassment having me then I’m having right now.”

“That’s true.”

It was pretty cool watching the machine (all the tubes were connected to a machine) print out a picture with a bunch of squiggly lines on it. It was pretty.

A huge downfall is the pain in my chest could last up to a week. My chest cavity is inflamed (a consequence of my viral infection) and all the medication that helps with inflammation is really bad for asthmatics. So it’s just wading through.

But at least it’s not actually my heart.

As far as trips to the hospital go (and I’ve had plenty) this was probably the most entertaining. Ever.

Word Of The Day: ECG (Electrocardiogram) - a test that measures the activity in your heart

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Pro's Of Sickness

The best part about being sick is missing an entire week of school. The worst part about getting sick is missing an entire week of school.

I remember the days when I would have been ecstatic to miss a day of school. Actually, I frequently went out of my way to give myself random holidays (meaning I came up with idiotic reasons on why I deserved not to go).

Now I’m freaking out because I have a midterm next week, have a bunch of assignments that I should be working on and after tomorrow will have missed twelve hours of lectures. That is daunting stuff my friends.

But thanks to the doctors I am now on the mend (though I could really do without this face mask (I’m all for protecting my family but who’s protecting my dignity?)) and will probably be fine to take that Psychology midterm. I’m pretty sure my assignments will be fine too. I have faith in my abilities.

Being sick brings things into perspective, things like what your friends think about you....and your stuff. “Can you ask your mom if when you die I can come over to your house and pick something to remember you by?”

At least people want to remember me. The fact that they can’t (without their grubby fingers grabbing at my leftovers before I’m cold in the ground...before death is even, really, in the cards) is kind of off-putting though. I always liked to see myself as one of those memorable characters. You know the kind that in books or movies, where even if they’ve only got one line, you never forget them. They've just got that extra something.


Well, you can’t have everything, right?

The blow was softened by the great idea to simply fill my room with dirt so I can be buried with all my stuff. It just cracked me up. Unfortunately that led to some serious coughing.... probably also brought me one step closer to that whole dying thing (temporarily of course). It also led to my mom wondering how, if my room was filled with dirt, the dog would get to the back door so he could go to the bathroom.

On a less sickly note, I got a bit of writing done. Not as much as I would have liked but a tad, which is much better than the last couple of months. I’ve been really pathetic with the whole writing thing (on my book) but, apparently the endings changed slightly and things have been moved around (all in my head of course).

And so, in the spirit of getting the ball rolling again, what better time to sink my teeth back in then when I’m sick. Considering the entire premise came to me when I had pneumonia last year...

Maybe being sick isn’t so bad....

You know, if you ignore all the gritty details, the uncomfortable nature and just generally feeling terrible and well, just allow yourself to not worry about things temporarily out of your control (like school). With all this time on my hands... it lets my characters get really loud in my head, you know... since they're trying to compete with the headache and all...

Word Of The Day: Afflatus - inspiration; an impelling mental force acting from within

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Procrastination is productive

“No one wastes time quite like I do; I can waste time like no one else.” (1)

That phrase does a fairly good job of capturing me and my worst habit: procrastination. I never seem to have enough time in the day (I’m sure many of you understand this dilemma).

Today, however, my seeds of procrastination were rewarded with some extremely juicy fruit.

Browsing the library at school in order to avoid reading my psychology textbook I discovered etymology – namely the study of the origins of words and phrases – and more specifically toponyms.

(A toponym is a word derived from a place or region.)

The book Toposaurus: A Humorous Treasury of Toponyms by John D Jacobson (as the title aptly suggests) was the source of two hours of entertainment. I didn’t read the whole thing; just sporadically flipping through pages and stopped whenever my eye was caught (I’m easily distracted so that was fairly often).

I thought I would share some of the more interesting (to me, anyways) findings.

Many of the words and phrases enriching our language come from fictional literature:

Cheshire cat: Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) is generally associated with the Cheshire cat.
This isn’t true – shocking for a Wonderland Wannabe such as myself. The first appearance of the beloved (utterly mad) cat was actually from a book published 82 years earlier by some guy named Wolcott entitled A Pair of Luric Epistles: “Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin.” Jacobson found an explanation for the idea of the Cheshire cat: Cheshire cheese – hard cheese, yellowish, orange or white, similar to cheddar – was once sold in Cheshire England, and molded like a widely grinning cat.

On a separate humorous note, apparently in the 19th century the expression grinning like a Cheshire cat was followed by eating cheese (cheese, though quite good – in my experience – does not cause one to grin like a lunatic), chewing gravel (umm, does this make any sense to anyone else? Or am I alone in my bewilderment?), evacuating bones (what a revolting image – the Cheshire cat as a zombie).

Lilliputian: comes from Jonathan Swift popular book Gulliver’s Travels. Gulliver’s first stop was Lilliput where the people were one twelfth his size. Lilliputian is currently defined as extremely small, tiny or diminutive. It can also be described as someone who is narrow or petty in outlook.

(The idea of making up a word for a place – or really any word – and using it in my novel and have it transcend the scope of my book and bleed into real life is crazy, in that oddly thrilling way. It’s also now made it onto my list of goals [have at least one made of word become a real word] – I just have to make up a list to go with it now....)

Some more interesting – though not from fiction – words:

Lesbian: There is actually a place on this earth where everyone is called Lesbians – with a capital “L”. In the eastern Aegean Sea off the northwest coast of Turkey there is an island called Lesbos, it is natural then, that they be called Lesbians. So how, pray tell, did the name of these people deviate so far from its original meaning? Well it started because a lady named Sappho (born in 612 B.C.) became a poetess (considered by scholars to be among the world’s greatest poets) and leader of a group of young women who were dedicated to the cult of Aphrodite. The great affection she expressed for these girls was the cause of the change in meaning.

Dollar: In the 16th century in Joachimsthal (now in Czechoslovakia and now known as Jachymow), where the Counts of Shlick resided and minted coins that came from their family’s own silver mine. The coins were known as Joachimsthalers which locals shortened to thalers. When the thalers reached the land of the Dutch, the word thaler was altered to daler, which the English rounded out to dollar. Any coins now minted in Jachymow would literally glow in the dark since they have switched from mining silver to mining uranium (What would you do for glowing money? I know I’d do just about anything – it’s so cool!).

Cheap: It goes back to the Latin word cauponis: merchant. The word later emerged as ceap an Old English word meaning to barter or sell (this lasted into the Shakespearean period). As the “c” in ceap changed from a hard “k” sound to a soft “ch” the meaning also changed. In London, England, a major bargain center was called Cheapside – Londoners could barter with merchants to buy goods at low or cheap prices. This was instrumental in changing the word to its now inexpensive definition.

I hope you guys found this information at least half as interesting as I did!

And remember this lesson: procrastination can be productive.

(1) A line from Wooden Heart by The Duke Spirits.

Word Of The Day: Pejoration - change in a word to a less respectable meaning. (Cheap is an example of this)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Lucky Day

Today was my lucky day.

Not only was my head filled with valuable (hopefully reusable) information pertaining to two fascinating subjects (Astronomy and Psychology) but I didn’t have any trouble getting the Good Couch in the Student Lounge over my five hour break which is usually a problem on Tuesdays. To add some sprinkles to this already scrumptious day: I received optimal parking, had delicious thanksgiving leftovers, finished all my work, chatted with some friends, and even got in an hour of writing.

And, things only get better when school is done for the day.... right?

I walked into the cafeteria, ecstatic when I noticed there was a spot on the leather couches therein. Plopping down, I set out to wait for Ramona to finish classes so we could drive home, hang out and have an all around enjoyable time.

I was practically humming.

Then, I digested my surroundings. The other three couches were occupied by an eccentric (to put it nicely) group of characters. Obviously all friends, they carried on a lively discussion – now, I’m not going to sit here and condone eavesdropping (what would your mother say, right?) but really, when people are subliminally screaming for attention with their body language and volume, how can you not?

What followed was one of the most scarring 23 minutes and 48 seconds of my life.

It began with an anecdote on the cheap quality of the cafeteria’s spoons. The spoons, you see, melt in the soup. This of course provided them with ample material to make terrible jokes, produce unwanted imagery (for me, at least) and make themselves look like moronic idiots.

They veered off on a tangent to discuss how through the use of Hardcore Metal an average, geeky kid (with acne riddled armour), glasses, and his ever faithful electric guitar would defeat all evil in the world (with a sufficient amount of gore), acquire ceaseless fame along with heaps of cash, and finally win that bodacious babe (who had always been just out of his reach – he would stick it to all the kids who mercilessly teased him with this one, certainly!).

A girl among them, with frumpy clothing and a green (possibly homemade) scarf swathed around her neck turned the debate from The Boy Who Slayed to proper pregnancy prevention. How, I hear you asking?

Well she took the hands on approach.

And no, I don’t mean she grabbed someone, shoved him on the table and proceeded to have her wicked way with him, for all to see.

Instead, she casually took a condom from her wallet (which, may I add, is not a proper storage technique), unwrapped it like Christmas came early and rolled it on. Her hands. Both of them. I stared in absolute horror as she wiggled her fingers in their newfound constraints. She began pulling her hands apart and slowly putting them back together, playing with the resistance of the material.

Surprisingly it took the rest of her comrades a good five minutes to notice her current mode of entertainment. Oh, if only I had been so lucky.

“What are you doing! No, better question - why is there a condom on your hands?” A newcomer – the one to notice her occupation – with wildly bushy hair and neon green, pink and yellow tie-dye cut off shorts asked his friend.

“I like the way it feels.” She replied, perfectly serious.

I threw up a little. No, seriously – who in their bloody right mind would even say such a thing in the middle of a cafeteria when there are loads of people around. Wait, why am I even asking that question when I’m talking about the same girl who whipped it out in the first place.

Obviously the chick is not in her right mind.

Through strenuous analysis (or uncomfortable situations that make one wish they were both blind and deaf – not an often occurrence I assure you) I’ve realized that talking about condoms leads to talking of sex which, in turn, leads to someone feeling the need to express their sexuality.

Within minutes another girl (this one with shredded black leggings so you could see 70% of her legs) predatorily approached the leader of The Boy Who Slayed discussion (obviously a geeky boy, acne and glasses included) before straddling him and giving him a thirty second, free of charge, preview of her future career as a lap dancer.

I know your thinking the same thing I was – what the hell is wrong with these people?

If I knew, I’d tell you.

Every single one of them laughed, cheered her on and then complained when she hopped off him with a saucy little smile and burst into laughter herself.

To add his own piece to the excitement, our observant tie-dye aficionado, decided (and proclaimed) the best way to mix his salad was to imitate a vibrator. I, grudgingly admit, he pulled off the impersonation (can you say that about an inanimate object?) perfectly. Every single muscle in that boy’s body shook aggressively.

It would have been impressive, humorous even, if it wasn’t so horrifying to witness.

Finally, Frumpy Condom Girl's excessive manipulations caused the condom to snap and break. She peeled the tattered remains off her hands, threw the destroyed item on the floor, rubbed her hands together, and sniffed them. Yes, she sniffed them.

Two words that come to my mind? Fucking gross.

Of course, she became the hot topic of discussion among her friends - again.

This proved to be enough for me as I studiously hid behind my computer screen for the last five minutes, unable to do much of anything since I was in such a state of bewilderment.

Throughout all of this random discussion, occasionally someone would break out in a terrible rendition of several lines from random songs. It was overlooked by everyone, it seemed, but me.

Ramona’s class finally let out and she joined me on the couch, apologizing for being late. I wasn’t so forgiving, as I deftly pointed out, I was surrounded by a bunch of freaks. Ramona looked around – one of the boys had decided to stand on the table and make grandiose motions with his hands (only god knows why) – it took her all of 10 seconds to giggle and wholeheartedly agree.

They were whack-jobs, the lot of them.

So you can understand my frustration when Ramona informs me that she forgot about the rehearsal she needed to attend later on, so she wouldn’t be needing that ride after all. I was subjected to that.... suffering, for nothing.

23 minutes and 48 seconds of my life that I will never get back. Good grief, the things one must endure for their friends.

The dénouement to my now (according to the scaling of Good vs. Bad) mediocre day is: traffic was horrendous and though my stomach was grumbling at nearly half past six, there was no dinner.

Ah well, maybe this will brighten someone else’s day as they laugh at the absurdity of it all.

You win some, you lose some, right?

Word Of The Day: Lackadaisical - without interesest, vigor or determination; listless; lethargic; indolent; lazy