MOVING! To an all-new, really fancy, attempting to be professional domain! It’s still me, and still the same kind of writing, just in a new place! (And I’m still using WordPress, so you should be able to follow me.) So jump on over to http://www.twirlywrites.com so we can keep up with each other!
Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve made some pretty cool projects in the last few months. There were some Christmas ornaments that aren’t worth showing, a candle holder of the same ilk, and a burlap wreath made from this lovely tutorial that I found on Pinterest.
While those things are quite exciting, they don’t even compare with what I did next.
Behold! An ordinary cabinet from Ross.
I admit, there’s not much to it. But there’s potential! I saw this cabinet, and I said to myself, “Twirly, you just found your next project.”
And again, behold! The supplies that made the rest of the project possible.
We started that very day. First, Grover disassembled the thing as much as possible. The shelves don’t come out, which made the whole thing a bit more complicated, but it was fine. We primed it and spray painted what will hereafter be referred to as “the metal scrolly things.”
So that happened. Then came painting, inclement weather, and more painting.
After a trip to Pennsylvania and far more time than I anticipated this project taking–voila! It’s finished.
I got quite a few books this Christmas; not least among them, an abridged collection of Grimm’s Fairytales. Having never read them before, I was most excited. These were said to be the originals, the stories from which the ones of our childhoods were born. And they were supposed to be dark. Chilling. Even… grim.
They were good. I liked them. They’re short, plot-driven tales that tend to follow a repetitive formula. This makes them great for oral recitation, and for children (especially those who like to know what’s coming next). Some of the stories began the same, but ended differently. The Grimm brothers have managed to create tales that, while not morality tales, are useful for instruction.
But I couldn’t help being a bit disappointed.
Yes, yes. There were some dark elements in the stories. A lot of characters die, and a few are maimed. Many fall from wealth and high standing. But the stories aren’t as dark as I was expecting. From the time that we are told about Grimm’s Fairytales, we know that they’re the scary, grown-up versions of our Disney cartoons. And yet… they’re not. Everybody knows that Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper (how the prince doesn’t notice until a bird tells him is beyond me), that Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother get eaten by the wolf and must be saved by the Huntsman, that Hansel and Gretel kill the wicked witch by pushing her in the oven. But that’s as scary as it got in my collection. Are there more stories out there that have darker elements than these? I’m not even a horror fan and these were tame. Perhaps Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytales will be more gripping.
Before I begin, don’t panic. I am not now, nor was I ever, in any life-threatening danger. The whole thing seems silly in retrospect. So calm down.
I knew that going to the cabin was going to wreak havoc on my lungs. It did last year. But this time, I was ready. This time, I had Zyrtec. The real stuff, too–none of those generics that my body has grown accustomed to. I assured myself that this year would be better. I’d be fine.
Between the wood stove, the excessive changes in temperature between snowy outdoors and broiling indoors, and the two dogs, my allergies were having a party in my sinuses and chest. But at least my nose wasn’t completely clogged like last year. I could breathe, even if the cost was a deep, hacking cough. The stairs were harder than I anticipated; it took at least five minutes for me to calm down the harmonica in my throat. My body temperature wouldn’t regulate, which was also odd. I was either sweating or shivering while under two blankets. The thought that I might be sick never entered my mind. It was just allergies–extreme allergies, sure. But I could handle this.
I suppressed my cough for the four hour ride home. Coughing used up too much air, and I wasn’t getting as much as I would have liked. My diaphragm was sore, like my throat.
Three to seven days for the allergens to get out of your system. That’s how it’s always been.
The thought made me want to cry. I knew it would get better, but I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to breathe freely now. I’d take Mucinex when we got home. I always had Mucinex, ever since my junior year of college when these symptoms first got out of control.
Grover gave me the smallest bags to carry into the apartment. I dropped them and collapsed on the couch, coughing. Coughing. I tried to gasp, tried to stop, tried to breathe–but I couldn’t. There was a screen across my throat, one with tiny holes and thick wires. Every cough made it pulse, and phlegm slapped against it. Each time I gasped, the kazoo and harmonica in my throat harmonized.
When all my air was gone, I forced a gulp of oxygen into my lungs, swallowing whatever was coating my throat.
Had I put it in the bathroom? The linen closet? I stumbled around, looking for the square bottle of my salvation.
It was nowhere to be found. The coughing started again.
Albuterol. You need albuterol.
Albuterol? I hadn’t had an inhaler since third grade. Why would I need albuterol now? And where could I get something like it? I didn’t want to make Grover take me anywhere after the hours he’d already driven. But everything hurt. I started to cry, which made all of my symptoms worse.
That’s when my mom called. I’d asked her about the Mucinex, which I had apparently left at her house in Massachusetts. She was calling to see what was wrong.
“You need to go to the ER,” she told me. I argued. I didn’t want to go. We’d had such a long day; I wanted a temporary fix, something to clear my throat until I could take more Zyrtec in the morning. But all we had was NyQuil, and that wouldn’t help. “Get in the car right now and go to the hospital. They’ll give you a nebulizer and an inhaler, and they’ll take you right away because it’s a breathing problem. Promise me you’ll go.”
And so, at 10:30 PM on a Sunday, after driving for nearly five hours already, Grover took me to the hospital.
Neither of us have been to the emergency room since we moved here. Grover might work in the hospital, but (from what I can tell) he works in a different building of the “medical campus” entirely. He did most of the talking when we got through the door, although I managed to croak out that I have a history of allergies and asthma, and that I just needed albuterol. The girl at the check-in desk was friendly, gave me a bracelet and a mask (“to protect you from everyone else, and to protect us from all your little germies”), and had me sign a few things before letting me sit down. Mom was right; they took me within a minute.
As is often the case with medical issues, it cleared up almost as soon as the door opened for the nurse who called, “Leah?”
“That’s me,” I said. She didn’t hear.
“Leah?” She sounded agitated. I stood up. Grover stayed put. “Come with me.”
I went into the back, where the nurse sat me down and took my blood pressure. She had lots of questions, including one where I was supposed to rate my pain level. Looking around me, I felt silly. Pain? The coughing had hurt, and my diaphragm was a little sore, but the pain wasn’t the issue. The air was.
It was at this point that the nurse took me to another waiting area and put me on an oxygen machine. She got Grover, and the night of waiting began.
“Do they even have air going through this thing?” Grover asked, checking the level. He laughed. “This is just for looks. She only have you the O2 because she had to. It’s on the lowest level.” I squirmed. The cannula were tickly and itchy and irritating, and I didn’t want to keep them in, but I didn’t want to get in trouble. So I scrunched my nose and dealt with it.
Other people came through the waiting area; one man was in a wheelchair, while a few others were in hospital gowns. I felt so childish. Had it really been so scary? These people had much bigger problems than I did, ones that actually merited a trip to the emergency room. I was just an overweight asthmatic who didn’t own an inhaler.
After a few hours, Grover and I were taken into an exam room. I got on the bed, and a doctor came in and took the cannula away. I could tell he thought I was pretty dumb. But his nurse hooked me up to another machine to monitor my vitals, and they left us there. For at least another hour. It wasn’t particularly exciting. A third nurse came by, gave me a nebulizer treatment, forgot about us for awhile, and then released me with a prescription for an inhaler which Grover picked up yesterday.
I’m still coughing a little, but I’m happy to be breathing again.
A few nights ago, Grover and I stopped at IHOP on our way home from the airport. It was after midnight, so the restaurant was almost empty. Still, there were four people in a booth near ours; I can’t imagine they were out of high school. Here’s an excerpt of what I heard one of them say on our way in:
“No, I don’t want to do that because I don’t want people calling me a thot and then they’ll be calling you a thot and I just don’t want to be putting up with that shit.”
For those of you who don’t know, “thot” is the new hip word for “slut.” What a promising beginning.
I noticed that our waitress was unusually preoccupied with this particular table. The young woman whom I had overheard was agitated. An almost constant stream of “excuse me” and “waitress” was punctuated by finger snaps and eye rolls. Here’s what I heard next…
Customer: Where are my eggs?
Waitress: I’m sorry; I thought you said you didn’t want them. I would be happy to–
C: No, I said I won’t be paying for this, but I want you to bring me some more.
W: I’m very sorry, but–
C: You know what? Get me your manager.
So the poor waitress did. I saw her recount the story with hesitant gestures and glances over her shoulder. The manager was a young man, not much older than myself. The customer claimed that there was a hair in her food, and, “We wouldn’t be having this issue if your girls in the back had proper hair protection.” The clumsy accusation was greeted by giggling which interrupted the manager’s kind offer to replace the food, despite the girl’s insistence that the entire meal should be free.
A few minutes later, the waitress reappeared with a plate of steaming hot eggs–which the customer proceeded to refuse.
“No, no–you know what? I thought I wanted them, but now I’m not sure. I’m scared–I’m afraid to eat them. What if there’s something wrong with these ones too? I just–how about you give me these things for free, and we can call it even?”
The waitress was visibly upset now, and had to fetch the manager again. He rolled his eyes, taking the plate of now-lukewarm eggs, and strode over to the table. I’m not sure what exactly what was said, as I was paying my own bill at the time. However, I did see the ungrateful child munching on eggs and laughing wildly as we left the restaurant.
Now. I have no problem with it if you want to return your food because they got your order wrong, or if there is something unsanitary about it. Most places will replace your meal without charging you in such cases. However, if you proceed to make a public scene or heckle the wait staff about it, this message is for you.
If you think that it is your right to get a free meal, think again. You are not entitled to special treatment, no matter how bad you think your meal was. It is never appropriate to treat a waiter who has done their best for you as abominably as that customer did. For starters, she was kind, courteous, and did her best to rectify the situation. And, point of order, she didn’t even make the food! Furthermore, the accusation against the sanitation of the back rooms was completely ludicrous, as it is safe to assume that the customer in question has never seen the kitchen of an IHOP, or any other restaurant. I hope that one day she (and anyone like her) will be made to work as a waitress, and that she will be heckled at one in the morning by a child as ungrateful as she was. This is just the kind of immature behavior that makes me wonder what her parents would say–if, indeed, she has parents at all! (Okay, maybe that was a bit extreme. I’m a bit fired up over here.) Look. What I’m saying is that we as a society seem to have lost our concept of appropriate public behavior in the sea of our own self-centeredness. We need to realize that the world does not revolve around us, and that we aren’t entitled to anything. We complain all the time about things that we can control or change, but we don’t make any effort to do any good in the world. We can’t even be bothered to be kind to each other–or even respectful. It’s disgusting and tiresome, and I very nearly gave the girl in the other booth a piece of my mind.
So. You’ve probably figured out that NaNoWriMo was kind of a bust for me. It was, in no small degree, difficult to write a story that was already half-conceived on a busted computer that I hadn’t backed up. The computer is fixed now, and I’ve learned my lesson about hard drive backups–and typing on the iPad. Ugh. Worst ever. We are definitely going to buy a keyboard for that thing.
I did write a bit in the month of November, though not nearly as much as I had planned. But that’s okay. Sometimes, we need a period of germination, and I think November was one. I’ve got a new story that makes me tingle with the need to write it. Don’t expect any sneak peeks, though; this one is personal, intense, and I question its propriety. It lights my brain on fire, though–and that’s what matters.
Now, on to more holiday themed thoughts.
This year marks my first time celebrating all the major holidays without my family. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy. Grover has been taking extra hours at the hospital, in addition to studying for his certification exam. Don’t get me wrong: he’s still been the most attentive husband on the planet, but I feel guilty for distracting him with my forced holiday silliness. I kept telling myself that I good wife would make him study for the entire week before his test; I, meanwhile, made him decorate ornaments and Christmas cookies with me. (Things are looking up though. He took his test yesterday and PASSED! No more studying!!!)
I’m torn, though. You only get one first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first anything as newlyweds. I want to make these things fun and memorable; I certainly don’t want to look back and say, “We didn’t engage in any holiday fun-time because Grover was really committed to things at work.” I don’t want him to look back with regret.
But that’s not all. I’m compensating. I know that I am. You see, I have these two wonderful parents and one wonderful brother and three lovely sisters and their husbands and four amazing nephews who live more than four hundred miles away and I just miss them terribly and sometimes it makes me so sad that I just break down and cry. And that’s not even including my thirty-plus hilarious cousins, ten hysterical aunts and uncles, and two grandparents who have been driving since the Model T Ford. My family is huge and colorful and pulsing with life–really: my grandfather is the most with-it ninety-three-year-old you’ve ever met, and my grandmother is not far behind. I know that life in New England didn’t stop just because I moved… but the ache almost makes me wish it could have. My cousins are decorating Christmas cookies, my nephews are doing crafts with the kids my sister nannies, and Chris freaking Evans did a free meet-and-greet in my hometown and I’m not there to be part of it.
The phrase “New England” brings my to my next point: the weather. You may recall my gripe about Virginia’s lack of a proper autumn; well. I’m beginning to think that Virginia’s seasons are broken, or at least malfunctioning. I realize that I’m not nearly as close to the tundra (Canada) as I used to be, but this isn’t exactly the Caribbean. What I’m saying is
Where is the snow?!
I used to joke that I had a mild form of seasonal depression. Now I’m beginning to wonder if it’s true. Because, while I have always felt that snow in September is a bit much, no snow two weeks before Christmas is just unbearable. Today’s forecast reads a current temperature of forty three, with a high of fifty seven. Fifty seven degrees. What is this? This is all wrong! This is like Pine Tree, Vermont in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Where are Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye staying? I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of them.
Okay, yes, I understand that this weather is probably considered “normal” for Virginia. But the world is grey and overcast. Without a sparkling layer of snow, there’s just no hope. I haven’t even seen frost yet. This isn’t even global warming. It’s just… sad; the kind of sadness that seeps into your skin, crawls inside your soul, and curls up inside your gut.
Which brings us circling back to my holiday activity compensation. I’m trying to create the giddiness of Christmas without family or snow. Sometimes it feels like mourning, but I have a good husband to hold me and a great Savior to strengthen me. Soon enough, it will be the New Year, and I’ll see my family again. There might even be snow.
I know. I promised this one about three posts ago. Apologies.
Confession: Until recently, I was repulsed by thrift shopping. I am about to show you an ugly and insensitive part of myself. You’ve been warned.
Thrift shopping was, I thought, only for people who were too poor to buy things new. It was for the near-homeless, the destitute, the little old lady who lived in a shoe with so many children that she didn’t know what to do and had to go thrift shopping to clothe them all. Thrift shops were dirty and uncomfortable. I would only be seen in one if I was looking for a costume piece or an ugly sweater. This turned out to be a bit of a problem when Grover and I were dating–but we’ll get to that.
Then I went to college. I became friends with one of the president’s many daughters. She always looked fantastic in a mod/retro/vintage sort of way. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that she was (and is, I’m sure) an avid thrift shopper. She said that thrift shopping was an art. The key was to have a mission–one that you were willing to throw out the window at a moment’s notice. Don’t be too specific, she said, and you’ll be successful.
We meant to go thrifting together, but I dropped the ball.
Time flows merrily by.
With the advent of the DIY revolution, thrift shopping has become trendy–and not just for clothing. Furniture, electronics, and home decor items are popular to upgrade or “refurbish” in the world of Pinterest and Etsy. With a little paint, even the most garish of thrift shop vases can be put on display with no shame to the owner.
Now, Grover–like my friend–grew up in the culture of thrift shopping. It’s been a bear to get me to join him. Recently, I’ve had a (sort of) change of heart. As long as we stick to furniture and kitchen stuff, I’ll go to all the thrift shops he wants. I’m in the market for a good buffet sideboard that costs less than $150. (Optimistic? Yes.) I’m going to paint it. I’m most excited.
I still think clothes and shoes ought to be bought new, though. Just my opinion.