Friday, February 26, 2010

Finishing the tat

So I’ve been tossing around my commemorative roman-numerals-and-dots-for-each-race marathon tattoo idea since I was inspired by one in Runner’s World a month ago. I drew up some design options, I printed them and cut them out and held them up on various parts of my body to decide where I wanted the ink, and I finally told myself I’d wait until I’d actually finished the New York Marathon in November before I pulled the trigger … and then a buddy of mine got a similar (but WAY bigger) tattoo down the side of his torso last weekend. And it looks HOT:

And then all I could think about was fast-tracking my own commemorative roman-numerals-and-dots-for-each-race marathon tattoo. Especially because I’ll be on a cruise in a week so if I was going to get the tattoo before the cruise I had to do it now so it would have time to heal.

So I did it. Last night. And love it!

Why do I love it? It’s hidden in a peek-a-boo-ey spot that’s both out of the way and attention grabbing. It’s small enough that it didn’t take long to gouge into my flesh and it pretty much healed 24 hours after I got it. It’s meaningful in a personal way and badass in a symbolism-and-dead-language way. Plus it’s totally in my armpit! (And when I stand with my arms at my sides and flare my lats, it actually faces forward. How cool is that?)

I mapped out the dots in such a way that the six marathons I’ve run are represented, there’s room for the seventh, and I can’t run an eighth without totally screwing up the symmetry. So now I have an aesthetic reason to stop running stupid marathons after November. Which is way more compelling than an it-makes-my-knees-hurt-and-sucks-my-social-life-dry reason.

And next November when I have New York under my belt (and pounded into my arches and sucked into my lungs) I totally get to go back for another tattoo! Even though it will just be a tiny little dot. But still! I get to finish the tat! Look I made a tat! Where there never was a tat!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vile, revolting things that have been yanked out of my body, Vol. 2

Those of you who keep up with such things through your Jake shrines and fan fiction and tribute musicales no doubt remember my epic adventures in pilar cyst excision. I had two of the little buggers hacked out of my head two years ago and then got to do it all over again last year. And I got to look at my dead little cysts before they were dried and made into necklaces by underprivileged children at state-run summer camps. And while they (the cysts, not the underprivileged children) were gross from a textbook-definition standpoint, they really looked no worse than exceptionally bloody boogers with a few stray nose hairs sticking out of them. Which was way more fascinating than disgusting to me. Then again, it takes a lot to gross me out. I mean, I’ve seen Sarah Palin on television.


One of the great things about entering your 40s is the way your body starts to betray you. You creak when you walk. You fart when you sneeze. You start wearing socks to bed. And your hearing starts to mess with you. In my case, ambient noise like traffic and bar din can completely drown out conversations I’m having where people’s mouths are literally inches from my ears. And I have to ask the domestic partner—whom I don’t think of as a mumbler—to repeat stuff he says almost half the time he says something to me. Whee!

So I got my doctor to refer me to an otolaryngologist, which is a fancy word for a doctor who specializes in otolaryngology. And I went yesterday to get my hearing checked. And because otolaryngology has so many syllables—or maybe because I have so many ears—I got to be checked out by two doctors. And before we were all done, I actually found myself thoroughly, genuinely grossed out by something that came out of my own body (but not without a fight … I can be macho like that).

The first doctor locked me in a tiny soundproof room with speaker-embedded plugs jammed in my ears so she could conduct two hearing tests. But that’s not the revolting part.

The first part of the test involved listening for wee tiny beeps that were not unlike what I imagine gnat farts sound like. I had to raise my hand every time I heard (or thought I heard) the doctor squeezing a gnat at the other end of the ear plugs. And I had no idea gnats could fart in so many pitches. They certainly are nature’s tragically overlooked musical prodigies. (That’s not the revolting part either.)

Then I had to repeat recorded words that were mumbled into my ear speakers at decibel levels that would make a librarian proud. If I couldn’t understand what the words were, I was told to take a guess. And, though quiet, the words were fairly easy to understand … or at least to guess: garden, mixture, table, Lautner … and then what I SWEAR was … um … date rape. I seriously couldn’t imagine what else the word I heard could be. And instead of politely keeping it in my head I actually said it out loud. To a female doctor. Who was 97 months pregnant. It wasn’t until this morning—after endless wondering all evening—that I figured out that the word was probably gateway. Or possibly Jake Pavelka. In any case, yelling date rape at a pregnant woman wasn’t the revolting part either. If you can imagine.

Once the pregnant doctor had scraped the look of horror off her face and released me from my padded room, I still wasn’t done! Because I still had to see a doctor who actually stuck things in my ears! And that’s where the revolting part comes in.

As I’ve said, I have a pretty high tolerance for gross things. Aside from the aforementioned excisions of bloody keratin lumps from my scalp and the Vice Presidential debates, I also routinely consume giant bowls of chili in front of grisly autopsy dramas like CSI and Bones. So I can handle a lot.

But when the second doctor put a gauze pad on my shoulder and tiny metal funnel in my ear and then poked around deep in my head with an alarmingly lengthy implement … when I felt him pull something out of me that might as well have been a marabou boa … when I felt the tickle of something warm and moist-y bounce off my ear and roll off my shoulder gauze and land in the cook of my bare arm … when I looked down to find what I can only charitably describe as a dried Raggedy Ann tampon staring up at me through a film of matted rat hair … I almost physically gagged. Almost.

And when he’d finished with both ears and showed me the accumulated mass of brown, waxy bulldog bile he’d pulled out of me and I realized that it could easily fill a tablespoon and that I’d been walking around with a full tablespoon of the cheese that collects on Rush Limbaugh’s taint every time they have corduroy pants day at his Sweatin' to the Hateys jazzercise classes crammed in my head … well, I probably reacted in a less-than-awesome way. Then again, I’d just yelled date rape at a pregnant woman so it’s not like I had a firm grasp on the awesomeness yesterday afternoon.

What’s worse, my ears keep pooping out little pellets of the stuff a full 24 hours later, like I have some goddamn bunnies strapped to my head as part of a low-budget production of Star Wars: Revenge of the High-Fiber Plant Eaters featuring Jake as an Earwax-Shitting Princess Leia.

And after all this, the diagnosis from the doctors wasn’t terribly promising. I have minor hearing loss, mostly in the high-frequency range. And there’s nothing they can do about it. They said the earwax removal shouldn’t improve my hearing … though it certainly makes me more aware of the sounds around me. And more aware that I’m capable of producing alarmingly large clumps of waxy brown-black hairballs deep inside my own head.

If that weren’t disturbing enough, I just took a detailed look at the audiology report they gave me as I was writing that last paragraph. And it shows that the pregnant doctor gave me a word recognition score of 100%.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stars upon thars

I finally did it. I finally joined the vanguard of hipness and ahead-of-the-curve technological superiority. Three years after the fact.

I got an iPhone!

My relatively awesome little Verizon flip phone hadn’t given me a lick of trouble in the three years I’d been schlepping it around, but it didn’t do anything more than take pictures and send texts. And, um, sometimes make calls. Though in the last few months it had lost its ability to hold a charge for more than a day.

I wanted an iPhone in the same way Sarah Palin wants to matter. But the domestic partner and his brother were on our Verizon family plan and were both under contract. And we had no beef with Verizon … and tons of concerns about AT&T.

Then! The domestic partner got out of contract. And so did his brother. We thought. But we were too lazy to try to get all three of us in one AT&T store at on time so I could cross over to the side of the mountain with all the sheep.

Then! The domestic partner’s phone went blank. Kinda like when Sarah Palin accidentally wears mittens at a speech. And we had no choice but to pack up the herd and head to the trendier meadow last night.

And in three hours (it seemed) we stumbled out the door with an iPhone for me, a plain old phone for the domestic partner (who can barely be bothered to check his emails and his Facebook on his regular computer) and a plain old phone with a temporary number for the brother-in-law, who it turns out still has another month on his contract. So we’ll cross him over next month when he’s safely a free agent.

Getting an iPhone is just as exciting as getting a tattoo. Except an iPhone doesn’t bleed. And you can figure out how to use a tattoo on the first try. And you pay for a tattoo only once. And a tattoo doesn’t punish you for having big meaty fingers when you try to send texts on it. And a tattoo makes you look badass. Or delusional. But you can take pictures of a tattoo with an iPhone and not the other way around. So there’s that.

And the first two apps I downloaded—Facebook and the CTA Bus Tracker—are so far more irritating than useful to me. Especially the CTA Bus Tracker, which incorrectly predicted FOUR bus arrivals this morning … two of them by 15 minutes. But maybe I’m just not smart enough to understand the words “2 MIN.” Or something.

In the mean time, I can’t be bothered with Middle Ages technology like blogging and laptops. I have apps to download! And texts to misspell! And—as always—Sarah Palin insults to dream up!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Things I have cleaned

My pee shoes
Even after repeated scrubbings with harsh chemicals and a stiff brush, my favorite tennis shoes still smelled like, well, a cat peed on them. And since they float, their one adventure in our crappy old top-loading washing machine was as effective as a Sarah Palin. But! Our magical new front-loading washing machine rotates and re-rotates and sloshes and spins in such a way that my incredible floating shoes couldn’t get away from the water and the suds (and the dash of bleach I threw in as a precaution) … and now they’re as clean and awesome as the day before the cat even discovered I owned them.

My weightlifting gloves
They’re made of leather and some stretchy elastic material. They’re designed to wick away moisture and improve my grip and prevent calluses and make me look extra-butch when I’m throwing the ol’ weights around the gym. But lately they’d started to smell like my arm did after it had been in a cast for six weeks. And if you’ve ever smelled cast rot you’d know it’s not the way to attract the ladies. Even if you look extra-butch. So I threw them in the wash with a load of darks thinking the worst thing that could happen is they’d come out in pieces and I’d be out a $15 pair of one-year-old gloves. But! They came out just like they were before … minus the smell of rotting flesh. Everyone wins!

My winter coat
This paragraph does not come with a compelling story. My big old puffy Gap winter coat hadn’t been washed since I lived in my highrise and had access to the front-loading washing machines in its vast laundry room. And now that we have a front-loading machine in our low-to-the-ground vintage condo I decided to wash it again. And it came out nice and clean. See? Boring story. But with a clean-coat ending!

My family’s clocks
The domestic partner and I spent Valentine’s Day weekend in Iowa with my family, where my eight-year-old niece and I proceeded to kick the, well, clocks off of the domestic partner and my sister (both of whom are well over eight years old) at Sequence. And then the domestic partner and I tied for the win in a full-family Game of Things, which would be a lot more fun with just adults but we all managed to squeeze in some inappropriate answers without corrupting the children too much. For instance! The thing that would make school more fun: I won with Underpants day! The thing you’d hate to find in your sandwich: I won with Grandma! The thing you should never do when you ride a bike: I won with Hold a leaky bag of pudding! I am clearly a winner. Which is why we won’t mention the three games of Rummikub I played while I was there. And if you try to bring it up, I’ll just shout out one of my winning Game of Things answers until you give up and go away. Underpants day!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Our new baby

Here's what happens when your hamper gets full

and you have a guest-bathroom tub that’s not being used anyway:

The halfway decent washing machine installed by the halfway decent developer of our totally-awesome-because-we-fixed-it-up Two-Bathroomed, One-Fireplaced Barbie Dream Condo only six years ago died two weeks ago. And the not-even-halfway-on-time repairman we called said the transmission was shot (who knew washing machines had transmissions?) and wasn’t worth fixing. Once he eventually showed up and looked at it, that is.

So we went online to research stackable washer/dryer units and discovered that 1) there really aren’t many of them on the market and 2) only one of them (front loading!) is Energy Star rated. At least of the models available at the stores where we can afford to shop. Normally I give myself a couple days to make a decision about a big expensive purchase, but it looked like we had exactly one choice so I just bought it on the spot. Online. I never even had to talk to a human! The Internets are made of the awesome.

Anyway! The delivery couldn’t happen until today. And in the mean time we kept wearing clothes. And they were spilling out of the hamper to the extent they were impeding our walking about the totally-awesome-because-we-fixed-it-up Two-Bathroomed, One-Fireplaced Barbie Dream Condo. So the domestic partner had the genius idea to start dumping them in the tub. And I had the genius idea to take a picture. After hiding all but apparently one pair of underwear.

On the plus side through all the waiting, our closets were totally easy to pick through because they weren’t bursting with clothes. On the minus side, the stuff we had to pick through wasn’t the favorite stuff we usually wear. So we’ve been looking kind of 2007-y this last week. Please don’t laugh.

But now! We have our tub back! Oh, and we have a new Energy Star-rated stackable washer/dryer (front loading!). And the domestic partner has been home all day playing catch-up on our laundry. And as soon as I get home tonight, I’m totally gonna start dressing like it’s 2010.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A self portrait from the camera phone

I'm in NYC! And I just spent a shit-ton of money on a bridge. But it reportedly has a view.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I saved $19.30 with coupons and rebates this weekend!

Plus I had an MRI.

I’m probably about to tell you waaaaaay too much medical information about myself. Or maybe not enough, depending on your level of fascination about such things.

Anyway! I got the lab results back from my annual physical last week. And it turns out I’m about a quart low on whatever it is that’s supposed to squirt out of my thyroid. So I’m now taking thyroid medication. Every morning. For the rest of my life. Like an old person. At least like an old person with an underperforming thyroid.

I mentioned this fact to a handful of friends and … um … all of Facebook last week. And it turns out a number of people I know are hypothyroidic (if that’s the adjective form) as well. And they universally claim that their diagnosis and subsequent better living through pills completely reignited their saggy old lives. Like me, they just thought they’d become the kind of person who’s chronically rundown and plagued by dry skin and stubborn bodyfat, among other more personal problems. And everything I’ve read about the drug therapy I’m on tells me that the small indignities I thought were just the cost of living into your 40s are probably tied to easily correctible thyroid issues. So I’m eagerly awaiting the second coming of my youth once the meds kick in.

In the mean time, I also have another problem: too much of some other chemical being squirted out of my brain. And apparently the first line of defense is a look at the damn thing. And the easiest way to get in my head and poke around without completely collapsing my facelift is an MRI.

Having an MRI is like being buried alive in a coffin that screams at you.

Here’s how it works: You’re dressed in an embarrassing little hospital gown. You’re immobilized on a sliding deli tray. You’re squirted full of dye. You’re slid into a tiny little tube where you don’t dare open your eyes in case you suddenly discover you’re claustrophobic. You’re told to lie perfectly still as unseen Thor-like monsters have anvil-and-garbage-can fights mere millimeters from your ears. And you don’t … dare … move … for a full 45 minutes.

But you wanna hear something funny? I actually fell asleep about 10 minutes into mine on Saturday.

And when I woke up, I had what turned out to be an all-day sinus headache. Plus a bleeding hole in my arm where the dye needle had been. Plus a Grammy Award. Oh, wait. That greedy Beyonce took all the Grammys. So apparently Squirty Brain and the Bleedy Armhole won’t be going platinum this year.