So many possibilities.

Do you know how many samples of my frightening genetic code would be out there if I could sell my sperm? Not that I have sperm. That sounded like I’m speaking of my sperm like I have sperm, like it already exists. Or will ever exist. For the record, not that I’ve ever extensively microscope-checked anything that’s left my body in one way or another, but being that I’m female and all, I’m relatively certain I don’t have sperm. I’m not, like, secretly hording anyone else’s or anything, either. That would be creepy, and that’s not how I meant my opening sentence. In sum, I have no sperm.

I feel like that was unnecessarily complicated.

But that’s the point. It would be so much easier if I did have sperm. That’s like a nonstop ATM attached to your body. Need a buck? Grab a magazine. AND it’s helping people who really want babies to have babies. AND it would be spreading my seed so that I may some day have a thousand me’s to carry out my nefarious– I mean, nothing. My nefarious…group of…pacifist gardeners…who desire nothing more than to plant flowers all over the world.

What? Nothing. What’s over there?  *walks away*

Nothing to see here.

The Great Battle

June 10, 2011

Things I find it nearly impossible to do while in a relationship:

1.)    Lose any significant amount of weight. Not a few pounds here or there, but significant weight.

2.)    Well…no, that’s really about it. Truly. It is a crazy phenomenon brought on by a number of things, and after talking to many others about this, I’ve found it isn’t singular to me. Not nearly.

3.)    Yeah, no seriously—just that.

Now, there are a number of factors that go into this phenomenon. Because when single, despite certain genetic—oh, we’ll call them “gifts,” but they will refer to things like curves—I find I tend to lose weight pretty easily by tweaking any number of behaviors. When I’m putting even moderate amounts of effort and/or money into it. Not that I wish to get rid of my curves, mind you, gentle reader. I usually quite like them, and I think they’re highly undervalued in this society’s media. (Curves in general, not mine in specific. Actually, you know what? Fuck. Mine in specific. YOU WILL APPRECIATE MY CURVES, AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!) But my healthier ideal weight is probably around the one I lied about on my driver’s license, so I’d at least like to get to that place.

But when I’m single, I have more money and effort to put into keeping a certain weight.

And aside from having effort and money to put into losing weight when single, I also find that I just lose some weight in general as a singleton, even without the added effort. This is because when I’m bored or anxious/tripping on the paranoia one can only achieve while living alone and realizing that having not left your apartment all Sunday means you haven’t actually heard the sound of anyone’s voice—not even your own—for over 24 hours, I tend to spend all my free time walking. I do love walking to alleviate unpleasantness. It’s so cathartic.

For example, my anxiety and paranoia while single might manifest like so: “Dear god—I haven’t had sex in two months. TWO MONTHS! Wow. Like, I don’t even really miss it…I just didn’t notice. Oh my god, come to think of it, I read once that there’s a pheromone you emit when you’ve been having sex regularly that attracts the opposite sex. Can they smell my sexual inactivity? Is my singleness repelling people??!”  (Said in my apartment alone, talking to my plants.)

And a walk—ooo, a walk just takes all the nasty craziness away and replaces it with sanity and clarity of thought. Like, “Ahhh. Much better now. Frightening paranoia has ended; I’ll just suck on these juicy beta endorphins for the next hour and go sweetly to sleep.” It just clears the air. A walk is like the Glade air freshener of my fetid psychological miasma. That’s poetry. I may stitch that on a pillow.

Only, since being in a relationship, when I’m feeling anxious, there is another sentient being in the apartment at most times who tends to quell the emotional baddies much better than my plants ever did (who still have yet to put a nice arm around me when I’m sad. So, you know what? I quit watering them. Yeah, screw you, you heartless bastards). And when I’m bored while in a relationship, my sig’ o’ and I just do something or watch something together. I’m not complaining; it’s lovely. I just now have no motivation to go walk out of general malaise until I’m too tired to remember what was bugging me. And that seems to rule out just losing weight without really trying.

In in a relationship, there never seems to be enough of anything to accomplish significant weight loss when I am really trying: free time, money, superfluous energy, etc. Even when I feel like I’m putting lots of energy and focus into it, it does not happen. And it’s so irritating; I eat sensibly. My portions aren’t large; I almost never like fried foods or things in butter; the only meats I usually eat are chicken, turkey, or fish—again, not in butter or fried; I seldom go back for seconds; I don’t often fancy dessert; I like vegetables and healthier options generally whenever possible; and I’ve cut out copious amounts of drinking. Hello, body. I’m torturing you with sensible, healthy eating—you’d think you’d shape up.

But I think I’ve boiled it down to a fair number of reasons.

1.)

First, age. I was 24 when I got into my current relationship; I am 27 today. Now, I’m not exactly a card-carrying member of the local gomer club (despite a rather misleading name for my blog), but I’m no spring chicken anymore either. Maybe like a summer chicken. And I’m thinking my body has decided to prepare me for the joys of bearing children and carrying them on my hips whether I make the active decision to procreate right now or not. Much like happens with chickens’ bodies in the summer! True story…

And I’ve come to this conclusion because, most specifically, it used to be easier to lose weight in certain areas of my frame than it is now. Ergo, I’m going to go ahead and say age is one of the villains of this piece.

2.)

Things can’t get any freakin’ better!

Secondly, happiness. It is damned difficult to worry about fighting myself with health food and annoyingly long hours of exercise when I’m too happy to notice. Not that I disliked myself when I was single, by any means. I was just more honed in to the task at hand, you see. The battle with my instincts of “tastes good = is good” and “feeling of laziness = well-deserved sleep,” if you will. I was a warrior in the body fight. And now I’m all, “Tra la la…whatever. Sugar bomb? Meh. I could really go for an orange pop…” I’m all sleeping in on weekend mornings rather than going out for a walk because the bed is such a nicer place to be with my partner there. Damn this insufferable, infernal contentment! What is it getting me?

3.)

Thirdly, I do not live in the constant fear of never having sex again. Say what you will about this statement, but that panic button for me and many others is a big, shiny, red one. It will make you do things you have absolutely no desire to do (when being totally honest with yourself)—things like going out at all hours of the night to packed bars booming with music so loud that you nightly lose your voice just trying to ask the name of the random sweaty person whose hand has been on your ass for the last half hour rather than just staying home with a hot toddy and a decent, quieter, more satisfying form of entertainment. Or suffering through torturous first date dinners with people you wouldn’t want to talk to if they were the only person who spoke English in a 1000-mile radius. Or regular small talk. Or going to comedy clubs for amateur night. Or, I don’t know, jogging. Point made.

4.)

An actual shot in my kitchen last week.

Next, I spend most free time I do have (which is precious little, let me tell you, and that is no understatement) doing relationshippy or couply things rather than at the gym. If I do get a night free, it’s so much nicer spending it at home with the darling male companion. So that’s how I spend most of my free time. And again, “most of my free time” is a small percentage of an already small percentage of my composite time, so have perspective. (I work a full-time job, do freelance work, commute 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, go to meetings and appointments most evenings, and see people constantly.) Also, see “not living in the constant fear of never having sex again.” This fear would trump wanting to spend free time at home if it were a certain reality, but it is not.

5.)

Cakes!

And finally, cooking for two. It has always been really easy for me to lose weight when cooking for just myself because I’m willing to eat some remarkably unenjoyable things. When I was single, since I don’t care about meals terribly much, I would often just make sure I was hitting certain food groups and stayed below a certain calorie/fat content amount. And then I’d eat what I’d made, regardless of whether any of it went together. It wasn’t about the pleasantness of the experience. It was about having fuel, and …doing math, and …eating nearly indigestibly healthy, tasteless things. But now that I cook for two (we have a nice system where I do all the cooking, he does all the dishes), I cook entirely differently.

It’s not that he’s picky; he’s said numerous times he’ll eat whatever I cook. And let’s just all pause now and appreciate a good’un when we see one. He’s a good’un.

But even though he assures me he’s not picky, I don’t want to inflict bad meals upon him. I prefer to give him a nice, balanced meal (taste-wise as much as health-wise). No, I don’t know why. I just do. So I cook things we both want to eat, which immediately ups the starch intake, at least. It also puts more meat where I normally wouldn’t put it, since he works on his feet all day, and I feel he should have a good intake of protein. I still cook things without putting them in butter and have other healthy cooking habits thoroughly ingrained. Still.

But furthermore, healthy food is often fresh food, which as you probably know is pretty damned costly. Health food generally does not consist of things that come out of boxes and cans. And therefore, making meals of healthy food for two people is even more expensive than…well, than making healthy food for one. Which is already fucking expensive! So in order to cut costs, we eat more things like pasta. More bread. More rice. These carbs add up, don’t ya know.

So, despite my continual work to overcome these obstacles, so far, aside from the small weight losses here or there, my efforts to lose significant weight have been fruitless as of late. Similar stories from many, many of the shacked-up people I’ve talked to. Damn. And combined with back problems I’ve had over the last two years that make it difficult for me to do any workout more athletic than walking, I think it might just be one of those things that will continue to plague me for quite awhile.

As will my plants not responding to me.

Heartless.

Save

For maximum effect, play this while scrolling down…slowly.

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DA DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

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You know, I realize this now, as I board my train into the city every morning, hop off at LaSalle, and navigate through a mass of people darting about like dense schools of fish, unarguably more put-together than I. People wearing lipstick. People with their hair in beautiful professional updos, sleekly styled bobs, and well-gelled spikes. People with the steady stare of the remarkably awake, people holding travel mugs of coffee they woke up early enough to brew, people without the intricate crinkles of a balled-up makeshift hoodie pillow embedded deeply in their cheek and forehead. People unlike me.

The thing is, I actually consider myself a morning person now. Sort of. If everything’s relative, I am a morning person. No longer the bitchy vampire who will either bite or perish upon waking before noon, since graduating college, I now typically wake up between 6-7:30 AM, regardless of whether I have to work. And I enjoy being awake much of the morning, which is another argument on the side of “probable morning person.”

But no matter how many bio-rhythmic patterns I change as I lunge further into adulthood, I cannot comprehend this sunny-side-up metropolis lousy with gorgeous, polished bastards who look like actual people before 10 AM. What the hell? Where did you shop for your body, because my body is apparently defective. I got a janky one.

For starters, I think I’m part Puli. Where everyone else’s hair seems to be light, dry, and fluffy as a Snuggle bear by 7:30 AM, my hair hangs damp and stuck to my head until I get into the office, whereupon I walk to the women’s washroom, hang out like a creep until it’s vacated, and quickly throw my head under the hand dryer until I hear the click of the door opening. Then I straighten myself up with enormous, blown-out curls standing straight up from my head and try to awkwardly act like I was just chilling next to a hand dryer that happens to be on. Sometimes I throw in an incredulous look at the thing for good measure. “Who did that? Weird…”

This is ridiculous, I realize. Mostly, it is too early for me to think fast and play it off like I was just drying my hands. Especially since my hair is always about one fluff away from a Diana Ross female impersonator at that moment. I’ve also been caught a few times in the act, always to slight nervous laughter from the person who catches me. And, like… shut up. Like, hey there, princess—not all of us wake up to doves and singing mice helping us get ready. You’re lucky I showered.

And shoes. How do people look so put-together with their shoes? How they’ve done it alludes me. Generally, I don’t like wearing shoes that much. I got hippie feet, and I like ‘em. But I think the function of shoes, when necessary, is simply so that I don’t amass an urban collection of glass and cigarette butts on my feet as I meander about. And beyond that, I have a hard time getting myself to put effort into footwear—especially in the morning, when my choice of footwear is solely contingent upon “Is it raining?”

I mean, I do tend to prefer the more attractive shoes to the less attractive shoes, I guess, but as an equal opportunity employer, I generally employ both to do my fancy footwork with an admirable equality, I think. And even my pretty shoes don’t ever actually match what I’m wearing. The hell? They have to match what I’m wearing? They’re on my feet! Madness, and I don’t know how you all put up with this every day.

How is it that some people glide gracefully, eyes sparkling, down the sidewalk and into their jobs while I stare listlessly at the ground, running into wall corners, and sighing audibly as I shuffle along? Also, I’m pretty sure many of the mornings I have a slight limp until I fully wake up. Hunchback is the only way I know before I’ve had my caffeine. Why am I the only one? Damn you bitches not cramming 3 Excedrin down your dry and scratchy preprandial AM throat. How do you do it?

Where have all the cavemen gone?! My people.

Save

Obsessions Bite.

May 26, 2011

Okay, so here is what’s been going on. Here is what I’ve been thinking about every time I look like I’m listening for the past year. Here is what’s been distracting me from writing during my free time. Here is that comment or anecdote ready to burst from my anxious lips; from my hot, erupting brain. The thing that I’ve been visibly holding back in conversation so much of the time. Here is the thing I find it hardest to admit about myself.

**And I feel the need to put forth such a sensitive, revealing exposure of self as a penitent offering for not writing for so many months. Bless you, both of you, who read this. You shall now be rewarded with a large nugget of scandalous truth.**

Here it is. I, myself—she who is too cool for school, too hip for yo’ lip, too fab to…um…grab (and of course, I quote only myself here)—I am a mostly closeted Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic. FANATIC. Like, it’s fallen off into complete pathology.

I say “mostly closeted” because, while I will tell people I enjoy the show and occasionally engage in a little light Buffy chatter with like-minded individuals, I do not generally divulge the degree to which I am involved with this show. Even my darling male companion—he who introduced me to the long-gone television drama—only knows snippets of the reality of my sickness. He has grasped the stalactites and stalagmites of my geekdom where this is concerned, but he’s never seen inside the whole big, scary cave.

*waves from inside the cave*  Hi baby. Don’t judge me, mkay?   *vampire bats fly about over my head*

How did this happen, you may ask? Fair question, fair question.

So, I have resisted watching the show for years. As an awkward-appearance, slightly weird, and overly theatrical teen girl existing outside the skinny popular girl social orbit, when the show originally aired, I never felt drawn to the momentary glimpses I had had of the show’s protagonist. Sarah Michelle Gellar—a beautiful, tiny, perky teen girl (who at least starts out as a cheerleader). A cheerleader. No, please. Cheerleaders have always given me the wig. (Yeah, I see you, other Buffy fans who just enjoyed my use of the word “wig” here.)

You see, without having seen the show, I knew this archetypal girl at school, and…well…to put it delicately, she seemed to me a vile, heinous, Satan-incarnate bitch. And at 14, I was far too busy watching Dawson’s Creek to bother with a show that had the outright over-the-top special effects you see in the first few seasons of Buffy. I mean, come on. The Master looks like they put Mr. Bigglesworth’s head on Dr. Evil’s body.

So I never watched it.

Years later (about a year and three months ago, to be exact), I suddenly find myself as an adult (kind of), mostly living with my darling male companion, and this puts us both in the position of having shared programming for entertainment in the evenings. And hey—he just so happens to have all seven seasons of Buffy on DVD. He asked me if I would watch the first season with him, see if I could get into it (since he had seen the series once before and enjoyed it). And since the dear man had sat through every movie from my collection I could think to inflict upon him, I gladly obliged.

Well, gladly is the wrong word. Truthfully, I just thought it would be sort of unsupportive if I didn’t give it a good old try.

So, over the next few weeks, we watched the first season. Thankfully it is short, because the first season is not exactly the series’ finest work. This, of course, will be up for dispute among other Buffy fans, but I stand by it. The monsters in season one can be silly, the drama can be overplayed, and the special effects are old enough now to be more adorable than scary. However, as Joss Whedon is widely regarded for his winning dialogue, it was at least amusing, and I did really begin a love affair with the primary characters. So we moved on to season two.

Month after month, I watched diligently as Buffy, a character I grew to admire immensely for her integrity and general adorableness; Willow, who had my favorite ‘isms of the entire run; Xander, who I would so have dated in high school; and Giles, who I would so have dated right now (actually, Tara too); went on to defeat the Big Bad in story arch after story arch. Some plot lines were regrettable (*coughTheInitiativecough*), some were really compelling, and some ended up being sort of terrifying. That last season was dark, man.

It took us from February until about October to be finished with all seven seasons, during which I—no joke—became preoccupied enough to start subconsciously scanning a room for wooden pointy things the moment I walked in. That, gentle reader, was the beginning.

Two days after we witnessed the end of this show, to which I had devoted the at-home evenings of my every week, I found myself waking up in cold sweats, walking around with the shakes, hallucinating about vampire babies crawling on my ceiling and rotating their heads to look at me, experiencing unyielding hellmouthless restlessness, anxiety, and depression. General malaise. The Buffy and Angel love theme haunted my dreams. I listened to the Once More with Feeling soundtrack several times for a little bump, but it only barely took the edge off. I found myself feeling isolated and alone without my friends. Not, like, my actual friends. But without Tara and Willow. And Giles. And Oz. And Spike. It was full-blown withdrawal, and I was fairly certain it might injure me to stay that way too long.

And then it hit me like a stake to the heart. Oh my god. I had become a total and complete Buffy nerd; I mean absolutely to the core.

So, in order to alleviate my pain, and now that I had identified what I was, I made the decision to begin the show all over again. All the way back to the beginning. I work at a desk job where I can listen to things on my headphones, so I just started streaming it (intravenously) through my Netflix while I worked. I did this mostly in secret. I had literally just watched the entire series, so I was able to merely listen to it and watch what was going on in my memory with crystal clarity. And oh god, was that a relief. The world was back to normal. Joyce was still mothering. Tara was alive and waiting to be discovered. Giles was still a father figure. Angel’s neck wasn’t all thick and obnoxious. I could watch Faith get stabbed again (she annoyed the crap out of me). For that matter, the Mayor wasn’t a blown-up snake yet. (I love him beyond reason.) All was right.

Until I ran through the entire series again. Second time. This time I got through it in three months. Three months, back-to-back episodes. What a high. So, upon finishing season seven, I experienced the same problem. Sweats. Cravings. The fervent desire to see someone turn to dust after a well-timed pun or quip. But I knew what to do this time.

Season one, episode one—we meet again. I went through the entire series a third time. Three times through the entire series within a matter of a year and a few months and  change. I started noticing crazy, little things I might never have noticed. For instance, nearly all the monsters—if you listen to just the audio—are voiced by the Tasmanian Devil, as far as I can tell. Really. Listen to it. I found plot points I had never noticed before. In fact, I unearthed plot hole after plot hole. I know things no socially functional person should ever really know.

And just this Monday was the day I finished run number three.

Now. I sit here, on my computer, staring at the Netflix page I keep open and waiting on my far left tab. How many days will I wait? How many days will I pretend I’m done?

By the time you read this, dear reader, I wager I am already knee-deep in early high school vampire slayer angst.

It’s far too late for me.

Save

Um.

January 19, 2011

This reminds me of one year when I went to use a bathroom stall in a shopping courtyard in Hawaii. There was a black permanent marker inscription on the stall door in front of me once inside, and after I sat down to pee, I noticed it: “Look up and smile for the camera.” Now, I knew perfectly well that there was no camera above me, but that didn’t stop me from slow-mo craning my neck upward to see what was on the ceiling above me. Turns out, no camera. Which was good, because I did not smile.

But I think this dude is for real. The orange head tells me so.

Or, more affectionately titled,

Shit I do for money.

Harmless Enough

I believe it all started when I answered an ad on Craigslist asking for depressed individuals to participate in a study for $100. Hell, I’d been known to shed the occasional tear at a Hallmark commercial… a tear that then lasted for a few months or so. Humor aside, I’m a perfectly well-adjusted person, but I’m comfortable relating that melancholy and a somewhat nervous disposition (think a Niles Crane-level of neurosis) have been more than occasional companions of mine. And I live with them, but I never realized I could make money off them. Is this wrong somehow, capitalizing off deep and very real troubles? Selling the drama, as it were? Dammit, no. It’s getting some of the money that I spend on all that therapy back. Ha.

So, I answered the ad, I went to an office, they had me answer some questions, I looked at a web site advertising antidepressants and told them how effective it was in giving me information about its product, and—badda bing, badda boom, in under an hour I was handed an envelope with my name on it. $100 cash sat winking at me from inside it, and I was escorted out. Brilliant. Thank you, depression (thank you India, thank you terror, thank you disillusionment)! You just bought me a much-needed trip to the hair salon. Now I can have my perm and eat it too.

No, that didn’t work.

Anyway, that one was perhaps the easiest of the ads I’ve answered. And the least humiliating. And I have found that there’s rather a lot of totally legitimate ways I will contribute to science and consumerism for the exhilaration and intrigue of it all while enjoying a small monetary token of appreciation for my time and dedication. Or, rather, a lot of shit I will do for money.

Most recently, I participated in another study, this one having to do with anxiety and how it affects the body. This one was less of a casual stroll in the arboretum of money trees and actually more like running the emotional gauntlet for two very long, very taxing sessions. I came out of them looking like a wet, electrocuted, frazzled cat dodging imaginary traffic. But let me back up.

Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The study—compensation $130—was done by a psych department of a university looking for (the standard favorite) depressed individuals. Yes, we are the cherished dolls of the testing world. I think it’s that we seem more or less sedentary and willing to shrug when asked to do outrageous things for paltry fees. We use the word “meh” a lot. And I applied for this study because, you know, I cry at the Hallmark commercials.

I went in for the first session, which was supposed to last three hours. I got there 15 minutes early and sat down in the hallway chair in front of a series of rooms. And I could hear two people training in one of these rooms—rooms to which they had had the good sense to leave the door open—discussing parts of what would be occurring at my upcoming second session.

“We’ll be administering the electric shocks so that, the higher the pain level, we can measure the level of neurosis in the anxiety patient.” Ahhhh, great. And welcome to the beginning of the movie Ghostbusters.

 

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/ghostbusters/images/d/db/GB1film2005chapter02sc004.png/revision/latest?cb=20110923142229

 

I actually had to raise my eyebrows and laugh at that moment. Because what else to do? Say, could you shout that a little louder in front of the anxiety subject, here, buddy? One hundred thirty dollars. One hundred thirty dollars. One hundred thirty friggin’ dollars. Christ.


Session One: How to Turn a Perfectly Normal Person Into a Sniveling Doormat in Just a Few Easy Steps

Finally it’s time to start Session One. This can be otherwise heretofore known as The Inquisition. And you know, despite how many bloody times I’ve watched Monty Python, I still didn’t expect this. Huh. Go figure.

It sort of went like this: Psych student #1 comes in and ties me to a rack. Psych student #2 repeatedly punches me in the gut, puts cigarettes out on my nipples, and kicks me roughly in the shins while calling my mother filthy names for three hours.

Well, that’s what it felt like. More realistically, both (polite enough) psych students ask me three long, drawn-out hours and hours of deeply—holy crap—deeply invasive questions about what being depressed since 14 has been like. Ohhhhh, lovely, thanks. Just buckets and buckets of sunshine. Like an unending vacation within my soul. So, I relate all my most personal and deeply saddening memories to them. I leave wanting my blanket and about 14 Jack and Cokes. But no Cokes.

Next time, psych students, I’m just buying a mood ring and pointing.

Session Two: How to Go From Upright to Fetal in a Few Short Hours

Two days later, I come back thirsty for more abuse. I have my Xanax in pocket, ready like a nervous spy waiting to crush it under my tongue and have this whole thing over with in case of certain doom. And I’ve come this far. I’m intrigued. Electric shock, you say? Induced neurosis and anxiety attacks, you say? …$130, you say? Totally legitimate ways I contribute to science and consumerism for the exhilaration and intrigue of it all while enjoying a small monetary token of appreciation for my time and dedication! Or, shit I will do for money.

It is 5 PM; Session Two has now officially begun. A determined guinea pig, I fill out a consent form for two more psych students—the two I had overheard discussing my shock treatment earlier that week in the other room, not the two who had tortured me with the Ghosts of Christmases Past in Session One. Bring it on, bitches.

I slip on a sort of Lycra swimmer’s cap-type dealie that contains 64 electrodes on it, each with a little cord coming off it which all connect like a giant electric ponytail off the back of my head. And the psych students sit me in front of a computer where I can view a screen of a brain outline and a pictorial representation of all the electrodes sitting on my head. I am, oh, so pretty. Now for the mess.

With needle-less syringes (thank god, because needles have me seeing little birds faster than a springtime hipster fashion line), these two bastards begin poking gel down into the electrodes (and alllll into my hair and scalp… delicious). And I mean they really jam it on down in there, now with these long, pointy wooden sticks (SCIENCE!). This fucking hurts. Now, to be fair, they told me they were going to do this. Still. Would you fuck off?

Also, they’re placing other electrodes covered in gel, which are connected by electric cords, onto the sensitive skin right under my eyes and behind my ears. And damn it, I used to like that place behind my ears. Now it’s all disgusting and running a current. I am at this point fully aware that my head is covered in things. Science has vomited on my cranium. And these psych students are all, “La di da, why don’t you relax and fill out casual forms during this process, and maybe you want to flip through some Cosmo? Isn’t everything lovely and not at all weird as hell in here?” I’m cool, thanks. I’m all caught up on the latest seven methods of making my man crave my fabulous booty. I’ll just stare at the tiny, little boxed room about 20 feet away from me and focus on getting my hands to quit shaking.

“Yeah, but I shoot with this hand.”

So, now I’m all hooked up and quite sexy looking, oozing gel and with a wattage that would probably allow me to light a mid-sized desk lamp with my mouth. I’m asked to get up and am politely escorted—my cords being ceremonially held behind me by the psych students like they’re carrying a wedding dress train—to the tiny, tiny, grey padded room that I had been eyeing. It has a chair in it and a door I’m well aware without even being told will be closing behind me. And this psych student man is talking to me like he expects me to sit down in here. A PADDED ROOM, PEOPLE. I look at this man like he’s been smoking my electrode ponytail. Shit I will do for money. Damn it.

I have a seat.

The Happiest Place on Earth

This man I have already come to loathe gets me all situated in my chair, with all the cords coming off my head and face in a comfortable—relative is key, here—place. The walls are a half foot away from either side of my shoulders, and the room is dimly lit with a computer screen in front of me that is turned off. He tells me to look at the X on top of the computer screen for one minute, not to move and to try not to blink too much, and that he’ll be back after that. Now it’s Fear Factor. He leaves the room and closes the door to silence, and I am left in a padded cell with an electric swimmer’s cap and little corded disks stuck to my under-eye muscles, staring at a computer screen that is not on, unable to blink. And I have no idea what’s supposed to happen or when it’s supposed to start. Where the fuck is the Xanax, because I have found Hell. Or I’ve stumbled into A Clockwork Orange.

And dear god, the walls are breathing. I think they’re breathing. Did this sick bastard actually put me into some sort of living, biological room? Is it eating my feet? Is it going to eat my feet?? Okay. Focus, Meg. Focus. Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn dancing with a celery bouquet in My Fair Lady.  “All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair, oh wouldn’t it be loverly…” It’s calming. Okay, this is better now. Kind of. This isn’t exactly the room she was singing about, but…it’s away from the cold night air. The chair here is…adequately sized…I’m breathing…breathing…celery bouquet…it’s okay…okay.

And the man opens the door again. “All right, that was great. Now we’re going to go another minute, but this time with your eyes closed, please. And remember not to move. Thanks.” Fucking hell. Seriously? You sick sons of bitches. Okay, Audrey. Do your thing. This is way longer than a minute, you Swatch-less assholes. My face is hot, and my pulse is loud in my ears.

Five more reps of this later, and one hell of a mental Broadway sing-song, I have lived—and I swear to god, I swear, that sick bastard psych student looks slightly put out that I’ve survived. Anywho, they put me through a series of other tests, one involving turning the computer screen on and playing 45 minutes of the Worst. Jackpot. Game. Ever. Oy. Why? Science!

Shock It To Me

And then we get to the most thrilling part of this whole thing. I mean, it is Candyland. Really. This is over 45 minutes of piercingly sharp, highly unpleasant, shockingly (almost truly painful) loud noises at totally random intervals. (Yeah, they’d added giant headphones to all the rest of my heavy cranial accessories, I assume, to test my super neck strength). The noises are to induce neurosis so that I am jumping and wincing, having ticks, shaking, nervous. They’re looking to record how my face moves when I’m anxious and terrified. Really, it is awful. To describe it without even a hint of hyperbole, if I had been holding something in my hands, I would have dropped or thrown it every time they queued the noise. It is that jarring. 45 minutes.

And they appear to notice I haven’t involuntarily urinated or anything yet, because they then come in and hook my wrist up to two electrodes that induce electric shocks, which are described to me as “highly annoying” but “not painful.” This…rides the line of that description, shall we say. And—hey, double trouble—these shocks are being given to me at totally random intervals with those wacky, wonderful randomized noises that are being administered. And sometimes, just for shits, the screen says something like, “When a red square appears on the screen, a shock may occur.” So that I can anticipate and dread. Red square. Oh god oh god oh god oh god…phew. *ZZZZTTTT*  AGGGHHHH!!  I develop twitches in this second set of 45 minutes that might endear a war vet. Holy hell.

Finally—finally—the man comes and gets me, takes all that shit off me, and tells me I can wash the gel in my hair out in the sink, but that they are out of towels. Sorry.

Sorry?! How the hell does that happen?! He does have a hair dryer, though. Which, if you have long hair that’s absolutely soaking wet, doesn’t do much in a short amount of time, does it? But, oh well. Swimmer’s cap off, I am happy. It is a false sense of calm. And I still have a whole lotta shakin goin on, by the way, even though I’m no longer being shocked. Twitch. Shake. Shake. Twitch. I am akin to the Taco Bell dog at this moment. But much less possessing of the ability to speak Spanish. Or the desire to poop outside.

Moving on.

To Spit or Not To Spit

I am still sopping wet and being taken into a regular-sized room—relatively speaking—and I am given a tube that I’m told to spit in. And, you know, after the evening I’m having, this doesn’t seem even remotely unreasonable. Fine. Gimme your freaking tube. You have a plugged-in toaster? I’ll spit in your toaster. I don’t care.

I am told to fill it up with my saliva to the line marked on the tube. Only, if you’ve been made to have a couple hours of anxiety attack, how much saliva you think you’ve got, there? This actually proved to be my hardest task that day, and one of the most infuriating. I sit there, in this room, attempting to spit into a stupid little tube through insufferable dry mouth while thinking back on the last few hours and wondering how hard I’d been shocked that I didn’t remember the psych student in there pouring sand down my mouth. Finally I get enough into the tube that he seems moderately satisfied, and I become convinced that the point of this task is not a genetic sampling but a humiliation sampling. I assume he collects it all in a jar. All the humiliation. Like he’s crafting a humiliation necklace to wear and show off to all the other psych students.

Hey, you’re welcome for my spit, Creepfest. Don’t spend it all in one place. Eh. Now I want some soup and my Xanax. And to stop twitching and shaking. But I just can’t seem to stop.

Then the psych guy spends the next half hour to 45 minutes asking me to list all the words I know that start with A, that start with S, that start with R. All the men’s names. And other stuff like that. All the fruits (bitch, please. Don’t get me started. Shouldn’t this one have coincided with “men’s names,” mmmkay?) And oh my god, I cannot do it. Any of it. While I’m unsuccessfully attempting to complete this truly simple task, the man is actually making noises like he’s snickering at me. Now, I believe I know what he’s doing. I’ve read enough psych studies to know about trying to make the subject uncomfortable and see what reaction that has on their ability to carry out a task. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. My mind is a blank. And I’m still shaking, twitching, and stuttering.

“Men’s names? Um…Berl…Bill…Billy…C-Chris…Christomaine…T-T-Tony…Frank…Fle….Flenk? Floshua? None of these are sounding real to me anymore. QUIT SNICKERING!”

Finally, he wants me to look through this book of images of people’s faces. There are two “faces” per page, one on top and one on bottom. But the right half of the top face has been paired with the right half of the bottom person’s face, and vice-versa on the bottom of the page. Also, one half of each face is smiling, one half is frowning. And they’re in black and white. And I’m supposed to say which looks happier—the top or the bottom. Pardon me while I… EEEEEEHAAHAAAA! BLLEEEGHEGHEEHGAAAAAA!!! GLALGELEGLALGEHH! BLAA!  GAAA!

Okay. That’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen. Thanks.

Hindsight Is Not Always

I’m finished after what seems like a full day of surveillance. Clutching my coat and my purse, I spill out onto the street at the end of the night. $130 in pocket, Xanax already quickly melting cozily in belly, positively stammering my street location on the phone to my darling male companion, who is well on his expeditious way to pick me up. My hair is damp and matted, my makeup smudged, and every noise has me ready to dart up a light pole. I am in complete and utter disarray. This will bring us back to the wet, electrocuted, frazzled-cat-dodging-imaginary-traffic look I had mentioned previously.

Finally I see my nice, warm little Hyundai turn the corner, and I keep my back squarely to the whole ordeal left behind me in the lab. As I climb into the passenger seat, harrowed and spent of all my mental, physical, and emotional resources, I suddenly become GLAD plastic wrap; I am in instant cling mode on my boyfriend. His arm is staying fresh for the rest of the night.

“Are you doing okay, baby?” He asks me, and all I can think about is going home.

“Yeah, it’s fine. I-I-I’m…Oh m-man, was that a like stress test on s-steroids. Th-that was just…wow. I just don’t…I c-could not ever go through that again. That was crazy. I’m j—wow.”

“Well, it’s over now,” he assures me, calmly. “We’ll go home and have some dinner, and then we’ll curl up on the couch. It’s done now.”

“Actually,” I brightened, “j-just before I left he said he saw on my charts I was c-claustrophobic. So, next week I’ll be doing a claustrophobia and MRI s-study. $100. Hell yeah!”

Man. Shit I do for money.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Today I was recounting the story of the Pied Piper to a dear friend, suggesting that my friend could have used a more humane way to have killed the mice in my apartment three years ago (since he’s just about to kill a mouse living in his apartment—formerly our apartment—when he gets home today):

.

Me: If you kill it, you’re a murderer.

Eddie: …if you’d live there still…you’d want it dead. IN FACT – you gave me the task of doing that at the old place on Honore and Milwaukee.

Me: I told you I didn’t want to know what became of them. I just wanted them to not be there.

Me: I didn’t expect you’d kill them

Me: I just…..I don’t know…..thought you’d start piping and they’d all follow you out….

Eddie: What?! You expected me to play a tin flute and have them follow me out the door and down Milwaukee Ave?!?!

Me: And out of the city, yes.

Me: Don’t act like that’s unrealistic when you know damn well you’re just being lazy. It can be done.

Me: It’s done all the time.

Eddie: FALSE

Eddie: It cannot be done.

Eddie: I don’t own a tin flute, and I don’t play one!

Me: You didn’t own mousetraps before we had mice either, but you bought those.

Eddie: Where the fuck am I gonna get a tin flute?

Eddie: You know what…it doesn’t make a difference. This is stupid.

Me: Just because I’m making sense does not make it stupid, Eddie.

Eddie: No sense, whatsoever!

Me: Alternatively, I suppose, you could have tried a recording of flute music and danced holding something that looked like a flute.

Me: They’d never know the difference.

Me: But I guess some people can’t be bothered.

Eddie: [he inserts AIM angry face]

And then the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin really sunk in. How is this a story told to children? It’s horrifying! Not to mention, what kind of shady-ass deal is that?

The Pied Piper nances into town and tells everyone he can deal with their rat problem for a fee. Fine. That makes sense. So, the townspeople are like, yeah, shit, get rid of them if you can. Then the Pied Piper plays a little whimsical tune on his pipe and leads all the rats out of the city and into a nearby river where they drown (Daley, are you reading this?). Doesn’t sound like hard work to me. In fact, there was music, there was dancing, I don’t remember hearing he got bitten by any of these rodents or contracted a plague of any sort—sounds like a decently good time. Like the Mary Poppins of pest control. Let’s not forget how much fun it was to tidy up the nursery. For every job that must be done there is an element of fun; we all know that, don’t we, gentle readers?

So, the townspeople are like, “Yo, that was nothing. You wanted us to pay you these inflated prices for something that required little effort and like 1 billable hour on your part? Screw you. I’ll give you half that.” Or, depending on what version you read, “Screw you. I ain’t payin’ it.” Now, granted, the latter is a pretty tight-wad way of dealing with it, but still.

And the Pied Piper is like, “Oh, I see. No, no. That’s fine… Uh, no worries here… Why don’t you all just go to church, and I’ll hang back here and just make sure I’ve gotten all of them? Yes.” And then, naturally, he leads all their children to death in a cave, and some sources say molestation and dismemberment.

I’m sorry, what? Did I miss a step? The townspeople got cheap on a rodent job the Piper was already overcharging them for, and so he exterminates all their kids? Say, what kind of piper is he, Chicago Local 597??

…Joke. Sheesh…

Am I wrong, or is that is a total overreaction on the Piper’s part? Like, whoa whoa whoa, I don’t think it really called for that. Maybe short-sheeting their beds or ordering a bunch of pizzas to their house or something. Leaving bags of flaming feces on their doorsteps.

Can you imagine hiring an exterminator for silverfish, then the guy comes to your apartment in a pied hazmat suit and goes “Hey you, silverfish! Scram!” And the silverfish take off as he’s handing you a bill for $4,000. And you’re like, “Dude, I will pay you about $100 for that; there was virtually no labor or cost of materials involved.” So, he’s like, “Fine,” and shoots your toddler? “Guess we’re square then.” You would be pissed. Because that is a completely inappropriate reaction in the dispute. If anything, he could try haggling a little. And did he even bother to get the deal in writing? No. He just twirled around in two-toned clothing playing on his little musical instrument.

Ridiculous.

In case you were actually interested, some historians postulate that the idea of the Pied Piper was really just an allegory of death falling upon many children of the area, possibly due to the plague. More widely believed still is the theory that this story was used to explain the disappearance of the children when many of them emigrated to found their own villages during the German colonization of Eastern Europe. …And there are a number of other theories that involve things likely not written by Albert Camus or William Golding, too, if you find either of those last two theories to be too rooted in fiction.

It was a hell of an Easter weekend for me, I have to say. For various reasons. I got to have an MRI. That was fun. I got radioactive goo injected into my veins during it; perhaps this is why I’ve pissed myself every time I’ve gotten a cell phone call or sat too close to the TV in the last two days? Huh. Dunno. Mental note to look into that.

And if you’ve never had this whole MRI process done, do try. It’s thrilling. They wrap you in thin white blankets up to your neck like a sort of sterile mummy and keep you as cold as possible, I assume because the unholy giant mouth machine into which they’re feeding you prefers the kind of sub-zero room temperatures featured in heart-warming classics like Alive. Then they give you earplugs and put enough sound-muffling cloth around your head to keep out the worst of the clamoring bedlam noise, which I find akin to an angry mob banging on the machine with wrenches and sledgehammers. And they bury you into the unholy giant mouth machine up to around your hands, with the sides slightly too snug for your arms on either side and the top a couple inches from your face. Taphophobics everywhere, pop your Xanax—this is your coffin for the next hour. And then they tell you they’re going to begin (which sounds like a command from one of Charlie Brown’s teachers), and here descends the angry mob banging on the machine with wrenches and sledgehammers. Or so I figure. Then they pull you out of the unholy mouth coffin machine after you’ve contemplated your own death for 45 minutes, inject you with the radioactive goo—and I’m a notorious fainting, vomiting needle-phobe, so this is extra special—and shove you back into the machine for another 15 minutes. This is to let your brain cook a little longer. Finally, you get out and put the metal jewelry back in your body. You look at the nurse warily when she says, “Drink lots of water the next few days to…uh…flush that stuff out of your system quickly,” and check your day planner just to see if it is, in fact, Phobia Day, and you had simply forgotten. Sign up today! See what you’re made of.

…No, literally, you get to look at what your brain is made of.

But mostly, it was noteworthy because I got to dye and paint gorgeous, sexy, wonderful Easter eggs with my darling gentleman companion. And then make deviled eggs for the first time. Bedeviled eggs. Well, I guess my sister made part of them. Or most of them. But I boiled the eggs, damn it, and I’m pretty sure I was the one who bedeviled them.

Deviled eggs. This needs a more dramatic name. Hmm. Sataniceggs? Lucifeggs? Beelzebeggs? All superior words. While my sister was I was working on making the deviled eggs, I got to wondering why they’re called that. They seem harmless enough, and eating one has never whipped me into a hedonistic, clothes-ripping-off, sexually depraved, demonic and shrieking frenzy. Not like eating apples…

Apparently it’s a cooking term that dates back centuries, and it merely refers to the eggs having a little spice to them. I guess spice = hot = devil, and so these eggs with spice were deviled eggs (or feel free to term them divinity eggs now, if you wish to bring them to a church picnic or something).

Interesting. Well. Had I known that it was simply about spice, I wouldn’t have invoked the dark forces into the sweet relish. Really, this should be a special note in the recipe directions. I mean, sorry, relatives, for that unpleasant evil egg experience. Honestly, it would have been fine if someone had remembered to get the salt blessed this year. So, I blame you guys.

Tangent. Back on track now. So this whole eggy process was a totally fun one. The thing is, I haven’t dyed eggs in years, so it was really fucking lovely. My darling gentleman companion and I had about 15 eggs to play with, and we dyed, and sponge-painted, and then hand-painted egg after glorious egg. This was such a charming good time, I might just coax him into doing it every weekend. We’ll have cholesterol problems that could take down horses or other large, sweaty beasts, but we’ll have created 52 batches of perfect, gleefully temporary edible art. Good plan.

By the by, I will post pictures as soon as I get them developed, probably this week. See, back in the day, people used to use cameras that were run on this thin, shiny stuff called film. You could go to the store and buy a cardboard-covered camera with film in it, and take pictures. Then you’d wait for your pictures to come out of a machine all overexposed and crappy, and you’d gladly pay too much for them. Being the antique-lover, I used one such product to capture our magical Beelzebegg day, so I have to wait for them to be ready to put online. Next post. Promise.

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Haven’t been contributing much lately. I’ve had a headache that’s lasted for weeks, on and off now, and I’ve been curling up in a sleep hole every opportunity I’ve gotten. Who needs a vacation, huh?

I can say this—it doesn’t take too terribly much to make me happy right around this time of year, when Chicago winter is turning to Chicago spring (except maybe this headache kicking it and my brain going back to normal consistency for a brain. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s attempting to leak out my ears when it feels like this. Headache going away would make me deliriously happy. But since every time I get my brain fixed I just go ahead and break it again, this is clearly why we can’t have nice things). But, yes. Doesn’t take much to make me happy in April. It’s the little things, you know?

Yesterday I saw that all the restaurants in the city have put out their little dine-outside patio furniture for the season. It was, to my knowledge, the first day they did this. Seeing this puts me instantly in a better mood. This is like a big, warm brain hug. Maybe with more energy than a hug, though. Like being goosed. A big, warm brain goose.

Well, that just sounds like the freakiest animal ever.

Ahh, the promise and potential of a miserable, sweltering, wonderful summer to come. Happy spring, Chicago! Iiiiiiiii loves ya.

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