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Construction Catastrophe

Construction Catastrophe published on No Comments on Construction Catastrophe
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Nuclear Fireball      (Source: wpclipart.com)

 

 

On the last Saturday of May, I arrived home to find a flyer on my apartment door from the leasing office. It was late, I was exhausted, and the entire page was filled with two bulleted lists of detailed instructions followed by several paragraphs. It looked complicated. It looked like a pain in the ass. So I tossed it on the kitchen counter and went to bed.

The next morning, I sat down with my first cup of coffee and began carefully reading through the flyer. The word “Notice” was centered at the top in large bold type. It went on to explain that all the windows in my apartment would be replaced over a three-day period beginning the following Friday, June 3. I would have to remove “all furniture and personal belongings a minimum of 4 feet away from all walls with windows in them for the entire length of the wall (corner to corner of room) for the work area.” Given the arrangement of my living room at the time, this meant disassembling the entire room. Since I needed to provide a clear path from the front door to the windows, the glass-fronted barrister’s bookcase I had inherited from my grandmother would also have to be moved, its contents carefully packed into boxes and stashed in my bedroom closet so that nothing would get broken. I knew I wasn’t moving – not yet, anyway – but it sure as hell felt like it.

The first hiccup came when I read that I was to “secure all pets away from work areas and paths.” I have two cats, the younger of which I adopted from a local shelter five months ago. While it no longer feels as though they’re trying to perfect a feline reenactment of the gladiator scene in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (“Two cats enter, one cat leaves!”), they’re far from being good friends. The only “secure” area in my apartment would have been the bathroom. That wasn’t going to work for a variety of reasons.

The second hiccup appeared a paragraph later. It informed me that I would not have access to my unit on Friday, the first day of work activities, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Therefore, not only would I be need to relocate myself, I would have to take my cats with me. So I called my dad, explained the situation to him, and invited us to spend Thursday night at his house until I received a call that we could return home some time Friday.

The timing for this was less than ideal. I was recovering from the extraction the previous week of two wisdom teeth, and I was still experiencing significant discomfort. After several days of cleaning, packing, moving, and not getting nearly enough sleep, I was becoming emotionally, psychologically and physically exhausted. My friend, Andrea, who had come over to help, was growing increasingly concerned, especially when I had to lie down on the floor because I was dizzy, nauseous, my teeth were chattering, and my all-day headache was transforming into a full-blown migraine.

At one point, she suggested we take my temperature. In retrospect, we both agreed that she should have been the one to look at the digital readout. I remember telling her I had a fever of 101.3. She swears I told her it was 103.1, which explains why she was on the verge of calling 911.

After several time outs on the floor, I decided I was probably stable enough to leave without passing out, provided I took it easy and agreed not to drive. Andrea dropped me and my cats off at my dad’s house at around midnight, a full five hours later than my intended arrival time.

The cats settled in fairly well and began cautiously exploring my dad’s four-bedroom ranch house. We kept the door to the basement closed.

By this time, the inside of my head felt as though my brain were making a desperate attempt to punch its way out of both temples with pick axes while simultaneously burning in lava. On the Numeric Rating Scale, I was between an 8 (utterly horrible) and a 9 (excruciatingly unbearable). I was popping the Vicodin I had been given after my oral surgery like candy. It was barely making a dent in the pain, but it was better than nothing.

I herded my two cats with me into the guest bedroom and unpacked the blue, elastic head wrap I had to wear after my wisdom tooth surgery to control the swelling. I packed both pockets with two of the four frozen gel packs and velcroed it around my head like a headband, positioning the two ice packs over my throbbing temples. By this time, my entire body ached. All I wanted to do was pass out. Waking up again would also be good, but it wasn’t a priority.

It was now about 2:30 in the morning. I’d been tossing and turning, but couldn’t get to sleep. My older cat, Violet, decided she wasn’t happy about the overnight accommodations and had been airing her grievances by meowing repeatedly. Between the nuclear war being waged inside my skull and Violet’s continued complaints, I couldn’t get to sleep despite my utter exhaustion. I had one more thing to try.

I stumbled out to the dining room table and began desperately pawing through my overnight bag for the only option I had left that might provide me with some relief from this excruciating pain and maybe even help me sleep. After finally finding what I was looking for, I shuffled through the dark kitchen to the side door, stepped outside and dropped myself down onto the concrete step.

I fished the lighter and the joint out of the pocket of my track jacket, lit up and inhaled deeply. I looked up into the beautiful, starry night sky, waiting for some relief. Any relief. After I’d smoked my medicine down to a tiny stub, I carefully placed it on a concrete lip next to the step and made a mental note to come back out later to dispose of it properly.

I stood back up, opened the screen door and realized that I had shut the inside door. I also knew without a doubt that I was in such a hurry to get outside and smoke that it never occurred to me to unlock the door first. I grabbed the brass doorknob and gave it a firm twist, anyway. It was locked.

I backed down off the step and, still facing the locked door, dropped my head in defeat and sighed heavily. It was around 3:00 in the morning, and I had just managed to lock myself out of my dad’s house to go smoke a joint. My head still hurt, but maybe not quite so much. Because I was now also stoned, my predicament struck me as funny, and I began to laugh.

I took stock of my situation. I was wearing shoes and a track jacket, so I was warm enough for the moment. I had made a quick detour to the bathroom before heading out, so I didn’t need to worry about that any time soon. I certainly wasn’t making any fashion statements with this ridiculous blue ice pack wrapped around my head which, by the way, had not yet gotten the memo to chill the hell out and stop hurting!

My altered state of consciousness wasn’t going to make this any easier, but I had to do my best. The last thing I wanted to do was wake up my dad, and I was willing to try anything else to avoid that. I trudged around to the back of the house to see if it might be feasible to spend the rest of the night on the deck. When I got there, I tried the sliding door leading to the living room. It was locked.

I surveyed the deck to take stock of my options. It was empty except for a few plastic chairs and some potted plants. The grassy yard was dark and filled with moving shadows in the nighttime breeze. I thought I saw something moving in the grass and nearly jumped out of my skin with fright. Not because I’m afraid of rabbits – because that’s most certainly what it was – but because I was stoned, and everything that moved scared the crap out of me.

Finally, I picked a spot on the damp wooden deck and tried lying down on my side. That wasn’t very comfortable because I didn’t have anything to support my head. Lying on my back wasn’t an option because I knew that as soon as I opened my eyes and looked straight up into the sky, I’d get dizzy and have a panic attack. So I flopped over onto my stomach and shifted around trying to find a comfortable position on the hard planks while at the same time trying to keep the rapidly melting ice packs over my temples where they could do the most good.

After what felt like ten minutes, but was probably only about fifteen seconds, I had what they call in Texas a “come to Jesus moment”: I was going to have to get back into the house, and that meant waking up my dad.

I walked around to the front door and took a moment of silence to acknowledge how badly I felt about what I was about to do. With a heavy conscience and a still-throbbing head, I took a deep breath, pressed the doorbell, then stepped back quickly to the edge of the porch in full view of the front door’s peep hole with my arms at my sides, hoping that would make it easier for him to recognize me.

After what seemed like much longer than it probably was, I heard my dad’s voice from behind the front door.

“Suzanna?”
“It’s me, Dad.” I tried speaking loudly enough for him to hear me, but not so loudly that I woke up any of the neighbors. Also, I didn’t want any more witnesses to my shameful predicament. “I locked myself out of the house.”

Dad opened the door looking tired and confused. I stepped inside, quickly explained to him what had happened, apologized for waking him up, then shuffled back to bed and finally, mercifully passed out.

The next afternoon, still recovering from the migraine, I received a call from the leasing office that I could return to my apartment. I packed my things and began tracking down the cats so I could put them back in their carriers for the ride home.

My youngest, Benedict, however, had vanished. After a thorough search of all the rooms on the main floor, I began to panic as I remembered the last time he got out of my apartment (which you can read about here). He was gone for twenty-four hours before I finally found him hiding in a neighbor’s unit. After a frantic, but mercifully short, search outside, I heard my dad shouting at me from inside the house. To my immense relief, Benedict hadn’t gotten outside, but was, instead, exploring the basement. After about fifteen minutes, we finally located him. I coaxed him out with some treats, wiped the cobwebs from his whiskers and carried him back upstairs, squirming and crying with indignation.

Back in our apartment, the cats were happy to be in familiar territory, and I inspected the brand new windows. I looked around my train wreck of an apartment, wondering with dread how long it was going to take to put it all back together again. Exhausted, I collapsed on the living room futon.

Tonsillectomy Treachery

Tonsillectomy Treachery published on No Comments on Tonsillectomy Treachery
By Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa - sxc.hu, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134639
Photo Credit: Lotus Head, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. (pixelpusher.co.za)

I had an appointment recently with an oral surgeon to discuss the upcoming extraction of two of my wisdom teeth. He advised me that for the first day after the procedure, I should eat only soft foods that I wouldn’t have to chew such as apple sauce, pasta, soup, pudding, yogurt and ice cream. At the mention of this last item, I flashed back to my early childhood and the bitter memory of betrayal…

I was approximately six years old. I was informed by my parents and doctor that I needed to have an operation to remove my tonsils. I was assured that I would sleep through the entire procedure and that afterwards, I would be allowed to eat as much ice cream as I wanted! Like most kids my age, I had a weakness for ice cream. I’d also been learning the fine art of negotiation and trade via real-life exchanges with friends and school mates. We swapped everything from baseball cards to lunch box food items. In my six-year-old brain, the Grownups were presenting me with a trade: my cooperation in exchange for unlimited ice cream-eating privileges for a finite period of time. This sounded like a pretty good deal to me. I agreed, anticipating an ice cream bonanza of epic proportions.

I awoke in the recovery room lying on my stomach so as not to choke on the blood still seeping from the incisions inside my throat. I felt awful. I lifted my head several inches from the white sheet stained bright crimson with my own blood, my mouth filled with its distinctive metallic tang, and attempted to say something. Perhaps it was “Ouch” or “Mom.” But my throat felt as though it had been viciously attacked with a sand blaster, and all I could manage was something that sounded a lot like a frog’s croak.

I thought about the promises the Grownups had made about “all the ice cream you can eat.” What I had not been told was how awful I’d feel right after the surgery. At that moment, the last thing I wanted was ice cream or anything else, for that matter. I dropped my head back down on the blood-soaked sheet with the realization that I had been hoodwinked. I wasn’t happy about it, either. I was downright angry. I felt betrayed. I closed my eyes, and as I drifted back to sleep, I decided that one way or another, I would exact my revenge.

To add insult to injury, by the time I was feeling well enough to remember to cash in on my well-earned ice cream gorge-a-thon, I was informed by my mom that I was no longer ill. There would be no all-you-can eat ice cream for me.

I learned a very hard lesson that day: When you’re a kid, you just can’t trust Grownups.

Baking Chocolate Surprise

Baking Chocolate Surprise published on 3 Comments on Baking Chocolate Surprise

chocolate_barsThe other day, I was doing a bit of grocery shopping and pushed my cart down the baking aisle to pick up a box of currants for some currant shortbread cookies. I saw the baking chocolate nearby and remembered that I had also wanted to make some brownies. The recipe called for unsweetened baking chocolate which, at the time, I didn’t have, so I tossed a package of chocolate in my cart, as well.Continue reading Baking Chocolate Surprise

Benedict Cumbercat: Zombie Killer

Benedict Cumbercat: Zombie Killer published on No Comments on Benedict Cumbercat: Zombie Killer
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Benedict

I am a cat, scientific name felis domesticus. That’s Latin for “house cat,” but don’t be fooled. We’re one of the most prolific killers on the planet. Don’t believe me? Look it up!

I was adopted from the animal shelter at the beginning of January when I was seven months old. I have an older sister named Violet who is eight. She is a bitch.Continue reading Benedict Cumbercat: Zombie Killer

As Ye Sew, So Shall Ye Rip (My First Sewing Memory)

As Ye Sew, So Shall Ye Rip (My First Sewing Memory) published on 2 Comments on As Ye Sew, So Shall Ye Rip (My First Sewing Memory)

Agony-Needle-and-StringMom possessed a lot of really good, practical knowledge which she began passing down to my sister and me as soon as she felt we were old enough to understand what we were doing. One of the many skills she taught us was how to sew.Continue reading As Ye Sew, So Shall Ye Rip (My First Sewing Memory)

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