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Old enough

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

I only slept for five hours. When I woke, it was to a frigid house and a dull ache in my lower right abdomen.

Foxy was on the bed with me, curled up like a coyote, snout tucked beneath her tail. While she’s welcome on the bed, she usually doesn’t choose to be there. She’s independent and she needs her space. We’re a lot alike.

This morning, I was glad to find her on the bed. I wasn’t alone. I was freezing and weirdly in pain, but I wasn’t alone.

I picked up my phone and typed it in — abdominal pain lower right side — and it spit out the answer, the authoritative answer: Appendicitis. Go to the hospital immediately, it said. It will burst within 24 hours, it said. Once it bursts, it’s too late. You are dead, it said.

Appendectomy cost, I typed. I found a story about a Reddit post in which the bill for a 20-year old guy totaled $55,000. “I guess I’ll never afford that wallpaper,” I thought. Mentally subtracting my very high insurance deductible from my bank account, I decided that before driving myself to the hospital, I should try drinking some Metamucil, which I stock in my cupboard because at some point, I became old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard.

I got out of bed and put on a down jacket and wool socks. Why was the house so cold? I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Two rounded teaspoons of orange powder in a tall glass of water, then down the hatch. Within 30 minutes, I felt fine.

Appendectomy averted.

But the furnace. The furnace wasn’t working. The thermostat read 50 degrees. I texted Dane next door and asked him if he knew anything about furnaces, and he said he didn’t, but came over to look anyway. We took the panels off the machine and looked inside with flashlights — for what, we didn’t know.

I found a big cricket dead beside the furnace, and then realized it wasn’t a big cricket but a tiny mouse. Not an insect. An actual mammal with bones. How long had it been there? Did whatever killed the mouse kill the furnace, too? I grabbed it in a dryer sheet and threw it in the dumpster.

I called an HVAC repairman, and he showed up in the afternoon. I left him in the basement. Later, he called me downstairs. “What I’m about to tell you will make you want to tell me to get the hell out of your house,” he said.

The furnace is shot. I need a new one. They recommend also replacing the AC unit at the same time, especially since my AC unit is already over 20 years old, on its last legs. I thought about telling him to get the hell out of my house. When he gave me the estimate, I stared at him, and then said, “I want to curl up in a ball on this basement floor.” He laughed. I didn’t. It’s more money than I’ve ever spent on anything, even a car, save this house itself.

But my house is so cold.

I almost did it. I almost signed on the dotted line, which would have guaranteed me a brand new HVAC system by Tuesday. But at the last minute, as the salesman was walking around my house counting and measuring the windows in order to file the permits, my defeated, slumped shoulders straightened up.

If I’m old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard, then God knows I’m old enough to have learned to seek a second opinion, and probably a third. I’m also old enough to know that money is just money, so even if it’s worst case scenario, well, oh well. I’m old enough not to panic at a financial gut punch. I’m old enough to look a man in the face and let him know that I will not be pressured into anything.

And if I’m that old, then I’m definitely old enough to sit at my dining room table at 8pm on a Saturday night just typing out the events of the day.

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-8-20-18-pm

My favorite words, via Emily McDowell

In which I drain my savings account

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Back in December, a natural gas leak was discovered in the crawl space beneath my house. The inspector from Xcel told me that it wasn’t urgent, and that I could have it repaired at my leisure (pronounced “lehh-zhure” in my mind). So this past Friday, I finally had someone come take a look. He shut off the gas, unplugged all of my appliances, and started testing.

Here is how a gas man “tests” for a natural gas leak: he uses a spray bottle of soapy water to mist the joints of your pipes (not an innuendo). If bubbles form, gas is leaking.

Well, bubbles were forming. Gas was leaking. It’s much worse than I was originally told: I need a full (multi-thousand dollar) replacement of all of my gas lines – that is, if I don’t fancy a dramatic death by explosion.

This worker would have started the job when he was here on Friday, except that my gas line actually runs from my cellar out beneath my neighbor’s house, and he will need to access their basement to complete the repair. My neighbors are out of town for the next week – and since the worker said that it would be dangerous to turn my gas back on, I have been gas-less for the past three days, and will be for at least four more.

But don’t cry for me Argentina – it’s basically like fancy camping. I have a comfy bed and electricity – at least, I did until my space heater blew the breaker (momentary setback). I have coffee in the mornings and a microwave to heat up the soup from my freezer. But I don’t have stovetop burners or an oven, a shower with hot water, or heat of any kind. Luckily, this week is off to an unseasonably warm start, so I don’t have to worry about my pipes freezing. I’m cooking in the CrockPot and wearing wool socks and counting my lucky stars not to be dead even though I haven’t taken a proper shower since Thursday.

On Saturday night, I crawled into bed and tucked the covers around myself like a burrito. It was 10:30 or so, because I am geriatric – and even though there was a party with a bonfire raging in the vacant lot across the alley behind my house, I put in earplugs and fell asleep.

When I awoke to shouting and laughter, I figured that I hadn’t been asleep long since the party was still going – but when I looked at the clock, it was 3:45am. “Seriously?” I thought. I walked to my kitchen window and looked outside – and yes indeed, the bonfire was in full force.

So I called 911. (See above: geriatric.)

I asked the operator for the non-emergency line, but she said she could help me. I told her that I needed a squad car (and yes, I called it that) dispatched to break up the party, and after taking down the information, she said she’d send someone as soon as possible.

An hour later, the drum circle started.

At 4:45 in the morning, my neighbors started a drum circle.

So I called back, this time to the non-emergency line like a decent human being (720-913-2000, FYI), and asked the status of my knight in shining cop uniform. They said that the night was busy, and assured me that they would send someone as soon as they could.

I hung up the phone and burst into tears because in that moment I so desperately wanted someone else to fight my battles for me. But then I pulled myself together and tugged on my boots and marched across the alley like a BAMF/high school chaperone, and informed them that they were at least 5 hours past their bedtime and could they PLEASE stop DRUMMING around their BONFIRE.

I didn’t stick around long enough to experience their reaction. I was too mortified at my old lady rage. I did a step-pivot and scurried back across the alley, blessing the darkness for shrouding my face, lest I see these hooligans in the daylight.

I slept from 6-8am, and then got up to go on a hike with Kristen. We made it a half mile before Foxy bounded up a hill and then started limping. After checking her paw for thorns and not finding any, I carried her back to the car, which is kind of like carrying a 4-year old without the benefit of legs that can wrap around your waist. As we drove home, I passed one of those traffic cameras that take your picture if you’re speeding – which I was (54 in a 45, which also happened to be a construction zone). The camera flashed, and I can now look forward to a hefty ticket in the mail.

Foxy’s limp worsened throughout the day and her paw swelled up, so I took her to the emergency vet. The x-rays revealed no breaks, but potential torn tendons. So I spent last night worrying that she would need surgery – but luckily the radiologist called with the report that she should heal up without it [cue the angel choir] and oh by the way, your bill will be $500.

So now it’s Monday and it’s back to work and I’m still without gas and my poor pup is on pain meds and all I want is some roasted vegetables and a bubble bath, and I guess that the moral of the story is that we don’t always get what we want.

Hope you had a better weekend than Foxy’s foot and my bank account.

SadFox_cropped

Annie Parsons, pure brawn

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Arriving home after work last night, I opened the living room curtains to let in some light. There on the windowpane was a spider, which, obviously, is unacceptable. So I grabbed a flip-flop and swatted the glass.

And the entire window shattered.

I shattered my living room window with a flip-flop – because if there’s anything I’m made of, it’s unbridled strength.

My first reaction was laughter – the kind that you try to stifle so it winds up snorting out your nose. But then I thought of all the cuss words. My windows are from the 1920s – single-paned, wooden-framed, on tracks with weights in the walls to suspend them open – and they can’t be easy (or cheap) to repair.

For now, I’ve duct taped a mega piece of cardboard over the breach, my slapdash attempt at home security.

They say that women are like tea bags – we don’t know our own strength until we’re in hot water. Well guess what. Women are also like sledgehammers.

Think about THAT.

My first trip to the ER

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I woke up this morning with a hospital bracelet on my left hand and a patch of gauze taped to my right. Last night, for the very first time in my life, I had reason to visit the emergency room – and judging by the Vicodin now pumping through my veins, it was nothing short of a necessity.

Perhaps you recall the time long ago that I worked out with Gunnar the Viking. Although I never paid for another personal training session, I’ve incorporated some of the moves he taught me into my regular workouts – and last night, while lifting an embarrassingly small amount of weight, I threw out my back.

And just like that, I am one of the Debilitated.

The pain… I wish I could communicate the pain. My lower back is a war zone, a constant buzzing electricity that shoots hot daggers of fire throughout my body whenever I move, making me cry out loud and literally want to vomit. I somehow made it out of the gym and into the driver’s seat of my car, and then, with tears streaming down my face, drove home where Hannah encountered me gasping for air and crying.

She took off my shoes, laid me back on a heating pad, elevated my legs, gave me some Aleve, and we both went to bed. Except I never fell asleep – the pain kept getting worse, I kept crying uncontrollably, and after 4 hours of increasing agony, I did what any logical person would do: I called my mom.

Now, I’m not saying I’m super tough or anything, but I definitely don’t lose it like this. Physical things don’t make me come unglued – emotional things, yes (we all know this), but physical things, never. My mom was freaked to hear me so hysterical, and convinced me to go to the hospital.

And because everyone loves an oversharer:

I got my first-ever oxygen mask (when the nurse said that the nasal prongs looked a little bit long and he would look for his scissors to trim them, I assured him that it would be okay because “I’ve got nostrils for days.” Really? Who says that?), an IV for pain meds, and prescriptions for various narcotics. I’ve been ordered to “take it easy” for several weeks, which is disappointing and scary for someone as active as I am.

Then again, when do we ever have a doctor’s order NOT to work out? If it weren’t for the pain, I’d be almost intrigued by this invitation to a slower pace.

My pain level was a 9-10 last night, but down to a 4-5 with the drugs today. I’m in bed with a heating pad, surrounded by pill bottles and books and projects that I would work on if I weren’t feeling so mentally dulled. Toad is the best little companion, letting me sleep until 10am without begging for her breakfast or needing to go out. And Hannah is the champion of roommates, getting up at 2am to drive me to the hospital, sitting with me until 4, taking me to the pharmacy this morning, and not making fun of me for whimpering.

I figured I’d write all of this down so that someday when I’m about to give birth and afraid of the pain, I can look back on this and say, “Remember that? You’ll be fine.”

Subaruined

Monday, November 21st, 2011

On Friday, I dropped my phone and shattered the screen, rendering it useless.

Irony is contacting the police to tell them that if they in fact find my stolen vehicle, please don’t call me – call my sister instead.

And then I asked, “By the way, any news?” And they said, “No.”

On Friday night, I sat in the living room, listening to feral cats fighting outside the front door. What else was there to do? I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I couldn’t call anyone. This must be what a 50s housewife felt like, when her husband would take the car to work in the city and she would be left stranded at home with no outside contact, speaking only to her mute household companions. Hers were babies. Mine are dogs.

On Saturday morning, I went for a terrible run. My brain felt spiky and sore. Down every street, I searched for my missing car. I quit after 6 1/2 miles, when I was planning on running 10.

Later that afternoon, I got the news (via my sister, who has laryngitis, which makes all of this that much more hilariously complicated) that my car had been recovered, that it was not drivable, and that it had been towed to an impound lot.

So Becca and I drove to the barren wasteland that is the Denver Impound Facility, and claimed poor, vandalized, un-drivable Subaruthless. The inside of the car is completely trashed – the ignition punched out, wires ripped, the dash hammered to sharp little plastic bits. There are no license plates. The car now sits at a body shop, ready for surgery.

But there is a silver lining. Along with everything else in the glove box, guess what’s missing? $100 worth of unpaid parking tickets. I’m not paying anything I can’t find.*

In the meantime, I am still phoneless. All of you boys who are texting me because you want to marry me? I’m not getting those messages. Consider alternate methods of communication, such as pigeon carrier, smoke signal, or a St. Bernard with a note in a tube around its neck.

*Yes, I know.  This could totally backfire on me.

Horrid, rotten teeth

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

You have no idea what a numb-face I am right now.

Three miserable cavities down.  Many, many more to go.

Oh yes.  The initial number was seven, but they are spreading – spreading like tweets about “Inception.”  This is some kind of mysterious, contagious decay that moves from tooth to tooth, and if I don’t get these fillings, like, yesterday, then my whole mouth is going to fall off.

I had to apply for a CareCredit credit card to cover the cost of this dental work.

I hate it when things feel out of my control – when I’m doing all the right things, being responsible with my health and hygiene and finances, but it doesn’t make a difference.  The shaft cometh regardless.

Damn you, shaft.

(And yes, I know – things could be so much worse.  I am counting my blessings – and I have more blessings than I have (horrid, rotten) teeth.  But I just want to wallow for a second, okay?  A GIRL NEEDS THE OCCASIONAL WALLOW.)

Crave

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I know, I know.  Things won’t make me happy.  No matter what I get, things will leave me feeling empty – empty like a Kardashian brain.

But let’s just say that it’s Lent, and that for Lent, I gave up frugality.

Here’s what I would buy:

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life.

This shirt in every color.

Cocktail shaker.

Fingerless gloves.


A tiny clock.  (What?)

A puppy.

A piano.

A Scout.

It’s a good thing I have sensible, prudent things to spend my money on, like cavities and car repairs.  This is saving me from the world of disappointment I would surely discover if I actually got a tiny clock.

Life

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Sometimes, it’s like this:

sike

It’s funny how getting your hopes up can make the disappointment even bigger.

Lame.

Assumption

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The kindest thing that anyone could ever do for me would be to do my taxes*.

As of this weekend, that makes my dad the nicest person on the planet.

But here’s a word to the wise, my friends: do not just assume that you are going to get a tax refund, and then go out and order a brand new, gigantic couch, assuming that the purchase will be partially reimbursed once April 15 rolls around.

Oh no.  Never assume.

For the first time in my life, I owe.

– – – – – – – –

And speaking of assumptions,

the root of “assumption” is “assume,”
the root of “consumption” is “consume,”
the root of “resumption” is “resume,”
the root of “presumption” is “presume.”

The root of “gumption” is… no, it’s not.

WHY DO I LOVE STUFF LIKE THIS SO MUCH?  pleasebemyfriend.

– – – – – – – –

*Also, washing my car, rubbing my shoulders, and curing cancer.

Boring expenditures

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I just got back from the DMV, i.e. The Worst Place On Earth.

Actually, I experienced another place this weekend that would rival the DMV for that title: Micro Center.

I took my fritzy Macbook to the Apple Store on Saturday, and the self-assuredly dubbed Apple Genius told me that yes, I needed a new hard drive, and no, I should not have it replaced in house.  I appreciated his honesty, since his recommendation wound up saving me a couple hundred bucks.

But still.  He sent me to Micro Center.

What is Micro Center?  This horrible, horrible store full of electronics and screaming children.  It’s located in a terribly depressing section of Denver called the Tech Center – a place where every building looks the same, and the only signs of life are a 7-11, a Mexican restaurant, and, well, Micro Center.  They had what seemed like 75 employees, all walking around doing “things,” but I still had to wait in line for close to an hour.  Eventually, I made it out – with a new hard drive, and a desperation for flora, fauna, chipmunks – anything but technology.

I spent most of my weekend coaxing my Macbook back to life.  Just like an episode of “Rescue 911,” the process was harrowing – touch-and-go – and there was that crucial point when the music got solemn and uncertain, and I didn’t know if resuscitation was going to be possible.  But as of today, thanks to my trusty backed-up files, we are back in business.  My iPod overfloweth with Lady Gaga and Ke$ha.

I know.  Just… I know.

Because I hadn’t quite gotten my fill of spending a lot of money on things that aren’t fun to spend money on, and I am also quite fond of torture and anguish, I headed to the DMV this morning on the frozen roads.  $21 later, I am in possession of a wimpy piece of paper that doubles as my “temporary license.” Next up: Colorado plates.

Few things are as joyless as doling out sweet cash for things that bring you no happiness whatsoever.