I Had Surger . . . a Procedure

You want to trust the doctors
Their procedure is the best
But the last try was a failure
And the intern was a mess *

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I don’t like the term surgery, so for the purpose of this post, it’s a procedure. Got it? Good.

And don’t worry—everything went fine, except for one aspect that is almost too horrifying to relate. Due to ridiculously stringent anesthesia rules, I had to go without food or liquid for what ended up being 19 hours.

I’ll let this sink in for a minute.

JD: foodless and liquidless. For 19 hours.

OK, let’s move on.

I was supposed to have this procedure at my doctor’s office. That sounds so much better than surgery at the hospital, right? Well, my insurance company didn’t agree. Apparently they translate “procedure at a doctor’s office” to mean “patient dies on the table,” because they wouldn’t cover it.

Have I told you how much I hate hospitals? It doesn’t help that I’m something of a germophobe—which is NOT a bad thing, by the way. I hate hospitals for all the reasons everyone hates hospitals: they smell funny, sick people hang out there, fashion choices are limited, and germs can kill you. Still, I wanted to get this thing done, so off to the hospital I went.

My mom went with me, which was only fair, as I’ve accompanied her on numerous recent hospital visits. She’s quite an expert on how it all goes down.

“Now, you’ll go into a room and they’ll give you a gown and you have to take off ALL your clothes, even your underpants . . .”

“Mom, I know—I’ve been there with you and I’ve heard all about the underpants.” (I’ve witnessed some minor skirmishes between hospital personnel and my weakened but stubborn mom over her demand to keep her underwear.)

“. . . and then when you’re all done, they’ll bring you back to the room and I’ll be waiting here and they’ll bring you an Otis Spunkmeyer muffin and your choice of juice.”

I can’t believe she remembers all these details better than I do, considering she was the one coming out of anesthesia.

As promised by my mom, the nurse came in to take some blood, but apparently there was no blood to be had, as my veins had collapsed from dehydration. Damn, that sounds kind of serious! But she tried another vein, and was able to squeeze out a few drops. I suddenly felt very pale and weak, even tho I’d felt fine before the bloodletting had begun.

The nurse held aloft a plastic cup and announced that she’d need a urine sample.

Lady, didn’t you just tell me I’m dehydrated? If I don’t have any blood, how am I supposed to come up with urine? But the Bladder Gods were on my side, and I was able to produce enough for a sample.

After I handed over the cup, the nurse filled me in on the plan.

“So your surgery is scheduled for 1:00 . . .”

“Procedure!”

“You’ll need to put on these surgical socks . . .”

“Procedural socks!”

“And the surgeon . . .”

“Proceduralist!”

“. . . needs you to have all your undergarments removed.”

My mom smiled triumphantly.

If you have to sit in a hospital room wearing procedural socks and no underpants, watching “Maury” on TV with your mom isn’t a bad way to do it. I forgot all about my procedure as we learned that Clayton was back on the show a second time to share a devastating secret with his wife.

“He’s gay!” I shouted, but, no, it was the other secret: he had slept with the babysitter. The wife and babysitter proceeded to kill each other.

“Do you have to be obese to be on this show?” my mom asked.

We were just about to find out if the babysitter was pregnant when my transport arrived. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t going anywhere until I heard the pregnancy test results. He was more than happy to stick around and watch for a few minutes, but damn that Maury, he introduced a new guest with a new devastating secret. Fine. Let’s go.

“Bye, Mom!” As I’m wheeled away, she tells me to be good, a sure sign she’s emotional, because she would never say that otherwise. Aw. Moms rule! But I hate, hate, hate this part. Why don’t they let you walk? When you’re done, you’re doped up and feeling vulnerable and you’re GLAD someone is wheeling you, all bundled up and goofy, to your room. But when you’re completely lucid it seems a shame to take a perfectly good gurney from someone who may really need it.

I sit in the holding area for about 15 minutes, where I overhear a woman explain that she’d suffered a stroke after a chiropractic adjustment. Yikes. So that isn’t an urban legend.

I meet my anesthetist, who is maybe 12. In fact, looking around at all the nurses and assistants, I notice they’re all really young. Except, uh-oh. There’s a REALLY old lady over there. What’s she doing here? She’s about 80. She’s in scrubs and a hairnet thing. Don’t let her near me! Much to my relief, a nice teenager comes over to stick a needle in my hand.

“OK, we’re going to take you into the operating room . . .”

“Procedure room!”

The room is very bright and cold. I do love a cold room. I get shifted onto a heated bed and immediately begin to sweat. That needle in my hand really hurts, and I mention it to the nice young girl who may or may not have any medical training. She promises me I won’t feel it in a minute. I want to argue with her, but suddenly I’m unconscious.

Aaaand . . . blam! I’m conscious again. We’re all done! The procedure was a howling success. I’m returned to my room and my mom, who looks all goopy and momlike.

The nurse came in shortly after. People, let me give you some advice. If you ever have any kind of medical procedure, no matter how minor, when the nurse asks you a question, the answer is always “Vicodin.” Here are some sample Q&A’s:

“How are you feeling?”

“Vicodin.”

“Can I get you anything?”

“Vicodin.”

“Do you feel like you could eat something?”

“Vicodin.”

“Did you put your underpants back on?”

“Vicodin.”

See how “Vicodin” works for all of those questions? I had a crazy nurse who asked if I wanted Motrin or “something stronger.” Why is there even a need for that question? Who would ever pick Motrin when you can have “something stronger”?

“Vicodin,” I said firmly.

I waited eagerly for my Vicodin and my Otis Spunkmeyer muffin and choice of juice, but when the nurse returned, the tray held only a pile of crackers and water. And one measly Vicodin.

Seriously, who takes just one Vicodin? The last time I took only one pill was probably when I was a baby. Mind you, I was hardly in any pain, but I wanted what was coming to me: drugs, and lots of them. Still, the Vicodin did the job, which was to make me feel rewarded for my ordeal. I wish I could say the same for the crackers and water.

After our traditional post-hospital trip to Starbuck’s, my mom brought me home, where, under my doctor’s orders, I began my 2-day stint as a couch potato. This is one thing I’m happy to do so you don’t have to.

Hey, what time is “Maury” on?

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of REM

I Enjoy Holiday Music

Christmas Day will always be
Just so long as we have we *

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You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen

But do you recall
JD’s favorite holiday songs of all?

From my iPod Holiday Playlist of 137 songs, I have culled 48 songs to be featured on a special 2-volume “Have Yourself a Merry I Do Things Christmas” CD. Because I already took up half the Internet with my U2 post, I’m listing only my Top 8 Holiday Songs here.

* * *

JD’s Top 8 Holiday Songs


1. “Walking in the Air”

This is a truly beautiful song from the classic British animated special based on Raymond Briggs‘s book The Snowman. Sung by Welsh choirboy Aled Jones, the song accompanies the most wonderful scene from the TV special. Watch the magic here and you’ll never look at flying snowmen the same way again.

2. “Welcome Christmas”

You may not recognize the title, but I’ll bet you all know this song. Here, let me sing a bit:

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!

Got it? Here’s another hint:

Every Who down in Who-ville,
the tall and the small,
Was singing!
Without any presents at all!

If you still haven’t guessed it, this might help. And if you still don’t know the song after watching the clip, pass me your servings of Who pudding and roast beast—this holiday’s not for Grinches like you.

3. “Christmas with the Devil”

The devil likes Christmas too, y’know, tho not everyone feels it’s appropriate to acknowledge it. Spinal Tap was supposed to sing this holiday favorite on their 1992 reunion special, but

NBC-TV refused to allow the band to perform it . . . saying its lyrics promoted evil, although Tap did perform the song on NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1984. Derek: ‘We’re not advocating [Satanism]. Man’s relationship with the Supreme Evil One is a very private affair. The song is just a depiction, imagining what’s happening with Satan this time of year.’ Nigel: ‘Think about it from the devil’s point of view is all we’re saying.’

Thank YouTube (and, possibly, the devil) for the chance to watch this rare performance.

4. “Heat Miser”

Snow Miser or Heat Miser? People have fought for centuries over who makes the better Miser. They both have great songs, dance routines, and awesome back-up singers. I go with Heat Miser every time, maybe because of Snow Miser‘s eerie resemblance to John Kerry, but you decide for yourselves:

(I love that there’s a Wikipedia entry for Heat Miser):

His archnemesis is his half-brother, Snow Miser, and his mother is none other than Mother Nature. Father Time is believed to be their father.

5. “The Hanukkah Song”

See, that’s why this post is titled “Holiday Songs” instead of “Christmas Songs.” Holiday songs are for everyone, as this song so cleverly demonstrates: “You don’t need ‘Deck the Halls’ or ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ ‘cuz you can spin the dreidle with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock—both Jewish!” Laugh along with Adam Sandler as he points out all the famous people who celebrate Hannukah.

6. “Jingle Bells as Interpreted by Barking Dogs”

This was a childhood favorite, as it annoyed our parents every time it came on the radio. Surprisingly, I find that many people today still find this song annoying. Weird. This site lists the lyrics as

Bark, bark, arf
Bark, bark, arf
Bark, bark, woof, woof, arf

Bark, bark, bark,
Arf, bark, bark, bark
Bark, woof, woof, woof, woof

which, as far as I’m concerned, translates to “Kids, play this song at full volume and annoy your parents, woof.” Sing along with the barking dogs and see how many people you can annoy.

7. “Do They Know It’s Christmas”

Remember when Boy George was popular? When George Michael wasn’t a perv? When Duran Duran was hot? This video will take you back to that happy time while also reminding you that the song, written by (Sir) Bob Geldof and Midge (Ultravox) Ure, raised money and awareness for Ethiopian famine relief.

Things to watch for:

  • Phil Collins takes this way too seriously
  • Sting sings “the bitter sting of tears”
  • Bono is really short
  • Midge Ure is sporting a rather unfortunate ponytail
  • It’s Bananarama!
8. “Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby

The harmonies are just beautiful, David Bowie totally outshines Bing Crosby (sorry, old people!), and although the opening patter is corny and cringe-inducing, it’s a treat to hear these two cultures collide. The video is well worth watching for David Bowie’s pixie haircut and cool, scary, pre-veneers teeth. Pretty thing, indeed.

Tell me your favorite holiday songs. If you leave a comment mentioning a song I’ve never heard of, you will be eligible to win a copy of the aforementioned special 2-volume “Have Yourself a Merry I Do Things Christmas” CD.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

I Experienced a Christmas Miracle

And baby there’ll be
Dancin’ in the streets
For the miracle

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I hope all my readers will experience a Christmas miracle. To some, a miracle may take the form of an unexpected kindness from a stranger. To others, it might involve a baby in a manger. And to others, it might be simply be a feeling of peace and well-being.

My miracle involved a pillow and $14.

Here’s how my Christmas miracle went down:

A few weeks ago, after blinding shoulder pain had been keeping me awake at night, I thought it might be time to trade in that Walgreen’s $5.99 pillow for something a little better. I had a 20%-off coupon for Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and, guess what? As per the “Bed” part of their name, they sell pillows. Good ones! So off I went.

Man, it’s hard to buy a pillow. Even when, despite uncomfortable stares from other shoppers, I lie down on the floor to test it. You can’t tell how a pillow is going to feel just by poking it or leaning your head onto it where it sits on the shelf. Still, even if it’s comfortable on the floor of BB&B, how do I know it’s going to work at home, in my bed, while I sleep?

Summoning the wisdom of thousands of shoppers before me, I went with the age-old guideline: more expensive equals more better. I settled on this Tempur-Pedic pillow, which “only” cost $70.00. But I figured, for that price, it must work, right? Even for my weird body. How could a pillow that expensive not be comfortable for every living person on the planet? So I bought it, and I kind of hated myself.

At first, it felt great. I was definitely comfortable lying on my back. Unfortunately, I cannot fall asleep on my back, so the true test came when I rolled over to my side. Hmmm. Shift over a bit? Scrunch it up a little? Move it to the left? No. Not comfortable. Gritting my teeth, I forced myself to sleep. It’s not easy to sleep with gritted teeth and a determined grimace, so I didn’t really sleep at all.

But I couldn’t face defeat. It had to work. Not only because I dreaded another pillow-buying excursion, but because I had cut off the tags. I know! You’re not supposed to do that. But I was so sure this would be my pillow for the rest of my life, I cut those suckers off with wild glee and only a fleeting sense of guilt.

After four nights, tho, I had to admit this pillow was broken. It just did not work for me. I faced a lifetime of sleepless nights until my mom convinced me to try returning it.

So I showed up BB&B, carrying this naked pillow in a plastic bag. It felt so embarrassingly personal—this bare, un-tagged pillow that I had lain my head on, and I was parading it through the store and up to the clerks at the customer service counter.

But, lo! The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they took the damn pillow back–no tags, no box, no problem (I did still have the receipt). Not only that, they credited my Visa rather than give me the silver medal of store credit.

But that, my friends, is not the miracle.

I had to wait for the nice old man—obviously a temp clerk working the holiday season—to figure out how to handle a return. I was so grateful they were taking back the pillow, I didn’t care how long I had to stand there, sweating in my coat. I was in such a jolly mood I considered buying a talking monkey keychain, whose label tantalizingly promised “With IEEEEEEEEEEE Sound.” Unfortunately, many other sweaty shoppers before me must’ve been tempted by the button on the keychain that produced the sound, because none of the monkey’s heads emitted the “IEEEEEEEEEEE” sound. ANYway, the nice clerk called a supervisor to approve the credit, and before he handed me back the original receipt, he said, “Oh, I forgot to take off for the coupon.” The supervisor looked at the receipt, looked at me, and looked at the clerk. We waited for her response. The monkey keychains waited—in silence. “Forget it,” she said. I got the original amount I paid plus the $14.00 taken off for the coupon plus a look from the supervisor that said, “Next time, you won’t be so lucky, pillow girl.”

So, I’m back to my flattened Walgreen’s pillow, but compared to the expensive model, it feels pretty good. And maybe—just maybe, that’s the real Christmas miracle.

Or not.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of Barry Manilow! (for Kathy)

I Saw U2. IN IRELAND!

I can’t stop the dance
Maybe this is my last chance *

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I know y’all are still reeling from the news that I saw Led Zeppelin at the Chicago Stadium in 1977. Well, hold onto your bangers, because as you may have recently read somewhere,

I saw U2.

IN IRELAND!

The venue: Croke Park, Dublin. In attendance: 57,000 people including one cool American chick and her crabby Irish boyfriend. The line-up: Irish band In Tua Nua, a practically unknown REM, The Alarm, Squeeze, and, of course, a certain Irish band named U2. The day: June 29, 1985.

Important Background Information

After graduating from college, I went to Ireland to avoid getting a job and to stalk U2. What started out as a 4-month adventure ended up being a 2-year . . . um, adventure . . . of poverty, waitressing, and drunkenness. Of course there was a man involved. No, it was not Bono. But the man—Donal—was reason enough to stay in Dublin much longer than I’d intended. We shared a greasy flat with some mice and had a lot of fun when we weren’t dodging the landlady or going without heat. When I heard that U2 would be playing at Croke Park, there was no question that we would scrape together our dole money and go, even tho Donal, like every good Irish citizen, was not a U2 fan.

Here, in a “You Are There” format, are excerpts from the journal I kept at the time.

JUNE 24. Five more days until U2! I’m so excited I could puke. The signs are everywhere. All the local mags are full of interviews and headlines like “A Sort of Homecoming” and “Local Boys Make Good.” U2 is on the cover of Hot Press and In Dublin and even had a center spread in the Sunday World!! Golden Discs has dedicated their window display to them. I finally broke down and bought the “U2 4-Play” for £6.99 [I would later sell this on eBay for about ten times that amount].

JUNE 26. My last day of work before the concert. I made £30.00, all of which is going to the concert. Unfortunately I forget about food, bus fare, and the rest of the rent, so I’m left with £12.00. It’s enough! So that’s one of my worries eliminated. I can’t do anything about the weather, and as for keeping healthy, I’ve been loading up on high-fiber bread, vitamins, orange juice, and liver tablets. So, my only worry left to be dealt with is the question of getting good seats. I gather up the courage to broach the subject with Donal. I begin innocently enough: “Do you think they allow camping at Croke—?”

“WE ARE NOT CAMPING OUT!!!!!!!!!”

OK. No amount of wheedling, cajoling, crying, or threatening will make him relent. Unless I want to go by myself (I don’t), I will have to be content with going early. He insists it’s completely unnecessary to camp out, and it turns out later that he’s right, but this doesn’t stop me from sulking for 24 hours.

JUNE 28. I spend the day eating Maalox to calm my nerves, listen to U2, pore lovingly over my scrapbook, and keep checking my underwear drawer to make sure my tickets haven’t disappeared, melted, or been sold by Donal, who is out getting drunk and probably complaining to anyone who will listen that I’m dragging him to see U2. I’ve warned him that we’re getting up early, and while he seemed to accept this news fairly well at the time, something tells me there will be trouble later on. This is confirmed when he stumbles in from the pub around 2:30, and I cheerfully inform him that we’re getting up at 5:oo. He cheerfullly throws a chair at me. I set the alarm for 7:30.

Needless to say, I don’t get much sleep, but I do have a troublesome dream in which I go to see U2 with my dad in London. They’re playing in a parking lot filled with stone benches, and only about 40 people show up, all girls.  During “11:00 Tick Tock,” Bono searches the audience and looks right at me. This is it, I think, this is where he brings me up on stage to dance with him! Instead he sits down and starts talking to me. All is going well until my dad accuses him of being a lazy alcoholic. I scream, “You’ve ruined everything!” and run sobbing from the parking lot. What the hell does that mean?

JUNE 29. THE CONCERT

7:30. It’s been light since about 4:00, so for the last 3 hours I’ve been peering anxiously out the window, waiting for the inevitable thunderstorm, tornado, or monsoon. But while it’s gray and unimpressive, there is NO RAIN!

After a breakfast of tacos, I’m happy and excited and ready to go.  Donal is cranky and tired and hungover. He assures me that he is approaching U2 with an open mind, but he has also said that he’d be just as happy leaving after Squeeze. I bring him cups of tea in bed, rub his feet, whistle cheery little tunes, and generally make a fuss over him. After he’s up, I make about 12 sandwiches, which I pack in a suitcase-sized tote bag, along with 2 pints of milk, 2 books, aspirin, throat lozenges, a pad and pen for taking notes, a raincoat, sweater, sunglasses, and those precious yellow tickets. We get on the bus and make our way to Croke Park.

9:30. We reach the area outside the gates and find, to Donal’s utter amazement, that we are not the first insane people to arrive early. The atmosphere is relaxed so far: mostly kids 10 to 15 years younger than us sitting around the courtyard. Donal and I sit on the stairs and begin the wait. I felt like a chaperoning mom with my huge bag full of supplies.

10:52. A group of young assholes decide that it would be fun to rush the gate. So the entire crowd of by now hundreds of people decide to join them. We can’t help but get carried along the wave of people moving toward the gate. Donal keeps grumbling that we should go back and sit down—or better yet just leave, but I grimly stand my ground. Anyway, it’s impossible to move forward or backward. We are flattened against a wall with very little oxygen. People are fainting. We get to stand right next to a group of really obnoxious, drunken fuckheads who are intent upon driving everyone around them crazy, and when that gets boring, trying to kill each other. If they’re not throwing up, they’re throwing bottles, trash cans, and each other. Some fights break out—those blind “I don’t care who I hit” fights where you—a nice American girl in your mid-20s—find yourself face-to-face with some drunken, empty-headed sixteen year-old who is convinced that you threw that bottle at him. Several terrifying hours pass with no fatalities.

1:00. We are finally allowed through the single turnstyle that will get us into the stadium. Yes, a single turnstyle on each side of the park for 57,000 crazed drunkards. This whole time I’ve been clutching my precious ticket between numb fingers, but when I get to the ticket taker . . . the ticket is gone. FUCK! I try to find Donal in a panic, but he’s several people behind me, and I’m being pushed and smashed from every direction. I look at my empty hand and back at the ticket taker in disbelief. He looks at me, then spies a yellow piece of paper on the ground. He thrusts it at me: “Here!” I give it back to him as if it were a ticket. And . . . I’m in!

In sheer joy I start running onto the field. Donal is yelling somewhere behind me. We start out fairly close to the stage but decide to move to the bleachers, as I’m sure we’ll be crushed in the crowd. Our seats aren’t bad: a bit to the side but not too far. I wish I didn’t have this giant bag with me. Why did I think I’d need to bring a book?

2:00. The concert begins! In Tua Nua are OK; the sound system is terrible. The only songs I know are “Coming Thru” and “Somebody to Love.” REM are fantastic; Michael Stipe is SUCH a performer, alternating between epileptic seizures, tap dancing, and singing with his back to the audience. But Ireland is not ready for REM. I’m the only one cheering. They played “So. Central Rain” and “Pretty Persuasion” but not “Radio Free Europe.” The Alarm are fucking AMAZING! Mike Peters is an aspiring young Bono, full of energy and excitement. A great accent and butt, too! They did “Marching On,” “68 Guns” (great!), and others I recognized, but the highlight was definitely “Blaze of Glory,” which they dedicated to U2! Squeeze is boring, boring, boring. Even Donal can’t pretend to be excited.

8:30. THIS IS IT!!! Dave Fanning introduces U2: “Now they’re back! They have conquered the world. Are you ready for the greatest live rock & roll show you will ever see? Welcome back Bono, Larry, Adam, The Edge: U2!” OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!! It’s really them! I can’t believe I’m seeing U2 live! Bono looks extremely sharp: tight black jacket, white blousey shirt, leather trousers, black hat, cool black boots. They played:

11 O’Clock Tick Tock
I Will Follow
Seconds
MLK
The Unforgettable Fire
Wire
Sunday Bloody Sunday
A Sort of Homecoming
The Cry
The Electric Co.
Bad
October
New Year’s Day
Pride (In the Name of Love)

My Hometown
Out Of Control
Gloria
40

The crowd goes crazy during the entire concert. This is the opposite reaction of what I’d expected, after talking to people who were so cool and uncaring about U2 and their success. But here they were: singing, cheering, and waving flags. Amid the noise, I heard a strange croaking sound. It was Donal. He was singing, too.

If you want to see U2 in Ireland:
  • Apparently no one had cell phone cameras in 1985, but here’s what U2 at Croke Park looked like in 2005.
  • Apparently someone had some sort of antiquated video device in 1985, because here’s what U2 looked like in 1985 (in Toronto).
  • Read this fan’s much more coherent account.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of U2!!!

I Clean My House

You better clean this house, everybody’s talking
Clean this house, they really think it’s shocking
Clean this house, get that shit off the table
Clean this house, before you are unable

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Now that I’m an award-winning blogger, it hardly seems fair that I should have to clean my own house. In my last post, I hinted that I would be inviting all my readers to a house cleaning party. Um, that was not exactly a hint. It was kind of a demand. But since none of you have taken me up on it, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and clean my house myself. SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

Now, you and I may have different ideas about what exactly “bite the bullet” means in the context of house cleaning. To you, it might mean setting aside an entire day to clean the hell out of your house: scraping dried pancake batter from the ceiling, vacuuming up cat toys, and shoveling out the dust from behind the sofa. To me, “bite the bullet” means finally just bending down and picking up that piece of green pepper on the floor instead of kicking it out of my way 100 times a day.

I like to clean my house in bite-sized chunks. (Oh, my God. I just re-read this sentence. If you don’t go all the way to the end, it says “I like to clean my house.” This could be very misleading, so I’ve recast the sentence as follows:)

I hate to clean my house, but when I must do it, I force myself to complete one small task each day. This method takes about a year, but what do you want from me? You were all supposed to help. Anyway, today’s task: the stove.

THE STOVE!

Cleaning the stove may be broken down into three parts:

  • Think about cleaning the stove.
  • Look at the stove and reconsider. It’s not that dirty.
  • Clean the damn stove.

OK, the process is actually broken down into more than three parts. Once I’ve reached the point where I’m ready to clean the stove, I remove the burner ringy-things (what are those things called?) and soak them in hot soapy water. Then I cover the top of the stove with a thick blanket of Soft Scrub, followed by a thorough spraying of 409. Just to be safe, I throw some Clorox on top of all that. Then I go off to do something much more enjoyable, like removing splinters from my eyeballs.

After waiting a good hour, I return to the stove and start cleaning off the three-inch-thick coating of cleansers. Underneath, the stove is still dirty only now it smells sort of poisonous. So I start scrubbing. Foolishly, I begin with a wiry-scrubbie pad (what are those things called?) before realizing I haven’t even penetrated the topmost layer of grime. So I switch to the brush we use for cleaning the grill. Results! Sort of. I am starting to see some white beneath the black crust.

It takes me about three hours to clean the stove, tho most of that time is spent waiting for the repeated application of cleansers to soak in so I don’t have to scrub as hard. Twenty rolls of paper towels, 5 pairs of rubber gloves, 3 scoury thingies, one grill brush later, I am done.

Before and After

 

Ta-da! What, did you think I was actually going to show you how dirty my stove was? I may have no qualms about posting a video of my freaking throat being jabbed, but ain’t no way you’re gonna see the sorry-ass condition of my stove pre-clean. But look at the “After”! So sparkly! So white! Just don’t look inside.

Make Cleaning a Game

The fun part of cleaning the house in such small increments is making Dave guess what I’ve cleaned when he comes home after a hard day of work. (Ssshhh! He doesn’t know he’s playing this game yet, which makes the penalties for guessing wrong—or not guessing at all—much more interesting.) Today it should be obvious—amid the crumb-covered kitchen counters, the cat food strewn across the floor, and the unspeakable mess at the bottom of our wastebasket stands a gleaming stove. If the stove doesn’t blind him, I will. Where’d I put that Clorox?

Tomorrow’s bite-sized chore might be a bit more difficult for him to guess. I shall be dusting off that one book on my shelf whose title I can’t read. Who says cleaning isn’t important? I may want to read that book!

If you want to clean your stove:
  • Just don’t cook in the first place. Why do you think they invented microwaves?
  • Instead of a white stove, consider buying a dirt-colored one.
  • Buy a new house, one that already has a clean stove.


I’m Fat and Weak

It’s none of my business
But you have to eat
Your appetite is appalling *

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I have resolved to have a dinner plate of salad before I dig into what else is offered. I plan on sticking to a palm-sized piece of meat. I will go for veggies before anything else, and then I will hardly have enough room on the plate for other things, but I do plan on having a tablespoon or two more (definitely not more) of anything else that looks interesting.

Are these the ravings of a lunatic? The crazed ramblings of a madman? The incoherent gibberish of a psychopath? (I think everyone gets it.—Ed.) No, these are just one Weight Watcher’s thoughts on Thanksgiving dinner. Someone who is trying to take a sensible approach toward food during a stressful holiday. Someone who is obviously a lunatic.

Yes, I know we’re supposed to focus on things other than food at Thanksgiving: family, friends, being thankful, . . . um, . . . family. But to that I say, bullshit, sir! Yes, that’s what I say. Because I’m thankful for all that stuff every day of the year. Thanksgiving is the only day I’m legally obligated to force food down my gullet until I puke. Can I have that one simple pleasure?

It turns out I can. When our little family—my husband and I, my brother and his girlfriend, and my mom—get together, we all enjoy a nice, big peaceful meal. Well, maybe not completely peaceful.

Thanksgiving means Pie Rage.

Pie Rage was born three or four years ago, when my mom and I decided to get 3 pies for Thanksgiving. The reason for 3 pies is simple: We wanted 3 pies. Anyway, who can pick just one? It’s like going to the bakery and buying one donut. Insanity!

So, after our huge dinner and way too much pie, there was still enough for each of us to have a few slices as leftovers.

Do you know the intense pleasure of having a slice of French Silk pie in your refrigerator? It’s not like I go out every day and buy myself a pie. This was a special occasion. How I looked forward to the creamy topping, the whipped filling. I could visualize each whimsical chocolate curl, taste the tender crust, smell the fat grams.

But when I got home and opened up the fridge, the pie was gone.

GONE!

Had Dave eaten it? There were two slices . . . could he be that selfish, that greedy?

As it turned out, what Dave had done was far more evil, far more incomprehensible than eating the pie.

He had thrown it out.

“We don’t need pie in the refrigerator,” he explained. “We ate enough yesterday.”

“But I wanted it!” I whined.

“I did us a favor,” he said. “No more pie!”

“But . . .”

“NO PIE!”

Thus Pie Rage was born.

Pie Rage rears its ugly head every Thanksgiving. This year, we planned to go to a buffet, where we would undoubtably encounter many delicious desserts, including pie. After dinner, we were going to my mom’s house . . . for pie.

I told Dave about my conversation with my mom.

“How many pies should I get?” my mom had asked.

“None! None pies!” Dave spluttered, reverting to Spinal Tap language in his fury. “We’re having dessert at the restaurant. That’s the dessert we’re paying for, and that’s the only dessert we’re eating. No pie!”

“Well, I plan to eat dessert at the restaurant, but my family likes the tradition of at-home pie . . .”

“They like the tradition of having pie for leftovers all week. When you buy pie for the sole purpose of leftovers, that’s how you get fat.”

“But maybe we just like pie, like normal people.”

“Then you’re weak!”

Oookay, so I’m fat and weak. But if we didn’t have at-home pie, then we couldn’t have the Noise Ritual.

“Noise” is my brother’s childhood term for canned whipped topping, so named for the noise it makes when you shoot it out of the can and into your throat. The Noise Ritual was originally designed to infuriate my mom (no holiday is complete without some healthy anger!) by spraying as much Noise on our pumpkin pie as possible. My brother and I elaborated on the ritual each year by taking as long as possible to spray on the Noise, making fancy designs, and usually creating a huge mess. The typical Noise Ritual—yes, 40 years later, we’re still doing this—involves a slow, deliberate spraying of the topping followed by a huge blast that covers the plate. My brother and I dissolve into hysterics, other guests are baffled, and my mom, bless her, now just sighs in a resigned fashion.


Watch the 2006 Noise Ritual!

Watch the 2007 Noise Ritual!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, fattening Thanksgiving with family and friends. May your pie be free of rage and may your Noise Rituals be messy and fun.

If you want to be fat and weak:
  • Buy at least 3 pies at a time.
  • Have extra Noise on your pie.
  • Make pie a year-round treat!
If you want to avoid Pie Rage:
  • Have a cake.
  • Eat your pie in the closet.
  • Hide your pie behind your cans of SlimFast. He’ll never find it there.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of the Sugarcubes

I Embrace My Randomness

Sha la la la la la la

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Thanks to my buddy, Random Yak, you will now learn Eight Random Things about me, JD.

1. I have a pathological fear of my own belly button.

If anyone were to touch my belly button, I would drop dead. I don’t even like to think about it. Writing this paragraph is causing me a lot of discomfort. My belly button is admittedly pretty dirty. I don’t really mind other peoples’ belly buttons, but I would never touch one or look at it too long. Dave suggested I see a doctor about my strange fear (I’m blaming a traumatic umbilical cord separation) but went on to posit that such a visit might result in a long needle being inserted into my belly button. Needless to say, if no one’s allowed to look at my belly button, no one’s going to be stabbing it either. But I’m not alone. Apparently other great minds share this phobia.

2. I often hold my breath when strangers pass by, in case they smell.

Come on, you do, too! There’s nothing worse going about your business among the people of this world and then getting a whiff of hair that smells like years of dirty living or that peculiar aroma of fried garbage that no amount of fake Obsession is going to cover.

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4. I can only eat one end of a banana.

After I peel it, I eat the top end, but when I get to the bottom, I have to throw out that end. The same is true with pickles but, strangely, not hot dogs.

5. I can’t make the rolling R sound.

I can’t snap my fingers either. When I try to make the rolling R sound I just end up with a lot of spit. When I try to snap my fingers, the sound produced is merely a weak ffffttt instead of a sharp, crisp snap. Although genetics has been cruel to me in these areas, it has blessed me in others. Many others, if you know what I mean (You don’t? Er . . . neither do I, actually).

6. I met Kiwi pop superstar Chris Knox at the Flying Nun offices in Auckland, New Zealand.

He was gluing labels onto his new CD. We would later watch him play a concert at the University of Auckland, but getting to meet him face to face was an unexpected major event. See photographic evidence of this historic meeting! (Note: tho the photo was taken more than 10 years ago, my hairstyle makes me look at least 45.)

7. I’d rather throw up in a bathtub than a toilet . . .

. . . as long as it was someone else’s bathtub. Well, I’m not going to throw up in my own bathtub, am I?

8. I was once hoisted in the air by a sweaty male stripper.

My college friends and I often drove up to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin to enjoy the drinking age of 18 and the Sugar Shack (Site contains nudity! Go now!), a strip club that attracted a lot of screaming females. Recently, Dave and I went together, and it was totally not the same.


Hey, guess what?! This was another of those crazy memes. According to the rules, if tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you, list eight random things about yourself, then tag eight other people.

I think I’ve used up all my good-natured sources for tagging. If anyone would like to carry on this fine meme, by all means, tag yourself!