Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goodbye, Little Friend.

So I went to the dermatologist the other day, because at 29 (ha, I typed 30 originally. I'm ready for it.) I decided to FINALLY do something about this goddamned acne. After waiting for over an hour, answering the nurse's questions and then re-answering them when the doctor quickly barked them at me as two assistants hovered around him, I was forced to reveal that I have a secret.

It must have been... I'd say 2003, because Boulos and I were living on the Upper East Side. I was in Chicago for some reason. I'd like to say it was when my brother graduated grade school and we (me and Boulos, not my 13-year-old brother) split a bottle of tequila and got in a loud fight on my parents' basement stairs at two o'clock in the morning and had to be yelled at by my mother. WE ARE CLASSY. But no, that was in 2002. I was visiting Chicago for some reason (Boulos, were you there for this? Somehow I feel like you were) and revealed to my mother the plague that had been... plaguing me for a few days: the giant cyst in the middle of my back.

My mom was concerned, but I like to ignore things like this. I mean, come on, eventually that giant, painful, I swear to god pulsating oval on my back will just GO AWAY, right? Like, what did people in the olden days do about cysts? Nothing. They just powered through. Or were stoned to death by other old timey people because the cyst was obviously the mark of the beast or something. Or, the cyst ruptured and they got infections due to unsanitary conditions (which were common in the olden days, you know) and then they died. WHATEVER. I don't have time to deal with cysts on vacation.

When the cyst reached its pinnacle, which was quite impressive -- bright red, the size of an egg, pretty firm except for this nice pokable little dime-sized area in the center (did you vomit yet? good.), my mom finally convinced me to go to the ER. This was the first of two ER visits I have made for really stupid reasons. I had a youngish, kind of good looking doctor who would not stop fretting about whether or not I was pregnant because of something he was intending to give me for the pain. We spent a LONG TIME discussing whether this was a possibility (no. I firmly stated. No, it is not). Then he'd leave. Then he'd come back, again concerned about my potential zygote. (No. There is no way I'm pregnant. Do you hear what I'm saying here doctor? NO WAY.) Sigh. I didn't have the heart to tell the cute doctor that I'd been celibate for years at this point. Eventually, after giving me a diabetes test that left me with a bloody finger, he made me take a stupid pregnancy test. I peed all over my bloody finger. Ah, well, at least that won't get infected.

I lay on my stomach while the doctor gave me shots to numb the area and then cut it open. Numb or not, it hurt like a bitch. I gritted my teeth while he... (don't vomit) squeezed all the pus out. YUM! I hope you're eating.

Then he packed it with gauze, told me he was sure he'd gotten "the sac" (this would be my first experience with that amazing term, which surprisingly is the only aspect of this whole thing that grosses me out), and revealed that he'd had a "giant man" in the other day who had cried like a baby through the exact same procedure. He assured me I'd do well in childbirth (?!) and sent me on my way. To this day, I am kind of worried about his level of interest in my offspring.

I went home to Boulos, who had to help me clean and redress the wound since it was on my back. She found the situation horrifying, but proved herself as a wife and lifelong friend by actually assisting me in this. I will be very, very lucky to ever find a man who would do the same. We nicknamed it my "back vagina," decided that "Chicago Style" referred to sex in the back vagina while both parties eat deep dish pizza, and eventually it healed, leaving only a small scar. Yay, no more cyst!

Yeah right. This thing comes back about yearly. During the first recurrence, I was again in Chicago (travel does something to the monster on my back) and visited my dad's dermatologist. He cut me back open, removed more pus, said he got the sac, but recommended I have them cut me open when it was normal again to make sure the entire sac was gone. Gross! This sac, like, divides and conquers? Ugh. I briefly discussed the surgery with my general practitioner in New York, but you know what? It's really hard to convince oneself that surgery is necessary when everything is fine. Hey, dude, my back is good. No vagina here! I'm sure that last guy got the sac.

After the threat of surgery, I started taking care of this thing myself. Oh god, that sounds so gross. No, what happened is that once I wasn't able to get to the doctor before the thing kind of de-pussed itself on its own. Exploded, kind of. This part of the story is where I venture into true TMI territory, I guess, and we all throw up together. Anyway, after I didn't die on that one, I decided to just buy some big bandages in preparation for any flare-ups, cover the thing when it became a monster, and wait it out. This method has been working pretty well for years. It's safe! I buy the large anti-bacterial band-aids.

So on Friday, my new dermatologist asked me whether I experience acne anywhere other than my face and I was like, "um, well. I kind of had this cyst on my back and it flares up sometimes." With no fanfare, he marched over, yanked the back of my shirt open, peered down for a millisecond, poked my back and said, "Oh, you'll have to have that removed; the sac is still in there." Trust me when I say that, even after years of talking about this cyst, the word "sac" still makes me dry heave a bit. As I left the office, the receptionist scheduled an appointment for sac removal.

And then I was a little sad! Mostly because I have never had surgery except for the removal of my wisdom teeth and I'm of the firm belief that the less surgery, the better. (In reality this is an outpatient procedure and I'm pretty sure it's only going to require another shot or two of local anesthesia, so I should just stop being a crybaby already.) But also... no more little harmless friend who becomes an angry red monster and then settles into back vagina before hibernating again :(

Goodbye, little sac (barf). I hardly knew ye.

I am hoping that Dr. Wilson finally closes my back vagina

(There are youtube videos of cyst removals but I cannot recommend them. The two I watched were really disgusting. I would stick to my story, which has the benefit of a first-person back cyst story, i.e. I didn't see anything.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mother's Day Update

You know how I mentioned that, on Mother's Day, my whole family made fun of me for folding my underwear? Here's a cute little follow-up.

On Sunday, we went to my parents' house. We do this most Sundays and we call it "Family Day" and we watch America's Funniest Videos and basically make you vomit with our ability to act like Leave it to Beaver, except if you know anything else about my family, you know we are no fucking Cleavers (what a fucked up last name! God that makes me laugh, and think of murder). I'll get into that another time, though. Suffice it to say our family gatherings are characterized by too many sex jokes, and sometimes too much substance abuse, for '50s prime time TV.

So back to Sunday. My dad grilled burgers and my mom bought cupcakes; how cute is that? My grandmother came over and we watched the Blackhawks game (um, they did. I did a crossword puzzle). Lest you find this too sweet and/or nauseating, let me step in and spoil it by telling you that when I drove my grandma home, we passed a number of Korean businesses a few blocks from her house and she said, apropos of nothing, "Boy, the Asians sure love to gamble." (Maybe we'd just passed an OTB? I honestly don't know.)

My sister owns our place and we have a washer/dryer in-unit, but the dryer has been broken recently so we've been doing some laundry at my parents' house. She put in a load and then I put that in the dryer and put in my load, and promptly forgot about it. I wanted to leave by 8:30 so I could go running when I got home, but at about 8:15 my mom reminded me about my laundry. I swore and got crabby. She then kindly offered to fold my stuff and send it home with my sister the next day if I didn't want to stick around.

My sister brought it home and I just unpacked it, and found that my mother had folded all of my panties! Adorable. Except this: she had asked how I fold them, and I told her that I fold them in half and then in half again. She said, "Oh, well I'd probably fold them in thirds," one-upping me on something she doesn't even do. Guess how she sent them back?

Of course, all arguments can be settled via the internet. According to this Youtube video, she's right. Or at least closer to right.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

I'm sure everyone has tales about how strange their family is. "Normal" doesn't really exist, does it? However, crazy family stories are fun. I thought I would describe Mother's Day at my parents' house in an effort to capture the particular strain of crazy that has infected my family.

My sister and I arrive late due to traffic and those unfeeling bastards (aka my paternal grandmother, my father, my brother and my mother) have of course begun eating without us, because they don't care. After distributing large bones to the dogs so that my dog can steal both of them and take them to the rug where she will shut up and let us eat in peace, my sister and I sit down at the table. Everyone teases Melissa (sister) because she is in the last week of training for a fitness competition and thus can only eat one dish on the table, kale. People do horrible things like loudly proclaim, "Oh, it's really too bad you cannot eat this beef, IT IS DELICIOUS. You can't have JUST ONE BITE?" (my father).

Between bites of his actual meal, my father stands up with a fork, reaches for the pineapple cake in the middle of the table, and shoves large forkfuls of it into his mouth. In my family, we generally don't do things like cut a cake into pieces and eat it off dessert plates. When he sits down, his dog jumps up on his chair and pushes her head through his free arm, panting and attempting to lick his plate. In response, he feeds her from his plate and everyone laughs. We discuss my former job at Chuck E. Cheese and I mention that a man once approached me when I was dressed as Chuckie and whispered "Are you a man or a woman? A man or a woman?" and how horrifying that was. I then determined that I'd met a furry before anyone knew what a furry was. Then I had to explain furries to my mom and grandma. They both greatly enjoyed this, and my mother later referred to them as "fluffies." I turned this particular aspect of the night into my Facebook status. My small dog eats a large piece of bone and requires assistance in order to not die. My mother helps her create a giant disgusting puddle of bone on the floor and proudly exclaims, "See, I just had to massage her throat! Now it's out!" We discuss dogs who eat things like underwear and socks and throw them up later. Probably half of us are still eating throughout this vomit portion of the evening.

After the dishes are cleared, my mother tries to redeem us from my father's lack of manners by actually cutting a different cake and distributing pieces. At my sister's request, I provide an in-depth description of the chocolate mousse cake; she cannot eat things like cake and thus gets off on looking at and hearing about food. We give my mother and grandmother their gifts. My grandmother received two books, and she expresses concern that she may not be able to read them. I ask if I should return them for large-print versions and my sister jokes, "Or should we get audio versions? Or exchange them for an aide to come and read them to you?" And my grandmother says, "I'm just sorry I won't be around to see YOU at 70, you little bitch."

My dad goes upstairs to take a nap. He takes about three a day now, I think (he is only 51). My grandmother needs someone to put an eyedrop into her eye, so I volunteer. She also needs someone to cut her bangs, which my mom does at the kitchen table while my grandma holds a newspaper ad under her face to catch the hair. My brother says, "Jesus! Eyedrops, haircuts... what the fuck do you think this is, Mother's Day?!" My mother remembers that there is cookies 'n' cream gelato in the freezer. My sister convinces me to try some, though I don't want any. I explain to her that it's not very good and they obviously used generic cookies, not oreos. She wants me to eat more and I refuse.

My sister and mother go to the Vitamin Store together (seriously. This is what they do together on Mother's Day). They say they will be gone for ten minutes and about fifteen minutes later, my grandmother proclaims that they lied and she needs to go home now and feed her dog. I drive her home. When I return, my family is watching America's Funniest Videos. I cannot lie, I fucking love that show. It's best to watch with my family, because my mother cackles loudly any time something remotely funny happens (and, um, most of the show is funny things happening) and my father only laughs audibly when someone gets injured. He is the man who appreciates all of the hits to the groin. However, he was still napping. My sister and brother like to pretend they are too cool for the show, but they always get sucked in as well.

Anytime my mother disagrees with a video -- i.e., does not think it's funny enough for the show -- she does so loudly. "That was not FUNNY. Ugh, that was just dumb. I liked the dogs who opened the gate." There is a video about a woman who continually locks her husband out of the house or car and makes him dance before she'll let him back in. My brother and I loved it and my mother rolls her eyes and says "This is so dumb. I mean, I wouldn't let her take my keys then! COME ON!"

Later on, my sister and I finish up our laundry (our dryer is currently on the fritz) and everyone laughs at me when it is revealed that I fold my underwear. Then my mother says, "You know what I'm gonna do?" And I say, "Oh, this is about wine, isn't it?" She ignores me. "Well, it's getting late and I don't work tomorrow, and the kitchen is clean, so..." And she pours herself a glass of white zinfandel and lights a cigarette.

Happy Mother's Day, mom! I don't think you read my blog, though.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Buying in Bulk

I should NEVER be allowed in a Costco or Sam's Club. NEVER. My sister bought a membership a few years ago and I went with her a few times and bought the dumbest shit. Keep in mind that my sister maintains a very healthy, strict diet at all times and I eat like a frat boy, with maybe every third meal a half-hearted stab at healthful eating. I do actually try to get in my fruits and veggies, though, because my parents never made me eat them and I hated vegetables until like five years ago, and I'm relatively sure I have undiagnosed scurvy or something as a result.

Anyway. Point being, my diet and my sister's do not overlap much and we don't share much food. When we last had a Costco membership, I bought a giant canister of cashews. Because nuts never go bad, right? No really, I thought that. We moved probably six months after I bought that bad boy and it was still 3/4 of the way full and I packed that bitch and brought it to our new place. (I brought a lot of food along using the logic "Hey, we're only moving three blocks away." Except I don't own a grocery cart so that food had to be moved just like everything else.) And here it sat, very rarely tended to, until Boulos visited last May and was like, "Um, those cashews expired TWO YEARS AGO." And I was like, bullshit, nuts don't go bad. But yeah, it had an expiration date. I rebelled and kept those cashews for a few months, every once in awhile making an "omg I'm gonna die" face and eating one. Just a couple months later, I threw out a half-full canister of cashews that probably cost $20 or some shit.

My issue with Costco is that I ALWAYS FORGET who is supposed to shop there. You know, little league teams and PTAs and people with actual families. Not little ole single me, who never even has people over because her roommate goes to bed at 9:00 p.m and her friends are loud. I do not need a two-pound tub of hummus, ever.

But buying in bulk is SMART, right? I'm getting bang for my buck here, correct? Of course, if you buy a big box of weird Kashi bars that you have never seen in the grocery store and only eat 10 of them and then, three years later, start looking at the remaining 20 with shifty eyes because they have nuts in them and you just recently learned that nuts do, in fact, go bad.... well, throwing out 2/3 of a product you bought at a slight discount is not smart.

My sister had similar, if less retarded, problems last time we had a Costco membership, so she let it lapse. But now she's on this really strict diet which involves eating the same things again and again, and buying in bulk is actually a good idea for her. And she convinced me to accompany her when she renewed her card. I didn't really need much in the way of groceries, but Costco was only open for maybe another hour and I'd just pick up some wine or something. Duh. I won't get pulled into this again, I'm no fool.

She waited in line to get her card and encouraged me to go browse. I swear to god she loves to watch me act like a dumbass. But it was boring up front, so I headed straight for the liquor section, where I picked up a bottle of whiskey -- I had NO IDEA if I was saving money on it, because I don't even buy whiskey other than Jameson or Jack Daniels, really. But hey, it MUST be a good deal, right? Then I chose a giant bottle of cabarnet sauvignon. Also not sure if I saved any money on it. At this point, I looked really classy.

My sister called me and I met her by the frozen food. Then we walked toward the produce. I picked out a giant bunch of bananas, which wasn't genius, but I make banana bread with overripe bananas and I have 1/2 a loaf sitting here on my counter right now to prove to you that no bananas were wasted. I also picked up a 12-pack of apples, which I've nearly finished. So BOO YA, produce.

But. The produce, where my sister spends a large amount of time, is right next to the cheese. Giant hunks of cheese all over the place. First I picked up this bag of snack-sized Cabot hunks. Unfortunately, I did not realize until I made it home that they are low-fat, and I have to be honest, cheese is the one food that I believe should always be full-fat. The unbelievable 0ccurred and I purchased a Cabot cheddar product that is simply mediocre. Sad.

On to the giant hunks of cheese. Obviously I could only purchase one -- I know that cheese goes bad. I was looking at cheddars, and had nearly settled on a manchego when this older woman turned to me and asked, in a gorgeous accent (French? Russian? Polish? seriously I can't identify these things) whether one could freeze cheese. I was like, I have no idea. But it probably wouldn't taste as good if you froze it and thawed it. She held up a giant wedge of gruyere and said sadly, "It's so much cheese. But they so rarely have gruyere." With the accent and the sadness over fancy cheese, I was convinced this woman was a former queen fallen upon hard times or something. There was a sense of faded glamour about her. I think she bought the cheese. I KNOW that this interaction prompted me to buy the gruyere.

This was dumb. Turns out, gruyere is not tasty when eaten in chunks, which I didn't know because I've only ever eaten it on sandwiches at restaurants. A good 1/4 of that wedge is still sitting in my fridge because I am sick of slicing cheese and eating cheese sandwiches and making cheese omelets. The one thing I know is that I, for one, will never be found standing at a discount store sadly contemplating a giant wedge of gruyere.

Other things purchased? A dried fruit and nut mix, which is convenient but maybe not the best idea because holy shit that stuff is high in calories. And a big package of corned beef, and another of sliced ham, which worked well with the gruyere for croque monsieur sandwiches, but which prompted conversations with my sister like, "NO I cannot eat turkey with you tonight, I have some ham to eat" and "I'd like to get tacos for dinner, but I still have some goddamned ham to eat."

All in all, I spent about $90 on a bunch of crap that kept me fed and liquored up for awhile, but which I did not actually, technically need. I'm probably going back this weekend.

I found this when I googled "gruyere." This little guy could really help me out with all the cheese I have right now.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I Have a 401k and Other Boring Revelations

As recently as yesterday, I realized that I am an adult. I realize this fairly often and am always surprised. But I think it was as I stared at a photo of Justin Bieber with a confused look on my face YET AGAIN last night that I "realized" this for the last time and, finally, completely accepted and embraced adulthood.

This is a good thing, since I'll be 30 in like 4 months or something. And I DO have a 401k! With less than $2,000 in it because I started it maybe a year before I got laid off, and I wasn't making enough money for 6% of my income to actually amount to that much. When I think about the amount that my sister has in her 401k, and how she is over two years younger than me, I get a little scared. Then I go to Youtube and watch a video of a dog pushing a ball around a room with a frisbee and I feel better.

So here are a few additional things that have led me to reluctantly admit that I am an adult.

1) Alluded to above, but bears repeating: I finally do not understand teenage pop stars at all. Now, lest you think I'm just a music snob: I attended a New Kids on the Block concert when I was 8. For whatever reason, I understood the popularity of boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync, and I have danced to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera while singing along. However, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber are beyond me. I don't begrudge today's children, tweens and (young and/or awkward) teens their heartthrobs and Tiger Beat cover stars, but I can't lie. I kind of wish they would all board a rickety puddlejumper together and let nature take its course. Mostly because Miley's voice, both speaking and singing, grates horribly and her father's "contribution" to country music should have brought a curse upon his offspring if karma worked as it should. Taylor Swift is annoyingly sweet and wholesome, and has a horribly weak singing voice, and her songs are like bad lowfat vanilla ice cream. Justin Bieber is... well, here he is. I think a picture is enough.

I guess I should just be happy that his popularity is an obvious step in the right direction in terms of widespread acceptance of gays. If the public is embracing a little lesbian boy in this way, actual lesbians can't be far behind, right?

2) The soundtrack to my high school experience is now being referred to as "Classic Alternative." At least, that is the name of the Comcast music station that plays Bjork, Nirvana, Hole, Pearl Jam, etc. Also, rock music from the '80s is "Retro Rock." I simply cannot pretend to be a teenager anymore.

3) Sigh. This one is kind of hard to admit. I am currently watching The Breakfast Club yet again, but probably for the first time in years (it's not my favorite brat pack movie; those would be Pretty in Pink, About Last Night and St. Elmo's Fire). And John Bender is no longer sexxxxxxxxy. He is an annoying asshole. He thinks he's being provocative, but he's being mean. I do not like him at all and I no longer want to make him my loveslave. And I actually don't like any of these characters, except maybe Allie Sheedy. This is, for me, the saddest of these realizations.

Still good-looking, but too annoying and self-righteous to allow in my bed.