Monday, May 10, 2010

Welcome to Chesapeake Medical Center

It was the first day of the drive to “paradise”: a rental cottage directly on the beach in South Carolina, land of shrimp and grits and John Edwards. We had navigated the Lewes Ferry, enduring the on-deck snippets of conversation overhead from an imposing woman with her toes painted gold, who was conducting real estate deals for people named Aleeshius and Aint-No-Pleasin’. Somehow, they would all be meeting at the lock box after deboarding the ferry to determine if the bedroom was big enough.
We also were regaled with stories from Tattoo Sleeve Dexter and his chain-smoking wife, Arnell about his own method of losing weight, Jenny Craig His Way. “I ate two, yeah, two of them things at one time and I still lost 45 pounds”.

Our destination for the night was the Red Roof Inn in Chesapeake Virginia. Literally, a crash pad with wifi. There may have been some people who saw it as their ideal destination, but only to commit suicide. I consider it a bad sign when the manager is returning to the office with a plunger in his hand. Later, we spotted a Joe’s Crab Shack and consumed a large amount of dungeoness crab, which was so damned delicious, I forgot how tired I was. Went back to the room and my travel companion, whom I will call Susan, informed me that she must take an Ambien every night of her life or she does not sleep. This was quite surprising and alarming to me, knowing how powerful and unpredictable a drug it can be. But her doctor was well aware and she was doing fine with it. You need to know all this because about an hour after we both went to bed, I woke up completely covered in hives, swelling, and throat closing up….ran to get some Benadryl, which I keep for emergencies. She is OUT like a coma patient and I can’t get the damn packet open. There is a special place in hell for the bastard that designed these “easy open” travel packs. It should be filled with delicious snacks in this packaging that he can stare at for all eternity and never open.

Finally, get the pack open, swallow the pill and I am getting worse. I am looking like Will Smith in Hutch. I know I have to get to an emergency room and I don’t even know where the hell I am and neither of us can drive in our conditions. I manage to get her up and she makes the 911 call.

Now, if you have ever heard one of these calls, it would seem to you that it goes something like this:

“Hello, 911, what is your emergency?’
“My husband’s arm was torn off by a bear. Please, help us”
“Is the arm nearby? “
“Yes, no, I don’t know, please send someone quick”
“Calm down, ma’am. I can’t help you if you’re screaming.”
“Yes, ma’am. Are you inside or outside the house?”
“And how did a bear get inside the house”
“Do you use paper or plastic?”

You know how it goes, and I’m choking, while she is on the phone. I was told to stand outside the motel room until they arrive and Susan was told that if I start to vomit to turn me on my side. At that point, I was just thinking of hurling myself off the balcony, next to the woman who was already out there talking to her lover on her cell phone.

The squad arrived and asked Susan if she was going to follow and she had to tell them she had basically the same capacity of someone stoned out on heroin and could not drive so….so up on the wheelie cart I went, providing the only entertainment Red Roof had to offer besides the wifi. The ride in the rig was fun. The very young paramedic had a lot of trouble getting the IV of Benadryl into my hand and I had a lot of trouble not screaming about it. But I will say this. Southern courtesy and gentility really trumps the grumbly New Jersey variety of discourse. Everyone couldn’t have been nicer. I got treated and streeted with a diagnosis of severe allergic reaction to shellfish. Say it isn’t so. Ate it all my life. And I’m in the Lowcountry, on vacation, with money to burn in my pocket. And no shellfish????

So I can’t call Susan because she has returned to the coma, it’s two in the morning and I have to call a cab to get back to the Red Roof, and I don’t have a key. I also have to stop at the 24 hour Walgreens to get a prescription of Prednisone, everyone’s favorite drug for being fat, bloated, and angry. The cab driver is another delightful Southern gentlemen who pretends not to notice my fashion-forward ensemble of p.j.’s with running shoes, and waits for me at the Walgreens. I dash in, because the meter is running, and there is actually someone in front of me at the counter. Really, Chesapeake? At two in the morning? And he’s having a folksy conversation about which ear drops work best and how do you put them in and what are the ingredients and what china pattern do you have and…..

Finally, finally, he leaves, I get up there and realize I still have those heart monitor leads sticking out of my shirt. The filling of the prescription is taking forever, and I ask if there is a problem, and she said, “Well, the robot seems to be down.” I think, “Well, that’s a great name for an Indy band, but what about my pills?” Apparently, this happens “a lot” at this time of night because, I imagine, the robot is into internet porn and can’t be bothered verifying my insurance. So I ask how much the prescription is without insurance and she said, “Eleven dollars”. Apparently, I looked so crazed and indigent that she thought that wouldn’t be an option. “Fill it, I’ll pay you” Got back out to the cab, 40 bucks later, asked the night manager at Red Roof to give me another key. When I walked into the office she said, “Are you the one who went to the hospital?” Was there another person in here with heart leads and a bracelet and really blotchy skin? But sweet, she was.

Got back in the room, Susan sat up for a minute, said, “You’re back fast” and laid back down and returned to dreamland, the time/space continuum having been pleasantly altered by the power of Ambien.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tadpod's Eleven

Yes, at one point during the carpet installation, there were 11 people in my house. Picture pandemonium, with many people asking me questions simultaneously, and me running around to different parts of the house trying to answer them.

Flashback music, with Martin Short doing the swirly hands as we go back to the morning. The Head Installer Guy for Flooring of Any Type and Color assured me that sometimes the phone line can be affected if they “tweak” the wire in the wall and they can just “back out the staple” and it will be fine. He said that he would ask Carpet Guy if he would mind having a look when he comes to install the rug, even though it wasn’t his crew in the kitchen. Otherwise, he would ask the wood crew to come and remedy the problem, as they installed the floor. Fine.

Carpet guys arrive and they speak as perfect English as you would expect from guys who lay carpet. I’m thrilled. They are nice and they are funny. They cannot find what is wrong with the phone, so they call the HIGFFOATAC and he says he will send “Eddie” from the original crew. Fine.

Carpet guys are fast and efficient and make good jokes. I needed carpet guys or I would have to take a “calm me down” pill. Then one of them says, “You’ve got company” and my Dad and his wife walk in. My Dad is, to use a phrase from Praxia, ‘starvin like Marvin’, but he is going to play the martyr and says he will “wait”. He goes in to inspect the phone line. I won’t even go into how that went, so I’ll let your imaginations go “doodley doo” with Martin Short. I finally herd him and his wife, A. to the room with all of my remaining furniture and we’re sitting among the couches, tables, lamps, etc. like the middle of the scratch and dent department of Seaman’s. Finally, I ask one of the carpet guys if they know when Eddie is coming, and the doorbell rings. Only it’s not Eddie, it’s my cousins J and L, who were off from work today and made the very poor lack of judgment to drop by and see how this was going. J went to the phone line, and he and carpet guy pulled off the baseboard and the wall trim and out popped this big, CUT wire. No wonder I had no dial tone. Apparently, the guys yesterday skill sawed through and didn’t worry about what was behind it. I asked if it could be fixed and he said he was sure Eddie could fix it.

Meantime, J takes the door off going to the basement that wouldn’t open all the way and asks me if I have a plane. When I said, “I think I do” I could see his face fall, because he thought he might have made a quick getaway. So I produce the plane, and it looks like, as J said, that it was used in the building of the Ark. He futzed around with that door for a long time, with Dad giving his helpful hints, which are always good because he did build our house. Then, a green van pulls up and it’s Eddie and the two guys from yesterday and another younger, sullen kid who did not smile once the entire day, and was pissed off that they had to come and fix this bitch’s phone (my interpretation). So now the count is eleven. Carpet guys doing their thing. Four guys in the doorway trying to fix the phone wire. J in the other doorway, trying to rehang the door. A was smart. She grabbed her purse and said, “I’ll be right back, I’m going to Chino’s” which is “Chico’s” a clothing store. Before she left, she got my father to eat a liverwurst sandwich before he fainted.

Then Eddie comes to me and says, “Can you do without your phone for a couple of days?” and I said, “Why?” and he said, “Because we can’t repair the wire and have to get a new one” and I said, “Hey, guess what? There’s a Radio Shack a block away. Can’t you get the wire now and fix it?” And he had the same look on his face that J had when I told him I actually had a plane.

They sent mini-me to the store to get the materials, and were able to do the job, from the basement, with drills, cursing, and at one point, a lit match. But we had ignition. And J finally, after many tries with that rusty, dull plane was able to get the door to open all the way. They hot-footed it out of here to try to enjoy the rest of the day. The carpet guys took off. A came back with a lot of shopping bags from Chico’s, refreshed from retail therapy. And then there were three. We went down to Fratello’s to grab a bite, relax and say goodbye, because they are headed to Florida tomorrow.

This was a BLOG, sorry it was so long. Believe me, it could have been longer had I told you everything, but you are too much of a gentle reader for that.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Get a "hendy men"

So, day one of the two day floor installation from hell has begun, not on time, but one hour early…and after I begged the scheduler for the later time. But, that’s not bad so far. So, two people with very limited English, I think they are Russian, barged in, have left the door open in the rain now for quite some time, and they basically told me to “don’t worry” in broken English and snarled. Of course, the “don’t worry” was premature because I soon heard, “Please to come here” and he said he could not do the transition between the kitchen and the dining room threshold because the kitchen floor was higher and I should get a “hendy men” to make a special piece. No, no, no…no more “hendy men”!

I made them call the store, because I couldn’t possibly be the only person in the universe with such a mind-boggling floor situation. He eventually told me that the carpet guys, who were coming tomorrow, would bring the correct piece. (Sigh) So I won’t have my floor all done today. And I am not too happy with the prospect of them not having known that….what else don’t they know?

Oh, the freaking skill saw is screaming in the kitchen…I am so afraid to look.

Well, they have left and this is the scorecard. Chopped ends of the floor and no threshold piece. Piece is now on order, no date for installation set. The phone jack in the kitchen is dead. I believe they may have shot the nail gun through the wall wire when they reattached the baseboard. I am now operating from the phone line in the bedroom, which is fine.

And one last thing. They reattached the door from the kitchen to the basement and now it only opens halfway because "floor too high". You know, with the floor shouldn't be the only thing that's high, at this point. And of course, "we don't fix". I could picture myself using a lubricant to get through the door while holding a basket full of laundry. The horror. The horror.

Carpet-bombing guys are scheduled for tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The File Cabinet

Z-line, makers of the light cherry wood file cabinet extraordinaire, should have all their teeth rot and fall out while they laughingly pack up the six trillion pieces, hardware, and LAME instructions for other unsuspecting buyers.

Yes, there was an injury. Some of the holes were not hewn correctly so I had to lean with my entire weight to get the cam screws screwed in, and during one of those sweating, grunting forays that sounded like I was wrestling with a Yeti, the phillip’s head slipped and went directly into my pinky. Wee, wee, wee, all the way home.

So, all told, with major parts of the directions, um, left out? , I figured the damn thing out in under 4 hours, but close to it. There’s four hours I will never get back. Sort of funny that M came over after that and we went to see “Running With Scissors” with my big band-aid on my finger.

So I did it. I hate those blood-sucking, sadistic Cantonese at Z-line, and I now know they truly hate us.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Little Bit Country

A Little Bit Country…

Yes, this is the same person who, when attending a conference in Nashville was begging to be airlifted out of that godforsaken city. Yes, the same person who hates Nascar. Yes, the same person who would rather get her hand caught in a freezer than listen to Rascal Flatts.

BUT. Last night I found myself in South Amboy, NJ on a deserted strip of Route 35 just south of Delilah’s Den (hmmm) walking into a place that has country line dancing every Thursday night. Now, my friend Cl, who is being adventurous these days, has been going there for the lessons and then staying to dance afterward. So, she agreed to meet me there to help me out of my comfort zone. I walk in and there is a guy wearing a Mets shirt and a big black cowboy hat. He collects my money for the lesson while mumbling something about watching the Mets win tonight on the big screen. (Which they didn’t, ha ha). So….there is this huge room with a bar and lots of people out there dancing with themselves, each other, whatever. I have no idea what they are doing and there are a lot of steps and turns, and I know in my heart there will be many times during the night when the entire room will be facing one way and I will be facing the other. But it felt friendly and fun.

Cl started teaching me a dance called “Sex on the Beach”. Enough said. I did my best to keep up but once I thought I learned it, another dance started. It seems there is a different dance for every song they play. The Crowd. Very, very mixed from a group of Asian ladies who kept clunking into me, to genuine cute cowboys with hats, to older ladies with sweatshirts that had photos of their pets on them. But everyone, and I must stress this, was very friendly, non-judgmental, and welcoming.

Now for the lesson. The DJ (or do we call it something else in country, like LBJ) and his partner do the dance once so we can see what it should look like and then they break it down. Aside from the damn turns, it was easy to pick up and by the time we all danced it, it was a rush. No, I don’t like the music so much, but was grateful for ones that weren’t at warp speed. They did a dance at the end of the lesson that was Latin in flavor and looked great and I want to learn that one. There are also partner dances, and Cl said I should learn those in case someone asks me to dance. That almost had me bolting for the door, but I remembered to just breathe….it’s just a dance (thank you shrinkologist).

I had a wonderful time and broke a sweat as well (no, not about thinking about dancing with a guy) but from jumping around. I will definitely be back next week for more. After all, the ones in the white hats are supposed to be the good guys, right?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Don Giovanni

Had a great day having a caper with C and R like the old days-lunch with plenty of repartee, and, because we didn’t have to go back to the office, like all our other capers, we could have bloody marys and Malibu and cokes. Then we crashed Lotta’s house and sat on her porch so close to the beach and enjoyed the gorgeous day, regaling her Mom with our banter. But came home with a bonecrusher of a migraine (thank you, bloody mary) so I did my usual routine…medication, turn off the phones, get nice and cuzzy on the couch, and find something unstimulating on TV to help me sleep through the pain. Usually, my best bet is Court TV, especially if an expert witness is testifying, because explanations of blood splatter patterns really sends me into nonny-nonny land.

But today, I flipped by and saw that one of my favorite movies, “The Tao of Steve” was on and, head pounding or not, I was drawn in. This is a film that has dialogue that would please a philosophy major while making anyone laugh out loud. A favorite of mine is:

He: I’m falling in love with you.

She: No you’re not.

He: Yes, I am.

She: Then why do you see so many other girls?

He: Oh, what am I supposed to remain celibate while basking in the warm glow of your

annihilating comtempt?

Days before this, she told him how Kierkegaard was fascinated with Don Giovanni. She said Don Giovanni slept with thousands of women because he was afraid he wouldn’t be loved by one.

And the principles of the Tao of Steve (that being Steve McQueen as is later revealed) for how to win a woman is as follows:

Abandon all desire for her

Let her see you being excellent

Retreat from her.

“Because, we pursue that which retreats from us”

Well, this was wonderful stuff in my med induced state, but it also made me reflect upon my patterns in love and war. The other day with C and again on Friday with M, we took trips down the romantic history channel. M and I have know each other since our twenties, and we each knew all the men that we didn’t wind up with. And there were some rich and

high-larious stories in the bunch. The night we went dancing in the Fun House with M’s new date who showed up in a matching denim outfit, pants and vest, ready to dance with himself in a mirror when we got there. And me getting into my car by the park at 2AM after a night out with my girlfriend and seeing the guy I was dating walk out of the bushes and tap on my car window. He had been sitting there in those freaking bushes all night waiting for me to get back. He eventually became an FBI agent (truly).

My shrink has been working with me to get me to even consider dating again. I guess when I think about how much dating I actually did do when I became single again, there hardly seems to be anything that I missed out on, from climbing up the side of an oil tanker with a beautiful blond rigger and waltzing with him on the captain’s bridge, to dating a himbo who thought France was a city.

Soon, soon, it’s crystallizing and I may be ready to have another adventure, but I’m going to have to do something more than wait for him to come crashing through my French doors.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Onward Christian and Soldier

After a long time of trying to get together, C was able to drive down in his Prius and we had a great night of dinner, stories, and trying to locate a dehumidifier to replace the one that conked out in my basement. I dragged him along to “home improvement row” while being fascinated with the bar graphs reading out info on the dash in his car. Actually, it made as much sense to me as the pie charts that appear on the front page of the "USA Today", which is only read when I stay at a hotel, but whose charts are still mind boggling for a person like me clueless to the wants of the actual USA today.

At the Depot, or Home Dopey as A calls it and Home Despot, as R calls it, we fought with a row of carriages and our only quarter to operate an unlocking system worthy of the DaVinci code. Then on to Lowes. Two stores, no dehumidifiers. One was selling a brand that I seemed to remember from my online search was one not to get, and when I checked later…it had been known to burst into flames. Aside from the drummer in Spinal Tap, this was not something I wanted happening in my basement despite the moisture it was sure to dispel.

We gave up and went for ice cream. I can’t quite remember what was said in the car, but we fell out laughing and C said that it was a fine thing that not only did we entertain each other but we cracked ourselves up. Two days later, the mildew smell from the basement was getting to me, so I went to the Home Despot in Neptune (intergalactic) and was able to find a big display of dehumids...I got one and then proceeded to spend 15 minutes in the parking lot trying to get it into the trunk, that mother was heavy. Then when I got home, I backed my car into the garage and got it into the house, miraculously, and then I stood beside it and edged it down one step at a time until it reached the basement. Whew....I really needed it ASAP, it had a bucket of water in it in no time....

I have not hooked the hose up yet, because, when the salesman was explaining the hose operation to me, he kept saying things like, " you take the thing off the top of the bucket, punch through and it comes out".. I said, "Wait, I don't understand", and he said "Is this too challenging for you?", and I said, “Yes. Yes it is.”

But on to the next homeowning challenge which is planting my first daffodil bulbs. For $6.95 the Despot could give me a netted bag full of hope.