In 9th grade, all students at my school were required to take Language Arts. To my dismay, this turned out to be a public speaking class disguised as a writing class, which meant that my easy A was about to become a desperate C. Though friends have pointed out that I can be loud as fuck in public, especially while talking about embarrassing stories, I suddenly lose the ability to be coherent when placed in front of an audience.
I start talking about a mile a minute, sweating all the while as my face either turns as red as a drunkard’s, or as pale as someone about to pass out. My eyes will dart all around the room as if trying to identify who from the crowd is about to get up and shoot me. Whatever latent paranoia I have (which is a LOT) kicks into high gear, and I become convinced the audience is plotting my downfall at all times.
So yeah, public speaking and I don’t really get along.
But sadly, this class forced me to do it on a regular basis. It all culminated on one unfortunate day when we had to read a short story that we had written out loud to the class.
The assignment was to write a “funny” retelling of a classic fairy tale, and we all had to choose different ones. As a somewhat angry and depressed teenager, my idea of “funny” was a dark as shit Goldilocks and the Three Bears that took place in an apocalyptic future where weapons were as common as loose change. The body count in my story was startlingly high, and I was probably only saved from arrest by virtue of this being written before Columbine. My tale ended with both Goldilocks and the bears burning to death after Goldie’s flame thrower showers the house with fire. Goldie manically mutters that the temperature is now “juuuust right” as her hair bursts into flames.
I did not know in advance that we would have to read this out loud.
I heard about the change in the lesson plan during lunch, as students who had the class earlier in the day recounted their classmates’ “hilarious” stories. My only thought was, “I’M FUCKED.” I knew very well that my story was going to be seen as the ravings of a homicidal maniac, and I ran to the computer lab to shit out a different story in the ten minutes remaining before class.
I was unsuccessful.
And thus I found myself perched on a stool at the front of the class, having to read out loud some of the most disturbing shit I had ever written. As the bullets began to fly and blood ran from one end of the bears’ cabin to the other, I started to feel like I was watching a car wreck from afar. Try as I might, I couldn’t stop the brutal scene that was unfolding before me. Soon enough, my anxiety crested and I completely lost it. I began to laugh hysterically, describing the deadly fire between giggles as I gasped for air. I actually started crying as I plowed through the morbid tale, laughing so hard that my words about graphic murder came out as squeaks. I eventually slid off the stool to the floor in a desperate attempt to abort the insanity. The teacher insisted I continue reading from the cold linoleum. He did not much care for me.
In the end, I received a C- on the story (my teacher cited disliking “black humor”), and I gained a reputation for being batshit INSANE for the rest of my freshman year of high school. Fucking fantastic.
So yeah, everybody gets these. If you haven’t found one on your own body, you simply haven’t been looking hard enough, and it’s probably at least six inches long by now. SEARCH THYSELF.
I remember discovering mine for the first time, growing out of the right side of my abdomen like it fucking belonged there. It looked like it came off Gandalf’s head (the White, not the Grey), several inches long and as glossy as a unicorn’s mane. I plucked it with horror, only to have it grow back again and again, the thin strand as white as purely driven snow. Now I monitor the spot with grim vengeance, razing the area as soon as it pokes it’s tiny silky head out of my stomach.
I remember a girl in my class in college who had a massive two-inch black hair emerging from her chin, like Satan’s own pube. I couldn’t understand how she had never noticed it before, but it became more clear as I watched her glance in the mirror in the bathroom. She always angled her head in such a way that she never saw the offending hair curling in the breeze. My God, had nobody ever told her? I didn’t know how to approach that situation since we were merely acquaintances, and she soon ceased coming to class altogether. Had she been strangled by her rogue hair in the night? Perhaps she looked on it fondly, stroking it gently before drifting off to sleep each night. I will never know.
So, I don’t usually tackle serious topics on this blog, unless you consider severe anal trauma to be a subject of national importance. But I’m going to go ahead and break my informal rule.
Full disclaimer: I work in the field of electronic health records (EHR, also known as electronic medical records, or EMR). I’m not a vendor, and I’m not a provider, but rather I work at a nonprofit advocacy group for the modernization of American healthcare.
The USA is behind in so many ways. Most of our citizens’ health records are still on paper that must be schlepped from office to office, from hospital to hospital. Perhaps if you don’t have a chronic health issue, you don’t realize the inconvenience and incompetence this systems fosters. Imagine having cancer and having to carry a stack of files taller than 15 iPads stacked on top of each other to every specialist you see. Picture having to trust your medical records to a family member because you are too ill to take care of them. Wonder how a doctor will ever be able to read the horrible handwriting on a an old, yellowed piece of paper from 1992 that nonetheless may hold the key to diagnosing your condition.
Paper health records slow down a process that is already painful enough on its own. If you are admitted to an ER after a horrible car crash, how will the doctors and nurses on staff know about your allergies or past medical conditions? Yes, you could carry a flash drive or something on you at all times, but who’s to say it didn’t get crushed in the crash? What if the nurse on duty doesn’t have access to a computer that can view your files? In short, the system is FUCKED.
But this is not only a problem for John and Jane America. As Jon Stewart has recently brought up on The Daily Show it affects our veterans as well.
(I would embed these videos, but that feature apparently doesn’t work on WordPress. Lovely.)
Watch those two videos (er, assuming you have an American IP address, and try this app if you don’t), and tell me that those veterans don’t deserve better. That they should somehow be expected to wait over a year to hear a decision regarding their benefits. Benefits they never would have been eligible for had they not been wounded serving our country. To have recently returned soldiers grappling with their physical and psychological trauma with NO assistance from the government or anyone else is criminal.
The barriers to implementation are two-fold. One is the resistance of the old guard to change their ways. Though this sector is rapidly decreasing, it is still there, and it is full of providers who performed their jobs just fine on paper since the 1960s, and see no reason to change to a newfangled electronic system now. Why fix what ain’t broke? The second is the sheer cost of purchasing and using an electronic health record system. Imagine a room full to the brim with paper records. As Stewart pointed out, the weight of them can be enough to collapse through floors. Now think about the work and time required to transfer all of those to an electronic system. Is it impossible? No. But for many smaller practices, at least, the prospect of closing a practice for a week or more to perform the switch is simply unthinkable. The lost revenue alone makes it a nearly impossible scenario. Then of course there is the cost of the EHR system itself (not cheap), and the training needed for staff to actually use the new technology. There are government incentives available to qualified small practices to help subsidize this huge cost, but for doctors close to retirement, the benefits simply do not outweigh the investment.
However, for Veterans Affairs? What is their excuse? They are not a single doctor practice. They are not even an urban hospital. They are responsible for ALL US MILITARY SOLDIERS. The thought of them spending money on a new hand-crank filing system rather than investing in EHRs is laughable. They have the means, they simply seem to lack the will.
Though of course, even once you have an EHR system, there is still the difficulty of having each system talk to each other. That is what the first Daily Show clip addressed. Two systems, though electronic, cannot speak to each other unless the same vendor supplied both. This is one of the things my organization is currently working on – how to get all these disparate systems to talk to each other so that information simply FLOWS instead of becoming bogged down in red tape and misery.
Yes, there are many complexities associated with EHRs. What of privacy issues? What of security? What about the records of minors? But we have to face it – the future is coming, whether doctors, patients, or government bureaucrats want it or not. And to spend resources fighting against it rather than working to ensure its success dooms not only our generation, but the next to the medical inadequacies of our forefathers.
So, my former boss had boobs.
This, in of itself, is not remarkable. However, when she sustained an injury to said breast that she insisted was my fault, I found myself face to face with a lot of boob meat.
It all started when I decided I simply had to have a pet in the office. Our soulless span of cold grey cubicles seemed like a parody of a stifling office, and I was beginning to crack. I had already decorated my cube with a lava lamp, a Rubik’s cube, some putty, and other assorted toys, but it still felt like a desk of despair. Perhaps it was the lack of visible windows, or my beautiful view into a dangerously overcrowded supply closet that maimed many a fellow employee.
Whatever the reasons, I somehow felt that introducing LIFE would be a good start.
The natural cubicle pet is, of course, a plant. But given my previous experiences with plants of all shapes and sizes, I knew that I would somehow manage to care it to death within a few weeks. Either that or it would thrive, but then become infested with tiny mites that would then spread across the thinly carpeted floor. Plus the aforementioned lack of sunlight would doom all but the heartiest vegetation.
No, I wanted something that would move.
And so came the purchase of an ant farm. To save myself time and frustration, I opted for the creepy blue gel version of the farm, in which the unfortunate ants would both dig, eat, and shit out only a space-age gel the color of Windex until they ultimately died from despair. Because owning an ant farm as an adult is truly one of the more depressing experiences out there. As the Onion so eloquently observed, an ant farm is a “fun, interactive way to teach children ages 5 and up about unceasing, backbreaking toil and the cold, inescapable reality of death.”
The ants are all female, and fucking PISSED OFF when you receive them in the mail. I placed mine in the workplace fridge to calm them down, which upset many coworkers who felt I was doing some sort of cruel experiment. In a way, I suppose I was. After depositing the now semi-comatose ants into the enclosure, they quickly perked up and began to dig. And die. And dig. And then muse on the ephemerality of life. And then die some more.
The bodies piled up quickly, and the living ants seemed determined to dismember the dead rather than dig more pointless tunnels. A fat ant with glasses was at some point hunted down by a roving pack of insects covered in war paint. The conch lay forgotten at the dead end of a tunnel into which no one dared enter, for a spectral beast lurked within.
Anyway, each day the environment within the farm became more and more bleak. I occasionally had to pry open a corner of the lid to allow the ants some precious oxygen. But upon lifting the plastic, every ant who still possessed the will to live immediately tried to swarm out. They were shockingly fast, and had large mandibles that would leave fiery welts on your fingers.
And so the day finally came when my coworkers begged me to set the ants free. Most were now lying on the surface in a stupor, unwilling to eat, drink, or move. They were waiting for their inevitable extinction.
My boss, a kindhearted soul, took it upon herself to empty the remaining ants into a nearby park. Tired of looking at a constant reminder of my own mortality, I gave her permission to do what had to be done.
She came back with stings on her boobs as the imprisoned ants had ravaged her chest in their haste to escape. She threw the empty ant farm, which resembled some sort of horrible chemical bomb, into a park trash can. I imagined it being surrounded by the NYC bomb squad and detonated within hours. She showed me her battle wounds with a mixture of anger and pride, as if to show me that she had been strong enough to do what I could not.
But she still blamed me for the whole fiasco, and ant farms are now not permitted in the office. However, her boob scars were showed to all for weeks afterwards.
So I know hundreds of blogs have covered this topic, but there were some costumes even I was surprised by this year, so here we are.
So we have not one but TWO Sexy Russian Communist costumes, and what are essentially Sexy Nazis, but without the swastikas.
Sexy Palace Guard
This just cracks me up since it’s one of the satirical costumes featured in the Girls’s Costume Warehouse video, and now it’s for real. One of these years, I’ll dress up as the Sexy 1900s Steel Conglomerate Tycoon.
So these are PASTIES NOT COSTUMES! Why in the world are they in the costumes section?
Sexy Board Games
I really don’t understand this trend. We have Sexy Etch-a-Sketch, Monopoly, Darts (x2), Tic-Tac-Toe, Twister (x2), and Operation (x2). I was a little surprised not to see a Battleship-themed costume given the movie. Hollywod really missed a tie-in there.
Sexy Breakfast Cereal
This also baffles me. These aren’t even costumes. Why did Kellogg’s think anyone would want these?
Okay, so I know corn isn’t actually a fruit, but it’s fruit-adjacent. Or something. Is there someone out there seeking some hot corn action?
Sexy Jager Bomb, Rum, Martini, and Beer. Sure, why not. They’re no more stupid than the rest of these.
Sexy Non-Sexy Things
Cindy Brady is seven years old. Little Orphan Annie is 11. Just think about that. Brian from Family Guy is a cartoon dog. When’s the last time you thought about the insane sex appeal of golf, one of the most boring sports ever? There is a girl here sincerely trying to stir your loins as a pink TV remote control.
And here we have the weirdest ones, at least to me. When you were watching the Honey Badger video, were you thinking how much you’d like to fuck that animal who eats poisonous snakes and munches on bees? The next girl has a terrifying gaping maw on her bright pink stomach. Is this one supposed to be referencing something? And the coup de grace is the Sexy Tarantula, who appeals to absolutely no one on Earth, except perhaps some creepy guy who masturbates to Arachnophobia. We must stop this madness.
It has been a persistent fear of mine for many years now that a natural disaster will strike, and I will be naked for it.
Maybe not even a natural disaster. Maybe a terrorist attack or a fire eventually traced to arson. Whatever the situation, my recurring nightmare is that something unspeakably terrible will happen, and I will be naked while dealing with it.
I have no idea why this should terrify me so much. Perhaps it’s just adding insult to injury, that I’d crawl out of a burning building or swim out of a flood, then still have to deal with the indignity of being nude and vulnerable. Or that I’d drag myself out of a building ravaged by an earthquake, then spend my first dazed moments searching for a blanket or something. In these bizarre imaginings, I never just suck it up and deal with self-preservation first and foremost. I don’t spend my time saving others crushed by buildings, or seeking precious fresh water. No, for some reason in these scenarios I see myself simply wandering around, sadly looking for clothes to steal.
I’d like to think I wouldn’t act so stupid in an actual life-or-death situation. But there was the one time it almost came true.
I was living in Japan in the Fall of 2004, staying with my host family in Kyoto on a semester long study abroad program. I was busy showering in my host family’s expansive bathroom, and was cold, covered in soap suds, and most assuredly naked. At that moment, an earthquake struck that was stronger than any I had felt so far. The rumblings were strong enough to knock me to the floor in my sudsy state, and there I lay, terrified and thinking only, “My fear has finally come to pass.” I imagined myself having to wander the streets of Japan nude, my pale foreign skin still wet from my shower as fires burned around me from ruptured gas lines.
Of course, the earthquake was considered mild by Japan standards, and the only thing damaged in our building was the elevator. I finished my shower and dressed quickly, still prepared for a sudden evacuation that never came. But I still remember my terror.
I don’t know what is with me and nudity, but I seriously need to get a grip.
So when I feel the tops of my feet, I have…well…horns, essentially.
These are the pins sticking out of my healing bones. After my bones were broken during bunion surgery, they were realigned and stabilized with scary-looking metal hooks. And so they’ve stayed since June, just waiting to poke up their sharp little curvy heads.
As the swelling in my feet go down, the pins are becoming more and more prominent, and are now sticking up and bruising my skin. My scar can’t fully heal while the pins are pushing on it from the inside, so they’ve got to go. I had an appointment with my surgeon yesterday to discuss the procedure, which turns out to be a bit more involved than I had anticipated.
Basically, the doctor will make a small incision over the pin, perhaps a centimeter wide, then yank on the exposed metal with pliers for all he’s worth. If he’s lucky, the pin will come out smoothly and relatively painlessly. If he’s not so lucky, the bone will have grown up over the head of the pin, and he’ll have to chip away at it until he can pull the pin free. If he’s really unlucky, the pin will have bent at some point while it was embedded in my bone, and it will be nearly impossible to remove without doing some painful damage. Then the incision will be stitched up, and I’ll have to keep my foot dry (AGAIN) for another ten days. Torture.
The doctor said this could (hopefully) all be performed under local anesthesia, though my mom, who has had pins removed from bones before, warned that it would still be plenty painful. Though injected anesthetic can numb skin and muscle, it apparently has no effect on bone, which is just bristling with nerve endings. When my mom had pins pulled from a broken finger, she said the pain was some of the worst she had ever experienced, and this is a woman who has had natural childbirth at home more than once. So…that’s daunting.
And so the nurses told me to be prepared to be put under IV sedation. Though the pin removal will be first attempted under local anesthetic, if I start freaking out, I’ll apparently be put down like an unruly circus animal. I’m really, really trying to avoid that outcome since it involves being escorted home on a Friday morning, which is a tough sell since all my friends/family work for a living.
So here’s hoping I won’t pussy out, and the whole thing will take five minutes TOPS. Or else I’ll scream and be injected with powerful drugs. Oh yeah, no pressure at all.
So, I’ve sampled a lot of pumpkin-flavored beverages in my day. I’ve tried Brooklyn Brewery’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale, O’Fallon Brewery’s Pumpkin Ale (still my favorite), Morgan Street Brewery’s Pumpkin Honey Wheat, Coors’ Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, and Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale. And probably a few others that I can’t remember at the moment.
The point is, I like my pumpkins and booze to intermingle. So here are two reviews of varieties I tried for the first time this year.
Harpoon Pumpkin Cider
Boston, MA and Windsor, VT
Ingredients: fermented apple juice, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
140 calories, 4.8% ALC/VOL
- Looks: 7/10 – I actually don’t know since I never poured it into a glass, but instead drank it straight from the bottle. What can I say? I’m fancy. But as far as I can tell, it’s your standard clear cider drink.
- Smell: 8/10 – Smells heavily of apples (no surprise there) and cinnamon. Given the ingredients list, that’s no surprise.
- Taste: 6/10 – Though the pumpkin taste is certainly there eventually, it mostly tastes like apple cider first and foremost. It’s quite sweet, but has a slightly bitter aftertaste. It’s not bad at all, but not my favorite form of pumpkin booze either. When will we get a pumpkin-flavored vodka on the market?
- Overall: 7/10 – It’s mostly FINE. So maybe I should knock it down to a 6/10 or something. I always overrate my alcohol, mostly because I get buzzed after a few sips. Basically, when it comes to pumpkin alcohol, beer is still the best pairing. But hey, if you gotta have your harvest duo of apples and pumpkins TOGETHER, knock yourself out with this drink.
Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
St. Louis, MO
Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with ripe pumpkins, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
168 calories, 5.2% ALC/VOL
- Looks: 8/10 – Um, looks like beer. Once again, I’ve come to this startling conclusion by peering into the top of the bottle, since I’m not using a glass.
- Smell: 5/10 – No pumpkin aroma whatsoever. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this smelled like a Budweiser. Maybe that’s just because Anheuser-Busch makes it? (Note: I took most of my college classes in Anheuser-Busch Hall. Way to go, Washington University, for making that building devoted to East Asian Studies.)
- Taste: 4/10 – I…don’t get it. I taste no pumpkin. Well, maybe a slight hint of spice one second after swallowing? Seriously, I’m confused. Did I get a messed up batch?
- Overall: 5/10 – I’m really disappointed by the lack of pumpkin flavor, but it’s okay as a regular beer. I suppose. Man, maybe I was wrong about beer being the proper complement to pumpkin. Apples are winning hands down at this point.
So the bunion journey has been long and shitty. In short, lots of pain, broken bones, canes, and dirty feet. But I realized that the last photo I had posted of my foot was a few weeks ago, and it was disgusting and wrinkly. Like a jaundiced raisin.
So I wanted to post to prove that yes, skin and bone do heal.
Would I do it all again? At this point, I think it’s too early to tell. I can walk better than a few weeks ago, but can’t run or jump, and am in more pain than I was before the surgeries. But hopefully, once everything is healed, I’ll be glad I went through it all.
Also, I’m attending physical therapy twice a week, and it SUCKS ASS. Painful to the point of tears, it’s a miserable experience that takes 90 minutes or so each time. There’s heat, ice on bare skin, massages that are the opposite relaxing, and lots of balancing exercises that involve me picking up towels with my toes. Fun stuff. But I think it’s helping, despite the pain.