The Poodle Who Was Gravely Ill

There are many reasons why I love my dad but this story is the most recent:

My dad sells antiques and has cases in a few antique shops where we live. Those who sell antiques are, well…an eclectic and eccentric bunch. It’s my belief that the “odd ball” to “normal” ratio is greater than in the general population. They are a fun group…but yeah, odd sums it up. As part of his contract with one of the shops my dad is required to put in “floor time” meaning he has to be in the store to answer questions, help customers, etc. On one particular day another antique dealer came into the shop with his wife to work on their case. They had their poodle with them. It was the husband’s habit to carry the dog in a baby sling much like this one:

baby

While he tended to precious poodle, he would sit in a folding chair and direct his wife on how to display the merchandise in their case. At this point in the story, my gut reaction would have been “Screw you,” but maybe that’s why I’m not married. I wasn’t there, so I’ve had to use my imagination to fill in the blanks, but I picture him spoon feeding the poodle a medley of fresh veggies and foie gras , while sitting in a director’s chair, wearing a beret, enjoying a smoke from a long gilded cigarette holder, and stroking his pencil-thin mustache:

camp

Dad was quite used to seeing the couple and had always assumed that there was something wrong with the dog. Otherwise it would just be madness. Dad had just finished with a customer and walked around the corner to see the poodle ambling around on his own and appearing to be in particularly good health.

“What the hell?! I thought that poodle was a cripple!”

To another employee, “Did you know that poodle can walk?”

“Of course he can walk.”

He was shocked. I’m not sure if he was more annoyed that the guy let his wife do all the work while he toted around his completely non-crippled dog or because he felt foolish that he had felt sympathy for said completely non-crippled dog. Or maybe it was that everyone else seemed to know the dog was not gravely ill.  I’m guessing it was probably a combination of all three.

“I never asked what was wrong with him. I didn’t want to be rude. But that sonofabitch has been carrying around a perfectly healthy dog for years! I always thought he was an invalid. The nerve!”

Ahhhh Dad…I love you.

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Backing Up Over My Dignity

This is the story of how I backed up over my dignity and lost face. This is one of my more embarrassing moments, of which I have scores. I seriously doubt the person(s) involved will ever read this, but they were there and already know what happened so all embarrassment has rolled off by this point.

A few years ago I had a hopelessly unrequited and hopelessly ill-informed (but that’s another whole blog all by itself) crush on a man. I had been trying for weeks to get his attention. We were friends but it was a tense and terse relationship from the start, fraught with misunderstanding, fights, and me generally making an ass of myself. I had heard around the water cooler that he had started seeing someone.  It was pretty clear they were together but he had told me emphatically that they were not dating. Turns out that wasn’t true, but again that’s a story for another day; or a story put to rest with a shovel, a shotgun and a bottle of Jameson’s.

On this particular night I was going to a friend’s house for a get-together. Several mutual friends had RSVP’d saying they would be there. As my luck would prove, it was to be an excruciatingly awkward evening with only the host, hostess, the Man, and the girlfriend-who-didn’t-exist. The smart part of my brain said ‘Run away! Run away! This can only get worse.’ But nooooo, as I am a glutton for anything that is bumbling, stumbling, lumbering and fumbling, I decided to nut up and power through. Let’s be clear that I have a love affair with awkward situations, as long as I am not the cause or victim. Wait…I guess that means I love social spasticism (yup, new word) only at the expense of others which kind of makes me a jerk. Sorry, digression over. We all sat around the dining room table as the Man loudly praised the non-girlfriend for how awesome she was, “I mean seriously guys! Isn’t she the awesomest EVER?! RAWR!”

Blechh. I went to the backyard to cry quietly over my cigarettes, and not-so-gently scold myself, “Pull it together woman!”

When I came back in we had moved the “party” to the living-room where I would spend the next two hours trying not to see the hand-holding three feet away from me on the couch. Asking the host “Are you sure they’re not together? They look pretty together,” I was told “No, no, no. Definitely not together. He said no, so it’s no.” In all honesty, what they were or weren’t was none of my business but 1) I HATE being lied to, even over something stupid and 2) crushing hard on someone can drive any sanity out of the brain right through the ears.

After the movie was over the Man and not-girlfriend left pretty quickly. I stayed to chat hoping that I had left ample time to avoid needing to interact with them in the drive-way. As I walked out, I saw the Man and the girlfriend-who-never-was kissing in front of my car. Again, I could have saved face and gone back inside but nooooooo. I just cleared my throat and began walking to my Scion. The Man pushed not-girlfriend off of him, which actually makes me laugh now, cause damn…that must have been hard to explain later. As in any emergency (real or perceived – emphasis on perceived), fight or flight kicked in. Fight was insane, duh, so I had no choice but to flee. I’m telling you, it seemed perfectly rational at the time. In my haste, I threw the car into reverse. I heard a crunch. Not a really loud crunch, more like a gentle crunch. I looked in the rear-view and found I had backed over the host’s neighbor’s 30-gallon plastic planter. And of course it was filled with about 20 gallons of dirt and 15 lbs of plant.

“Well I can’t get out now dammit! I have to just keep going!” as I threw the car back into drive to complete the k-turn.

“SCRAAAAAAAPE!” halfway down the street.

“I know! I’ll just go faster in order to lose the mansion-sized planter which is now embedded under my car!”

SCCCCCCRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPE!”

“Sonofagun!!!!!”

Chirp-chirp from my cell phone alerted me to a new text, “Um…I think you may have something under your car?” From who else but the Man himself, who happened to be driving behind me.

I’d like to think I responded with grace and aplomb, but that would be so uncharacteristic. It was probably more likely me shouting at the rear-view “Oh you think? You think?! No crap Sherlock!!!!”

I went to bed that night feeling lied-to and stupid, and woke with that always hopeful feeling of that-can’t-have-really-happened. I received a phone call from the host later that morning saying “Our neighbors found their planter busted up at the end of the road and tire marks on the front lawn. Do you know what happened?”

“Um…yeah. I happened.”

embarrassed-bunny-is-embarrassed-168839-456-342_large

(this makes me feel better)

Blocked

Have you ever written something that afterwards you’ve absolutely hated? Hated so much you wanted to break the laptop, or the cell phone, or the tablet where you wrote your masterpiece? Or for the old school crowd, ripped the paper from the journal but only after scratching everything over with a super thick Sharpie so you don’t have to be reminded of how stupid it was?

Ever thought something seemed so brilliant yesterday at 4:30 am when you were lost in the haze of half-sleep, just waking from a strange dream? Upon waking laughed “Hahahahahahaha, BRILLIANT!” and hit publish too soon? Have you ever tried to base your future best-seller on said dream, which was so fraught with emotion and complexity and even plot twists, only to realize…’Wait. I don’t know what in seven hells* I’m doing?’ And you keep thinking, ‘I can re-work this somehow, save it, cobble together my favorite phrases into something half-intelligent‘ only to have a piece which resembles a three-sided shanty house with rusted pans hanging from the front rail?

Or just pretended it’s really deep and that’s why it makes no sense in the unforgiving daylight?

Yeah…me too.

But that won’t keep me from trying.

Write on.

**********

“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.”   John Rogers

“First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.”   Ray Bradbury

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”   William Wordsworth

*Game of Thrones shout-out…holler.

Zombies

I am a freak magnet.  So far I have failed to pinpoint why, but I have an uncanny ability to attract the freaks no matter where I go.  School, work, gas station, super market. Everywhere.  Maybe it’s because it takes me a split second longer than it takes most people to realize that something is wrong; that there is a very good reason the strange old man is not only by himself but talking to himself.  The other day I met this guy in the super market:

He was with his wife, sister, nurse, what have you, and she stepped away for a minute.  I was looking at frozen waffles in the refrigerated section when it happened.  He spoke.  “I was supposed to do something but now I don’t remember.”

At first I thought he might have had me confused with his patron and just kept shopping.

Then it began. “Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”

So I tried to slip away and he followed me.  Thankfully he was slower than me, but as I tried to escape, I slipped out of my moccasin.  The faster I tried to put it back on, the more it refused.

“Excuse me!”
“Excuse me!”

I felt like I was in a horror movie and the slowly moving dimwitted zombie was approaching faster than I could run.  This time I got away unscathed but I haven’t always been so fortunate.  Like the time the elderly woman told me “You’re a real snappy dresser, you know that?”  (although I actually kind of liked that one) or the gas station attendant who wanted to take me dancing.  Or the middle aged man in Wendy’s who jabbed his finger at the tattoo on the back of my neck and asked me “What gives you the right to wear that Scripture?  I bet you didn’t even know anyone who was killed in the Lockerbie Bombing.”  Nope, I don’t but why again are you touching my neck weirdo?

No matter how many “How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?” quizzes I take on Facebook, clearly I would die early.  I would probably try to engage the zombies in some meaningful conversation while they were eating my brains.  Note to self:  invest in better footwear that promotes a speedy getaway.

 

Bad Introductions and Worse Entrances

I have a fantastic ability to embarrass myself on a regular basis.  I have an extremely high tolerance for awkwardness and humiliation since I have been vaccinated so frequently.

At about this time last year, I was traveling home from a friend’s wedding.  I was taking a flight with my very dear friend D (who also appreciates classically awkward situations) and is my partner in crime for almost any time I put my foot in it (whatever IT is…I have managed to step in it).

We were tired. Like not being able to stand up straight, exhausted.  Due to a miscommunication we had to get a hotel room the night of the wedding and had to crash with some friends in their room, due to the short notice.  NO sleep was procured that night.  For the sake of not reliving the evening, I will not go into further detail. But as the clock ticked closer and closer to our 5 am wake up call in order to make our flight, I was slowly turning into an angry, delirious, zombie.  After the first part of our journey home, we had to change plans because of our layover.  The plane we were on was so small, that they left our luggage at the bottom of the steps used to exit the plane, so we could carry them ourselves.  As I went to pick up my bag it started to tip over.  At the moment, under the stress of extreme fatigue (let’s face it, people who know me understand that my brain will actually shut down) my bag falling over seemed like the worst possible thing in the world.  I saw it falling in slow motion reminiscent of shell-shocked soldiers from any war movie ever made.  My brain was saying “NOOOOOOOOO!”  I stuck my foot out to stop my luggage, miscalculated horribly, completely missed my bag, and managed to kick an elderly woman in the shins.  She not only didn’t see my bag falling, but my explanation for kicking her was less than coherent, followed with D falling over in a giggle fit.  It was a shining moment of humiliation.

This same glorious D (along with J, A, G, K and several others) threw me a surprise party this weekend.  Up until the night before, I had absolutely no inkling that there would be a party.  Apparently my friends are really good liars and quite talented at making believe I am not the most important person in the world.  It was sold to me as a simple “girls night out”  which I was MORE than happy with.  In the car on the way over to the super, sneaky, secret party, I told D my suspicion.  Damn, if that girl doesn’t respond well under pressure. “Oh sweetheart, no…no. no, no. Are you disappointed that you’re not getting a surprise party?’

me….”No way! Thank the Lord…I am so relieved.”

D’s brain…”Gulp.”

We walked up the back steps to my friend A’s house and across to the living room.

And I saw the door between the rooms closed.  That door is NEVER closed.

I had a split second where I almost turned and bolted, but D was blocking my path.  The door opened and I saw a sea of 25 of my dearest friends.  All wearing masks of my own face. Welcome panic attack.  There was the initial “SURPRISE!”  followed by a silence I imagine only existed before the creation of the world.

Then me cursing.  Then more silence.  This is a level of awkwardness, to which even I am not accustomed.

So this story has some actual lessons:

1. Kristin does not react well when tired (or hungry; or as we like to call it “hangry,” when you’re so hungry you become enraged).

2.  Kristin does not deal well with surprises and cannot be held responsible for any obscenities that may come as a result.

3.  Kristin is SOOOOOO very thankful for friends who love me enough to lie to me (as long as it’s for a party, I will tolerate it) and treat     me like a queen.  I am more blessed that I can think.

So thank you to all who have helped inoculate me against embarrassment in the past and in the present.  I just hope you’re strong enough to be there in the future.  Love you 🙂

Ruby Slippers

I needed a reminder last night.  It’s something that I’ve known, but my heart has refused to believe it about myself for quite sometime.  Maybe I’ve never really believed it.  I used to think that God loves me because I am valuable; that I have some hidden innate value so therefore God has to love me.  Some years back my thinking shifted somewhat and I began to realize that I am only valuable because God loves me.  God determines my value and loves me anyway.  He is not forced to love me.  He chooses it; often when I don’t deserve and even when I am running in the opposite direction.

I have not felt very valuable lately.  In fact I have felt quite the opposite. I have felt needy, neglected, ignored, dismissed and often condescended to.  I was reminded by a close friend last night of how God really sees me.  And the beauty of this truth caused the tears to run freely because deep in my heart I like playing emo.  I like being in the dark and throwing myself a pity party.  I was reminded of the verse from Proverbs 31:10 “Who can find a woman of worth, for her price is far above rubies.”  Rubies are expensive.  The median international price for rubies * (rated with a quality of “exceptional”…and why not, God’s not stingy) is $6,150 per carat.  There are approximately 141.7 carats to an ounce.  There are 16 ounces to a lb.  A lb of rubies is about $13,943,280.  Do the math for yourself ladies.  Pound for pound I am worth (in the ruby sense) upwards of $1,742,910,000.  Yowza.

As a shout out to all those occupying Wall Street , standing up against the 1% (I wholeheartedly support your rights),  your value to God already puts you far ahead of the game.  Granted this is a metaphor, but it gives me an idea in a highly economic culture, that my value is FAR above rubies.  It’s time I started believing that.

So put on your ruby slippers and remember you are a daughter of a King.  And if you don’t feel valued, remind yourself that you ARE loved and that your worth is FAR above rubies.  Even God says so 🙂

* http://www.ruby-sapphire.com/r-s-bk-prices.htm

Worst Day

When I began working at my first clinical site almost a year ago, I was not at all prepared for what that would mean.  I had a very sanitized vision of a hospital where only the moderately sick were treated.  The patients would be clean, sober, well dressed and not covered in any variety of bodily fluid.  I was wrong on all counts.   After only six months into my work at an inner city hospital I became stressed out, burned out and tired out.  And I needed to take a breather.

Pretty early in, I had seen a day that included patients with track marks, open skin lesions due to “skin popping,” a guy who had fallen down the stairs and was still intoxicated, patients who couldn’t breath or talk due to intubation tubes, patients so obese they could not fit in one hospital bed.  Then patient X came into for an obstructive series (standard x rays of the abdomen).  We had to move her from the bed to the tabletop to get the images.  In process, she pissed on herself and clothes had to be tossed.  She accidentally exposed her breasts to me.  Then I accidentally exposed her breasts to me (happens easier then you’d think).  Then her dentures fell out.  Then her wig fell off.  If any one of these things happen to me, I would think it was the worst day of my life.  And she got all four.  I remember placing a hand on her forehead to calm her and thinking, ‘Please God, let this be the lowest day of her life.  Let everyday from here on out be better than this one.”  And even though I giggled nervously (humor being so close to pathos, it happens when you work in a hospital), I sincerely hope I made her day even a little better with some words of kindness.

Now as I am only 3 short months away from reentering the field, I need to remind myself of why I was drawn to it in the first place.  I have been sick. Like a lot. Like for the past 6 years.  I developed mono, which kept me out of work on medical leave for four months and this was 6 years ago.  I have not been quite the same since.  I can easily sleep for 14 hours a day and still feel tired.  I have had every test possible to rule out lupus, RA,  Lyme disease, and chronic mono (which was confirmed).  I have been poked.  and prodded.  and sat for long hours under harsh fluorescent lighting to wait for test results that were just “borderline.”  I have had doctors tell me to “just eat more Cheerios,”  “start running more,” “take more naps,” and one who I swear came very close to telling me I had “hysterical female syndrome,” as he stepped away from me like my ovaries were about to explode.  I know intimately what it is like to feel sick…to be sick.

So my breather is over.  I steel myself for the ugliness that taking care of others often means.  I look ahead with courage and hope that I will somehow find reserves of untapped strength and endurance I never knew I had.  I pray that I can use my heart, my head and my hands to heal others.  And that I will still be able to find humor in the pathos.

Grace

A twinge of guilt I hear.
That cricket chirping in my ear.
A conscience cut down to the bone
Of things I’ve said or thought or done.

I’ll try to push it down.
That nagging voice I’ll drown
Out of my head with other things.
But back to life it always springs.

Until I go to one who can
Forgive me once and then again.
He’ll cleanse my bloodied conscience free.
Redemption offered; grace received.