Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spaz Girl Walking

No, this is not a video of me demonstrating my klutziness...but it is a story about it. 

September 14, 2009. It was a gorgeous day and I was walking across campus on my way to work. I still remember what I was wearing. My hair was in a bun holder, I was wearing a pair of topaz earrings, my favorite jeans, a white t-shirt with a brown pattern, and a pair of plain leather Keds. 

Alright, this is kind of a secret but I'll tell- you might as well know anyway. I'm a very...intuitive person. I often guess things I shouldn't know, I've made contact with a few dead relatives, and if we spend enough time together I can sense where my brother is and we have, more than once, sent each other messages mentally. Once one of my teachers was pregnant and she had just had an obstetrician appointment the day before where the ultrasound looked like she was having a boy. It was her first baby and she was super excited, and when she told my class I told her she was having a girl. She looked at me like I was crazy, and I don't blame her, but lo and behold a few months later we find out I was right because she'd had a girl. Haha, the boy sitting behind me slapped my back and shook my shoulders because he remembered what I'd said, "You were right! You were right!"

So sometimes I know things before they happen. While I was walking to work that day, just minutes before I broke my leg I was planning the rest of my day: I had class later, when and what I would eat, I was going to go to the gym, etc. But when I had the thought that I would go to the gym my next thought was "No, I can't, my leg's broken." I actually stopped dead in my tracks for a second because it caught me by surprise that some random, untrue thought like that would just pop in for no reason. I shook it off and continued walking. 

My school's campus was essentially one big hill. The building I had to get to, though, was off the main hill, so I had to go down one of the sides of said hill to get down there. There were two ways to do this without cutting through a building (which I ended up doing for the rest of my college career because I'm now afraid of walking down hills, haha); one was to go down the main, paved path that swung out wide and was at a sharp, awkward angle. The other was to cut down the hill over a grassed area with a large willow tree in the center. Very few people going to the building I was going to would take the paved path because it just took too stupid long and the grassy way wasn't at that stupid angle you have to have your knees bent to walk. So I stepped over the row of stones that lined the paved path with my left foot and then--

I don't actually remember this part. There's about 2 seconds there that are a complete blank except for the sensation of falling and hearing my fibula crack. Later inspection of my shoe shows I somehow ended up putting the inside of my left foot on the ground and slid on it, causing my ankle to bend sharply and put pressure against the bottom of my fibula, causing it to bend outward and crack just above my ankle. 

But God, I'll never forget the sound. I crack my knuckles compulsively (and neck and back and wrists and toes...) and the sound of my bone breaking was similar, but deeper in a way. Instead of a sharp crack it was a deep thunk

So I sat there on the ground for a minute. Now, I fall all the time-- 10 times since I started college, in fact. Full-out falling. Like, on the ground, skinned knees, torn jeans, people laughing-type falling. And I sprain my ankles. It's another family thing, we sprain our ankles constantly. Our house has more crutches and ace bandages than a hospital. So while I sat on the ground I thought, "That's never happened before." 

Then the first wave of pain hit and I felt nauseous. "That's never happened before, either." A couple seconds later the second wave of pain hit and my eyes burned with tears. "Okay, well, that's another thing that never happened before..." And then there was a third wave of pain, then nothing. So I just sat there on the ground. Luckily it was a nice day. So I waited. The pain pretty much left, so I thought maybe it was like a fluke thing...I twisted it badly or something and I'd sprained it but good. So I decided to move. 

Then came the most blindingly white-hot brain-stops-functioning eyes shut and mouth open involuntarily holy shit I think my mother just felt that and I hope I didn't pee myself Lamaze-breathing type pain. So clearly moving was a bad idea. So what do I do? Okay, well...I just need to get down the hill. Maybe I could roll down the hill, make it to the theater and they'd figure something out? Of course, if I moved during that rolling down the hill there'd be a problem. Okay. I call 911? Could I even do that? "Hello, 911? I'm on my college campus and broke my leg, come get me?" That sounded like a weird idea. Wrong, somehow. I figured I should notify public safety first, maybe they have some kind of protocol thing, I don't know. Stupidly, I didn't have any campus phone numbers in my cell, a situation I rectified sometime after coming out of my Vicodin coma, but anyway, I was stuck. 

So I decided to flag down the next adult I saw. Actual adult, I mean, not a student. Another stupid mistake as the next adult I saw was wearing a suit so I should have realized he wasn't any sort of employee of my college. So I waved to him, and he waved back. 

"I'm sorry, sir, I'm not just being friendly-- I actually fell a little while ago and I think I broke my leg, so I could use some help. Do you have the number for public safety?" This is when I found out he was just visiting the campus (duh, Jo) and didn't have any phone numbers or any idea where the nearest public safety call box was. Luckily two girls were walking by as I was saying I needed help and asked if there was anything they could do, so I sent them to the nearest call box while my buddy, Mr. Suit, waited with me until the P.S. officer came up. 

Mr. Suit was the first person that day to tell me I wouldn't be skiing for a while. 

The P.S. officer asked me if I could move myself, and I said no, and he called in to the P.S. dispatch to call for an ambulance, so we waited for the ambulance while I tried tried to call my mother. I got the answering machine and said, "Hiiii, Mom...uh...I'm currently waiting for an ambulance to come pick me up because...I, uh, broke my leg." The P.S. officer started laughing at that, "So if you could call me back..." 

So P.S. and I were hanging out, waiting for the ambulance when my roommate walked by. "Hey, Mere! I broke my leg!" We talked for a minute before she had to go to class. After she left, I didn't know she did this until like, 2 years later, but she called one of our other roomies to go with me to the hospital, which was really sweet of her. 

They ended up not letting my roomie into the ambulance with me, but I could get her in touch with my mother, at least, which was nice. And, actually, both roomies ended up meeting at the hospital because I had awesome roomies :)

So when the ambulance finally came and I explained how I'm a total spaz the paramedics had to stabilize my leg for the trip, which involved sliding a temporary splint under my leg from my foot to my knee and then wrapping it with an ace bandage. The part about this process that I wasn't expecting, though, was that while the 2 paramedics were working on my leg, they also had two public safety officers (and one of the paramedics helped them while assisting the other paramedic) hold me down. Hard. And I was like, "Guys, this is really unnecessary."  And the paramedics said that it was procedure, because if they jostled my leg and it hurt and I might try to hit or kick them. 

What I discovered during the wait for the ambulance and the stabilizing was that my leg didn't actually hurt. I knew it hurt, in a corner of my brain I was screaming, but unless I moved anything from my knee to my heel on that leg it didn't actually hurt. Like I couldn't pinpoint where the pain was coming from unless I moved, I just knew I was in pain. Herbert's really the only one I know that ever experienced this, only his was with a migraine while he was trying a new migraine medication. 

Then an interesting thing happened. As they were loading me into the ambulance on a stretcher I happened to look to my left, where there were two police officers and a K-9 dog. I remember thinking "What the hell?" I found out later from left-behind roomie that the cops were pissed because the way that P.S. dispatch worded that I needed an ambulance and couldn't move myself meant that, according to protocol, a K-9 unit needed to be sent to the scene when we didn't actually need one. 

When I was securely in the ambulance (strapped down with my stretcher locked in place) my buddy Joe the Paramedic said the magic words, "Do you want pain medication?" Yes. Yes, I did. That began the 8 days I spent stoned. And Joe most certainly was my buddy, as somehow we got to talking about how he's going to be a father again with his new wife and how nervous he was that he was too old for another baby and various other new-dad insecurities. 

So then I get to the hospital and the worst part of the day happened. They cut open my jeans.   My favorite jeans! BAM. From the hem to the knee. Luckily they stopped cutting at my knee because I was still cutting at the time, and I cut my thighs. That was almost an awkward conversation. 

Interesting thing, though, I didn't get my cast at the hospital. They put me in a more solid splint and I had to go to the orthopedist to get an actual cast. 

Oh, and my insurance paid for me to have a bitchin' motor scooter that I powered all over campus and its surrounding areas. I loved that thing. 

The moral of the story is be careful how you walk because one stupid little mistake can ruin your life (See My Story and Show Me Your Teeth). 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Week's Saturday Summary

So, with the family troubles I got a little behind this week on my planned posts. I'll get to them, just not right now.  I may be able to explain the family thing soon, and thank goodness for that because I'm bursting to tell.


The stress of the family thing is getting to me. I've still got that tension headache and my fibromyalgia pain is out of control. My hands hurt so badly typing this- my fingertips as they hit the keys and the muscles in my hands as I move them to type. Aches run up and down my limbs, my lower back is tied in knots, and the bottoms of my feet are screaming from the knives shoved into them.

Every few minutes a random patch of skin begins to tickle, like there's a bug crawling on me-- an ant, maybe, or spider, but there's never actually anything there. Then every few hours one of the "bugs" "bites" me, a deep, sharp, unrelenting pinch in one random place on my body that doesn't stop until it feels like it. Nothing stops it. I just have to wait. It doesn't matter if I cry out or writhe or try to smack the "bug" away or push on it or brush it away; anything to try to remind the nerve what real sensation doesn't matter.

I can't scratch an itch, change my clothes, or shower because the burning of my skin's like fire. If I forget for a second and try scratch an itch, for example, the patch of skin I scratch burns for minutes afterward.

Can you see why, before my diagnosis, I didn't leave my bed? And doubled in size? Also because this situation makes me crave doughnuts like a fucking lunatic. God, I'd pay...a lot... for a chocolate-frosted cream filled...or a glazed cream filled...or strawberry frosted...or, um, anything, really.

So everything is taking a backseat to that.


There was fuck all on TV last night so I rewatched The Dark Knight. I forgot how freaking awesome that movie is. Did you know I'm a major Batman fan? Always have been. I used to wake up early every day when I was like, 3, to watch the 60s Batman TV show. My 7th birthday party theme was Batman. I was Catwoman for Halloween one year. The 60s Batman: The Movie was the first DVD I ever bought ($2, baby!). I love Batman. I'm so freaking excited for The Dark Knight Rises, I can't even think about it without smiling, and I feel like hell right now. And I'm smiling.


Weren't commercials supposed to stop being so loud?


I need to lay down...more tomorrow, of course.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Lost Life of Eva Braun by Angela Lambert

I found this on The Onion last night:

New Documentary Focuses On Life Of Eva Braun's Late Husband

NEW YORK—The History Channel announced Thursday it will air a new documentary this fall examining the life of the late husband of prewar German model and amateur photographer Eva Braun. "This film is a fascinating, in-depth look at a central figure in Eva Braun's life," said History Channel spokesman Charles Lansing, adding that the broadcast will feature more than 300 archival images of Braun with her husband, a German civil servant and vegetarian noted for his charisma and interest in art. "Braun's longtime lover had a significant impact on her views regarding politics and aesthetics, and the footage of him we've unearthed highlights the persuasive power of the man she often wrote about." Lansing added that the new documentary, entitled The Man Behind Eva Braun, will cover the very active life of Braun's spouse right up to his sudden passing in 1945 in the basement of the couple's Berlin apartment.

Thought it was fitting.

I can't tell you how much I loved The Lost Life of Eva Braun. I'm kind of sad to give it back to the library now...anybody wants to get me a present I'd gladly take a copy of this book.

I did my thesis on Lee Miller's photojournalism during WWII so I spent 4 months completely immersed in the war and at the end of it all I sat back and said, "Wait a second. Hitler had a girlfriend through the whole thing. WHO WOULD EVER-?! WHAT?! WHY!!??? HHHHOOWW?! WWWWHOOOO????????!" So I decided to find out. Like I said above, I found this book at my library and it's in nearly pristine condition, I doubt it's been taken out more than 4 times. It's pretty new, too, published in 2006. Come to think of it, the librarian that checked it out for me didn't even know we had it.

On to the review:

It's been the intention of history to remove all humanity from Hitler & co., to portray them strictly as monsters and not human beings. Documents like personal letters were destroyed in order to keep evidence of their humanity from the public. I take issue with that, as holding them up as symbols of evil, caricatures even, removes the elements that we all have in common with them which makes it so easy for us to say "That will never be me" or "I'll never fall in love with a fascist dictator"'s possible. It's possible, is all I'm saying.

The Lost Life takes an amazing perspective on the war because it's not in the concentration camps or Anne Frank's attic or any of the many many armies involved, it's civilian life in Europe, particularly Germany, at the time. Angela Lambert's mother was actually born within a few weeks of Eva Braun, so Lambert uses stories from her mother's life to supplement the little information available about Eva's childhood, and also to give her back that bit of human-ness: Eva's practically a ghost, floating through modern history as we know her name and little else.

That's about as much as most people knew at the time, as well. Hitler refused to make their relationship public, and Eva didn't end up even moving in with him until the late thirties even though Eva was essentially promoted to Hitler's #1 lady after his niece, Geli Raubal, committed suicide. And even after they began living together only the very, very top of the Nazi hierarchy and the personal maids of Hitler and Eva even knew who she was- on the phone directory for the Berghof (Hitler's main house in the German countryside) she was listed as a secretary. The few times they attended the same public event she was forced to sit far from Hitler with the other, actual, secretaries. At the Berghof she was confined to her room.

And while it's easy to view her as an anti-Semite and racist Nazi, Eva and most of her family never joined the Nazi party (except for her father, but he only did it to please Hitler). In fact, Hitler even presented her with an award he had made for non-Nazis that provided him with great services. And given her strict Catholic upbringing and patronage of Jewish clothing and shoe designers throughout the war (even after the ban on Jewish merchants was placed) it's unlikely that she was anti-Semitic. And given Hitler's strict orders that no one ever discuss anything war or politic related with Eva it's possible she never even knew about the camps, and even attempted to intercede with Hitler on behalf of a few friends (of course he ignored her, but she tried and reacted to the few incidents she did hear about.)

Lambert's book is impeccably researched (did anybody know that we, the United States, actually hold Eva's personal diary in our archives? We confiscated it during the war and it now resides in the National Archives in Maryland, along with Eva's own personal photo albums and home movies she took while living at the Berghof) and richly detailed. Her chapters on the last few weeks of Eva and Hitler's life in the underground bunker are vivid and emotional. The paragraphs on how Eva and the maids pitched in to make the last few days of the six Goebbels children as comfortable as possible knowing that their parents had already decided to murder them when the time came are particularly heartbreaking.

It's an incredible book with a unique angle on history and human nature. It also gives an in-depth look to German childhood in the early 20th century, showing how the stars aligned to make Hitler and Eva perfect for each other (Fathers, love your daughters for who they are so they don't fall in love with the first older man that shows them the slightest bit of positive attention). An absolute must-read for anyone An absolute must read for anyone, period.

5 starts out of 5.

See Blauthor, Blauthor! for more of my reviews!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Storms Brewing

What a terrible day.

I was supposed to hang out with Blanc again today, but I turned off my alarm in my sleep. I should have just stayed in bed, but I didn't.

It's been rainy so I was achey and tired (stupid fibromyalgia...always when the weather's bad), but when I went downstairs to get something to eat my mother informed me that a situation that's been brewing in my family had come to a head after 3 years of waiting.

I wish I could explain, I want to desperately, but I can't just yet on the off-chance that a family member stumbles across this and gets the wrong information because nothing's been resolved yet.

Suffice it to say that the situation is heartbreaking and as soon as my mother told me the new information an iron fist grabbed a hold of the back of my neck and stretched up the back of my head with a killer tension headache.

One day I'll tell the full story, but I just can't right now. Tomorrow I'll have a real post...for right now I'm just going to have another glass of wine and watch some crappy TV.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hitler's Love Life

While I probably shouldn't keep comparing my boyfriendly-type-creature to Hitler, but I can't help that Eva Braun and Hitler's relationship is such a perfect representation of my dynamic with Herbert. 

Herbert and I dated in high school, but broke up over his emotional affair with my best friend. I didn't speak to him for about 3 years after that, then we started instant messaging for about a year...which lead to phone calls, and we talked almost nightly for another year or so, but I refused to see him. I was afraid to, really, I couldn't imagine what it'd be like to see him again. Finally, 2 years ago this August, I agreed to see him again. He came over my house when my parents were on vacation in another state, and it was funny, I still refused to look at him. He was in my house, literally inches away from me but I wouldn't look at him. 

Eventually I did and the day after the day after I saw him for the first time he came over again, and we kissed for the first time a second time. So we've been on the "together" side of the relationship spectrum ever since. 

Between then and now, of course there was the mistrust thing and how Herbert the whole big fight we'd had had changed his views on relationships and he's now...he hasn't used the word "poly-amorous" but that's essentially what it is. Eventually we had the discussion where I said I wasn't going to tolerate anything less than monogamy. When I told him of a crush I had on a guy at The Internship From Hell he had no reaction, which I discussed in the Swallowed in the Sea post, "Is love even possible without jealousy? He said it'd be hypocritical of him, and it would, but what good is love without possession? If my affection isn't worth getting jealous over, worth being afraid of losing, then what does it matter?

Eva Braun spent 13 years madly in love with Hitler while he ignored her. She wanted desperately to be married, he didn't. She wanted children, he didn't. She ended up, essentially, wasting her 20s and 30s because she was in love with a man who wouldn't commit. 

I can't decide if I admire her for sticking with him or if I think she was kind of stupid...or maybe weak. I've always thought, since Herbert explained this to me, that he and I wouldn't be able to last very long because I can't be a part of that lifestyle. I want to be married,  I want to have children and it's not something that I'm willing to give up. I want someone to be my partner and join my family, to celebrate holidays and birthdays and...just live as a unit. I want a partner. In order to have that the time's going to come where I'm going to have to make the choice to leave him. 

But the thought of that is horrifying. I do truly love Herbert, I very much want him to be a part of my family, life, and future...maybe if/when the time comes it'll be I can hardly imagine it. 

Hitler married Eva 36 hours before they committed suicide together. 

I can sort of understand her not leaving him...she certainly had the opportunity, and he even told her to go. She didn't even have to die with him, her friends and family and even Hitler himself all pleaded with her to run away before it was too late to avoid the advancing Russian army, but she didn't. That's serious dedication and love. 

I don't know...I don't know what I'm going to do or when I'm going to do it. I guess my best option is to just enjoy it while it lasts and make the hard decisions later, when my hand is forced...I finished the Eva Braun book and now that I've written about it I'll be able to not think about it so much. It's been purged, so to speak. At any rate, finishing the book now takes it out of my face. 

I think I'll write a non-Herbert related review tomorrow, as it's kind of an ignored aspect of the war and an interesting view of it. 

Until then, loves. 

Point Blanc

Better late than never, I say.

Hung with Four today, and it turns out that not only does he read Salami & Orchids, he hates his nickname. So his new name is Blanc and he better not complain about this one because I'm not changing it again. Just like Empire Records, man, you get one veto.

Blanc and I hung out for like, 6 hours today, and I don't know about him but I had a ball.

We had an interesting conversation about success. Not like, "I have loving friends and family" success but success in the entertainment business, an area we're both looking for a little love in. Well, him a little more than me because I'd be willing to settle for hate, and given the central plot of the novels I'm working on hate is much more likely. Either way we're looking for success and it's a strange battle...a major portion of which is, of course, the rejection.

Everyone's heard the stories of how many times incredible authors were rejected before they sold their novels so I'm completely unfazed by that. I imagine the rejection is much harder on Blanc-- as a stand-up comedian it's right in his face if he doesn't get the laughs he wants or deserves, and it's right in his face when other people do better with crappy material. Crappy literally as so many comedians use blue or toilet humor to get laughs. I at least get the buffer of the rejection coming as an emailed note...the agents are also nice enough to say "I'm not right for this project" instead of "You really, really suck."

Blanc, though, doesn't suck- he is a finalist in Fox and the New York Television Festival Comedy Script Contest (here) and I couldn't be more proud!!

The hardest part for me is the absolute drivel that gets published every day while I sit here waiting to be noticed by someone. It's not that I'm such a snob that I think lower-brow work shouldn't exist, of course it has its place, it's just...I guess it's just my narcissistic view that I have a place, too.

The part that's been most difficult for me has been the terror that with the controversial nature of my work that my writing has to be perfect and my execution has to be perfect in order to be taken seriously and not being another Da Vinci Code. Or, no, not even The Da Vinci Code, but The Lost Symbol-- a book that, coming after Angels and Demons and TDVC, had such anticipation built around it to be provocative, if not brilliant (in the sense of its success, not so much its merits), turned out to ultimately say nothing and was therefore disappointing. With such sensitive subject matter you have to really nail it...I'm not sure why. Is it because it's as though a part of the work is sort of done for you? That you're standing on the shoulders of a giant so you had better be able to reach the peanut butter on that shelf? Or is it because you're fighting against a built-in tide of disapproval? Like you're a minority (gender, race, opinion, what-have-you) so you have to do it ten times better than everyone else just to get the respect you deserve?

But then that brings me back to the quality of Blanc's work against the potty mouths that he comes up against that occasionally get bigger laughs with cheap humor which leads to a discussion of the distrust of intelligence in entertainment, which leads to the pride this country has been taking in its ignorance...those topics are enough for posts in their own right and probably will be one day, but not today...I'm getting a headache.

And, oh my, it's time for bed. Goodnight, blog, I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Addiction

Russell Brand published a very moving essay about his friendship with Amy Winehouse and the nature of addiction, and how the way addiction is treated needs to change. It can be found here at The Guardian, an English newspaper. It's a good read, even if you weren't a fan of Amy's or Russell's; the emotional honesty is refreshing and the portrait of addiction is accurate. 

I wonder what the tipping point will be, what it is that finally convinces us to take a serious look at how we treat addicts. It's terrifying, though, knowing that more people are going to lose their battle before that happens. 

Things like this make me wish I were in a position to change things. I consider politics every once in a while, and I know my dad is all for it. So much so, in fact, he occasionally suggests I join the military and I generally respond by staring at him with a look that says, "You're batshit insane, man." I could never, and I would never. I don't drive a car because I'm too afraid of killing somebody, and my dad thinks I would be able to tolerate being trained to kill?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the incredibly brave and selfless members of our military in any way, shape, or form. What they do for us is incredible. I'm just saying I couldn't be one of them. 

I also don't think I could handle basic training in any way. 

Not the point. 

I'm not even sure of my point, actually. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I were to run for office I would try to influence change in how addiction is viewed and handled. Our current plan of attack is clearly not working and something needs to be done. 

According to a little noticed January report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drug overdoses killed more than 33,000 people in 2005, the last year for which firm data are available. That makes drug overdose the second leading cause of accidental death, behind only motor vehicle accidents (43,667) and ahead of firearms deaths (30,694).

Stop the Drug War - this article includes the quote above and some very interesting information regarding current addiction treatment. 

And yes, as a person with chronic pain, I am 100% for the legalization of marijuana. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why Most Americans Only Speak One Language

I know I said I wasn't going to post today, but there's a thing that's really irking me. The idea seems to be that Americans are less intelligent than the rest of the world because the majority of us only speak English.  

That number is falling, by the way, according to census reports, but I digress. 

The reason why most Americans don't learn more languages is because we don't have to. The area of Europe and the United States are roughly the same, with roughly the same number of countries in Europe as there are States in the US-- so the way we travel through states is how they travel through countries. Countries with other languages. 

So, you know those times when you make a wrong turn and after a while, if you drove long enough, you'd end up in a different state? Imagine if that were another country, with another language. From London to Italy is 2 hours by plane- the same length of time it takes to fly from Philadelphia to Orlando. I assure you they speak English in Florida. 

From London you can catch a train to Paris that takes 45 minutes. Down the street from my house there's a train station where if you get on a train and ride for 45 minutes you're still in New Jersey. French is the 10th most popular language in New Jersey as of 2000. See?

Now, I have absolutely no sense of direction at all. I close my eyes and spin around a couple times and I can say honestly I will have no idea what direction I will end up facing. If you're ever in a car with me and you ask me which way we should turn I will pick the wrong direction 100% of the time. If I were European learning several languages would be survival. 

From Portugal to Russia is roughly 3000 miles, the same approximate distance from New Jersey to California. From Portugal to Russia you pass through 11 countries with 10 different national languages, not to mention the co-official languages of which Russia has 27 alone. Number of languages between New Jersey and California? 1. 

Of course, yes, I know, English is not the US's national language. But it's spoken by 82.1% of the country. I'm literate in French but have never spoken it for any other reasons than "I was in French class" or "I feel like it." 

Okay, once or twice I spoke it because I was drunk and honestly couldn't get my thought out in English but those are very rare, isolated incidents. 

Americans aren't dumb because they don't speak multiple languages, they just don't want to spend valuable time and energy and headspace on an unnecessary skill. 

...Unnecessary skill that isn't something awesome like sword-fighting, I mean. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Summary!

Sorry to start this post with a downer, but my comments on facebook to the contrary, what happened to Amy Winehouse is a tragedy. As with what happens so often with talented people, Amy lost her battle with mental illness and drug addiction (here). I hope she finds peace now, wherever she is. While I agree with the philosophy that you can't be helped if you don't want it, I do think a successful intervention can make someone want it. Like I said in My Story, the consequences of continuing must be worse than the pleasures of continuing in order to get through to the addict. Unfortunately for talented, famous, or powerful people it's too easy for them to find people willing to enable them (like Michael Jackson). The human body can take an incredible beating as it's main objectives are to remain alive and procreation, but eventually enough is enough. It's terribly sad, and a real shame that the world has lost another incredible artist.


On a lighter note, I just saw a commercial for Papa John's pizza and I just want to say that Papa John's was the worst buffalo wings I ever had. When I'm sick or ill I sometimes get random food cravings and late-ish one night I had to have buffalo wings and my favorite place to get wings wasn't answering their phone so I had to find someplace else open and willing to deliver. Papa John's fit the bill and I figured, how bad could they be?

The answer is really bad. I don't know if they forgot to fry them or what, but they were plain water boiled-- the skin was soggy and the meat had no taste and the sauce was essentially ketchup.


I differentiate between "sick" and "ill" because...because it makes sense to do so. "Sick" is an infection, bacterial or viral, like a sinus infection or mono or a cold and "ill" is the fibromyalgia or depression (and lately the IBS/Endometriosis drama).


Tomorrow we're celebrating my father's birthday so I probably won't post. Mickey, Debra, and Manny are coming, along with my mother's cousin Truly. Truly is short for "Truly Awesome"-- she's one of my favorite relatives. She's my mother's age, but she's a motorcycle-riding, church choir singing, jug band member (literally) with a million stories to tell. She's a good time.

Best part of my father's birthday, though, is the pecan pie. It's his favorite and we only ever get it on Thanksgiving and his birthday so we have to enjoy it while it's there. Yum.


The Great Job Search!! Update: I've applied to so many places I'm losing track. I wanted to start putting "biracial" on the applications but it turns out Slavic doesn't count as a race, it's just a subset of Caucasian so I'm stuck being white.

I thought I might be able to get away with it because we don't claim a nationality because the area has been so turbulent. When my mother's grandparents were still over there they were living in Austria-Hungary, but then after a war (probably WWI...I'm not good at geography) the area where they were became Czechoslovakia, but that's not there anymore either. People without a country.

Herbert makes fun of me because when I talk I do that Mid-Western "O" thing where you elongate the long O sound, like in "toast". I noticed my mother did it, too, which lead to me researching the origin and it turns out that because so many Slavs immigrated to the Mid-West their accent became or influenced the regional accent. He still thinks it's funny.


Why is it that at 4 o'clock I can't stop yawning, but then at midnight when I want to go to bed I'm wide awake? Stupid body.


Coming posts for next week will include The Story of How I Broke My Leg, Our Culture of Awesome, and an update on Eva & Hitler & Me & Herbert.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Show Me Your Teeth

It turned out Four couldn't hang out today, which makes me nervous...I don't know if he reads this, but I know the thing with my parents upsets him...which is perfectly understandable, of course. I just hope I didn't offend him by bringing it up. Four truly is an important part of my life, and I hope he knows that. 

In other news, my teeth hurt. I'll definitely be bringing this up again as there isn't enough information on it available-- as I found out when I was trying to discover what the hell was wrong with me. I mentioned it in My Story, but it's still bugging me so you're going to hear about it again. 

After I broke my leg I spent the next 8 days stoned out of my gourd on Vicodin. It was lovely. But as I started to come off of it I started noticing I was waking up with brutal headaches, that my teeth hurt, and the muscles in my face, neck, and upper back were sore. By the time I came off of it, full stop, I discovered what the problem was because now I was doing it during the day. 

I was clenching my jaw. 

Not grinding, which gets a lot more attention, but clenching. Constant, walnut-breaking pressure the second I took my mind off of keeping my teeth apart. When I would realize I was doing it I could open my mouth, but I often didn't notice until it started to hurt. I wasn't doing it consciously, like how you don't notice yourself blinking or breathing every second of every day. 

Most remedies are shit. Like "relax" or "aromatherapy", that doesn't do a whole lot. Face massaging helps, but you look strange making different shapes with your mouth while rubbing your temples and the hinge of your jaw in public. Heat helps, so heating pads or tea bags you can stand to have on your face are alright-- I would even, when I got desperate, plug up the sink, fill it with hot water and plunge my face into it for as long as I could bear as many times as I possibly could without burning myself or passing out. 

So I went to the dentist. He suggested a $500 mouth piece to sleep in and my parents said no way, so I got an over-the-counter mouth guard from a drug store, which worked great at night, having something to absorb the pressure. But I was still clenching during the day, so a few months later I went to another dentist. 

We stopped seeing our old dentist because he screwed up on my dad's teeth, so I went to the new dentist. She was no help other than to suggest a different dentist. 

So I went to another dentist. We ended up getting the mouth piece he suggested, a hard, $700 one that I was to wear 24 hours a day. That worked fine for a few months, until the lack of shock absorption led to having a tooth fracture that the first new dentist, the one that suggested the one that I was seeing at the time, couldn't find. That same fracture is sitting in my mouth as I sit here, waiting for the crack to become visible or get infected. Good stuff. 

So I went back to wearing my soft mouth guard at night. A few months later I went on anti-depressants as part of my fibromyalgia program, and the daytime clenching stopped completely. I still clench at night, but not at all during the day anymore. 

Or rather, until recently, but I suppose it makes sense that if my depression is sneaking through cracks in my anti-depressant then of course my jaw clenching would. Doesn't make it less annoying, though. Or painful. 

Moral of this story is to stick to your guns. If you're miserable and you can't figure out what's causing it and make it stop keep looking for an answer, and keep looking for someone to help. The answer's out there somewhere, I promise. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do Not Touch the Baby

I played with the settings again today and so far I like it. Turns out, though, that I had commenting disabled unless people were members which is not what I wanted- I'm all for anonymous comments, especially considering the subject matter I veer into. I apologize to anybody who wanted to comment but couldn't because they weren't a member. My bad. 

So that's fixed. 

I've been taking a break from creating lately- besides this blog, I mean. I haven't been working on my novels, which you think I would considering I'm looking for agents (no new responses...) and I haven't been knitting, which you think I would considering I owe my brother a scarf for last Christmas and I have the materials to make 2 scarves for me- one to match my fingerless gloves and one to match my red coat. I haven't been tatting, either, and I owe my mother a pretty large doily from last Christmas. 

And my dad's birthday is coming up. Shit. 

I've also felt like drawing lately, which is unusual for me because I'm really bad at it. I had to take a drawing class for my degree so I've vastly improved but I still suck. I've been thinking about my style, which is basically teeny-tiny and very detailed, so I'm considering doing some teeny tiny little scenes about the size of stamps. I'm not one of those people that can write on rice, but what with sewing and embroidery I'm very comfortable working in a minuscule scale. For a while I was thinking about tatting tiny pieces for dollhouses...I still might one day. 

It is SO HOT here. According to the weather channel it's 95 degrees but feels like 107. I'm supposed to hang out with my buddy Four tomorrow, but goddamn it's supposed to be 101 degrees. Ick. I hate much so, in fact, I leave my windows open all winter.

Oh, Four. 

I'm friends with such amazing people I wonder why they bother with me. Four is a voice-over artist and comedian and a brilliant writer. One day I'm going to get to say I knew him when... He's pretty much the best friend I've ever had and I love him to bits. 

My parents, unfortunately, don't feel the same way. In fact, Four and I wanted to date for a while but my parents' reactions were awful and it was one of the worst times of my life as far as my relationship with them goes. My father, especially, is incredibly racist and proud of it and it breaks my heart. One of my parents' rationalizations for hating my relationship with Four and giving me such a hard time about it is that they're trying to protect me from "other people's reactions." 

I'm just going to say that after 10 years of hanging out with Four and being besties with him the only people who have EVER even given me a dirty look about it are my parents, so work out that logic. 

There was one time in my life where out in public, among strangers, I was given dirty looks and glares and stares was a few days after I came back from London a month before my 19th birthday. My nephew Manny (my brother Mick's son) was 3 months old at the time and my sister-in-law, Manny's mother Debra, and I went to the mall to finish up Christmas shopping. I was pushing Manny in a stroller, and Deb was walking beside me and you should have seen the looks. 

Stares. Anger. Fury. Disgust. People were looking at me like they wanted to run over and take Manny away from me. It was amazing. Debra and I were shocked. 

So I decided to play into it. At one point Deb was waiting in line to pay for something and I was standing with Manny a little bit away saying, "Manny, tell Aunt Debbie to hurry up, Mommy has to get home to do her algebra homework. Mommy doesn't want to work at McDonald's anymore. Tell her. Say 'Mommy needs to graduate so she can find a new job and meet a nice man to be my daddy. I wish I had a daddy.'" 

It was awesome. 

And can I just add, by the way, that if you see a little baby in the mall and it's not related to you, DON'T TOUCH IT? That was unbelievable. At one point I had to smack this guy's hand away. He talks to me for a second, "Oh, how old is he blah blah blah" and then he reaches into the stroller. So I say, "Please don't touch the baby." 

Then he reached in again! So I smacked his hand. "Do not touch the baby!"

AUGH. It's not your baby, people! Especially if you're out in public, who knows where your hands have been?! You could have herpes for all I know. Don't touch the baby. 

Like you always ask a dog's owner if you can pet the dog when you first meet them, to make sure the dog doesn't bite or have some kind of disease or is a seeing eye dog that shouldn't be bothered or what-have-you. Don't touch people's dogs, and don't touch the babies. 

You don't know what 5'2", 19-year-old, 130 lb. white girl is going to smack you for it. 

And if she does, you totally deserve it. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Potter and the Stomachache from Hell

Update on the Great Job Project: haven't heard back from anyone but applied to a fucking fantastic job with the state so keep your fingers crossed for me. 

My stomach is killing me. I think I was right with my initial thought of endometriosis as the pain resurfaced again during ovulation and my stomach is still freaking gigantic. How gigantic? My waist is generally 32". It's now almost 40". The new pain pills, dicyclomine (generic Bentyl), are doing nothing. I wish I could talk to my regular doctor, but he's out of my insurance network now and I can't see him until my insurance changes from either my father getting a promotion or I get the fantastic job with the state. 

I wish I hadn't taken The Internship from Hell...there'd still be cash in my checking account and room on my credit card. All I have right now is my box of change and that's only half full, and barely enough to even go to the movies. 

I still haven't seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II yet and it's killlling me, even though I know what's going to happen and I know I'm going to cry my eyes out. I cry all the way through the end of the 6th book to the end of the 7th-- it all just slays me. 

Interesting story, actually, I never wanted to read the HP books. In fact, when they were spending so much time at the top of the Bestseller list my parents would ask me repeatedly if I wanted them to get them for me because everybody liked them so much, and I said no, I just wasn't interested. 

Granted, I was 10 at the time and on the precocious side and was reading Little Women and Gone with the Wind, or The Secret Garden AND I was truly obsessed with the Anne of Green Gables series- I honestly had no interest. 

Then in 7th grade my reading teacher said we'd be reading HP and the Sorcerer's Stone and I didn't really care until we actually started reading it- one chapter in and I was hooked. Then some parents complained and they took the books away so I made my parents go out and buy them for me. 

I live in a very Catholic area, though, so that could have something to do with it. 

Figured out how to set Georgia as my default font- what what! I'm getting all computer literate and stuff. 

I think my mother is making my favorite dinner- fettuccine Alfredo- for dinner. Nice of her, considering I'm not supposed to be having lactose. 

Oh, well. At least with endometriosis I can enjoy lactose while dealing with the crippling pain. 

Back to HP- I read Emma Watson has been cast in Guillermo Del Toro's retelling of Beauty and the Beast (here). Is it too early to get excited? Pan's Labyrinth is one of the best movies ever made- can you imagine what he'd do with Beauty and the Beast? I'm stoked. 

I've had this brutal headache all day...I'm going to go lay down until my mother tries to murder me with cheese. 

Edit (7:32 pm): I was right- we had fettuccine alfredo for dinner. Heavy cream, butter, and cheese. If I were lactose intolerant I'd be dying right now. I'm not lactose intolerant. It goes to show you: stomach doctors will give you a stomach diagnosis- looks like I need to go to the gyno. 

Oh, well. At least I can have milk again. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Self-Analysis and Pondering

Busy busy busy busy weekend. I ended up babysitting one of my nephews Friday, then my brother, his wife, and their baby came up from Maryland for the weekend, AND we went to my brother's best friend's house-- he and his wife just had a baby, so we all went to meet the little girl together.

Then yesterday I was sleeping.

The nephew afterglow should last about a week, so we shouldn't have any depressed posts for a little while. They steady me-- no matter what else my brain is saying, I can't ever leave them. In fact, before I was medicated, in my lowest of low moments when I was at the absolute brink of suicide my thoughts would fall on my boy and I would lose the nerve.

I've always felt selfish about it, though. That if I really wanted what was best for him (or now "them") I'd take myself out of the equation because I'm not good for anybody. That my staying does more damage than my leaving, but I suppose it's whatever it takes.

My grandmother committed suicide when I was 2. Her note read that she couldn't stand the world her grandchildren were growing up in, and that stuck with me...because why, then, wouldn't she stay to try to make it better?

I wonder a lot about her. How would my life have been different? Her mother lived to 96, would she still be alive now if she would have died naturally? Her father died the day she did because he had a heart attack when he was told his daughter died-- would I have gotten to know him? My brother and cousin are both named after him, the family adored him, my father tells us stories about him every time the opportunity arises.

What would my life have been like? What would I be like?

Intellectually I know I have to stay, staying's the right thing it's just...when I'm in that mindset though, under the water or whatever, I can't see it. Or it doesn't matter.

I know I said I'd be taking a break from the depressing stuff, my bad. I just started talking about my boys and  then I just started analyzing. It's probably good, really, to look at what I was feeling while I'm not feeling that way anymore.

My gastroenterologist said I should be seeing a psychologist...I tried it for a little while in college but the woman idiot...and it really turned me off to the whole thing. At one point she said "I don't blame you for cutting!" in response to a story I told her. What good does that do? I mean, I know what she meant, but how do you say that to someone who's trying NOT to cut?

It'll be two years in October since I last cut. I miss it every day. Damn Herbert and his ultimatum...

Whatever.'s what's going on at the moment. More to come.      

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dan, the Fireworks Man

This morning my mother had a colonoscopy (I had one last month, they're not nearly as bad as they seem, really-- and incredibly important. Early detection saves lives.) and my father was in the waiting room and talking to a guy he used to work with. Another woman in the waiting room says to my father (after the guy he used to work with left), "I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhearing you're a plumber."
And my dad says, "Yeah, well, I was but I'm retired now." 
She goes, "And you're reading The Grapes of Wrath?"
So my dad says, "Yeah. My daughter got me a book on the Dust Bowl for my birthday, she knows I'm a history nut, so I was curious about this." 
She says, "And you shoot fireworks?" 
And he says, "Yeah, I do." So they start talking about fireworks and stuff and my dad notices she's taking notes, and she says she's an author, and this is a great background for her next book- so they start joking about royalties and stuff and my dad asks if his name could be in the book and she says, "Absolutely- Dan, the Fireworks Man.  A plumber/pyrotechnician I met in a doctor's office while he was reading The Grapes of Wrath.

My dad says it's not believable. I think it's awesome. 

SO. I also had an appointment with my stomach doctor today...turns out I lost 12 pounds in a month, so I have the Internship from Hell to thank for that-- so maybe there was some good in there other than experience. 

Unfortunately my doctor wants me to try lactose-free so there goes 75% of my daily caloric intake...maybe I'll lose some more weight from that. I just hope that either the lactose-free or the new pills he gave me will take care of the pain and stomach distension. I mean, really, I'm down to 185 and my clothes don't fit because my stomach is so huge. It's supremely annoying. 

Ooooh, new feature on Salami & Orchids: The Great Job Search!! The unemployment rate in New Jersey as of May 2011 is 9.4% (See?), so good freaking luck to me. I haven't really been applying since the Internship from Hell because I've been recovering my body (sleep and food are delicious...), life (renewing library books, forbearing student loans, sending my TOMS back [just a wee bit too small! I got a receipt confirmation, though, so I should be getting ones that fit before August], etc.), and confidence (I lost $400 dollars on the deal with travel and stuff. I soooo don't want to get burned again, and I certainly can't afford it!). 

So yesterday I applied to a photography studio, a local arts and crafts store, and a local pharmacy...more today, and there's a few I'm going to have to mail in resumes for, like a clerical thing at the courthouse. 

I really love the word courthouse. 

Also, another aspect of the Internship from Hell coming back to bite me, my Kindle's all fucked's hoping it just needs to be charged. But maybe it got knocked around while I was taking it to New York? The trains and stuff were awful crowded, and who knows what happened to my purse while it was in the office when I wasn't...augh. 

Speaking of annoying, you know when your system updates and you get those pop up messages, "Your thingy will restart in 15 minutes...Restart Now or Restart Later" and it keeps coming up every once in a while? Annoying as hell. 

So now I'm off to send in more applications...anybody want to be a reference? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hair-Raising, Part I

Internet Explorer is not longer the most common web browser coming to Salami & Orchids! Rock on, Firefox, rock on. Chrome is holding steady at #3, but falling fast...we'll see what happens. 

The Great Curl Project Update: 

Here's a reminder of the before picture (not for the faint of heart): 

And now: 

Not great, but an improvement, I think. Those top few inches won't curl for anything, man...oh well. I think once I figure out how to get the frizz situation under control and get it to dry at a reasonable time (the above picture was taken at 4-ish, so it's been "drying" for over twelve hours there. Not so good.) I might actually look human and not like such a beast. 

The current regime is shampoo, then condition, then comb, then leave-in conditioner and anti-humidity "milk" then I scrunch some of the water out with a t-shirt (because terry cloth supposedly encourages frizz) and then I don't touch it ever again because touching- you guessed it- encourages frizz. Sigh. 

Maybe one day I'll be cute. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The word "intern" now makes me flinch. I mentioned in my last post I'm still having dreams about it. It was a nightmare...a living nightmare.

Nachtmahr. "Nachtmahr is a nightmare so bad it's in German."

God it sucked.

Okay. Here it is and please, please, learn from my mistakes:

I was applying to all kinds of crap and I got two responses in one day. One was for a costume designer for a playhouse on Long Island, and one was a costume design internship at an actor's school in the city. I haven't done much design work so I figured that the internship would be more my speed and I'd be able to work under/next to a costume designer because, you know, intern: "a person who works as an apprentice or trainee in an occupation or profession to gain practical experience, andsometimes also to satisfy legal or other requirements forbeing licensed or accepted professionally.", kids.

Right? No reason not to think that. I wanted a safety net, and understandably so. INTERN.

So. I call back the school and I talk to this nice lady who's telling me about this program she runs that teaches young adult to adult actors how to move and act as they did in...let's just say "period"...period pieces. I thought, awesome. I get to work on full-scale period costumes. BETTER, we were using a program in New York that allows small theaters to do full-scale costuming by loaning out costumes from all over the city and its theaters. So, for example, a number of our costumes had actually been used in the Metropolitan Opera House. Not only that, but I'd get to go to this Wonderland of costumes to pull from and do fittings and- AND- the nice lady told me she hires a professional photographer to take pictures of the whole process so I'd have a kickass portfolio piece. She says, "Can you come in today? We're setting up a thing for the students to go through, with period music and movies playing and jewelry and things they can try on..."

I was excited so I said, "Sure!" Ran around, got ready, was on the train within 20 minutes to arrive in the city in an hour.

THE STUDIO WAS EVEN AN EASY WALK FROM THE TRAIN STATION. A handful of blocks. It couldn't be any better.

So the studio was...small. Smaller than I expected. City-like. I got it. Cool.

...But there was no sewing area whatsoever. Which I thought was strange. If I'm doing alterations and stuff, wouldn't I need a sewing machine?, a table? But I ignored this and spent the next 4 hours moving things and dressing people and overall it was pretty cool. I hadn't met the costume designer yet, which I thought was strange but, again, ignored it. Kept ignoring it while I sat around for the next 2 hours while the kids had a class with the nice lady. Again, strange-ish, but I didn't mention it.

I was soooo excited. I texted Herbert a couple of times during the day to tell him I was excited. He was happy that I was happy.

After the students left we started cleaning up from the day...and the nice lady's jewelry was so horrendously disorganized...she asked me to help out. At this point it's 7:30 and I'd kind of like to get home...but I said okay and helped. After an hour of that the nice lady drops one of the boxes we'd just organized and everything goes spilling out. Hey, it's fine, accidents happen. At one point she snapped at me because she claimed to have set a box out in the main studio room that I told her I hadn't seen. She told me OF COURSE it was there, she did it, she wrote on it, she did it all herself. OF COURSE it was where she said it was.

But it wasn't. It was in the closet in front of her face when she found it. Alright, whatever, people make mistakes. Polite people apologize but whatever, let's not split hairs. We were tired. It was a long day.

So we go back to her office with another nice lady and we chat. I tell her about my experience working at school, which isn't much but it's not nothing, and she's really excited about it so...okay. I tell her with the cost of the trains I do need to be paid for this, and she said $500. So I say, okay. It dawns on her I still have an hour train ride so she's like, "Oh! You have to go!"

So I asked for a cast list because I won't be able to return for a few days as I was having a medical procedure.

So the two nice ladies then start arguing over casting. Cute...a little annoying...but cute- two little old ladies running a tiny little acting was cute. I finally get a tentative character list, which is good enough, I supposed. Then it dawned on me.

I wasn't the costume design intern. I was the costume designer. I was in charge. It was me. I had two other girls on my team. Okay...I can do this.

I go home...have my procedure...go back...okay.

Apparently, while I was gone, two of the nice lady's (the original nice lady) office interns had quit, and would I mind doing a little random stuff while she found new ones. Of course I wouldn't mind. Sooo...I ran errands. I got keys made. I went to the post office. I helped set up chairs and find things for the teachers bipping in and out. I dressed the students when they needed to be dressed for certain classes. I was putting out fires before they started.

Other girls came in, but I was kind of the catch-all for about a week, especially since I was the only one in on Saturdays. I was going in early and getting home late. I was doing work when I got home- emailing students and setting up groups and email accounts...

Like anyone new to a job, I screwed up a few things. Especially since no one bothered to tell me that we were running two businesses out of the little office, and it turned out the second nice lady wasn't an employee, but a student. A phone call or two got misplaced or somehow screwed up...once I got yelled at for not taking the student's attendance- which I thought was odd because why would I ever need to do that? Shouldn't a teacher do that? Shouldn't the students sign in somewhere? OH...okay, yeah, take attendance. Got it.

Oh, oh, OH, take attendance AND call the students that aren't there. Well...should have told me that the first time, but yeah, okay, whatever. My bad.

So pretty soon I'm banging shit out like it's my fucking job. Which it really isn't...but whatever. The nice lady begins to be comforted by my presence and begins to insist I stay beside her as much as possible, to the point where there are things I could have been getting done but can't because she wants me near her. "No no no, don't go, stay stay, stay with me. Please."

I also found out I'd be getting Sundays and Mondays off. Fantastic. That's great. Two days in a row and I'll catch up on sleep and food...great.

THEN...I got to go to HEAVEN. The costume collection. It was amazing. She brought us in 5 minutes before their closing the day before I would be going in early to start pulling stuff so she could show me how to pull and where to put stuff I pulled. Awesome. She showed us the rack and said nothing with long sleeves, nothing with velvet, and nothing too busted. Fantastic. Got it. Will do.

(I was also very relieved to see a work area in the collection warehouse. A couple of tables, a sewing machine or two...great. Easy. Done. Whew.)

I went in early but forgot which floor the collection was on. Stupid, I know, but whatever, I remembered what it looked like, I had it written down somewhere, and anyway I was pretty sure it was the 9th floor.

-- Slightly unrelated story about my trip to the 9th floor--

It wasn't the 9th floor. The elevator opens on the 9th floor and I step out into a hallway that is perfectly, perfectly white. The way you imagine heaven to be white. Actual heaven, not the costume collection. There were no exposed wires like the floor I was supposed to be on, the floor itself was white and perfect instead of scuffed, plain, concrete. It even smells clean. Like laundry.

I get off the elevator because I figured I was still on the right floor, I just got turned around somewhere because I have NO sense of direction. I look around and see a huge sign saying "Martha Stewart LIVING" and don't remember seeing that the other day...but we were running through the hall trying to get to the collection before it I start to walk. I pass more white-on-white rooms with pretty, perfect receptionists and things. I end up with a small group, a member of which is swiping key cards to get us through perfectly white and HUGE doors.

Key cards?

I don't remember anything about key cards.

Then it dawned on me. This isn't Martha Stewart's section of the 9th floor...this is Martha Stewart's floor. And I better leave before somebody kicks me out for trespassing or stalking Martha. Somebody perhaps being Martha. Fuck. Okay...well...don't look panicked. Just...calmly get back on the elevator and...hopefully...nobody noticed you.


Turns out I was fine but I was nervous for the rest of the day. I decide to play it safe and find the floor number I had written down before I stumble across more things that could get me in a lot of trouble.

-- End of slightly unrelated story of my trip to the 9th floor--

I finally find my way to the collection and started pulling. Finished early when the second girl came because the nice lady said not to bother pulling the men's things, she'd be in at noon to help finish up. So...we were done at 11 so we decided to sit in the waiting area for her.

We got a call from one of the office interns that the nice lady was going to be late. Yeah, fine. That's cool. My second costume intern came in. Good stuff. My first girl had to leave, yeah, fine.

1:15 the nice lady comes in and starts yelling at us for sitting. Says never to wait for her. Okay.

Goes back to look at what we pulled and then decides to pull every single long-sleeved, velvet, and hideously torn and tattered dress off the rack. Goes to an entirely different rack and starts pulling things. Yells at us for not getting started on the men's things. Leaves.

Yeah. Okay. Whatever. I was still in Heaven. And I had another day in there. So I go myself...the next day to start pulling more, which is fine, whatever. So I get finished for the day.

The next day is the first of two days of fittings and the nice lady gets there ON TIME. Bitchin'. Sweet. The day goes well. Very well, even. We found some beautiful clothes for beautiful girls and handsome suits for handsome men and we are off to the races. FABULOUS.

Halfway through the day one of my girls even comes by to help with fittings. She even tells me SHE'LL come in early the next fitting day so I don't have to. SWEET.

The next few days pass as usual...until the end of the day Saturday when after I spent the afternoon making the costume binder FOOL PROOF for my girl doing fittings on Monday (which, even though it was my day off, that is an important thing to be I'll go in late, like we said before. No big deal.) , so I go to the nice lady to explain what I did and show her how it works and whatnot and she has a panic attack: "No no no no no no no no, you have to come. You have to be there. I don't think she'll be on time and then I'll be alone and have a heart attack."


Monday morning comes, and guess who's late? Not just my girl, but the nice lady, too. Guess who's on time? Our first appointment.


Okay, fine. They all eventually show up and it all gets done...Except, of course, for the fact that the nice lady didn't tell us how the check-out procedure worked, so instead of labeling each piece of each costume with the character name we hung things up together. Big mistake because, as it turns out, each item had to be hung separately and with like items.

So me and my girl had to spend the entire next day labeling and reorganizing what we were taking and putting away the things we weren't. It ended up taking so long we couldn't begin the checkout process that day and had to come back the next.

We were under the impression that the nice lady (who will henceforth be known as "Bitchface") would be joining us to go over our final decisions and pay. This turned out to not be the case. While my girl and I were waiting (did I mention that my other girl had quit? She had) Bitchface called to say that one of the office interns (we'll call her "Elizabeth") and, "Elizabeth's friend" were on their way over to bring me the blank check and help us carry the bags we'd have.

Bags? Yeah. Bags. We'd get a bunch of bags to take all the costumes back to the studio. But why? If the work space is at the collection, then why-

Oh. Because the work space is for the collection. My work space is a closet, literally, at the studio. Without light. Without a table. Without a sewing machine.

Without needles. Or thread. Or fabric. Or chalk.

Just talking about it again is making my eyes burn.

Anyway, eventually Elizabeth and her friend (who turned out to be one of the other office interns, Bitchface just never bothered to learn her name) were all fired up about about this email that Bitchface's Friend sent out detailing how horrible a job the interns are doing and the way things are supposed to be done. We take the things we're taking from the collection out to the front to begin the checkout process and go to lunch.

We had a fantastic gab session about how bad things are at the studio, how miserable we all are, how unprofessional and disgusting a place it is. How Bitchface is running 2 businesses with interns because she doesn't want to pay anybody. How there's so stupid much to do and how everyone keeps quitting on her because they don't get trained properly, then they get yelled at for making mistakes when of course they're going to make mistakes, they're new and they're interns, looking for some experience in the field- a difficult field to break into. Besides the fact they're only hired for a month at a time and most quit before the month is up. On and on and on...Oh, and Bitchface's friend, who wrote the upsetting email in the first place, is one of the teachers at the studio- a sometimes employee just staying in a hotel nearby while she's teaching a class at the studio, not like an actual there everyday type of person. Anyway.

So after lunch we go back to the collection and Bitchface calls me to see how it's going. I ask the guy inventorying our take and he says he's about halfway through, and Bitchface yells at me about how long it's taking. Yeah, okay, whatever. It's my fault.

Eventually they finish and I write a check for $2500 and we get the bags to the studio. Then we take a while hanging everything up. Bitchface and I make plans for me to come in early so we could make plans for my shopping trip to buy supplies. Fine.

So I go in early to make plans to buy supplies. Bitchface isn't there. Elizabeth and Elizabeth's Friend laugh and say Bitchface isn't coming in for another 3 hours.

At this point I had 5 days to get 27 costumes close-up ready, several of which need extensive repair work. Fucking kill me.

So I go shopping by myself to get needles and thread and chalk and a ruler and fucking straight pins.

That night I bring home 3 dresses to work on. The next day there's a fashion MFA there to help, and the poor little thing's mind was blown by the place. She started taking things home to work on, too.

The next day MFA and I decide to tackle one of the disaster dresses, and it's a complete disaster, but there's nothing to do, we have to make it fit to wear. Not just fit to wear, but the character wearing it is supposed to be extremely fashionable and her dress needs to be killer.

So why Bitchface picked this piece of shit dress...

A lot of the problems were technical and I could explain but it doesn't really matter, just know the thing was a rag and I was supposed to make it presentable in 2 days. I take it home that night to work on it the next morning before I went in, because I desperately needed to sleep.

Let me explain. This whole time while I'm doing these things, I was doing 15 hour days, and eating fruit snacks standing because I didn't have time to eat. I was barely sleeping because when you're doing 15 hours a day and there's a two hour commute that only leaves 7 hours to sleep and do everything else there is to do in a day. So I was neglecting everything- bills, chores, my family and friends, my fucking health, I was doing everything I could to put out a decent show despite wanting to kill myself and/or quit. I was working so hard.

So when I was "late" the next day because I was working on the dress that I needed a sewing machine (and the only available sewing machine was at my house) to do I got an angry phone call (one of several, I left out the others because then this thing would be forever long...) and Bitchface starts calling me unprofessional.

I tell her I'll call her back in 5 minutes because I'm about to lose my temper and she really doesn't want that to happen.

So she starts yelling at me some more and I had fucking had it. So I tell her I quit, I'll be in to drop off her things and pick up my check. We got into an argument over the phone, I hang up on her, and she calls me back 3 times. I ignore the calls. She sends 8 text messages.

So I go in and drop off her stuff. She decides to hold some kind of exit interview with her Friend. They have clip boards with blank sheets of paper and pens. So they sit me down. I ask for my check again so I can go home, so we start arguing over the amount of money she was going to give me.

Direct quote: "I never said that!" Well, yes, you did. "Do you have it in writing?" No, I don't, and neither do you. "Oh yes I do!" She stands up and I say, "Go get whatever contract you want, but I have never seen a single contract here, let alone signed it." She remained standing and said, "I'm not going to have you humiliate me and incite a riot in my school. We're going outside."

Edit: I seriously believe that she made us go outside because she didn't want the other interns there (that also hadn't signed contracts) to hear how badly she screwed this up. It was awesome.

I say fine. We go outside and continue to argue. And let's just say I kicked ass. You know how when you call somebody on something that they weren't expecting and they just stare at you? That happened a lot. Even Bitchface's Friend couldn't help smirking- I had an answer for everything. What was happening wasn't my fault- it was hers for screwing up the whole time. She tried to call me on my inexperience, I told her she knew it when she hired me.

She then claimed her lack of supplies was because "this is New York City."

Bite me, woman.

So we agree on $250 and I start to walk away. She says, "Wait! Don't you want your check?" And I say, "Yes, do you have one?" and she says no, because, haha, OF COURSE she doesn't have a checkbook at the studio. Not like this is a professional outfit and all.

That night I see I have a voicemail from one of the office interns. "Uh...Joanna? There's something about a missing pair of earrings...if you could call me back..."

So I called back and told them where their fucking earrings were. Bitchface said she'd look, but if she couldn't find them she was keeping my check because I stole her earrings.

How can I possibly prove I don't have them?

And can you believe there's even more I left out? I got my heart broken. Don't let it happen to you.

Get a contract. READ IT. Sign it. Get a copy of it. Make sure you know what you're getting into when you start, and please, don't let your excitement or desperation get in the way of your common sense. Let some good come out of this.

You can't trust everybody.