Friday, September 30, 2011

Feeling Helpless

I used to think that the worst feeling in the world was when you think you have to sneeze and then don't. I've recently come to find out, that's not the case.

Yesterday was laundry day. I loaded up the hamper and headed down to the laundry room. The washers in the laundry room are side-load, so you have take care when loading them or everything will just tumble out onto the floor. So careful not to drop anything, I bent over the hamper grabbing armfuls of clothing and shoved it in, kind of poking my head inside to push the clothing all the way to the back of the machine.

I started the laundry and went back up to the apartment. Aaron set out hummus and flat bread and loaded up an episode of Doctor Who on the 360. I sat on the floor drawing windows on a box for Neelix with a Sharpie when I suddenly realized: I cannot hear the Doctor Who theme. That's when it finally dawned on me. My hearing aid was gone! I was wearing it before doing the laundry...

I sprang up and ran out of the apartment, down the stairs and sprinted to the laundry room only to recall a very important fact. The public washing machines lock once started. Even if you unplug them, there is no way to open the machine until the cycle has completed. Why? I don't know. Maybe they're trying to prevent people from stealing dirty laundry? I did not know that was an issue.

I go back to the apartment looking at the ground closely, retracing my steps just in case, as I go. Once I'm back inside I reveal to Aaron what is going on, since I kid of ran off without saying anything before. We search the house together in the slight hope that perhaps it is just under a pillow, or on a counter somewhere. It isn't though. I wait out the remaining cycle time and sure enough, when I open the washing machine there it is.

Now, you may be wondering, "You did not notice something falling out of your ear?" The answer to that is, no. At first, surely, you'd notice because at first wearing a hearing aid for anything longer than thirty minutes is painful. But the more you want to hear, the longer you wear it. Over time you grow accustomed to wearing a hearing aid much like you grow accustomed to wearing a pair of glasses. To the point where you don't even realize it is there. Not to mention there's not much to hear in the laundry room when you're the only person present. The sound of a washing machine is indistinguishable to me from background noise.

I throw the clothes into the drier, because why not, I'm already there? Then I go back up. As I'm walking I'm looking at my hearing aid, checking to see if it's been overtly damaged in any way aside from being soaked. I notice that one of the little plastic covers over the microphone is chipped, but that's just aesthetics. When I open the battery compartment to withdraw the battery, I see that the battery is not in the door where it is meant to be held. It has been pushed into the inner compartment of the hearing aid, where all of the tiny hair-like wires reside. This is bad for two obvious reasons. The first being that getting something out from where it isn't supposed to be is never easy. The second being that the insides of a hearing aid are extremely delicate, something forcibly crammed in there could easily have broken it.

Back inside, Aaron manages to free the battery from the inner part of the hearing aid like a hero, but it's still drenched. Before turning it on it should be allowed to dry out completely, like any other electronic that's been exposed to water. So I open it up and set it on my desk. Several hours later it still isn't working. I'm instructed by three separate people to insert it in uncooked rice. So at current my hearing aid is sitting in the closet in a glass of rice.

It all seems ridiculous and perhaps a little entertaining until you take into consideration one thing: how horribly difficult it is to get insurance approval for medical devices. Back in 2007 it took nearly eight months for my health insurance to approve my hearing aid, even though it was deemed medically necessary. Then it took an additional several months for them to issue the damned thing. And health insurance in this country has only gotten worse since then.

My case went through quick, in 2007 because my situation was deemed an emergency. Since I had no preparation for the hearing loss. I quite literally woke up deaf. For those of you new to my blog: yeah, that happens. With the amount of time that has passed, the foot dragging is only going to be worse because of the long amount of time in which I've supposedly had to adjust. But you never really adjust to losing a sense. You cope. That's the extent of it.

I thought I had pretty much gotten over my loss until this happened and suddenly I was 'that girl' all over again. Able to function one day and completely without sound the next. Yes, I can lip read, but that is very difficult without consonant sounds to guide you. Lip reading is not at all how the media portrays it on television shows and movies. Unless you know the person speaking to you, personally, what they're saying is entirely up for wild interpretation. Take this for example. Yeah, that is the problem you run into when trying to read lips without any cues whatsoever.

Even with consonant cues provided by my hearing aid, when dealing with strangers it's still difficult to interpret what point they're trying to make. Without any cues it's impossible to tell what a stranger is saying now. Other things I can no longer do as of yesterday? I cannot have weekly telephone conversations with my family back east. I can't even hold a reliable conversation with Aaron. I cannot watch Netflix on the 360 (no subtitles). I cannot enjoy youtube videos. I can't play any video games reliant on voice acting. I cannot hear myself laugh. I also have no environmental awareness. Which makes me twice as likely to be hit by a car, or a train -- or eaten by a tiger, if tigers lived around here.

Add in the difficulty even seeing a doctor capable of putting forward a request to insurance for another hearing aid and you see how dire this situation is. Your primary care physician isn't in a position to order that type of medical device. You need to see an audiologist. Even if you've already seen one in the past and all your information is on file. Insurance seems to think they will save money on issuing medical devices if they force you to see another specialist before hand. Why?  I don't know. It's a stupid concept probably thought up by a stupid person.

Getting your insurance to approve you to see a specialist these days is a nightmare. Like they're trying to prevent having to issue medical devices to people by not letting them in to see the person who can request the devices. Just as an example, I've needed to get in to see my neurologist for months now and it still hasn't been approved yet. They've actually denied the appointment twice -- with no reason whatsoever. As in, I speak with my insurance company about why it wasn't approved and there is no reason listed in my file. They just blindly said no. They just saw the pending request, denied it and went on with their day.

In the absolute best case scenario, I am miraculously approved in under two months time to see an audiologist. After that I'm finally approved in under a year's time for a new hearing aid. After that it'll be about five months before I receive my hearing aid. That's over a year without any sound whatsoever! It's unacceptable.

Then there are the arbitrary rules they place on medical devices. Such as only being granted a certain amount in under a certain time span. For instance I can only get one pair of glasses every ten years. Even if the ones I have now spontaneously combust while on my face, I cannot have them replaced by my insurance until 2019. If anything happens to my glasses before that, I have to replace them myself.

It is essentially the same thing with hearing aids only they also do not cover the repair of a hearing aids at all. Paying out of pocket for hearing aid repair is $300 to start. Just to send it in. According to horror stories on the internet, Phonak will often take your money for repairs and your hearing aid, only to tell you you need to buy a new hearing aid if you old one was over two years of age. That's an additional $1000-$2000 on top of the $300 you paid to start out. That's essentially like telling me, "If you want to hear any time in the foreseeable future, you will be living in a box next month. Enjoy!"

Capitalism sucks when you're sick or disabled. I'm all for working for what you want, but working for what you need is getting a little out of hand.

Luckily, just as I was on the brink of freaking out and becoming some kind of feral person who eats their own hair and hordes pennies, my friend Sean reminded me that he's an engineer and may be able to fix it. Just for the cost of parts, which incidentally is much much less than $300. Failing that, my only option is buying the biggest, cheapest hearing aid I can find until we can save up for one that's less clunky and obtuse.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Cat, The Airplane

Yesterday morning the alarm clock went off and Aaron got out of bed. In typical fashion, I rolled around aimlessly in the blankets unable to understand what was happening. There was noise, the cats were stomping all over me, and Aaron was gone. It was all really confusing. Then Aaron was across the room looking at me like I was a bum for still being in bed. I felt compelled to say something, to prove how awake I was.

"Neelix is like an airplane." Is what I said. I don't know why I said it or what had possibly lead me to make that association to begin with. Neither did Aaron.

His response was, "...What?"

Then I began fumbling around with words, trying to form a coherent explanation as to why my cat was anything like an airplane. It was harder than you'd think. Or maybe not, since my cat is absolutely nothing like an aircraft. "He just is..." I began groggily, "Look at his head!" I was completely certain in myself that this would explain everything.

By this point all attempts at getting dressed have ceased. Aaron stood there holding his shirt, looked to the cat and then back at me, "What are you talking about?"

Then I got defensive because my attempt to seem as awake and ready for the day as he was had failed. I ended up just repeating what I had said before only slower, "Neelix. He is like an airplane. Look at his head." When that clearly wasn't working I didn't give up. Oh no, I continued trying to sleepily justify the comparison. "Look at the way his ears go. Their shape and color. It's like the patterns on airplane wings."

I've never seen an orange airplane before though, so I'm not sure how this line of reasoning was supposed to help my cause. Aaron was laughing at my absurdity now which quickly devolved my argument into, "SHUT UP HE'S AN AIRPLANE." Because obviously he just wasn't going to get it.

There was a moment of amused silence and then we both laughed at my defeat. I crawled out of bed miserably. I must have still been half-dreaming when the conversation started. It was like words were just falling out of my head in some random sequence and the harder I tried to make them make sense, the less sense they made.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thank You, Internet

So my cat needs antihistamines on a daily basis. As many of you have read before, he suffers from terrible chronic allergies that make him a licking, biting, scratching mess uncontrolled. For a couple of months now we've been taking him to the Vet and buying his medicine there, $15.00 for a month supply.

The idea of this going on perpetually began to seem a little daunting. I don't even spend $15.00 a month on my own terrible allergies. If mine get so out of hand I need medication, I can buy several months worth of antihistamines for the price it costs to get him a single month supply. Then I remembered something important.

We have the internet.

I did a quick Skynet search for his medication and found we've been paying way too much. Like, I understand businesses mark up their products to cover operational costs, but this was something else entirely. Don't get me wrong. The people at the Feline Clinic are very kind and generous with their time. They clearly care a great deal about cats and while I will continue taking my cats there for their exams and the like, I think from now on I'll be buying his pills from the internet.

Just how much were we over paying? Well, let me put it into perspective for you. We were paying $15.00 for 30 pills at 4mg each. I found out that a bottle of 1000 of the exact same pills at 4mg each only costs $10.00 from the supplier. There's also the convenience of not having to leave my house.

The Vet always wants to see him before refilling his antihistamines. Which means we have to put the big lug into his carrier and drive him over there. Not a big deal if your cat weighs less than 25 pounds. Kind of a chore when he's basically a dog. The price of the visit isn't bad, especially since they give us a 50% off discount. But that still means, essentially, for one month of treatment we're paying about $40.00, between the exam and the medication itself. He's basically all better now so long as he takes his pills, we no longer need the peace of mind seeing the Vet monthly provides.

TL;DR: Neelix is all better now but still needs antihistamines daily. The Vet overcharges for antihistamines. We now buy his antihistamines online

Monday, September 26, 2011


I don't mean to alarm you or anything, but I think I'm turning into a raisin. After a long morning spent avoiding my responsibilities, I got into the shower. You think, nothing abnormal there, right? You're wrong. Before I even had a chance to get wet yet, I look down and my fingers looked like this:

 Which meant that when Aaron turned around from washing his face he was met with this:

Why is this happening to me?!
Only I was naked (and not in the computer room). He couldn't take my dire concern seriously at all as result and seemed more entertained than worried. He then went back to washing his hair. I bet he will take me more seriously when he wakes up tomorrow finding I had transformed into a pile of raisins in the night. How can you marry a pile of raisins? I don't think that's legal.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Honey & Steam

It's not often that I write about things you should buy, own, or take part in, but there are some things that could drastically improve your quality of life if only you had access to them. So you should take me seriously when I recommend things!

Yes, we have a power juicer.
As I'm sure you're well aware by now, I love honey. I'm something of a honey connoisseur. I can tell the difference between honey made from different flowers entirely by taste alone, and if you are not lucky enough to keep your own bees, I can definitely point you in the direction of quality honey. Which brings me to the first item of recommendation: Trader Joe's Clover Blossom Honey.

Clover honey is perhaps my favorite honey. It is simple and sweet and can be used in a variety of ways. I've tried a lot of clover honey in my day and by far the sweetest has been Trader Joe's. Which is a good thing, assuming you plan on using the honey to sweeten something. Which is like 99% of the time you'd be using honey in the first place. It means that you need to use less honey to reach the desired result.

As an aside, honey must always come in bear-bottle form. If you are at the market and you find yourself presented with the options: regular bottle or bear-shaped, the choice is obvious. Don't muck it up.

The second thing I'm going to tell you about is Steam. It is a free gaming program that allows you to download games legally (read: at a price), connect with your friends, and even allows you to buy games and give them to other users as a gift. Why is this program worth mentioning? Because it doesn't exclusively offer to sell you new titles. Many of its games are old, beloved classics. Like Sonic The Hedgehog or Shining Force. So while, sure, you could download Call of Duty 26, you can also download Kid Chameleon.

The gift-giving feature is also really useful. Forget to buy your friend/sibling a gift for (insert gift-giving holiday here)? You can instantly bestow upon them a video game! Problem solved. No pesky shipping to pay for or deal with.

I realize that many of you already have Steam, but you would truly be amazed by how many of your peers do not!

P.S. You can find me on Steam under the handle: Morally_Gray

Friday, September 23, 2011

This is A Public Service Announcement

Here I am going to explain to you step-by-step how to not spam the every-loving crap out of your fellow Facebook denizens. Not to be rude or anything, but I'm going to explain this like you're a five year old. 

Follow the pictures in order of appearance and click where the red circles are.

Starting out: Go to your wall.
Note: Your wall will look different than my wall. This is my wall.
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Name the new list whatever the name of your game happens to be. 
For this example, I called mine Cafe World.
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Step 7
Step 8
Step 9
Step 10
The final step!

You now win at Facebook!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Growing Up

When you are a child friendship comes easily. You befriend others around you based on nothing other than the fact that they live nearby and happen to be in the same age group that you are. If you are lucky, they're also not annoying as fuck, but even if they are you befriend them anyway. You're easy to please. "I like dinosaurs," is widely accepted as a valid basis by which to establish a bond. You can pretty much replace dinosaurs with any other word you can imagine, such as dogs or rocks, and the argument would stand just as strong.

Then as we start growing up, usually around sixth grade or so, you start to notice things you had never noticed before. Your BFF likes blue rather than red. How had you never noticed this before? And it gets worse. You find out they like all sorts of things that you don't! Such as troll dolls. Or maybe they like Zack more than they like Slater. Suddenly your entire friendship is flipped upside down. Nothing makes sense anymore, but you hold on for dear life. You try liking those things too, it's your obligation as a good friend.

Eventually you just can't keep up. They go too far. You find out one day they like something you simply abhor the very existence of, like Hansen, and suddenly your BFF is hanging out with some other kid who loves Hansen too. You're left out.

Your friendship isn't over, however. No. Both of you for whatever forsaken reason refuse to let go. You don't hang out as much as you used to, and this results in the gap between what you like and what they like growing steadily wider. As your influence wanes the tension to somehow force your friendship to overcome these many tiny differences of opinion builds. Then there is a catalyst. Maybe it's that girl you find completely intolerable that your BFF has been hanging out with at lunch, or maybe it's a boy who appeared from no where and takes up all of her time. Whatever it is, it causes an EXPLOSION! The likes of which your friendship cannot survive.

You make a remark about this catalyst and your friend disagrees so completely that you can feel the resentment in their voice. It has become some tangible thing in the room with you. This is it. The true turning point. The point of no return. The situation elevates beyond control because neither of you are emotionally equipped to handle this sort of thing yet.

You tell your friend that you hate her. She says she hates you times infinity. It's over. At long last. While hurt, you are also somehow strangely relieved. At least you don't have to pretend to like her troll dolls anymore. You both move on to new circles of friends and lose touch.  When people ask you down the line why you two aren't friends anymore, both of you will always say, "She changed." And that resentment will manifest itself again.

So what happened? Nothing. You did not change and neither did she. The two of you have always had different opinions, you just never felt the need to express them. You were too busy pretending to command spaceships and catch fairies in a butterfly net.

Think back to why you became friends in the first place. The answer is likely either, "She lived down the street," or, "We were in the same class." Your entire friendship was based on convenience. You shouldn't be so surprised things didn't work out. Of course your friendship fell through, you had nothing in common to begin with aside from age and perhaps a fondness for chocolate milk.

Also? You should probably get around to slaying that resentment monster. It was never warranted in the first place.

Disclaimer: This is written in the female perspective but easily applicable to both genders. If you have outdoor plumbing simply substitute all instances of she and her with he and his. Also, depending on orientation you may need to substitute Zack and Slater with Kelly and Jessie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raised By Wolves

People often talk about all of their favorite TV shows growing up, but I can't really relate. I only watched television up until I was old enough to go outside by myself. Even then I only watched original Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and The Twilight Zone. Shows most kids hadn't even heard of yet. Unless of course it was the weekend, in which case I watched morning cartoons like any normal child.

But once I was allowed to go outside on my own (read: without adult supervision) that pretty much ended my relationship with TV. I spent, quite literally, every waking moment outside. To the point where my poor mother would have to hand me my meals from the doorway because I refused to go inside and eat at the dining table. I'd take whatever hand-held food she offered and immediately run back off into the wilderness like some sort of child raised by wolves or something.

At first, I only came in to sleep. However after a week without a bath, I realized going to school looking like a dirty hobo would damage my reputation. Having crazy hair and dirt on your face meant you sat alone at lunch because the other kids didn't know what to make of you. Luckily I was also a clever child and this only lasted a week. I saw the error of my ways and decided to go indoors to sleep and bathe. This cleared up any hesitation I met from my peers.

I had nothing against our house. In fact it was easily the coolest house on the block. A historical Victorian era two story with a spooky basement and doors you unlocked with a skeleton key. All in all, it was a pretty magical house to grow up in.

I just didn't have time for all that mundane bullshit. I was too busy traveling the universe (city) in my spaceship (bicycle) which also served as a time machine. Sometimes my spaceship was also a chocobo. I can't explain the science behind that one, you wouldn't understand.

This sort of behavior lasted all the way up to seventh grade. Normally kids who cling so dearly to their imagination at that age wind up cast into unpopularity. Only I wasn't alone. I had stirred the embers of every child's imagination within eight city blocks, none of us were in a rush to grow up. This permitted us to have fantastic adventures which spanned months, and nobody was exempt. In my world you could be whoever or whatever you wanted to be, and that was somehow fine. In fact, encouraged.

I wonder how long after I moved away all those people held onto their imaginations?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Password Is... Eyebrows

So blogger has a nifty little feature which allows you to track various statistics involving your blog. Such as how many viewers you've had, what country your viewers visit from, and the most common search keywords that lead people to your blog.

I apparently have a large following in Malaysia and Germany. So, hello Malaysians! Hello Germans!

The most used search term that brings new readers to my blog is, "cersei lannister blonde hair black eyebrows." I'm not sure how I should feel about that. I guess it is at least a little comforting to know that obviously it's been bothering other people and not just me. It's still a little strange though.

Of all the things.

P.S. Russia just pulled ahead of Germany. Sorry Germans. Hello Russia!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011


The other day I was perturbed that spellcheck did not recognize peanutbutter as a word. Several people pointed out that peanutbutter is actually peanut butter, but I think they're missing the point. I am aware that it is peanut butter. I want it to be peanutbutter. Because peanut butter is butter made from peanuts, not a combination of butter and peanuts. Thus it should be a single word.

Aaron says it makes perfect sense because apple butter is not applebutter and aloe lotion is not aloelotion, even though apple butter is butter made from apples not a combination of butter and apples, and that aloe lotion is aloe made into a lotion not aloe added to an already existing lotion. Furthermore, he makes note, is that strawberry jelly is not strawberryjelly.

I say, "Why aren't they?" They should be. Well, at least in the case of apple butter and maybe even strawberry jelly. Though aloelotion is really fun to say. Go on, say it to yourself out loud. I'll wait.

Aaron made the point that coffee cup is also two words. To which I argued that that makes sense. It is coffee in a cup. Two separate things. The coffee and the cup. Though I added in the case of teacup. Which probably started out as tea cup but was later changed because tea is the only thing that goes into a teacup. I have no basis for this assumption other that it makes perfect sense in my head. So maybe one day it will be coffeecup.

In the end, we had to agree to disagree because we just kept going in circles with it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to Make Eating Cookies More Fun

You probably do not think it's possible, but it is. You can have twice as much fun eating cookies as you thought you could. All it requires is a freshly untouched package of cookies and one or two of your best friends. Alternatively your greatest rivals.

I came up with this yesterday when Aaron brought out the new package of Nutter Butters and we instinctively each grabbed a cookie from a different row. It's kind of like an eating contest, except that it's more like a race. Nutter Butters only come with two rows though, so if you have more than two people, a different cookie choice would be necessary. Oreo cookies would make a good standard, as they have three rows of cookies.

This is the game board:

You start by opening the package of cookies and setting it somewhere in the middle of the two (or three) of you. If you have more than three friends over, you may have to buy more than one package of cookies. Then, you start eating cookies as fast as you can while still enjoying them. A glass of milk may be permitted on the game table to serve as a swallowing aid. *The first person to eat all of the cookies in their row wins!

*You must have swallowed the last cookie first in order to win. Still having the cookie in your mouth, chewing, does not make you the winner.

What do you win? Satisfaction! Alternatively perhaps more cookies?

Procrastination Nation

I ran into a problem where I had many things to do last night (like feed myself and wash dishes) but I had no desire to go do them. So instead I sat on the internet writing blogs and used pillows to turn myself into a clam:

Finally I got around to doing one of the things I was supposed to do just as Aaron got back from class. I confessed my absolute inability to pull myself away from doing things that were fun to do things that weren't and then continued to procrastinate about feeding myself for an additional two hours. Until I got so hungry I finally caved and made a sandwich.

Normally Aaron masterfully crafts for us a delicious homemade dinner. Artichoke heart lasagna, herb baked chicken with seasoned potato wedges, breaded pork chops with mashed potatoes and caramelized onions, butternut squash gnocchi, seared Ahi with rice and peas, spaghetti with garlic bread, etc., etc. Even 'quick' meals are far from shabby. Pot-stickers with rice and sugar snap peas, Porkbuns, and fish tacos come to mind. Aaron is an amazing cook.

Then there is me. I could burn a boiling pot of water. Somehow. So when Aaron has class in the evening and I have to feed myself one of four things happens. Corndogs, pizza rolls, a sandwich, or mac n' cheese. Two of those involve using the oven. One of those involves the stove. So what usually happens is that I eat a lot of sandwiches. For instance on Wednesday night I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich. On Thursday night I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Luckily I freaking love sandwiches. Especially if they contain honey or jam.

But now that means I have to do all of those things I was supposed to do yesterday, today -- and feed myself breakfast. Aaron made coffee before leaving for class though, so at least I can zip around coffee in one hand cleaning with the other.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Concerning Last Night

Dear Stomach,

Why did you wake me up at 3:36 AM for no reason? To my knowledge I did nothing to upset you. Your heartburn came without warning and interrupted a really cool dream I was having, just so you know. To make matters worse, you kept me awake until 4:00 AM. This is unacceptable considering I wake up at 7:00 AM. If you could please just tell me what I did to make you angry, I promise not to do it again. I'm sorry!



Dear Tums,

Thank you for being not only tasty but also magnificently effective at solving interpersonal disputes with my stomach. I don't understand that guy or why he gets so angry all the time over seemingly nothing -- but you always step in and calm him down. You're a real life saver.

Thanks again,

P.S. Please don't tell him I said that he gets angry over practically nothing. It would make him angry.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

Ten years ago today I was getting ready for a doctor's appointment. They were going to pay me for being a medical experiment; also known as a participant in a clinical trial. I was excited about it and had woken up early. Perhaps through this research doctors would find a way to help people like me all around the world.

Just as I was about to hop into the shower my mother called and told me not to bother. She told me to turn on the TV instead. I vividly remember being obstinate about it. To the point where she had to proclaim, "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!" for me to finally obey. In all honesty I figured she was just having a mom-like over reaction to something minor.

Disgruntled by the vague yet insistent phone conversation, I grabbed the remote and flipped on the TV. I recall asking her what channel she wanted me to go to before realizing it didn't matter. The action movie I thought was on TV was real life. I had managed to turn it on right as the second plane struck. My brain couldn't put two and two together fast enough. My confusion exited my body in the form of, "Wait... what?"

I don't even remember sitting down on the sofa, I think it was an automatic natural reaction to what I was witnessing. I didn't move from that spot for hours, though it seemed like seconds. I didn't know what else to do with myself.

Immediately all of the nearby major cities went into lock down. This meant all of my loved ones were stuck at work or school unable to go home. Phone lines became sketchy at best from the sudden traffic overload making it hard for the people stranded at work or school to call their families to let them know they were okay. All of this was followed by a media black hole of shock and awe footage for 48 hours before anything actually relevant was disclosed.

I, like many others, had friends or family in all three affected locations and no way to reach them. It would be hours before cities would finally let people come or go. It would be days before the media would start releasing names. Names of both those who survived as well as those who did not. Until then it was little more than a 24/7 news reel that showed us nothing but the same few clips of planes crashing and the chaos left behind, over and over again. As if we needed the point driven home further.

It took us a matter of days to determine that my aunt, who worked in the Pentagon, was in fact a missing person. Weeks would become months before they had finally retrieved all of the bodies from the rubble. Some miraculously clinging to life, others who had died on impact. My aunt's funeral would be closed-casket. Not because what was inside was simply too unbearable to look upon, but because the casket was empty. Her body had never been found.

People who lost someone that day do not need a day of the year to remember. They remember every day. Every time they notice the empty place setting at the dinner table. Every time they look through the collection of family photos. Every holiday thereafter that that sole person wasn't there for. They're reminded constantly. The hype surrounding this day of the year, particularly as thrown-in-your-face as the media makes it, is disrespectful. We know. Everyone knows. They do not need to remind us. We do not need to see the burning buildings and screaming masses trying to flee to remember.

The media treats it like an excuse to collect ad revenue and more coverage time. Politicians treat it as an excuse to be reelected while simultaneously refusing to render government aid to first-responders from that day. Companies use it as an excuse to sell you 9/11 related trinkets. It is absurd and it is insulting. A national tragedy should never be used as an excuse to make money or push your own agenda. It is a day of remembrance. It should be treated as such.

Fly your flags at half mast. Say a prayer if that's your thing. Write about it sincerely. Observe a moment of silence. Light candles. Visit the graves of those you've lost. But for the love of humanity, do not buy any 9/11 memorabilia, do not tune in to the 24 hour news feeds, and definitely do not cast votes for any politician using the event as a crutch for actual politics -- especially if they voted against helping 9/11 first responders (even if they later changed their mind).

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Hate Septembers

Every year about mid-August I start to experience anxiety over the fact that September is fast approaching. I do my best to stomach the feeling and not let it be known, but it is there, gnawing at me from the inside. You have to understand something to understand this at all: almost every bad thing that I have ever gone through has happened in the month of September. So much so that this time of year, every year, I just start waiting for something devastating to happen to me.

"That's extremely unlikely," you're probably thinking, but it is really not. So where do we begin? How about the first thing I can think of, once I was old enough to know what month it was.

When I was probably about 7 or 8, my mother was diagnosed with Leukemia. School had just started back up again. It was the first few weeks of September. To make matters worse, the man she was married to at the time was such a supreme asshole that while she was in the hospital for treatment, he told us she was going to die. I had no idea what to do with this information. I was 7, my mom was supposed to be with me until I could take care of myself! Luckily she did not die and has been healthy since, but I will never forget that September.

The next thing I can think of was when I had my first boyfriend over summer break. I couldn't have been older than 11 or so and I wanted to be his girlfriend solely because he was a good friend and I wanted to hang out more often. It was never about holding hands or kissing, for me. In that regard boys were still undeniably icky. He however was a troubled child, and he did want those things. Things I was nowhere near ready for.

So when he tried to make me kiss him one too many times, I broke up with him. In September, right before 7th grade started. Under normal 6th grader circumstances, that would mean he goes home now and I go play on my SNES. What actually happened was that he tried to physically attack me and I had to run into my house and lock the doors. Fighting to close them as he tried forcibly to get inside. I did not have the foresight to shut any of the windows however.

Thirty minutes or so passed and while I knew he was still outside, I was safe behind my locked doors. While out there seething in his crazy rage, he turned on the hose and began dousing the insides of our home with water. This ruined several pieces of furniture and destroyed our IBM. I ran around the house desperately closing and locking windows, trying to save what little I could. Afterward I called my mom at work, still panting and frantic. She came home immediately and the boy fled in fear of her wrath.

Her fury was not sated by his departure though, and she called his mother threatening to sue for damages done to our property. This got the boy in all manner of trouble he never saw coming and to get back at me he did something unthinkable. As if being physically attacked and having thousands of dollars worth of damage done to our belongings was not enough, he drown my cat. To get back at me. Anyone who knew me knew that cat (despite a plethora of human friends) was my best friend. This is probably why I didn't date again until I was 17.

Not long after, while I was auditioning for a part in Donny And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, opening in Detroit, my dog died unexpectedly from bone cancer. I had never known life without that dog, she was adopted into our family the year I was born. The sudden lack of her constant presence was crushing. I had no idea how to cope with two tragedies so soon and came to the epiphany that anyone I know and love could be gone at any moment. I spent the next few years expecting everyone I knew to die. Little did I know the situation would actually be opposite. Everyone else would be fine and I would almost die.

Just before 8th grade I would contract a super rare virus while at the zoo that attacks the liver and spleen. While I contracted the virus sometime in late August, I would not actually become violently ill until September. I was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery to remove my spleen but upon arrival the ultrasound revealed that the swollen organ was actually my liver. I spent weeks in the hospital as it attempted to fail and kill me several times. I would not make a full recovery until my 8th grade school year was nearly complete. Thankfully the school was understanding and allowed me to finish the school year and not hold me back. My liver now only functions at 70%.

I had reprieve a few consecutive Septembers after that until in my sophomore year of high school I unwittingly, by being kind to someone, gained a stalker. At first I hung out with him despite his obvious OCD, because he had no one else to hang out with and I felt bad. He wanted more than friendship though and after trying to coerce me into situations I was uncomfortable with I told him we couldn't be friends anymore. He lived a town away and I figured he'd just move on and forget all about me but that isn't what happened and given previous experiences I'm not sure why I thought he would be reasonable.

He began stalking me, hanging around outside of my high school so that he could intercept me before I got on the bus. If I snuck out the back and got a ride with another student he would be waiting on my front porch when I got home. If I managed to get inside before he got there or before he could stop me, he would sit on the porch for hours, pounding on the door yelling about how he knew I was in there. When he was actually at home he would call our house relentlessly. When we wouldn't answer he would leave crazy 30+ minute long answering machine messages. To the point of 9 or 10 per day. When I was at a friend's house, he would take pictures of me through the windows then email them to me to ask if I was having fun at that specific moment.

Freaking bat shit insane.

Eventually we moved and had our number changed and stricken from all public records. The police issued a restraining order, just in case. After receiving a police escort away from our driveway one afternoon, he finally gave up and we could all move on with our lives. I have no idea what became of him, but I'm guessing prison. It was really only a matter of time before he latched on to some other poor girl and who knows how that turned out?

Things settled down for another year until the next September when one of my long-term and very close friends committed suicide. To make it worse, even after not seeing him for a couple of years I was officially addressed in his suicide note. Unbeknown to me, I was not only his best friend, but apparently his only friend. For months afterward his parents would call and drive all the way down to see me, not wanting to let go of what little they felt they had left of their son. While it was helpful to them, it wasn't helpful for me, because every time they showed up it was like tearing off a scab and reopening the wound anew. Eventually my mother had to intervene and ask them not to drop by anymore. While undoubtedly hurt, they at least understood why.

The next year, on September 11th, a plane would crash into the Pentagon and kill my aunt. Her body would never be recovered. In her grave lies an empty casket.

A few days later I would be robbed in my own backyard at knife-point. By a stranger. The only reason the police suspect that I was not stabbed, is because my brother pulled into the driveway and went into the house, scaring the attacker off. My assailant would never be found. No longer feeling safe at home, we'd uproot our lives once again and move.

It was four years ago this Wednesday that I received the news that a friend of mine, a boy I've known for over ten years, was killed in action in Iraq. On his birthday, no less. He had never even gotten to legally buy his own alcohol and he died serving his country.

Now, this isn't a, "look how crappy and tragic my life has been," blog where I get to mope and wallow in self pity. My life, on average, is actually pretty great. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the whole wide world. It's just when it comes to September, I would really rather sleep through if it were possible and I feel obligated to make you understand why. Since it's not possible to hibernate for a month, I just suffer through it on the verge of a panic attack until October. Which may inevitably be why October is my favorite month out of the year -- it puts September behind me and I can relax again.

I've never confessed any of this to anyone and I'm kind of nervous to do so. As if letting it out will somehow cause a bad event to take place... but at the same time letting it out is also kind of a relief. Like I can just be anxious now whether you know it or not, I don't have to hide from it.