Monday, April 30, 2012

April's Showers - Golden This Year?

I'm not going to pull any punches. I feel pissed on.

April started off sweetly enough: Shabuchwae visited, we celebrated Westley's mom's birthday in style at Seasons 52 with all the NJ and MD crew, I went shopping with CoachFiend and Mischief and got to check out the new Lush at the Cherry Hill Mall (awesome store in my favorite mall - both will feature prominently in future posts), and enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday complete with an egg hunt, excellent Spring weather, and grilled lamb.

But just like the girlfriend you bring home a little too soon, then can't seem to escape, April turned into a psychotic little bitch on me. Now some of this, like my grief at the anniversary of a cousin's sudden death, was anticipated. I knew the 24th was going to be difficult for me, but that I just had to take it as it came. I do not blame April for that. I am not an unreasonable person and I don't blame my exes for tragedies they didn't perpetuate, just because they were there.

But some of it has been bizarre, freak-show kind of luck. In just the last week, I've said "That's it! That has to be the last thing!" more times than I can count. My bank account, credit cards, patience, and fortitude are all stretched to the absolute limit. If that doesn't sound like a bad break-up, I don't know what does.

I've been trying to breathe deeply, to work through it, to keep calm and carry on. I haven't wanted to write. When I started DMluvsPrufrock, I wanted it to be about all the things I celebrate in my life. I lead a somewhat unconventional one and I often feel that my choices are judged by others with more conservative values. So I wanted my blog to be about all of those choices and how they have made me happy, how they can make others happy, and why no one should feel uncomfortable about wandering down 'the road not taken'.

But this weekend, when I was attending yet another fun family event (I had three in 8 days) and still really couldn't pull myself out of my funk (the alcohol helped me to act convincingly joyful, but the effects were fleeting), I realized that any good blog should be an honest reflection of it's subject. And this subject has been bitchslapped by the universe quite a bit lately. It might be time to slap back with a little catharsis.

So without further ado...

DMluvsPrufrock's Calendar of Crap, April, 2012

Despite having requested the day off from my corporate job, my manager (ToriNot) has forgotten that I am not at work, has brought a vendor to my building to meet me, and has apparently started smoking from the ears when she 'discovers' I am not there. No multitude of emails can convince her that she approved the day off and I receive notice from HR that I will have to submit proof of the approval immediately or I will be placed on probation for job abandonment. (Really? I was there Friday...) Thankfully, HR accepts an email to me saying "Sure! Have a great holiday and we'll see you on Tuesday," as unequivocal proof that the woman is a basketcase. Unfortunately, the whole situation takes almost eight hours of phone calls and emails that tether me to my work-issued Blackberry and by noon I wish I had just gone in, because I've spent the whole day dealing with ToriNot anyway and now I've burned a personal day to do it.

Sadly, more work issues. ToriNot is still fuming about having lost our last battle and now I've got a target on my back. When our landlord's plumber insists that a pipe must be repaired immediately and states that his earliest availability is the following day at 9 AM, I agree to it. After communications are sent, ToriNot flips out and demands that the work be put off so as not to inconvenience the building, publicly reprimands me for scheduling work without her approval (which is my job, by the way), then calls my desk line just to let off a string of insults that reduces me to tears within minutes. Thank God tomorrow is Friday... the 13th!

4/13/2012, 7:45 PM
Mischief, Westley, and I are sitting in a dark movie theatre, watching previews. I am eagerly anticipating the film, The Hunger Games, which has been the light at the end of my tunnel through a very difficult week at work. Suddenly, Westley is not okay. He is flushed and feels like he is going to pass out. Then his heart starts racing. Then his arm goes numb. Within moments, we are in Mischief's car, racing to the nearest emergency room...

4/13/2012, 8:15 PM
After discovering that the nearest emergency room is now closed and redirecting to the next-nearest emergency room, Westley is finally checked in and a team of orderlies is sticking on EKG leads, monitoring his heart rate, his blood pressure. Westley never felt better the whole time we drove and didn't want to talk to me. He's German that way, but I'm still not used to it, even after 5 years. Now, he's embarrassed, feeling vulnerable, and I just want to hold him, but he's covered in these weird monitors. We're all trying to make jokes and Westley tells the orderlies "I can't believe I'm having a heart attack after losing 80 lbs," when they say, "We'll set you at ease. You are not having a heart attack." I sob - once, but fiercely - in relief.

4/14/2012, 1:48 AM
Two rounds of bloodwork and five hours of monitoring later, Westley is released from the ER with a clean bill of health, a stern warning to watch his caffeine intake (turned out he had had like 12 servings that day), and strict instructions to see a family doctor and get a stress test.

4/14/2012, 1:49 AM
It really, truly, hits me that Westley is uninsured and that I have no idea how much the emergency room bill is going to set us back. I know that another uninsured friend recently racked up $6000 in emergency room bills for a similar situation. I am suddenly, vehemently furious with the politicians and pharmaceutical lobbies of the United States, who have successfully created the only nation in the 1st world that does not provide state-funded medical care to its citizens...

4/14/2012, 1:50 AM
...Then, it hits me that I couldn't care less. Westley is okay. That's all that matters. After all, any problem that money would solve isn't really much of a problem, right?

4/15/2012 - All three of us venture back to see The Hunger Games. It's disappointing. That sucks, because I really wanted to be wowed and moved like I was by the book. Westley and Mischief, who haven't read them, have a lot of questions that I feel should have been addressed within the film. Whatever, this is a stupid thing and I chalk it up to too much expectation. Still, it would have been nice to have really enjoyed something. Especially something we paid for twice.

4/16/2012 - A 17-year-old in a huge Jeep with (as we would soon discover) an expired insurance card rearends us in the beautiful Hyundai we've had for less than four months, completely crushing in the trunk. Her first words are, "Oh, God, I'm so sorry... Listen, I'm late for work. Can I just give you my dad's phone number?" Westley and I were having none of that. Sorry, sweetie. I know it was very scary, but there was no way we were leaving without a police report and a check pending from your insurance. I hope you learned a valuable lesson about looking forward before you hit the gas. And all in all, you were very lucky we were all injury-free.

4/18/2012 - More work drama - this time, the back door won't stay closed. Millions of dollars worth of equipment, not to mention proprietary information, are allegedly 'secured' in this office location, but the doors can't lock if they won't close! I spend my entire day on the phone with the landlord, the maintenance man, ToriNot (God help me - her best idea was to chain it closed. It's a fire exit, for Christ's sake!), the technical security vendor, and the landlord's HVAC guys. We finally get the air pressure equalized, which allows for the doors to finally secure, and as I head home an hour late, I check in with ToriNot only to hear her say, "I'm glad it's fixed. I need to take you on the road tomorrow for job shadowing. I'll pick you up at 8:30!" And then she said, and I swear I'm not kidding, "It'll be fun!"

4/19/2012 - ToriNot is acting more like Glinda today. It doesn't really throw me. What is annoying is that all of the meetings she was so eager to have me sit in on are cancelled. And I have to visit three facilities, which means spending half the day in my least favorite place - the passenger seat of ToriNot's car.

4/20/2012 - Although I enjoyed seeing a friend in Forum and having a drink at The Pour House afterwards, it truly is the little things that break you. On this particular Friday night, I am sobbing irrationally, late at night, unable to calm down long enough to have a drink of water or to listen to Westley's attempts to calm me. And although it was really because of the difficulties at work and concerns over Westley's health what finally sets me off is a fairly inoccuous letter - a notice from our apartment management letting us know that rent is going up. I cry so hard and so long that I fall asleep in my clothes, curled into the fetal position.

4/21/2012, 5 AM - My back is sore, my head is throbbing, my neck is kinked, and I'm awake from sheer discomfort.

4/21- 4/22/2012 - A couple of naproxen and a gallon of water fix me up and I'm thrilled that I finally have things to look forward to - an afternoon with Mom, a Bridal Shower for Funnyman's fiancee (still no nickname, sorry), an overnight stay with LittleT and her gang, and a birthday celebration for her little man. Everything was lovely. I thought my luck might be turning. Someone snapped my picture with Westley at the end of Sunday's Elmo-fest and when I saw it I realized that the picture showed my real smile. What a relief, I thought. I was feeling happy.

4/23/2012 - For weeks (since Shabuchwae's visit, actually) I've been expecting some Mario Badescu skin-care samples. I've also been expecting a dress that I ordered to wear to 5 weddings and an awards dinner, the first of which is scheduled for Saturday, the 28th. In two emails back-to-back, I learn that I will not be receiving my samples because someone else with my address had previously received some, and that my dress will not arrive until the 30th at the earliest. The skin care makes me sad, the dress panics me. And once again, I wonder why nothing seems to want to go right.

4/24/2012 - This date marks the anniversary of the death of my cousin, Cristin. She was a hard-working girl who had been trying for years to save a failing marraige and to raise her beautiful little girl, Sophia. I didn't know her as well as I should have. None of us expected to lose her already, a young woman who had not yet reached 30. Nobody was prepared to learn, on Easter Sunday, 2011, that our Cristin had been found unconscious, facedown in her bedroom in the Browns Mills home her family shared with her mother-in-law. My aunt and uncle and Cristin's two sisters remain beside themselves, unable to let go of a nagging feeling that this shouldn't have happened. And I agree. But none of us know where or how to channel the anger.

4/25/2012 - Westley drops his iPhone in the (clean, thank God) toilet. He rescued it right away and plunged it into a baggie full of raw rice. As far as we can tell, the whole rice thing is a horrible myth. At least, it didn't work for us...

4/26/2012 - At work, I am once again wrangled into babysitting during Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day. It's annoying. I don't see many men volunteering and none of them are volunteered by their managers. Of course, they don't work for ToriNot. The children touch me and they are sticky. I am out of hand sanitizer and there is blueberry yogurt on my slacks.

4/27/2012 - Westley and I buy a load of alcohol. I get drunk and we watch Horrible Bosses on tv. We're having a great time, putting everything out of our minds and laughing our butts off, when out of nowhere he starts having the pains again. At this point, Westley's been through the ER and to see a family doctor. Both have told him he was okay, that he should watch his salt and caffeine, and get a stress test. His family doctor also recognizes that he's having some gastrointestinal problems, and that those could be contributing to what he's feeling. (Also, that the numb arm could be from the colony of knots in his back muscles pinching a nerve or two. The boy is in desparate need of a good Swedish massage.) Yet despite that reassurance, the pains are incredibly scary. We spend the next few hours walking in circles, deep breathing, stretching to try to relieve any muscular issues, massaging his arm and taking his pulse. He seems fine, but he feels awful and can't seem to tell me how. I want to call 911, but he won't let me. He just wants me to stay there with him, walk with him, take his pulse, and I'm trying to stay calm but I just want to scream that if there's a chance he's going to die, I can't just walk in circles with him and watch it happen! How can he possibly expect me to do that? I love him and I'm not just going to let him slip from me because we were too scared or embarrased or whatever to call an ambulance. And I'm finally about to ignore his protests and call emergency when... something happens. And I look at Westley and my mouth drops open and we both start laughing and then... it happens again. And then it happens from... somewhere else. And we're laughing and his discomfort is fading and the tightness in his chest is releasing and the 'something' just keeps happening and I have to chase him around with a spray bottle of air freshener now, but he's okay! He's okay! He's okay!!!!! (Epilogue: I still can't shake the fear. My sleep has become increasingly restless, as I pop awake several times a night to stare at Westley and make sure he is still breathing.)

4/30/2012 - And today, the last day of April, we finally received the medical bills from the 13th. It's almost $6000. Also known as half a year's rent. Also known as far more than we have in savings.

And so ends the month of April. I know we're going to be just fine. We'll get a payment plan for the medical bills, my dress will probably show up in time for the next event, and Westley and I are taking steps to get him some affordable preventative medical care. The insurance check will eventually arrive to pay for the damage to our car, and it will be like it never happened. The iPhone will be replaced (it was a 3GS - they're pretty cheap now). The rent isn't going up by much, so we get to stay in this home that we love. And although my day job is always going to stink, it does afford me some rather impressive benefits and perks that make my private life much, much better.

So farewell, April. I'm thrilled to see you go. May you grow up over the next eleven months of solitude and learn to stop being such an enormously petty and hurtful bitch. Maybe someday, we could be friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The American Catholic

Easter is probably my favorite holiday. Definately my favorite Catholic holiday. A season of sacrifice and hope, new beginnings, and forgiveness, I've always felt that if you understand Easter, you understand Catholicism.

Before anybody gets the wrong idea, no, I'm not an extremely religious person. I was raised in the Catholic church and I enjoy the history, mystery, and ritual of that institution. I am a person of faith - I believe in a genderless Creator, the miracles of Jesus Christ, and that reading the Bible can create as much confusion and conflict as it does comfort and enlightenment. I do not believe in Papal infallibility, that premarital or homosexual love is sinful, that the sole responsibility of a Catholic is to make more Catholics, or that traumatized women should be forced to carry unwanted children to term.

Despite these and other rather stunning philosophical disputes, I do consider myself a Catholic. I do pray the Hail Mary and believe in about 80% of the Nicene Creed. (I'm not really looking for the resurrection of the dead, for example. Zombies are more Westley's thing.) And the truth is, I know many more Catholics who openly embrace gay marraige, birth control, and the consumption of beef on Good Friday than those who oppose these practices.

All I can really say to explain this seeming paradox is that I am, and most of the other people (and therefore Catholics) that I know are, American. America is a pluralist society. For the most part, we believe in a prismatic nature of truth. Just as the angle of the light as it hits the prism will alter the shape and strength of the rainbow, so the experiences and influences of a person's life will effect the way each of us sees the world. This doesn't stop some of us from being obnoxiously stubborn, but it does protect our right to disagree with the status quo and think through to our own conclusions. In the end, it's really the Golden Rule that most of us try to follow - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Disagree with respect. Don't attempt to legislate morality. Recognize that faith is beautiful, but fanaticism is hideous. And so on...

In any case, I had a lovely Easter this year. Westley's family had us over for brunch and an egg hunt with the kids, then we joined my family for a delicious lamb roast and shared a film together. It was a busy, beautiful day, full of sunshine and love. And as I broke bread with not one but two diverse groups of Catholics, all of whom have shared intense disagreements and debates with one another over the years, I realized that this was a true Easter - a celebration of our miraculous, unconditional love for one another, and our resurrected faith in family.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have a friend named Shabuchwae. I didn't have to come up with that nickname because he's had it for as long as I've known him. He also goes by Uncle Toilet - that's what all the friends' kids call him.

Shabuchwae lives in NYC and has been peddling his gorgeous voice and intimidating acting talent throughout the City for some time. Aside from breaks for touring, an extended stay at the Freedom Farm, and cruise ship performances, he's lived there pretty much since he graduated from college, just a year or two after me. Despite the fact that it's only a two-hour bus ride into Manhattan, I just don't get up there very much, and when Uncle Toilet visits the kids, I can usually only scrape him away for an hour at best.

You can imagine my excitement when I got a call that said I could have him all to myself for an overnight visit last Friday!! It was his first time seeing our apartment, having me cook a full meal for him, and showing him around downtown Collingswood. Even the trickle of rain that persisted through Saturday couldn't bring my spirits down or stop us from our tour.

So after a bit of confusion (read as: The Bolt Bus driver didn't announce the stop at the Cherry Hill Mall and Shabuchwae ended up in Center City Philadelphia...), we finally got our guest back to the apartment around seven-thirty.

A super-quick tour (it's only a two-bedroom apartment, after all) was followed by a home-cooked meal of seared salmon, sauteed spinach, roasted vegetable melange, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I didn't get a picture of that. We ate too fast. :)

Sexynurse, Cellophane, and Shabuchwae
Then a couple of our friends, Sexynurse and Cellophane, dropped in for dessert. I knew I wouldn't have time to bake, which was actually a blessing because it gave me an excuse to drop by My Little Kupkake on my way home from work. When I brought out the plate, Shabuchwae dove for it, which I was infinitely pleased to capture on camera. The cupcakes were huge, so I cut each one into six pieces and let the sampling begin. There were four varieties - Canoli, Coconut, Coffee Cake, and Smores - and each one was a hit! The sugar kept us up way past my bedtime and when I finally crashed, I enjoyed a fully restful, dreamless sleep.

On Saturday morning, Shabuchwae and I got a few hours to catch up while Westley drove his sister, Mischief, to pick up her car from the shop. I showed off my Ulta Beauty Smoothies collection (he chose to shower with Cocoa Velvet Truffle - yum!) and my new blog and he hooked me up with some awesome insights and a bunch of free Mario Badescu samples!

Chilaquiles at The Tortilla Press!
Then all four of us - Westley, Mischief, Shabuchwae, and myself - met up at The Tortilla Press for a wicked meal consisting of pulled pork with chipotle peanut barbecue sauce, blue corn pancakes, breakfast burritos, and my personal favorite, chilaquiles!

After that, we walked up the strip despite the drizzle with the intention of working off some extra calories. Unfortunately, there are too many good places to eat on the strip and we ended up walking into The Candy Jar where, unbeknowst to us, we were fed full-sized samples until we were ready to burst! Thinking there was no way we were going to eat another bite or spend any more money, we dropped in on Gourmet Popcorn Creations, where we promptly did both.

With our stomachs threatening to rupture, we saw Shabuchwae off at the PATCO as he made his way to Philly for another whirlwind visit before returning to NYC on Sunday.

So glad we got to have you, Shabuchwae! Hope your return trip was less 'adventurous' than the journey down. I love you and can't wait to see you again soon. :)