Thursday, August 13, 2015

shingles vaccine from hell!!

I am strongly pro-vaccine.  It's delightful that children aren't stuck in iron lungs nowadays.  I remember having the mumps and am glad my kids didn't have to suffer that way.  My grandmother died of cervical cancer, and I'm happy my daughters can get a vaccine that will dramatically decrease their chances of getting that cancer.  Etc.., etc.. But now I have met the shingles vaccine, and it has kicked my ass.

The other day I had a physical, with a new-to-me doctor.  The main takeaway was that your DH is officially an old.  I turned fifty, and I have arthritis in my knees.  It is time for me to get a colonoscopy.  And I was subjected to a shingles vaccine.

I was happy to get the shingles vaccine, as one of  my colleagues at my volunteer job had a debilitating case of the shingles and was ill for a month.  She went through hell, and that was fresh in my mind.

But the morning after the shingles vaccine, I woke up with my arm swollen, discolored, and itchy.  It was very dramatic looking, a huge, dark red circle protruding from my arm.  I went ahead and left for my volunteer shift, working in a wildlife rehab clinic.  About an hour into my shift I began to feel lightheaded and faint.  I took a break and went to the break room, where I hydrated myself and ate a bunch of peanut brittle on the excuse that raising my blood sugar might help.  Once my blood was surely fizzing with sugar, I went back to work.  I felt like I was going to faint.  My colleagues said I was flushed.  I went and sat outside in the shade, and before I knew it, an hour had passed by.  I went back inside.  Although everyone urged me to go home, I didn't want to make Iris uber Alles leave early, as it was her last weekday volunteer shift before school started.  Eventually we left, and I drove cautiously.

At home I took to my bed.  My arm worsened.  I began feeling violent stabbing pains, and flu symptoms were starting.  Dr. Google was inconclusive.  It seemed like I was having a worse reaction than normal, but since my breathing was okay, it seemed safe.  But I was miserable.  If I stood up, I felt dizzy and faint, so I avoided that.  I emailed my doctor.  I whined.

The next day I woke up with a pounding headache, but the pain had subsided in my arm.  It was still swollen, sore, and discolored, but it mainly only hurt if it were touched.  My doctor wrote back saying that the dizziness was enough of a concern that I should have gone to the E.R.

My love for vaccines has been tested.  I love all but this one.  The sad part is that this vaccine is only good for five years, so it isn't going to be that long before the time to get it again rolls around.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

hangin' on the telephone

Recently I was stuck in hellish traffic.  The Drunken Housewife of the past had determined that it would be delightful to go to an outdoor play in the East Bay on a Friday evening, requiring that the present day Drunken Housewife drive with the children, a heavy picnic basket, and lots of blankets through Friday night rush hour traffic across San Francisco and over the Bay Bridge and through Berkeley and  through the chokepoint of the Caldecott Tunnel.  Taking mass transit was not feasible, as it would have meant walking down the hill to the MUNI subway, taking the subway to a transfer point to BART, taking a long BART ride, and then waiting for a shuttle bus.  All of that would have been fine if not for the heavy picnic basket and all the blankets and the fact that you can never get a seat on BART during rush hour.

The driving was stressful.  After some shameful swearing at some nearby cars and an unforgivable snapping at poor Iris, I determined to relax and unwind.  I asked the children to tell me stories to amuse and distract me.  Iris made up a long one about a heroic little bat with opposable thumbs.  Lola's story was more abstract and abandoned.  We turned to discussing Lola's big new transition:  the time has come for Lola to carry a cellphone.  "You can call me," I said.  "I think we should take up prank phone calls.  I'm going to call you a lot."  It then occurred to me that I had never placed a prank phone call to the dignified Iris.  And Iris never calls me, unless it's to ask to be picked up somewhere.  "Hey!  Why don't you ever call me?  Just to talk.  To tell me that I'm your hero."

"Momdude, that is really weird," Iris observed critically.

"No one has ever called me to tell me that I am their hero," I mused.  "Pretty much people only call me if I missed an appointment or if I am supposed to pay them.  That's why I hate the telephone; it's never pleasant.  Hey!  I am going to call you, Lola, when you have a phone.  And I'll sing."  At this point, I sang:  "Did I ever tell you you're my heeeeero, you're the wind beneath my wings."

After this we all dissolved into laughter for some time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

caring for our friends, with the Sober Husband

I hand the Sober Husband a magazine open to an article I recommend he read.  "Hey!  That magazine.  That's X's magazine."  It turns out this magazine I brought home was, unbeknownst to me, launched by a former colleague of the Sober Husband.

"Isn't X the one who had cancer? How is he doing?"

"Cancer?  He didn't have cancer."

"Who had cancer then?  I thought it was him.  Doesn't he have kids and he had a cancer blog?"

The Sober Husband demurred strongly, suggesting I was confused over one of his childhood friends.  I persevered.

"One of those guys from Doggyo had cancer.  Which one was it?  One of your friends.  I remember reading his cancer blog."

"One of my friends has cancer?  Now I want to know who it is.  I feel bad."

"Why do you feel bad when you didn't even remember?"

"Because someone I like has cancer."

"But you didn't even remember!"

Eventually we recalled that another colleague from the same former employer, with a very similar name, was the one who had cancer.

"He had a bone marrow transplant and everything," recalled the Sober Husband, forced to relive the whole ordeal and feel bad once more.  "But he recovered."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I dreamed a dream

I had a terrifying dream about a stalker who broke into our home while we were sleeping.  In the dream, I'd wake to find a hammer left near me, to let me know that the stalker had been there and could have killed me.  In my dream, I was freaking out but the Sober Husband was calm.  "How do you know he wants to hurt us?" my dream-husband asked.

In real life I told the dream to Lola (who was at the time wanting to hear my dreams, as she'd been writing an article about dreams and could never remember any of her own).  Lola opined that the Sober Husband would in real life react the same way he did in the dream.  So I told him about my dream.

"I think that person was being nice, leaving us hammers," he said.  "Like a gift.  Hammers are useful."

"How many hammers can you use? And it was scary," I said defensively.

"I could use a lot of hammers.  Some might be special, too."

"You don't think it's creepy?  Hammers are weapons!"

"I like hammers."

Monday, March 16, 2015


Last night freshman Iris uber Alles vented about an assignment in her world history class.  One part of the assignment was to "write about a small group of people who have changed things."  Although the assignment didn't specify that this needed to fall into the World War II era, Iris's class is studying WWII at the moment.  Immediately I had an idea:  the women of the Rosenstrasse protests.

Years ago I learned about these women.  Although most Jews in Germany were rounded up and sent to camps, Jews who were married to Aryans were exempt.  They were subject to a myriad of horrible restrictions (couldn't work, couldn't have a pet, must have their homes inspected, had to wear the yellow star, etc..), but they weren't sent off to Auschwitz or Treblinka.  However, at one point, high level Nazis decided that they were going to give Hitler a special birthday present:  making Berlin truly Juden-frei.  The Jewish spouses were rounded up.  To that point Germans had tended to look the other way, if not to celebrate and join in on Jew-killing, but these German wives were different.  They made signs saying things like "Give Us Back Our Husbands" and protested publicly on Rosenstrasse, where most of the Jewish spouses were being kept (some were sent to Auschwitz).  Shockingly the Nazis folded and freed these particular Jews, even releasing the ones who were in Auschwitz.  I thought these women were a good example of how a few people could make a difference.  Iris listened and made a few notes.

The Sober Husband was not ready to let me glean the glory of giving the winning suggestion.  "I know a few people who made a difference, " he said.  "What about the Nazis?  Himmler?"

I gave him the evil eye.  He continued in that vein.  "Hitler was just one guy, and he made a difference"

"I am sure," I observed loftily, "that the assignment wants positive examples."

"How can you be so sure?"  The Sober Husband smirked and continued to catalogue the powerful achievements of the Nazis.

"You're so negative!  I had an uplifting and thoughtful example.  You're picking something awful!"  Then I changed gears.  "What about Charles Manson, huh?  He had a small group of followers, and they had a giant impact."

He started to answer, but I plowed on.  "What about the Son of Sam?  He was just one guy, and he had the whole city of New York in fear!"

Our squabbling continued until I loftily accused him of jealousy over my excellent suggestion.  "I have told so many Jews about the Rosenstrasse protests, too.  No one knows about it, and it's fascinating.  You just want to be the most loved parent and not let Iris pick my idea!"

Defeatedly the Sober Husband instructed Iris, "Love Mommy the most. Do Mommy's idea."

Iris uber Alles had dropped out of this conversation early on and declined to make a ruling.  "Anyone want to watch 'House of Cards'?" she asked diplomatically.

Friday, January 23, 2015

things I hate that everyone loves

Paris.  It smells bad, and everything costs too much.  The most overrated city in the world.

This one Indian restaurant in my neighborhood everyone adores.   It's the only Indian restaurant I've ever run across which has next to no vegetarian options.  And weirdly it serves virtually everything in wraps. Now I have been to southern India and know what a dosa is, so I know that a "wrap" is a version of an authentic Indian dish, and if it were a dosa, I'd be fine.  But meat in a wrap?  And that's Indian food?  Get off my lawn!  Which brings us to..

Wraps.  To begin with, the word is so unappetizing.  "Wraps."  It looks and sounds like the antithesis of good food.  And it seems to stress that what is inside the food doesn't matter.  All that matters is that it's wrapped up, because you are too much of a slob to get your lunch in your facehole without it being hermetically sealed.  Also, I like to be able to see what I am eating.

Amazon.  It killed off so many independent bookstores.  It tried to go after beloved publisher Hachette by not selling Hachette's most prominent authors.  It didn't give a fuck that it was preventing authors from making sales by barring those authors from its site, when they were just innocent third parties.  And it treats its employees like slaves.  Warehouse employees faint during the summer.  They are kept under fear of firing.  Their bathroom breaks are severely limited.  I could go on and on.  In summary:  it's an evil, evil company.

The Sober Husband has been recruited by Amazon many, many times, including for really interesting and fun jobs (most notably working on their delivery-by-drones program).  We've had some conflict over this.  "I'd rather you work for online porn.  Or spam," I have said.

The mountains.  I don't want to go skiing; that's much too cold.  I'd rather be by the sea or off in a nice, toasty warm desert.  It puts a strain on my poor car to heave us up some giant peak, only to have to turn around and come back down to a more sensible level.

Tomatoes.  Why are they in everything?  Why is it assumed that vegetarians live off tomatoes?  I tried some online eating program where they give you recipes and shopping lists so you can eat healthy but fabulous diet foods, and every single last meal was crammed with tomatoes.  Tomato salad, tomato flatbreads, stuffed tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, grilled tomatoes, pureed tomatoes.  One of my favorite cookbooks, a seasonal menus book by my beloved Melissa Clark, is unusable all summer because every single fucking thing revolves around tomatoes.  Last year at Burning Man someone decided that, as a kindness, they'd make dinner for those of us working on building our theme camp, and the vegetarian option was spaghetti in tomato sauce with chopped up tomatoes all over it.  And then the only topic of conversation amongst everyone during the whole meal was how weird it is that the Drunken Housewife doesn't eat tomatoes, did you ever hear of anyone who didn't like tomatoes, why doesn't she like tomatoes?, surely she would like the tomatoes if she only ate them, everyone loves tomatoes, tomatoes are the best thing in the world, it must suck to be her, god, what a picky eater. And then the next day everyone wondered what the hell was up when I snapped and said, "I don't want to hear ANOTHER WORD about how I don't like tomatoes.  Seriously." In summary, tomatoes are loathsome, oozing their nasty little seeds everywhere.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

more than anything in the world

I love camping in the desert, and the children frankly think that is one of the more inexplicable and idiotic things about their mother.  Today in the car Lola asked me again to explain why I like being in the desert.  I struggled to describe the desolate majesty, the weird beauty, and among other things, I said that because there aren't trees, you can see farther.

That right there to Lola was the matter in a nutshell.  "As you know, I love trees."  She grew pensive.  "I love trees more than anything in the world, except a bunch of things."