Bright Lights, Big Cacti

Arizona through the Eyes of a Native

Month: September, 2012

Mom, My English Degree, and Me

When I was fifteen, I decided that I was done with high school. I had good reasons to feel that way:

  • I was ridiculously tall for a girl.
  • I had a vindictive ex-boyfriend who mooed every time I walked by.
  • I was bored out of my mind in most of my classes.

If it hadn’t been for a sweet girl (whose name I can’t remember for life of me) handing me a brochure for Cottey College, I would have dropped out and gotten my GED. Instead, I made early admittance to that small women’s college in Missouri my goal. I spent my Junior year working my butt off to get letters of recommendation from my teachers and straight As in my classes. And, by some miracle, the stars aligned and my mom and dad allowed me to go.

Cottey, a two-year program at the time, had only 350 students. At just 16, I lived in a dorm with a hundred other young women and learned how to be relatively self-sufficient. I tried out for and earned parts in every play during my two years there. I discovered that I wasn’t really a “roommate” kind of a girl (I did try sharing apartments with others later on – mostly with disastrous results).

When I came back to Arizona, I decided to major in English at ASU. I spent two years mostly avoiding classes (though I somehow managed to earn all but twelve credits toward my Bachelors). Bored with English studies, I switched to Sociology. One year later, at the ripe old age of 21, I dropped out and found a “real job.”

I always intended to go back – someday. Nevertheless, as the next decade slipped past, I never seemed to find the time or have the inclination. My mother, in a misguided attempt to encourage me, would joke that she would extract a deathbed promise from me that I would finish college. Obstinate child that I am, I would simply ignore her pleas.

I know Mom spent most of the 1990s and the 2000s frustrated by my lack of ambition; she was certain that I was wasting my gift. Patience has never been her strongest virtue.

After I married Dan in 2005, the idea of actually finishing my English degree began to gain importance. Finally, in the summer of 2006, Dan and I decided that I should take the fall semester and finish college. I enrolled in the four classes I needed and proceeded to diligently work toward my goal, eventually earning three A-pluses and an A.

When it became clear that I was going to graduate, I asked my mom if it mattered to her whether I walked in the ceremony or not. I would have been just as happy not to, but she felt strongly that she needed to see me cross the stage and get my degree. I acquiesced.

The weekend before my graduation, Mom was painting one of the room in her house. She stepped backward to admire her work, caught her heel on an iron turtle doorstop, and landed hard on her side, breaking her hip. The day of my graduation, she was lying in a hospital bed. Somehow, it just didn’t seem fair.

However, those four classes gave me more confidence in my writing skills than I had ever had before. Even though I had worked as an editor in the years prior to finishing college, I hadn’t really considered myself a real “Editor.” Even though I had written stories, I hadn’t believed I was a writer. It’s amazing how much a single slip of paper can change your outlook. Mom was right – I needed to finish college.

Last Tuesday, my mom told me she was proud of me. She has been reading this blog and, of course, she has read my books. I just want to thank her for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. She and I may not always see things exactly the same way, but she always saw my potential. And that’s what makes her a great mom.

An illustration of Cottey College in Nevada, M...

An illustration of Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri: Rosemary Hall and Main Hall. I actually performed in Rosemary Hall — it was torn down during my years there. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Choosing a Sister

There are times when I wish I had brothers and sisters – times like this weekend, when one of my sisters-in-law was visiting and four of the five Bennett kids sat around the table together. They share a lifetime of memories and a common past. Nothing in my life can duplicate that, and I sometimes find myself feeling a little envious.

The closest I can come to that experience is my best childhood friend, whom I will call Ella for the purposes of this blog. We met in the first grade at Peoria Elementary. More accurately, we probably first met on the bus that took us to school, since it turned out that she lived just a few streets away. Ella didn’t care that I was taller than everyone else. She never minded that I was bossy and bookwormish. We became fast friends, and, even after a bout with pneumonia caused her to be held back a grade the next year, we were still happiest when we were together.

That’s not to say that we haven’t had our fights. Once she told me that her mother was paying her to babysit me – we didn’t talk for months. Another time, we had a tiff right before one of my family’s annual vacations (on which Ella was almost always invited), and she was sent home instead while I spent the next two weeks angry and alone with my parents. And, finally, living together as adults came close to wrecking our friendship as well. But you don’t walk away from someone with whom you share nearly a lifetime of memories – at least, you don’t do it without more provocation than either of us has ever given the other.

Over the course of thirty-five years, our lives have diverged. She lives far away, in the northwest corner of our country. She has been married to the same man for twenty years and has two lovely children. I have stayed in the desert of our childhood and live a completely different sort of a life. Yet she is the first person I call when anything – good or bad – happens. When my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago, I stepped outside the hospital and called her. When I finished my first book, I called her. When her father got sick recently, she called me. And when she found out I was in the hospital last spring, she nearly flew to Phoenix – just in case I was really dying.

And every time I talk to or spend time with her, it feels like no time has passed at all. Ella is one of my best friends and the woman I choose as my sister, which is, in some ways, a stronger bond than being borne of the same womb.

ambro_022 :: two little girls holding hands

Not us — but could have been! (Photo credit: cosmorochester collects)

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Diapers are Optional

I am childless.

While I know that people who say “it” could still happen for my husband and me are just trying to be nice, the truth is that it won’t. There are several reasons why parenthood is out of the cards for us. Here are a few of them:

  1. My husband will be 49 in a few months and has no interest in paying for college tuition when he should be retiring.
  2. As a diabetic, I know pregnancy would be a life-endangering folly for me.
  3. My husband already has a child – me.

There are other reasons, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about what people shouldn’t (and should) say to non-parents.

  1. Please don’t assume that just because a couple is childless they spend their days pining for children. I almost never think about having babies; when I do, I remember that I would make a terrible mother, because I am a writer. Writers are, by nature, neglectful of human relationships. The fact that Dan stays with me is a miracle – one that I thank God for every day.
  2. Please don’t suggest fertility doctors unless you know the couple is looking for a good one. Fertility treatments are costly and, more often than not, unsuccessful. While you may value your natural-born son or daughter above all worldly wealth, it’s hard for many non-parents to imagine risking their future security on the possibility of a child.
  3. Please don’t say, “You’re young. It could still happen.” First of all, people are ridiculously bad judges of age. I had an eighty-year-old man mistake me for a twenty-something this week – I’m forty. The woman you are speaking to could be in menopause, for all you know. Or she could have had some kind of catastrophic reproductive-system failure that has rendered her unable to bear children. You just don’t know. I get this comment on a regular basis. Nine times out of ten, my response is “God, I hope not.” The tenth time, I’m probably going to burst into tears. You don’t want to see that – I’m an ugly crier.
  4. Don’t be offended if the childless women in your life don’t want to come to your or your daughter’s baby shower. Not all of us are happy about our lack of children, and we can’t help but be a little jealous of pregnant women. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about you or that we won’t coo over your newborn. But baby showers can be hard for us – especially since so many of the other attendees are likely to say, “You’re young. It could still happen.”
  5. We know you love your children and want to brag about them endlessly. And we’re sure the little darlings are amazing – all children are, really. However, those of us without children would love to talk about something – anything – else, at least half of the time. Especially if most of your stories about your child center on the gas-versus-smiling issue or your baby’s bowel movements. Please, wait until he or she is actually doing something amazing or adorable before bragging. Here’s a tip: I don’t start talking about my dogs (my surrogate children) until I’ve exhausted all of my other topics. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk about your kids until you were similarly at a loss for conversation.
  6. Don’t try to pressure us into adopting a child. Yes, we know that there are children waiting for parents. Yes, we know that adoption is a wonderful, generous, amazing experience. Asking a childless couple if they have considered adoption is a little like asking a vegetarian if they have considered meat – of course they have. There are three possible answers here:
    * The couple doesn’t want children.
    * The couple doesn’t want children enough to go through the adoption process.
    * They are on a waiting list.
    Unless you know the couple in question really well, none of these answers are any of your business.

If you are a parent, thank you for reading all the way to the end. I hope you won’t be offended by my frank words. I know I do my best not to be offended by the often probing questions I am asked about my childless status.

My husband and I are happy, thank you for asking. We have traveled extensively – something we would not have been able to do if we had children. I am currently working on my tenth novel – motherhood would have either slowed or stopped my writing. When we are old, we will lavish love on our niece and nephew’s children or the grandchildren of our friends. And we will still be happy together, because he is my best friend and I am his.

English: diaper pile

English: diaper pile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Perfect Gift

I was not the little girl my mother expected.

In her fantasies of raising a daughter, she anticipated a little girl who loved dressing up and playing with dolls. Instead, she got me. Personally, I think God was messing with her.

In any case, my mom still sought to give me all the things she wished she had when she was young. She sewed dozens of dresses for me – many with matching bloomers. She bought me dolls. And, one year, she bought me a playhouse.

It’s important to remember that I was not a normal-sized child. When I was two, my pediatrician Dr. Rhumba told my mom I would be at least six feet tall. I was taller than Dr. Rhumba by the time I was eight. I would show up at the doctor’s office and the receptionist would be looking for my child. (On the plus side, I have looked like I am around thirty for nearly three decades now, which gives me that “ageless” quality – sort of like Dick Clark.)

My mom, knowing that I would outgrow a typical child-sized playhouse well before I reached puberty, commissioned a custom structure. It was eight feet long and eight feet wide, with two Plexiglas windows that opened to allow a cross-breeze and a door large enough to accommodate a full-grown human. She and my grandmother painted it white with pink trim and laid down patterned green linoleum inside it. Mom furnished it with a kitchen play set – stove and refrigerator – as well as a small piano. I think she even put a small upholstered rocking chair in there. Then, one morning, she had it placed next to the mulberry tree in our backyard. She told me to keep my eyes closed as she guided me outside to see my fantastic new playhouse, certain that I would be overjoyed to see it.

My reaction was a disappointment for her. I was never inclined toward the domestic arts, so the idea of a “house” of my own held little appeal. Mom tells me I thanked her and then asked if I could go back inside and read. I think I broke her heart that day, as only small children can do.

Of course, the boys who lived behind me thought the playhouse was great. We used to play “house” – they would stay home and cook and clean, while I went off to “work.” (“Work” was me sitting in the mulberry tree reading.) However, even the enthusiasm of other children didn’t make me love my playhouse. Thinking back, I might have been more interested in it if it had been set up as a library – the one place I really loved to be.

Eventually, the playhouse was given to a friend of my mom’s who used it as a shed. I’m sure he got much more use out of it than I ever did.

My mom finally got the reaction she was looking for when I was around twenty. I opened up a Christmas box and found a maroon wool “swing” coat with rolled cuffs and collar that hung to mid-thigh on me. I loved it so much I cried. She is still incredulous that a gift she picked up almost as an afterthought got more of a reaction than the one she spent hours planning and working on all those years before.

I’m sorry, Mom. I was a kid. I didn’t know any better. Thank you for the playhouse.

I still own the coat.

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Dinner and a Show

I’m a bit of a culture snob. I may have mentioned this before in passing. I think I may also have mentioned that my beloved family is more of the hunt, fish, and camp variety, which meant I spent a large portion of my childhood asking where my “real” parents were. Of course, as I grew, it became more than apparent – even to me – that my parents were, in fact, raising me. And that they were just as bewildered as I was.

A natural inclination toward the theater could easily have been starved out of me in the Phoenix of the 1970s. There weren’t a lot of live productions in the valley at that time. Luckily, my mom had at least a small interest in seeing musicals. I’m pretty sure the first show I ever saw was South Pacific, and I remember being in awe of the people who were dancing and singing on the stage. For my ninth birthday, she and Dad took me to see The Unsinkable Molly Brown at the Windmill Dinner Theatre. Nothing could have made me happier.

I saw several other shows over the years, and even acted in a few eventually. I loved performing and I had natural comic timing. For a while I thought I wanted to be an actress – then I realized that most actors and actresses work other jobs in order to feed their passion. My friend Fernando is an example of this: being great at something isn’t a guarantee of monetary success. He has worked off and on for most of the twenty years or so that I have known him. He is never happier than when he is acting, but he has almost always worked as a translator to support himself. I wasn’t devoted enough to the craft of acting to live my life that way.

Nevertheless, my passion for theater has never burned out. I fell in love with my husband when he called me the day after our first date and invited me out to see a Shakespearean play. At that moment, I knew he was the one for me.

All this to tell you about our date night.

We started our evening at one of my favorite restaurants in the east valley, the Cornish Pasty Co. It’s a small place with more communal tables than private ones, though we make it a point to take a private one. The servers are pierced and tattooed, as are many of the patrons, but everyone seems friendly and the atmosphere is jovial. The music playing in the background leans heavily toward Motown classics.

The food is the real draw, of course. It is totally unique in the valley – the only place that serves a variety of what was originally a miner’s lunch. Pasties (pronounced “past-ees”) are meat-and-potato-filled pastries with a dough “handle” baked into the top. We each enjoyed a cup of their cream of leek, potato, and Stilton soup, which is smooth and rich with a little bitterness provided by the cheese. It comes with a dense white bread that might be house-made. I particularly like to dip the bread into the soup – perfect! When it came to the pasties, Dan ordered The Pilgrim and I had the Rosemary Chicken. Honestly, he made the better choice. Not that mine was bad – his was better. Stuffed with all the makings of a good Thanksgiving meal, it just worked. By comparison, mine seemed a little lackluster. My one complaint was that our soups and our pasties came at the same time – poor planning on the kitchen’s part, I suppose. My previous service experience was much better.

After dinner, we went to see a Southwest Shakespeare Company production of Love’s Labour’s Lost. I had never seen this comedy before – a rarity for me, as we have seen a surprising number of Shakespearean comedies multiple times. The director had chosen to set it in 1914, right before the start of World War I. The costuming for this production was extremely well done, and the use of several period-specific songs for the musical interludes really helped to set the stage. The story centers on four young men and their paramours. The four actors also made a fairly good barbershop quartet, which lent a bit of style to the production.

As is the norm for the company, the casting was perfect. The four young men pulled off the physical comedy as adeptly as they did the verbal jousting of Shakespeare’s script. In my opinion though, the standout of the cast was Rick Davis as Costard, the comical groundskeeper.

While I enjoyed the production, I was less taken with the play itself. It turns out there is a reason I’ve never seen it before – it’s not that great. It’s a play that begs for a sequel; unfortunately, the sequel, Love’s Labour’s Won, is known as Shakespeare’s “lost” play. The director’s pre-show notes suggested that Much Ado About Nothing may be a rewrite of the lost play, and, indeed, I can see a parallel between some of the characters of each. Berowne and Rosaline, for instance, could be Benedick and Beatrice. However, the relationship between the two plays is tenuous at best.

My other problem with the play may not bother anyone else at all: the rhyming aspect. Much of the dialogue is written in rhyming couplets which practically beg to be spoken in sing-song. The actors who fall into the trap invariably sound less like they are acting than reciting a poem. Whenever one of the actors fell into the trap, it jarred me out of the theatrical illusion. It didn’t happen too often, but I can’t help but feel that Shakespeare himself would have regretted his persistent rhyming if he had seen actors of lesser talent perform this play.

If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are so inclined, I recommend taking in a performance of the play, which runs through September 22nd. While not one of my favorites, it is certainly worth seeing at least once, if only for the comparison to Much Ado About Nothing. And this production is certainly well worth the price of a ticket.

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean...

The worthy bard himself. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Puppies…Like Meth, but Cuddlier

For all of my husband’s good traits (and, believe me, there are a multitude of them), he does have a few quirks that occasionally throw a certain amount of turmoil my way. Puppy-browsing is one of these habits that can make — and has made — me crazy.

I only look at puppies when I am seriously considering making a purchase. Okay – this is not entirely true. I puppy-browse at pet stores and never intend to buy because (a) I disapprove of pet stores and (b) the prices are way out of my range for what I’m willing to spend on a dog. Dan, on the other hand, regularly cruises Craig’s List for hits of puppy cuteness – which he then shares with me.

I am a dog addict. I feel about puppies the way alcoholics feel about their next drink – I want what I know I shouldn’t have. My last four dog purchases have been a direct result of Dan’s puppy-browsing habits. Because if you repeatedly show me puppies, I will eventually need a puppy.

That’s right – I said four puppies…in eight years. Don’t judge me.

Mimi, the pug we bought not long after we first met, was a poor fit for us. Dan, as it turns out, finds shedding dogs unbearable to live with. We re-homed her with my cousin, who has had a succession of pugs with “M” names: Mugsy, Molly, Maya, and Mimi.

We got Dewey, a Shih Tzu, while I was finishing college in 2006. He was named for a character in a book – a politician named Dewey Knot – in case you are wondering. He turned six on the ninth and is a well-loved and permanent member of the family. Dan thinks he favors me over him, and he’s probably right.

Last spring, we were driving down Grand Avenue when Dan spotted a woman selling a litter of poodle puppies. We stopped to check them out and a little black female puppy literally threw herself at Dan’s feet, proclaiming her undying love for him. I couldn’t resist – we went home with Lola. When my brother- and sister-in-law walked over to meet the new addition, a love triangle was formed – my sister-in-law couldn’t picture life without Lola. The next day, Lola moved in with them, though she visits our home regularly and still adores Dan.

So, this past weekend, Dan was cruising Craig’s List again. He spotted a litter of Maltese-Shih Tzu puppies and showed them to me. Within a few hours, I was practically pacing the floor, jonesing for puppy breath. Never mind that he was “just showing” me the pictures. Never mind that the puppies in question lived an hour and a half away. I wanted…no, I needed a puppy. Not just any puppy, either – the puppy in the picture with the fluffy hair and cute Shih Tzu face!

I called and made the arrangements and Dan, my sister-in-law, and I piled in the car and headed to the far edge of the east valley. When we arrived, we were greeted by the parents – an adorable little Shi Tzu mama and a slightly irritable Maltese daddy – and three cute-as-a-button pups. Their humans – a very nice couple who welcomed us into their home so that we could acquaint ourselves with our puppy options – explained that they had waited just a little too long before having the Maltese daddy neutered. The parents and their puppies were clean and healthy and obviously well socialized. Before long, the smallest of the remaining pups made an imprint on both Dan and me.

So please join us in welcoming Truman Jack Bennett to the family. He is adjusting well and hasn’t made a single “mistake” in the house yet. His big brother Dewey seems genuinely fond of him, too. Complete puppy spoilage cannot be far behind.

Truman makes himself at home.

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Fall Approaches and My Spirits Rise

I love the idea of September. I’ve always liked the “-ber” months, probably because my birthday falls in November and is followed quickly by the holiday season. September signals the shortening of days for me – even though I know that sunrise and sunset have been gradually approaching one another for more than a month by now.

Years ago now – nearly twenty-five, in fact – I experienced my first true fall in Nevada, Missouri, as a freshman at CotteyCollege. The leaves on the trees changed color and the weather turned brisk. I’m sure my fellow students thought I was a little strange – I walked around in awe as nature put on her annual performance.

September in Arizona is a different experience. There aren’t many outward signs of the changing seasons. In fact, if you were to stand at my living-room window and watch a year go by at warp speed, you would be hard-pressed to notice a difference in the passing months. Spring would be easiest to spot – the cactus across the street blooms in March or April.

The real way to differentiate between the seasons is to step outside. I used to tell my friends that Arizona only has two seasons: summer and hell. September is the month when hell begins to recede and summer takes its first few tentative steps. The high temperatures drop to the low hundreds, occasionally dipping into the nineties. The roads become busier, both with school buses and the first wave of snowbirds winging their way back to the many retirement communities found in the state. And life in general becomes more pleasant.

So, for my fellow fall fanciers, let’s forget the misery of summer and revel in the beauty of the “-ber” months. Thank you for continuing to read my blog, and I promise to share some of my upcoming outdoor adventures – with pictures – very soon.

English: View of the Sonoran Desert approx. 30...

The desert: this is pretty much how it always looks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Grandma Millie and the Rosebud Necklace

Those of you who know me personally are aware that I am something of a recluse. That’s not so unusual, when my occupation is taken into consideration; as a novelist, hours spent alone in front of my computer are necessary in order to produce entertaining fiction.

However, I’ve never been a particularly social person. I have probably spent more hours in front of computers than any normal human being should. I love video games, surfing the web, and, sadly, Facebook. I have more “virtual friends” than real ones by a margin of 50 to 1. Therefore, those of you who know me personally are…rare.

That said, I’ve led a happy life. I have a few close friends that I can count on, a small but close family, and a wonderful marriage. So it might strike you as odd that I have recently begun a quest to obtain more “real-world” friends. I can’t say exactly why, but when my friend Emma mentioned that she had joined a sorority, I was jealous – even after she described the group of mostly old women and their obsession with who brought the trash bags last week and who would be bringing them the next. Suddenly, I wanted my own group of women (hopefully a little closer to my age than the seventy-and-ups Emma had found) to join.

That’s when I remembered my Grandma Millie. She was in a sorority and she loved her sorority sisters. Years ago, when I was a child, Grandma Millie insisted that Mom and I attend the Tannenbaum Breakfast that the Centennial City Council hosted every Christmas. I vaguely remembered a ceremony that had taken place at one of these breakfasts; in it, my grandmother had presented me with a yellow-rosebud necklace. That necklace meant something – I was a legacy! But I couldn’t remember what the sorority was called. A quick search of the internet turned up Beta Sigma Phi. Sure enough, I was in their records.

I have now had the pleasure of meeting two different chapters of Beta Sigma Phi. All of the women have greeted me warmly, though I feel more comfortable with one group than the other. I am very much looking forward to joining their chapter – if they will have me.

Though many social organizations have suffered declining enrollment in the last few decades, I honestly believe they are on the cusp of a renaissance. As the “Me” Generation ages, more and more of us are seeking a “we” to be a part of. Most of us have friendships that have stood the test of time, but those friends may live thousands of miles away. Work friendships tend to stay in the workplace. Neighbors may as well be strangers, for the most part.

Social organizations offer more than friendship: they offer a chance to make a real impact in community service. For instance, one of the chapters I visited with spends one day a month volunteering for a charity. How many of us intend to volunteer but never actually do it? Fraternal and sororal organizations put those opportunities on a calendar and guarantee that you’ll have company as you do good for others.

What do I hope to gain from joining Beta Sigma Phi? A better “virtual friends” to real friends ratio, for one thing. A fuller and more fulfilling life. And a sense of belonging to something worthwhile.

yellow rosebud

yellow rosebud (Photo credit: buttersweet)

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Summer Colds and the Typical Hypochondriac

I am sick.

Actually, I’m just getting over a cold – and summer colds are the worst. However, my good friend Pandora* brought me a green-chili chicken stew yesterday in an attempt to burn the sickness from my body. Since I’m feeling better today, it must have worked. I’m a little scared to have another bowl today – it was hot when my taste buds weren’t working at full capacity.

While this cold is certainly not in my head (well, okay, actually it IS, but it’s real, I swear!), I have to admit that I am an unrepentant hypochondriac. And a bit of a drama queen as well – at least when it comes to being sick or injured.

When I was eight or nine, I was attempting to balance my way across an uneven row of re-purposed railroad ties set on end as a fence. Not being the most graceful of kids, I managed to slip and fall, landing hard in a straddling position. In other words, I bruised my coochie. In fact, I was in so much pain, I was pretty sure I was dying. My parents took me to the hospital, which only served to confirm my self-diagnosis: yes, I was definitely on the way out. I remember telling my Dad that I loved him, just in case I didn’t make it. Apparently, I was playing it up pretty good, though I don’t really remember much other than being completely terrified that I wasn’t going to survive. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have hurt if my parts had been “outies” instead of “innies.”

Dan says it is impossible to tell how sick I am just by asking me because, in my estimation, I am always on the verge of death. I say that’s a little strong, though even a common cold makes me whinier than the average sufferer. While most of the world gets up, takes sympton-suppressing medications, and goes to work, I call in sick. Seriously. Even now, when I work at home, I don’t go to the computer for more than a few minutes. Let’s face it…I’m not likely to produce the next Great American Novel when my head feels like it has been packed with cement.

After several years together, I have noticed that Dan tends to avoid me when I’m sick. Not that I blame him – I’m a whiny bitch. I don’t have any of that “mommy” commitment to the family that keeps sick women everywhere running until they either recover or literally collapse.

Normally, my illnesses are brief – nothing too serious. Yes, I have had a few trips to the emergency room over the years, but no actual hospital stays…until last spring. Over the course of a few days, I developed a cough. I suspected I had a fever as well, but both the thermometers in the house needed new batteries. Every time Dan showed up to check on me, I told him I felt horrible – which years of conditioning had trained him to believe meant “I have a cold or some other non-life-threatening condition.” Unfortunately, this time, I REALLY felt horrible. On the third day, I told him I wished I would just go ahead and die already. That scared him. Recognizing I might really be sick, he bundled me into the car and drove me to a clinic. After a quick x-ray and a temperature check, the doctor not-so-subtly suggested a trip to the hospital was in order.

My temperature topped out at nearly 105 degrees. It took the hospital several days (and what turned out to be an unnecessary spinal tap) to get my temperature back to normal and me healthy enough to leave the hospital. What did I have? Not a clue. No diagnosis was ever made.

So, Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat. Wednesday, my throat was even worse. Yesterday, Pandora brought me the magic, germ-killing soup, which immediately caused my sinuses to open and the draining to begin. And today I’m better. Not well, but better. Nevertheless, Dan isn’t taking my word for it. After last time, he made sure the thermometers had fresh batteries.

I’m going to go check my temperature again.

*Not her real name…I mean, who would name a kid Pandora? But the meaning fits her: “highly gifted.”

Brian Reid Tissue Box_1322

Brian Reid Tissue Box_1322 (Photo credit: Brian Reid Furniture)

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