Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Found The White Patches!!

I don't get sick much. When I do, it's here today, gone tomorrow (just like my stuff that I hide, remember?). Every now and then I get a cold that holds me in its clutches for a month or two, but really, I'm pretty proud of my immune system. "Good work, guys! Go team!"

However. About once or twice a year I do battle with a bout of strep throat. Strep throat has been in my life forever, like that annoying relative that just won't go away. They aren't around you all the time, but it seems like just when you're having the time of your life and nothing can go wrong...BOOM! There they are. It's like that.

When I was little I used to get strep like, a million times a year. Or maybe it just seems like it because it was always such a traumatic experience for an impressionable youngster like myself. Many of my childhood memories involve me, or one of my siblings, or both, curled up on the couch in a heavy blanket, lethargic and glassy-eyed, feeling positively awful, or retching into an ice cream bucket while Mom holds your hair out of the way with one hand and holds your head up with the other. Thanks, Mom.

One more thing that I remember about those times. Mom would always--always!--tell you to open your mouth wide, after which she would peer inside for an unimaginable length of time. She would ho and hum and squint, intently searching for something deep inside your mouth. And you would have to hold your breath while she did it cause you don't want to get Mom sick, of all people (who would take care of you then?)! Finally, Mom would be satisfied, take a step back (finally giving you a chance to haul in a breath of air), put her hands on her hips, sigh and say, "Yep. You've got the white patches."

All my life I was baffled by the mysterious white patches that Mom saw on my throat when I was sick. Over the years, I tried so many times during my bouts with strep to see them in the mirror, but never could, and it drove me crazy. Fast forward to modern-day Lincoln NE, to a house, to some people, to a tickle.

So there I was. Sitting quietly minding my own business. Or quite possibly not. I could've been tormenting any of my various siblings...but that is neither here nor there. I was doing something. I felt a tickle. I cleared my throat. The tickle got worse. Fine, if you're gonna make me work for it! I put my fist to my mouth and coughed. The tickle settled down into a sharp-ish pain in the area of my tonsils. I looked at my watch. Yep. It's about time for my bi-annual strep throat diagnosis. Aw, man.

So I continued my day to day activities, waiting for the inevitable chills to wrack my body from the inside out or the twinge in my stomach, shortly preceding a hasty trip to the bathroom which would seal my couchridden fate. For two days, nothing seemed amiss, other than my declining throat and dilapidated tonsils. Everything else appeared to be in working order. Odd.

That night, at work, my sore throat was beginning to become unbearable. Against my better judgement, I didn't drink water all evening because it was too painful. Finally, I found a mirror, curious to see the extent of the damage. What I saw made me stop cold and my heart skip a beat. My eyes widened and I could hardly believe what I was seeing. A zillion memories flooded through my mind of my mom saying, "Yep, you've got the white patches...white patches...white patches..."

I was staring at the back of my throat, at the legendary white patches that Mom had so often seen inside my throat. I felt like a treasure hunter having finally dug up the long sought-after X marks the spot. Like Columbus getting his first glimpse of the New World. Like Mario after finally rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser's Castle. There was a moment of magic and a feeling of triumph. I've finally seen the white patches!

Then I remembered that my throat was on fire and every time I swallowed it felt like I was swallowing broken glass. And this morning it took the doctor all of 2 seconds to make her diagnosis, write me a prescription, and send me on my merry way after making me promise to come back if everything gets worse (it always makes me nervous when they say that).

Several minutes later, I was standing in line at Walgreens (who should totally give me something for saying their name in my blog), prescription in hand. When it was my turn, the pharmacist guy was asking me all these questions and all I could really do was grunt in the affirmative or negative, as my tonsils were doing their best to close around my esophagus.

So now, here I am. Waiting for the Amoxicillin to work its magic. I don't care if you're a believer or not, but antibiotics are beautiful things. Think of all the simple sicknesses that used to be deadly, but now all we have to do is take a pill twice a day and we're fine?? And the doctor told me the antibiotic would either cure me completely or make me break out in a rash.

Hip hip...hooray??

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm Lost In My Own Maze Of Awesome Hiding Places.

I misplace things. Here today, gone tomorrow. Story of my life. On any given day, I'll see something a million times until I feel like hurling it out a window, and then when I actually need the thing, it's gone, never to be seen or heard from again, the end. Take two minutes ago, for instance.

So there I was. Giggling to myself like a stupid idiot because it's cold outside for the first time since summer ended and there are leaves falling off the trees and the Swedish blood in me gets really happy and excited whenever the weather gets cold. Anyway, I'm all excited and grinning like a stupid fool, cuddling in blankets and deciding what to get people for Christmas. Then I decide I want my slippers (the ultimate sign that Fall us upon us). I love my slippers. They are big and warm, and have rubber on the bottom so I can walk outside while wearing them, and they come over the back of my feet so they stay on. They're wonderful. And I wanted them.

So I go to my bedroom to get them, laughing to myself and dancing around on the inside. FALLFALLFALLFALL!!! Inside my bedroom, I've got a shoe hanger thing on the back of my door. That's where my slippers had been for the past six months. Nope. Not there. Not anywhere. I searched and searched with nothing to show for my efforts, except that I found a few things that I used to love, and although they're useless to me now they still hold some amount of sentimental attachment. That was mildly amusing, but my feet were still cold.

The worst part is, I distinctly remember at the end of last winter, putting my slippers somewhere and saying to myself, "I am going to put these in a special place so I will remember where they are so I will have them next year when my feet get cold after this cursed summer is finally over!" I put them in a place so special and secret that even I can't find it!!

And that's just one example of many. Hundreds. Thousands. Hundreds of thousands. Examples aplenty. I won't tell you about all of them. That would make a very long and boring blog.

I think I need a list. Yes, a list of all my secret hiding places where I put my stuff. But then, what if I lose the list? I need a list to tell me where the list is. But then where does the chain end? It'll end up like that song. "There's a germ on the flea on the hair on the wart on the frog on the knot on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea..." only it'll be a list and it'll go,

"There's a pen in a pot in a box in a crate in a chest in the dark in a room in the middle of my basement..."

Maybe I just need to not hide my stuff like a raccoon. But then I lose it. What am I supposed to do? Not have cool stuff? That's an idea. I know what you're thinking, "But Jo, a place for everything and everything in it's place." Yeah, well guess what? Some people aren't OCD about having a place for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in the world. Some people actually think about things other than keeping the world clean and being a slave to their neatness. I'm free, thank you very much. Free to take off an article of clothing at the end of the day and throw it up in the air and let it stay wherever it lands. Free to climb into a messy bed at night and curl up into a snug little nest, not having to worry about sleeping like a board so I don't mess up the sheets while I sleep.

It also means I'm free to lose my stuff and spend three months scouring the house for whatever it is, only to become frustrated to the point of buying a new one (Like how I just bought new slippers this afternoon). But you know what? I think it's a good trade. It's more fun and relaxing than spraying 409 on everything I touch and breaking into a cold sweat whenever I see someone step onto my carpet with their shoes on. Good grief. Lighten up, wouldja?

That being said, I don't think we should all be trashy and throw our stuff everywhere and be dirty and live like pigs. No. Please do not misunderstand. To an extent, we should all be tidy and orderly. Admittedly, I do fall short there sometimes. BUT! Throwing a shirt on the floor once and a while is OKAY!! Having a water fight with your little/big brother every now and then is OKAY!! BEING MESSY SOMETIMES IS OKAY!!!! Hooray! :D

*Cue dramatic Scottish William Wallace battle cry* FRREEEEEEDOOOOOM!!!

(Though sometimes I do wish I could find stuff...)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Psst, I'm Alive!

It's dark. It's quiet. Everybody is asleep. Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. Hopefully Santa Claus doesn't show up. It's not late by anyone's standards (except for everybody in this house, seems like). They want me to conform to their ways, but I'm stronger than that.

In case you were unaware to my whereabouts (lol, that sounds funny!), I am currently in northern Minnesota. And when I say north, I mean it. Seriously. I'm waving at the Canadians right now. We're shouting things back and forth at each other like at football games, and shouting "yo mama" jokes. Not really. That last part isn't true. I don't tell Canadians "yo mama" jokes because last time I did that they threw snowballs at me.

I love road trips. I love being able to drive away from whatever town I live in and just drive and drive and drive and not come back. My motto for every road trip is "Pack the essentials: underwear and technology, not necessarily in that order. The rest are bonus points." Actually, that's not my motto. I've never said that before in my life. But it sounds pretty good, so maybe someday it'll become my motto.

Anyways, even though that's not really my motto, I made absolutely sure I packed my technology. My iPhone, my computer, and so on. Actually, just my iPhone and computer. That's the only technology I own, I guess. Anyway, even though we're headed into places even people who live in the boonies don't venture, my grandpa has wireless internet, which is oh-so-sweet, and makes staying in Nowhere oh-so-much-better. But what do I find upon my arrival? Their wireless isn't working. NO!

So for the last few days, I've been unable to make contact with the outside world, save for short snatches of internet signal my iPhone is able to grasp at random times throughout the day, like a drowning man gasping for air. Usually, though, the signal doesn't stick around long enough for me to actually DO anything with it. So I've been stuck.

Actually, it's been pretty okay. It's nice sometimes to just think; "I'm a million miles away from anywhere. Nobody can call me. I can't call anyone. I can't get email. I can't text. The only thing to abandon my electronics (which is sort of why I went on vacation in the first place), go outside, and have a good time." So in that regard, it's been a positive adjustment for me.

Aaaaand in other's hasn't. Sometimes I think; "I'm a million miles away from anywhere. Nobody can call me. I can't call anyone. I have no connection whatsoever with the outside world. For all I know, terrorists have bombed Lincoln Nebraska, my home is a heap of rubble, the U.S. retaliated by nuking the terrorists, and now World War III is in full swing, and I WOULD NEVER KNOW!!!

So after a few days of living in a tug of war between relaxation and mental turmoil, I have crept, under the cover of night, to my grandparents' computer, to see what is happening in the world outside. I sort of feel like somebody in the witness protection program, using restricted computers late at night (well, not really late at all, but whatever) to let their families know they're not really dead or seeing what's happening in the world beyond the safe-house. Sort of like that, but waaaaay more relaxed.

Anyway, vacation's been fun. Went hiking with the sisters, took lots of pictures (which I had planned to have in a facebook photo album by now, but with this internet thing I'm not holding my breath), played on some hay bales, rode the four-wheeler, went to a small county fair, went on another hike and got verbally chewed up and spit out for "leaving the group" when pretty much the group left me, and it wasn't an issue either way because the group and I know perfectly well how to navigate Grandpa's woods, so, pretty much, who cares if we separate or not?!?! (I don't have a chip on my shoulder, what are you talking about?)

It's always good to get up here, though. There may be no internet. They may want me to go to bed early (keep trying guys, really). It may be a zillion miles away from civilization. But it's a good place. You really relax when you're here, whether you want to or not. And that's what I need right now; to just relax. It takes some getting used to, and sometimes it drives me nuts, but this is where my roots are; this is a place I love, and a place I'll probably always come back to, even when I'm old.

So I guess this is it. Goodbye, world!! Be good, sit up straight, don't open the door for strangers, live well, love much, laugh often, and for goodness sake don't start World War III without me!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Means War!

So I'm sitting here at my computer at one in the morning, cause that's just what I do, and I do it pretty good, I think. I'm having a good time, laughing at funny websites, listening to music, wishing I could hack into super-secret government computer systems like in the movies, and spending money via Etsy and Ebay for things I don't need but really, really, sort of want, and then I feel it.

A bead of sweat blazes a trail down the side of my face and ends up dangling from my chin, waiting for another drop to follow in its wake and set them both airborne.

There are more signs, too.

My clothes sticking to me slightly. The air in the room (or lack thereof) is heavy with good ol' Nebraska humidity, giving my lungs a horrible drowning sensation. Breathing itself is becoming a chore, something at which I have to actually concentrate.

So what is it, you ask? It is war, my friends.

My parents are soul mates. Made for each other. Inseparable. Faithful to the end. They've got each other's backs. They're watching each other's six's. They agree on everything. Almost.

Every couple disagrees on things here and there. Most work through them, or settle things peacefully through gentle compromise. The same is true for my parents...most of the time. In one area, though, there will be no compromise on either side. Nobody is backing down. All must choose a side and stick to it with all your heart.

The Thermostat.

I have never known a time when the temperature inside the house was agreed upon by my parents. And I guess to be fair, they can't really help it. Mom is always cold. Dad is always hot.

Not that the room temperature has ever been the topic of arguing or a marital stumbling block. My parents prefer to keep this little battle on the hush-hush. Almost like the Quiet Game, mixed with Capture The Flag, King Of The Hill, Mafia, Dark Finger, and Chess while acting like ninjas. The only catch is that the game never ends. "...It just goes on and on my friends..."

And they're always recruiting new ninja pawns, because the more ninja pawns you have working for you, the more ninja eyes you can have watching the thermostat when you aren't around. That's the way the game/war works. Dad's got his army, and Mom's got hers. And actually, new intelligence suggests that even the neighbor kids are getting involved, though these allegations have yet to be confirmed.

Over the years, the game has evolved into something much more complicated. Whoever your "leader" is (either Mom or Dad), can be making hand signs from across the room, even while other, opposing players are in the room, instructing you what to do with the thermostat or what number to set it to.

And let's not forget the importance of position. In other families, in normal homes, who have normal conversations and act normally at any given time, people might walk casually into the family room in a relaxing fashion and pick a chair or place on the couch at random, or perhaps based on whichever looked most comfortable at the moment. Not so, in my house. See, there's a chair sitting directly under the thermostat control panel. Prime seating, baby. This is the way it goes:

*Someone from Team Dad* "I'm going to go watch TV."
*Someone from Team Mom* "Yeah, me too."

The two share a short glance. In that glance many words are being said. Dares, trash talk, threats, goads, and battle cries are all being communicated in a four second glance. More, if you allow time for facial expressions. And after that, the race is on. The two will bolt into the family room, stampeding over whatever helpless objects (or siblings) happen to be in the way. The lucky one who makes it to The Throne Of Power first will be king (or queen) of the hill, for however long they sit there. Unspoken Rule Of Warfare: NO instigating battle with anyone sitting in The Throne Of Power. If they're there, they're there for as long as they want to stay there. Usually Dad is there.

So now, back to present time. After feeling that terrible heat settling over me like a mink comforter in this cursed summertime, I wasted no time in steeling downstairs and turning the AC to something a little more compatible with staying alive.

Score one: Team Dad! Semper Fi!

"Nowhere Man" --The Beatles.