14

Ooh, What Happened To Your Finger?

Yesterday, I went for my first day of teaching a theater lab at a local elementary school. Earlier in the day, I had noticed that the skin around my thumbnail was flaking off and bleeding, so I put a band-aid on it. I had forgotten all about it until about 30 seconds into my first session with the children.

“Ooh, what happened to your finger?”

Normally, when you see someone with a band-aid on, it’s not something you ask about. Most of the time, if someone has a bandaged finger or something, you don’t even notice it.

But children always do.

I’ve had several instances in the past few weeks where the skin around my fingernails has been cracking, peeling, and bleeding, so I have been going through a fair amount of band-aids. And every time I show up at Chabad on a Friday night with a bandaged finger or two, it’s always one of the three kids who greets me by pointing out a bandaged finger, and immediately they start asking me what happened.

My usual response: “You ask a lot of questions.”

I’m so mean.

7

Rush-a-shanah

Hey y’all. We’ve been having a lot of fun here lately, but here’s a small dose of Real Talk. I know that’s one of the two topics that I don’t normally like to broach here – the other being politics – but I’m just feeling…a certain way, and maybe being philosophical about it here will help. Pardon me if I come off as whiny (or just comment, “hey Jacob, that’s so whiny, man up,” or something) but here goes.

This year, I didn’t have much of a Rosh Hashanah. In fact, I had about one hour of it, on Monday, between 10:30 and 11:30. Fortunately, I got to hear the shofar and say a few little prayers before jetting off to lecture. I got a few questions about why I didn’t petition off for the holiday, but I shrugged it off. I love Rosh Hashanah; some good prayer, some good food, do it all again the next day. Now, Rosh Hashanah’s come and gone, and I’ve spent most of it in classes and meetings.

Today, I found out a few items of bad news. Well, bad is sort of relative, but there were a few things that I found out that did not make me happy. One made me mad, one made me sad, and one just left me confused. I talked to various friends, and they tried to make me feel better, but ultimately, it was all up to me to help myself. I’m still here, writing this all down, so I guess I’m doing pretty good, but I have this overwhelming sense of guilt, that somehow it’s my fault that these things happened, even though none of them directly involved me or could have been controlled or prevented by me. I can’t say much more about any of the pieces of news because (almost) none of them are public knowledge yet, but suffice it to say: God, I love you with everything I’ve got, but why did that have to happen? And why do people feel the need to send vague, passive-aggressive emails? And why, why do I even try, what could I have done differently, why can’t I get a definitive answer, what is wrong with me, what am I working towards?

Okay, so that’s a lot of questions.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m not unconvinced that karma doesn’t exist. I am so grateful about so many things in my own life, but maybe I need to do some more meditation. And eat more fiber.

7

Candy Crushed

I originally published this on November 1st, but since I’m completely swamped with school and everything, I’m going to do what I always wanted to do, and add more info.

Maybe it’s our culture of excess, but seriously, everywhere I go, the giant family size (and which family, might I ask? the Duggars?) candy bars and candy bags are available. And the smaller sizes are not. It’s like Nestle and Hershey’s are run by a dentist/personal trainer conglomerate. Definitely not the people who run Abercrombie & Fitch.

All I wanted today was a small pack of Twizzlers, maybe three or four pieces.

Down in the candy aisle, the smallest package is about the size of three boxes of spaghetti. The candy bars are like surfboards. I could probably buy a bag of Hershey kisses and use them as a pillow on my next flight. Now, I understand the purpose of large bags of candy; they’re great for teachers, camp counselors, or Halloween. But if you’re only in the market for a small sweet treat for one, it’s damn near impossible.

Twenty minutes later, after scouring the whole store, I caved and bought the only size available, because I wanted Twizzlers that much. And that bag probably lasted me all of one hour, because I live alone, am a graduate student, and have no self-control.

Damn you, candy companies.

This is why China is beating us.

9

OH HELL NO NOT THIS AGAIN.

One of the perks of my new apartment building is the underground, temperature-controlled parking structure. It costs a little extra but in a city where parking is high demand and a state where cars freeze to death in the winter, it’s an investment. When I signed the papers in December of last year, the parking spots had not been assigned yet. When I asked the leasing manager which spot was mine, she said, “They’re just about all open, so take your pick.” I selected a spot right at the front, that would be easy to get into. It’s not so easy to get out of, but I’m working on it, but it’s definitely a prime location.

I came in from shopping last night, and…there’s a car parked in my spot.

This is the EXACT reason why I didn’t want to have to deal with having just a parking lot pass again without an assigned spot. This past year, I had a pass to park in a specific lot, and if someone without a pass was parked in the lot (very easy to do, since the lot is not gated or guarded) and you were the unlucky person who didn’t get a spot, then you had to park either far away or at a meter, risking being ticketed or towed. It wasn’t really that bad until June, when summer classes were going on and since the weather was nicer more people were coming to visit the school I guess, and even though some people may have gone home for the summer, there would still be five or so unauthorized cars parked there at any given time. The company that I rented the spot from ($135 a month, thank you very much) had signs up about ticketing and towing, but there would be cars there that wouldn’t move for days. I called to complain almost every day, to the point of tears and basically got “we’re trying as hard as we can.” One day, I tried calling the number of the towing company on the sign, and found out that they had been out of business FOR A YEAR. I even called an actual towing company, only to be told that since I wasn’t the property manager, I was not authorized to do anything. Basically, there was nothing I could do other than pray for someone to leave so I could take the spot which I paid for.

Now, with an assigned spot, I was hoping that this problem wouldn’t happen again. Especially since there are only 26 spaces in the lot.

Fast forward to last night. So I get home at about 11:30 PM, after spending the day shopping, and, you guessed it, car parked in my spot. Big black Ford Expedition truck. It had a building parking permit decal in the back window, just like I have, so I gave him/her the benefit of the doubt, that maybe some jerk parked in his/her spot, so I parked in the spot next to it and hoped that I wouldn’t get in trouble.

After spending all day yesterday unloading boxes and shopping, I decided to take most of the day off, not even leaving the apartment until well into the afternoon. I had all but forgotten about the situation when I got down to the parking lot and saw the Ford Expedition still there, only now it had a sign taped to the back:

To the tenant who rents this spot: My truck will not fit in my assigned spot, so I am going to be parking here. I am working this out with the management. My spot, #24, is open. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Since it was now after hours, I had no one to complain to. Being the reasonable human being that I am, I went to space #24 to see if a switch would be possible. And…it’s a compact car only spot. Between a wall and a pole. Before I left, I tried getting my car into that spot, but once parked, there was no way I could get out the door.

I left the parking lot to do my shopping, passing the black Ford Expedition and its little “sorry” sign taunting me from the spot that I selected and signed for last December.

Okay, here’s what’s wrong with this picture…wait a minute, the answer to that would be EVERYTHING. Aside from the obvious jerk move of PARKING IN MY SPOT, you had to leave the most patronizing note ever. “Sorry for the inconvenience?” If you were really sorry, you wouldn’t have parked there all night in the first place! “Working this out with the management?” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if there were an issue, the management would contact me before YOU PARKED YOUR BIG ASS TRUCK IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SPOT. Then comes the fact that you paid for a compact car only spot, either assuming your car would fit or blatantly forgetting that you have a truck that’s as big as a studio apartment, which you obviously need for all the hay bales, woodpiles, and livestock you have to transport here in Madison.

Anyway, when I got back tonight, the Ford Chutzpah was gone, so I parked in my spot.

I might not ever move my car again but at least I got my spot.

2

All You Nosy People

Yeah, it’s that kind of day; I had to go to J. J. Fad to get a title idea.

Anyway.

So, now, here’s something I don’t understand: what is up with nosy people? I mean, I just don’t understand it…who are you serving? Because if it’s yourself, then clearly you’re ready for the check because…ohmygod, stop.

Okay, context.

A few days ago, my dad was complaining of blurred vision, and wouldn’t you know it, apparently he had a detached retina. Or something like that. I mean, that’s what the optometrist thought initially, but it actually was something similar but a lot less severe. He can still see out of both eyes, but he’s wearing a little clear pirate-shield-thing over the affected eye. He’s been having tests and seeing doctors for the past few days, and today he had surgery, but he’s still doing almost all the normal things that he does, except driving and discovering cures for cancer. Well, not so much the second thing, because he doesn’t have a degree in the sciences. Even though he and my mom canceled their flights to Madison next week (not mine though, thank God) after yesterday’s appointment, he had a surgical procedure done today and he’s cleared to fly; that means he’s doing better than most expectant mothers in their third trimesters.

He’s going to make it.

So, yay for my dad!

After his successful surgery this morning (though it seems like forever ago, with what I’m about to tell you), it was taking a while for my dad to get checked out of the hospital. My mother had driven him there and waited. She was watching the clock because she had to get him home so she could get to her book club meeting at the library, and when she asked the desk how much longer it would be, they said “fifteen minutes.” Fifteen minutes later, they said the same thing to her. Normally, not so much of a problem, but a) my dad was fine, and b) she had somewhere to be, so she called me to pick him up so she could get to the library on time. I get in the car, pick him up, and bring him home; he and my mom have been awake since pretty early this morning, and even though it’s only about 1 PM, he’s just had surgery, so he goes to take a nap.

Maybe a half hour or hour later, the phone rings.

It’s not my mom, obviously, because she’s at her book club; it’s probably not my sister, who’s working; and I wouldn’t call the house phone just to talk to myself, but I pick it up anyway to stop it from ringing. It’s not a doctor or someone from the hospital, so guess who it is. Actually, don’t, because you’ll be wrong, but you could probably guess what he/she said after the greeting.

“So, how’s the patient?”

Uuugggghhh, really?

I wasn’t really in the mood to expound at great length on my father’s condition to one of my mother’s nosy friends, so I gritted my teeth and said something like, “he’s fine, he’s had a really rough morning though and he’s trying to rest.”

The response? “I was just asking, you don’t need to be so touchy.”

My response? “I’m not, I’m just telling you that we just got home from the hospital, he’s been up for a while and he’s trying to get some sleep, is there anything that you need?”

“No, I was just asking how he was.”

“He’s fine. He’s asleep. Can you call back later?”

“Sure, okay.”

::hang up::

If you couldn’t already sense it, my face and my palm got very chummy at that moment.

Let’s back up for a minute.

Part of the problem is my mother, telling every person she knows every detail of our lives, because that’s what she does, but that notwithstanding, I get the fact that you’re trying to show that you care, you mean well, you’re trying to be nice…but obviously, you know that my dad was in the hospital this morning. That’s the whole reason you called, isn’t it?

But think about it for a second.

You’re calling the house of someone who has just had surgery done this morning. Unless you are an immediate family member or a doctor, there is no reason that you should be calling at this juncture, even if it’s just to “check in.” Because chances are, you’re disturbing someone, either the person who had the surgery or their family member. Surgery is tiring. Hospitals are exhausting places, whether you’re undergoing surgery, sitting in a waiting room, or, you know, working. No one ever leaves a hospital bouncing up and down like Tigger, eager to share every intimate detail of their hysterectomy. Especially with someone who does not fall in the category of close family or primary care provider. This might not be true in the case of someone like Kate Middleton, but most of us are not her, and you are not the editor of Star.

So, give it a rest. Give it some thought before picking up the phone that very same day of the surgery. In fact, give it twenty-four hours worth of thought, and call then, if something else hasn’t taken your attention. There should be some sort of grace period for these things. Leave people alone for a day to recover, and then continue to barrage them with questions and ask for every excruciating detail. I mean, isn’t that why they don’t allow cell phones in maternity wards? I may or may not have made that last fact up, but seriously, my mother has some nosy friends, because I had the above conversation no fewer than three times today, and my parents fielded a few as well, although probably with more patience than I did.

But honestly…who needs to know, that badly? Do you have that little of a life that you must know everyone’s business, every minute of every hour of every day, and if you’re not the very first person to get all the details, you will explode in a mushroom cloud of nuclear anticipation?

If we wanted you to know, we would call you and tell you ourselves, and just because we did not report to you within the hour doesn’t mean we’re having a secret “let’s-tell-all-the-gruesome-details-of-the-eye-procedure” party that we’re not inviting you to, although that would be fun. Or, on second thought, I could look up the name of the procedure and do a dramatic reading of the Wikipedia entry on how it’s done. “Well, since you asked, after sedation, the doctor took a tiny chainsaw and made an incision into the eyelid, and after wiping away the excess blood, inserted a small device behind the eyeball, and…” Bet that venti soy latte tastes super right about now, doesn’t it?

Oh, and one final thing. That line, “so, how’s the patient?” Wow, original. You are so clever! I can’t believe it, it’s like you’re pretending to be a doctor, but you’re not! Kind of like they did in that movie that one time! Classic medical humor. This is not 1862, we’re not in a tent at Antietam, and we’re also not characters on Scrubs, so act normal or you’re looking at a pretty big malpractice suit.

I don’t care if you do have a clipboard at the other end of the line.

1

Christmas in July

Oh my goodness.

It’s almost July, so apparently it’s also almost Christmas in July.

Because the day after Thanksgiving until January 1 isn’t enough Christmas for the world.

Six months ago I said that I didn’t resent Christmas that much, but when it comes in July…it’s ripe for resentment. Every single thing about it. Do we really need another month of Christmas movies, or made-for-tv Christmas movies with V-list stars?

The first thing I think about when I think about Christmas is cold. COLD. I am done with that for awhile, at least. I don’t really care that I sweat all day outside and all night in my centrally-heated, temperature-controlled apartment, at least I’m sweating. It gets rid of some calories and is an excuse to enjoy iced beverages with more regularity. The same thoughts go for snow. You want snow in July? Go camping in Antarctica, and don’t do it on my TV screen.

Cheesy Christmas movies have their time: between December 25 and January 1 when there’s nothing else on TV and it’s wicked cold outside, if you live in Wisconsin, that is. Not in July.

And another thing…why can’t Summer in December be a thing?

YES. Yes. Yes to the Yes.

Hey networks, can we make this a thing? Let’s spend December watching Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo and all those fun surf movies!

Oh wait…we can’t.

Because it’s Christmas.

Also, what movie is this from?