Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'll Never Make It as an Assasin

I'm from the country. I think that's been mentioned once or twice. And like a lot of kids from the country we grew up a little different than city kids. To wit: my dad and his family are avid hunters. I don't mean big game, let's go to Alaska and kill elk and figure out how to get it home on the plane kind of hunters. I mean we all live in the middle of many acres of woods and shoot deer and other things. Mostly which we eat.

Not so much my sister, but my little brother and I were kind of into it. We had bb guns and shot soda cans and practiced with bows and arrows. I liked bows and arrows the best. When I was in junior high or so I got sick of sharing a room with my sister and moved to the spare storage room in the basement. Instead of sharing with my sister, I shared with the piano, the cupboards full of canned fruits, vegetables, and meats, and my dad's gun collection.

Getting ready to go hunting with Dad!
Also around that time I told my dad I wanted to go hunting with him. I was really into Greek mythology when I was younger and I think I had some romantic image of hunting being like Artemis or you know, Hercules and Xena. I should have known better; really I should have. I learned though.

It wasn't deer season yet, thank God for small favors, so I went squirrel hunting with my dad. Frankly I don't remember much. It must have been the trauma. What I do remember though is vivid and horrible. We were walking along enjoying the nature when Dad suddenly lifted his rifle and shot into the trees-like you do. And kudos to Dad for being a good shot, winged a squirrel. Now, this was a regular old brown squirrel, not a flying squirrel (they exist, really) but I swear this thing didn't so much fall out of the tree as it did glide out of it.

Right. Over. My. Head.
Aaaahhhh!! really says it all here
The bloody (which I use both as an expletive and a description) squirrel, flew out of the tree, legs spread wide as though that would somehow stop its plummet to the ground. And in the process, brushed my hair and it passed directly over my head.

I may have screamed a little.

Good shot though my dad my be, he did just wing it. So while I was comforted to know that my hair was sullied only by an injured and dead rodent, I was immediately saddened and upset to see the poor little woodland creature sprawled on the forest ground, literally gasping for breath. It's poor little heart must have been going a mile a minute and its little chest went frantically up and down. While I was concocting how to turn the barn into an emergency vet clinic and save its poor little life, dad had other plans. He just grinned at me, and if you know my dad you know the grin I mean, the I'm-having-so-much-fun-even-though-this-looks-sadistic-and-mildly-sociopathic grin he gets.

And then



He stepped on its head! He freaking stepped on its head!!! Oh and I heard it crunch and squish...

That right there cured me of any romantic hunting fantasies and was used as a reminder about why I couldn't become a hit man (one of my two chosen careers in college). I never went hunting again, never expressed any desire to hunt, and am pretty sure never handled a gun again. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Falling Right In It

Last month I was vacationing in Jordan with a friend. Of course while we were in Jordan we went to Petra! Petra was really great, except for all the walking. Part of that walking involved climbing up to the Monastery. Most people pay the 7JD to ride a donkey up the 800 plus steps that wind their way up and around in the extremely high hills of Petra.Not us. You can read about the full pain of the journey in my other blog, this post is about a small moment of the climb.

Standing in awe of how high we had to go.
I am by no means an in shape person but I do go to the gym semi regularly where I participate in vigorous dance classes. Since this experience wasn't going to be as awful as was traversing the Great Wall I figured I might be able to do it without too many problems. Not so. I found every excuse in the book to stop and take breaks. And because I needed so many breaks, I soon ran out of in the book excuses and hard to make up new ones.
Slipping off a rock

During one of these excuses we'd wandered down a small side path to check out an interesting rock formation. After a few moments of admiring and relearning how to breath, we turned to leave. As I was turning, my foot slipped off the rock I was standing on and I did this kind of slide/fall off the rock. Thankfully the rock wasn't so high so I didn't have far to fall. Mostly I got a little jarred when I stopped the fall with my right hand. I also got a bunch of that 'rose red' dust all over me for which Petra is so famous. However, I wasn't the only thing on the rock I slipped off.

Oh the consequences of donkeys.

Yup, right in it.

Yep. There was a big pile of donkey doo on the rock. I guess I've been so long out of the country that I never noticed in the first place. I sure as heck noticed it when I fell! There was a moment after I fell, after I was sure nothing was broken or bleeding, where Sarah and I froze as we simultaneously noticed where my hand was. Right. In. The. Center. Of. The. Doo.


And yet...fortune smiled. My hand mat have been in the center of the donkey doo...but the center was doo-free! Ha! So, Andrea - 1, Universe  - a lot more.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Time My Brother and Mom Broke My Finger

The two hardest things about this blog are coming up with stories, and making the pictures. However I cannot believe that I forgot about this story so I quickly threw together a couple simple images...

I don't quite remember when this happened but I think sometime in high school. I was in the city with my mom and brother and we made a stop at Best Buy. I know, that we were actually going to Best Buy to buy something really dates the story. I'm all about Amazon now and have been for years.

Anywho-we stop at Best Buy and pile out of the van. I was clambering down from the front passenger seat, my left hand braced on the van, when my brother slammed shut the sliding door, as you do.

Right. On. My. Little. Finger.

And then my mom locked the doors.

Pinkie finger locked in the sliding door.
Without thinking I started frantically tugging trying to free my pinkie finger from the van while my mom and brother gaped at me. I'm fairly certain there was some screaming involved, or at least a lot of shrill yelling. My brother reacted first and tried to open the van door-far smarter than probably further injuring my finger as I was doing by tugging. Of course his efforts were in vain since mom had locked them damn door.

It took her longer than I would have liked to grasp the situation but thankfully she eventually did. Also thankfully she still had the keys in her hand. The woman has this thing with purses. She can never find one that she likes so she has had a ton of them. Which means every time she gets a new one she has to figure out where everything goes and it takes her forever to remember where something is inside it. Finally though she unlocked the doors and my brother threw open the slider effectively freeing me.

I clutched my hand to my chest, tears streaming down my face, and refused my mom's continued armchair doctor attempts to examine it. Seriously, if you look up armchair doctor you'll find a picture of my mom. She once prescribed me my sister's no longer needed Paxil because I was 'acting like a bitch'. Actually if someone could make a pill for that...
My poor finger was black and had a large dent
I insisted that I was fine and headed straight into Best Buy. I was both really determined to get the CD I wanted and to avoid the doctor. I am nothing if not my father's daughter when it comes to willingness to go to the doctor. We did our shopping and my mom drove straight to the doctor. She set the finger and put one of those bendy metal splints on it. I think I probably didn't even get good drugs out of it. I think I did get my mom to pay for the CD though.

There really is no way to nicely wrap up this vignette. Maybe it needs a moral like; Keep your hands and feet outside the vehicle at all times? Never lock your car doors until you know nothing is stuck in them? Shop on the Internet from the safety of your own home? Cry as much as possible to get the good pain killers?

Nah. The best lesson to learn from this is story is to bring up family-caused injury whenever you need a guilt trip. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ordering KFC in Taiwan

One of my absolute favorite things about traveling is food. I love food, I love to try new food, I will eat anything once (including the eyes, feet, brains, and testicles of various animals, dog, worms, and insects). But sometimes you just want something familiar - the comfort food syndrome. I experienced this in the worst way during my first trip to Taiwan.

A school-sponsored trip, a group of people from the Chinese language program were cooped up together in the ShiDa university’s dorm in Taipei. One of the girls and I were out wandering one evening when we were both struck with the urgent need for fried chicken. And conveniently enough there are a lot of KFCs in Taipei. Despite my willingness to be adventurous with culturally different foods I am a remarkably picky eater. When the question is foul, I don’t eat dark meat. This left me at somewhat of a disadvantage when ordering chicken. 

At this point in my language study I’d had little experience with practical application, and ordering at KFC was not a chapter in our text book. So I did the next best thing.


I told the extremely startled people at the order counter that I wanted white meat. But since I didn’t know the words I simply said that “I want these” () while pointing at my breasts and flapping my arms in a gross misuse of the chicken dance.

And that I did not want these (不要) while running a finger illustratively up and down my arm then lifting my leg as high as it would go to do the same.

Needless to say the employees and other customers that night at KFC were experiencing something unique.
In the end I didn’t even need my charades because by then we were both so hungry we ordered a bucket (my friend being happy with the dark meat) and thought to share it with some of our other classmates. Of course by the time we got back to the dorm we were ravenous and so sneaked in by getting off the elevator a floor early, walking down the hall to go up the last flight via the stairs and thus avoid having to walk down the hall where all our classmates were. We locked ourselves her dorm room and devoured our treat. While I might normally have felt a little guilty for eating that much fried chicken, I kind of felt I’d deserved it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The *Other* Time I broke My Neck

Seriously, this does happen to me multiple times. Being me is super dangerous.*

For a couple years I lived on the edge of DC in a group house (if you don't know what a group house is you are LUCKY). It was a really great house, huge, in a semi quiet but you still might get held up kind of neighborhood. Built in the 30s-ish it was all hard wood floors and paneled walls. Easy upkeep because no vacuum cleaner required...but hardwood floors + me = never a good thing. The stairs were a winding staircase. I've always admired the aesthetics of a winding staircase but have now learned that they are best avoided.

So-slippery wood floors, winding staircase, narrow narrow stairs, slightly unsturdy and flimsy handrail. Probably that's all you really need to know how this ends but let's keep going anyway.

For over two years I lived in dread of what I perceived to be my inevitable demise on those stairs. And one night it finally happened. It's all a blur so I cannot recall if I were hurrying down the stairs, wearing socks, moving-you know, any of those things that are dangerous-but just a couple steps down I lost my foot and began plummeting towards certain death.

Except I didn't die (or I did and am now the COOLEST BLOGGER EVER!!) because I managed to grab hold of the handrail with one hand. So instead of tumbling down the stairs, I fell down a few then jerked to a sudden halt and ended up twisted kind of around the inside of the staircase.

Two of my roommates came running (well one was on crutches at the time so she hobbled) to see my strange contortion and nodded sagely to indicated that they realized the stairs had finally had their way with me. I'm surprised people don't take bets on this; seriously.

Ok, no big deal, I'm still alive and nothing seems to be broken so that's great. I go to bed, get up stupidly early the next morning for a flight to Michigan to visit the family for some reason (honestly I have no idea why I was going to Michigan, it wasn't Christmas and it wasn't summer and those are usually the only times I go back). Spent a day in Michigan, all is fine and mid-westerny, go to bed.

And BAM! I'm a quadriplegic!

I woke up the next morning and I seriously, no exaggeration at all, could not move. I could not move. I honestly don't think I've ever been so scared (well except for the Wall but I think that actually came after this). I as lying on my back, which later I was thankful for because I often sleep on my stomach and that could have been very bad, with my head turned to the right. And nothing moved.  I could in fact wiggle my fingers and toes so I knew logically I was probably not actually a quadriplegic, but nothing bigger that would budge. So after calming myself (sort of but honestly not really) out of a panic, I did the only thing I could do. I started yelling for my mommy.

Poor woman rushed in still half asleep (I think it might have been pretty early) and looked at me blankly when I told her that I was now a quadriplegic. And who could blame her really. In the end we decided that  by grabbing the handrail when I fell and being jerked into a contorted stop I'd probably given myself whiplash and then exacerbated it by spending time on an uncomfortable plane.My mom toasted and liberally buttered cinnamon chip bread for me and then fed me and stayed in the room to talk to me. Which was really great because I couldn't hold a book while my body took it's time deciding that I really wasn't a quadriplegic and while there was a TV in the room my head was turned away from it.

Eventually I was able to start moving and get up and walk around and such. So that's good. My neck still hurt and I had to spend the whole weekend with my head stuck in that right-turned position which made walking, conversations, eating dinner...well everything really somewhat awkward.

So yeah. That was fun.

*A friend has convinced me to run a 10K with her. I just don't see that going well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Time I Broke My Catholic Muscle

Seeing as how Easter is almost upon us and I already posted the story about the frozen baby rabbit, the second best Easter post I can think of is the time I broke my Catholic muscles. Both of them. It was my first year in DC and I decided I was going to spend Good Friday at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (something I still do every year). Stations of the Cross start at noon and I got there a little later than I'd planned because I was too busy making eyes at my oh so cute supervisor. Well I got my punishment! At the basilica, Stations are downstairs in the crypt church which hasn't nearly the seating as the great upper church. Not nearly. So since I only got there about 10 minutes before everything started I didn't get a spot in a pew. Which meant that for the 14 Stations of the Cross I had to genuflect, then kneel on the marble floor.

I did not then, and frankly still don't now, have terribly strong quads.

Then it was confession and a move upstairs for musical reflections and the service.* Good Friday service is pretty long and it's impressive that Catholics can stay still for it all. We have an internal timer that gives a warning bell at about 55 minutes, goes off at the hour, and a minute over is like a shrieking fire alarm urging you to leave. You can tell what time it is by how fidgety everyone is. But for the two plus hours on Good Friday people are pretty good. I think it's because there's so much moving around. There's way more sit-stand-kneel-walk than there is during a regular Mass.

What did me in this particular service were the Prayers of the Faithful. During a regular Mass you hear them while standing and there are maybe seven. Which seems to be an odd number (ha!) but it's a decent median. On Good Friday at the Basilica, I kid not, there are about two dozen. And you stand while you hear them...but you have to genuflect when you give the response. Now I was already feeling a little shaky in the leg after the Stations incident so I was practically in tears after these prayers. Getting up and down took an immense effort and I had to grip the pew back in front of me to guide myself.

And that was just the Prayers of the Faithful! There was still all the regular sit-stand-kneel-walking! By the time it was Communion I had to drag myself out of a sustained kneel, shuffle to the front of the long aisle, back to the pew, and reluctantly and stiffly kneel back down.

Finally the service was over and I shuffled painfully, but thankfully downhill, to the metro. Where I proceeded to look ridiculous as I tried to negotiate the stairs into the station; luckily for once the escalators were at least working and I got to the platform with not too much effort. After I boarded the train I remained standing for the three stops even though it was practically empty and there were plenty of places to sit. I just knew that if I sat down, I was not going to be able to get back up to debark. Also thankfully my apartment wasn't too far from the metro and there were no hills or stairs involved. By the time I got home all I could do was stiffly fall onto the couch. And I stayed there the rest of that day and all of Saturday.

Saturday morning I had to call my bellydance instructor to let her know that I broke my Catholic muscles and couldn't move and therefore couldn't make it to class. Seriously my legs didn't function at all. My quads had seized and were just not cooperating. There was a beat of silence on the other end of the phone as my Jewish dance teacher absorbed that I had broken Catholic muscles...but then she told me she hoped I got better and maybe I should ice something.

My unsympathetic roommate doubled over in laughter every time I couldn't stand it (ha) any longer and had to drag myself to the bathroom. And drag myself I did. I'd roll off the couch, army crawl to the bathroom, and use the toilet and bathtub to leverage myself up. Then repeat sequence to get back to the couch.

Luckily by Sunday morning my legs eased enough that I was able to make it to Easter Mass. I did avoid kneeling during the Mass though.

So now every year that I manage to be in the country for Lent I go into training to prepare for Good Friday. This means going to church Friday night every week of Lent for Mass and Stations of the Cross. And even though I have a pew because so few people come for daily Mass, I stand in the center aisle and genuflect/kneel on the floor. This way, even if my insistence on getting to the Basilica 30-40 minutes early on Good Friday doesn't net me a pew, I'll be prepared.

*Interesting tidbit-Good Friday is the only service all year that's just a service and isn't a Mass. Know why? Please tell me because I don't know either.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Seriously Steve Madden Has It Out For Me

So not only does Steve Madden hate me, but I really think he's trying to kill me. And the most puzzling thing about this is that I just don't know what I did to him except wear his shoes and look pretty good in them. I mean maybe this was my fault. I was walking after all.

Halloween weekend (yes it's been a while since I posted) I went to a wine tasting with a girlfriend of mine. It was  a pretty nasty day, there was some sort of horrible sleety cold grossness happening. By the time I made it from the metro to the hotel for the wine tasting I was a solid block of cold. We spent a couple hours sampling wines from around the world and about a half hour before we left I cut myself off. I was feeling fine and on the edge of falling over so I decided to be wise and resist the last half dozen tables. Except maybe I did have one taste of this Moscato flavored with orange blossoms...but the point is I cut myself off.

I will now correct what I neglected to say initially and mention that I was wearing the same Steve Madden boots that caused me to fall down twice in the airport.

As we were leaving we concurred that the couple cubes of cheese we'd had just weren't cutting it and decided to have dinner. We went to Cleveland Park near her place to a restaurant that specializes in meat. I love meat.

We walked in, and I put one foot on their super shiny slippery fake wood floor and it was all over.

With one foot on the mat holding me in place, the other shot out and I wavered fighting for balance with everything in me. In those few seconds while I flailed my arms about desperate to not fall I managed to see my friend and everyone else there turn to me with horrified faces. Then it was all over and I fell on my face.

Now it's possible that the fall may have had something to do with highly waxed fake wood, sleet, and a slightly worn out heel (I was not drunk, thank you*) but given my track record with these boots I think this was, in fact, Steve Madden's second attempt on my life.

One of the most annoying things about falling down in public is that people, well except in Taiwan, don't just let you lay there. If you fall down, especially on your face, you not only need but want a few moments to yourself. You need to do a quick mental check to see if anything's broken and gather up your shattered dignity before anyone slips on it. What you don't need is hysterical restauranteur terrified that you're going to sue** for overly slippery floors flapping around you trying to haul you up and dust you off. I got up and somewhat stiffly made my way to our table insisting that I was fine. I was a bit sore and unfortunately could feel that the little headache I already had was growing but there was meat to be eaten.

After the meat we went back to her place. By now my head was raging and I quickly swallowed one of my previous migraine pills. I was having what I believed to be the worst migraine I'd had in years. Mine vary in pain level and while the pain and light/sound/smell sensitivity are never fun times; I'm lucky enough that I usually don't get the nausea and vomiting. Not so this time. This was my first visit to my friend's new apartment and I got to know her bathroom really well. Really really well. I had also wasted my migraine medication as it didn't stay in my stomach long enough to do anything. When I felt that I could move without more vomiting she drove me home. The 10 minute was even worse than the metro ride after I broke my neck. But I got home and immediately reacquainted myself with my own bathroom. I went to bed with ice packs wrapped around my head and a fervent prayer that it would be gone when I woke up.

Somewhat miraculously it was! I was a little dizzy and tired from not having slept well (which meant I nodded off one or two more times during church than usual) but no pain! Hurrah!

Later that day I talked to my mom to find out how she was enjoying her visit to my sister and brother-in-law in Florida. I mentioned the fall because now that my migraine was gone I could look back on it with humor. I also mentioned the horrible migraine I had had. She in turn mentioned this to my sister who told me that I was an idiot and that I hadn't had a migraine; I had a concussion.

Huh. My mind never even went there. I mean why would it? Massive stabbing burning pain on one side of my head + dizzy + nausea = migraine. Apparently it also equals concussion especially when coupled with that nodding off I'd been doing all day (which yay turns out I'm not a bad Catholic after all!). I thought about the fall again and realized that she was probably rights. I did hit my head on the way down and I'd assumed that knock had just turned a small headache into a major production.

Fall breakdown: 1. Slipped and went into a splits position
                2. Landed initially on my left knee
                   3. Slammed my head onto the floor

So conclusion...Steve Madden who, to my knowledge, has no power to cause migraines, has now made his second attempt on my life with this really cute pair of boots. I continue to wear the boots because I refuse to let him intimidate me.

*Yes yes maybe I was a little tipsy but tipsy is not drunk.
**Apparently in the end said restauranteur wasn't terrified enough over the prospect of being sued as we didn't even get complimentary dessert.