Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Canine Twin

Talk about throwing pride to the wind. That's what I did today, at the Golden State Greyhound Adoption annual picnic, when I entered a contest with my pup, Olivia. The name of this contest?

"People Who Look Like Their Dog."

But I had to enter. How could I not when the first, second and third place winners were promised a prize of the highest order? The desirable, invaluable, and highly esteemed... drum roll please...Squeaky Toy.

We nailed second place.

And so, here is the evidence (albeit fuzzy, thanks to the lousy camera on my iPhone 3). What's important is that my girl got her coveted squeaky toy, and heck, I figure there are worse things to resemble than her sweet face. Anyway, I prefer to think that Olivia's big ears and long nose have nothing to do with our striking mirror image, and more to do with the fact that we're both tall and skinny, right?

Right?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Very Nerve

I work with a woman who has the most beautiful complexion I've ever seen. It looks like pure porcelain, not a mark, wrinkle, or blemish to be found. It looks air-brushed, her skin is that stunning.

As Tina Fey would say, "I want to go to there."

And so, even though I don't know this co-worker very well, I asked for her beauty secrets because hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, and my skin could use a little tune-up. And, as women are wont to do when paid a compliment, she was sweet and flattered, and happy to share her skin care products.

Except I learned that we used the exact same line! Could it possibly be (gasp) ME? Ah, but then she revealed one additional product she uses, a tinted sunscreen, which I deduced must be the secret ingredient: all I had to do was add this particular item to my skin care and voila! Buh-bye Howdy Doody, hello Hot Mama, right? Right?

And so, I went to Amazon to place my order, but first perused the reviews, which were awesome, of course, every one of 'em. "Best product ever" and "light and silky on your face!" I was right: this WAS the missing link. I was ready to click "send" when one review caught my eye. The headline said, "Great, except for the alumina."

Uh, what's alumina?

It's a chemical, I read, "...a suspected neurotoxin that is classified as toxic or harmful.. something to be wary of, especially if" --these words jumped from the screen --"you are predisposed for any degenerative or neurological diseases."

Now, it's no secret that four years ago, I had jaw surgery that resulted in permanent nerve damage to my face and inside my mouth. Then, last year, the fun continued when I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder in which a protein in my blood is "eating" my nerve sheaths. This condition, which first attacks the longest nerves in the body, has already numbed both feet and is slowly working its way up my legs.

I've got, in the most literal sense, a bad case of nerves.

That's why this review caught my eye. It led me to do a little research, which validated that it's probably not a bad idea to avoid alumina. Don't want to aggravate the little buggers more than they already are, know what I mean?

But then I wondered, was alumina in MY sunscreen? I grabbed my tube of Neutrogena, the stuff I religiously slather on my already-numb face to prevent melanoma. The stuff I've used for years. And, as the theme song from "Psycho" played in my head, there it was, the number one ingredient: alumina. 

Alrighty then.

So I'm tempted to order the toxic stuff because heck, the harm has already been done. It's like my lame jaw surgeon said when he tried consoling me about the nerve damage done to my face:

"Hey, you may be numb, but at least you look good."   

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Call Me Ishmael the Plumber

I've been blessed with thick hair. Curly hair. Lots of hair. And it's nice on my head, but not so much in my drain.

Which is where it always seems to land, in spite of my best efforts to blow-dry my hair away from the counter. My silky strands somehow manage to float through the air and, with the focus of a heat-seeking missile, gravitate toward the sink to effectively clog the pipes.

Last night, when neither basin would drain, I spent an exciting Saturday evening fishing with my handy-dandy Cobra 400 Zip-It stick. The spiky little teeth usually work like a charm, although it's an effort not to gag at the sight of the hairy pond scum that comes up. But last night, nothing.

So I placed a 9-1-1 call to Captain Ahab. This is what I call Sarge, a retired plumber who lives down the street and tolerates my frequent calls with a fatherly patience. He usually shows up, tinkers 5, 10 minutes and voila, whale killed, problem solved. Half the time he doesn't even charge me since the problems are so minuscule.

"I'll get ya next time," he usually warns me with a grin.

And reliable as always, Sarge showed up promptly at 9am this morning, armed with a mean-looking, mega-long Zip-it stick and looking pretty confident. Only this time, like Captain Ahab, Sarge appeared to have met his match.

"Clog's too deep," he said after 30 minutes of fruitless fishing. "Gonna need something stronger." A bigger boat, per chance? And he left.

He returned half-an-hour later with some nasty-looking liquid. When I inquired about the brown stuff sloshing in the clear container, he replied with a cryptic, "You don't wanna know." And up the stairs he went.

For the next two hours I could hear Sarge tinkering around while I finished reading the Sunday paper. He left the house briefly, only to return with more tools. I baked chocolate chip cookies and watched an episode of "I Love Lucy" while the clinking-clanking sounds continued echoing through the house. He left and returned again. I swept the floors, watered the garden. I tried to pretend that this was a pleasant Sunday morning in which my beloved fantasy husband (who looks like Hugh Grant because hey, this is my fantasy) was upstairs puttering around with his newest toy, and not a plumber who typically charges $90/hr.

Finally, Sarge clumped down the stairs, ready to leave. Not that he was done, mind you.

"Gonna hafta come back to finish the job," he told me. "The stuff I'm using needs time to work. In the meantime," he warned, "stay away from the bathroom." When he saw the look of concern flash across my face, he was quick to reassure me that there weren't vapors or anything to worry about. Vapors? I hadn't thought of vapors. Good lord, what was in that container?

"Just stay away," he repeated. "Pretend those two sinks don't exist."

And so, tomorrow Captain Ahab returns in yet another attempt to harpoon Moby for good. Not to mention, I fear, my wallet.

After all, he's always joked, "I'll get ya next time." This time he may mean it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Origin of "Pillow Fight"



How hard can it be to buy a pillow?

That's what I wondered during my chat with another customer at Bed, Bath & Beyond. We were both in the linen department, shuffling through shelves and shelves of pillows, when she told me this was her third return.

"The first one was too firm and gave me a neck-ache," she said. "And the second one was too soft and flat. Buying a pillow is so difficult!"

I nodded sympathetically, but really, I wondered if maybe she was just a tad high maintenance. With so many pillows and so many options, how could one possibly go wrong?

There were pillows for side-sleepers, stomach-sleepers, back-sleepers, and sleepers who contort themselves into positions with no identifiable name. There were firm pillows, medium pillows, soft pillows and pillows for people with asthma or people who snore. There were down-feather pillows, foam pillows, memory foam pillows, synthetic pillows, latex pillows and for those with allergies, wool-cotton pillows.

All I had to do was pick the right pillow. Piece of cake, right?

When dozing off, I always start on my back, but eventually shift to my stomach, so I selected a firm, down-feather pillow. In the store, I gave it a test drive, hugging it to my chest, imagining it in my bed and cradling my head as I finish reading The Hunger Games trilogy. Ummm, felt nice. I could easily imagine myself dozing off to dreamland with this baby. I whipped out the credit card and bought two.

And the next day woke up with a throbbing headache and stiff neck.

Back to the store I bolted with the pillow-bricks in tow. Obviously, a firm pillow was not for me. Obviously, I didn't sleep on my back as long as I thought I did. Obviously, I needed a pillow more suited for stomach-sleepers. Logic abounding, I selected the softer, more gentle pillow for stomach-sleepers. Obviously.

And awoke the next morning with my face embedded in my mattress.

So, I'm heading back to Bed, Bath & Beyond for yet another exchange and a third purchase. Following the footsteps of the "high-maintenance" gal I talked to just a few days earlier. Now, I know what she meant when she pondered the difficulty of buying a pillow. I feel her pain.

Literally.

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