well, that explains it…

Brain Attic
Image found at machinartorium

Over the last two years, my dentist and I have been working to get my teeth in good working order. Not that they didn’t work well before, mind you. I had no problem chewing or ripping the heads off gingerbread men with my incisors. It’s just that I had a bad dentist many years ago who decided that it was best to save a wisdom tooth on my mandible and get rid of a molar on the maxilla, very close to the saved wisdom tooth, and that threw everything off, since the molar was never replaced and the wisdom tooth shifted and chipped my now unstable teeth above it.

Yeah, he wasn’t the brightest of dentists.

After many years sans dentist (because I didn’t know who to trust), in 2013 I found a good one through my boyfriend. Even better, he’s within walking distance of our place.

We’ve now got all the previously endangered teeth saved, fixed, or replaced with crowns. And now, we’re finally tackling my two upper incisors. He’s been wanting to replace those since the day we met.

See, when I around 8 or so, I was riding my bicycle down a hill, trying to catch up with a friend, and I fell off my bike, slamming my face into the concrete. I knocked all of my teeth loose, so I was given braces to help tighten my teeth. I only had to wear them for a few months, so that was of the good, but I’m not sure slamming one’s face on concrete is the best way to avoid wearing braces for several years during one’s teens (and I probably would have).

In my early 20s, when my nerve-damaged incisors broke after chewing on a pen, my then-dentist (a good one, not the bad one mentioned above – he came later) replaced them with crowns. They lasted many years, but after 20+ years, they were showing their age and the gums were looking irritated. So my current dentist recommended that they be replaced with more current dental work and after almost two years, I finally agreed. (Mainly because I have over $1,000 left in my health flexible spending account and if I don’t use it this year, I lose it).

This is all a roundabout way of saying that I started thinking about that childhood fall. And I thought about my fall last October, where I slammed my face into concrete again, receiving a rather impressing black eye in the process. And I started counting up the number of times I’ve hit my head over the years (usually through my own clumsiness).

The time as a child where I slammed into a clothesline pole left eye first when playing hide-and-seek or hit my right eye on a sink because I wasn’t paying attention (lovely bumps from those).

Or the time I got in a verbal fight with one of my brothers over who was going to take a shower first and he lost his temper and punched me in the face. (No real damage there, but apparently I screamed and fell. I remember the verbal fight and the falling. I don’t remember the punch or the screaming, but I must have screamed, because the entire family ended up looking down on me.)

There was that time when I fell off the high part of a slide when I was maybe five or six and hit – yes, you guessed it – face first in the hard dirt and cut up my mouth. And when playing volleyball or other sports during my school years, I’ve had objects accidentally hit me in the face because I just managed to move in the exact wrong direction when trying to catch or avoid these objects.

I hit a single spot on the back of my head enough times over the course of two years in the mid-Aughts that there is now a divot in that spot.

(None of this is takes into account the falls/missteps/accidents I’ve had that didn’t involve my head.)

I’m thankful that I’ve never broken a bone and that I apparently have a really, really hard head. But I’m not sure that I haven’t been affected.

My memory has always been a little shaky and it seems to be getting shakier as I get older. My ability to lay my mental hands on the appropriate vocabulary word is also getting more iffy, which is absolutely frustrating for me. I’m sure that some of that is due to age – my experiences piling up and my brain attic filling up to a precarious point where it looks like a hoarder lives in there.

But I wonder, how much of my unreliable memory, or my loss of vocabulary, is due to these head injuries?

I tell ya, it sure would explain a hell of a lot.

disaster narrowly averted…

As a rule, I don’t spend the night at CuteFilmNerd’s place during the week.  Mainly because, in my carless state, getting back to my place in time to take care of kitties, change my clothes (I shower at his place) and catch the bus to work is pretty much a pain in the ass and means I have to wake up way too early.  And the times when CuteFilmNerd has driven me home so that I wouldn’t have to wake up so early and take the bus?  Haven’t worked out well timewise anyway.

(We’re both people who have difficulty getting up in the morning – which means, when together, our morning drag time is double what it would be if we were alone.)

However, last night I ended up at his place.  I foresaw a little bit of a hassle in the morning, but I was in the mood to deal with it (sometimes I’m not).  Turns out it was a good thing that I did stay at his place.

At approximately 1:45am I woke from a sound sleep.  I wasn’t sure why, but recently I’ve been going through one of my insomnia phases, so I thought that might be it.  I started to roll over when I realized the ancient box window fan was sounding funnier than usual and there was a strange burning smell in the air.

My reflexes kicked in and before I really knew what was happening I leapt out of bed and rushed to the fan, which was luckily on my side of the bed.  CuteFilmNerd’s voice drowsily drifted from the bed.  “What’s wrong?”

“Something’s burning!” I replied as I followed the electrical cord to the cool plug (which sparked slightly, but not dangerously) and pulled it from the power strip.

That woke him up quick enough as he too leapt out of bed.  “What’s burning?”

“The fan, but it’s off now.”

Our hearts started to slow down as we realized the building was not in danger of burning down.  I padded off to the bathroom and when I returned CuteFilmNerd was sitting at his desk, looking a little stunned, from what I could see sans glasses.  He thanked me several times as we settled back into bed.

I think what happened was that the motor that turned the blades on the fan broke, but there was still something moving within the motor, so there was friction happening that created the burning smell.  To my sleepy nose, the smell reminded me of ozone, but with a burnt edge to it.  I haven’t looked at the fan since, nor do I think CuteFilmNerd has (he was more or less asleep when I left this morning), but I would be interested in inspecting it, just to see what happened.

Still, it’s a good thing I was there this morning, as CuteFilmNerd tends to sleep more deeply than I do.  It’s also a good thing that I’m going through my insomniac period right now, because if I weren’t, even I might not have awakened in time.

Whew.

this and that…

I feel like writing, but no real subject pops up. Just a couple of little things:

  • I’m in the process of figuring out what constitutes an asthma attack and what doesn’t. I mean, not being able to take a deep breath is certainly a major symptom, but what else? Turns out I have two of the more unusual asthma symptoms around: sighing and anxiety. Perhaps those anxiety attacks I had back in late 2006-early 2007 were really early warning signs of my asthma. And I find I sigh quite frequently, which is confusing around friends because they’re sure that I’m thinking deep, heavy thoughts when in reality I’m just trying to find a way of catching my breath. Excessive yawning is another way of catching my breath, so if I’m yawning around you, it’s not because I’m tired or bored. Probably.
  • I have a deep dark secret to reveal: there are quite a few ’70s songs that I love unreservedly. Many of them are a bit on the cheesy side, while others at least approach The Land of Cheez. Wildfire, Seasons in the Sun, The Night That The Lights Went Out In Georgia, The Night Chicago Died, If You Could Read My Mind, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, etc, etc, etc. Even non-cheesy ’60s songs get me going (i.e. To Sir With Love). Play any of these songs and I guarantee that I will stop in my tracks and start singing along. At some point I will close my eyes and most likely sway. If my sense of restraint is completely gone, dancing will ensue. Admittedly, several of them became big around the time that my sister died, so songs like Wildfire, Seasons in the Sun, and If You Could Read My Mind (or anything mentioning death or disappearance) are irretrievably twined with memories of grief and recovery, but damn if I don’t still love all these songs (and more!) with all my heart and soul. *sigh*


(I actually sang this for my fifth grade Gong Show – got a 27!)

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-2286078168971752827&hl=en&fs=true
I know, I know…*hangs head*

one of them newfangeled interwebs thingies…

In a stunning move meant to lead the trend pack by trailing it by miles, I have joined Netflix. Because watching 2-5 movies a week in the theater these days just doesn’t seem to be enough. And also because I got a two-week free trial. And they have Basil Rathbone movies that I have never seen before. Anyone who knows me knows of my undying love for all things Basil Rathbone.

I currently have thirty-two discs in my queue. Of course, eighteen of those are Scrubs episodes – the first six seasons with Season 7 on order. But I’ve got all manner of movies on there: sci-fi, musicals, mysteries, thrillers and unusual independents. It’s a good thing that I just got a new (to me) TV that’ll be hooked up to my DVD player in my bedroom. Mind you, I hate having a TV in my room, but with CuteFilmNerd over my place as often as he is and my roommate deciding that he wants to use his own TV in the living room to tape TV shows, well, I don’t feel like I have much choice in the matter. Plus the TV was free. You can’t beat a free 27″ TV with a stick. Well, you could, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Things stop working when you do that.

As I recently Twittered, I’m so late to the party that I started my own.

(Whenever I mention Twitter and Twittering around CuteFilmNerd, he turns into a 12 year old with the double innuendos. Is it wrong that I not only think it’s cute in an almost-42 year old man, but I shamelessly encourage him? Apparently I am also 12.)

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Last week I saw five movies in the theater. Five! That’s twice as many as 2006 and 2007 combined! Granted, three of them were over the weekend (double bill of Network and The Hospital on Saturday and a Saturday midnight showing of Piranha – one of CuteFilmNerd’s favorite films), but still, that’s a lot of movies. I’m seriously thinking about putting together a list of all the movies that CuteFilmNerd and I see together, just to remind myself what I’m immersing myself in. At this rate, I’ll have seen more movies than any of my friends who have made fun of me for seeing so few movies (CuteNerdBoy and my roommate come to mind, for example).One of the fun things about living in L.A., however, is not just the movies that are available in revival houses, but the folks who show up to watch them. At the midnight showing of Piranha I saw Quentin Tarantino, Justin Long and Zachary Quinto. Pretty cool, I have to say. I mean, I don’t care all that much about Tarantino, but the other two were fun to see. Plus I met Clu Gulager, whom CuteFilmNerd knows and who is the very definition of a working actor. Also pretty cool.

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However, not all is milk and honey in the World of Carol. As there are times where I am not always the brightest bulb on the string, I was stupid enough to sit in the front row of the movie theater for Piranha. Being the not-so-proud possessor of an arthritic neck for the last ten years, I know better than this. But CuteFilmNerd wanted to sit and talk with Clu before the movie started and I thought about the time I saw The Return of the King in the front row of the theater with no ill effects (a lucky fluke, apparently), so I said sure. Dumb move on my part. I’ve been aching ever since and taking ibuprofen like it’s candy. I’m sure moving my TV on Saturday before the movie didn’t help much. *sigh*

Also, last weekend I stupidly dropped my camera when CuteFilmNerd and I were hiking in Griffith Park. While I can still take photos with it, I seem to be unable to get the photos off the camera unless my new fella uses his card reader on his laptop. Something we didn’t get around to doing this past weekend, which means I have some very cool photos from last weekend and this past weekend that I can’t upload to my Picasa account. Excuse me as I commence fuming.

Which means that I’ll just have to make do with a couple of photos from his online profile that caught my attention:

Damn, he’s a cutie! Okay, maybe he’s got a thing about pointing (not really – just when he’s being silly for photos).

And on Saturday he used the “G” word in referring to me. I’m not talking “goose,” either. When I asked him about it, he said that, given how much time we spend together – which is nearly every day – and how we care for one another, it seemed to fit. So it looks like I’ve got myself a boyfriend.

How’d that happen?

Of course, that means that freaking out must also commence, because that’s just the way I roll, baby. But I must freak out in such a way that I don’t push away my brand-new boyfriend, because I really like this guy.

Doing the ol’ finger-crossing again…

breathe…

Took my tai chi class during my lunchtime (thanks for offering it, JPL!) and yes, I feel better. I had a feeling I would, as I took tai chi almost fifteen years ago through UCLA Extension and loved it. I’m not as peaceful this time around as I was the last time, but the last time I wasn’t going through a bunch of crap, so that’s not too surprising.

My class is Mondays and Wednesdays until February 13th, so twice a week for the next five weeks is sure to help out. And I think I’m going to put myself on standby for JPL’s Dynamic Strength Training class (Tuesdays and Thursdays) so maybe I can get back on track as far as fitness goes.

phew…

The swelling is going down, the anti-biotics are taking effect, the bump over my eyebrow, while red and looking a little scabby, no longer looks like I’ve got a second head sprouting.

And nothing needs to be lanced.

Whew.

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More stuff up at Ficlets, if’n you’re interested.

Man, these anti-biotics are taking a lot out of me. I think it’s time for a nap…

oh joy oh rapture…

So, I went to the doctor yesterday to see what this big red bump over my eyebrow is. This big red bump that is getting bigger and more painful every day since it first started developing on Friday afternoon.

It’s staph.

Oh joy.

I’ve got anti-biotics to help eradicate the buggers. It’s pretty itchy so I’m trying very hard not to scratch it. I even slept with gloves on last night so I wouldn’t scratch it in my sleep. And I’m practically attached to my little bottle of hand sanitizer to keep from spreading the bacteria, just in case. But damn, this thing is bugging the hell out of me.

Still, as I told HSTeacher last night, it’s probably a good thing that, if I was going to get staph, it showed up on my face. If it were on my back or my buttocks, where I can’t really see it or where I’m especially cushy, it would have taken longer for me to notice it and to get it treated. As it is, it was caught before things got really bad.

Doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about the location. The swelling is even a little bigger than it was yesterday and is putting pressure on my eye. If it hasn’t started improving by tomorrow, I’m going back to the doctor and seeing if I can get this thing lanced or something. Because I’d rather it not start messing with my vision. I just got these cute glasses and I ain’t giving them up.

hanging out with the strikers…

On Friday I ended up bussing it to Culver City to join the strikers at the Fox Studios. I didn’t get there until around 11:30am and pretty much kept to myself – I was in a shy kinda mood. though I did run into stee very briefly as things were starting to wrap up. Plus I was just getting used to my new glasses that I picked up that morning, so the world was a little off-kilter. Still, it was really cool being there, hanging out and taking pictures. There were easily 2,000-3,000 people there and I got tons of photos. Here are just a few:

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For those worried about those blank pages in the scripts.

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Keeping the strikers’ spirits up. (I actually took this near the end of the event – I didn’t hear them playing during my time there.)

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Not long after the start of the marching portion of the day, as the strikers’ marched up and down Avenue of the Stars. Demetri Martin is the fellow in the white t-shirt in the front.

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Brian Posehn talking with his fellow strikers. Heaven help me, I used to watch Just Shoot Me! back in the day, even though I rarely laughed at it and didn’t like it much. Except when Brian Posehn was on. I like Brian Posehn. Too bad he’s on The Sarah Silverman Program now. I do not like Sarah Silverman.

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Near the end of the event – very intense discussions going on in the crowd.

And now for the Cutest Picture Ever:
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I mean, I know the baby’s parents put her on the pile o’ signs to get attention – it’s pretty damned obvious. But this baby was all levels of photogenic ham (“Where’s mah contract?!”). And damned if my ovaries didn’t do their own little dance at this way too adorable baby. Why, they’re zinging now! Damned ovaries.

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In other news, yes, I did get new glasses. And they look so cute and even a little hip and funky:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I never thought I would look good in funky frames – nice to know I was wrong about that!

However, if you look very closely, you may notice a bit of redness above my left eyebrow (which is on the right side of the photo). That redness looks more like this:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yep, it’s red and swollen. I have no idea where it came from. I have not been hitting my head against walls or banging boards against it. It just popped up out of nowhere on Friday evening, along with a less noticeable, but equally painful, swelling in front and behind my left ear. I suspect I have a bit of an infection brewing, but I’ll know for sure after I go to the doctor a little later today. Because bumps located above my eye that get bigger and more tender each day? Not really the norm for me.

If I’da known that my warranty was going to expire once I hit 40, I would have talked to the manufacturer about buying an extended warranty. Because this totally sucks.

the rumor is…

…that I’m still alive. Just going through one of my “not feeling like writing” moods, is all.

You might be asking, “Carol, what ever happened with that breast cancer walk thing? Wasn’t that supposed to happen last month?”

Why, yes. Yes, it was. Unfortunately I went and got myself asthma a month or so before and was diagnosed the week of the walk. Because I suddenly realized that gasping for breath when I’m sitting down and not doing a damned bit of exertion wasn’t natural.

First injuring my ankles before the half-marathon benefiting AIDS back in 2005. Now asthma before a 39 mile walk benefiting breast cancer research. I’m pretty much 0 for 2 here.

Can’t say that I’m surprised. Weak lungs run in the family. At least half of my many nieces and nephews have or have had childhood asthma and my mother and two of my siblings got it in their 30s. The fact that my lungs waited until I was 41 means I’m ahead of the curve. Of course, living in the San Fernando Valley and working on the edge of the San Gabriel Valley – two rather smoggy areas here in L.A. – probably contributed to it, as did waiting for buses twice a day for damned near every day over the last three years Nothing quite so good for weak lungs as inhaling car, bus and truck exhaust. Plus over the last year I’ve been regularly exposed to an air purifier that, while not an ozone generator per se, still puts out small amounts of ozone, which is bad for sensitive folks. Like me. I honestly don’t think that was the main cause, because everything that I’ve been able to find points to the purifier being within the medically accepted limits, but I do think it might have been the trigger for already damaged lungs.

Woo fucking hoo.

Aside from the admittedly mild case of asthma (it was caught pretty early), I’m honestly not doing all that bad. Just a tired day, is all.

keeping me on my toes…

Last week I was looking forward to a short week. Since I had Wednesday off for Independence Day and Friday off due to my lovely 9/80 schedule (every other Friday off), I decided to take Thursday off and make it a five day weekend. Yea!

I didn’t know until Monday night that it would be a six day weekend. And it wasn’t something to go all “Yea!” about.

When I got home from work on Monday, I made myself some dinner and ate it while watching Scrubs on Comedy Central. My roommate IrishWriter was off to some political meeting – either Democratic Party business or Richardson campaign business, I’m not sure.

After eating dinner I realized I hadn’t seen all of the cats, so I did a quick headcount. BJ? Present. Edison? Present and yowling for attention. Matisse? Matisse? Nope, nowhere around.

Now that was odd. He’s big on greeting IrishWriter and me when we enter the apartment. He loves humans and doesn’t mind letting them know. And if you sit down on the sofa, you had better believe that he will sit himself down as close to you as possible, whether it’s on your lap or arm or behind your head.

So I went searching. Ever since Noel died last summer, I’ve been a bit paranoid about making sure the cats are around and alive. So I looked under everything and eventually found him under my desk. I called to him (Matisse knows his name and comes when called), but he wouldn’t come out. He lifted his head to look at me and it seemed that his head was bobbing a little in a way I’d never seen it bobble in the ten years I’ve had him. Then he put his head down in a distinctly non-thrilled way.

This was not a healthy cat.

I tried to drag him out from his hiding place, but the hissing started and I knew no good would come of it. I called my roommate, whom I knew was on his way home from his meeting, and asked when did he think he’d be getting home, giving him the 411 about Matisse’s odd behavior. As he had just pulled into our parking garage, pretty much immediately. He decided to wait downstairs while I tried to get Matisse out from underneath my desk and into a cat carrier. Twenty minutes later, after much hissing and digging of claws into carpet, I called IrishWriter and let him know that it would be awhile, so he might as well come on up.

An hour and a half later – during which there were copious amounts of wailing and gnashing of teeth on both my and Matisse’s parts (with Matisse wriggling from my grasp numerous times and finding new hiding places – it got to the point where if I looked at him, he’d hiss and yowl) – I called the closest pet emergency hospital for advice and to notify them we’d be coming in. The woman on the other end reminded me of the old “wrap the cat in the towel” trick, which I knew about and had used in the past, but had completely forgotten about in my panic over Matisse’s seeming desire to hide and die.   (An earlier conversation with HSTeacher yielded the pillowcase idea, but I couldn’t see how I was going to get a pillowcase around a cat scrunched up in the corner).  IrishWriter’s own suggestion about donning gloves was helpful as well.  Fifteen minutes later my sick and ornery cat was in the cat carrier and within minutes we were winging our way to Studio City.

They hydrated him and xrayed him and determined he was in no immediate danger, but they wanted to keep him overnight for testing and observation. For a grand total of $1000+. Which I didn’t have. I knew my own vet would cost less, so I let the emergency folks give him a broad spectrum antibiotic – just in case – paid up for what they had already done and took Matisse home at 11:30pm. I left a message on my boss’s work voicemail, letting him know that I would probably not be in the next day because of the cat situation.

The next morning IrishWriter dropped my twelve year old feline and me off at my vet by 8:00 am. It wasn’t long before he was seen and weighed. The vet wanted to do series of tests normally administered to senior cats and noticed that Matisse seemed very constipated, so she recommended that I come back in about two hours. Off I went to get something to eat, as I was starving, and a little less than two hours later I popped back into the vet’s office. Shortly thereafter the vet sat with me and let me know the in-house urine test revealed that Matisse has diabetes.

Terrific.

After showing me how to administer the insulin shot (which looked soooo easy when she did it) and paying my (high, but not fighteningly so) bill, I called MusicianMan to come and pick us up, as I had made arrangements the night before for this (I couldn’t imagine being on the bus for an hour with a possibly freaked out Matisse in his cat carrier). I spoke to my boss as I waited for my ride, and his response was, “Go home. Take care of your cat.” Yeah, my boss is pretty damned cool. I also called IrishWriter and let him know the medical verdict. His response was the same as mine: Shit. But at least we can take care of it.

MusicianMan showed up and the three of us headed back to my place. MusicianMan loves cats, so he was way too cute in saying, “Pleased to meet you,” to Matisse – he had never met any of my cats before.

A few days later I got a call from my vet – the blood test and external urine test results confirmed the diabetes, but also came back with a urinary infection. So I went and got some antibiotics for that from the local pharmacy (I couldn’t get to the vet’s office when it was open).

Poor sick little kitty.

It’s all manageable, of course. Ten days of antibiotics should take care of the infection. The diabetes will be kept under control with twice daily shots of insulin. He’s already showing immense improvement and is very lively. I’m exceedingly pleased that it’s something that’s manageable. But Matisse will have to be getting these shots for the rest of his life, which won’t be too fun for either of us. The excess skin that he’d had due to his weight loss is becoming less and less, as his weight comes back, which is great. But it’s harder to keep him still for the shots, because he knows something is up, even with the treats we give him before and during the shot.

As for the antibiotics, I tried to shoot the entire teaspoon of white liquid in Matisse’s mouth, but that was an expected nightmare, so I’ve started mixing it with canned cat food, which he doesn’t seem to mind. Then again, I haven’t given the cats anything but dry food and water and the occasional treat for many years (my vet said, back when BJ and Edison were kittens in 1999, that cats don’t need canned food past one year old, as long as they have plenty of water – they’ve had canned food, but only as a very rare treat), so of course he doesn’t mind. They’re loving the canned food now – all three get it, since it wouldn’t be fair to the younger boys. I don’t see myself giving them canned food beyond Matisse’s need of the antibiotics, so there will be kitty sadness in a week or so.

Anywho, my toes? They are quite strong, thanks to all the exercise they’ve been getting. Maybe I should become a ballerina…