Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 in Review

Here is [mostly] what happened in my world this year, in [mostly] chronological order:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

In Case of Emergency - Part Two

The weekend following what occurred in the first part to this story, my husband and I were shopping for a lawnmower.  We had recently moved out of our condo and into a house, and the idea of suddenly needing lawn equipment was kind of a novelty.  After carefully considering our options, and knowing close to zero about all of them, we agreed on one that looked cool.

While we were waiting in the check-out line, a woman in front of us dropped to the floor and proceeded to suffer a grand maul seizure.  Instincts took over, and I now knew to help her onto her side and cushion her head, and I even managed to tell another woman in line to stop screaming because it was not helping the situation.  We did not know the victim’s health history, nor were we able to find out from a friend or family member since she was shopping alone, so I asked the screaming lady to make herself useful and call 911. 

Another shopper noticed what was going on and rushed over to help – he said that his son has epilepsy, so he knew what to do.  This seizure event concluded much more quickly than the last one I had witnessed, and as she drifted off to sleep I had the gentleman take my place in the floor to cradle her head.  I left them and ran outside to direct the paramedics.

Regardless of your beliefs in a higher power, you have to admit that the timing of these two events was interesting.  I feel like I was meant to witness how a particular situation was properly handled so I would be able to step in and help the next time I happened to be around when one occurred.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Case of Emergency - Part One

I work for a major university medical center, so I have the benefit of nearly constantly being among healthcare professionals – whether they be physicians, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners, medical assistants, etc.  I am fairly confident that, should something in my body go rogue [between the hours of 8-5, Monday thru Friday], the odds are in my favor that someone within earshot will be available to help a gal out.

I was in a training class last spring for a new Accounting/Payroll/HR program the university was about to implement campus-wide.  It was an afternoon session, and about half-way through we were recessed for a ten minute break.  Fellow trainees were up for a stretch, getting tea or a snack, or out in the hallway to check their messages.  I stayed at my desktop station since I had everything I needed, and so did the girl who was sitting in the row directly behind me. 

As one does, I was facing forward in my chair, checking my email, minding my business—then suddenly I heard a series of loud noises coming from directly behind me.  I turned around, and the girl sitting behind me was yelling noises, not words, and then her arms flew up over her head and she proceeded to fall to the floor and have a grand maul seizure.  I had never witnessed a real-life seizure situation, and thusly I had absolutely no idea what to do.  Within two seconds, several other trainees from my class dove to the floor to get the girl away from the desks and chairs to keep her from injuring herself, and they gently held her on her side and supported her head.  Someone else called 911 and another person ran outside to direct the paramedics when they arrived.  All of this happened within seconds.

It is the office workers, y’all, not the physicians and nurses, who attend classes about university accounting, payroll, and human resources.  People with jobs similar to mine [zero patient contact] stepped in and did their part to rectify the situation.  I remember being incredibly impressed watching these people communicate with each other and work in such a synchronized fashion.  It made me so full of pride to work where I do—and it reiterated that I get to work with amazing people.  The one thing I recall contributing, was picking up the girl’s cup of tea which got knocked over during the event.

From witnessing this situation and how it was handled, and recognizing that it was handled successfully, I gained new knowledge about steps to take in this particular type of emergency.  Does the seizing person have anyone with them – a family member or friend?  If so, ask them if the person has a history of seizures, is epileptic, or currently takes medication for seizures.  I learned that, in some instances as these, it may not be necessary to have the seizing person transported via ambulance to a hospital.  If the person is alone, it is always best to call 911 for help.  The person may require immediate testing to determine the cause of their seizure, especially if this is their very first event.  The girl from work told us that it was her first seizure when the paramedics successfully woke her up.  Before that day, I didn’t even know that, at the conclusion of a grand maul seizure, the person often settles into a deep sleep.

While I was quite shaken from the unpleasant surprise of witnessing my first seizure event, I was grateful to have seen it happen the way it did.  People stepped in who were familiar with this type of situation, they handled it, sought medical assistance, the paramedics arrived, and the girl was taken care of.  I knew that day, should I ever encounter such an event again, I would feel much more confident about offering to contribute to a person’s care until a medical professional could take over -- even more so than picking up a spilled cup of tea.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sunny Delight

I grew up in the country, and my brother and I kept a variety of indoor and outdoor pets over the years – dogs, cats, birds, fish, hermit crabs, iguanas, and random animals we would “rescue” from the back yard or street, like toads and turtles.

Our inside dog, Oscar, was a tiger-striped Dachshund/Terrier mix.  He was a sweet, gentle pup, and we would leave him to roam the house while we were not there, as opposed to being crated or put into the laundry room.  And we went several years without incident.

I was sick one spring day during middle school, and my dad stayed home from work to take me to the doctor.  We were gone for a couple of hours, and when we returned we discovered a trail of canary yellow feathers down the main hallway.  The only animal with yellow feathers in the house was my brother’s parakeet, Sunny.  Was.  As we made our way to my brother’s room, we found the small birdcage face down on the floor, minus the bird.

Oscar had managed to knock over the table on which the birdcage sat, and the rest was history.  After half an hour of searching the house with no luck in finding Sunny, we opted to go to the source.  My dad [the cop] interrogated Oscar about Sunny’s whereabouts, but all Oscar did was lick his chops as a smug response to his shameful deed.  I felt absolutely terrible for my poor brother and his ill-fated, featherless birdie that was most likely inside of my dog’s stomach.

We had cleared the crime scene evidence by the time my brother returned home from school, and my dad and I decided that we would talk to him together.  My dad took the lead, “Brien…it appears that Oscar…had a Sunny Delight.”  Well done, Dad.  Two days later, our suspicions were confirmed in the front yard.  Amazingly, Oscar hadn’t even chewed up the parakeet – he had actually swallowed her whole, as evidenced by her being in one undigested piece when her journey to the great beyond finally ended.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Feel it in My Fingers, I Feel it in My Toes

Sometimes it is not until you become an adult and have real-world experiences that you’re able to reflect on your childhood and realize how bizarre your family truly is.  As a kid, I took for granted that my family’s traditions and methods for doing things were the way they were supposed to be done, and I accepted it.  One summer, around middle school, it was my friends’ collective reaction to our family Christmas tree proudly standing in our living room that helped me realize how peculiar it was.

Earlier that year, mid-January, we were discussing taking down the tree, and I remember how hysterical we thought it would be (despite my mother’s short-lived protest) if we just left it up all year.  So we did.  And we placed everyone’s gifts under the tree on the morning of each of our birthdays, and that’s where we discovered our Valentine’s Day treats, and that’s where the Easter Bunny left little baskets for us.  When we had our big, annual 4th of July party, groups posed in front of the tree just like we would at Christmastime.  Except they were wearing bathing suits, sundresses and shorts instead of reindeer sweaters with jingle necklaces.  We were a novelty!

Aside from the funny attention it got us, keeping the tree up all year seemingly took something away from the following Christmas since the house was already decorated for the season.  We did not have the opportunity to traditionally kick-off of the holiday by readying our home for the occasion, and that has always been one of my favorite things about Christmas.  We took the tree down after being up nearly a year and a half, and then we did it again when I was in college!

Like I said, posing in front of the Christmas Tree.  In September.
And yes, I am falling over.

I still think it is interesting that we did this when I was growing up, as it helps me recognize where some of my quirkiness may have originated.  But I also believe it might be why I am turned off by Christmas movies [with exception to Love Actually] that air during the summer.  I get the idea behind it, but I cannot bring myself to watch them.  And I even have a rule that I am not allowed to listen to holiday festive music until the day after Thanksgiving.

Over the years, I have come to believe that Christmastime is its own special chunk of the year unlike any other, and everything related to it belongs specifically in that narrow window of time.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Surprise! Your Husband is Gay!

I used to work in a greeting card and gift shop, and I specialized in invitation and stationery design.  One of my favorite aspects of the job was that it was always happy times -- birthdays and anniversaries and weddings and babies and holidays and garden parties and barbeques.  All the good stuff.  And because of this, I typically had the pleasure of working with pleasant, excited clients, but of course there is an exception to every rule.

One of my least favorite customers at this shop was largely pregnant and due nearly any day.  It did not bother me that she was excessively particular, as I have a tendency to be the same way.  It was that she was repeatedly short with me and generally unpleasant at each visit.  I will never know if she was just irritable from being severely pregnant or if she had a crappy personality in general, but I believe people who cannot behave in public should stay home and shop online.

She visited the store multiple times, searching for the perfect birth announcement, and I showed her everything we had available.  The idea of shopping for birth announcements prior to the baby being born, is that the parents can have everything selected and paid for, and all they have to do is call with the date and time of birth, weight, length, etc., and I could send the order right off to the printer.

On her third visit, she found the announcement she was looking for and all she needed was validation from her husband, then they would be ready to order.  She brought her husband into the shop with her the next day, and he was very kind and mild-mannered.  And so handsome!  I actually enjoyed helping him and was somewhat surprised at how pleasant he was, as his wife was not-so-much.  I finished helping them and we sealed the deal.

As they were exiting the shop, my manager came over to me and he said, "That guy.  I think I know him.  Is his name [insert man's name here]?"  When I confirmed that that was the client's name, my manager exclaimed, "I've had sex with him!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Don't Go Into the Woods

I often spent weekends and chunks of summertime with a cousin who is the same age as me.  One day during the summer when we were 12, we were hanging out at her house.  My aunt was at work, and my cousin told me about how she believed that her next door neighbor had murdered his wife and is storing her dead body in the woods behind their houses.

She said that she had seen him on more than one occasion, usually in the evening, carrying a black trash bag into the woods, and then he would emerge from the woods empty-handed and go back into his house.  I declared this as the day that we investigate and get to the bottom of her suspicions.

That afternoon, we ventured into the woods behind her house, and sure enough there was a giant, black trash bag—my heart was pounding.  I carefully untied and opened it, and behold!  It was full of porn!  This guy didn’t murder his wife; he was avoiding being murdered by his wife, and so he hid his stash of porn in the woods behind his house like respectable husbands do.
 Porn was too obvious a choice for the photo

Neither of us had watched porn before, so this was a very exciting day for us.  We each selected a VHS that interested us from the bag, then we went to the gas station at the end of the block to get snacks—I believe we had Tahitian Treat sodie and some Quik bars [hey, remember Quik bars!?]—and then we went back to her house to watch some porn.  We watched it for hours, played it in fast forward, and giggled through the entire thing.  When we had enough, we snuck it back into the black trash bag, and then we emerged from the woods empty-handed and went back into her house.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't Mace Me, Dad

My dad, the cop, used to be a runner when I was growing up.  He would run miles around our neighborhood, and I would often accompany him on my bicycle.  Living out in the country, not everyone kept their pets on leashes or in a fenced yard, and sometimes [especially a couple of larger] dogs would charge us or chase us.  For this reason, my dad typically carried a club with him to scare off any dogs who were feeling like starting some shit.

After being attacked once, my Dad started carrying a can of mace with him instead of the club—possibly because it was less to tote around?  I can also see how it would be more effective in discouraging an attacking animal than a stick.  So, about three times per week, Dad would go for a run with his mace.

One time in particular, I was lagging behind and Dad was already on the next street over from our home.  I jumped on my bike and sped to catch up with him.  What I didn’t know was that a dog on that street had run up to him and he had to spray his mace to keep the dog from getting too close.  As I pedaled down the neighboring street, I went directly through Dad’s mace cloud.  I remember breathing in, stopping in my tracks, and falling over sideways on my bike.  I dropped like a fly.

Have you ever been maced?  It is a surreal feeling to try inhaling, and it feels like your breath is being pulled out as you’re breathing in.  It is a terrifying and crippling experience, but thankfully it only lasts a couple of minutes.  I convinced my dad to switch back to carrying the club after that.  I was willing to take my chances with the attack dogs.

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Night with Vince Clarke [Or: The Night I Came Home with No Shoes]

We kind of flipped out when we heard that Vince Clarke would be spinning at The Church.  Vince is one of the founding members of Depeche Mode, Yaz, and also Erasure.  He helped shape the world of electronic music, and I got all giggly at the thought of getting to dance to music with the man responsible for said music standing only a few feet away, making it happen.
I like to ham it up a bit when the opportunity to visit The Church comes up.  I spent a significant portion of my adult youth there, and I acquired a sizeable collection of clothes appropriate for the venue.  The remaining outfits and accessories that I have from those days now serve more as costume components, as opposed to club-wear like they were formerly.  I selected my [ten year old] black platform Mary Janes for the evening, and we headed out.

Kit and I got there early so we could scope out the setup and see exactly what our VIP bracelets would get us.  After a couple of drinks, my friend, Barry, arrived.  He texted me to see where I was, and I got up to look for him.  As I was walking towards him, I felt a flop under my right foot when I took a step.  I took another couple of steps, and I felt the sensation of stepping off of my shoe and onto the floor.  I looked behind me, and there stood one of my platforms, all by herself.  The damn thing peeled right off of the top portion of the shoe!  After we laughed for at least 24 minutes, I realized how inconvenient this really was, and I also felt a little embarrassed.

I knew that I realistically could not go the rest of the evening clunking around with a giant platform shoe on one foot and a ballet slipper-esque shoe on the other.  When we made our way back to the table, I was able to successfully rip the platform off of my other shoe, so at least I was balanced out.  I decided to share the experience with our friends, so I made it the centerpiece of our table.

I already had my last dance with Mary Jane, and I didn't even know it. 

After walking around a bit, I found [what was left of] the shoes to be quite uncomfortable—my feet were sliding around inside of the leftover shells, and when I would reach down, I could actually touch my foot on the sides.  This wasn’t working.  I had no shoe alternative in my truck, and it was merely minutes before Vince took stage, so going home for more shoes really wasn’t an option.

Being a dedicated fun-lover, I went onto the dance floor with Barry, and we were dancing to old Erasure and Yaz favorites in addition to Vince’s awesome solo music.  A few songs in, we were getting silly and Barry began unbuttoning his long-sleeved shirt to take it off, making it look like a strip tease.  In an effort to return the favor, I decided to seductively slide off my “shoes,” I tossed them onto the dance floor, and we kept on dancing for another hour or so—even though I was only in socks.

It honestly was much more comfortable to dance as I was; attractive shoes often aren’t the most comfortable for hopping around like I do.  When it was time to go home, I walked out of the club and across the parking lot [like a boss] in my socks.  I wish I could have caught a glimpse of the bouncer’s reaction when he saw me leaving, but to be fair, this was The Church so I know he has seen far more bizarre things than a girl in no shoes.  I am fairly certain that my socks contracted a strain of hepatitis that night, but it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bullshit Detected

Today was the first day of my new job.  How did it go?  [Thank you for asking.]  It went really well!  It was much like the first day of school, where I spent most of my time getting acquainted with others, familiarizing myself with my surroundings, and setting up my desk/office.  I brought all of my items over from my former department last Friday, and I left the boxes in a back office of my new department.

This morning, I fetched the boxes and brought them to my office to unpack.  One item in particular...

You can already see where this is going

...was gifted to me by a physician for whom I used to work.  He said that I probably needed it more than he did [questionable], but I was happy to have it in case of an emergency.  When the occasion arises, you can simply push the bullshit button, and one of five zesty phrases get yelled by an official-sounding male voice.

This morning, while I was carrying one box down the hall [which I had forgotten contained the above button], some items must have shifted and the office echoed with, "BULLSHIT DETECTED!  TAKE PRECAUTION!"

The end.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Alka Seltzer is Not for Eating

I took Chemistry when I was a Sophomore in high school, and I loved it!  It is in my nature to organize and create order, so balancing equations sort of became my thing.  It made so much more sense to me than simple algebra, since we were able to make the math work for us, like Physics, but I kind of sucked at Physics.  Anyway…

One of the experiments we conducted was to test the rate at which an effervescent antacid [Alka Seltzer] would dissolve in varied temperatures of water.  We made our hypothesis about whether water temperature would impact the dissolving rate and which temperature we predicted would cause the tablet to dissolve most quickly.  We had nearly boiling, tepid, and ice cold water, then we were to drop a tablet into each beaker, set the timer, and watch.

My lab partner and I were good friends through high school, and before beginning the experiment, we were chatting and discovered that neither of us had ever experienced Alka Seltzer.  We both agreed to taste a tablet before dropping it into a beaker, and I told him that he had to go first.  He peeled the paper seal open, removed the tablet, and raked it along the length of his tongue, leaving a white track mark down the center.  It was quite disgusting.  And it was also my turn.

I carefully held my Alka Seltzer tablet and barely touched the tip of my tongue against it, and in that half of a second, our Chemistry teacher looked up and exclaimed in front of the entire class, “JULIE WARGACKI!!! [that’s what they called me back then] Please do not EAT the Alka Seltzer tablets!”  Cue the class to roar with laughter, including my jerk lab partner.

I nearly died from embarrassment.  And in case you’re curious, water temperature did not significantly impact the rate at which the tablets dissolved.  They were all gone in about the same length of time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Good Deed

This is a story about a time that Kit and I helped a supposed person in need.  I am telling the story because of how it ended, not to publicize that we did some sort of charity.  I sincerely believe charitable acts should remain anonymous or private, and I can hardly stand it when people wave around the fact that they helped someone.  In my mind, it is cancelled out at that point.  And I believe it is fine to publicize this story because I never felt good about it anyway.

In mid-January 2011, we were concluding a visit with a dear friend who was here from out of town on business.  She had stayed with us, but it was time to drop her off and say our goodbyes.  Our ride home was a little dicey, as this was the winter where we had four consecutive snow days.  On this particular afternoon, it was lightly sleeting and snowing, and ice was just beginning to stick to the windshield.

As we got close to home, we saw a girl who had to be in her late teens/early 20s, standing by herself on a sidewalk at the side of the road and shivering.  I pulled up and asked if she was hungry, and she said that she was, so I drove up the street to a fast food restaurant, ordered a few assorted items, and brought them back to her.

When I rolled down the window and handed the bag to her, she began fumbling through the bag, seemingly searching for something.  She looked up and asked, “No hot sauce?”  The only reply I could come up with was, “Wow,” and I rolled up the window, began laughing in disbelief, and drove away. 

You’re welcome.

Friday, January 4, 2013

In Other Lunch Tote-Related News

My super cute lunch tote was miraculously recovered today! It disappeared a couple of months ago [I think I forgot it while I was out of the office for surgery], and then it popped up in our department fridge this morning.
Later, suckers, and I am taking my bag with me.
Some chump has been using it and even had the nerve to bring it to work, so I kindly removed their stupid yogurt and stole my bag back.  I am positive it is mine, as the mystery stain in the bottom of it is still there.  I hesitated for a moment, thinking that I would be a jerk for stealing their bag, but then I reminded myself that it's MY bag.  I should have taken their yogurt, too.