Caring for the Needy: On Ailments and Adulthood

(Those with queasy tummies: turn back now. You’ve been warned.)

I have the stomach of a Victorian lady.

Assuredly, the rest of me resembles nothing of that sexually repressed, hoop-skirt bonanza, but when it comes to ailments i’m downright dainty. At least once a week i’m pumping the vending machine for a ginger ale or, better yet, sending J down to the Walgreens for more advil. I don’t get colds. I get pneumonia. For two months.

And i don’t do sick pretty, even though i do it damn often.

Which is why, last Thursday night, i was strapped onto a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance, blue puke bag in hand.

Even for me, this was a first.

The illness had begun innocuously enough. But by the end of hour one of tummy cramps and heaving i was laying belly-up on the floor of the second floor bathroom wishing for a swift death, my mom on speaker pleading with me to call the EMTs.

“Nooooo,” i groaned, a flush in the stall next to me. “I’ll be fiiiiinnneeee.” It was the needles. I knew they’d hook me into an IV and i’d be better within hours (at least, not puking anymore) but … the needles. I’d take my arduous death on yellowing, tiled floors in a public bathroom before needles.

“Hey – uh, are you okay?” a chipping pedicure in blue flipflops asked outside my stall fortress of woe. “You know what, i’ll go get you a glass of water,” she asserted before i could protest.

Two minutes later i fumbled with the latch and a tremendously sweet hall mate prodded a mug my way. “Thanks,” i whispered, taking a sip out of courtesy. I knew it wouldn’t be in me more than five minutes, but i was feeling horribly lonely and disgusting and here was someone unafraid to offer help. The least i could do was take it.

That’s what sucks the most about adulthood, i’ve found: being sick and alone. I never want my mom there more than when i have to go buy medicine myself or i’m trying to arrange my pillows so that i can watch Netflix without neck cramps. Mom was on the phone with me, of course, but all i could do was curl up in a ball in the handicap stall and pretend she was stroking my hair.

Wouldn’t dream of asking anyone else to do that. Seriously, gross.

Kind Hallmate left, assuring me i could knock if i needed anything. Instead i’d dragged myself along the wall of the corridor back to my room, pulling of pajamas covered in sick. I just need a shower, I thought. That’ll make me feel better.

“A shower?! No, honey, you need to call the police and have them take you to the ER.” Mom’s tone was getting thinner. She was on speaker now, because i didn’t have the strength to hold the phone to my ear. “And call a friend. You don’t have to do this alone.”

So i caved and called the emergency line, voice crackling with a swollen trachea pleading for help.

I managed to change clothes and then was limp-running back to the bathroom. Too late. I’d lost all strength in my legs and was sprawled on the floor, heaving and heaving.

The door to the stairs opened, EMT in sight.

“Oh,” she said. “Must be you.”

I nodded, then tried to puke. If i hadn’t been assured i was facing armageddon, i would have peed myself laughing.

Her nose wrinkled, but then she gently took my pulse and asked me how i felt. “Like shit,” i cackle-hacked. More EMTs started coming, including my own angel: Tracy, who was an EMT and lived one hall over. She wasn’t on duty but she’d heard the call, so she walked over. She’s considerate and compassionate like that.

When i called the police i’d also called Austin – amazing, fearless, dependable Austin. She loved me even after sharing a room with me for three years, so i knew she’d see me through tonight. Barreling through the double doors in sunflower yellow, i vaguely saw her pulling her hair down before she was pulling my hair back into a ponytail.

Talk about clothing the naked putrid and pathetic.

“You’re gonna be okay, sweetie,” she propped me up off the floor. That’s Austin: diving into the fray because there is a practical need she can fix.

Everything after that is blurry, but i remember Austin coaxing me to say yes to the hospital, and Tracy riding third in the ambulance with me. Tracy stayed, even when i was hurling and hurling and squeezing her fingers purple over the IV. Austin, who’d been handling the calls to both Jonathan and my mom, was finally let back to see me in the ER, after they’d given me enough meds to kill a horse.

Angels, i tell you.

When i was finally breathing normal we cracked jokes about the helluva toast this would make at the wedding. I thanked them and thanked them and thanked them, but i still cannot thank them enough. Tracy hitched a ride back to school with the ambulance, but only after ensuring i had a spare pair of hospital pants.

Around 4 AM, i told Austin to go home. The nurses tried to send me too, but then i puked in the lobby (charming) and asked to stay. At last, at last, i crashed into a dreams about 19th-century London, curled under three hospital blankets.

I woke up again at 6:30, IV out and alone in my room. I’d been so lucky to have a bed at all, and even luckier to have a room. The room was part storage, the walls stacked six-deep with crutches in plastic packaging.

And there, alone in hospital pants and shirt and having survived hell the night before, i finally started to ugly-cry. I couldn’t stop. As panicked as i’d been the night before, i hadn’t cried. I’d known it was the line of no return, the hysteria that plagued the ladies of the Victorian era from which my tummy was taken.

But man, i was bawling. Couldn’t stop. It wasn’t the pain, or the loneliness, or even the fear that thirty crutches might fall from the wall skewering me at any moment.

It was a release, and it was gratitude. When i’d been moaning and dying (ok, not dying) in the handicap stall, Kind Hallmate stopped in. Tracy came to the second floor just because she was around, not because she was on EMT duty. Austin came because i called.

While i’d been wallowing in self-pity over my lonely state as a twenty-something, people surrounded me. So that morning i just cried and cried, no moisture in me but somehow walloping out sobs, the shock washing off and the gratitude settling in.

By the time my auntie came to get me, i had run out of water. It would be a solid few days of bed rest and cheesy rom-coms, but my friends brought me snacks and my auntie took incredible Saltine-cracker care of me.

I was thankful, am thankful, that adulthood didn’t have to be as forlorn as i thought.

Captured and Imprisoned Again: A Lefty-Trombonists Tale by the Sawktrombone.

Captured and Imprisoned Again:

A Lefty-Trombonists Tale by the Sawktrombone.

I am not Lizzie McMizzie, and this is a hostile takeover of Wandering Writes brought to you by the Socially Awkward Trombone.

OK, so it’s not really hostile. In fact, I was invited here in what was probably the biggest mistake Lizzie has ever made…

Now you’re wondering who I am and how the heck I know Lizzie McMizzie. Well, it’s a long story, and I can’t tell you how tempting it was to just turn this post into a long and embarrassing story about Lizzie and Her shameless childhood antics. Alas, I will spare Her the humiliation and give you the cliffs notes (I’m saving the REALLY crazy stories for Her wedding).

Lizzie moved to my neighborhood when we were in the first grade. We rode bikes and built forts and put on plays like all normal children who have ambitions to stage Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar at the age of 7. I was a crazy child, but Lizzie was unusual. In that sense, She was (and still is) way more outgoing than myself. Yes, I loved musical theater, but did I want to act? No freaking way. Hide me under the stage please.

I have watched Lizzie grow through the years. I stood by as She tested out dozens of middle school names. I watched her go from a fashion disaster wearing rainbow ensembles and one opera glove to a fashion pioneer (AKA unintentional hipster). It was this sort of outgoing nature that made me positive that Lizzie was going on to great things. She never has cared about what people think of Her, and She remains grounded in Her beliefs. This brings me to why our friendship is so unusual.

Although I would admit to sharing a pretty strong moral foundation with Lizzie, as well as a love for old British men, most of our views do not align. In many aspects, we are polar opposites. Yet somehow, this friendship works. We have chats on all subjects, and I am probably the only one who is allowed to make fun of the fact that Lizzie is enrolled in an all girls school. Why? Because She knows that no matter how many times I joke about Her sexuality, I support Her in Her efforts to become an enlightened and cultured individual no matter how much it makes me laugh.

I also think it my job to bring Her head from the clouds by being as horrible and ignorant as possible to remind Her of the real world. But let’s face it, I’m a completely harmless goofball. So will this blog be a parody of McMizzie? Absolutely. I will shamelessly poke fun at Her (as a matter of fact, I already have).

That intro was way longer than preferred. Whoops. I shall now jump into my area of expertise. My blogs are generally about socially awkward situations that I mix in with music and trombone players. Today I will be diverging a bit in honor of Lizzie’s blog. I will be writing about trombonists and music, but it will be a kind of tribute to Lizzie’s style. I mean, just look at the title.

The Oppression of Left-Handed Trombonists

 Dearest friends/readers/ducklings,

 It is with a heavy heart that i alert you to an injustice that will affect you, dear reader, in no conceivable way.

A few of you may be surprised to learn that the trombone is an uncommon instrument, but it is more likely that you are momentarily leaving this page to search Google images for a trombone.

Now do you know what it looks like?

Good. We shall continue.

Historically, the trombone has never quite fallen into the category of “sexy”. Yes, there is a fair amount of innuendo that follows the trombone, but upon close inspection, one realizes quickly that the trombonists are the reason their instruments are seen as awkward.

Trombonists are awkward. In past blogs i have made it clear that anyone who decides to pick the trombone has been born with an awkward gene, or has had their childhood poop jokes suppressed due to the socially unacceptable nature of poop. But of course, if you like poop jokes you probably have been born with some sort of genetic predisposition to be awkward.

Poor genetics can be considered a disability right?

Let’s consider the genetic disbility that brings about red-green colorblindness. People with this disability are having new technology developed to make it easier to live in a world that is missing color. Trombonists born with awkward genes are left to fend for themselves in a world where avoiding eye contact is social suicide.

Life is hard.

Society enjoys pushing unpleasant things out of sight. For starters, trombonists are placed at the back of the orchestra. Not a big deal right? Trombones are loud. But did anyone stop to wonder why the trombone is loud? Maybe it’s because trombonists had been trying to get attention for years and when one of them got the bright idea to start playing loud for acknowledgement, the government placed the trombones in the back. All the government needed was a cover excuse that wasn’t “they’re too awkward to be seen by paying customers” because the media would have reported that as discrimination.

Government? you ask.

Yes. Government. It’s a conspiracy. The amount of awkward people on this Earth is regulated by a government that acknowledges the need for awkward people to play the trombone. If there wasn’t a need for trombones in every orchestra, all of the awkward people would have probably been exterminated by now.

The awkward people are kept in cells under the basement of every orchestra hall in the country. It is here where they are trained to play trombone and encouraged to speak to other “Awkwards” to improve their social skills.

Trombonist 1 (1): “I play trombone.”

Trombonist 2 (2): “I play trombone”

Trombonist 3 (3): “I play trombone”

1: “You play trombone?”

2: “I play trombone.”

3: “I play trombone.”

1: “I play trombone.”

There is rarely improvement.

When the need for a trombonist arises in an orchestra, a member of the stage crew, with the help of a uniformed official, reluctantly picks a person to place into society as a trombonist.

Now the real question is how the “awkwards” get captured in the first place.

Basically, if a child decides to pick the trombone of h/is/er own free will, s/he is doomed. After high school or college, anyone who picked the trombone as a child is whisked away and hidden under an orchestra hall. Even if the kid quit the trombone after a year, s/he is doomed to the same fate because s/he had the initial attraction to the instrument. Picking the instrument means you must have the awkward genetics.

One will occasionally find people who escaped the relocation. They keep their history under wraps, but it is difficult. Basically, if you know someone who is awkward, that person managed to avoid the government kidnapping by choosing occupations with limited social interaction. All of them played trombone at some point in their lives. I beg of my readers to PLEASE not turn these people in. If you know an awkward person, be friendly and accommodating. No one should have to go through what most trombonists suffer at the hands of the stage crew that poke through the cell bars under the theater. But of course, i don’t expect you to be accommodating. Go ahead and pander to the color blind. Throw the “Awkwards” under the bus.

It is now time to address the second part of this post. Lefties.

If there was ever a group that was oppressed, it was the lefties. Just a few years ago they were seen as the devil incarnate. Children who were naturally left-handed were forced to learn to write with the right hand. This often required school teachers to use razor wire to tie the left hand behind the back of the student as they learned to write with the opposite hand. Razor wire was used in the hopes that if the student couldn’t learn with the right hand, the left hand would be sliced straight off. This left (haha punny) the kid with no choice but to use the right hand.

Today, our society is just as bad as it was when there were frequent hand lacerations, but it manages to hide prejudices better. The world is still tailored to right-handers. For example, walk into any classroom. Most, if not all, of the desks are for the right handed. If there are any left handed desks, they are shoved to the back in hopes of keeping the devil people as far away as possible. Most computers are for right handed people, as well as most musical instruments.

Righties enjoy significant discounts when it comes to buying golf clubs, baseball gloves, and other sports equipment. All of the lefty stuff is priced way higher.  Hot water is on the right, cold on the left. People are better when in their “right mind”. When people are correct about something, they are “right”. Instead of saying “OK”, the word “right” is often substituted.

“Left” has bad connotations.

I “left” my stuff there and it was stolen.

S/he “left” the party too early and missed the goodie bags filled with 50 inch HD TVs.

Sandy was “left” at the cemetery to fend for herself among the awkward dead people that tried to kill her with trombone music and ghostly flatulence.

So where does this leave the trombonists that are left handed? Well, it’s funny, the awkward gene must also tie in with left-handedness. The percentage of trombonists who are left handed is higher than average. Still, they are a minority.

The left-handed trombonists tend to be the last people released into society. It would just be too dangerous. They get “left” behind so to speak. When a lefty trombone is released to an orchestra (as a last resort) they are embedded with a GPS locator and are essentially put under house arrest. They can play in an orchestra, but they still have to live in the theater. When the orchestra goes on tour, a trumpet player is assigned to the lefty trombone. This trumpet player is in charge of keeping the lefty out of trouble.

Trumpet players love having power of over people, so they enjoy being the babysitter of the lefty trombone. Usually the lefty is forced to stand perfectly still on snails and trumpet spit while the trumpet player alternates between blasting in h/is/er ear and playing the “Pictures at an Exhibition” excerpt over and over and OVER. No one could possibly imagine a worse torture than this.

There is one particularly terrible result that comes out of monitoring the lefty-trombone individuals.

You know those crazy people that think a chip has been embedded into their arm by the government? The ones who hide when planes and Nazguls fly overhead?  You probably just thought of them as homeless psychos in need of ostriching (ostracization), or John Nash.

(it should be noted that this had to be drawn with my right hand, as the mousepad was designed for right-handed people. prejudice.)

Wrong.

Listen to these people. They are escaped left handed trombonists. Somehow they managed to leave the side of their trumpet lord, and the GPS locator chip means that they are constantly being chased down. Help them stay free!

This is the end of my societal rant. I urge you all to help free the trapped trombonists as i am destined to be one when i graduate college.

Thank you for pulling through to the end of this. It should be noted that Lizzie did a guest post on my blog while I did a guest post on hers. So if you are now missing the McMizzie, feel free to hop over to socially-awkward-trombone.blogspot.com.

Lizzie: Thank you for allowing me to guest post today. I hope the reputation of your blog will not fall into the depths of Mordor after this. I wish you well, and I shall never forget your 4th grade offer to house my dark-haired family should there be another Holocaust.

-The Socially Awkward Trombone

Comment question of the day (see rules for the giveaway if you need a refresher!): What is the most awkward family event you were ever forced to attend?

Yesterday’s Winner: Morgan, for sharing the link on Twitter! Congratulations, Morgan, i’ll be mailing you the postcards next week.

A side note about the giveaway: if you choose to follow this blog as an entry into the contest (thanks!) you must let me know in an additional comment! This is so i can keep track of all of your beautiful faces. Or icons. Whatever.