Sunday, October 12, 2014

The canning undergound

One would think securing canning jars for one’s modest canning endeavors would be a simple enough process.
One would think wrong.
But, intrepid person that I am, yesterday I decided to try to score a large stash of jars from a woman who posted an ad on Craigslist. After a brief conversation with her son, I was off to get my beauties! What could possibly go wrong?
_ _ _ _ _ _
The road to Sweet Home, Oregon is long and lovely, and as I was driving the hour and 20 minutes there, I decided to put my (ahem) Wharton education to good use to calculate just how much I was saving by going on this quest. And while I’m not the most mathy person, I pretty quickly figured out that this was a stupid fucking idea. Really. When you add in gas, a breakeven at best.
Of course, I also used my Wharton education to apply some cognitive dissonance, and rationalized this trip by pointing out to myself that I’ve gone much farther for much stupider things. So there.

It was only as I was a couple of miles away and turned the corner onto the seller’s street, onto a road that was dark and foresty and where the only houses I saw were shacks (complete with dirt yards and chickens and scrap wood and tin holding them together), that I had another brilliant thought: that mayhap arranging to drive out to bumblefuck to someone’s house where I only knew them from Craiglist was not the best of ideas. I spent the next 2 miles coming up with ways to work lies into the conversation: “Oh, so my FB Canning Group was so excited that I’d be coming to this exact address for all these jars” and “Sorry I can’t stay long, my friends have calculated exactly how long it’ll take me to get home from here so that we can go out for libations.”
The house that I pulled up to looked innocuous though….and then The Brothers came out. Obviously the woman’s sons, who for some reason immediately brought to mind the movie Deliverance. They directed me to the backyard, behind the house, and I figured what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound, no?
At which point I met the Canning Jar Maven, and immediately thereafter her husband, who totally looked like Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazzard. After the standard pleasantries, he was the first to speak.
Uncle Jesse, booming: So where’s your husband and why didn’t he come out for some target practice?
Me: ……
Yes, in a total breach of etiquette I failed to keep up my end of the conversation, because quite honestly, I had no clue how to respond. If I did have a husband, why in the world would he come with me to get canning jars? And what would he shoot at, where and why? Do people assume that if you’re going to Sweet Home you’re going to shoot at things?
Luckily, we quickly turn to the jar situation, and The Brothers (who are perfectly polite and helpful and lovely) start packing them up for me into my boxes and bags. Then things take another turn towards the odd.
Canning Jar Maven: So do you know anyone interested in those old or antique jars?
Me: Yes, me! I love them, try to pick them up whenever I can.
CJM: Have you heard of the Red Book?
Me: Umm, no.
CJM: It’s like the Blue Book for cars, but for canning jars instead.
Me: Okay…
CJM: I have hundreds of old jars that I’ve looked up in the Red Book.
Me: That’s great, can I see them?

They all fall eerily silent. It’s weird. Finally CJM speaks.
CJM: Well……I don’t really like to let strangers know about where the jars are located.
Me:  Okay then…well, how much do you want for them?
CJM: Each one has a different price, they’re all different.
Me: Okay so…. (not sure why she’s telling me about the jars if she doesn’t want to show them)
CJM: They’re worth a lot so I have them all in a special place.
Me: Well what kind do you have? Can you show me a couple? Give me an average price?
CJM: They’re all different.

We seem to be at a stalemate here, and Uncle Jesse and The Brothers have remained silent. I think they know better than to involve themselves in CJM’s canning jar negotiations.

CJM, relenting: Okay, I guess maybe I can show them to you.
Me: I’m trustworthy! Really! TOTALLY trustworthy! People love me!
Uncle Jesse: Well if you weren’t you wouldn’t tell us, now would you.
Me: Okay, so you have a point.

CJM is walking slowly towards what looks like a shed. She stops though, hesitates, looks at me. I smile brightly and trustworthily, and she continues walking.

CJM: If we get robbed we’ll know who told them where to look!

So there’s that. And now I’m in a dark shed with CJM, and while most people with canning jars have them tossed into boxes and will quote a price per box, this Is far from our situation here. Oh no.

Because to CJM, each jar is a special snowflake, wrapped in newspaper and carefully nestled into a box, the contents of which are unknown. Because I’ve expressed an interested in blue jars though, CJM starts going through every…single…box. Sigh.

Eventually we wind up with a little box full of jars, that now we need to price. Individually. Because each and every jar has a yellow slip of paper in it, showing in painstaking detail all sorts of information about said jar. Except the price, of course.

We head back into the house, and Uncle Jesse pulls out a chair for me at the dining room table. He also offers me a beverage, and is then kind enough to remove his gun from the table as well. Yes, the gun. That’s normal, right? CJM and I get down to the serious business of haggling over canning jars….and I very quickly realize that this is not going to be a quick endeavor. Because she takes these little yellow slips of paper – and on each one is a number that corresponds to a list she has on many other small pieces of paper (I have no idea why this extra step), and then from that we can look at the corresponding page number in her Red Bible. Why she didn’t just write the price down as well initially, I have no idea. Because yes, when she gets to that page and finds the entry, there’s a recommended price. But in between she’s explaining all the nuances as to why one jar is a particular number as opposed to another (“see, the script on this one is slightly more slanted” “this one has a bubble” “this jar has a 13 on it”) (for that last one I suggested that might be a bad thing, since wouldn’t it be unlucky?) (I don’t think she liked that).

The first jar takes about 20 minutes.
So to recap. I’m in the middle of nowhere with jar lady and her gun-toting family and it’s getting dark.

This does not seem to be a recipe for success.

Somehow I manage to convince her to just forego the middle step, that of her sheets of yellow paper, and go right to the Book. Plus there are some jars where I figure it’s just not worth the bother. Her book system works well enough – some jars are pretty cheap, and others are stupidly pricey, but it’s kind of evening out – until we hit a glitch in the system.

CJM: Oh, I really like this little blue one. I’m sure it’s worth a lot.
Me: Yeah, sigh, I really like this jar too (figuring there’s no sense downplaying that, since we’re going by The Book here).
CJM: Let’s it is…..what?? $1-2?
Me: Oh wow. Well, it’s in the book!
CJM: NO, that can’t be right.
Me, cheerily: But we’re going by the book, right? That’s our system!
CJM, determinedly: No. $3.
Me: But…..but the price in the book! What about the book?
CJM: No.
Me: But..
CJM: No.


In the end we come to a deal on 9 jars and I pay her a stupid amount of money for my preciouses, but I’m getting some cool jars, so there’s that. And there’s been no target practice in the house, so that’s a bonus.

I’m getting ready to leave, when she proudly shows me some of her own canned goods.

CJM: See, and here are my green beans…

Uh oh. Green beans? We all know what that means.

Me: Oh wow, green beans. You know The Truth About Green Beans, right? That right there is basically botulism in a jar.
CJM: What? How’s that?
Me: Every time you read about people getting botulism, it’s always green beans. Nope, I don’t trust ‘em.

For some reason I’ve now segued into speaking with a folksy patois. I apparently have been assimilated.

Me, hitching up my dungarees: Ayup, don’t trust ‘em a’tall.

With that last salvo, I take my box of special canning jars, and bid them all a cheery toodle-oo.

On the way home, my GPS routes me to the “scenic route,” and other than worrying that I’ll hit a deer (I see one on the side in the trees making its way towards the road), it is indeed supremely lovely and bucolic, with covered bridges, and my experiences at the gas station I stop at. The 2 younger guys who walk up to my car are laughing their heads off; I suspect I know what they’re laughing at, and sure enough…

Gas Station Guy: Hey, that’s an awesome bumper sticker!
Me: Yep, sums it up nicely, doesn’t it?
GSG: That’s for sure. Very true!

He later asks if he can take a picture of it, and I of course tell him to feel free. Because yes, it sums it up indeed.

A day well done, to be sure.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Taking care of Short Bus

In today’s “déjà vu all over again” files, I went in to ORM this week to take care of Short Bus, aka ovarian cyst #1. Tomato, tomahto, cyst, Short Bus, whatever. There seems to be confusion regarding the difference between Short Bus and Clumpie, so in the interest of imparting serious scientific knowledge, here you are:
Clumpie = an annoying asshole polyp in the uterus that appeared out of nowhere, and had to be eradicated because these can impair embryo implantation
Short Bus = an annoying asshole cyst next to my right ovary that’s been there forever, hanging out, growing verrry slowly, but needing eradication because it might get in the way
Then there’s also Shithead:
Shithead = another annoying asshole cyst that appeared out of nowhere, either right up against or inside my left ovary, blocking my precious little egg-carrying follicles, hence also needing eradication
So that should now be clear. Anyway, it is testament to how busy I’ve been with canning tomatoes that before I went in for Short Bus Eradication (aka cyst aspiration), I did NOT google said procedure to see how it would all unfold. Instead, I just blithely went in and asked Dr. Barbieri “hey, so how does this all work, anyway?”
Whereupon I was horrified to learn that under no anesthesia, they basically – how do I put this – insert a freaking needle into the wall of the va-jay-jay to get at the cyst in order to drain it. Say what?
Dr. Barbieri: We could give you lidocaine, but that doesn’t really help much because then we need to give you TWO shots the same way for it to wo…
Me: Yeah no. Let’s just get it over with. By the way, is it bad that I refer to this cyst as Short Bus?

(I don’t know why the assistants are always hit with a fit of giggles when they’re in the room with me. Odd.)
Dr. B: That makes perfect sense, actually.  Benign…
Me: Chill…
Assistant piping up: Just hanging out!
Me: Exactly. Oh, and are we going to check up on Shithead too?

(Again with the giggles. Should I suggest she see someone about those fits?)
Dr. B: Yes, let’s see….oh, that one is getting smaller!
Me: Awesome! Begone, Shithead! So, umm, do we really need to get rid of Short Bus? I feel kind of bad about it.

Yes, that’s how my mind works – I name my cyst and suddenly I feel bad for the damn thing, like I’m shooting Bambi or something. I know, I shake my head too.
Dr. B: Well, we don’t have to, but you can see from the size and where it is, it might cause problems..
Me: Okay, let’s do it. Sorry Short Bus, we hardly knew ye. Except we did, for something like 7 years now.

In a perverse way, I’m kind of glad to note that Short Bus didn’t go down without a fight, and we could only get rid of about 75% of him. So I guess that’s a win-win; he gets to stick around being his usual happy self, but he’s also no longer in the way. Another hurdle overcome. Oh, and yeah, the needle thing kind of sucked as much as you would expect, but only briefly, so there’s that. No biggie.

(I swear to god though, The Damians better be Pulitzer prize-winning cancer-curers, for all the trouble they’ve put me through.)

Dr. Barbieri does note as well that I also have 11 visible follicles, which is pretty damn good, so yeah, I’ll take it.

Me: Well, at least Short Bus isn’t entirely gone, so I don’t have to feel bad.
Dr. B.: Yes, but now you can’t call him Short Bus anymore. Maybe Mini-Cooper?

I love my doctors.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Walking in a spiderweb

….or, at least in part, Stupid Shit Miss Tasha Does. Or has going on in her life. In other words, the usual. Without further ado:
1.     Don’t do this. What is “this” exactly? That would be reading an article in the New York Times about how anti-depressants are linked to all sorts of horrible birth defects in babies when their moms take them during pregnancy, and suddenly deciding okay then, I won’t take them anymore. Cold turkey. Thinking meh, what difference can it make? This is the super-low dosage of Celexa I started taking when I became a homicidal nutball while on Tamoxifen (known side effect of FatSurly), not that the circumstances matter, amirite? Right. Take those ADs, kids, it’s a good thing.
Anyway, then in a couple of days you find yourself with a large tanker truck pulling out in front of you, and not only do you lay on the horn into oblivion and wish death upon him, but you are also prepared to chase after him and pull him out of that truck and beat him to a pulp yourself. To a bloody carcass that even the crows wouldn’t deign to pick over.
Okay, so I’d probably do that anyway, so maybe that’s not the best example. Suffice it to say I quickly became a raving lunatic, and when I mentioned this to the wonderful Dr. Barbieri at ORM when I went in there for an appointment, she looked at me like I was insane. “You’re going back on them today, right?” Umm, yes. This was after I walked in there and told Sarah the JediMaster of blood draws that I was “in a mood.” Yeah, so, walking around feeling stabby all the time is perhaps not such a great idea, especially when you’re nowhere near pregnant. Wtf.
2.     I’m not cancery enough. So this IVF shit is costing way more than the already high sum I had planned for. You first hear about it costing something like $8K, and you gasp and think holy shit that’s a lot of money, and then you get used to that. Then you get the estimate from your clinic and the deposit is $14K. Fuck. Then you have all the pre-testing that needs to be done, so that adds another $6K. Then you apply to be part of a discount program for the meds and they clearly don’t even look at your app before rejecting you, so the meds will cost around $7K. So you’re looking at about $35K for one cycle, and so you contact ORM to see if they have drug samples.
I had forgotten about the email I sent Hayley, my coordinator/physician’s assistant person at ORM, but she brings it up the next time I’m in.
Hayley: Oh, and I got your email, and those drugs if we get any, we save for cancer patients.
Me: Oh cool! I’m a cancer patient!
Hayley: Uh…heh heh…
Me: No really, cancer! Me!
Hayley: Heh…….heh……..
Me, kind of talking to myself: Oh, I guess you mean those early-on cancer people who are saving eggs. Damn, I should have done that back then.

Hayley smiles brightly. “Okay then! So…..”
I have to see her that evening for a required class on how to give yourself the necessary shots, and in the interim it occurs to me that hey, maybe she doesn’t know about my cancer history. I had been working with a different PA at ORM, so Hayley wasn’t necessarily familiar with my whole record. Sure enough….
That evening…
Me: So….just wondering, you do know about my cancer history, right?
Hayley: No, I had no idea! But then I realized you were serious so I looked it up..
Me: Okay, whew. Because I figured out afterwards that I probably sounded like a total asshole!

So at least we got that straightened out.
3.     Cysts are assholes. Yes, I’ve been quiet about the whole IVF process because…..not a single fucking thing is happening at the moment. I went in last month for the baseline ultrasound to check things out before I’m supposed to start my shots, after taking other random fertility drugs for a couple of weeks. All systems go, right? Of course not.
       (FYI, do NOT google images of "asshole cysts" looking for something cute and entertaining.  Just. Don't. There, you were warned.)

Dr. Barbieri: Okay, so, we have the big cyst on the right, that’s been there for a long time…
Me: Right, it’s been hanging out, not bothering anyone….
Dr. Barbieri: ….and now there’s a cyst on the left side..
Me: What?? Where did that shithead come from?

Yes, it turns out we now have Shithead on the left side, and as opposed to the benign happy hanging-out right-side cyst, Shithead is feral and unruly, sitting there looking all menacing and in the way of my beautiful little follicles. Fuck! This  means that we have to regroup and go to plan B to deal with this new cyst, which in this case means we wait for my next cycle to see if Shithead goes away. That’s where we are now. Tap tap tap.
In the meantime though we decide to take care of cyst on the right, yes, Mr. happy and easy-going and chill, essentially the Short Bus of cysts. How do we get rid of such things? It’s not fun. That’s up next.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Schleprockian Surgery

The surgery went fine, in its usual fashion. As is my curmudgeonly way, I brought homemade preserves from the JCoT for the nurses, they adored me and gave me hugs when I left, and as I was partaking in witty banter with my doctor they put that damn mask over my mouth WAY too early. I can never figure out why that happens.

The most momentous part of the day was early in the AM, when of course I needed to take Kone for his daily constitutional, aka walkie, at the crack of dawn since I had to leave the house so early.

“So just a brisk walkie today, Kone Kone,” I warned him. “No nonsense, out and back.”

Two seconds later, as we were still just walking down my driveway, a Stupid Cat bolted in front of us, causing Kone great consternation, manifesting itself in him almost pulling my arm out of my socket and just about causing me to do a face-plant. Okay fine, I think, we got that happy bullshit out of the way, so the rest of the walkie will be uneventful.

Two seconds later another Stupid Cat. Fine. Fine!

Then two squirrels. A dog barking at us. And then, of course, a deer. On the freaking sidewalk – a huge buck just standing there about half a block away looking at us, for all the world looking like he belongs on a postcard for the PNW. Seriously? I say that to him  - “Seriously?”

Luckily, Kone is still happily preoccupied chuffing at an acorn or something (this is the national nut of Oregon according to my mom), so he doesn’t see Mr. Buck yet. I do the logical thing of course – I glare at the deer. “Shoo!” He stares at me. I stare at him. A stalemate.

Luckily, just as Kone has finished his acorn chuffing, the deer ambles off, slowly, Kone none the wiser. Whew. We hustle ourselves on home before skunkie decides to make an appearance. Needless to say, that comes later…..

Next up, when I’m not on a boat that charges an insane amount of money to get online: the actual skunkie at The Manor, cruising in Alaska, and oh yeah that IVF stuff and a testament to how much my IVF clinic adores me. Coming soon to a boat near you!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Operation TCoC

Yes, it’s finally that day, when I can shake off the shackles that have kept me chained down to this ramshackle hard-scraping life and finally find freedom, yes freedom my friends!

Or in other words, it’s time to Take Care of Clumpie.

This means I go under the knife today, which in most cases is a quick and painless procedure (because they’re putting me under), but, umm… this case….nay! I’m sure it’ll be a, umm, extremely agonizing surgery fraught with such pain that it’ll have me questioning my own existence. Yeah, that’s it.

(Normal Brother once taught me that I should always play up such things, so as to garner as much sympathy as possible. So there you go. I think there’ll be flames licking at my feet too, just because.)

I know that my doctor is looking forward to seeing me, as we had our usual scintillating and wonderful chat this week as pre-surgery prep.

Dr. Abe: So first we’ll give you a drug that’ll…
Me: No.
Dr. Abe: But I haven’t even explained…
Me: The forgetting drug. No. I hate that stuff. No.
Dr. Abe: But Versed is great for calming people down and putting them int…
Me: No.
Dr. Abe: Most people like th…
Me: Nope.
Dr. Abe: Bu…
Me: No.

I could tell that Dr. Abe was impressed by my bold forward-thinking ways, and I think that’s what she then proceeded to write in her notes.

Actually I’m pretty sure her notes were more along the lines of “Patient is crazycakes. Try to load her up to the gills with anesthesia as soon as possible.”

Anyway, that was that. I had to go through more of the pre-surgery stuff this week as well, including a blood draw (as usual, fail on the first try so they sent me off to the experts at the lab), and a ton of the same questions being asked over and over. At this point I’ve had so many surgeries I want to tell them look, just get on with it already. I mean, isn't there a drive-through or something?

My big dilemma now: traditionally I bring brownies to my nurses on the day of surgery, as my way of bribing them to make sure (or at last try) that no one lights up in the operating room and, say, sends me up in flames. It’s worked so far – but I didn’t have time to make brownies today. My next option: boozy amaretto apricot vanilla jam. That would work, right?

* * * * * * *

On a completely different note, a close friend recently had a medical thing going on herself, so I sent her some flowers. And of course included a note with them, writing into the little box online something along the lines of:

“Good luck with the biopsy! I’m sure it’s just a douchebag Clumpie trying to make your life miserable. Shithead.   love, Miss Tasha and The Kone.”

The next day when she got the flowers, I just had to ask. The note, was it….?

M: “Yes, it was carefully written out in little old lady handwriting.”

My work here is done.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You’ll never guess what happens next!

Based on the number of people on FB who actually repost those annoying Upworthy links, I’ve decided that they’re the key to catapulting my readership into the thirties of fans. So, next up: The Reasons Why Will Shock You, What Came Next Will Amaze You, and The First Three Sentences of This Blog Post Will Surprise You - The Fourth Will Change Your World.

You read it here first.

Anyway. I’m in an annoying state of limbo at the moment. I had hoped to start IVF in August, but my hysteriosalpingoramamagram (smartly just called the HSG test by the docs) showed that I have a uterine polyp (thanks Tamoxifen!) that needs to be taken care of before I can start IVF. The worst part of this is not just that I then have to wait 30 days after the hysteroscopy to remove it before I can do IVF, but more so that I have to actually say the word polyp. I fricking hate that word. Oh sure, I know some people have issues with words like “moist” or “slacks,” but they’ve got nothing on the word polyp. Yuck. I refuse to use it, and so, henceforth, because we’re really just talking about an annoying bunch of cells/tissue that are probably/hopefully not cancerous, I shall use the word clumpie to refer to said polyp.

So. Once I get Clumpie taken care of, onward it is. Speaking of words, I find it interesting how those of my friends who know what’s going on (which is all of them at this point) couch everything in such delicate terms. No one exactly asks anything along the lines of “So, how it’s going with the random invasive procedures and painfully shooting yourself up with fertility drugs and then dealing with the foolishly optimistic highs followed rapidly by debilitating and soul-crushing lows all while POASing even though you know there’s no chance in hell of success, all as you ponder your rapidly dwindling bank account?”

No, it’s more like “So! How are – you know – ‘things’ going?” With sufficient emphasis on the word “things” and a meaningful raising of eyebrows.

I tend to respond with equal vagueness. “Oh, well, same old, same old. Nothing new.” Because what else is there to say?

And I have yet to actually utter the words “sperm donor” – rather, it’s just “the donor,” as if I’m talking about someone who bequeathed millions to the Daughters of the Revolution. Because it’s just all so…unseemly, really. I’m a modest person as it is, and would rather we all just pretend that I’m preparing for a visit from a stork. Storkie. Yes, that’s it.

That’s how “things” are at the moment.  Waiting sucks, because I waver between thinking:

·       hey, surely this’ll work on the first try!
·       or, what the fuck am I thinking, stuff like this never works out for me. 

Followed by the vision of me and The Kone surrounded by cats, many many cats, yelling at kids to get off our lawn.

So there’s that.