Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Hard Stuff

For those who may have been concerned that I have neglected to post about my illness because I am sipping Jack Daniels in the closet while weeping about how much I love my high school friends, put your minds at ease.

I switched to opiates and they work even better than booze!

After spending all of Sunday night hacking up "a lung" (code for gross lungey particulate matter in colorful gak-like suspension) I called the student health center at 7:30 a.m., when they, mercifully, open for business. I plead my case. I told them they already knew everything they needed to know and that I couldn't afford to come in for another appointment (don't tell my mom, I don't have insurance.) FIX IT!, I cried. And the kind doctor lady took ten minutes to explain all about my sickness to me and all about the medicines I had been taking and all about the new medicines I would soon be taking and, well, she made me feel like a real expert. If any of all y'all get sick, call me. I am newly certified in treating upper respiratory infections on a budget.

End of story, the new (code for opiate-laden) cough syrup worked like a charm and I am on the road to recovery which I have celebrated by purchasing a single serving key lime pie from the local fake-mex place and doing my homework. Hopefully this weekend I will learn to sleep unassisted again.

But I think I'll cash in on the refill, just in case I need it.

Codeine, I love you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Update on my lungs

It is 5:30 a.m. as I write this and I have been awake for several hours. I have come to the conclusion that medicine does not work.

For the first few weeks of this bug I tried to avoid the drugs, per my usual preference, but once I started, as my brother quipped last night, "hittin' the sauce" I have been breaching all kinds of generally held rules of conduct. Last night Ryan noticed that my homemade medicinal brew was nothing more than extra-strength half-price Nyquil: two tablespoons of grain alcohol, two generic brand Benadryl, and a heaping teaspoon of Buckley's "tastes bad, works great" cough syrup. In other words alcohol, antihistamine, and cough suppressant. Check the back of your Nyquil. It's identical. I guess I'm not as inventive as I thought I was.

Also, thanks for all the comments, concerns, and advice. If anyone would like to donate a lung, I'd appreciate that, too. Mine's broke.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scandal and a Wombo

Two years ago, Ryan and I spent Christmas with his family in Northern California. While we were there we visited with a few of my friends from high school. They are hilarious folks who make me proud of where I came from and I was also proud to introduce them to Ryan, in other words, where I am going. We spent a long evening together in their bachelor pad in Oakland, talking about potential band names and the night was full of revelry. However, one subject of conversation captivated me more than the others. It was on that fateful night that I was introduced to a new favorite among creative pursuits: the WOMBO. It is a contraction of "word" and "combo" and means what you'd think. Sometimes wombos can be really funny (runny?). I encourage you to start looking for them in your day to day, or making them up when the mood strikes. It will make you giggle.

Unrelatedly, or so you might think, my difficulty sleeping has driven me to desperation. I took Nyquil for a week or two of this impertinent virus, and it worked moderately well. But this last weekend I threw out my back while attempting to physically harangue my two year old niece and this has complicated the sleep issue further. Few positions are comfortable, and when I do manage one, racking coughs send my whole backarratus into a spasm. Thus, the nights have been long and sleepless (leepless!). As exhaustion has driven me to my last shred of dignity (shignity!), I found myself searching for home remedies for coughs on the internet. I googled and googled and found in the end that there was one remedy that trumped the others: the dreaded alchobooze.

I am not a drinking woman. Probably most of you are as confident in this fact about me as I. But last night, through a fit of hacking, a facking if you will, I pitifully requested that Ryan walk to the liquor store and see if they had any alcohol I could drink. He was confused and apprehensive. Alcoholism runs in my family, he postulated, what if I found a fondness for the stuff? Perhaps, dear, but if I don't sleep again tonight I'm going to find a fondness for cutting my face with butter knives. GET ME SOME BOOZE.

And so he dutifully went and retuned home with a brown paper bag containing a three dollar plastic bottle of rum.

I filled the Nyquil measuring cup to the 1 oz. mark, tried to remember what little I knew of painlessly imbibing alcohol (something about not tasting it by "throwing it back"; I wondered how that might be best achieved), plugged my nose, and swilled it down. It burned. It tasted awful. I gagged.

BUT I DIDN'T COUGH. For the first time in a month, my bronchioles were quiet. I laid down in bed and slept for nine hours.

The next day the coughing resumed in full force. All day, the exhausting misery of involuntary, violent abdominal contractions. And then the burned pan. When Ryan got home from work at 10:15, I was at the end of my rope, standing at attention with the plastic bottle of foul-tasting relief.

Again, I faced the conundrum of making the process a little less punishing. I desired to avoid the gagging, in particular. But we don't have soda or juice. I thought and thought. I thunk, even.

And then it hit me! There was one sweet liquid in the house! MAPLE SYRUP! And so I skipped off to the kitchen to retrieve the spoonful of sugar intended to help the medicine go down. I poured the maple into the cup. I added a tablespoon of rum. I tried to mix them with my pinky finger. Tragically, the discrepant viscosities of the two fluids made them inharmonious. They were oil and water, Jekyll and Hyde. They were not made to marry.

Deeming the unmixed brew still more appetizing than the rum alone (good heavens, you'll have to trust me) I closed my eyes and I drank it.

I wouldn't be a woman of my word if I told you it wasn't gross. But it went down and made my limbs feel a little heavy and I got into bed. As I lay there, I had a stroke of genius, a stroke that made drinking maple-rum terrine worth it. This is where our conversation today comes fircle.

"Ryan?" I mumbled as I drifted into a coughless sleep "We should tell everyone we know about rumple syrup. It really, really helps you sleep when you have a bad cough..."

He laughed. And I slept for the next twelve hours.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Burn, baby, burn

So I'm real sick and there is no food and things in our house are very sad. But the fun doesn't stop there. Our mountain home is in bad shape, too. Utah and Salt Lake counties currently boast the worst air quality in the nation and it is so gross outside that I am occasionally moved to tears of desperation and disgust. The pollution is so horrendous that it is as if the whole valley is sitting around a campfire, except instead of logs we are burning petroleum and coal. Yuck. It's not safe for kids to go outside and I am pretty convinced it is a contributing factor to the hacking cough that has been keeping me up at night.

If you are interested in helping get signatures for a petition sponsored by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and Utah Moms for Clean Air in protest of building ANOTHER coal plant in Bountiful just post a comment and I will email you a copy. It is easier for swingin' singles and students to get lots of signatures fast than it is for docs and moms! Tell your friends! Your swingin' single friends!

Tonight I came home from class and made a beeline into the house, trying to breathe as little as possible. I made some just-add-water (still vegan, high in sodium) dinner for Ryan and then went to visit my sister-in-law and niece in the neighboring building. When I returned an hour later it smelled more like burning inside my building than it did outside which, in these circumstances, is not good. And I knew.

Ryan's vegan, high sodium dinner was reduced to charcoal and our apartment was filled with smoke. Thank goodness I came home earlier than expected--I can only imagine how few minutes remained until the sprinklers went off. You see, I thought I had left the pot on the still-warm-but-turned-off stove to continue cooking for the last few minutes, but instead I had left the stove set to medium.

Being sick does not improve brain function.

Now I am sitting in a sauna of carcinogens. The sliding door is open to let the dinner smoke out (and the pollution in.) I am an idiot. An idiot well on her way to emphysema.

Sign my petition. And bring me dinner. We are hungry.

The last to know

I have a feeling I may be the last BYU graduate to know about this website, but if you are still out of the loop, you're in for a treat. It rilly reminds me of bean at the Y!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kodiak Cakes

Most of the time I have a pretty masochistic cooking ethic. I always say, why let someone else do it for you when you can spend a whole lot of time doing it yourself? This is why Ryan and I eat out all the time.

There is one instant indulgence I permit: Ryan's beloved Kodiak Cakes brand Big Bear Brownies. I remember clearly the day he spied the boxed mix with its rustic packaging, the picture of the Kodiak bear threatening anyone who dared add eggs and oil. I remember his excitement. He thought they were really, really cool. Made with ever-trusty whole wheat flour and sporting a picture of a vicious bear, Ryan decided that these brownies were somehow different from the varieties enjoyed by freshman fifteen bound college girls. No, these were no treat for fat kids, they were for the truly hardcore.

So we bought the brownies. He loved them. As far as I was concerned, they were identical to all the other not-from-scratch brownies I have eaten over the years, but Ryan, blinded by love for the brown box with the mad bear, claimed they were truly special.

Sometimes when I go shopping by myself I will pick up a box to have on hand should a special occasion (or a tragedy) require we have a treat at the ready. I made them the normal way the first time, but the second time I used applesauce in place of half the butter. Because I hate fun.

Today Ryan spied me back at my old tricks, trying to spoil his delicious cakes again. He saw the applesauce.

"They taste better the regular way," he informed me.

Oh, weird. They taste better with a stick of butter than they do with applesauce? WEIRD.

So I made them with butter. Now they are in the freezer, because he is sure they taste better frozen. The man is strange.

I wish I could find someone who sells spinach with a picture of an angry bear prominently displayed on the label. We'd have a Popeye on our hands.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fun Hatin'

One of the tasks that has slipped through the cracks lately has been my role as the one lady household food production team. I haven't produced. We have been getting by on smoothies and canned soup, but yesterday finally ran out. No matter, I thought. I'll just order a pizza! A HEALTHY pizza!

For those not in the know, Papa John's makes a whole wheat pizza crust these days. I figured I'd order a veggie pizza, whole wheat crust, hold the cheese.

Ryan and I have never actually ordered a pizza during our marriage- he is not a big fan. He says the cheese leaves a permanent nauseating smell on his face. I think he is insane, but I only like gluttony when it is shared with others, so that's been that. No pizza for the Lees. But yesterday, Ryan discovered a pizza he could really sink his teeth into.

"I usually hate the crust but YUM!!! This crust is so WHEATY! And TASTY! I actually quite like it! And without the cheese it doesn't have that gross smell...cow excretion...gross...mmmyummmhealthypizza..."

Bless his heart. He always likes the gross stuff and it will probably buy him an extra twelve years on this planet (he will be a widow, though, as I only like the un-gross versions of everything, like shortening in my cookies and cheese EVERYWHERE, but I digress.) I, on the other hand, had an existential crisis.

Well, Amy, I guess this is what pizza is now. You'll get used to it. You've learned to prefer whole wheat bread and whole grain pasta. You don't mind consuming two salads a day. You think smoothies count as a treat. It'll be ok. You'll get used to it...WAIT A SECOND. I like REAL pizza! The good-tasting kind! With the cheese! Am I going to be the mom whose kids' friends never want to come over because they only have gross food? Will my children even have friends or will I immunize them against those too?! Who am I?!?!?

It's cool, self. You've always been a fun-hater, not wanting to play with the neighborhood kids because you might get dirty and being afraid to jump off rope swings into rivers. It's just that now, well, you're just getting really, really good at it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


My mother always warned me that I would one day become an insomniac. She said when she was my age she could sleep on a plane, on a train, in a house, with a mouse. Then middle-age hit and WHAM! Insomnia.

Now here I am, twenty-seven. I didn't think that counted as middle aged until I started waking up at three in the morning all the damn time. Last night I was thrashing around like a dying carp until dawn, at which point I invariably fell back asleep only to be snatched from sleep forty five minutes later by a merciless alarm. It's my new thing that I do.

The worst part is how worthless I become without sleep (and I'm talking without like nine hours of sleep. I don't mess around.) When my roiling wakes Ryan up and he lays awake all night trying to coax my inexplicably neurotic body back to slumber he always manages to follow up with a productive day. He asks me questions like "What shall we do for dinner?" and I reply by drooling down my shirt and making a noise that hastens the image of barnyard animals. I spend nine consecutive hours on Facebook and have nary a new friend to show for it. I don't do my homework or laundry. I don't do anything.

If this is what happens when I miss one measly night, may I ask, what will become of my if I produce hypothetical offspring? I am told they suck on your breasts all night long. I am also told "you'll sleep right through it." Folks, I'm all for natural parenting, and we all know breastfeeding has a friend in me. But now hear this: if I ever have to nurse ANYONE or ANYTHING sixteen times in the night, do not be surprised when I administer a full dose of Nyquil to that one or thing to make it stop squalling because...I really, really have a hard time when I don't sleep.

Cue the violins. All you moms are thinking I am a real sucker. And you may be right, but I would add that I am a WHINEY sucker. A whiney, whiney sucker. With insomnia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A nasty wasty skunk!

During December I was twice detained from blogging, first by traveling with my in-laws and to see my own parents, and also by a plague that has smitten me with a fine smit. I was getting better for a second and then decided to eat ten cookies for dinner, providing every micro-varmint the ideal opportunity to multiply and replenish my body.

I've been behind on all kinds of stuff, blogging (naturally), buying my books, eating dinners out of cans (or, when times get real tough, baking sheets) and allowing a much needed run with a vacuum to go neglected. I thought we would all be ok, you know, make it through being a little behind for a while. But then I discovered that my negligence has been impacting not only friends and family, but my neighbors.

You may recall the bad behavior of my apartment complex's management during the summer months. Well, it turns out that they become vigilantes during the winter. I offer you exhibit A, found taped to our door this afternoon:

Dear Resident,

You are getting this notice because there are some things on your balcony that need to be removed as soon as possible. The items we are referring to are:

-Christmas lights.

Thank you for your cooperation in the matter. Please call the office with any questions or concerns.


They haven't minded the ridiculous dead tomato plants and large pieces of plywood that have resided on our balcony for the 20 months we have lived here. And they sure as shootin' don't mind having the place heat up like an inferno in the summer when a simple request to KEEP THE DOORS CLOSED would fix the problem in no time flat. But, I guess that my single strand of colored Christmas lights is enough to raise their managerial hackles. Bah Humbug.

Time to pull the Grinch out of your bottom, Management. Methinks I will leave the lights up and see what other ideas they can come up with to get me to remove them. HA!