Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beware of Schwees Bearing Gifts

When you have a Schwee, things are never boring. You have to get accustomed to walking around at DEFCON 3, ready to run, laugh, or apologize at any moment. Schwees are not easy to be with, but they make the world a better place.

Most of the time, people just don’t get Boyfriend Extraordinaire. They hear his comments and questions without realizing he’s making fun of someone or something, and they just continue talking to him. Meanwhile, I am usually on the other side of the room laughing, because only I seem to understand his humor.

Also, you cannot get a straight answer out of him to save your life. This used to bother me and I would almost lose my mind trying to get him to be logical and stop joking around. We once had a half-hour battle (totally my fault because I let it continue) over the concept of whether his eyes were a part of his head, or if they were independent of it. He’s actually rubbed off on me and now I cannot answer his questions without turning it into a joke.

On the way up to Michigan, he offered me one of his curly fries from Hardee’s as we sat at a picnic table and dined on lunch, which we were sharing with the seagulls. I refused the curly fry and we had the following ridiculous conversation.

Me: No! I don’t eat curly fries. It’s totally inhumane what they do to potatoes to get curly fries.

B.E.: What are you talking about?

Me: Well, they force it to grow around a steel pole in the ground. It’s unnatural!

B.E.: No they don’t! They have these things that cut the potato in the curled shapes.

Me: No, that’s what they WANT you to think. They torture the potato, pushing it and twisting it around this pole all its life!

B.E.: Okay, fine, but they don’t hurt the potato. It’s an HONOR to be a curly fry. Only special potatoes are chosen to grow up this way and have the distinction of being curly.

Me: No way being contorted like that isn’t agony! Michael Moore did a documentary on it. I know what really goes on with making curly fries! I will not eat them.

So, we torment each other with our crazy conversations.

On the way home from the trip, we passed Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and given that B.E. had taken years of French in school and has frequently translated for me in the past, I asked him what it meant.

B.E.: Well, Lac means lake. And obviously Fond du means fondue. So, it’s a big, fondue lake over there.

Me: We ARE in Wisconsin. It’s probably a big, melted cheese lake then.

B.E.: That’s right. In Wisconsin, of course they have a town named after a big, melted cheese lake. Fond du Lac. Fondue Lake. You gotta love Wisconsin.

If for one second I believed anything he said, imagine how stupid I’d look to others if I tried to repeat any of what he tells me.

Perhaps the one area of our relationship that causes me the most unease is that moment when he says he has a present for me. I fear his gifts, not because they’re dangerous, but because I just have no idea how to react to them. Let me show you.

B.E.: I got you a present!

Me: Oh no. You didn’t. Schwee, you don’t have to bring me presents. I keep telling you.

B.E.: I know, but I like to give you things. And this is going to be perfect.

Me: But Schwee! Oh god, this scares the shit out of me.

B.E. (laughing): NO, you’re going to like this one! It’s perfect for you!

Me: Like the Pooh overalls? Both pairs? Or the salt and pepper shakers you gave my mom? Oh man, Schwee, you REALLY don’t have to give me presents!

B.E.: Shush! Close your eyes and hold out your hand.

I felt him fastening something enormous and heavy on my wrist. My stomach dropped.

Dammit, it’s some kind of jewelry. How the heck am I going to pretend to be flattered and grateful when it weighs this much?

I opened my eyes and found this fastened to my wrist.

He calls it a bling watch. He says that the girl who orders street lit for the library should have a bling watch. It has a spinner hubcap on it, with fake jewels.

And it actually spins.

You can open up the wheel cover to see the time beneath. It isn’t just for looks. This piece of crap actually keeps time.

What the hell do you say to this? I mean, I’m not sure if he got this for me at the flea market as a gag gift or as a serious gift. He never laughed when I was gawking at the watch, unable to bend my hand because of how huge the watch is, and unable to lift my arm because of the weight of it. He was so proud of this gift, and I seriously don’t know if he was proud of coming up with such a hilarious gift, or if he truly thought it was the best gift ever. I’m leaning toward the hilariousness of it, but I can’t be sure.

I don’t know if you have a Schwee in your life, but if you do, consider yourself pretty damn lucky.

Also, if you do, let’s get together and sell some of our insane gifts.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Today a woman (and I use that term loosely) approached me while dancing a lemur-like dance, with her arms waving in the air as she seemed to leap and fling herself with her hips, all while singing. Others in the room were heard as if their speakers were on a two or three, and her voice was booming at nine, causing me to recoil. It took effort not to protect my ears, as my hand instinctively wanted to do. My eyes decided to make up for it by blinking so rapidly that it nearly caused me to have a seizure. She roared and laughed out this story about how her parents only ever played 50s music when she was growing up, some 25 years after the 50s I should add, and she still loved it to this day. In fact, things in life all somehow corresponded back to various songs in her memory bank, and often she is overcome with the need to sing the appropriate song for the occasion.

All I could think about was how I would really like to punch her right in the nose.

You do not behave this way in public, and you certainly don’t walk up to a group of complete strangers singing, dancing like a rhythmless white girl, and then telling everyone around about your childhood music experiences, and how they turned you into a raving lunatic.

She was way too goddamn happy. Drugs? Mental illness? In need of a good ass kicking? Some pampered princess who has never experienced life? What? What makes someone this freakishly happy? Whatever it is, we must seek the cause and kill it. People like her shouldn’t be allowed to walk around behaving this way. And if they are truly this happy, they should be forced to keep it to themselves.

Singing when there’s no music? Um, no. This is why people like me hate musicals. Only deranged, drugged or damaged people do this. Dancing, and very badly at that, when there’s no music? Even worse. In public, surrounded by strangers? Oh boy. Stand back. And then telling them half your life story? Euthanasia is the only option.

Happy, loud people who share too much: hate them.

* * *

On Monday, I had a series of appointments with multiple doctors scheduled back to back to back, and the first took far less time than anticipated, so I found myself driving around Bannockburn, Illinois, wasting time until my next appointment.

Bannockburn lies among the other North Shore suburbs like Highland Park and Lake Forest, notorious for their wealthy residents. I’m not a huge fan of the rich. I worked in Highland Park too long and was treated so poorly by much of the clientele that I have a bitter taste in my mouth each time I drive through the area, even 13 years later. However, I had time to kill and I decided to take a gander at how the rich and famous live.

Do you know what? Most of those houses were fugly! Big, square, obnoxious monstrosities! Some had these hideous metal sculptures in their front yard, as if to give passersby the impression that the owner had avant-guard flair, which translated to me as a wealthy version of pink-fucking-flamingos. Tacky. My eyes threatened to sprain from rolling so much. Who the hell takes themselves this seriously? There were some gorgeous homes, don’t get me wrong, because not everyone who has money is totally in love with himself and is trying to persuade others to feel the same. How insecure can you be? Why would you live in a home that has only three windows and is shaped like a psychotic architect tried to incorporate every conceivable shape into different rooms in the same house? I couldn’t help but laugh.

It made me realize that we aren’t so different from the rich. They’re just as moronic and garish as we are, trying hard to be noticed. The only difference is they have more money.

Yet I did notice a few more differences.

For one, they had hardly any for-sale signs. If you drive through my neighborhood, there are easily two or more houses for sale on every block, and these don’t include the ones that sit empty, nor do they include the ones recently foreclosed. Everywhere you look, homes are for sale by me, and they remain for sale for months on end, until the signs rot and fall over on the lawn. So, unless the rich sell their mansions in a way that doesn’t include public signage, it seemed to me that the folks in Bannockburn aren’t struggling with the same economic problems we are.

Another thing I noticed was the street names. Tennyson, Keats, Kipling, Malory, and Shelley. No matter how ugly your house is or what nasty metal atrocities you install on your front lawn, you are automatically filled with self-importance when you live on Bentley Drive. This is in direct contrast to my ‘hood, where we live on streets like Misdemeanor, Pimp and Smack. There is no Masters Lane in my town, no matter how you interpret that. And there is no Martin Luther King Drive in the wealthy areas. There is no irony there. It’s just kind of sad.

Something that gave me a little bit of comfort was the fact that gas is a full dollar per gallon higher in Bannockburn than it is an hour away by my house, which is still 20¢ per gallon more than our neighboring states. Go ahead and speculate on what drives gas prices and if we ever should’ve been paying more than we are now, which is still too much.

* * *

While visiting my favorite doctor, I had a little conversation with him about drugs, because the meds I’m on are causing so much trouble for me. The anti-malarial drug is a chemo med, so in addition to the digestive disruptions, nausea, hair loss, fatigue, bruises with no known cause all over the body, and muscle weakness, the medication somehow interferes with whatever it is that tells the bladder to hold the urine until it’s full, so I have to pee about every 2 hours, around the clock, day and night. Boyfriend Extraordinaire thinks I’m having hearing loss as well, though I’m not convinced of this yet. All this doesn’t even touch on what the steroids do, which I’ve actually become accustomed to suffering from at this point. My doctor shook his head and was grateful that my other doctor discontinued the Plaquenil and gave me a diuretic to help with the fluid retention in my neck, hands and feet. However, he warned me that the diuretic will make me pee even more, which I thought wasn’t possible, but he was right.

He looked so distraught about my side effects that I felt I had to comfort him a bit.

I said, “Meh, all drugs have side effects. What I don’t understand is why are they all negative? Why do medicines make you nauseated? Or make your hair fall out? Or make you have to pee every 90 minutes? Why don’t any of them have a single GOOD side effect… like… whitening your teeth… or… making your boobs perkier?”

He laughed and said, “Oh, wait! There’s Rogaine! That was designed for something else and someone started noticing that people were growing their hair back.”

I replied with surprise. I had no idea Rogaine had other intended purposes.

He continued, “And there’s Viagra!”

I piped up, “Oh yeah! That was a cardiac medication, wasn’t it?”

“Yep, a cardio-pulmonary drug that had this interesting side effect. Hehe, and then they just changed the dose by a few milligrams, and charged A TON more money for the specialized dose, and that’s what Viagra is today. A total marketing scam!”

“Ugh, of course,” I moaned.

“I get male patients who beg me to prescribe it and say it’s for their pulmonary problems so that they don’t have to pay the high price for it, but no, I can’t do that.”

I giggled and said, “Darn, you should, and stick it to them!”

Then I paused, thinking of the great pun I unintentionally made and we both started laughing again.

I have faith that this doctor does not live in one of those geometric homes with sharp protrusions of oddly shaped rooms, tiny windows, and unsightly sculptures on his lawn. He’s way too cool for that.

* * *

Tonight, the premiere of “Celebrity Rehab” aired and I am already emotionally invested in some of the addicts. I desperately want Rodney King to do well, make friends, and have a good life. Steven Adler, I’m afraid to see where things lead him because he looks like he’s too far gone to save. I want the rest to do well, of course, particularly Jeff Conaway because I can’t stand the idea of him being back over and over. However, there are two characters (and I use that term accurately) who are going to make me have violent outbursts just watching them. Jeff’s girlfriend is one of them, and I actually hate her so much that I wish she’d just overdoes already and be out of the picture. The other is Gary Busey, but I think that if he hangs out for a few more days, the rest of the people are going to kill him. THAT will be a good episode to watch! Dr. Drew might even join in, and my crush on him will only intensify. Damn this show for hooking me all over again!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Did It!

Finally! I've been working all weekend on this and it's finally done!

If you're interested in reading about our adventures on the trip, you can click the picture below to read my travel blog.

Or, if you're not really into reading all the silly stories about our goofy antics, feel free to visit the following Tabblo pages of just photos.

Tabblo: Au Train Falls and Forest Lake

Tabblo: Wagner Falls

Tabblo: Tannery Falls

Tabblo: Munising Falls

Tabblo: Horseshoe Falls

Tabblo: Rapid River Falls

And, now I can finally get a good night of sleep again. Whew!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


For the past few months, Marina and I have been making jewelry to keep ourselves busy and we have gotten to a point where we have spent so much money on supplies, and made so many items that it's time to part with much of them. Personally, I have made over 200 pairs of earrings, and with only two ears on my own body, it just doesn't make sense to continue making myself more earrings. My unfortunate friends have been the recipients of countless pairs of earrings for all occasions and I fear that they too have reached a point where my gifts start to seem like I'm unloading more of my excessive wares on them. So, before Marina reaches the desperate point I'm at, she had a brilliant idea: she was going to sell hers on Etsy.

Marina's Etsy shop is called ThunderCrafts, and it's 100% Thor approved. (Go ahead and try to prove that it isn't.)

She makes chainmaille earrings with and without beads, as well as some matching necklaces, like the ones below.

They're really cute and the prices are far cheaper than they should be, because, like I said, we're both in need of unloading.

She's trying to talk me into opening an Etsy shop, but now that I've returned from my vacation I'm going to be working on my travel blog and tabblo pages to get my pictures up. Perhaps I'll do the Etsy shop in a week or two. Until then, go check out Marina's shop and enjoy the handiwork of an artisan who's been blessed by the God of Thunder himself!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vacation Blues

It's 11 am and I'm on vacation, sitting in my motel room and eating my English muffin, waiting for Boyfriend Extraordinaire to wake up and the rain to stop. Despite the fact that the sky is gray for as far as the eye can see, I'm guessing the rain will stop sooner than my Schwee will wake. To give him some credit, he hasn't slept well. I was smart enough to pop in some ear plugs when I went to sleep, but they worked so well, I didn't hear the alarm go off for a full half-hour. He tried to ignore the blaring alarm, but I'm sure he didn't sleep a wink. Why he didn't wake me up to tell me to shut it off or shut it off himself, I'm not sure. I suppose he deserves that sleep deprivation. However, he did not deserve the early risers in the rooms next to us and below us, who all seemed to congregate in front of our room to laugh, chat and plan their day, loudly, at 7 am. Who the hell gets up and is out the door by 7 am when they're on vacation? Maniacs. I'm sharing the Upper Peninsula with maniacs this weekend.

My other conundrum is that my hair is blue and it's raining out. My last vacation led me to lose my favorite raincoat and I never replaced it, so unless I want blue streaks dripping down my neck and back, staining my clothes and skin, I cannot go out and play until the rain stops. (All that prepping and I didn't bring anything hooded, either.) I have consulted weather.com and noaa.gov, and they both are in agreement that there is no rain here and it should be sunny and 50 degrees outside. Clearly they are smoking crack. Big, boulders of cracky crack. And yet, I'm no less stuck in my motel room. Maybe the local Dollar Store has one of those garbage-bag parkas I could buy for, well, a dollar. Marina suggested a plastic bag, and I'm not sure if I should be offended that my friend suggested I put a plastic bag over my head. Probably. But I am considering it, still. The drawback is that other tourists (including B.E.) would likely be shooting pics of the garbage bag lady at various locations. "Here's the garbage bag lady at Miners Castle, and here's garbage bag lady at the city dock." Do I want to be Garbage Bag Lady? Not really.

The colors here are fantabulous! I could not have timed this trip better, but that was all luck on my part. Now if only the sun would come out, my luck would be complete.

Oh, and if Boyfriend Extraordinaire would wake up. Maybe it's time to check for a pulse.