Sunday, November 15, 2009


Whatever would we do if life suddenly became manageable?

Ann posed a similar question to me last night, at the end of a stressful day, after an even more stressful Friday. She pondered what we would do if we didn’t have so many people/things in our lives pushing us down. How much strength does it take just to keep our noses above water? And if all the things that bring us down suddenly stopped, would we fly off into the exosphere on the force of our own resistance against the obstacles that are no longer there? Could be, but we’ll never know.

Although the pressure in my eyes is within normal range, the left eye is significantly lower than the right, which is suspicious. Upon closer, dilated inspection, it turns out that the optic nerve in my left eye is also thick and damaged. There’s no history of glaucoma in my family, nor am I in the usual age range to be at risk, but it appears I likely have it and will be having a test a week from Tuesday to determine how much of my field of vision I’ve already lost. Normally it presents with a raised eye pressure, but on some occasions, it causes a sudden dramatic drop in pressure. And although I’m not typically one who should even worry about it, it seems one of the causes of glaucoma is steroids. Of course, yet another tie-in to my favorite disease: sarcoidosis.

Lovely, yes? A photographer and librarian going blind. How poetic.

Also, my eyes are so severely dry that I’m not allowed to wear my contacts until further notice. He gave me an ointment to put on my eyes each night to help lubricate them. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Ointment on your eyes?

Oh yeah, and by the way, I have a full-on sarcoid flare-up in my eyes right now, which requires (don’t laugh) steroids.

I left my eye doc on Friday just about shattered, tried to return to work but couldn’t see well enough through the dilation to be functional, so I decided to go grocery shopping. On the way, I stopped at a gas station to get gas and had to wait in line for a turn at the pump. While waiting for a particular pump, another car pulled in opposite me and seemed to be waiting for the same pump. As the first car drove off, he zoomed in and took the place I’d rightfully been in line to have next, and I felt myself completely losing my self-control. I opened my window and threw my hands in the air in a WTF gesture, informing him of the obvious, that I’d been waiting for that pump.

He stammered, “Well, you were sticking out, blocking the way over there, and you can’t just block that…parking…spot…thing…area…”

Genius. He cut in line to punish me because he did not like the position I took?

I should have walked away, but I just couldn’t.

I shouted, “Wow, how meaningless the entire rest of your life must be when you’re not on duty here as self-appointed guardian of the Walmart gas station ‘parking…spot…thing…area’! I bet your family is so proud of you. Surely this is the highlight of your existence. I bet it goes on your gravestone. Congratulations, asshole.” And I drove off. I don’t know if he heard it all. He was kinda slow and dippy and when I confronted him initially, he didn’t seem to even want to open his door and deal with me. Why cut in front of someone if you’re not willing to face the music, cocksucker?

The next gas station down the road cost me 16¢ a gallon more, but I filled up there anyway because there were no lines.

At Woodman’s, where I grocery shop, I had an argument with the cashier, who brought her manager over, and we stood there for a ridiculously long period of time debating about a silly $1 coupon she didn’t want to take. Even though it clearly stated it was a manufacturer’s coupon, and the address to use for reimbursement was clearly that of the manufacturing company, because it had a Jewel/Osco logo on the corner, she said they couldn’t take it. They already have the most unfriendly coupon policy of any store I’ve ever dealt with, and it infuriates me weekly when they limit my coupons or refuse certain ones that exceed their limits, but to not know the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon just made me think this manager was not only illogical, but not qualified for her job. I stated repeatedly that they get reimbursed from the manufacturer, explaining that it has nothing to do with Jewel, pointing out the address on the coupon itself, directing her attention over and over to the words at the top of the coupon that clearly stated it was a manufacturer’s coupon, and she finally relented and said I was right. I’m not sure if she believed it or if she said it to keep the customer happy, which I wasn’t to begin with, but I was right, I got the $1 off, and more importantly, I won.

Dammit, people, why do you vex me so?

Slow-forward to yesterday, trying to figure out what to get for the trip.

Because I’m going alone, and because I’m going to be out in the middle of nowhere for long periods of time, confined to my car or a hotel room, it has become obvious that I need a way to make my own meals. Cooking is the challenge, but I do have some options.

Option A: Hot plate. Pros – safe, easy, dirt cheap, plugs into any hotel room outlet or the outlet in my car. Cons – takes forever to heat up and longer-than-forever to cool off.

Option B: Mini propane stove. Pros – tiny, portable, lightweight, heats up fast, cools off fast. Cons – pricier, can’t use in the car, OPEN FLAME – AH!

Option C: Suitcase-sized gas stove. Pros – reliable, stable, not expensive given the size and capacity, can cook a small frying pan, dual burners. Cons – big and bulky, costly, more than I need, definitely can’t use in the car, MORE OPEN FLAME – AH!

So, it’s a conundrum. Advice is wishy-washy. No one can tell me which one is best for my needs.

I went somewhere I thought I might find experts, people who not only have used these appliances, but with a little common sense and some descriptions of my needs, might be able to make a solid recommendation for me.

What a joke.

First of all, if you walk into a Bass Pro Shop wearing pinstripe slacks, leather boots, a satin blouse, and a leather double-breasted, tie-waist jacket, you will stand out like a sore thumb. This is one store where urbanites don’t blend. I tried not to look conspicuous, but the rednecks in their everyday camo weren’t convinced. Fine! I then tried to look helpless, thinking someone would take pity on me and rescue me. Oh look! Here comes my knight in uniform!

BPGuy: Do you need some help?

Me: Yes, actually, I need some advice.

BPGuy: Ah, well, I don’t really give advice, but I can show you where things are and go over product specs with you.

Me: Oh. No advice, huh?

BPGuy: Well, I don’t know what you need.

Me: Neither do I. I was hoping for some help choosing.

BPGuy: What are your choices?

So, I explained options A – C and he laughed at me when I told him what I was looking for. He asked what I was going to do with it, like CityGirl here couldn’t seriously be thinking she was going to cook up some grub on a gas stove in the wilderness (or roadside rest area, or whatever). He was so condescending, as if sending me out into a National Park with an open flame would mark the charred end of that area. Then he laughed again and asked what good a hot plate would do in the middle of nowhere.

BPGuy: You DO realize they PLUG IN, don’t you? Where are you going to plug it in?

Me: My car has a real outlet. I can power it that way. I chose these three options because they’re feasible, you know. I just don’t want to have to leave the park, drive to the nearest town, and hope for a fast food place to grab something quick, and then go back to the park. And I don’t want to live on chips and seeds for 6 days straight.

He then showed me where each item was on the shelf, which I already knew, and he read me the box, which I could’ve done on my own. I’m not blind yet, doofus! He wished me luck and waked away.

So, I went looking for the butchest woman I could find, one who would make indecisive, sissyboy cry with just a look, and I found her!

BPGal: Can I help you?

Me: Yes, please!

I reiterated everything I’d told Sissyboy.

BPGal: Well, I can’t really give you advice, but I can show you where each product is.

Me: *Sigh* No thanks, someone already did. How about emergency kits for winter driving, you know, for your car?

BPGal: Let me ask someone in camping, hold on.

Me [whispering to myself]: Camping?

BPGal [into her walkie-takie]: Katie, do you guys have survival kits over there?

Walkie-talkie: SURVIVAL kits? Um, lemme look. Well, we have this one thing, I’ll bring it to you.

What she brought was a glorified set of matches in a waterproof plastic tube. Big help. They put their heads together and suggested Coleman might have something and I should look online because no one around here would be selling those right now.

Oh really? In mid-November? In the Midwest? No one’s selling winter kits for your car? Are you kidding me?

I left, went to Walmart, found three different car emergency kits, and realized I had everything in these kits so I decided to put one together at home.

Then I did something I swore I’d never do. Something I’ve dreaded for years and refused to even consider, no matter how silly the struggle became.

I bought a throwaway cell phone.

Satan is now officially the majority stockholder of my soul. I smell the sulfur when I look at that hideous little device.

DAMMIT, the things I will do to see buffalo!

Speaking of buffalo, I went to the winter farmer’s market to stock up on my bison meat for the next couple weeks and spoke with my favorite rancher in all the lands.

My bison man is so cool! He’s this enormous man with gigantic, wild blue eyes and almost feral looking white hair on his head and sprouting up from his chest like a mane. If it’s possible for someone to look like a buffalo, he does. And the stories he tells about the buffalo are awesome. I’m positively enthralled with him. He has sons who help him run the business, and admittedly, they’re good-looking guys who normal people might gravitate toward, but I’m so uninterested in them, I will wait in line to talk to the bison man. He’s that cool.

When he talks about the buffalo, I get this wide-eyed, unblinking, awestruck, goofy-grinned, childish look on my face, I can feel it, and he goes on and on about the calves chasing him on the tractor, or the older female who wants to move into the house with him and his wife, or the huge bull and the trouble he causes. My brain turns to mush and I just stand there listening with fascination. When I first arrive, he spies me down the street and knows I’m a one of his most captive admirers, waves happily, calls me Sweetie, and beams when I skip over and ask about the buffalo. Suddenly I’m 5 years old and he’s this grandfatherly storyteller with yarns he spins just to entertain me. It’s great. Even after I leave his booth, when I walk past on my way back to the car, he waves happily and winks at me. The buffalo man is one of my favorite people on the planet.

So I proudly told him yesterday that I was going to Custer to see the buffalo for Thanksgiving weekend, and he piped up and said he too was going that weekend, to scout out some new purchases. He recommended some places to eat, told me to tell everyone he says hi because they all know him up there, and wished me well on the trip.

That’s when it hit me. He buys his buffalo from Custer. I’ve been eating Custer buffalo for years. I’m about to go visit buffalo I might eat in the future.

This is weird. I don’t know if I’m okay with this.

Another conundrum.

Whatever would I do or think about if things were simple and easy?


Cat. said...

OK, there's a lot more to your post than what I'm going to comment on, but after two years of f***ing around with my eyes, I totally feel your pain about the whole ointment in the eye. But I do it, every night like clockwork, now.

I'm extraordinarily envious of you going to Custer. It's bloody cold there though. You might want to take the stove--choice C--for HEAT! :-) Say hi to the beasts from me as well, not that I know them as well as Mr. Buffalo. Did you ask him his suggestion about cooking??

Happy Villain said...

You know, I almost emailed you, knowing about your eye problems, but I didn't want to bug you right now. You seem to be dealing with a lot and I didn't want to disturb you. Thanks for the support. And I totally forgot to ask Mr. Buffalo about the stove because he was raving about all the restaurants I had to go to and what I had to order at each one, so I figure the man doesn't exactly live like a camper. Wanna take some time off and come with me? I could easily swing by and nab you on the way. :)

public librarian said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's had to a put up a fight at Woodman's to use a perfectly good coupon. I was starting to think it was personal.

Cat. said...


Natalie said...

First of all, HAVE FUN! I'm envious of your adventures and it sounds like the next one is going to be legendary!

Have you thought about getting one of those dorm microwaves, since your car has a plug. You could heat cans of soup (obvi not in the can)or those pasta mixer things that everyone's selling these days. You could also get a cheapy toaster at Walgreens and have eggos.

I'll mail you some options I found online.

Debbie said...

I have the same car - the outlet will only handle about 110 watts, so a microvave, hotplate, or other cooking device probably won't work. Rachel and I used one of those mini fridges that can be set to warm or cool food. We ate canned stuff - soup, stews, chili - and sandwiches while we were out. I just put the unopened cans in the fridge in the morning, set it to warm, and by dinnertime they were warm enough to eat - not steaming, mind you, but okay. It takes quite a while to heat up, so you have to plan ahead, but it's worth a try.