I Think We’ll Call This One Snout Flu

If suddenly you found yourself unable to figure out what time of year it was, all you'd need to do is shine a flashlight up my nose and you'd know in about a nanosecond. Clear up there? It's summer. Slimed over? Well, then, dear nose-looker-upper, it's Fall. Know how you know? Because what you are looking at up there is one of at least three sinus infections I will get in the next three months. So that means it's at least November. Let the neti pot games begin!

You know what most women have behind their vanity mirrors? Things like dainty bottles of perfume and makeup and expensive face creams. Know what I have? A Tupperware container full of sea salt and a ceramic nose bidet.

At times like these, I feel like writing a letter to my pre-natal self . It would go something like:

Dear DNA,
I think you are about to make a terrible mistake. See, you have a set of instructions laid out before you that may have been drawn up by a drunken clown. The human being that is about to be sculpted from these plans could suffer immeasurably from having a head that is, well, too small for everything that needs to go inside it . The problem is that the proportions are all wrong. I would like to draw your attention specifically to the sinus areas. Now, I know you have instructions from the father to make these as prone to inflammation as possible, but I urge you not to listen. You will also be tempted to follow the plan for some fucked up looking Eustachian tubes, very short legs and an intolerance for spaghetti. Please, I beg you, spare this child...</p>

</span>CLH says this infection is probably all due to the massive amount of bodywork I am having done to me right now to fix my neck (and to make sure I don't faint at work again). Turns out that all this ear stuffiness I've been experiencing might have nothing to do with Meniere's Disease (which one MD thought I had). It might, however, have EVERYthing to do with the fact that my neck bones/muscles are all compressed. I saw a chiropractor last week who took one look at my head and neck and declared that my head was noticeably "tilted". I tried to tell her that the tilted head look was totally in this year, but she didn't buy it.

The timing on this whole thing couldn't be worse. I do have a crappy novel to write and there's only so much procrastination I can blame on sinusitis.



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It’s National Write Till Your Fingers Bleed Month!

Internets, I have made a contract with myself.

I'm going to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

That's right. It's National Novel Writing Month, and people the world over have agreed to ignore their spouses, hygiene, and housecleaning for thirty days while they sculpt 50,000 words into a quasi-meaningful plot under duress! All for the prize of being able to say, "I wrote a novel in thirty days". Isn't that thrilling? Kinda makes you want to run at full speed into a barbed wire fence. Because that would be less painful.

Oh, and in case that wasn't ambitious enough, I've also agreed to post 30 times in 30 days to this blog. Know why? Because it's also National Blog Writing Month! So, now you get to enjoy the antics of CLH and me (and the Leagues of Indignant Seattlites I live amongst) EVERY DAY for thirty days. Who knows? This could really turn my commitment-phobia around.

The only problem with this whole situation is that I am master dilly-dallier. Tonight, for example, I scoured my pantry for the oldest, hardest legumes I had so that my split pea soup for dinner would require hours of watching the stove (and not my computer screen). I also opted to clean out my spice drawer, catch up on the Oprah show, and paint my nails. All so I wouldn't have to come in here and write. Clever, huh?

The soup has been simmering for two hours now. CLH wants to know why my vegetarian split pea soup smells so good. Is there ham in it, he asks? No, honey. The secret ingredient is procrastination.

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Why Snickers Should Change Its Tagline To: “Packed With Peanuts, Snickers Really Restores Dangerously Low Blood Sugar Levels In Near-Anemics”

So, I fainted at work on Friday. It was another bad faint. One where I needed to take the rest of the day off. Luckily for me, the folks that I was working with that day had a great attitude about the whole thing. I suppose if your bookkeeper pages you from the floor below and breathily asks you come downstairs, and you see her slumped in her chair and covered in her own sweat and she tells you she's just fainted and she just needs a glass of water, you have two choices. You can either totally freak out, or you can laugh your ass off at her stupidity for not eating breakfast. And if you choose to laugh at her, she will humor you because she will realize that, in fact, it was stupid to not eat food during the day, and she will tell you that, when she's not unconscious, she's a real hoot, and would you like to come to her housewarming party on Saturday night?

I'm pretty sure it was a combination of not eating a proper breakfast and drinking black coffee, and then getting scolded (yes, scolded, like a child) on the phone that caused the faint. Though I would love to tell you all about it, I can't really go into details about the scolding part because I have privacy to protect here. (Don't worry, though. As soon as I quit being a bookkeeper, every dirty little secret is coming out. That means your ass is getting exposed, filthy contractor with the cigarette ash and pubic hair covered keyboard). Let's just say that, in my profession, emotions run high because we're all Americans dealing with big bad IRS. As a rule, I try to live my life NOT being afraid of the IRS. As a matter of fact, I've dealt with the IRS on several occasions, face to face, and you know what? The IRS is made up of people. Live human beings who have kids and wives and bad hair days and, ultimately, they know humans fuck up from time to time. So long as you're not intentionally trying siphon off your firm's profits and stick it in banks in the Bahamas, they understand that we're human and that sometimes we make mistakes. And that we all needn't go to jail if our math is a little off.

Every one of us who works in the money industry knows that, more than random acts of violence, terrorism, pestilence, plague, or natural disaster, the IRS is the thing to be feared most in this world. Most of my clients think this way, too. And it's good that they do; the IRS can do unpleasant things like fine you and possibly make the case for your imprisonment. It was the IRS that I was being lectured about when my brain decided it would rather hang up a "Gone Fishin'" sign than to listen to any more tirades about money.

Anywho. I was getting scolded (because I may or may not raise the hackles of the IRS agent who may or may not audit my work) and my blood pressure went through the roof. Having eaten nothing but orange juice and a few carrots that day, my body had nothing in it to fight back with, so I pleasantly excused myself from the conversation because I thought I might faint, hung up the phone, leaned back in my chair, and fainted.

It was all very natural, actually. I've fainted so many times this past year, this just felt like a fire drill. Feel blood pounding in ears, general queasiness, and uncomfortably warm? Why, get near the floor! You're about to faint! This is almost embarrassing to say, but I'm practiced at fainting. It's gotten so bad lately that I actually walk into rooms and look for the softest place to land. I know exactly what to do when I start to feel faint. And I know the drill afterwards: ask for water. If candy is offered, eat some, but not all, and go slow. Follow up with protein. Go home, take nap, feel queasy for 24 hours, have general vocabulary words disappear temporarily from memory, feel better, and tell everyone you fainted.

So this is the part where I admit that maybe some sort of anti-anxiety medication might be in order here. Though I have always been pretty much anti-medication for things like anxiety and depression and the like, I'm starting to feel like maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to not faint all the time. And I really do feel like my body just altogether checked out when I fainted this time, and in the past. It was like it just couldn't handle the stress and needed a 15 second brain-scrambling nap. Sure, having not eaten had a lot to do with it, but I've gone for longer periods of time without eating and have not felt faint. I think, though it rubs against all my beliefs about how this country over medicates and how we all walk around numbing pain, I might benefit from sort of regimen to help me relax a little bit more. I know I need to exercise and eat better. But I also know that my brain spirals out of control when I give it two seconds of free time. I'm not sure how to channel this sort of frenetic energy yet. It seems to be building up in my system and causing me to shut down from time to time.

I know there are lots of natural things I can do to relieve stress. And I know, given the choice between caring for myself and working for others, I almost always choose the working for others option. I need to work on changing this.

I've been really anxious about saying any of this on this blog. I usually reserve this space for the more humorous stories in my life... but I was feeling like I needed to explain my very obvious absence from writing. I was getting all worked up about feeling like I had nothing to post about, and then that guilt and anxiety was causing me to not want to post, which was getting me all worked up about not posting... and so it went, on and on. I think, back before we had medication, this was called "writer's block". Now we call it generalized anxiety.

Whatever the hell it is, it's causing some major interruptions in my routine. It's causing me to shy away from one of my favorite creative outlets, and it's causing me to fall down on the job, quite literally. Which is maybe exactly what I need. Sometimes, when it needs a break from your unhealthy repetition, the body knocks politely. And when you ignore it, sometimes it launches itself from the ropes and slams you down onto the middle of the ring, face first.

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So, I have been trying to come up with ways to tell you about the rest of my Burning Man experience. I can't explain it, but I'm really struggling with the words. I have never felt so bereft of words and so full of writing material at the same time.

I'm having a hard time because my experience is really more than just a story about a bunch of zany, mostly-white, people whooping it up in the desert. Sure, there was the trip down there, the set up, the partying, the meeting of people, the dancing, the staying up all night, the witnessing of art, the burning of things, the hugging goodbye, the tear down and the drive home... but then there were the good feelings that just sort of oozed out from some balled up part of my brain and into my bloodstream when I got home. (And here is the part where I just want to flog myself for even typing that because, before I left, I promised myself I wouldn't describe my experience with incredibly cliche phrases like "Burning Man experience" and "started when I got home".)

This whole writing process has been even further complicated by the fact that one of my camp mates just posted that her younger brother died in a car accident this Saturday. It's surreal. It's almost impossible for me to comprehend that someone I shared an unforgettable week in the dirt and the sun with is now experiencing something so unexpectedly devastating. It's sort of hard to conjure up the zaniness of the trip when all I can think about is her and what she must be feeling right now.

The outpouring of love for her and her family has been amazing. So many people have responded to her, offering up their prayers and their good thoughts and their support. Even though she has been dealt this terrible shock, it is so comforting to know she is surrounded by so much love.

I am more moved by this than normal. I think it has everything to do with my experience at Burning Man.

This is one of the bits of fallout from Burning Man: you find yourself surrounded by this instant just-add-water-community and you can't help but have your empathy for your fellow human renewed (more flogging here for more inarticulate cliches). The whole reason I went to Burning Man (I'll explain more about this in another post) was to brush off these feelings of jealousy and rage I was having towards people who seemed to be "living an easy life" and to reestablish my connection to our commonality, our collective struggle, and our collective triumphs.

It worked.

My campmate is a person who I only really got to know aboard a school bus for two days... but I established a kinship with her that was otherwise impossible for me before this trip. I feel deeply saddened for her loss and I find myself wanting to extend myself to her and other friends in ways I didn't know I could before.

For many reasons (not the least of which is that I want to finally want to answer the question: How was Burning Man?) I am tempted to just sum the whole thing up with a couple of sentences about feeling freer and not having so much judgement, and be done with it. But I can't. Besides the fact that I loathe neat and tidy summations about deeply moving experiences, there is the
inherent dishonor I would do to this whole thing by not spelling out both the good and the bad. Before I left, I wanted to collect honest and practical anecdotes about what to expect. I now want to churn this experience into something as useful and as practical (and inspiring) as the stories I was told.

I also don't want to add to the nebulous-speak, you-had-to-have-been-there-to-know-what-i'm-talking-about type stuff that further "proves" the argument that Burners are all spaced out hippies who speak in surfer-dude sentence fragments.

It'll be worth it, even if it takes a while, to write it ALL down.

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