I'm at work.. the first job straight out of college. I have my first big meeting where I'm going to tell my bosses and my bosses' boss how I think they should architect a particular plan and why their ideas are antiquated and wrong. One of the bosses' boss is a serious asshole who has it out for me.
In other words, I'm pretty nervous.
Now, you may not know this, but I'm a big sweater. No, not like that comfy, warm thing you like to wear in the winter... If you put me in an empty bucket in the sun, I'd probably drown myself. Gross? Nah... I've embraced the sweat. It is a good time.
Back to the meeting. I'm early, setting up my presentation and slightly freaking out. My white shirt and tie are perfect, khakis are pressed... yadda yadda yadda. The first guest arrives. We chit chat for a bit and I kind of brush my sleeve to my forehead like I have an itch.. I'm really trying to wipe some sweat off my brow. I'm sure it isn't obvious... right?
I noticed I had a little blue spot on my white sleeve. No big deal, just a spot. I continue the nervous babble as people are arriving. My nerves are about shot and the conference room is in direct sunlight... it is hot.
I try my little, 'wipe the pouring sweat using your sleeve and pretend no one notices' routine. I look down.. another blue stain on my left arm. What is going on?
The meeting is about to begin. The asshole arrives. He's got some mustard on his chin. Fucking asshole.
I decide it might be a good idea to run to the bathroom and splash some ice cold water in my face in an effort to close my pours... I mean, pores. So, I do.
I get to the bathroom and notice I don't look so good. Kind of green, actually. I've never looked green in my life. What the hell does it mean when someone looks, green?
Now I know. I look like shit. I turn on the water.
The first splash is pretty normal. I look in the mirror and notice another blue stain on the inside of my collar. Think, ring-around-the-collar, except blue. Twah? The second splash is what got me. I look in the sink and notice the water has a tidy bowl kind of look to it. A very faint hint of blue.
I notice the water running down my arm is... blue... What?
I grab a paper towel and start to dry off. Blue. Everything is blue.
I wipe my forehead with a white paper towel... blue. The friggin' thing turns blue. I loosened my bright orange tie and unbuttoned my collar. The entire thing is soaked in blue sweat.
Sweet jesus... I'm sweating blue. What the fuck???
I grab a stack of paper towels and head back to the meeting more nervous than before. What is going on?
I sit down,
Karen looks at me and says, "Hey, you look like you're freaking out. Are you ok?"
Not being one for ever hiding a funny story, I say, "I'm sweating blue and I'm a little weirded out about the whole situation."
Try saying that to a conference room full of your bosses. They'll look at you like you're nuts. That's why I brought in the paper towels.
"Look," I said as I brushed a towel across the back of my neck. "I'm not kidding." I showed the room. "I'm sweating blue."
I love being the center of attention, except when I'm in the middle of a bizarre medical condition and sweating my ass off... Blue. The whole deal makes me sweat more. The more I sweat, the more blue comes rolling off my body. My face, neck, arms, even my freakin' legs are sweating blue. As a bead of sweat runs down my face, it gets more blue... darker and darker as it rolls.
No shit. I am sweating blue.
My boss looks at me and says, "Do you want to go home?"
I have no idea what is going on... So, I'm like, "well, maybe I should go call my doctor."
So, I do.
I jog back to my cube and make the call.
I'll spare you the details. Let's just say it was funny as shit. The poor receptionist at my dirty doctor had no idea what to do. My doctor didn't know what to do. They looked it up and called me back.. still, no clue.
So, I run back to the meeting and finish up my presentation. By time I'm done there is a pile of lightly tinted blue paper towels in the trash and everyone in my office is looking at me like I'm a leper.
The day is about over so I go home. The lobby is full of mirrors. I notice a faint blue tint to the area on my back where I was sitting in the chair. I think, Am I going to die today?
About half way home I think, Wait a minute. I put those new, dark green flannel sheets on my bed last night.
Yeah... the entire thing was because of the new sheets. I have no idea how or why, but even though I had washed them before putting them on my bed, the dye somehow rubbed off on me during the night. It was so light you could barely see it on my skin. However, the second it hit water, it turned bright blue. I have no idea how it lasted through my morning shower. You should have seen the white towel I used to dry off that morning. I must have been completely asleep not to notice the towel.
You're at the sink doing dishes or getting some water when you notice something doesn't look right. Look at the clock, it takes a while to read. It is 12:06. Look at the floor, look at your hands - something is definitely wrong with your optic chiasm or lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) or visual cortex, in general. Driving suddenly sounds like an awful idea. Plans for errands, lunch at Bread Co and a quick run are out. You’re hungry - maybe that’s it. Throw together a quick ham sandwich and have a glass of water. Eat quickly to get some energy. You sit at your computer to pass some time, to digest and breathe (maybe you forgot to), but it’s impossible to read through what looks like a broken camera lens, shattered across the upper 90, blurry, with bright points of pastel running along the cracks - the whole right of your visual field distorted and nauseating.
You close your right eye, but nothing changes. It is some sort of error beyond the optic nerve. There’s nothing to do now but wait. Quickly, you put the ham and mayo back in the fridge, scoop up the dog and head to the bedroom, stopping on the way (experience) to lift the seat of the toilet. Your right shoulder bangs against the door frame. You’re clumsy now, be careful with the dog. Set the dog on the bed. Change into pajamas, awkwardly. Close blinds, pull the curtains, slam the doors. You lay, pillow over head, dog nuzzled in your side, with blankets. You Wait.
Within minutes a small point of pain develops in what feels like the lower, middle part of your brain. It is just left of center. A concentrated, shooting pain. As if your LGN is calling out to explain the problem with the right side of your visual field. A sequence of pain, numb, pain, and numb. Then it shrieks.
This isn’t the worst migraine. It isn’t one that consumes your entire head, but it is far from pleasant. You writhe. You wish for sleep. You try little tricks to soothe. You masticate (maybe the old TMJ triggered it?) you hum loudly, hoping to vibrate the small part of your brain that is screaming - Nothing. Different pitches – Nothing. Your dog wakes up, confused. You stop. It is time to lay still and wait with whatever will block out the most light over your head. Thank God it is quiet.
Thank God you’re at home.
You wait for the nausea. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time you won’t vomit. That ham sandwich was delicious. You didn’t eat White Castle for years after that One Time. It would be a shame for a pesky migraine and uncontrollable vomit to ruin future ham sandwiches.
You wait for what seems longer than usual. Maybe you won’t vomit (mental high five). The dog changes position which seems like a good enough idea so you, too, roll onto your side. The liquid in your stomach shifts. Instant mouth watering, denial. Pillow off head, denial. More saliva, blankets off. Acceptance. Four long strides to the bathroom...
(This paragraph left as an exercise for the reader)
Rinse. Wash face. Towel off. Back to bed.
(Repeat previous 2 paragraphs 4 times)
You sleep, finally. You wake up and feel, off. Not much pain, but there is an aura, almost. At the least it is Just Not Right. You imagine this is what it feels like right before a seizure. Should you call someone? No. Just try to sleep.
For the next few days you feel like a small part of your brain has a tremendous hangover while the rest of your brain is saying, “WTF?” You order a ham sandwich from the deli and it is delicious.
I was walking down the sidewalk, late for work as usual. With my man-purse on one shoulder and a snowboard case swinging from the other, I was hoofing it toward my cube. The plan was to wake up early and drop the board off at the UPS Store on my way to work. That didn't really work out. The new plan was to lug the board all the way to my cube then ship it during lunch. As long as it was on the truck by 2pm it would arrive in Florida on time.
I heard a car accelerate behind me then come to a quick stop. I was on a dead-end street so that wasn't quite right. I turned my head and saw a campus police car poorly parked with its driver's side door hanging open. A campus cop was hurrying my way.
"Sir! Excuse me, sir! Can I talk to you for a minute?" He was a good looking guy, young for a cop.
I stopped and turned around slowly. I looked him straight in the eye, cocked my head and said, "Sure, what's going on."
"Were you walking around here with that case on Friday?"
"Yeah, my flight to Colorado left at 7pm, I took the metrolink straight from work. What's up?"
"Can I ask you what's in the case?"
I kind of felt like I was going to get kapped, "Errr... it is a snowboard, I was in Vail all weekend and I'm shipping the board back to its owner today during lunch. Why?"
He shook his head and let out a deep, genuine laugh. It was enough to make me wonder just what the fuck was going on. I had a cop laughing about something that made no sense at 8:30am... So weird.
He said, "Just after 5pm on Friday we got a call from a frantic woman who said she saw a man in an orange coat" - He pointed at my jacket - "struggling with a large camouflage rifle case in the parking garage.
"She said that the man was getting off the elevator and headed toward campus. The captain put the entire force on a manhunt until 8pm. They had me and another officer sitting in the Dean's office that whole time waiting for some psycho to come through the door and shoot the place up."
I picked my jaw up off the ground, "No shit?"
"No shit." He paused, "I know who you are, I mean, I recognize you and that coat. You work here, right?"
"uhhh.... yeah, I work for cardiology in the NWT. You want me to put the board back in my car?"
"No. I'll let everyone know in case someone else freaks out and calls. Just be sure to get rid of that during lunch."
"Can I go?"
"Oh, yeah, sure, have a nice day."
I'm a perpetual early adopter. So, of course, I began preparations for the impending doom of GD II two years ago. I got to work early hoping I could test out a few of my ideas before the world really went to shit.
A unique opportunity arose where I'd be alone in my house for 11 days. Even the pets were taking a vacation. Best part is, it was dead balls cold outside. It was time for my first taste of GD II.
Seriously, our gas bill in the winter is recockulous. If some economic shiz really went down, there'd be no way we could pay and they'd eventually shut us off. So, I picked up a wrench and got to work on the gas meter (WARNING: Do not do this. Trust me.)
I went inside and called my dad. "Hey, dad. I'm saving some money so I shut off my gas. How do I keep my pipes from freezing."
After some silence, "You did what? What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm wearing a coat and asking you how to keep my pipes from freezing."
More silence, then he said, "Drain the whole system."
"I can't. I'm staying here. I just want to..."
"Jordan, you're going to freeze and your pipes are going to burst. Turn your heat on."
I'm annoyed, "No. There has to be some way."
"You could leave all the faucets on just a trickle."
"Does that work?"
"It works 20% of the time, every time."
I laughed, "Like Sex Panther?"
"I have no idea what you talking about" - he really wasn't quoting the movie.
"Good Enough!" I hung up the phone and turned on some faucets. Remember, I'm trying to save myself in an economic downturn, not the environment. Just wait till I write about ways to burn used motor oil for heat.
I just so happened to have this bright idea during the 4 coldest days of that winter. It took 3 days for the house to cool significantly. With no hot water, I had to take showers at the gym. I "slept" under an electric blanket cranked to 10 and wore full snowboard gear every minute I was home.
The 5th night I was laying in bed pondering my decision when I heard, BAM! then rushing water. I shot out of bed and ran downstairs to turn off the main water line.
Goddamm frigid water was everywhere and I was shoeless. Lucky for me, the pipe that burst was close to the outside wall and about 3 feet away from a floor drain. Damage was minimal. I thought for a minute it might be interesting to turn the basement into an ice rink, but I didn't. This is GD II, not party time.
I changed socks, put on some boots, went outside and turned on the gas main. It took a while to relight all the pilots. An hour to repair the copper pipe, and 2 days to get the house warmed up.
You had a cough, runny nose... bronchitis? No problem, take some Robitussin. I grew up in a house where "Bless you!" was replaced by "Take some 'tussin."
You fell off your bike and shoved the pedal through your calf? Dab some Mercurochrome on it.
You got bit by a brown recluse and you rolled around in poison ivy all afternoon? Smear some Campho Phenique on that smelly, oozing rash... You'll be fine..
That was all we needed. Three meds. The miracle trifecta that just might cure a cancer given the chance. Someone really should conduct a study to look into that.
I stopped by my dad's house after work. I can't remember exactly why, but I was in the middle of the 924 engine swap and probably needed to borrow some tools.
Like the perfect storm, two of my brothers pulled in the driveway behind me. I don't really know why or how we all managed to converge at dad's place, but we did and I didn't mind. It's always a good time hanging out with everyone in the old house. It wasn't ten minutes before my brothers were in the basement digging out old slot cars and the Atari. Good times.
I was upstairs in the kitchen trying to find something to eat when I touched the back of my neck. "CRAP!"
My dad looked up, "What's wrong?"
"Jesus." I rubbed my neck and squirmed like a little bitch. "My neck is killing me. I think I'm getting a zit."
"Let me see that." He fumbled for his glasses. "You know what's the best thing for something like that?"
"A dab of Campho Phenique."
A shout from the basement: "PUT SOME 'TUSSIN ON IT!"
That was the moment where everything went down. The second my brother yelled the funniest thing I heard that year, my dad pulled a move I will never forget.
In one well-timed, well-honed, one-handed move he conjured up a bottle of Campho Phenique, opened it, stuck his big thumb over the opening, flipped it over, flipped it back and wiped a big swath of smelly, greasy goo right on the back of my neck.
Like a dirty hitler, but... not as dirty... and on my neck...
There we were, standing in the kitchen. Grease-neck and captain of the monkey squad. His actions were swift and precise. He was proud. It all happened so fast I couldn't think. I had nothing.
I took a deep breath, shrugged and said, "Ok then." I thought, This'll be funny as hell if it actually works.
I woke up early the next day... The pain was amazing. Who kicked me in the back of neck? I headed straight to the bathroom. I could feel this was a zit unlike any other.
It took a minute of bending and contorting before I realized the bathroom mirror was useless to me. I yelled. "DOOD! Get in here. I need you to look at something for me."
Thinking back, that was probably not something any room mate would want to hear. Especially at 7am from behind a closed bathroom door. Of course he came right in. I turned and pointed.
His eyes got big - "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!?!?!? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!?!?" He was jumping around like a lunatic, laughing. "WHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!!! Holy hell. That's the biggest zit I ever did see.”
"Don't let it pop. I gotta get the camera."
"Let me get a penny we can use to show scale."
He calmed down a bit, "That is UNREAL. How did you grow that thing?"
"My dad got me with the Campho Phenique last night."
"Yep. That'll happen."
I worked my way through high school/early college as a guitar teacher at a local music shop. What a GREAT frikin' job for a kid. The money was good and I got to practice ALL the time. I got influenced by all kinds of people I normally wouldn't have had contact with (that old guy down the hall, the REALLY old trumpet teacher, the metal head, etc.) It made me a pretty good player.
Most of my students were kids that were terrible and didn't want to practice. This one student was a girl from my high school. She was a piano player who wanted to learn a little guitar. So she decided to take lessons from me for a few months. It wasn’t anything too exciting or spectacular. I mean, she practiced and she showed up. That was about it.
One of the other teachers was learning how to tie balloon animals one day. I was sitting in the showroom waiting for my student to show up (they were always late... all of them..) so I say, "Can you tie me up a black cat?" He did. It looked just like the dog, the hamster, and the alligator he made for the other people in the store... except mine was black.
A student finally showed up so we went back in the studio and had a lesson. I put the cat in my bag and taught more lessons.
A little later the girl from my high school showed up. About 10 minutes into the lesson I could tell she was having a terrible day. I, trying to be nice, decide to cheer her up.
"Hey, it looks like you're having a bad day. Do you want a present?"
She looks at me like I'm nuts and says, "well... sure."
I pull the cat out of the bag and say, "Here! It's a black cat balloon animal."
She immediately bursts into tears... Big, sobbing, snot running tears...
A few minutes later she pulls it together and says, "I'm sorry... I'm a mess. My cat died this morning... she was black."