Get your copy of the book or ebook, The Happy Hypochondriac, today at, Barnes and Noble, or at other online and local retailers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Players

Today I accompanied my 3-year-old daughter on a field trip to a children's theater production; The Paper Bag Players. The team of actors and one goofy, unicycle riding, piano player, sing songs and put on little skits for an hour that keep the preschool set in stitches. We arrived early, in eager anticipation (I must admit, I like these things, might actually be WHY I had children; to justify my attendance). We got the front row. As our mom/child friends started trickling in, we realized that we were not the only school witnessing the silly fun. In fact, the theater was sold out and bus loads of kids and parents started rolling in.

That's when I spotted him. My doctor. The poor guy already puts up with me enough. I felt bad to inflict him with my presence during a somewhat social time. Luckily, he was way across the room, so he didn't see me and didn't have to suffer concerns about me rushing him with questions about my super painful hangnail incident (it's been pulsing all day long). I kept my distance, showing him the respect and peace he deserves. I could imagine the fear in his eyes if he would have spotted me. However, I couldn't stop myself from looking in his direction during the part of the show when the players forced the whole crowd up out of their seats to do the Paper Bag Boogie. That is, until my daughter demanded all of my attention back to her.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Throat

My poor son. Last night he complained right before bed that his throat hurt. He said, "If it still feels this way in the morning, I'm not going to school." I assured him that sleep would cure all. He was probably tired and likely suffering from allergies. It's odd that I thought this; me being me. And also because I HAVE A COLD. Hello!

He woke up this morning, crying that it hurt and I was still convinced that he just didn't want to go to school and wanted to play with Legos instead. He didn't have a fever. But then I turned on the light, tried to focus my tired, watery eyes and realized that my son had an enormous, quite visible lump on his neck. I apologized profusely and immediately went to make a doctor's appointment. Yep, he's got strep throat. I feel like a terrible mom for doubting him. Poor kid has a spare tire around his neck and can barely swallow and I'm being totally dense.

All is fine now. He's started his antibiotics and seems totally renewed. The doctor even said he can return to school probably tomorrow, as he doesn't have a fever and will feel much better. Meanwhile, she gave me the eye that said, "You gave this to him." I don't think I have strep throat but before it's all over with, I'm sure I will make it to the doctor again. It's been a couple of months. My doctor must miss me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sale

It's been a few days since my last post and the reasons mostly involve an enormous consignment sale for children's items. A lame excuse, you say? Well this consignment sale can be an intense experience. It can take a lot out of a person. Last year, my husband had to handle the drop off of all the items and he was completely frazzled by the time he got back home. He had that look that said, "I've seen things."

First, the preparation:
1) Clean out the house of all unwanted kid things and clothes (this is extremely time consuming, especially when the little ones want to fight for every item you lay your hands on). I'm already tired.

2) Wash and iron all the clothes that will be sold. OMG (which is an official word now)! I go out of my way to NEVER iron anything. Ironing is right up there with blood draws, nightmares and liver as my least favorite things. Suddenly faced with a mountain of 100 little pieces of clothing, I'm ready to give up.

3) Enter all items into the sale computer system. One. At. A. Time.

4) Hang all items (there is a crazy run on hangers at all local stores in the weeks leading up to this area sale; the competition is crazy)

5) Print tags and affix to all items. This is fine when you are taping the tags to toys or other merch. But with the clothing, you have to safety pin the tags on, safety pin the pieces of an outfit together, safety pin all pieces to the hanger so that the crazed shoppers won't tear it all apart. I have painful little calluses on the tips of multiple fingers from all the complex safety pinning.

6) Drop off the items. This is where they tell you if your stuff is good enough for the sale. One. Item. At. A. Time. Then you get the supreme pleasure of placing all of your items in the proper place around the warehouse space. This year, my 3-year-old daughter was with me. I don't recommend this. She wasn't terrible but tables full of toys and racks full of dresses are difficult for many little girls to stay away from. She felt the pull of retail. I could tell. She also enjoyed riding the wheeled clothing racks and let everyone know with gleeful whoops and happy little yelps.

So why do I subject myself to all this work and intensity? Well, you can make some pretty good cash off your old items. And once you drop it off, you don't have to worry about it anymore. With Craigslist, people come to your house. With Ebay, you have to ship it out. With this, it's a lot of hassle over a few days, but then it's all over at once. This works for me. But here's the catch. They offer a pre-sale for all consignors before opening to the public.

This is the sort of event where the Main Organizer comes out to the large line of shoppers, before the doors open, and reminds everyone to be polite to the other people. "Don't use your elbows to push past people. And if someone has their hand on an item, you are not allowed to take it out of their hands." She has to say these things because these problems have actually arisen in the past. The sale has the potential for a Running with the Bulls type of atmosphere. The night before, I'd had anxiety dreams about the sale, where people were upset with me because I was playing tug-o-war with a child over a dress we both wanted. I kept trying to explain that the dress really wouldn't fit the child and would suit my daughter better. I know, I need help.

I stretched out my arms, shook out my muscles and prepared for action. Within minutes of entering the facility, I had a bag full of new clothes, shoes and accessories for my kids, all at a fraction of the cost of the stores. Brand new Stride Rite shoes, $4.00...done! Gymboree dress with the tags still on? In the bag. I felt the excitement and therapy of the reduced price acquisitions course through me. Then I went to check out. The cashier told me the total. (I will not say it here, as my husband reads this blog, and I've told him $5.00). I backed away slowly for a moment. Surely that wasn't MY total. "Are you sure?" I had sweaty palms. Yes, they were sure and did I notice the line of people waiting? Fine. I paid and limped out to the car with three huge heavy bags of stuff in my hands and an even heavier bag of remorse in my heart.

I know it's all for the kids and I shouldn't feel guilty. But could I make all that money back with my sales? The sale ends today. Happily, as of last night, I was $14.00 from meeting my "break even" amount. And while I haven't made any profit on the sale, my kids are set for the season. I guess that's not too bad. They don't seem to mind. And my husband is blissfully happy pretending it all amounts to $5.00.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Next Thing to Worry About

Sudden Sniffing Death. I hadn't heard this term, but apparently this is something real. And considering my recent bouts with extreme road construction and asphalt odors, I am finding it easier to buy than I would have a week ago. The term indicates a possible outcome for the super intelligent people who engage in huffing; i.e. inhaling chemicals normally used for useful reasons around the house. According to a CNN article today, while we all consider huffing to be more of a teen problem, the majority of huffers are actually adults.

I have to wonder about this. I've had some rough days, but I don't think I've ever become so desperate that I need to hit the shed to find some emergency paint thinner to take the edge off. The stats report that more people huff than use other hard drugs. I guess this makes sense due to price and availability, but wow. Sudden Sniffing Death is new to my radar. And it turns out that you can succumb to SSD with just one huffing episode (one huff?...I'm not down with the proper lingo). It makes me wonder if I should put the child protective locks on my household chemical cabinets again. For the adults.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Socks

Well, early dementia has set in. Today, in a rush to finish some work, take a long overdue shower from working out earlier in the day, cook dinner and prepare for a meeting, I jumped into the shower with my socks and glasses on. Now, the glasses bit has happened many times before, I'm ashamed to admit. I'll think, "Wow, I can see so well this time in the shower. Oh wait. Now it's all fogged up. Oh right. Those are my glasses." I seriously go through that whole process before removing them and gingerly throwing them to the counter or the bath mat, where I hope I will remember not to step on them later (Note: I won't remember).

But the socks? Can't say I've done that one before. And the worst part is I knew something wasn't quite right, but it took me a while to figure out the problem. Hmm. My feet feel so heavy. And warm. Then I was embarrassed, even though nobody else was around. I knew I'd have to write about it. It's the kind of thing you have to share with people as a cautionary tale, a warning to eat your blueberries so that you won't lose your mind. I tossed my slopping socks out onto the bathmat, likely on my glasses, which I wouldn't be able to see when I got out of the shower anyway (I'm that blind). It was all a big blurry mess of a time. Let's hope this is not the start of bigger problems. I may need Lasik to deal with such things in the future.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Road

No, contrary to the title, this is not a bleak Cormac McCarthy inspired post. But it's still unsettling. The county has decided that my neighborhood is ripe for repairs. Trucks have been inundating the roads, cutting down tree limbs that seem to only exist to make the power go out in bad weather. With our annual stormy season looming in the weeks ahead, I am thankful they are doing this task. But apparently the roads are a complete disaster, as well, because all of them are simultaneously being repaved. Between the trees and the paving, I had no route to my house. I would drive then hit a road block of cones. I would turn around and try another way and reach the same dead end. I ran out of options and could not get home.

Now, I'm not usually a road rage person (that trait is reserved more for my husband), but when I continually have to go in reverse (I do NOT excel at this), and have a daughter in the back seat complaining that she needs to use the bathroom, it makes me want to jump out and shout at all the poor county workers. There were only minutes left before I needed to pick my son up from school. Plus, I'm on a reduced calorie diet and hadn't had my much needed afternoon snack. If I didn't find a way home, this would turn out very badly indeed.

We parked on a random street and walked to the school. Along the way, we choked and gasped on asphalt dust as the machines laid new ground. The smell pierced the walls of our nasal passages and made our eyes water as we gagged. I envisioned our lungs turning black and wondered about the men standing there who do this every day. I couldn't help but worry about them. I discovered I wasn't the only one miffed about the proceedings. As we got closer to the school, I saw a woman shouting at the workers, like my thoughts had manifested themselves into her. Maybe she hadn't had her snack, either.

We are back home; finally. The crackling black asphalt odor is still lingering in my head, hours later. Is that normal? I appreciate the improvement of the neighborhood, but have to admit that I might be a little happy to see the trucks find a new location to fix.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Speedy Evacuation

Yesterday I took my kids to swim lessons and settled in to read my book for a quiet 45 minutes; a rare and glorious treat. About ten minutes into the lesson, I noticed a ton of commotion as everyone quickly exited the pool; about 35 little goggled three-year-olds tossing their legs up onto the side and pulling themselves out (some rolled out; it's not always easy). The parents all looked around at each other with a shared look of "Huh?"

A child had thrown up in the pool. Ten at a time, the groups were removed from the room while attendants came into the room to skim the bits (this is seriously difficult for me to think about in any detail) out, clean the stairs and floor of the pool, and dump large quantities of chemicals into the water. My daughter's group, however, was left sitting on the FLOOR of the room, all wet and slimy, to quietly watch the proceedings. I was horrified. And trying to keep my breakfast down. I remember how the janitors used to sprinkle saw dust on vomit when I was in school. Any moment in the mere presence of someones regurgitations gives me a bit of a problem. I am always part of the chain reaction. I see it, I start heaving, I cause others to meet the same fate. I know this about myself, so I try to avoid it at all costs. I've amazed myself with my ability to handle my children when they are sick. Luckily it hasn't been too often (I am furiously knocking on wood right now).

I retrieved my daughter as I couldn't stand watching her sitting on the floor in her bathing suit. We went to the other pool to wait for my son. As we were leaving, the next class was coming the tainted pool, completely unaware. I dry heaved a little in their honor. Let's hope those chemicals did their trick. Ready for dinner now?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Toxic Chemicals

For the past four days I have enjoyed my annual foray into the world of toxicology. I'm not a toxicologist and I don't play one on TV, but I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit that tries to educate the general public that it's a bad idea to lick lead paint, drink household chemicals, or take six Tylenol rather than the suggested two for a headache. I like to think I'm pretty intelligent but then I arrive here with my little booth amidst 8,000 Ph.D.s in various fields of science and I suddenly feel like a bumbling idiot who has no hold over language. I never realized there were this many words I didn't know. Sure, many of them are Latin terms, but still.

Meanwhile, while surrounded by information and research about how best NOT to poison ourselves, I found myself face to face with a broken, environmentally more energy efficient, compact fluorescent spiral light bulb. I've recently read that it's not a good idea to break these as the mercury level is high, and frankly I don't want any(more) brain damage. It was broken in a bag. I opened the bag and inhaled sharply as I didn't expect it and was now worried that I had touched it. I then realized that in my surprise, I'd essentially huffed it. This is it! I might as well have licked the insides clean of the mercury.

My husband, who was helping me put my Expo booth together at the time, quickly whisked the bulbs away from me to dispose of them properly and keep me from actually injuring myself. He then proceeded to make jokes in my panicky direction. "Don't worry, you wouldn't be able to tell much if there was any damage." Nice. "And besides, who breathes in surprised over light bulbs? I don't get how you stick your face in a bag and breathe deeply in shock over that." I wish I could answer that, okay. Maybe I've been exposed to too much mercury already.

This is the last day of the conference and then I can go back to worrying about toxins in a normal, everyday, reduced scale. Have a safe day and don't drink any Draino.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Spiders in the Cars!

I feel it is my civic duty to peruse the news each day, even if I don't spend a lot of time on all of the important stories. I read all the headlines online, so I have a general idea of everything, then hone in on the meaty looking articles that catch my eye. I do not always choose wisely. In fact, I often choose the articles which encourage me to consider strange cancers or monstrous people who hurt their children. Which is why when I saw the headline "Spiders force recall of 52,000 Mazdas," I had to check it out. It's pretty clear what the story will be about, and yet I somehow stopped breathing when it appeared, accompanied by a computer-screen-filling photo of a translucent yellow spider that will live in my nightmares for days.

The yellow sac spider (ewww!) likes to build nests (I just shuddered) in the fuel systems of 2009 and 2010 Mazdas. They can cause all sorts of blockage and the car can catch on fire. From spiders. Seriously.

I remember one time I was driving down the highway and a little tiny speck of a spider appeared on my steering wheel, leering at me, taunting me. "You gonna get me?"
I started slapping at that thing and almost ran off the road. The mere thought that a NEST of yellow (I just shuddered again...look at the eyes on those things) spiders would be infesting my car makes me quite sick. The best part of the story is that owners of the recalled vehicles will be receiving letters. "Sorry, you might have nasty spider nests in your car. We can't figure out why they like this car and not any other kinds. Oh, and you might catch on fire. Have a nice day. And sleep well."

Cars either make me happy or sad. I don't have in between feelings about them. This news definitely makes me sad.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Little Monsters

Six days ago I went to the Lady Gaga "Monster Ball" concert. I now think I'm fully recovered. I'm not really one of her "Little Monsters" (the ecstatic fans, a large percentage gay male) but I have to say, the woman can put on quite a performance. I felt I was witnessing more theater than concert.

Each song was a singular production. The costumes were sometimes beyond comprehension. At one point she was wearing a long gown sort of thing, with a headdress made from long spines that moved in response to the audience feedback. Then the floor raised her up and this same costume sprouted large wings. The people on Ecstasy (which I'm assuming included the whole floor crowd) must have collectively wet themselves. She also sported a leotard that shot flames out of her breasts and pubic area in conjunction with her singing. Interesting, and caused me a little panic at the idea of her catching fire. In fact, there was quite a bit of fire. She played a piano in a leather studded bikini, squatting on the piano bench then putting the foot closest to the audience on the keys and started playing with her foot, too. Visually, a little Too Much Information, Gaga, but the tune sounded good, at least.

In an homage to Madonna, she and her back up dancers (crazily endowed shirtless men in white bike shorts) did a lot of crotch grabbing. She also bathed herself in the blood from a religious statue (Jesus?) and stayed bloody the rest of the concert even through about ten more costume changes. At one point she told the sold out arena to "Take your d**ks out." It was an easy task for many, as the crowd held a lot of men in skirts, attempting to channel their inner Gaga through sequin and blond wigs. I was happy to have women on either side of me so I didn't have to worry about them taking theirs out. Whoever makes and sells glow sticks must have a personal shrine to Lady Gaga for keeping them wealthy. The waving sea of green tube light actually started to make me a little nauseous from my high-up vantage point.

I went with a friend and our main goal in attending was to see the spectacle and it didn't disappoint. But while I like her music to run or dance to, it's not something I just sit around listening to. It doesn't have quite the impact on me as it does on some of the crowd who seem to really relate to her message of difference and being "Born This Way." I was, however, pleasantly surprised by her talent. She really can sing. And she plays multiple instruments and writes her own tunes. She is rather impressive in how she absolutely commands a crowd of tens of thousands. By the end of the evening, you kind of feel like she's your friend. The experience is strange and surreal, just like her.

It just takes a little while to absorb the eye candy. It's like putting a week in Vegas into three hours; sensory overload. And I felt a little dirty. And a little deaf (I forgot my old person ear plugs). But I'm recovered. The show might be a hard one to top.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Star Gone Mad

Oh, Charlie Sheen. What has made you such a complete and utter nut job? If you haven't seen the videos, you must take a moment to witness the train wreck. I remember the little thrill I felt over his bad boy self in Ferris Bueller's day off. I recall fondly cheering for his bad boy self (in need of glasses) in Major League. I even liked that garbage man caper comedy he did with his brother, Emilio, where he played, you guessed it, a bad boy (I was young). When Michael J. Fox left Spin City, I happily accepted Charlie into the role. And I have to admit, I regularly laugh out loud to Two and a Half Men.

I have accepted that he is an overindulged star who dabbles (to say the least) in drugs and hookers. But seriously, what is WRONG with this guy? I have obvious health concerns for him. I remember when Denise Richards was interviewed before marrying him and the reporter asked, "Why would you want to marry Charlie Sheen?"

She replied, "Why WOULDN'T I want to?" Ummm, let's see. The entire list of sexually transmitted diseases crosses my mind. The guy is completely loaded and could get plenty of chicks for free, so why does he constantly pay for hookers? Why are porn stars the girls of choice? More importantly, why do more women agree to marry him? Why does he keep having CHILDREN? He even says that this behavior is all a great thing for his kids. I'm still not sure I follow the logic on that one.

But my favorite bits that he's thrown out so far include:

1) The goddesses (a porn star and a "model"; both of whom did not fair well on HD TV), who live in his house with him currently and are his loves/sex slaves. GROSS. And may I say again...GROSS.

2) He said in an interview about CBS: "They should apologize to me while licking my feet." Classy.

3) He's "High on Charlie Sheen." Okay.

4) He's tired of pretending he's just average. (I would agree with this. He is at the tops for deranged lunacy).

5) If people don't like him, they can just deal with it in their small houses. Ouch.

6) No regrets for drug use, or for getting other people to use drugs. Those were some magical experiences; a "gift." But he does regret smoking cigarettes. Well, it's good to know he has standards. SOMETHING out there is a little over the line.

I'm going to have to agree with Dr. Drew (that most popular of celebrity wing nut doctors) on this one, Charlie Sheen seems a bit unstable. Just a tad. A moderate amount. But I guess from his big house with the goddesses, it's hard to see things clearly.
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