Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Time I Got Food Poisoning on Christmas Eve

In December 2008, I'd just started my job at the Big Fancy Resort.  I had to work on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, so it was the first time I wouldn't be spending Christmas with my family in Alabama.

I was especially dreading my Christmas Eve shift on barista duty.  I never had any desire to become a barista, but the gift shops I was working in also happened to contain a coffee shop under the same management, so they decided to use the same staff for both.  I don't even drink coffee, but I needed this job to pay for my expensive apartment, so I tried really, really hard to become the best barista ever.

During my training, I tried to stress that I knew nothing about coffee.

Unfortunately, I don't think they realized just how ignorant I was about coffee-related matters.

For example, this is exactly what I was told regarding caffeinated versus decaf.

Then one day, someone ordered a regular coffee, so I cheerfully poured it from a pot on the left burner.

Someone had put the decaf on the wrong side, and apparently I was the only person in the world who didn't know decaf goes in an orange pot.

I tried to explain the situation to the customer, but he didn't see the humor in it.

So I still wasn't feeling very confident in my barista skills when I showed up for my Christmas Eve shift in the coffee shop.

Luckily, there weren't many customers that night, and things were going well--until I took my dinner break.

The Big Fancy Resort had an employee cafeteria.  The food wasn't very good, but it was free, and the break wasn't long enough to drive anywhere else for food.  That night, though, the food in the cafeteria sounded especially awful.

I decided to just have a bowl of cereal.  The milk came from one of those weird contraptions with a lever and a spout.

It was that kind of extremely crappy skim milk that tastes like water gone terribly, terribly wrong.

I can't prove that what followed was directly related to the devil-milk I ingested.  All I know is that from the moment I ate that cereal, things deteriorated rapidly.

As soon as I returned from my break and my co-worker left for the night, my stomach started feeling like it was full of rocks.  Boiling hot, angry rocks that were determined to eat their way through my intestinal lining. 

At that point, everyone was gone--there was no night manager, and I was the only one working in the coffee shop.  If you needed a bathroom break on the night shift, you were supposed to call the security office and have them send someone to watch your store.  So as a torrent of molten lava accumulated in my digestive tract, I dutifully dialed the security extension and tried to sound nonchalant as I asked for a bathroom break.

I don't think the security officers really viewed bathroom breaks as one of their more important responsibilities.

When I finally got my bathroom break, I knew I probably had either food poisoning or some kind of stomach virus.  I hadn't had many jobs prior to this, and I had no idea what to do.  I thought about calling one of my managers and saying I was sick, but I was afraid they'd think I was faking so that I could go home early on Christmas Eve, and no one was going to come in at 8:00 PM to cover the rest of the night shift. 

So I returned from my bathroom break and worked the rest of my shift with food poisoning.

I got sick several more times, but I was too embarrassed to keep calling security for bathroom breaks, so I started waiting until I didn't see any customers nearby and then running down the hall to the bathroom.

The biggest problem, however, was the crippling stomach cramps.  It felt like something was trying to claw its way out of my intestines.  There was also the slight problem that whenever someone ordered a latte or cappuccino, the smell of hot, steaming milk made me want to vomit.

To conserve my strength, I spent all my time between customers (when I wasn't sneaking into the bathroom) slumped behind the counter in some kind of desperate anti-diarrheal yoga pose.  When I heard someone walk in, I poured all my energy and willpower into acting like a perky barista who wasn't nauseated by the smell of warm milk and didn't feel like her insides were exploding.

My shift finally ended at 10:00 PM and I dragged myself back to my apartment.  I don't remember much after that, other than becoming quite intimate with my toilet at four in the morning.  By the next day, my insides were basically empty.  For some reason, in my depleted, slightly-feverish state, I became convinced that I absolutely had to eat some broth or I would die.  Unfortunately, as I rifled through my closet-sized kitchen, all I found were frozen dinners and something that probably used to be a vegetable.

I was also severely dehydrated, but the city water in my apartment building tasted like recycled pool water, and the plastic container of distilled water I'd bought at the grocery store was empty, so I spent all day microwaving ice cubes.

Future Hubs called to check on me at one point.  I asked him to bring me broth and water.  He drove all over town, but no stores were open.  That's when I remembered it was Christmas.  I think I eventually found some rice in the dark recesses of an upper cabinet and ate that, but I had become so fixated on broth that I might as well have forced myself to eat gravel.  (The next day, even though I felt much better, I still went to the store and bought some broth, just to spite the universe.  Then as I was finally eating it, I remembered broth doesn't actually taste very good, but I finished the whole carton, because damn it, broth is what sick people are supposed to eat.)

And thus my first Christmas as a grown-up with my own apartment was spent pretty much like this:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Floor is Lava

I have a bad habit of never looking at my page's traffic sources.  I prefer to sit back and assume my page views are increased by wizards.  Recently though, a friend stumbled across a link to my blog on Get Off My Internets, except it was in the good part called Stay On My Internets, which means I won't be chased off the Internet by an angry mob wielding fire and sharp things.  I generally take "no angry mob" as a compliment, so when I found out I was like

Then I remembered how horribly I've been neglecting this blog, and I was like

People are going to click that link thinking, "Hey, a new blog to read!"  And instead they're going to see the neglected wasteland my blog has become and go, "Pff, this blog is abandoned.  Let's attack it with fire and sharp things!"

So now I'm writing this post to appease the Internets.

I really don't want to abandon my blog.  I've been working on a couple of other illustration projects for the past few months, which I'm hoping will help this blog grow once they've been released.  I wish I could tell you about them now, but it will have to wait just a little longer.  I will definitely be able to tell you about them by December, though.  (*edit: that did not happen due to circumstances beyond my control, but one of them should be released by the end of January or early February, I swear.)  I can go ahead and tell you that they're not directly related to any material from this blog itself.  They're illustrations I've done for other people based on their own ideas, and I'm really happy with the way they've turned out.

I've also been participating in National Novel Writing Month (also known as "writers mercilessly torturing themselves").  In case you haven't heard of it, it's a writing challenge that involves writing 50,000 words during the month of November.  I'm working on an adventure story that really has nothing to do with this blog and involves very little humor, so I'll try not to talk too much about it because I know you came here to laugh and look at drawings, not listen to me blather on about a boy coming of age in a dystopian society on the verge of collapse. 

Needless to say, between the illustration projects and the novel and working 30 hours a week and trying to say a few sentences to The Hubs each day, this blog is not the only aspect of my life that has been neglected.  I'm so glad no one is coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year, because they would be… well, I don't even know; there are so many things you can feel about my house in its current state.  Horror.  Revulsion.  Shock.  Anger.  Morbid curiosity.

However, since there is no way this place is getting cleaned until the novel is done and the illustration projects have gone to the printer, I've tried to look on the bright side of having a messy house.

For instance, living in filth is a great opportunity to reconnect with your inner child.

To be surprised by something new every day.

 To ask probing questions.

 And, as I've recently discovered, to relive some of your favorite childhood games.

Remember playing "The Floor is Lava," where you pretend the floor is a pit of molten death and you must hop across rugs and furniture to avoid it?  You still get to play that game as an adult, except now it's called "The Floor is Covered in Dirt, Crumbs, Cat Hair, and the Occasional Patch of Mysterious Sticky Stuff, and if You Touch It You'll Have to Go Shower."

Did you ever have contests with your siblings or classmates to see who could hold their breath longest?  You still get to do that, too, except now it's you versus the litter box.

So next time you come to this blog hoping for some entertainment, if you're sad to discover that I haven't posted in a while, just picture me and Hubs trying to play "The Floor is Lava" in our disgusting hovel, and hopefully that will lift your spirits.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We're Not Hoarders, We Just Suck at Cleaning

I wonder if anyone has ever pretended to be a hoarder just to get their house professionally cleaned for free.

I am probably wondering this because, in my most desperate moments, I have considered trying it myself.

Hoarders should really consider branching out and featuring people who just really, really hate cleaning.  As chance would have it, I just happen to know the perfect household for them to visit in the pilot episode.

I can grasp the concept of people living amid mounds of filth because they sincerely believe their lives will fall apart without it.  The fact that it takes me days of procrastination just to move one dirty bowl three feet from the sink to the empty dishwasher, on the other hand, remains one of the great mysteries of the universe.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I have resigned myself to a sleepless existence.

Every night, I share a bed with three creatures who each want to be as close to me as possible.

The worst is Bogo.  Not only does he sleep on my pillow and cover my face in cat hair, but when he's not sleeping, he uses my head as his own personal step ladder.

If he sees any of the neighbors' cats invading our yard, he leaps off the bed (clawing my face in the process), skitters into the living room, and looks out that window, yowling indignantly.  It's all part of an intricate nightly schedule.

Lately we've considered shutting our bedroom door at night, but I have a sinking feeling it isn't going to help.

Oh well.  At least I know I'm loved.

Friday, July 13, 2012


My mom and I both had birthdays this week.  That means two things:

1.  I totally ruined my mom's 31st birthday by forcing her to hobble around with a two-week-overdue baby inside her.
2.  I totally ruined all my mom's subsequent birthdays by overshadowing them with my own impending festivities.  I did buy her a really nice pair of Adidas one year, though.

My mom has put up with a lot of other things from me over the years, especially my obsessive personality.

When I was five, any time I rode in the car, the song "Part of Me, Part of You" by Glenn Frey had to be played on repeat while I sang along and pretended I was recording a music video in the fold-down mirror.

Our car had a cassette player, so we had to wait each time while the tape re-wound.

I was convinced a music mogul would pass us on the highway one day, see my burgeoning talent, and give me a record deal.  Sure, I was five, and I looked like a boy due to the pixie cut I'd insisted on getting earlier that year, but I didn't care.  My stylists would figure out a way to make me look like a nineteen-year-old model.

But that was all just a precursor to the most epic obsession of my childhood.

When I was nine, I saw Titanic eight times. 

Most of those were with my mother, the only person with the patience, love, and mental fortitude to indulge my Leonardo DiCaprio-fueled obsession with a movie that was more than three hours long.

The first time, my parents and I all enjoyed the movie equally.

Even the second time, I like to think Mom got a hint of enjoyment out of seeing the movie again.

The third time, I argued that my best friend had to see the movie.

Meemaw and Pappaw saw it with me.

But Mom bore the brunt of my Titanic craze.

Sometimes, we'd go to the theater intending to see another movie, until I inevitably noticed Titanic was still playing.

The worst part was, my nine-year-old brain was incapable of fully comprehending the tragedy playing out on the screen.  While Mom was forced to sit through the same gut-wrenching scenes eight times, I remained completely unaffected.

I didn't realize what a terrible thing I'd done to my mother until I re-watched Titanic last year for the first time since my childhood.

 Some kids need therapy because of their parents.  My parents probably need therapy because of me. 

They'll have to settle for this blog post for now, though.

Happy birthday, Mom!