Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mom, can you pass the side of norovirus or gastroenteritis?

My SO and I rode north to New Jersey for Thanksgiving this year for her first turkey eating with her soon-to-be in-laws, while I return the family visitation over Christmas. There were two events of note this day…neither my sister nor I had to do any leaf raking and I voluntarily peeled all potatoes and apples (it helps that I negotiated a deal to watch football on the HDTV in the kitchen). We sat for dinner around 4, said thanks, released some tears, and enjoyed some laughs. The food was great (as usual) and I made sure to enjoy my can of cranberry sauce. After cleaning up, my mom’s friend visited and we enjoyed mommy’s homemade apple pie and (thanks to my SO’s request) pumpkin pie.

Friday was spent visiting friends, showing-off the ring, and finishing off my faithful Chicago reader’s chocolate chip cookies. Dinner was leftovers so when my SO and I arrived around 6:30 for chow, we saw that the leftovers were still leftover.

This was no match for my stomach virus.

My sister was upstairs where she got to view Thursday’s meal another time. My dad was in the same boat and occupied the other bathroom on the second floor. My mom had been showing signs since Thursday afternoon that she wasn’t feeling so hot either. I wasn’t feeling bad, but I also wasn’t hungry – something I should have been because lunch was seven hours ago. The only non-stomach virus members went to the store to buy soup, coca-cola (for its syrup), and some gaviscon. As we were checking out, my stomach started its freefall.

I left my SO around 10 to test my old bathroom’s flushing capability and share the company of my sister and mom. My sister and I were on a bike chain that was constantly in motion from her room to the bathroom. We took turns on 3-minute intervals and eventually worked our way to 10 minutes. By then I was trying to sleep in my old room, but still woke-up at least twice an hour to take care of business.

Rumble, rumble, rumble goes the tummy.

Flush, flush, flush goes the toilet.

Dawn broke on Saturday with my immediate family still feeling the wrath of gastroenteritis. Our plans to go into the city to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and have dinner weren’t going to happen. I needed to rehydrate, but I only felt worse after a few sips of water. My SO showed no signs of the illness and was relegated to a day with her soon to be in-laws who felt horrible. She was a trooper though and stayed with us. By 4 that afternoon, my sister was feeling much better so she and my SO went to the mall to break their cabin fever. My mom was also feeling better, but my father and I weren’t 100%. My body still ached and my stomach could barely stomach (haha) two slices of toast. My dad got a violent case of hiccups and was taken to the ER by my mom. My sister and SO returned and we checked on my dad who was doing much better. We picked-up some Chinese food (white rice for my sensitive stomach) and waited for my parents to get back from the hospital.

The meal was without incident until 9. That’s when it became apparent that my SO’s hunger pains a few hours before weren’t hunger pains as she got to see her Chinese food again and again. She and I switched roles as I got some restless, but bathroom-trip free sleep and she was upstairs in my bedroom for quick access to the bathroom. This proved our theory wrong that it was the turkey’s white meat to blame. My SO only ate dark meat and since she hadn’t gotten sick we thought it was a combination of eating white meat, the turkey being organic, and the refrigerator not working well enough to prevent bacteria. Lo and behold, it was something beyond my mom’s cooking as she has never undercooked anything, always using a meat thermometer and a very sterile kitchen to prevent any illness.

You know it's coming back up.

By Sunday, my parents, sister, and I were feeling better so we had our reliable breakfast before leaving of lox, bagels, cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions. I thought my stomach was ready for the acidic combination, but I was uncomfortably wrong. My SO and I stayed later than we expected and left around 3 when we had a window of no nausea. The drive home only took an hour longer than normal and we timed it well so we missed traffic for the Jets, Ravens, and Redskins home games at 1. It also helps when you have zero desire to stop for dinner. From Friday's lunch through Tuesday, I had gotten by on some white rice, a few slices of bread, and soup. Things are better now having had a real lunch today, but I’m not about to be the first in line for any heavy significant food for a few more days.

I think this should be a new diet. The best way to lose weight over the holidays is to get yourself a horrible stomach virus, but at least we weren't on a cruise like these folks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

One-Shoulder Shirts: The Next Scarlet Letter

I know my limits when it comes to fashion and style since 99% of my clothing comes from stores found within every mall in America, but that doesn’t’ preclude me from asking a question…why do women still think one-shoulder shirts are attractive? Fashion fads come and go (they are fads after all) yet the one-shoulder shirt continues to be worn by all types of people…from the fashionably inept to those with even the most sensible fashion sense. What gives? I have five theories about this as I fail to comprehend the shirt’s attractiveness.

Theory #1: Different for the sake of being different. The shirt is so different from a normal (two-shoulder) shirt that you can’t help but be fashionably hip. The shirt looks like something on a fashion runway (preferably trampled). It could be confused with those runway designs that are completely impractical to mass produce and only serve to inspire a style made for the general public…or not. Just because it doesn’t align with the norm doesn’t guarantee greatness. A designer (or painter or writer or musician for that matter) working while on LCD doesn’t automatically mean their projects (though off-center) are worldly either. With plenty of one-shoulder shirts being worn, it’s neither rare enough, nor non-conformist enough, nor stylish enough to be hip. When the style is on sale at Old Navy, it’s safe to say that it’s not so unique that you have to go to a small boutique in SoHo to find one in your size.

You're better than this.

Theory #2: It’s sexy to tease with one shoulder. I really hope that this is not the case. Only someone with a serious shoulder fetish would be enticed by this. I have nothing against showing some skin, but why one shoulder? Nobody would ever say the sexiest part of their body was their shoulder…specifically the shoulder being shown fresh air. We’re not living in the time of Quakers where showing a shoulder was scandalous. Nobody ever tries to “put their best shoulder forward” (not that “foot” is much better) because nobody cares about one shoulder. It’s some skin covering your ball and socket joint…how hot is that?

Theory #3: 80’s exercise clothes are the latest fad. There is no need to buy a shirt that is so wide it can’t stay on both shoulders. You could probably save money by buying a smaller size that fits and rests on both shoulders at the same time. What a concept! If you wear a one-shoulder shirt, all you need to complete your “I’m a 1987 aerobics instructor” costume (Halloween is 348 days away) is a headband, leggings, and lots of spandex (preferably fluorescent for greatest effect).

Just add the shirt, mix well, and serve.

Theory #4: The wearer has poor equilibrium and must wear the shirt not to tip over. The first thing I think when I see a one-shoulder shirt wearer is that she’s going to tip over. The shirt forces her to counter-balance its gravitational pull. Since walking upright animals (let’s call them “humans”) have shoulders parallel to the ground and the shirt creates a diagonal from the top of one shoulder down to the opposite armpit, the wearer doesn’t appear to be level and is simply fighting the laws of physics by not falling over to either side. It has to be impossible not to favor one side over the other because the shirt isn’t equal.

Hurry...she's going to tip over!

Theory #5: It’s practical. Maybe the bare shoulder got too large from uneven weightlifting and can’t fit under cloth. Akin to guys wearing sleaveless shirts because their arms are too large (not that this couldn’t be avoided by just buying a shirt the correct size) (at least I have enough class to cut my sleeves off due to permanent deodorant stains), if a woman did enough shoulder presses with one arm, she would have no choice, but to cut the shoulder area out of the shirt before her over-muscled shoulder freakishly tears through when she lifts her arm. There’s a reason Hulk Hogan ripped his entire shirt from the center of his chest and not from his shoulder.

Listen to one-shoulder shirts!

The one-shoulder shirt is neither trendy, nor attractive, nor different enough from the norm that people just assume the wearer has tremendous fashion knowledge. Just as people use nicotine patches to quit smoking, it’s time to develop an over-the-counter cloth patch to repair all one-shoulder shirts addicts. We must break this addiction cycle and the first step is the offender admitting she has a problem with her eyesight and clothing taste. Now where’s my pitchfork and crazed mass of people to hunt these well-meaning, but poorly thought out one-shoulder wearers?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

To the Rosslyn Metro Station: So Long and Farewell, Until We Meet Again

After nearly eight months, my daily Rosslyn Metro station visits have ceased. With new work comes a new commute around the Bethesda area with the occasional Metro ride. The Rosslyn station will be part of me and I will never forget what we shared together. From counting the stairs (160 for the large escalator, 24 for the small) to the delays when the blue or orange line was single-tracking, we had something special, but it’s time for me to move on to the bright lights of Maryland. I will miss watching people run to enter the already-cramped elevator during rush hour and the crowds gathering at my door after stalking my now empty space like vultures when I’d get off at Rosslyn. You were a rack to hang my shirts on those humid days and my cot for 3-minute naps.

Oh Rosslyn. I was not without my faults either, but I worked to overcome them. You did not. It was you who moved the up escalators at inconsistent speeds (a rider taking the 2nd from the right finishes two stairs faster). It was you who had the unexplained smell that was a mix of burning rubber and plastic at least twice a week. It was you who allowed train operators to honk their Metro horns that echoed throughout the station. It was you who gave space to the drummer by the bus terminal who used a CD to play 98% of the sounds (music) coming from him, while only playing a live note or two every few seconds.

Despite our differences, you will always be the best “first/last transfer point for the orange and blue line” and always in my heart.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Damn You Pet Peeves!

The sound of fingernails scratching a chalkboard makes most people cringe and curl into the fetal position. This pet peeve doesn’t rankle me as much, but there are a few things that get under my skin and irk me to no end (that’s right, I wrote “irk”).

-Sound and feel of nail filing: When I am in the vicinity of someone using a nail file, I have to close my eyes and cover my ears. The texture of the file just rubs me the wrong way (haha). When I have my nails manicured (don’t laugh, even Juan Dixon has his done every week, though I’m good for one or two per year), I try to avoid nail files on my fingertips. Either my message is lost in translation, or the manicurist has too much professional pride at stake to not give me the best service and use the file, so I make the sacrifice for a better appearance. Whenever I see someone using a nail file, I run for the hills until the coast is clear.

Take your pick, they all give me goose bumps and hee-bee-gee-bees.

-Cross-handclapping: This pet peeve developed around the time I entered college and went to every MD football and basketball game I could go to, where I saw lots and lots of clapping. When it was time for more noise and people clapped, I couldn’t understand why anyone would cross their hands (forming an X) instead of clapping with parallel hands. Parallel handclapping is safer as you’re less likely to break your fingers because your hands are staggered (at contact, one hand is higher than the other so that the lower hand’s fingers strike the palm on the upper-hand). Parallel clapping is also louder because it is more difficult for air to escape the two-handed enclosure than when hands are criss-clapped (how many ways can I write this?). I think this is something for the next episode of Mythbusters.

Oh the humanity!!!

Back to the peeve at-hand (chortle, chortle, chortle), if I’m cheering with you, you had better not bring me down with clapping that isn’t up to its fullest potential. Go ahead and cross-clap in the privacy of your own home to turn-off the lights, but not around me. Cross-clapping is lazy and too yokel-like for me. We’re in this applause together so let’s give it all we’ve got. There’s no need to be the weakest clapper. Make it your New Year’s resolution to properly clap.

It's not too late to save the next generation from improper clapping.

-Feel of a popsicle stick on my tongue (especially wooden): This pet peeve began when I was young lad of 7 years and being tested for strep throat at the pediatrician’s office was a bi-weekly event. Having the doctor place a wooden stick on my throat made my gag reflex start sooner and sooner – eventually leading to my wooden stick disdain.

Oh sure, start licking a popsicle, but getting the last 2% isn't worth touching the wooden stick.

While a wooden stick is required for throat cultures, it is also the foundation for every ice cream popsicle in the land. Despite being lactose intolerant (or lactard for the un-PC out there), I love ice cream popsicles as much as anyone, but to eat 100% of the offering, I have to contact my tongue with the dreaded wooden stick. Talk about a double-edged sword. Like nail filing during a manicure, I remind myself that the pain is temporary and worth dealing with for the reward (the hand massage after the manicure (no happy ending) and the bonus ice cream stuck to the stick).

In retrospect (all of five minutes worth), my pet peeves aren’t too bad because they do offer rewards if I can stand them for the reward at the end (I’m not giving-up on clapping so easily). For the record, I will never be locked in a nail salon with the Good Humor man and people applauding the quality of manicures while making sure they eat every last drop of ice cream.