How To Be a Terrible Sunsetter.

Sunsetting is an introvert’s sport.

Only they can truly appreciate the long spans of time spent watching the skies…the fiddling with camera settings…the locating of the perfect angles…and the quiet admiration of the cloud iterations.

It’s like fishing – but minus the fish and plus a camera. And minus the water and plus the sky.

But otherwise it’s totally like fishing.

Sometimes, though, you run into other people partaking in this same introvert’s sport. And sometimes, those people are not introverted enough. And since it’s not exactly like fishing, you can’t motor your boat away from them.

I don’t mind talking to people – I really don’t. I even like people most of the time. (Okay some of the time.) I’ve met some wonderful people sunsetting. But I’ve also met some people that can befoul a sunset rather magnificently.

For instance, the lady that I’ve run into on more than one occasion who has informed me during each visit the details from her last surgery, her current medical condition, and the ailing state of her family unit. As sunsetting is typically pursued for its calming qualities, hearing about giant cysts and toe fungus does not, exactly, aid in the enjoyment of the sport.

(Then again I blog about similar atrocities and you willingly read about them so are either of us allowed to complain? No.)

However, running into her is now as thrilling and catching the Queen of England taking a few sunset shots compared to the new acquaintances I met last Friday night.

I was on a long stretch of sidewalk overlooking the city. It’s a fantastic view – a nice foreground of kudzu and framing of trees. I don’t go here as often as some of my other spots, but I should – it’s just lovely.

150724-Clouds-Tipped-in-Pink

I was all alone in my sunset adventures  – no one else was anywhere along the extended stretch of sidewalk-with-a-view, and Chris was waiting in the car with the kids, thoughtfully giving me a quiet moment to recover from motherhood reflect as I enjoyed my favorite time of day.

The sunset was changing colors and different clouds were turning on and off in brightness, keeping the night interesting and a fun guessing game – what would happen next?

I had just texted Chris to check on the kids and make sure it was okay if I stayed a few minutes more – it was getting to a good part.

Chris assured me they were fine. So I studied the skies, staked out the spot I wanted, and began shooting.

150725b-Birmingham's-Colors

…Which is when a very loud bunch of giggly girls and one guy came bouncing down the sidewalk, all asqueal about selfies, with their phones out and ready.

And then, of that whole long expanse of sidewalk, they stopped. DIRECTLY in front of me.

To the point that one literally jumped into my photo.

Sunset Bomber

I stopped shooting for a second and pulled my camera down, staring at them rather like they were aliens from the planet Narcissicia. I looked to my left, then to my right. 100 feet of sidewalk, all with a view, and I was still the only person there, except for these girls who were – are they lifting each other up on their shoulders for pictures?

Why yes. Yes they are.

But the sunset was at such a nice spot. And I didn’t want to miss it. So I took two steps to the right. At which point one of the girls noticed my presence [six inches from her face] for the first time.

“Oh I’m sorry! You’re trying to do the same thing we are!”

“Uhhhh….NO.”, I muttered under my breath, and then waited for her to follow up her apology with a gesture of moving out of the spot I had clearly just been occupying.

But no.

“Hey Mom! Take one of us doing gang signs – for Snapchat!!”

I turned my head further left to realize the female that I thought was the fourth teenage girl was actually one of their moms – I’d been previously mistaken as her shorts were as short and tight as the other girl’s – she blended in quite impressively. And she seemed to be as pleased as a Mom watching her daughter give a Valedictorian Speech to be taking repeated photos of her daughter and friends as they flashed various gang signs and toothy smiles.

“No, not that one – I hate that one!”

“Oh I know let’s do this one!”

“Is this on Snapchat yet? I bet it’s already on Snapchat.”

I let my camera hang again and began taking iPhone pictures of these girls to text to Chris. Not that they noticed – they never noticed me again after the empty apology. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have started to wonder if my introversion had somehow morphed me into an invisible ghost.

I looked over at the Dad, mentally imploring him to be the thoughtful one. But he was bored and detached, bobbing his head to the tinny sounds of rap flowing out of his iPhone.

The mom yelling at the girls jolted me out of my mental meanderings. “You’re blocking the sunset! Move over a bit so I can get you and the sunset in the picture!”

“I don’t CARE about the sunset! Just take the picture, Mom!! Geez!”

You. Don’t. CARE. About the sunset.

You say you DON’T CARE about the sunset.

THEN WHY ARE YOU IN MY PERFECTLY CHOSEN SPOT.

It’s not that there weren’t other fantastic spots on that sidewalk. That THEY could have chosen to see the sunset they didn’t care about. But I surely wasn’t moving to those other spots and allowing them that great of a victory. I was going to stand there, as close to my original spot that I could be without getting kicked when it was time for the “Let’s do Herkies and Duck Lips!!!” photo. Because I wanted to make them feel like I was standing over them like Sheldon would, saying repeatedly in a monotone, “That’s my spot. You’re in my spot. That’s my spot. You’re in my spot. Um, by the way – you’re in my spot.”

Except that I was invisible to them. So my strategy was flawed. But I still wasn’t going to budge.

“My turn!!”

I looked over and the Mom was taking her own selfie while the girls discussed their next pose. I took more pictures as I live-blogged the whole thing to Chris.

While they waited for their Momtographer to finish up her head shots, one of the girls climbed onto the other girl’s backs for the obligatory piggy-back ride pose. Because piggy-back is what I always try to capture when I’m at the sunset.

At that, I finally walked back to the car, laughing at the ludicrousness of what had just occurred, and even considering thanking them – because although they sure know how to ruin a sunset, they’re experts at creating fantastic story content.

Infusion-Induced Insanity.

On our last few hotel stays, Chris and I have discovered a magical commodity that hotels sometimes offer: fruit infused water.

Displayed beautifully in a large dispenser with multi-colored fruits, three recent hotels have had it in the lobby, with those lovely little clear plastic cups that make everything taste better.

One hotel even made with cantaloupe and cucumber. The fact that Chris raved so magnificently about this concoction was even more ridiculous – he’s spent his entire life disgusted by even the smell of cantaloupe and avoiding anything that had too “cucumbery” of an essence.

But yet. When combined and allowed to let water seep through its veins and then wet his parched throat after a long run, it was as if he had hiked across Alaska and found the Fountain of Life.

Speaking of which, all three times we’ve found this wonder happened to be directly after a long, hot run, which may have interfered with our objectivity with regards to the wonders of infused water. Because we both stood in the lobby and gushed over it being the BEST THING WE HAD EVER TASTED.

Sweating, me in leggings as pants, once even in matching running shirts, we felt more like Todd and Margo than we ever, EVER wanted to experience.

“Who drank the last of the infused water??”

“I DON’T KNOW, MARGO.”

Todd and Margo

But regardless of the obnoxious category our water pleasures put us in, we were hooked.

Last week, on the much anticipated day of July 15, I eagerly logged onto Amazon for what they promised would be the best day of my life: Prime Day.

“Better than Christmas!”, they said.

“We’re going to give you everything we have for mere pennies!”, I read.

I looked forward to stocking up on all of the things nearly as much as Noah looks forward to asking me every day how many days it is until his birthday.

But, as was the rest of the world, I was sorely disappointed and drowned in the betrayal of Amazon’s gigantic campaign of false advertising.

Prime Day actually went something like this:

Ugly necklace you’d never wear – 20% off!!

Violent video game for a system you don’t own – $5 less than usual!

Need a wooden wrist watch? Of course you do!! Only $999 – just for Prime Day!

I wept over the wasted anticipation that I had set aside for Prime Day. And it was dead to me.

But right before I clicked with a vengeance off of the page, a deal came up for fruit infusing water bottles.

Memories flooded over me of the miraculous hydration powers of infused water and I jumped with excitement. Finally! A Prime Day Deal I can actually use! I clicked through to buy Chris and I each a water bottle and immediately started fantasizing about all of the amazing subtly fruity concoctions that I’d prepare for us, therefore upping my Wife Stock by at least 30%.

But of course, the deal was “sold out”. Which means that I had to (and absolutely did) pay full price for those bottles (full price which was even $1 more expensive than it is now). And then I bought a fruit infusing pitcher to boot.

You win, Amazon. You. Win.

They arrived over the weekend, and I couldn’t wait to attempt to make lovely water as if I were a Marriott Hospitality Specialist.

The pitcher had a large sticker on the outside of it touting all of its benefits, and the two bottles had delightfully Google-Translated labels on their boxes,

funny translated labels

I solemnly promised not to approach my bottles to a stove or to allow the bottles beat the sidewalk or collide the pavement and,etc,. Then I dismantled them and began washing. When I got to the pitcher, I started peeling off the label, because labels are evil.

Except that it wasn’t the nice peel-off kind of evil label. At all.

It was the type with the thick paper outer layer, the thin paper under layer, and the absolutely psychosis-inducing gummy layer. The kind of gummy layer that only squishes around when you scratch it with your fingernail and attracts every dirt particle in the house to instantaneously turn your pitcher into a dull, gray, sticky bug trap.

I scrubbed.

I rubbed.

I alcoholed (the label – not myself, although it might’ve helped my growingly-obsessed mental state.)

I scrubbed.

I hot watered.

I scrubbed some more.

I alcoholed again.

I considered the fact that there was probably an oil for this problem.

As I stood at my sink for this eternal span of time while my children moaned for lunch and my messy house glared at me from every angle, I appreciated the irony that I was spending my day on a label retraction instead of the more pressing matters that were not, as the label was, making me lose my mind.

I finally gave up and perhaps more than forcefully than necessary dropped the pitcher.

Then, to make myself feel better, I wrote my first ever Amazon review.

Amazon Reviews

Somehow, this releasing of words fueled me to be able to go on with my life, and I filled all my new pretties with lovely fruit and cold water and began shaking them vigorously (like Shake Weights! With Fruit!) to expedite the infusion process. Chris and I drank great quantities of melon-and-cucumber water, plum-and-cherry water, and quickly poured out grapefruit water (because despite what hotels had taught us, nasty bitter rinds infuse, too.)

Fruit Infused Water Pitchers and Bottles

We learned that infused water is delicious, is not delicious to children, speeds up…ahem…digestion, and makes us very happy – even if we haven’t just been running in the July heat.

But every time my hands stick to my children’s hair when I hug them, and every time I find a fly that is hopelessly fused to the palm of my hand, I remember and curse the horror that is the outside of my eternally sticky pitcher.

IMG_9605

The Snotty Truth: a Tonsillectomy Recovery.

I am an Adult Tonsillectomy Survivor.

I know, I know – you’re probably as tired of hearing about my tonsillectomy as you are my running. I get it. But I wrote about my surgery day and never got back to writing about the recovery. Because of this gross oversight (and yes it is definitely gross in all the intents of the word), I have had several future tonsillectomy recipients ask me for the full analysis of what the recovering is really like. We’ve all heard that it’s the most brutal surgery an adult can have and that you’ll hate your surgeon for the rest of your life – but are the rumors true?

I cannot confirm or deny the experience of every tonsillectomy, but here are the facts, observations, and tips from my personal experience.

1. The pain never got to what I would consider a “10” in and of itself. Especially on the actual surgery day, which really wasn’t bad. During the whole recovery, I never found myself writhing about in pain that I couldn’t handle. I’d rate my pain experience at 60% of what I expected it to be.

2. However, I spent ten entire days never allowing myself to go more than five hours without a pain pill – I even had Chris waking me up like a nursing newborn every four hours overnight, except that he was feeding me Vicodin instead of breastmilk. I did start to take half pills and even quarter pills during the second week, but even letting a quarter of a pill wear off was a really bad idea.

3. The exception to #1 and #2: The one night I did attempt to make it through the night without a pain pill did end in writhing pain. Lesson: take your pain pills. Do not screw this up. Keep a pain pill diary to make sure you do not screw this up. I repeat. DO NOT SCREW THIS UP.

IMG_6154

4. The hardest part was not the pain – it was living. No one told me how impossible the function of swallowing would become. On days 2-4, I had to go everywhere with a spit cup – just to relieve my mouth of excess saliva (count how many times a day you subconsciously swallow saliva. It’s more than you think.) Spit cups are not sexy.

5. The not swallowing thing is a bummer, since having a tonsillectomy does not deplete your appetite, and you also kinda need to eat so as not to vomit back up those all-important and giant pain pills. Reality versus expectations with regards to my ability to swallow rates in at 300%.

6. Slowly allowing sorbet to evaporate down your throat in microscopic amounts is the only way to absorb nutrients during these exasperating few days. My recovery in numbers: 7 Quarts of Doodles Sorbet and 2 half-gallons of Edy’s ice cream. Yet I lost 12 pounds. (Which I’m sure I’ve gained back in entirety but I wouldn’t know because I ceased stepping on the scale immediately after I quit losing weight because scales are only fun when the numbers are going down.)

7. Tonsillectomies do not hinder the ability of your legs to function. I took several 1-2 mile slow walks with Chris, starting on day two, that helped me feel somewhat normal and medicated my feelings about my over-medication. Pain pills just make me sad.

8. During the days where swallowing was impossible, breathing was also difficult, which made living difficult, and sleeping even worse. Even sitting straight up, I snored so loudly that Chris said it was nearly worse than when I was 9 months pregnant.

9. The three most painful things that you can do while recovering from a tonsillectomy are yawning, coughing, and sneezing. Yawning is the worst because it occurs the most often. I didn’t sneeze for the first time until Day Ten, yet it still made me cry. Then I began sneezing regularly. The painfulness of sneezing continued on into the third and fourth week – it was so excruciating that I taught myself how to quit sneezing through my throat and start sneezing entirely out of my nose.

This is a problem because sneezing out your nose can be, and most likely will always be, messy.

This is a serious problem because it’s hard to relearn how to sneeze out of your throat.

In fact, I have yet been unable to do so.

So every time a sneeze catches me off guard (at least twice a day), I end up covered in snot and horrified at my own existence. This has not yet happened outside my home, but the time is coming – I can just feel it.

I need Sneeze Rehab as soon as possible.

10. All food tastes like carburetor after a tonsillectomy. It’s uncanny really – even if you’ve never tasted carburetor or maybe it’s been ten years since you last tasted carburetor, you’ll know what carburetor tastes like when you have a tonsillectomy. On day one, 100% of everything tasted like carburetor. The percentage of carburetor foods slowly decreased over the next five weeks, in order of foods with least to most preservatives, thereby forcing me to eat healthy. Golden Oreos were the last thing to return from the carburetor.

11. Even if you’re not the kind of person that gets a high off of pain pills, they might still make you draw eyebrows over all of your thigh freckles. That is okay.

IMG_6118

12. If you find yourself in need of protein, try Corned Beef Hash. It might still taste like carburetor and look like wet cat food, but it will keep you alive. Other “foods” I managed to eat were: Mashed Cauliflower, completely textureless and lumpless soups, chicken broth, and yogurt. Sorbet was infinitely more pleasant than any of them.

13. It wasn’t until day five that I could finally see an opening down the back of my throat. That was the day that I also started feeling better and my throat scabs began to flake off. I felt like recovery was imminent and all those promises of fourteen days of misery were lies.

14. I discovered that now I had giant caverns on either side of my throat that liked to house all of my attempts at eating food – think wisdom teeth holes except ten times bigger. After each bite, I had to flush my mashed cauliflower out of these rather sensitive holes. That was gross. And I feared greatly that I’d have mouth holes for the rest of my life.

(Spoiler: they grew back. Just like wisdom teeth holes. The body is a weird and amazing thing.)

15. Throat scabs are white. Very white and very thick. I have many pictures of my fabulous progression of throat scabs that you don’t want to see. And then I have pictures of the cups of used salt water that I gargled to remove my throat scabs once they started peeling off. You definitely don’t want to see that, but since I’m sure you’re curious, it looks somewhat like giant flesh-eating amoebas floating through the Amazon. Or an ocean full of plankton.

16. Once I gargled my throat scabs off, my throat became intensely raw and painful – more so than when I couldn’t swallow. This was a big fat bummer, as regressing is the worst feeling ever. I am still unsure if it was my own fault for cleansing my throat, or if it was going to happen anyway. This made days 7-8 the absolutely worst days in the whole process – because I was in pain and depressed.

17. When I woke up on day nine, I actually WOKE UP. It was the most amazing feeling – I felt alive again, and realized that I had been very much dead for over a week. I actually didn’t realize how un-lucid I had been until that moment – anesthesia always messes with me significantly longer than it seems like it should. I was still in pain and was still taking pain medicine religiously, which made me realize even more so how much the surgery had actually affected me.

18. On day fourteen, I went out on my first true run (I’d attempted on Day nine and day twelve rather unsuccessfully). All of my favorite victorious anthems came on, spurring me on to life again. I pumped my fists in the air while runners by stared judgmentally, and nearly cried from my exuberance over being alive.

19. On day twenty-eight, I contracted a throat infection. As I had been sold on getting a tonsillectomy for the sole purpose of ending my cycle of throat infections, I was unhappy.

So naturally, I cyber-stalked my ENT. Turns out he lives exactly one mile from my house. I fantasized about walking up that hill, demanding my money, my tonsils, and a month of my life back.

But in an effort to be slightly less creepy, I went into his office the next day and demanded all of those things. With Noah in tow. Who asked him 757 questions about everything in his office as extra punishment.

20. I’m now eight weeks out from surgery, and I am completely recovered except that I am still somewhat hoarse – which you will discover if you approach me unexpectedly. I will do that high-pitched “Hi there! How are you doing?” and “Hi” and “You” will be silent because my voice cannot hit those octaves anymore.


My Most Important Tips:

a. Have a long series queued up on Netflix ready to binge (my show choice was 30 Rock.)
b. Have a freezer full of sorbet (I preferred peach and mint chip.)
c. Be emotionally prepared for a regression. Do not let yourself believe that you will be the exception to a two week recovery.
d. Do NOT miss taking your pain pill.
e. When you reach the crossroads of sneezes-that-make-you-cry or learn-to-sneeze-through-your-nose, just cry it out. Once you go nose, you can’t go back.


And, one final FAQ: one of my friends asked me after the surgery, “So do you have a cool scar, or were they able to go in through your mouth?”

No worries, people – you can see your tonsils when you open your mouth – they hang out on either side of your uvula. They will not slit your throat open to get to them.