Posts from April, 2009
When I was a child, I was so allergic to the world around me that I played the role of the annoying kid who’s always suffering from something. But I was private about it. Not allergic enough to be one of those kids in the bubbles in the super-sanitized room in the specially treated house. But allergic enough to sound weird and look weird and feel like crap all the time. Allergic enough to be the spectacle of the soccer field. Allergic enough to psyche out the offense with threat of sneezing.
So when I was about ten, we saw an allergist and began the long process of testing. First the diet elimination testing, when I ate bushels of potatoes for every meal as we slowly reintroduced milk and strawberries and chicken and eggs. Nothing. Food and I have always gotten along well (if well means I’ve always made a good home for food on my hips). Then came the arduous scratch testing, which really isn’t all that bad, but it was painful then. The assistant would take a fine little needle and run it along my skin in short bursts. Two rows per arm of twelve short bursts, to be exact. And after that came the application of the irritants. Little droplets of potentially inflammatory materials were dripped onto my skin and encouraged to make their way in, just to see what would irritate me.
Oh, the lost fun of childhood, sitting at that ancient library-style table, elbows down, arms prostrate, eyes fixed – waiting for the juice to do its work. From what I understand, the whole thing is easier now, taking about a fourth of the time it took me. The day my fifth grade teacher made a public inquiry as to whether my arms were full of self-inflicted wounds was the crowning glory on a shitty two months. And then the results finally came to mean that I was allergic to everything I ever came in contact with: dust, grass, trees (I remember being surprised by this one – TREES! – images of them coming alive, branches curled into menacing arms with long, spindly fingers came to me at night), pollen, basically anything alive, and also things I never came in contact with: cattle, chickens, goats. Um, Dr. Allergist, why were you testing a city kid for allergies to goats?!
Analysis led to a program of four weekly shots, two per arm, which I was to receive at 4:00 pm every Monday. By 5:00 pm, if I were not wildly swollen at the injection sites, I would be permitted to leave. But after the first year of waiting that full hour to monitor the injections, being led back into the examination area to supposedly rejigger the formulation after my arms inevitably became inflamed, and being watched for another thirty minutes or so after that, we stopped following procedure altogether. I was swollen every week, so you tell me what that hour and a half was doing. Dr. Allergist hated this, reprimanded me (and my mother) as a patient, threatened to stop treatment. And so we’d obey for a few weeks and resume protocol thereafter. On and off, on and off.
Anyway, having been so affected by the pains of allergic reactions as a child has had sort of the opposite effect that you might expect. I am not hardened to the powers of the seasonal wind, but rendered a baby thing to it, bandied about with its big tiger paws. It’s coming back to me now for the first time this spring – like a bad dream. My everything swells, my entire face itches, and the sum of my parts starts to ache with the memory of injuries more than ten years old.
The smell of freshness, green, and growth is processed as stink, burning my nostrils and throat when I inhale. Which leads me to do less inhaling than is typically required. Which of course renders all that swelling and ache multiplied with the lack of oxygen, and tends to make my eyes want to close with the pressure from above.
It’s disappointing. All those Monday afternoons spent in the allergist’s chair wasted. The remedy of four needles per week apparently expires at about year twelve. And even though some would call that a long-lasting cure, I am tired. Yeah, yeah, insert a long whine, right? Actually, it’s best this whole thing be read aloud by Fran Drescher. It’s just that going through the allergic response thing for the second time is turning out to be much worse than I ever expected it to be.
When my allergies act up now, I feel like this is the first time in the whole history of human man that the senses were so mauled by natural ingredients. It’s this kind of irrational thinking that makes me angry at the wind. The nerve that it’s so stirred up by currents that brought air some twenty degrees hotter than expected this time of year. The gaul that it carries with it the seeds of a thousand desirous plants looking to bloom within my nasal cavities.
Still, I’m really better for all those pricks than I’m letting on. I was a little girl in desperate need of foundation at age eleven. Crucial pre-makeup years were spent feeling awkward and sounding like a bad impression of porky pig. I remember this one weekend fairly excruciatingly. It was typical for me, in terms of congestion, but unusual in that I was to be on film. No, I’m not schmancy; it was just a school project – a very fun school project that I should’ve been able to have more fun with. We were making a reinterpretation of War of the Worlds, if the war were about to be fought on Staten Island turf in the early 90s. Viewing that video later, with me as the news anchor, Jessie Alfi, I cringe at how very visibly swollen the entire head of that poor little girl was.
So even though it feels like a tiny bug convention is being held in my nose right now, and all the little guys are at happy hour, toasting and yelling and spilling drinks everywhere, I am grateful that this is round two, after a long and productive ten years or so without this torture.
I posted this watch at A Very Fine Thing earlier today, and although I don’t usually read product copy, when I tried to just look at the orange watch, my eye kept rolling over to the side of the page where the word “fun” was being tossed about like a two dollar hooker. Okay, so it was used three times. That’s the same.
– Silvertone metal with super flexible rubber watch band and white epoxy face
– Not waterproof or water resistant, for fun only!
– Face is 1″ in diameter
Talk about fun! This is a great sporty watch for the beach, bike riding, or any fun activity.
I love it when a description is trailing off and there’s really nothing left to say, but there’s dead space that needs filling, and the only option the writer seems to see is the backdoor exit: make a huge generalization and run. This watch, it is perfect for ANY! FUN! ACTIVITY!
So it’s the perfect movie watch, the perfect antiquing watch, the perfect crocheting watch, and the perfect stripping watch. To each her own fun, right?
In the great spirit of multi-taskers (which Alton Brown loves with all his heart), my grandmother reminded me this weekend which generation has the market on making the most of whatever you have at your disposal.
I went over there on Saturday to start writing down the Grandma Classics (eggplant rollatini, potato croquettes, leg of lamb, icebox cake, etc). And the first thing I learned was the vital how to slice an eggplant like a crazy person without drawing blood.
The second thing was how to use your handy household objects to drain water from eggplant.
She threw the plate on the colander and the iron on top of the plate before I even knew what was going on. Grams, if I’d known the goal was to squish all the water out with something heavy, I could’ve just sat on it.
I also learned that it’s important to hold onto recipes that are not my own so I can scoff at them for being wrong fifty years later.
Perhaps most important, I learned how to make the food that I remember most from Sunday dinners growing up.
Oh yeah, then I saw this on the way home. And even though it reminds me of something the bad girls in Grease might have driven, I would like to have it for just a day.
This man was running between the fire and the ambulance. He brought back some children who had been intoxicated by the smoke. I did not think and shot him quickly.
(And yes, I know it’s in poor taste to laugh in the context of what really happened; it’s still a little funny.)