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Internet, I spent Friday night being awakened every two hours by The Worst Headache Ever. Which meant that I got very little sleep (plus, had to deal with a severe skull shattering headache) and then had to work for 13.5 hours.

So all I can muster this morning are a few sad bullets. I’m sorry. You deserve more!

And yet…

Here we go:

— My husband takes a sandwich for lunch almost every day. But he has some sort of mental block against making his sandwich pretty much every night. Which means that he forgets – almost every night – until about three minutes before bed. At which point he inevitably groans, “Oh no! I have to make my sandwich!”

While I have no problem reminding him to make his sandwich, I have my own mental block against making it for him. Am terrible wife.

— My book club met last week. We were supposed to read The Other Boleyn Girl. I went so far as to make a specific trip to my local Borders to buy the book… but then I pulled it off the shelf, saw that it was nearly 700 pages, and read the first sentence (which did not inspire me)… and put it back and drove home. I have heard lovely things about this book, Internet. But I just could not do it. It was too long and too historical-y and too English and just… NO. I could not do it. It is the second time I have wilfully skipped a book for book club. (The last was The Last Song by Nick Sparks.) And this time I did not even bother Wikipediaing it to try to fake my way through the discussion.

And you know what? I did not feel bad. And no one shamed me.  (Not that I EXPECTED shaming.) In fact, two of the other girls hadn’t read it either. And really, we only discuss the books for about 10 minutes anyway so it’s not like I had to keep nodding along with a conversation I didn’t understand the whole night.

— At the beginning of the book club, I was standing at one end of our hostess’s living room with a few girls. And a blond girl who looked familiar walked in the door. As I said – literally just then – she looked familiar… but I couldn’t place her. And I was quite certain I had no idea what her name was. So I quietly asked one of the other girls – A –  if the blond girl was a new member.

And A responded, “Oh no, that’s R. She’s not new, she just doesn’t come very often.” And I looked, and sure enough R – whom I KNOW, as she has attended several book clubs, and who is also blonde – had come in behind the familiarish girl. So I said to A, “Oh! I know R! I was talking about the other girl!”

And then – even though the blonde girl (it turned out) WAS new and had only attended one meeting, which I had been unable to make – MY face turned bright red.

And it wasn’t even EMBARRASSING. I mean, it was a simple misunderstanding between me and A; neither R nor the new girl had heard the conversation; no harm no foul. And yet I got ridiculously, lobsterly embarrassed. Which, of course, made it much worse. Because everyone was all, “What is your deal?” and staring and asking why I was blushing. So I was not only embarrassed about the non-embarrassing situation, I was also embarrassed because I was embarrassed.

And continued blushing for about a skillion years. Because there is nothing like blushing to make you blush MORE. Arg.

— In other embarrassing news (we might as well lay it all out on the table), my husband and I made a quick run to the grocery store last night to pick up a rotisserie chicken ( and a frozen pizza. Which I cut into THIRDS and promptly froze two of the pieces) for a quick dinner since we were both too busy to bother with cooking a full meal. So I – who had been working on the computer all day – just threw on Uggs and a jacket over my workout clothes and threw my hair into a ponytail.

Of course, we ran into one of my husband’s attendings in the stupid self checkout. And because my husband is super nice and physically unable to say a quick goodbye, he got embroiled in a conversation with the attending. I did not want to meet ANYONE in my condition (haven’t I learned ANYTHING from Stacey and Clinton?), so I managed to slowly and carefully double-bag our five groceries (we also bought a package of mushrooms, some frozen vegetables, and one of those $1.25 mini-containers of Haagen Dazs mango sorbet) for about 15 minutes, trying to look very busy and engrossed in the bagging process, whilst very carefully avoiding eye contact with my husband and his attending lest that lead to an introduction.

Finally, my poor husband found a way to say goodbye politely (he LIKES his attending! And did not want to offend!) and we escaped.

We were both a little flustered, since it was a Wholly Awkward Situation. And neither of us really knew what the other should have done. So once in the car, he asked for a General Ruling on how he should act should we ever find ourselves in that situation again.

Because obviously I am not really UP for meeting Important People whilst wearing Nike exercise pants, Uggs, and zero makeup. And yet, I am also not UP for Lurking Creepily and Unfriendly-ly as my husband talks with said Important People.

So we decided that it’s better to introduce me, no matter what I look like. As I pointed out, even if I look like something the cat dragged in, I am still his wife.

— So, as I mentioned, I had The Worst Headache Ever on Friday night. And it started with a Weird Eye Thing – one that I’d experienced once before. But let me back up a little. In the past couple of months, I have also had two other Weird Experiences. So, in true hypochondriac fashion, I immediately connected all these weirdnesses together and got all hyperventilatory over Potential Horrifying Issues.

Which is all to say that I want to record these Weird Things here a) just in case and b) to prove to skeptical doctors that I am not just making it up if I ever have to tell them about the Weird Things.

So, the first Weird Thing happened maybe two months ago. I woke up and went to work. Since I work alone from home, sometimes I am the only person I’m around all day. So I will occasionally say things out loud – read something I’ve written, express my irritation with someone who emailed me, etc. And on this particular day, I tried to read something and couldn’t read it out loud. I could process the words mentally, but I couldn’t get them to come out of my mouth. It wasn’t a physical issue – I could make sounds, just not the sounds I wanted to. Of course, it subsided after a while and I told my husband about it and he didn’t seem particularly worried. Then I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago. The day when we didn’t ski, and my husband was away on an interview, I was indulging in some blog reading. And one of the blogs I read mentioned that Katy Perry song, “California Girls.” It’s a song I like, and I knew the words – the ones about “will melt your popsicle” – and it got lodged in my head. So when I went upstairs to my room I started to sing that particular lyric. And I couldn’t sing it. Not that I couldn’t hit the notes; I mean, I’m sure I couldn’t but that’s not the point. I KNEW the right words, but I couldn’t force my mouth to say them correctly. Like instead of “west coast girls” all I could say was “well so curl” or something. So I got a little panicky and said the words over and over, very slowly, until I could say them again and again without issue. And it took a LONG time. Like, 15 tries. (I still remember this because it was so stupid. Repeating THOSE lyrics over and over in a frantic manner? Ridiculous.)  But once again, the Weirdness subsided and all was fine and I forgot about it until this weekend.

I feel really stupid for writing this all out. Let me remind you, I am a HUGE hypochondriac who has watched far too many episodes of House.

Then there was the Weird Eye Thing. It happened for the first time maybe last week? I don’t recall what I was doing, I think I’d just woken up? but all of a sudden I had all these little sparklies in front of my eyes. Have you ever rubbed the heels of your hands hard against your eyes, and when you remove your hands,  the darkness ebbs slowly away and leaves little holes of light in your visual field? Well, that’s what it was like. Oh yes, I HAD just woken up. And I was trying to get to work but the sparklies were obscuring the computer screen and making it difficult to read.  Like the other Weirdness, this went away after a while.

But then it happened again on Friday night, right before bed. Only this time it was like a specific horizontal zig-zag in the top left corner of my visual field. It did not go away when I blinked, and it seemed to be in both eyes. It lasted for probably 15 minutes, and was so annoying that I couldn’t read my book – it was too much effort to focus away from the zigzaggy sparkles.

Anyway, then I went to sleep and woke up every two hours with this horrible, splitting headache that hurt everywhere but was worst in the right side of my head, somewhat behind my right eye.

My husband speculates that maybe it was a migraine, except that I’ve never had a migraine and it’s very unusual for someone of my advanced age (har har) (but seriously) to just begin getting migraines out of the blue.

Anyway, once again, I feel utterly stupid for telling you this. But really, it’s just in case. (By the way, I am purposely NOT googling “aphasia” and “vision sparklies” [technical term] and “worst headache ever” because I do not need Dr. Google to tell me about the tiny alien that’s hatching inside my brain stem. No siree.)

— Moving on, one of the gals I work with just introduced me to Rebecca Black last week. (Not to her, the person; to her, the concept. Or something.) So obviously I had to listen to her breakout song “Friday” and watch the accompanying music video.

If you haven’t heard/seen it? Just imagine a stylistic amalgam of Justin Bieber, Ke$ha, and Miley Cyrus with lyrics written by Elmo.

— Speaking of Justin Bieber: Whenever I hear “Friday” (three times so far – PLENTY), I somehow get “Baby (Baby, Baby, Oh)” stuck in my head.

Leave it to the Biebster to morph someone else’s song into his music without ever touching it.

— By the way, if you haven’t seen the Jimmy Fallon/Stephen Colbert version of “Friday,” you must watch it immediately.

— My husband and I finally watched Black Swan this weekend. It was both not as good as AND better than what I anticipated. What I most liked – besides the music – was how it made me think about the experience of producing art – that to produce your best work, you need to get in touch with a part of yourself you may not know or like or want to reveal. And letting that part of you out is frightening, exhausting, even destructive.

It left me wondering something I’ve questioned before: If you can only create by unleashing devastation and ruin… Is it worth it? Is it okay to produce something lesser if, at the end, you come out of it intact? Or, it is okay to come out of your art intact if you wind up producing something sub par? Or is it an all or nothing sort of thing – as though you aren’t being true to the art unless you go balls to the wall? You’d think the answer would be simple. But I don’t think it is. Not for artists, and not for consumers of art.

— My husband has only about four fellowship interviews left! It’s very exciting slash scary, to be so close to the end. I’ll be glad to have him all to myself again. And by “have him all to myself” I mean “share him with the hospital and his patients.”

— Have you ever witnessed some sort of Process and realized that there is a better way to do it? Let me give you an example, because that was the vaguest question ever asked: We went to Chipotle the other day and there was a long line. No problem; we are not averse to waiting. And Chipotle was – on the surface – equipped for the influx of customers. They had six people behind the counter on burrito/etc. duty and one person at the cashier. (Not to mention a few people in the back, cooking chicken and onions and peppers and such.)

BUT they were going about it all wrong. There were three dudes whose job it was to either steam the burrito wrapper (my husband informs me I mean “tortilla”), add hot veggies (beans or onions-and-peppers), or add meat. I shall call them the Hot Dudes. And there were two dudes and a girl whose job it was to top the burritos (or tacos or salads or what have you) with lettuce and sour cream and such. I shall call them the Topping Team. It was also the Topping Team’s job to fold and wrap the burritos.

But the Hot Dudes were much too efficient. They had five people’s burritos/etc done and on the assembly line before the Topping Team could top, fold, and wrap even one burrito/etc.

Listen, no matter what, we were all going to have to wait for the same amount of time. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather that I wait while my food is still sitting in its little chafing dishes, rather than growing cold on the counter as the Topping Team struggles to keep up.

(I don’t think it helped matters that two of the Topping Team members seemed brand new. And one of them had to dump the entire contents of a burrito into another wrapper/tortilla because she had so badly botched the folding process.)

Also, the cashier seemed to do double duty as bus boy. So she was NEVER AT THE CASHIER. And so there was a big pile up at the cashier as people tapped their feet and their rapidly-cooling burritos/etc grew ever cooler.

I got very overworked by the whole ordeal, Internet. But my burrito – while not as hot as I’d like it – was delicious. I swear they put crack in those things.

Anyway, my point is, I have a MUCH better system.  Only have one Hot Dude. Have three members of the Topping Team, all who have specific toppings designated to them. And make sure the freaking cashier is there AT ALL TIMES. Then put the remaining two Hot Dudes on bus boy duty. And allow people to stand in line a little longer, so that there are only three people being served at all times: One being asked what kind of burrito/etc s/he wants; one being asked which toppings s/he wants; and one being rung up at the cash register. The rest of the people can wait in line and no one’s food will get cold. MUCH better system, no?

But alas.  It’s not like I can simply suggest this to someone at my local Chipotle. I think that is a shortcut to a burrito full of rocks.

— By the way, one member of the Topping Team was very overzealous with the toppings. She asked my husband if he wanted sour cream and as he was saying “No thank you!” she was dolloping a giant dollop of sour cream onto his burrito. She asked, with a poor approximation of deep chagrin, whether he’d like her to make him a NEW burrito. But we’d already been waiting for 15 minutes or so, and I was already getting frantic over my rapidly-cooling burrito, AND my husband happens to love sour cream, he had just opted out of it for health reasons, so he took one for the team.

— I have the bad habit of never spending my book store gift cards. It drives my husband CRAZY, because he loves almost nothing more than buying books. But I go on a buying binge – usually on a day when I have forgotten my gift cards – and then I’m good for months and months.

Anyway, I have a nice stack of books beside my bed these days… But I’ve had a run of books that have left me feeling pretty “meh,” which is making me doubt my book-choosing ability, and making me feel apprehensive about the quality of the books I currently possess. Plus, our book for next month’s book club is The Art of Racing in the Rain which I have heard is good and yet I STILL feel very “meh” about. PLUS plus, it just so happens that I have all these gift cards lying around. (“All these gift cards” means two gift cards for $10 and $20 respectively, plus one old gift card with about $6.80 on it.) So what I’m asking is, do you have any books that I MUST read? Really good ones that don’t involve vampires or zombies please.

— Last week, my husband and I went to the grocery store (yes, this is our idea of a hot date) (seriously… now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t remember going anywhere with him BESIDES the grocery store in over a week) (and the place we went before THAT was Cheesecake Factory, so that doesn’t really count) and one of the items on our grocery list was mushrooms. He grabbed a package of pre-WASHED, pre-sliced mushrooms. I even asked him, there in the produce section, if they were pre-WASHED. Because if I’m going to wash my own mushrooms, I’d rather cut them myself. (Am Very Particular about food.)

He said yes, pre-WASHED and showed me the label where it said, clear as day, pre-washed. Then we bought them, put them in the fridge, and forgot about them.

On Friday, I pulled out the mushrooms to make as a side. And upon opening them, discovered that they were speckled with that dark black loamy soil particular to mushrooms. A couple of the slices were COATED in dirt.

And I just don’t even know what to DO in that situation. Obviously, I washed them all carefully and we ended up eating them. (Spitefully.) But I was irritated. Not irritated enough to drive all the way back to the grocery store. But definitely irritated enough to whine about it to you. (You: Super.)

Well, Internet. That’s all I’ve got.

I hope, despite this sad sack of randomness, that you have an excellent day.

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Film Review: Rocket Science

I fell in love with a high schooler last weekend.

Okay, before you call the kiddie police, it wasn’t an actual high schooler. It was a film character, Hal Hefner. And he was played by actor Reece Thompson who is now 21. Yes, much much too young for me, but safely out of the “disturbingly young” category.

Anyway. Hal Hefner is the protagonist of an utterly charming film from 2007, Rocket Science.

I shouldn’t be surprised that I so thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz, who brought us the wonderfully funny documentary Spellbound in 2002.

Mini plot summary: Hal has a debilitating stutter. Ginny – high school debater extraordinaire – recruits him for the debate team, on the premise that kids with flaws like Hal’s have something to prove and work harder. Hal falls for Ginny. Heartbreak and hilarity ensue.

I don’t know if Reece Thompson’s portrayal of a stutterer was realistic. My husband didn’t think so. But I was so convinced I looked him up to see if that’s why he was chosen as the lead. (It wasn’t.) And I never for one second felt like the film was exploiting his speech disorder. It was handled with sensitivity and realism, while at the same time using it as a thematic device.

One reason I loved this movie was that it wasn’t (totally) unrealistic. Hal’s character was adorable and charming and (almost entirely) believable. But while I would have loved to see him win the big state debate tournament, I was more pleased when he didn’t. (Sorry to spoil it for you.) But he won something that was, I think, more important.

Ostensibly, the overarching theme of this movie is about finding one’s voice – both literally and figuratively. But what seemed even more prominent, and, in its way, poignant, was the theme of small victories. And how those may sometimes be the most formative and critical of all.

Getting respect from your brother. Having a long conversation with a debate legend. Talking to your father about love. Changing someone’s opinion about you. Being noticed for something other than your speech disorder. Ordering a piece of pizza.

These are the victories that make up a normal life. These are the victories that matter.

Aside from provoking thought, this film was hilarious. Hal’s brother was a caricature of the stereotypical bullying older brother. Hal’s mother’s love interest had bouts of inappropriate laughter. There’s the eleven-year-old who lives across the street from Ginny Ryerson, loves to play Cowboys and Indians, and has a big ‘ol bra stashed behind his bed.  There’s the chubby philosopher who tries to get Hal to join his club by assuring him that they won’t cover Hegel. (My husband didn’t find this funny, but I laughed out loud.) Hal himself announces to his love interest’s mother that he’s “done with masturbation” and ready to prove it.

And of course, there’s former debate legend Ben Wekselbaum (played by the delicious Nicholas D’Agosto) who went silent mid debate about farm subsidies, quit high school, and went to work for a drycleaner in Trenton.

Should you see it? Absolutely. It’s a film that is funny, heartbreaking, and surprisingly tender. I strongly recommend it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this film, if you’ve seen it. Have at it in the comments – but beware that there may be spoilers.

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