Reality Bites! And Then You Get a Ticket

My mom watches a lot of true crimes on TV. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s tuned in to Investigation Discovery the better part of her waking hours. And when she’s not watching these horrific tales, she’s having me look them up to see if there’s anything current with the cases. Admittedly, some of these cases are fascinating but when you’re flooding your brain daily with such awful examples of humankind, it’s not good for your own mental health. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “people are evil” over the past few weeks and at one point, she even suggested I get a gun to take to work with me. (I work from home most of the time and the merchandising gig that I do every week is in Target.) And yesterday, she made a special point to tell me that about a woman in Atlanta that killed her wife after they had been together “a very long time”. (Not sure what you’re getting at here, Mom.) But mostly she likes to warn us about the neighborhood we live in, how unsafe it is, and how someone might just break in on us at any time.

Now, let me reassure you – our apartment might not be the definition of luxury (despite the fact that the word luxury is on the sign at the entrance) but it’s pretty safe. At least from criminals. But my mom was right about one thing – at any moment, something could break in and attack any one of us. I know because it happened last Friday.

At 5:30 AM last Friday, Angie woke me up with the most dreaded words you can hear when you’re half-asleep, “I think something happened”. My first thought – oh, God! Not Caesar! He is almost 18 years old and not the healthiest cat in the world but I’m certainly not ready for him to cross the Rainbow Bridge. My next thought – something had happened to one of our moms. Never in a million years would I have guessed that the “something” that happened was that Angie was attacked by a wasp IN HER SLEEP!

For a few weeks, we’ve had red wasps randomly sneaking into the apartment. We usually hear them in the blinds and dispose of them quickly. We did not see or hear this one. Angie actually thought Caesar was brushing her face with his tail and reached up to swat it away. In reality, she swatted a wasp that was crawling across her face and he double-tapped her right in the eye – once on the eyelid and once in the corner, just above her tear duct. Her eyelid was starting to swell. It looked awful and painful but since she is not allergic, she took a Benedryl, applied ice, and told me to go to work. (I had a gig in Bowling Green, KY that day.)

Before I left for work (ignore the bedhead)

A few hours later – she looked like this.

So I tried to rush home. Except that you don’t rush through Portland, TN. Trust me. The only two times in my life that I’ve ever gotten a ticket were in Portland, TN, and one of those was on Friday. I was apparently going 62 in a 45 and that’s a no-no, despite the fact that your partner is starting to swell like a balloon and you have the only car.

When I got home, we went to the walk-in clinic (since our “awesome” insurance has a $1,000 co-pay for the ER and a $100 co-pay for the clinic). After passing the COVID-19 protocols, we got to see a nurse practitioner who told us her childhood story about getting stung, gave Angie a shot of Benedryl and a steroid, and sent us on our way.

Folks, if you gain nothing else from this post, here’s what I hope it will be –

First, don’t spend your days watching true crime. It’s really not good for you. And second, if a wasp stings you in the eye, your life is going to be ruined for a really long time. Your face will swell to the point that your head feels like it might explode. If you’re lucky, it won’t extend to both eyes. In this case, Angie wasn’t that lucky. She was blind for 2 full days. You’re going to be in pain and you’re going to want to go to the ER, despite having such a ridiculous co-pay. Resist the urge, unless you are truly allergic, at which point you would have already been in the ER.

We ended up going to the ER that night because we were scared of the swelling. We were afraid Angie’s eye was damaged. We knew next to nothing about wasp stings in the face, and apparently neither did they. They basically turned us around and sent us home, but not before noting how “fascinating this case was”. Want to know where we gained the most insight into this situation? Facebook. We asked if anyone had experienced the same or similar and got a whole lot of useful information that we did not get from the professionals.

We haven’t received all the bills for this little misadventure yet. The ER did say they would give us the cash price rather than file insurance as it would definitely be cheaper. But irregardless, one tiny little intruder is likely going to cost us a lot more than that vacation we were thinking of going on later this year. Ugh!

YOLO Revised

YOLO, as in You Only Live Once, has become the mantra of Millennials and is often misconstrued to mean doing something risky just for the sake of doing it. This pandemic has got me thinking about a revised version of YOLO, still the same meaning but with a different approach.

I spent my entire morning yesterday at my mom’s house waiting on the AC repairman to show up. He was late, of course. While I waited, I checked the garden, picked up some limbs that had blown down in the storm the night before, and chatted with my mom. No, that me rephrase that – I whined to my mom. It was a short whine. She’s not real big on listening to other people’s whining, including mine, so I only got in a few refrains of “oh woe is me” before she redirected the conversation to whether or not she could make a pound cake in a Bundt pan. What was I whining about?

On Sunday, I had to go to Target to complete a really quick project so I suggested to Angie that we pick up her free birthday burrito from Moe’s and take it to the park. We placed our order on the app but when we got ready to pay, they were “temporarily unavailable”. (This was our first attempt at take-out since we banned restaurants back in January and now I’m remembering why we don’t dine out.) We could/should have gone home but we decided to grab a salad from McAlister’s instead.

The good news – our parks are open now. The bad news – it’s only the grounds that are accessible, not the facilities like bathrooms and picnic tables. They are still on lockdown. It’s not impossible to have a picnic without a picnic table. It’s just not how we had planned our day to go.

The strikeout with lunch seemed to be the last straw for me, thus the whining that ensued the next day. “It sucks to look at a calendar that we filled with adventures back in January and know that you won’t be doing any of them. It sucks not to be able to even have a picnic. This is not how I envisioned my life would be when I quit my job last year!” I went on and on…at least as long as my mom was listening.

Want to know her big suggestion at the end of my whine? Go get some strawberries to put on the pound cake.

Yes, she actually had no encouraging words. No wisdom to impart. No reality check either. She didn’t even remind me that she’s in the same boat too. She knew that I already knew all this. I didn’t need to hear anything. I just needed to vent. As silly, selfish or just plain sad as it may be…it feels good to whine sometime, to get it all out there and then let it go.

Which brings me back to YOLO.

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I kept thinking about all the things I put off doing just this year. For my birthday back in January, I wanted to go to the TN Agriculture Museum, but I decided to “wait until the weather was warmer” instead. In February, we were in the the Smoky Mountains but again thought the weather was too bad to go on a long hike. We’ll come back in the summer, we said. But it hasn’t just been the weather that’s made us put things off. For longer than just this year, we’ve delayed things we wanted to do because 1) the cat is too old to be left at the kennel, 2) my mom might get sick if we’re gone too long, 3) my niece might need us to watch the kids if there’s an emergency, 4) I really should focus on work right now, and 5) my all time favorite – it’s just not the right time.

Umm, okay…so when is the right time??

Let me just start with when it’s not. When you’re in the midst of a pandemic that has you staying close to home. When there are no museums open. When it’s warm outside but the park is closed to picnickers. When you have to wear a mask to the Farmer’s Market (a mask that makes you hyperventilate because you’re claustrophobic). These are not the times to suddenly remember all the things you wanted to do but never did. Unless…

Unless you’re going to do something about it.

Whining may be therapeutic but it only gets you so far before you realize you either have to put up or shut up. (I’m mostly talking to myself here but if you get a much needed kick in the rear from it too, I can live with that.)

There’s one thing for sure – my life is not what I imagined it would be when I quit my job last year. But that’s not COVID-19’s fault. That’s mine. There are a lot of things we can’t do right now, that is true. But those excuses above (numbers 1 – 5), none of them have a thing to do with the pandemic. I’m not sure when we started making excuses for not doing things that we wanted to do but I do know that it stops now.

Like any other problem in the history of mankind, COVID-19 will one day (hopefully soon) be a thing of the past and life will return to normal. This is how humankind operates. We tackle our problems and move on to something else. In the meantime, we (as in I) need to stop thinking of the limitations we are facing and start thinking of the opportunities.

We really do only live once so whatever it is that you want to do in this life, do it. If you can’t do it now, make a plan for when you are able to do it.

If we’ve learned nothing else from this pandemic, it should be that time is not always on our side and the best laid plans…well, let’s just say they don’t always go that way. I’m not going to say that I’ll never put off something I want to do again but I can say that I’ll think twice about it.