The Tale of Two Personalities

Last week I went in for a minor surgical procedure. I’ll spare you the details. As I was being discharged I received a prescription for Oxycodone, which my husband dutifully filled. I was instructed to take the pain medication and lie low for the next several days.

Arriving home, I obediently took a pill and nestled carefully into bed. An hour or so later I awoke with the most surprising sensation; no pain. And not just the surgical site, that was completely numb, but also my year-long bout with chronic back pain–gone. My achy feet from too many hours on the EFX–no pain, my sore hands and wrists from too much time on the computer–no pain. I felt like I was twenty. Totally pain free–a miracle! I hopped out of bed marveling at my body’s ability to heal.

The first thing I did was call my mother. We had a long sympathetic conversation about the bad press prescription drugs receive. Her drug of choice is Vicodan and has been her daily relief for many years. What had my siblings and I been thinking wanting to get her into re-hab? Drugs are good!

I hung up the phone. Then feeling a surge of creativity rising from the depths of my expanded brain, I went into my study to write. I’m in the midst of a first draft, and honestly quite stuck at the moment. Within an hour I had a new chapter written, and a whole new direction for the novel full of unexpected twists and delicious turns. Oh, I was blessed with provocative insight, and the text was masterful, like a newly polished gem.

All this time my husband was cleaning the garage. The house was so empty. Where were the children? Oh, yes, the eldest is married, and my son? Where was he? I knew the middle daughter lived in the woods by a river, but where was the youngest? What was her name? Whatever, it started with a K.

However, my little dog Lucy, stayed by my side, albeit, a wary distance. I spied her curled up in the laundry basket napping. I thought I should put my feet up and rest. The living room floor looked inviting with the sun streaming through the windows. Lying on my back with my attention focused on the rainbow of colors produced by the sunlight, I watched a moth capriciously balanced on the arm of a chair, flexing its wings. We studied each other for some time and I began to sense communication. It was all so very Kafka-esque, I had to blog about this fascinating discovery. It was brilliant!

When I finished the blog, I thought I’d do laundry to celebrate. The energy I had was invigorating. And then, finally exhausted, I found myself back in my nest, satisfied and content.

I awoke to my husband’s face inches from mine, he held the bottle of Oxycodone in his hand. “How many of these did you take?”

“I don’t remember,” I mumbled. Pain coursed through my body finding all the old weak spots.”I should take one now.”

“I don’t think so,” he said.”There were twelve and now there’s nine.” He shook his head. “I found the dog in the washing machine.”

I bolted upright. “Did I start the machine?”

“Thankfully, no. I could hear her bark from the garage.”

Lucy jumped up on the bed, sniffing cautiously and keeping her distance. I held out my hand to pet her, apologizing, and then a vague memory of writing returned to me and I hobbled into my study. Thank God I hadn’t posted the blog–what drivel! And the new chapter was quickly deleted. So much for drug-induced inspiration.

Lucy followed me to the study, but as I moved to pick her up, she took off like a shot for the safety of her kennel.


Slash and Suck

After the festivities of the holiday weekend it was time to get some things done around the cabin. My husband was clearing some dead trees on our lot while I was to pull weeds from the rock garden. The day before we had a fly hatching. Some of you may be familiar with the black fly of Northern Minnesota; this is no ordinary house fly, they have knife-like mandibles that slash your skin and then suck up the blood. And, of course, its only the females that possess this gift.

To prepare for this delightful chore I put on a pair of worn blue jeans with a long sleeve denim shirt, a cap that my dog had chewed, and two pair of socks; an ensemble sure to repel all living creatures. In the garage I searched through our arsenal of bug repellant and chose OFF, dousing myself thoroughly. Pulling on my gloves I noticed a hole in the middle finger; since I didn’t have another pair I sprayed OFF on my gloves. Armed with knee pads and garden tools I set out for the backyard.

Within minutes of digging up weeds, the flies descended slashing and sucking as if I was hamburger– right through my clothes. Bitches! I went back to the garage foraging for something deadly. On the top shelf, my hand wrapped around a large black can of Raid. With a quick shake of the can I began to spray and was soon in a fog of pesticide; eyes watering, tongue tingling. I turned the can around and through blurry eyes read the precautions: Not intended for personal use. Outdoor use only. Keep away from eyes and mouth. If ingested seek medical attention. I figured I had 24 hours to live.

Back in the garden the flies buzzed around me sizing up the new barricade; antennae twitching, slashers ready. I had a 10 minute reprieve before they were once again, swarming my arms, legs, neck, and ankles. The pesticide might kill me by sunset but these bitches will live on.

I went back to the garage. Now it was war. With my sight compromised, I stumbled over a gas can, whacked my foot on a cooler, and knocked over a row of empty propane containers. I ricocheted sideways, landing face down with my swollen tongue savoring the concrete floor; notes of grease with a hint of gasoline. When I collected myself and my bleary eyes adjusted to the low light, the first thing that I focused on was the blow torch sitting on the shelf. Yes, I thought, I had my weapon.

Outside, marching to the garden with blow torch in hand, I hadn’t noticed my husband walking toward me.

“Hey, what are you doing with the blow torch?”

I meant to say, “Slashers,” but with my swollen tongue it sounded more like, “smashers.”

“You’re smashed?” he said. “I’m out here busting my ass and you’re drinking?”

I shook my head, pointing to the hole in my glove where a fly was preparing to strike my middle finger. I held up my finger so he could see it better and said, “Fuck.” I couldn’t seem to pronounce suck.

“Be that way,” he said, “and fuck you too.”



4th of July

Yesterday I drove up north to our cabin on the North Shore. My husband was to meet me there later in the day. I packed my little Prius with all our gear including Ole, our 90 lb. Golden Retriever. My other dog Lucy, is a Yorkie who has free reign of the car while Ole is relegated to the cargo hold. I shoved the cooler in next to Ole which kept him sniffing with interest. The lid of the cooler has a broken latch so I put my laptop on the lid to hold it down. The laptop is an older model and has the weight of an anchor; this was necessary given the slobbery dog.

The day was beautiful (by Minnesota standards) the traffic heavy but manageable. Along the way I stopped at Tobies in Hinckley to buy a dozen caramel rolls; nonfat, of course! The only place to set the box of rolls was my lap since Lucy would otherwise snuff them out. It didn’t take long before the smell of caramel rolls filled the car, I couldn’t resist the sweet, yeasty aroma. I lifted a gooey roll out of the box and began munching. Nothing better than a homemade sticky caramel roll, my fingers were a mess and so was the steering wheel. Caught up in my gluttonous stupor, I failed to notice red flashing lights in my rear view mirror. The wailing siren got my attention and I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, cargo shifting in the car while I chewed, swallowing as fast as I could. Rolling down the window, I met the officer with the roll still guiltily in my mouth. I handed him my license, sticky with caramel. He looked at me shaking his head. I then held up the box on my lap and offered him a roll.

“No thanks, ma’am, I’m on duty.”

“Oh c’mon, it’s not a bribe,” I said through the doughy goo. “But it is why I was speeding. Please help yourself.”

“It’s against the law to eat and drive,’ he said.

“The roll would be delicious with your coffee,” I said, holding the box up to his nose.

He glanced furtively down the highway, and said, “Okay, just one, thanks.” He plucked a roll from the box and took a big bite. He mumbled through a mouthful of dough, “Drive careful,” and returned to his patrol car.

Luck was on my side! But just as I had pulled out onto the highway with the patrol following close behind, I heard Ole in the back munching on what sounded like plastic. In the rear view mirror I noticed my laptop had slid off the lid of the cooler and Ole had his head inside it. He came up with a package of sausages in his mouth gobbling them up as fast as he could. I couldn’t do anything but holler at him with the patrolman following me. The louder I hollered at the dog the faster he ate the package. “Drop it Ole! Now! I said drop it! Damn dog!” The car veered off to the side of the road, I over corrected the steering wheel sending the car dangerously close to the dividing line. “You shit, drop the sausages!” Within minutes, Ole was vomiting. Retching and coughing up great piles of liquid. The stench prompted Lucy to jump in the back with Ole. “No Lucy, get back here.” My rear view mirror was a flash of red lights. As I pulled over to the side of the road, I could hear Lucy and Ole snacking on a vomit pie.

I hope the weekend improves, if not I’m blaming Tobies….