Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My tonsils may be trying to kill me

Warning: I'm talking about being ill in this post. So if medical stuff makes you squeamish, you might want to skip this one. Although it's really not that bad - there's no surgery, or profusely leaking bodily fluids, or broken anything... Read at your own risk, I guess?

My body hates me. In October, my tonsils came after me. I started feeling a little sick on a Wednesday - my throat was slightly sore. I assumed I was coming down with a cold. Thursday morning, it was definitely sore. And I decided to use all my energy baking cookies (because I'm terrible at making decisions when I'm sick. And because I'd promised my friend I'd make them for her birthday, and I keep my promises!). So work that evening was hellacious. I wrote a lamentation/ode to Nyquil. (Proving that suffering leads to the creation of art, if you can call this poem "art.")

A Sickness Lamentation
If only I had worked here
For more than three weeks.
I would have enough leave time
To just skip out
And go home
And sleep.
The sleep of the dead,
A healing sleep,
A Nyquil sleep.
So when I wake up
I will feel new
And whole
And free of this plague.
My eyeballs won't hurt,
And my back will feel fine.
My constant desire
For hot fluids
Will have evaporated.
Oh, Nyquil!
Your beautiful, sleep-giving embrace
Waits to enfold me
In unknowing bliss.
The next three hours
Will feel like torture,
As I anticipate
Your sweet, medicated taste.

Yeah, "poet" is obviously not on my short list of "Jobs I'd be Awesome At."

Friday morning, the Nyquil had failed to produce my anticipated result of helping me sleep off my "cold." My throat felt so gross I skipped out on going to the fair for my friend's birthday to get more sleep. When I finally got up, I looked at my throat in the mirror and was terrified to see a huge white spot on my right tonsil. I gargled with salt water, which of course didn't get rid of the white patch. I drank some tea (which was way more helpful in soothing my throat than the salt water. I'm pretty sure the "gargle with warm salt water" sore throat remedy is just made of grossness and lies.). When I started feeling achy all over I took my temperature: 101°F. My natural response was to start panicking that I might have strep throat, and I didn't have enough leave time at work to take an extra day off, and it would look super sketchy to call in sick the day before my scheduled vacation day, and I wouldn't be able to go see my friends that weekend, and my entire life was going to be ruined, and…! (I was seriously freaking out about this situation, y'all.)

I managed to calm myself down ("Don't start freaking out until you know you actually have strep," I told myself) and I took myself to the doctor's office, where my temperature was down to 99 (woohoo!) and the quick strep test came back negative (Hallelujah!). But, as the doctor noted, it was pretty obvious my tonsils were infected because of the patches of bacteria, some of my lymph nodes being swollen and painful, and my tonsils being huge. Interestingly, they asked multiple times whether my tonsils were normally large, which I had no clue about because I generally only look at my tonsils when I'm sick and my throat is sore, so of course my tonsils are all swollen at those times! Honestly, I don't spend much time looking down my own throat when I'm feeling perfectly fine. (Subsequent checks seem to show that it's plausible I have largish tonsils anyway, but I don't really have any to compare them to, so I still don't know.)

Anyway, it turns out recurrent infections (e.g., getting strep throat every year for about 4 years - yep, did that) can leave you with abscesses in your tonsils in which bacteria - or sometimes food that you eat (that is seriously one of the most disgusting things I've ever heard) - can get stuck and lead to infection. Awesome. My tonsils are trying to kill me.

And then the doctor and the pharmacist colluded to kill me some more by prescribing antibiotics that came in horse pill form. Or possibly it's like Murphy's Law of Medicine - any condition involving a sore throat will be treated with the most gigantic pills available. But I managed to choke (sometimes literally) those suckers down and get cured! Yay! Now I've just got to continue keeping an eye on my tonsils in case they do this again and actually explode or something. (Not sure if that's actually something that might happen, but the doctor made possible future infections sound pretty dire, so I'm assuming exploding body parts would be involved. Or, y'know, just a tonsillectomy.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some Break-ups are Not Hard

Dear Wells Fargo,

Look, I gave you a chance. But you just were not meeting my needs, so I think it's best that we part ways.

First, you wanted to start charging me a fee to use my own debit card. Fortunately, you thought better of that move real quick. But then you decided to charge a fee for all checking accounts. (Even student accounts. I've seen your fliers, I know what you were doing! That's just low.) "Oh, you're fine!" you told me. "The fee gets waived if you have a high enough balance or if you're direct depositing enough money every month!" This did not reassure me, considering you decided to begin this program just as I finished school and started looking for jobs. Meaning my direct deposit would be stopping, and there was a chance I might actually deplete my account below the threshold. (As an aside, I can pretty easily see why it's so difficult for poor people to work their way out of being poor. If your employer requires you to be paid direct deposit, and you're not making enough for the fees to be waived, you're not only having to worry about stretching your paycheck to cover rent and food and transportation and everything else, you have to worry about paying rent for your money, too!) And, y'know, it's kind of the principle of the thing. I'm allowing you to use my money to make money, and you're charging me for that privilege. I call shenanigans. And this doesn't even take into account the treatment I got at the branch when you were first informing people of this fee. (Short-ish version: I get a call and set up an appointment with a guy at the Clemson branch because they have something important to discuss with me. I go in on the day of the appointment and the person I'm supposed to see is, apparently, not available. I watch the teller calling workers at the bank, trying to figure out what to do with me. Eventually a banker is able to see me, and tells me about the new fee, and tries to convince me to upgrade my account or open a credit card or do something that allows Wells Fargo to take even more of my money. But it's not really leaving a good impression to treat your customers like they don't matter, which is the message I get when you forget an appointment that you yourself requested.)

I'm fortunate enough to be able to join a credit union, so I began making plans to shift my banking.

And then your customer service got even worse.

My debit card was set to expire at the end of August. I called just before the end of July and found out that a replacement had been sent to South Carolina -  just before I moved away. Alright. I'll accept the blame there. I probably should have informed you of my change of address earlier. But then I was informed that, for the card sent to South Carolina (which ended up who knows where) to be cancelled and a replacement issued, the current card (the one I was still using, the one that expired in August) would be cancelled. In what world does this make sense? Is it really that difficult to tell your computer system, "Don't activate the inactive card, and issue a new card to the correct address, but keep the currently active card."? I didn't want that happening, so I went into a branch. Where they gave me a temporary debit card and ordered a new card to be sent to me in the next week or two. Supposedly.

After about two weeks, with no new debit card arriving, I called you again. Turns out, when I went into the branch, they didn't actually order a new card for me, and they didn't cancel the card that got sent to South Carolina. So at this point, there's a debit card with my name on it floating around who-knows-where, ready to be activated. What. The. Hell. But this time, that card actually got cancelled, and a new one actually was sent to me. (Minor flaw: apparently the temporary card I was issued got cancelled or disconnected from my account or something at that point, because I couldn't use it, even though I specifically asked whether it would still work and was told it would be fine.)

So, finally, after all this hassle, I'm at the point where I can close my accounts. First, I had to empty the account, so I wrote myself a check for the balance and put it in my credit union account. Honestly, I would have expected some sort of alert to come from you about that transaction, because I wouldn't consider completely emptying an account "normal" activity. So that doesn't make me very confident in your ability to protect my money. Then I closed my accounts. (Online! It was super convenient, so props to you for that.) My savings account closed the same day; awesome. You told me my checking account would close within two days, to allow any pending transactions to be completed, and a message would be sent to me when it actually closed. Two days later, I received an email that an important message regarding my request was in my online banking message inbox. The online banking that I can no longer access because I closed all my accounts. Seriously? You're sending me messages that I can't read? That is the most supremely unhelpful thing ever. In order to confirm that my account had truly closed, I decided to go to a branch instead of calling. The teller noted that I could have called the 800 number, but I feel a better use of my time was the five minutes I stood in line at the physical bank, as opposed to the 10-20 minutes I would have spent trying to reach a live person on the phone. (Also, they require you to put in your account number when you call, which makes sense for them looking up active accounts, but is not at all useful for people who don't currently have accounts.)

Basically, your customer service these last few months? Awful. And I really won't miss you at all. My credit union not only doesn't charge me fees for using my debit card or having a checking or savings account, they actually pay me interest on my accounts.

Farewell, Wells Fargo. I hope you don't treat all of your customers with the same level of service I received.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Mark September 25 on your calendars, folks: I spoke up in a meeting. It was full of people I didn't know, but I voluntarily talked. Bravest thing I've done this week!!

(Why is this a landmark? I'm ridiculously shy. So these moments of bravery might not seem like much to anyone else, but they're pretty monumental to me! I've gradually improved, mostly at things where there's a sort of "script" already, like interviews. And presentations aren't really a big deal. It's the conversational things that typically terrify me, so I'll take my victories where I can!)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hopefully it's not contagious.

I think I have a terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease. I have become incapable of not saying something insensitive to my friends. For example:

I'm playing Munchkin (a card game. It's super-fun, look it up.) with my friends. I help a friend defeat a monster, but play a card that allows me to steal the levels she would have gained. As she's finishing her turn and marking our points and levels down...
Me: Did you remember to give yourself a level for defeating the monster?
K: *stare* You mean the levels you stole?
Me: *facepalm* Oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry!! I wasn't even thinking!!

Then, just last night, I was watching TV at my friend's house.
A: You know what I'd really like? A CookOut burger.
Me: I had one for dinner!
A: You really think now is the time to share that?!
Me: Oh, sorry!! I wasn't thinking! You could go get one…
A: I'm vegetarian!!
Me: Agh! *shamed*

So, yeah, I just can't win. Maybe I'll just stop talking altogether.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Unacceptable Things: Special K Commercials

Dear Kellogg's,

Your recent Special K commercial - you know, this one - gets so close to having a great message. "Wouldn't it be nice if we focused less on the number, and more on how the fit makes us feel?"

Yes. Yes, that would be really nice. And the imagery you've got going there, with "Radiant" and "Sassy" and "Va-va-voom" and "Ooh-la-la" and "Confident" instead of size numbers, is pretty good. When I see that part of the commercial, I think to myself, "Self, this might actually be a product I can get behind! A product that emphasizes actual health instead of obsession over numbers!"

And then the rest of the commercial happens. "Take the Special K challenge, and slip into size Sassy in two weeks!"

Damn. So close… and yet so far.

I guess "Sassy" just means 4 or 2 or whatever-one-size-down-from-the-viewer's-current-size-might-be-even-if-that's-00.

(This is not even mentioning the ridiculousness that is the "Special K challenge" - am I the only person who gets hungry just thinking about the idea of eating just a bowl of cereal for two meals every day for two weeks? I am not a very pleasant person when I'm hungry. So let's just hope I don't ever decide to take this challenge - chances of that actually happening are slim to none, but strange things do occur - when I need to be around people and act like a normal, friendly human being. Because that won't happen; I'll just be hangry for two weeks.)

Seriously, Kellogg's, this is just not acceptable.


PS - You want to know a company that, at the very least, seems like they want their customers to feel good about themselves? Lane Bryant. Where they don't tell ladies, "It's just about how you feel in the clothes, not the number on the tag! But you should go ahead and drop a size anyway."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today, I have zero willpower

Dear chocolate bunny,

"Oh, I'll just eat the ears," I told myself. But you were too delicious. I had to keep going.

"I'll stop after I finish off the head." No dice.

"Just the bow tie, then. This thing is supposed to be 2 servings, that'll be about half."

And still, you were too delicious. I kept going. And when there was only about a quarter of a rabbit left, I just had to admit to myself, I was going to finish you.

And then I had eaten an entire chocolate Easter bunny.

On the bright side, you were only 2.5 ounces of chocolate. And you only cost me 50 cents, since I bought you on post-Easter clearance today!

Anyway, thanks for demolishing my willpower. I hope there aren't any hard feelings, seeing as I think I paid you back by eating you totally.


P.S. Um, yeah, there was apparently a "63" at the end of my post title for a month and a half. Whoops.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is it wrong to love kitchen utensils?

Dear Santa,

I just wanted to let you know: I am in love with the microplane zester you left in my stocking. Y'know, this one:

I finally had a reason to use it last weekend, and it was phenomenal. Previously, if I wanted to zest some citrus, I had to use my box grater. Which kind of works. Except for the fact that it'd be super easy to scrape my fingers, and it takes for-EVER to zest anything, and I can only ever get about 30% of the zest out from between the pointy bits. (And I'm a scientist, so you know that 30% is super accurate.)

So, yeah, I zested half a lemon the other day... and it took like 30 seconds. For reals. It was amazing.

Yesterday, in continuing my affair with the zester, I made some lemon cupcakes from this recipe. And I can't stop eating them. Every time I pick one up, I know I'll get a couple minutes of tasting sunshine and happiness!! And that wouldn't be happening without you.

Thanks so much!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

I guess technically I'm just dragging the pain out even longer when I procrastinate

Dear person who invented cover letters,

Why? Why would you do this to me?! I mean, I honestly thought that after I finished applying to grad school I would never have to write anything like a personal statement ever again. Oh, how wrong I was. Now, every single job I apply for requires a cover letter, which is really just a thinly veiled personal statement about how I'm so awesome the company would be ridiculously dense not to hire me. And I get even less space to write about my awesomeness! At least in a personal statement I had a whole page to work with, if not more. In a cover letter I get one really good paragraph, at most, because the introductory and concluding stuff (not to mention the formatting) take up so much space.

Actually, I should probably be upset with whoever makes the rules about resumes, too. A one-page limit? Not cool. If I could have more than a page, then I could highlight my pertinent experiences from each job or internship right on the resume, instead of having to separate it into a completely different document. But no, as someone still in school, I should clearly only have one page worth of stuff. Hmph.

Basically, job hunting is evil. That's my conclusion. (Seriously, who in their right mind doesn't want to hire someone who just spent 2 years looking at black fly chromosomes? A crazy person, obviously! I should have job offers all over the place!)

(Well, except for that pesky 9%-unemployment-rate thing that's going on. Ugh.)