Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bring a cleaver? Ohhh spring fever!

It's that time of year that so many folks are fond of: Spring. Light green, blossoming, fragrant, enlivening spring. They think of 70 degrees and sunny, children skipping and holding hands on the way to some lake, baseball, spring cleaning, eating ice cream, wearing khaki pants and pastels, and other such things of a springy nature. Lovely.

In the northeastern US, we don't always have a stereotypical spring. In fact, where I've lived (CT, NY, MA), we hardly ever have one. Starting in late April, it's rainy and 45-60 degrees out for about a month and a half, breaking only for Memorial day (which is always hot...but don't be fooled, more rain is around the corner) and other select weekends. Then, some time in mid-June, BAM! it's summer. Just like that. All of a sudden, your khakis won't do and you are forced into suddenly summer attire. You feel unprepared, especially when it comes to what others will wear in public (ahhhh the return of the daisy dukes), but you're grateful it's stopped raining and smelling like worms and mud.

It's been so long since we had the stereotypical spring that I'd almost forgotten what it's like. This year, however, we are having that ideal spring. We're actually transitioning from winter to summer and having full weeks where it's just 65 and sunny. Children are eating ice cream as they skip to a baseball game in their khakis. It doesn't always smell like rain and mud and worms. My galoshes feel remarkably left out as I don my sunglasses once again.

But something has happened in this lovely springtime, the intensity of which was unexpected. My allergies have been absolutely ferocious. The worst they've ever been. I mean, they're usually pretty bad, as spring for me mean tissues, claritin, zyrtec, neti pots, sudafed, and the like. But this year, it feels like I've been rolling in flowerbeds, taking deep breaths and shoving pollen up nose. Or like I've taken a bunch of budding trees and planted them in my face. Or like I've fashioned all of my clothes out of freshly cut grass accented with sprigs of ragweed. I do look good in green, after all.

I won't go into what it feels like too much because it's not a pretty picture, but it suffices to say that the inner workings of all that allows me to breathe, hear, and see are both itchy and malfunctioning due to blockage. Gross! I know. But apparently only 1 in 5 people in the US suffer from allergies, so I thought I'd put this out there in case you are one of the lucky ones who does not. It's not just a cute little sneeze and then relief. "Oh my silly allergies, ha ha." No sir. I believe it's this misconception that allergies are just silly sneezes that allows people to conclude someone suffering from allergies must have a cold, because in reality, the symptoms can be the same. People see me blow my nose on the T and then move to the other side of the train. I want to tell them "Don't worry, I'm not contagious, it's just my allergies," but if I did it would sound like "Don worry, Imb nod codtagious, ids juds my allergies."

Communicating in general has become difficult, and not only when speaking to someone. I have whole days where my ears go on strike. For example, once when Jess was reading, she told me she had 20 pages left. I thought she said "funny pinky sweat." Another time, my friend and I were at a mutual friend's house. She asked if there was something in her teeth. I said, "Can I get you some tea? Why are you asking me, I don't live here?" The other day I thought my coworker called me a "F***Tard," but she was actually pronouncing "Spaniard" incorrectly. Yesterday, I thought I overheard someone on the T say, "so, did you hear no-tooth Nicole is having another baby?" I want to guess and say that's not really what she said, but because it was on the T, I can't be sure.

Most of the time, I'll ask for clarification in these scenarios. A simple "huh?" or "I'm sorry?" usually does it. But, if I can't make out what someone is saying after the third time or so, I just guess. If someone is telling me story, I do my best to mirror their facial expressions. I'm very good with appalled, astonished, excited, sympathetic. It's when they ask me questions that I get into trouble. Sometimes I'll say yes, hoping it was the right answer and in some cases, that it was a yes or no question at all.

In short, this allergy season, everyone around me has become James William Bottom Tooth.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Silent but funny

I work in an office in a room with 2 other people (and doors to 3 other offices, and a printer, and a postage machine, and now we're getting a little too descriptive). It's an open layout, so we have our own desks and work areas, but not so much our own cubes. Unless we are directly conversing, it's usually pretty quiet.

Some of the work I do can be mind-numbing (God bless my iPod). For example, there was a project for which I had to update contact information for folks by researching online. During this specific project, I came across several funny names, pictures, websites, and "professional" biographies.

One day, it was about hour seven of this nonsense and the room was absolutely silent. This was when I came across the man that changed our coworker dynamic forever: Attorney Gary Crapster. Yes, in my search, I found someone with the last name "Crapster." Immediately, I heard myself saying "Crapsteeeeeeer! What up?" in my head as if greeting Mr. Crapster, Esq. familiarly from across the room. Thoughts of crapster as slang cut through the silence and mapped themselves onto Gary personally, as if he himself were made from defective parts. I pictured him walking along rather mechanically as parts of his robot body fell off and clanged to the floor.

All of this happened in less than a second, during which I found myself trying to fight laughter, but, it being 4:30 and the room being invitingly silent, unable to do so. Laughter eeked out of my mouth slowly and in the form of that uncomfortable "kkkkkk" sound that happens at the back of your throat. I put my hand to my mouth, foolishly hoping that mere action could contain the inevitable. Finally, I let it out. I laughed into the silence.

I subsequently had to explain why I was laughing, and luckily, my coworkers found Attorney Crapster as funny as I did. (I mean, how could you not?!) Thus, the floodgates were open for moments of random laughing. Silence, as a result, became a deadly invitation for laughter. In fact, silence mocked me to the point where sometimes I find silence itself funny.

I'll be sitting there and, out of the blue, something that was funny five minutes (or days) ago will hit me again. Like the time my coworkers and I watched the SNL sketch of Justin Timberlake dressed up like an omelette at lunch. "Bring it on down to Omeletteville" will sometimes smack me in the face and dare me not to laugh.

Or I'll remember something funny that happened years ago. Like the time I cut up Jess's corduroy pants and made little outfits for Sparki and Emma. They looked absolutely ridiculous. And nothing would have prompted this thought specifically, but nevertheless, there I'd be, laughing uncontrollably.

Or I'll think of something that's neither happened nor is currently happening, but could happen. Like what if someone were to go into the bathroom (which is right next to our room) and start singing "The Star Spangled Banner" loud enough so that we could all hear it? Or better yet, Taylor Dane's "Don't Rush Me?" That's gold. Well, it would be gold, anyway.

Luckily, my coworkers are arguably just as quirky as I am and not only understand when these things happen to me, but often do it themselves, tripling the random entertainment throughout the day. The best part is, sometimes we explain why we're laughing, and sometimes we just don't. Leaving the laughter hanging there is enough to make the other 2 in the room laugh anyway, despite the fact that they aren't sure why their coworker cracked up. The way I look at it, whether the source of laughter is shared or not, it's a win-win and it makes the day go by a little faster.