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.

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