Monday, July 20, 2015

My Ear Problem, pt. 3: Needle

I'm going to get all testy for a paragraph or two. You just focus on
this serene image of the Hudson River, and know that it's going to be ok.

With the regular application of hot onion, briney epsom salt baths, and the blessed passage of time, I'm experiencing more watercooler-type blubbling going on in my left ear every day now, which is good! No question about the goodness! Although along with healing comes fluid shifts in the ear that cause a tidal wave of vertigo from time to time! Also, (temporary, but significant) hearing loss! My ENT, Dr. Jill Zeitlin, said all of that with exclamation points, so I will, too! I need to say that if Dr. Zeitlin weren't so kind and decent and whip-smart, her waaay cheerful style might irk....

Since the first post about my Ear Problem, friends flooded me with suggestions, including more onion ideas--strap them to your feet and sleep with feet elevated-- and Bikram Hot Yoga. I've got restless legs when I sleep, so no, no thanks to foot onion.
I'll let The Friendly Atheist put an end to further onion suggestions for me

As for Bikram Hot Yoga: I live in New York and my air conditioner died juuuuust as the torturous summer heat kicked in, so I get to enjoy Bikram Hot Living for free.

Thanks, reactiongifs. I love Key & Peele so much.
No hot yoga. Sensitively Air Conditioned Yoga with a breeze that will keep me dry and refreshed? I will consider becoming a disciple of that.

But I did take one suggestion, and I am very glad I did. I got acupuncture.

After being clenched up for so long, I feared that I would need some radical intervention. Like THIS.

 You coax, "But, just look at how calm Hellraiser's Pinhead is, Badger!"
I say, "Yes, yes, I can see the appeal....I wonder if he does Bikram Hot Yoga?"
I'm not a total novice to acupuncture, but the last guy I visited a decade ago would check my pulse and look at my tongue, while asking detailed questions about my emotional state. Each time, he'd nod sagely (and I mean that as an insult) and serenely intone, "No need to tell me. I can see it all through your pulse and tongue." At what became my last session, I replied, "You tell me," to his question, "So, how are you feeling?" and he snarked, "Well, now WE KNOW how you're feeling!"

So, yeah, I'm cynical and jaded and a bit terrified of handing over money to someone who uses the Royal We when speaking.

Fortunately, I didn't let any of that stop me from visiting Hudson River Acupuncture, a community acupuncture venture which sits modestly on the ground floor of the Van Tassel Building on Beekman Avenue.
Store C, 95 Beekman Avenue, Sleepy Hollow, to be exact
 It doesn't look like a guru palace, inside or out. For me, that's a good thing.

First, I met Pat, who is there most weekdays. He took good notes and got me set up quickly.

This is Pat.
It should be noted that my photo doesn't show that Pat has the intelligent, hugely dark eyes of News Hour's Jim Lehrer.

I mean that as a compliment to both Pat and Mr. Lehrer
And there's Gina, who takes the weekends. She's also remarkably thoughtful, gentle, and kind.
The acupuncture area itself is quite large--you will not be alone, Visitor, but you will be ok--and looks a little like my kids tried to turn the zero gravity chairs into ghosts.

Pat settled me in for treatment. Be sure to wear something you can comfortably pull up over your knees.
"Ready?" he quietly asked.
"Yes, but first (sigh, 21st century problems, Pat)...let me take a selfie."
Selfie Footie. It's a long way to Tipperary, you know?

Needles in head, face, jaw, ankles, knees, wrists. Now, time to relax.

I'm not the first person to say how weird it is to trust your body to a stranger who pokes needles into you then walks away. But weirder would be if he hung around wanting to chat, right?

My heart rate slowed and the heart palpitations I've been experiencing along with the Ear Problem (more or less permanently) subsided. Did it drain the ear? Eh, who knows? The pain did subside, and the effect lasted for days. If it's a legitimate treatment, hooray! If it's the placebo effect, bring it on!

By the end of our first session, I was ready to recommend them to you, all of you.

But before you pull out the needles, Pat, sigh, let me take a selfie....

Hudson River Acupuncture
95 Beekman Ave., Store C
Sleepy Hollow, New York 10591
(914) 909-6360
First treatment: $40. Following sessions: sliding scale $25-40, suggested fee $30

copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Ear Problem, pt. 2: Brine

Round #3 of antibiotics is done now. I feel like my colon has left the building, if you know what I mean.

Even though my ear feels mostly decorative, my ENT assured me that my infection is gone.

"But how long is this congested feeling going to last?" I whined.

Badgerette #2 NAILED my I'm-holding-my-shoulder-to-my-ear-because-I'm-a-wounded-animal look.
She's got a future as a wikiHow illustrator.

"Oh, your ear is still full of fluid. Your hearing is going to get worse before it gets better, too. Yeah, that can last weeks, even months!" (Why so excited to relay this news, Doc?)

"Ok, then I need you to put a tube in my ear."

"Ha ha. No." She looked at my face.
Look into my Angry Oscar the Grouch eyes, Lady. I am dead serious.
"Noooo. I'm not going to do it. You have really good hearing! I'm not going to cut your eardrum open."

"Well, then, someone better slap my ear with a cupped hand right now, because I can't sit around with a hot onion strapped to my head for weeks!"

I am taking my mostly decorative ear's fate into my own hands.

And other hands.

First, I've added massage to the mix. Susan Ward, best darned massage therapist and instructor at the Swedish Institute, worked on my neck and shoulders for an hour, teaching me about the tiny muscles in my neck that I've turned into steel cords and that could be cutting off the exit route for my ear fluids.

Susan Ward. Best darned massage therapist ever. I mean it.
I felt loads better, especially when I got to lay facedown because massage tables have that hole that allows breathing better than my two pillow method.

Tribble with a perm.
Sadly, Susan can't move in with me and work on my head and neck nonstop, so I'm now trying to remove the fluids from my ear through osmosis.

That's right. I've gone Homeschool Science Class experimenty on myself. With SALT.

If you're older than 18 and have ever eaten a couple slices of pizza, you know how salt on the inside retains fluids. Soooo, salt on the outside should draw out fluids....

I didn't make this up. Lots of people online tout the wonders of salt baths. Dead Sea Salt. Epsom Salt. Mediterranean Salt. Dancers I know swear by it. Yadda yadda yadda.

Thing is, I hate baths. I'm a power shower kind of girl.

Ahhh, energizing showers!
I'm bored in the bathtub. And since I haven't been able to get more than 60% of me into a normal tub since I was twelve years old, I resent them for freezing parts of me that just want to be warm.

But, whatever. If a salt bath helps to drain my ear fluids, awesome.

And it hasn't been so bad. I got rather ambitious with the salts the first time...sorta Dead Sea bobbed around for a half an hour. Felt good.

Also felt maybe two tiny burbles in my ear after, like the watercooler blubbing up when no one is near it.

So, I did it again. Only, I used all the bath salts up last time, so I had to improvise.

Any reason to make a trip to the Trader....
I wasn't sure I put in enough, though, so Badgerette #2 helped out by dumping the stoveside salt shaker in, too.
Badger Den now officially a low sodium meal provider
Hot onion on one ear, brining away in the tub, I thought about adding a cup of celery to my diet every day because it's supposed to reduce fluid retention.

Then it hit me: I'm incrementally turning myself into a Thanksgiving turkey.

Where's the peanut butter? Does sage have helpful medicinal properties, too?

Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Ear Problem, pt. 1: The Onion

If you're a mom with a good memory for the causes of your child's tears, you may remember that your little one got vaccinated for Hib, or haemophilus influenzae: twice. That said, the darned thing is still remarkably active in the elementary school scene. (Vaccinate the herd, People!) Both Badgerettes got pneumonia from it this late spring, and we parents--recipients of weeks of cough spray--developed bronchitis.

During Ineffective Antibiotic Courses 1 & 2, I coughed so much that I shot some of the evil directly into my ear. I sat up all Wednesday night, holding the left side of my head and trying to contain the exhausted, panicky fear that an artery was about to explode.

The Prince of the Forest, who just a couple years ago lost 75% of his left ear's function in a case of sudden hearing loss, rushed me to our ENT. The doc took one look inside my ear and declared, "Yep, those ear fluids look pretty angry." Which is actually a good sign it's not sudden hearing loss.

The doc informed me the that the first two antibiotics should kill every bug alive in my too-welcoming habitat... except haemophilus influenzae: "Thankfully, cephalosporins are effective, so I'm going to give you Omnicef....No, it's really going to be ok!"

That last part was her responding to my sudden pained and perplexed expression, and I just nodded, not wanting to explain my two primary thoughts:

1. OMNI? Was Alfaandomegacef deemed too long by the marketing team?
2. Didn't Will Smith help a Cephalosporin to give birth in Men in Black?
Spit-up coming in 3...2...1...
As for popping yet another antibiotic: sigh... ok, let's stock up on Fage yogurts and refrigerated probiotics and get this intestine-wrecking party started.

Three days of suffering followed. I made 35 Google searches regarding "stop ear congestion pain." I suspected that if I searched just one more variation, I would get this message: "Greetings, Badger! Your persistence has paid off. Here is the secret recipe for relief that we don't give to those who made 34 or fewer Google searches on the same topic!"

I even tried WikiHow's suggestions:

First of all, Look at that picture! I look so much like that illustration, it's eerie.
 Wiki suggestion 1: Try gravity. Bounce your head around. Sleep face down.
I almost capsized doing this simple move.
Take a nap? That's a gift, not medical treatment!
If you are older than 4 months and no longer have a hard button of a nose,
I recommend a 2 pillow arrangement so that breathing may continue
uninterrupted during your nap.
Wiki suggestion 2: wash out your nose with a Bedouin goat's bladder of  water. 
Under normal circumstances, I'd have no problem with washing out my nose.
BUT, this WILL shoot more crud into your ear, Infection Sufferer. Just say no.
 Wiki suggestion #3: Futz around with your ear. Chew gum. Yawn.
None of that will work, and you'll have tried it a million times before resorting to WikiHow,
but let's just admire the clarity of this illustration for a moment....

Finally, I caved and went crowd-sourcing on Facebook.

Ok. It's been 3 days with brutal ear infection. I'm on antibiotics. Anyone have solid advice on reducing clogged/swollen sensation taking over half my head? Thanks in advance.

This is when I discovered that Facebook Friends are sassier than I expected:

You could hold an apple in your left hand and a spatula in your right while standing on your right foot and stick out your tongue as far as it will go. Then, grab a kiddo, have them snap a photo of you doing it, post it on FB and then we will all feel better.

Another Friend suggested heating half an onion and holding it to my ear. I thought whaaaa...? No....

Then, more Friends suggested the same. I was sure that I was being pranked--I mean, who doesn't want to see a picture of a friend holding an onion up to her ear? It sounds like the MOST obvious choice for satirical rag The Onion.

Then I noticed that the majority of Pro-Onion Friends were German or German-culture-lovin'. It dawned on me that the suggestion was sincere. Germans like "natural" treatments. In 1997, as a visiting American Literature lecturer in Mainz, Germany, I had a terrible sinus infection. My ENT proudly informed me that my medicines were made with "extract of ananas--ahhh, Und pine resin!" All I wanted was extract of moldy bread, but I gave the double pine treatment a try.

Didn't work. My first two full German sentences were, "Heute, mein schleim ist dunkel braun" (Today, my mucus is dark brown) and "Mein Got, John Denver ist tot!" (My God, John Denver is dead!) Physically and emotionally, the autumn of 1997 was a traumatic time.

Back in 2015: One more day of pain and I asked the Prince to heat up an onion.

Rule #1 of Onion Treatment: Be specific with your onion-heater. I was not, and The Prince wanted to be thorough, so he nuked it for one full minute. Even wrapped in a napkin, the tender edge of my ear was flash steamed.

It's not so bad a week later, but you can still make out the pink burn.
Twenty  minutes later, I put that hot onion against my ear again. As a dear friend noted, I do look optimistic, which indicates how very desperate I felt. This being the 21st century, I posted the pics and waited for the online giggles. I did not wait long.

My favorite FB comment: "Can you hear the Farmer's Market?"
What did I feel, laying there with hot onion on my ear? Deeply comforted, like a warm, silent vacuum was pulling my ear back to normal. I immediately Googled famous quotes about onions:

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep. (Carl Sandburg)

Oh Carl, you're so right. In fact, Life is like a bag of onions: it's surprisingly heavy, and it stinks.

I drifted away into a reverie of warm calm, not even minding that I smelled like a roasted chicken in the early stages of doneness....I recalled how much I loved Louis Sachar's novel Holes. (Don't watch the movie, the book is so much better.)

Onions: not just a metaphor, a significant element of the plot!
My German-ish Friends rejoiced, "YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!! Onions are magical!!!!!!" (Agreed; and along those lines, have you read Holes?).

Although hot onion treatment did absolutely nothing to clear the congestion in my ear, it may be The Perfect Warm Compress.

I loved its ability to retain warmth so much that, the next day, I strapped a napkin-wrapped onion to my head with a child's belt and took a nap on the sofa. Upon waking and looking at myself in the mirror, I renamed myself.

Call me Stevie Ray Vaugnion.

Copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Deal! Tarrytown's "The Thrifty Squirrel"

I thought I knew every good deal in Tarrytown--Hank's Alley, The Clothing Closet, Trilogy, The Cherry Door....but, NO! There's a new(ish) small mammal in town, and you've got to check it out:
The Thrifty Squirrel

If Chippy ever gets tired of his look, we're going glitter like Squirrel Diva here.
Btw: Google "DIY taxidermy Repair" and you'll see that The Happy Badger is #1! HAH!

Local Connector Friend Jeanne had been shouting from the rooftops about The Thrifty Squirrel, but the endless, brutal winter and devastating Pollen Apocalypse of spring made it too easy for me to delay checking it out. 
Immediately after meeting up with The Kindest Strangers, Marilyn and Marge, however, I felt all pumped up and took the stairs inside Hank's Alley to make the acquaintance of a fellow lover of good deals and The (Adjective) Furry Mammal names. It was a good decision.
The place is a bright and cozy den, with displays of linens, costume jewelry, and ceramics to keep you darting from corner to corner.
Good balance of glam zebra and neutral-but-intriguing table and chairs.
And look in the bowls on the table--$1 SCORES! I just kept pawing through this basket.
Touch, turn things over, explore!

I can't guarantee that this is still available, but if it is, it shouldn't be! Summer party tray!

Look behind displays and you get MORE DISPLAY! Vintage gloves and hankies...

Toys, toys, toys!

I bought an excellent chunk of colorful jasper ($3!) for a kid named Jasper...
but it seems that a Badgerette has squirrelled it away for herself....sigh.

This is THE place for fabric, linens, and accessory lovers.
Hanky Panky.

The only place everyone is welcome to blurt out, "Hey, check out that rack!"

Excellent quality and good prices. I don't ask for more than that.

The squirrel has lots of Mid-century, but I still harbor a crush on Mission.

Lots and lots and lots of inexpensive, high-quality jewelry...

Mercedes and Katy both know the good stuff when they see it, and they want you to take it home for a very reasonable price.

Stop by! Katy and Mercedes will raise your spirits, even if they have to use vintage toys to do so.
So, go on--take the stairs to visit The Thrifty Squirrel. You'll be happy you did.
The Thrifty Squirrel
24 Kaldenberg Pl (above Hank's Alley)
Tarrytown, New York
(914) 356-5861

copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Monday, June 8, 2015

Waiting for the Barbarians: Philadelphia Punk Rock Flea Market

Yesterday was the day I was prepping for all winter: Philadelphia's Punk Rock Flea Market.

I hoped to sell at least $500 worth of stuff, including all my Playboy coasters and new Playboy Vargas Girl Box Shrine, which I made in one long night instead of the yebra (Syrian style grape leaves) that Badgerette #1 requested for Family Heritage Day at her school.
Let's be clear: I did not bring the shrine to school as an example of family heritage.

I felt insecure about my Punk Rock credentials, though, a feeling that was hilariously reinforced by a childhood friend, Otaku USA editor Pat Macias, who--just two days before the market--posted this 90s commercial "Punk CD" on Facebook.

I was in tears by the time these two listed "Hey Now" by Crowded House. 
I reposted it and burst into giggly tears again when my friend Guy quipped, "Thought it was a joke till I heard 'Huey Lewis'...Legit."

Pat didn't attach my name to the original post, so maybe I was being overly sensitive, like that person who panics when someone in a crowd shouts, "Hey, YOU!" But even in my teen Death Rocker days, Pat called me "the Camp Counsellor," a name I deserved because I was actually a very good girl... and because I wore red plaid flannel shirts to bed, so I looked the part, too.

But, Pat, answer this: Does a Hustler need to BE a punk to sell the goods to punks?

On the off chance my punk creds were questioned, though, I wore the most punk rock shirt I owned: Radiolab "Apocalyptical: Dinos De Los Muertos."
Cuz nothing says Punk Rock like NPR.
Watch the show here!

As with the Trenton Avenue Street Fair, Jonelle and I drove for three hours to arrive just in time to throw our goods out for perusal. By opening time at 10:00 am, we were sweaty, but mostly ready.

Evidence of my OCD Winter of Craft: I needed more space!

Jonelle made seriously brilliant stuff for the sale. Check out her store.
And, just like at Trenton Ave, there were so many people in attendance at the Punk Rock Flea Market that I had to fight some feelings of agoraphobia.

This was the short side of the warehouse.
Wanna find our stall? Look against the far wall, to the left of the big banner. We were between the small yellowish square thing and that black box thing, right under the huge wall fan, which blew delightful air right over us to the secondhand clothing sellers crew wearing the fishnet stockings. But we did get the noise of the fan, so that was something.
Two hours in, I had gotten many enthusiastic and sincere compliments on my work, but I'd only sold $23... of magnets, naturally. My part of the table, gas, and road tolls alone totalled $80+, so I was on the verge of real tears, perhaps realizing too late that punk rockers have budget issues like the rest of us.

Then suddenly, sales started to happen.

Emma here took home my Bowie box

May your spirit fly with Wonder Woman, Amy!
This young lady couldn't resist my box of Liza in Cabaret...
I did a little dance at 1:15pm, when I reached $150 in sales and realized that I would end up in the black after all (never got to $500, but no tears). Although I had to drop prices like a reverse auctioneer to make it happen, the sales kept coming.

Just put the box on a shelf, Dear Girl, and no one will see
that I messed up and put the back page on upside down, the sad result of finally
getting HBO and watching John Oliver while working.

Natalie, another vendor, leaped on this 1969 LIFE Magazine cigar box purse with
Samsonite handle. Bonus: it totally matches her outfit!
Robert, adorably sweat-free in this blazing hot warehouse, took two boxes
(Spider-man and Wonder Woman) plus this WW votive for his dining table.

Gorgeous Anna here took home Wonder Woman "Welcome to My Nightmare,"
my most difficult glass decoupage piece. Treat it with love, Anna; it can do magic.
There were down times throughout the day and too quiet a crowd when the nearest stall stopped blasting the psychobilly (My Favorite is The Cramps). There were times I got distracted from my sales mission, too, like when I tried to make a love connection between sweet Dan here and a gorgeous Irish girl from Wexford who's travelling around the world.

Remember, Dan, just write. The Man in Black wasn't brilliant every moment, either.
Trust the revision process.
Ziggy Stardust sold. Iggy Pop sold. The Clash sold. The Ramones sold. AC/DC sold. The Rolling Stones sold. Nirvana sold. Vintage Romance Comics sold. So did Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr., and Star Trek, and Cher. But Playboy DID NOT SELL. Not one thing. Bunch of Puritanical punks, you Philly folks who've left me with yet another kind of Playboy problem...overstock.

For many hours yesterday, no matter what people bought (or didn't buy) one item caught everyone's attention: The Freddie Mercury Lightswitch Cover.

In a sad parallel to Freddie's real life, every shopper pointed at, picked up, and inappropriately touched it. But no one was willing to make a commitment to him... until this lovely girl heard me despair for poor Freddie Lightswitch and bought it on the spot. She didn't even bargain.

Dear Lovely Girl: don't be too surprised if you get a virus from this kiss.
I mean, a hell of a lot of hands touched Freddie yesterday.

In the last hour, from 4-5pm, I went into full Carnival Barker mode, yelling to passers-by, "C'mon over here and fall in love with something! I'll name a price that you'll love, too! You'll buy it, take it home, and be smiling in your sleep tonight, knowing you got the best deal ever!"

I think I startled Jonelle with my vehemence, but I wanted to make another hundred in sales. And I did. Anyway, I've been doing shameless things to make sales since I was thirteen and Little Mamacita let me dress like this for a St. George Melkite Church bake sale in Sacramento's Country Club Mall.
Several Old Man Mall Walkers lewdly offered Pull My Tail.
I enjoyed retorting, "I'm THIRTEEN, Mister!" every single time.

I was back home and in bed before midnight, wearing my flannel jammies and sleepily debating with The Prince of the Forest what really constitutes "Punk." If I am to judge by the patches the flea market kids pinned to their spiked leather jackets, then Rush, those venerable Canadians, are punk. 
Tom Sawyer, dude!

(Take that, Pat.) If Punk means body modification and tattoos, then half the mothers I know in Westchester, one of the richest counties in the USA, are punks. If Punk means dyeing your hair blue or purple, then a decent percentage of America's high school cheerleaders are now punk. If Punk means expressing deep alienation from a society that demeans and abuses you and holds your intellect and abilities in contempt, then ALL the mothers I know are Punks. Fight the Power, Mamas!

I think punks and other supposed social oddities have always been those who wear their hearts on their sleeves. The toughest punk I saw at the Trenton Avenue Fair proudly marched along the artists' stalls behind his pig-tailed daughter who was driving her electric pink Cadillac and blasting Katy Perry's "Eye of the Tiger," a craft beer in one heavily tattooed hand, his daughter's dripping pink ice cream cone in the other.
I enjoyed the moment too much to take a photo, so I drew it for you.

Copyright 2015, Tanya Monier