Monday, May 26, 2008

In which I am scarred for life by a PSA

Logo of D.A.R.Image via Wikipedia
Logo of D.A.R.Image via WikipediaWhen I was in fourth grade, we had to watch D.A.R.E. videos. In one, a girl got into drugs, dropped out of school, got a job as a waitress, and was fired for her partying ways. Pretty standard stuff. At the end of the video, she had locked herself in the ladies room and the audio played loud sniffing. I, being disgustingly naive, assumed she was just crying. Everyone else knew that this meant she was snorting something elicit.

Since then, I've always been afraid to cry in a public bathroom. If I could mistake snorting for sniffling, someone else might mistake my sniffling for snorting.

The Good

It's hardly a bad thing to learn to be discrete, whether it's crying or just ordinary nose-blowing. Even if they don't assume you're on something, people don't want to hear that.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

In which I fear heights

A very long escalator in the Washington Metro. This is the main escalator going from the platform to tickets/fare at the Bethesda Station in Bethesda, Maryland.Image via Wikipedia

I am afraid of heights. Now, it's not a true phobia -- I get by just fine in my daily life with only minor adjustments. For instance, I prefer elevators or stairs to escalators. This isn't cold sweats at the mere though of a snake, here.

But words cannot express the haaaaaaate I felt once at the prospect of climbing up on my windowsill, reaching out my window, and grabbing said window in major gusts of wind to shut it. Now, let me break this down for you.

I don't like standing on windowsills to start. I'm convinced I'll fall. I'm clumsy, so that's a practical concern. But that's how I know it's not a true phobia -- I do it when I have to.

Secondly, I don't like reaching out of windows. On the first floor, it feels silly, like some passerby will see me and make fun of me. On the second floor, I have images of popping the screen out and impaling myself on the neighbor's fence. On the 11th floor... it's unpleasant. Really, really, insanely unpleasant.

And finally, wind. Wind is flattering to heights. Makes them seem higher. Makes the clumsy not-quote-acrophobe all the more certain that she's about to fall to her death.

So there I was, sticking my whole arm and part of my head out my 11th-story window, into fierce wind, trying to grab the window as it flutters merrily in the breeze, while my stocking-feet tried to find traction on my glossy-painted windowsill.

Let me assure you right now, that even if my life were to spiral out of control and I were to lose the will to live, I will *never* jump off a building or bridge. Hell, the idea might be enough to encourage me to live.

The good

You know, I really don't let it stop me. In fact, I love roller coasters. I've always liked bridges. No, I'm not a fan of escalators, but it's healthier to take the stairs anyway.

Monday, May 12, 2008

In which I attract explosions

Steel Pressure VesselImage via Wikipedia
When I was an undergrad, I was a writer for the newspaper. One day, walking from class to the local Wendy's, I saw that the next block over, where the new dorms were being built, was completely blocked off, with firetrucks and police cars lining the street. I started asking questions, which turned to making phone calls and sending frantic emails to my editor; it turned out that a crane fell and sheared the valve off a gas tank, making the whole construction site a biohazard.

The following year, my now-fiance and I were coming back from the evening Mass when we, once again, saw the street where our dorm was blocked off by police. I sent him to get his camera, and another round of questions, calls, and frantic emails began.

I could have had the hat trick, actually; I was on campus when the wall collapsed. However, I was attending a screening of The Vagina Monologues at the time. The Gender Studies department didn't have the easiest time getting permission to hold that screening, so the joke was that the video caused the wall to fall.

The good
Not that it's my strong point, but I picked up a healthy taste for investigation on those days. I was also the one person who could cut through the rumors.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In which I fail to donate blood

A mechanical tray tilts the bag to prevent con...I've always planned on giving blood. It's odd: I don't like the sight of blood, and I despise needles. I never even got my ears pierced. But even as a little kid, I always planned on giving blood.

In high school, I signed up the first year I was eligible. I was one pound below the weight minimum.

After 9/11 I inquired about giving blood. I was told I couldn't since I was on antibiotics. That's only half true -- if you're on long-term preventative antibiotics, as in for acne, you can still give blood. Which I was.

Twice after that, I tried to give blood, but my iron was too low. But I was planning on starting a multivitamin anyway, so I found one with iron supplements in it. The next blood drive, I passed all their tests. Finally.

The nurse promptly began trying to psyche me out. "No one will judge you if you change your mind. If you're uncomfortable, just say the word and we'll stop. You don't have to do this." And mind you, this wasn't said in any kind of compassionate, commiserating, "I've been there and know it's rough," kind of way. This was condescending. This was, "You're an idiot and I wish you wouldn't waste our time."

This was not a good idea. Implying that I'm afraid isn't going to make me back down; it's going to make me persist. I'm stubborn like that.

Well, given my size, age, gender, blood pressure, and the fact that I'd never given blood before, it's typical that I would be a less-than-great candidate. (Of course, they also insisted that my low-ish blood pressure had absolutely nothing to do with it, which I think is a load. And my GP confirms that.) All of which they told me after I'd spent about an hour on the table, only to give enough blood to ban me from giving for the requisite 6 weeks, but not enough to use. I actually was issued a donor card that doesn't have my blood type on it; they don't test bags that are only 90% full, you see.

If I'm a bad candidate for blood donation, just tell me. Don't try to scare me away. I don't find your tactics helpful; I find them grossly unprofessional.

And you know what? You need my blood. I don't need your attitude.

The good

I stood up for myself and did something good for other people. I'm in the Red Cross's system, should I decide to try again. And hey -- free cookies!
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