I should probably stop texting people. Or maybe interacting with them, period.

When you get a bad review from one person, you know enough to discount it. Maybe a second person echoes the sentiment. You think, “Hmmm, I’ve heard that before. Thanks for your input. I’ll take it under advisement.” But when you hear similar statements from more than two people? It’s a bit hard to dismiss what they’re saying. Therefore, it appears that I’m not so good with the texting. Which is odd. Everything’s fine by me. Sure, I appear to be having an entirely different conversation than the person on the other end. But at least it’s a sociable event. And I think it’s nice to have that quality time. Maybe no progress is being made, if there’s progress to be made. But whatever. I don’t often have an agenda when I’m texting people. It’s more of a “Hello.” Or as verbose, random and rambling as I tend to be, it’s more of a “Hello. How are you doing today? I’m fine. I saw a turtle on my walk today. It was walking. The turtle, that is. Slowly. The turtle was walking slowly. I was walking fast. I think I’ll have some watermelon. Did you see Focus? I love Will Smith. That man is all kinds of hot. It’s probably time for a browser cleanse since I can’t find that juicing article I bookmarked anywhere. Do you find cheese to be a weird food? What I mean is that sometimes you feel fine after eating it, and sometimes you just feel like you want to launch a grenade at your stomach and be done with the whole thing?” Yeah. That’s a mess for anyone to attempt to untangle. And that’s about what it’s like. It’s actually worse, if I’m honest. Matthew says that I’m famous for starting a conversation in mid-stream leaving him completely in the dark as to what I’m talking about. For example, when we received our tickets to the DMB concert, I texted Matthew to let him know that we were all set. Except it was more like I texted him to tell him this long story about my interaction with the FedEx guy and his opinions about DMB and concerts in general. And the text conversation started like this: “Knock on the door. When I opened the door, I couldn’t help myself and I said, “Yay, our DMB tickets.” And he said, “Yeah, you never hear about them anymore. They’re not popular anymore.” Somebody’s a sourpuss, huh? 😏” Matthew was like, “Whuh?” Because, context, and end result = DMB tickets? But I was more interested in telling my story about the conversation that the FedEx fellow and I shared than in actually sharing any useful information. And I know this to be true in other interactions as well, since I’ve heard this from other people, too. I have no idea why I do this, but I’m helpless to stop it. I do it on the phone as well. People call me. I answer the phone with some sort of sentence that NEVER begins with the polite and customary Hello that people expect. It’s typically an enthusiastic launch into a topic of my choosing which is unfortunate for the person who has called me with their own topic already in mind. And they can’t really derail me to address the topic they’ve already picked for discussion as I’m almost manic with purpose. It’s bound to feel rude to squelch that kind of enthusiasm. I think I’m already an eccentric old person. And I’m not old enough to be eccentric. Wait. When does eccentricity hit anyway?

Lubrication is my middle name.

Made you look, huh? When I say lubrication, I’m speaking specifically of saliva because I’m an overenthusiastic producer of said substance. For example, I recently went to the dentist to get a crown done. Small segue. Do you think the teeth who sport crowns are lording it over the other teeth? (Hee. “Lording it” scores me at least half a point, right?) Are they all, “I have a crown. I’m tooth royalty. You are merely a tooth. But I? I am so freaking special that I wear a crown atop my enamel.” Or do you think that’s what the tooth says while the other teeth roll their eyes and respond, “Dude, the reason you have a crown is because you have a crack or something and are therefore damaged goods. You needed a crown to do your work for you and also to protect you from the rot. Because you are a sucky, shitty excuse for a tooth. So, shut it.” Anyway, I digress. As usual.

So, my tongue did its seductive tongue dance thing that it always does at my dental visits, and this time got burned. Literally. Stupid tongue. Drills get hot, you fool. Just stay put in the back of the mouth and keep out of the way of the dental tools as they go about their business. As my dentist and the hygienist neared the end of the process, it was time to put that gel stuff in that makes the impression for the permanent crown. It takes 5+ minutes to set, so they tell you to hang around and do your thing. Well, I was quite dismayed to discover that my thing appeared to be the alarming overproduction of saliva. I had to get up and retire to the restroom, and I was elated to discover that the timing of my restroom break was fortuitous as my mouth began leaking saliva at the rate of a fully-engaged faucet. Obviously the novocaine made my lips a little less proficient in the art of keeping things inside my mouth, but even that fact can’t account for the sheer volume of what I was producing. It was an amazing sight to behold. I stood there in front of the mirror and just watched the never-ending stream of saliva gush rapidly into the sink while wondering how in the hell I was going to actually complete my bathroom business. I didn’t have a drip cup to use or a spittoon to place beside the toilet allowing me to pee (sorry for the overshare, but it got real really fast, people!), so I just advised my bladder to put on her big girl panties and wait for the gel to be removed from my mouth. I grabbed a huge wad of paper towels, positioned them under my mouth to stem the tide of saliva, and high-tailed it back to the examination room terrified that someone would see the river flowing from my mouth. (I know you think I’m exaggerating here. It’s understandable based on the name of my website, but let me assure you that I’m telling it to you straight. I’m obviously a freak of nature, and also would clearly win in any strange sort of saliva skirmish. I, therefore, challenge each and every one of you to a saliva duel. Location and time TBD.)

When I returned to the room, I wetly mentioned that I was producing a lot of saliva. The hygienist said, “That’s why I handed you the tissue.” People, the tissue that she handed me was drenched before I even got it up to my mouth. I think it took one look at the saliva waterfall, knew it was no match for that type of saturation, and resigned on sight. I had dispatched with that piece of nastiness in the restroom while frantically grabbing one paper towel after another. So, I just smiled sheepishly at her while nodding, and continued to look away lest the horror that was my saliva situation make itself known. I mean, seriously, a tissue? What I needed was a bath towel. Or, even better, a pail.

It reminded me that I’m not exactly a stranger to saliva situations. When I was pregnant with my first child, I went through two weeks where the taste and texture of my saliva was unbearable to me, and I carried around a spit cup, or tiny spittoon, where I would “delicately” spit my saliva every time there was enough in my mouth to dispose of. So classy. I contemplated stashing a giant wad of Bubble Yum (don’t make me sad and tell me BY is no longer available in the gum aisle) in my cheek so I could tell people that I had taken up the chaw, but people aren’t so much with that practice when you are carting around a fetus as it’s not good for the baby. So I just tried to hide what I was doing and take extra trips to the room of rest so I could do my thing probably causing folks to suspect a drug addiction. I think the truth would have been harder to swallow. Again with a pun. I apologize. Anyway, I was incredibly annoyed, of course, but oddly amused to suffer one of the stranger pregnancy woes because that is how I roll. I’m nothing if not off, or odd, or strange. Pick your favorite synonym for weird. Since I’m already eccentric, I’ve got a terrific headstart on my old woman persona.

Siri, will you join me in the shower?

Writing’s hard, y’all. I’m not talking about everyday emails, tweets or those hostile and typically nonsensical online comments, but business documentation, communications, and social media postings that require a little more heavy lifting. I’m continually amazed by people who are masterful doctors, engineers, architects, software developers, and <insert career here>, who are insistent that they don’t need a writer because they can do it themselves equally well while maintaining their productivity and awesomeness in their regular job. To them I say, no. (Or, almost always no. There is always an exception or two.) Because writing well is not something that should be taken for granted. I certainly don’t, and I make my living by writing. I realize that because it’s something that people do every day, it’s hard to give it the respect I feel it’s due. And I’ll admit I’m biased since I’m a writer, but speaking is something we all do every day, yet I think most of us appreciate how difficult it is to be an engaging and impactful public speaker.

Which brings me, awkwardly and indirectly, to my real point. Do other writers experience the infuriating madness that I do which is having their muse visit only during the times when it’s impossible to capture the ideas that are magically coming together in their heads? For example, I come up with my best content during my showers. Or when driving in the car. But the shower, in particular, seems to produce content on a consistent basis that needs very little reworking. I’ll be in there with entire posts just writing themselves effortlessly on the fly. And I’ll repeat what I’m creating over and over to myself to help me remember the key phrasing, because to me it’s often all in the phrasing, so I can type it out as soon as I’m at my computer. I could really use some sort of waterproof device to record what I’m creating in there because it seems that when I step out of the shower, all the content goes poof and disappears. I try to recreate it, but it’s never as good. It’s never even close. And since I’m conscious, it’s not like the dreams I have where I believe I’ve come up with THE NEXT GREAT IDEA only to wake up and realize my dream was about a cheeseburger that sings.

So, what I produce is the result of hard work. It rarely comes easily. I’d like to take advantage of that muse, but I haven’t found a way yet. If you can tell me what I can use in the shower to record my thoughts, I’m very interested. But short of bringing a person into the bathroom with me to take dictation, and I’m not entertaining this solution, I’m coming up with nothing.

HIPAA, SCHMIPAA…. I can’t put you on my form because I don’t have your contact info.

I’d put you all on my HIPAA form, but you’ll soon see that won’t be necessary.

I’m the best patient in the world. (Dear sarcasm, thanks for being my friend. Love, Stephanie) Here’s why. When I go to the doctor and update my medical history, it is never complete, or even quite true, though I always think I’m giving it to her as accurately as possible. And even better (I mean worse), it’s so significantly altered from the previous versions, I’m sure the people in the office are scratching their heads while checking patient records and finally deciding to add pictures to their patient files to make sure they have the correct Stephanie the next time I come in.

Here’s how a typical medical history rundown goes for me.

Doctor: What medications are you using?

I list my migraine medications which change periodically because some stop working. I usually get one wrong. The doctor will stop me here for clarification. She will ask if I’m getting this rogue medication I’ve listed from another doctor. When I say no, she’ll decide that I’m just barely awake and silently unknot the mess of confusion I’ve created by the list I’ve given her.

Doctor: Have you had any operations?

Me: Um, I don’t really think so. Wait, what qualifies as an operation?

Doctor: Well, we have you listed here as having two c-sections. Those definitely qualify as operations. You know with the cutting and all, you stupid idiot. (OK, the doctor didn’t say that last sentence, but you know she was thinking it. I certainly was. And I added “you stupid idiot” to the end for her.)

Me: So, yeah, sure. Sounds like I’ve had some operations. You should probably keep that as is. I’ll try to think back if I’ve had others. Do wisdom teeth count?

The doctor at this point will begin to understand that she’s dealing with an utter fool and will be forced to conclude that a different interrogation technique is necessary. Anesthesia will be defined, (I’ll get huffy and say, “OF COURSE I KNOW WHAT ANESTHESIA IS!”) and we’ll get through that section of the history.

Then, it’s time to start talking about family history. This is definitely when my doctor should take a Xanax or Valium or something. (Are they the same thing? I can’t be bothered with Google at the moment as I’m busy typing this ridiculous mess.) I try to remember who in my family has had what, but it’s impossible. The doctor tries to have me at least define if something is on the maternal or paternal side, and I always give it a go. The sad part is that I start out sounding so confident in my answers, which is why the Xanax or Valium would be such sweet relief for the doctor when she finally realizes that she’s just writing down fiction by the time we are done.

Doctor: ……blah, blah, blah, heart disease, blah, blah, stroke, blah, blah, high blood pressure…..

Me: ……

Doctor: ……blah, blah, blah, cancer, blah, blah, blah,

(Yep, that’s what I’m hearing at this point. A lot of blah, blah, blah with a random disease registering now and then. I’m a lot like Ginger, the dog in Gary Larson’s cartoon, just waiting for my name to crop up which is when I’ll start the storytelling.)

Like I said, I don’t start out as Ginger, the dog. I give confident answers at the beginning of the family history part. And then I start to progressively put lots of ums and ahs in the spaces between her questions and my answers. At the end, I’m awkwardly making jokes because that’s what I do when I’m nervous, and I make lame but entirely earnest promises to do better next time.

My doctor doesn’t deserve to deal with my special brand of eccentricity, but I sure do appreciate that she does.

It looks like science is ignoring my repeated requests, so I guess I’ll have to do it my own damn self.

So, I was at the dentist the other day, and I realized that I’m going to have to go all scientisty (Yes, it IS a word. But just trust me on that. There’s no need to verify it.) and create a detachable tongue. I’ve been involved in a letter-writing campaign (not really: see website name) imploring scientists to devise a tongue upgrade that I could purchase because my dentist appointments are just becoming so increasingly uncomfortable that I feel certain they are furtively discussing ways to boot me from their practice every time I’m exiting the building.

Here’s what’s going down. Every time I go in for my teeth cleaning, it’s like my tongue is doing this seduction dance with my hygienist, and I’m mortified. It curls and caresses and cuddles the instruments (and if a finger gets close enough, that finger receives love, too) during the entirety of the cleaning. And if it’s not trying to get all flirty, at the very least, it’s trying to get all up in his business. He’ll be in one corner of my mouth cleaning away, and here comes my tongue all poking and prodding and pushing the tools to and fro. Despite my feverish attempts to control the damn thing. And I’m internally whispering furiously to the stupid appendage to STOP IT RIGHT NOW or no more sugary or salty substances EVER. Just bland rice from this point forward. Does it make a difference to my stupid tongue? Not one bit of difference. It keeps on keeping on, either playing Captain Seductive, or doing its best to remain between whatever torture device my hygienist is wielding and the tooth he is trying dutifully to clean.

But I have a solution. A terrific solution. A removable tongue! I just need to design the damn thing. Stupid scientists won’t give me the time of day. They are apparently busy doing other things more important. I can’t imagine what could be more important than a detachable tongue, but what do I know. Anyway, I’ve begun working on some solutions. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Detachable Tongue Solutions for HM Dental Patients
Detachable Tongue Solutions for HM Dental Patients

You know, this could also be helpful in other situations as well. Let’s say that you are dealing with a person who really tries your patience and you’ve been pushed to the limit. You are getting ready to say something that you know you shouldn’t. Well, just quickly detach that tongue of yours and fling it to the side before you can say something you’ll regret, and you, dear friend, are saved an awkward apology later. You are very very welcome. Now, I’ll just need to determine how much to charge for this genius baby I’m inventing after I work through all the design issues. I’m going to be so rich!

While I understand that smoked meats are the traditional fare, I like to think outside the box.

I know smoking foods is a popular method of cooking, and I wanted to try my hand at it. Traditionally people use a smoker, but since I didn’t have one of those available, I just used my steamer. And I smoked up some broccoli. OK, if I’m honest, I didn’t start out wanting to smoke broccoli. I really used the steamer because I wanted steamed broccoli. I like steamed broccoli. Smoked broccoli doesn’t sound as appealing. And I can now say, on the other side of the experiment, that smoked broccoli is some rank stuff. Do not eat it. Better yet, don’t even prepare it. But if you do prepare it, perhaps in some unfortunate situation where say you put water in the bottom of your steamer pan and maybe you throw a dance party, or your dog texts you from the adjoining room requesting a command concert performance and you immediately comply because you love that, or you putz around the house doing I can’t even recall what now but surely it must have been exciting because why oh why did I forget about that damn pot, or maybe I was watching that damn AMC Breaking Bad marathon because I couldn’t tear myself away from that despite the fact that I had already watched EVERY SINGLE DAMN EPISODE ALREADY, SOME EVEN TWICE, and maybe you left the pot unattended for some undisclosed amount of time during which said high maintenance pot apparently needed more water, stupid old whiny pot, well, all I’m saying is it’s really best if you don’t eat the contents of that steamer pot. Unnecessary PSA #14890. (If you’ll draw your attention to my About Me section, you’ll notice that I’m not afraid of a run-on sentence. Nor am I afraid of changing subjects and verb tenses mid-stream. Rules, you have been flouted! I believe I’ve effectively demonstrated that in this post. I do apologize. When you stop twitching, please do read on.)

As I sauntered into the kitchen to check on the progress of my steamed broccoli, I became aware of the transition from steamed broccoli to smoked broccoli. After a quick mourning period for the loss of a nice side of steamed broccoli, the cleanup began. Steel wool, while extremely effective, was only able to bring the pot back to about 50% with a LOT of elbow grease. In fact, Matthew had to do the steel  wool work. I wasn’t able to do much of it with my tiny little doll hands. After we exhausted that avenue, I pulled out the pièce de résistance. Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Bar Keepers FriendI put some of this on a paper towel with some water and made a magic paste. I scrubbed that ruined pot with a minimal amount of effort and SHAZAM!!! The pot was restored. What’s in that magic stuff, anyway? I can only imagine that it’s made up of shards of diamonds because it polished the pot until it looked like it had just been purchased. (Oh, if only I had possessed the intelligence to take pictures to chart the transformation.) I do have to wonder what in the world bartenders across the world are cleaning up that they need this magic concoction to eradicate it? Because I’m pretty afraid of what that might be. Now, what else can I use this magic paste for?
(Ed. Note: Yes, I read the label, and I know what else I can use the magic paste for. I’m ready to think outside the box.)