About Those Medicated Ear Drops

For four years, there were medicated ear drops sitting atop the dark wood dresser in my bedroom. I was four when I had an ear infection which was also where the ear drops came from. All I remember is that they stayed on my dresser and I knew they were there. Sometimes, I would randomly request that my mother give me the ear drops so I could put them in my ears. I don’t know why, other than I must have thought having medicated ear drops sitting on my dresser was cool. “You want to use those ear drops?” she would always ask me in a voice laced with surprise. Since the drops were no more than a cleaning solution, she saw no harm in letting me use them. Yet, she always remained surprised in a motherly way that attempts to guide you towards second-guessing your desires and actions. Whenever she handed them to me, I would happily drop the oil into my ears and lay on my side as the thick liquid slipped downwards, blocking out all sound save for an ocean of air humming louder than sea shells.

Eventually, I found ways to reach the ear drops without commissioning my mother’s help. It didn’t take long before I discovered how easy it was to reach the top of my dresser by creating makeshift steps out of the bottom two drawers. I would boost myself up high enough to reach whatever object I wanted, and then jump off just as the teetering dresser threatened to topple onto me. One day, in an effort to reach the medicated ear drops, my fingers brushed against the cap of the bottle and knocked it farther back. I stretched my arm as far as I could and blindly felt around for the bottle. Again, my fingers lightly brushed against it and I could feel the cool plastic vial reeling even further away from me. Determined, I jumped off the dresser and pulled the third drawer outwards just enough for the toes of one foot to curl around the rough edge. The dresser teetered hazardously the instant I raised one foot higher, but I paid it no heed and sank my toes into the dark denim jeans stuffed in the drawer. The dresser tilted forward, and I quickly tried to shift my weight to balance it. However, I was only five at the time and had another year before I learned the subtle art of balancing the dresser with my weight as I climbed it to precarious heights. In a roaring crash, the dresser pushed me into the carpet and dumped dust and various bottles and medications I never knew I owned onto my head. Among the legion of mysterious bottles of pills, there was the oft used bottle for my yearly head lice infestations (daycare will do that to you), something for the chickenpox I had when I was two, something else for the skin rashes I randomly developed from the ages of three to four, and a bottle of the pink children’s flu goo of the 80’s that was made to taste like five-minute old Bazooka.

“What happened?!?” my mother shrieked as she threw open my door and found me squashed beneath my dresser, my face covered in a layer of dust and outdated medications.

Despite being full of clothes, my dresser was made of fake wood and therefore was pretty light and easy to squirm out from under. I had fully wriggled my way to freedom by the time my mother came over to lift the dresser up and reposition it. “I wanted something,” I answered after she asked me what happened a second time.

“Why didn’t you just ask me to get it for you?” she asked.

I shrugged, not possessing the proper vocabulary to express that I simply wanted to be self-sufficient. She stuffed my clothes back into all the drawers and then shoved the drawers back into the dresser. She then scooped up all the medications and dumped them haphazardly back atop the dresser, sans dust. “Don’t climb that dresser,” she warned me, “you can kill yourself if that thing falls on your head.” I sat mournfully staring upwards at the invisible ear drops that had returned to their resting place atop my dresser. Unfortunately, this time they were in a place I had not put them, which meant that I had no idea where to blindly reach my hand when standing on the second drawer.

Aching Ear

Yesterday afternoon, my body felt unbalanced and weak. The feeling grew throughout the afternoon and into the evening, knocking me out cold for a random few hours of sleep. When I awoke, there was a blunt ache in my head and I had to stand for small intervals of time in order to reheat leftover bean soup. This morning, every throb of my head had increased in pain and was countered faithfully by a throb from the deepest part of my right ear canal. My ear and head have been holding a petty debate regarding who is in the most pain since; every searing scream my brain makes, my ear has to counter.

I don’t have an ear infection, but I’m worried it might turn into one. The last time I had an ear infection, I was four years old. I remember both ears aching mildly for the duration of the day. I thought I had a headache, and my daycare lady made me eat chewable Tylenol. It tasted like poisoned chalk. I spent the day lying on carpeting in front of the TV watching “My Little Pony and Friends”, “Transformers”, “The Sharon, Bram, and Lois Show” and then afternoon reruns of popular sitcoms about rich people. Sometimes a kid my age would join me and watch a show or two before running off to play in the sun with the other kids. Mostly, the fussy babies kept me company from their playpens, occasionally assaulting my senses with their diapers. Despite my ears and head hurting, I remember my day being normal until I went to sleep. After some time spent tossing and turning in my bed, I sat up and began screaming. Our HMO didn’t have an emergency room open late back then. I remember spending a night of fitful sleep, crying and clenching my Rainbow Brite comforter until the morning when my mother was able to take me to the hospital. I don’t remember anything afterwards, other than the fact that I was prescribed medicated ear drops that would remain atop my dresser for the next four years.

Cosy Pitch

Yesterday, while riding the bus home, I entertained Tyler with a work-related tale of horror and budget crises involving a stupid Master Use Permit for the building I work in and the Metro bus system. Naturally, it was a slightly long story as it involved two different inept factions of our local government. Tyler didn’t shush me even once, so either he had fallen on his job of keeping me in line while out in public, or I was not speaking loudly for once. However annoying I might have been or not been, it only took to the halfway point of my story arch before a man sitting across the aisle interrupted me with an exaggerated sigh usually aimed at bimbos loudly bitching to their boyfriends over a cellphone. As I don’t fancy myself a bimbo, I don’t own a cellphone that I feel the need to scream into for the duration of my bus rides, and I wasn’t bitching at my boyfriend, I took a mild offense to his treatment.

“I guess someone isn’t enjoying my story,” I said to Tyler before immediately continuing to rattle off my increasing horrors with Metro.

It didn’t take long before I noticed a ranting undertone competing with my story. I continued to speak, but looked in the direction of the ranting. It was the same man, who was scooting erratically in his seat and waving his arms. I caught some words about the “bus system” and “government” and realized that he was subjecting the innocent bystanders seated near him to an unfounded hatred for me. The fact that he felt the need to torment the woman quietly seated in front of him and the other older woman quietly seated behind him caused something deep inside my mind to twang.

“Excuse me! Do you have a fucking problem?” The words flowed out of my mouth uncontrolled, as often happens when I’m incensed with anger towards a stranger. I caught a wave of movement from my hazy peripheral vision as all the bus riders turned towards me to watch. “‘Cause if you have a problem,” I continued, “you don’t need to torture your fellow bus riders.”

“Is that what you think-” he began to counter, but my irritation had overrun the floodgates of reason, and there was no stopping me.

“I’m not talking that loud. And if you have a problem with what I’m saying- as it seems you do- than you can just move somewhere else. There’s plenty of seats in the back. Why don’t you pick your ass up and move to one of them?”

Determined to finish my story and thereby spite the psycho bus rider, I turned back to Tyler and continued where I had paused. The man sat stiffly in his seat, clenching his fists through the rest of what I had to tell. When my story smoldered joylessly to its end, Tyler and I continued to talk idly. The whole while, the man sat rigidly in his seat and directed waves of anger and hatred towards us, making me acutely aware of every word exchange. When I pulled the rope for our stop, and then walked to the front of the bus behind Tyler, I could feel the psycho’s eyes boring into the back of my head. I tried to look into the bus windows and return the man’s gaze of hatred with one of fearlessness, but distorted dark pine trees and a gray sky was all that reflected back.


Pilfered From Work:
Bagel Count: 2 and 1/2
Chocolate Count: 0
Bottled Water Count: 2
Plant Count: 1 glazed pot from Bruning Pottery

When people walk into the building for the first time, they usually stare in awe at the ceiling and look in confusion at everything other than the reception desk. After a moment of turning this way and that in a frenzied panic, they eventually notice me watching serenely from the reception desk two feet away. Typically, the confusion vanishes from their faces as they realize that I am the reception desk person who holds all the answers to their greatest needs. They bow down to my humble self in awe and reverence, proffering gifts of chocolate and houseplants to express sincere humility and deepest apologies for having not seen the holy light that is my reception desk when they first entered.

Though sometimes, this is not the case. Sometimes, like today, someone will enter the building and completely ignore my existence. Being a bitter college student who wants a little respect now and then, it pisses me off to no end when that suit clad yuppie whore of a someone can completely ignore me after I repeatedly greet them. How many times do I have to say, “Hello, can I help you?” How loudly do I have to say, “Hello, can I help you?”

Have it your way, suit clad yuppie whore. If you want to ignore me and make me sound like an idiot, then I’ll just sit in my comfy chair and stare at my computer screen while you’re legs skitter some random direction without actually knowing where they’re going. I’ll recline back and write about you while I sadistically take glee from the fact that you have no idea where the hell you’re going in this massive structure of a Jewish center. I’ll snicker as you dash from one room to the next like the Starbucks patronizing cockroach you are as you vainly attempt to find a piece of rotting meat to gnaw on. If you had stopped to ask, then you would have learned that there are no pieces of rotting meat to gnaw on here; only clean and foodless floors.


Pilfered From Work:
Bagel Count: 1
Salmon Count: 5 ounces
Chocolate Count: 5 Snicker’s Minis, 1 Twix Mini
Bottled Water Count: 2

This afternoon, a man entered the new building I work in and proceeded to analyze the entrance door hinges and tap the glass panes that make up the entryway foyer. Perplexed, a co-worker and I stared at him from the reception desk. Call me callous, but it’s my belief that you don’t walk into a building owned and operated by a Jewish organization, ignore their employees, and start tapping on their glass doorways unless you are calculating what type of explosive device you would need to use to make the most of obliterating a 12.5 million dollar facility. He was apparently oblivious to my suspicious ice stares of death as he continued to tap glass and scrutinize door hinges in a psychotic bliss that caused creases on his forehead to twitch in synch with his eyes.

“Can I help you?” I finally asked him.

“No. No. I’m just looking at your glass,” he answered.

“I see that…”

“This is the most amazing glass I’ve ever seen!” he exclaimed suddenly, “Simply amazing!” He spoke with an exclamation of sound for every word, and with each exclamation of sound, his forehead creases, eyebrows and eyelids raised upwards in praise of his heavenly <insert>god of choice</insert> for producing such wonderful panes of glass.

“You have a fetish for glass?” my co-worker asked him.

“Uh… I’m a contractor. I was just admiring your glass. Do you mind if I have a client come over and look at it?” Again, every word he spoke was an exclamation, even his hesitations or pauses of sound. I began to wonder if I could take him to court for mental trauma; surely it wasn’t legal to subject someone to such enthusiasm regarding glass.

“No, not really- as long as your client lets us know who they are before they start tapping on our door hinges,” I told him. I was serious, though perhaps he thought I was joking.

With that, the man blissfully leaped out of our main entryway, no doubt to skip and frolic through our landscaping off into the brilliant summer sun.

Two Hours Later…

I can always hear when someone has entered the building before they realize that they have actually entered the building. This is thanks to the foreboding front entry doors that crash shut immediately behind any person while they are navigating through the massive foyer. Once through the soul-sucking neon lighted perils of the foyer, they find themselves hit by a blinding natural light from our humidity controlled skylight. At this very moment they stand stunned in the headlights of overwhelming panic as they realize they have entered an enormous white building of Jewishness. Once their eyes become accustomed to the unusual brilliance of our building, the subjects then enter a state of terror where they turn this way and that way, flapping their hands and lips in frenzied and indecipherable signals. Perhaps it is the wide open space that was designed so one can see every point of activity upon entry, or perhaps it is merely the overwhelming size of the building, but whatever the case, it usually takes an excruciating moment of this intense panic before anyone realizes that there is a reception desk two feet away from them that has been outfitted with a caustic and jaded college student for their convenience.

You can imagine my suspicion when I heard the slam of the foreboding doors and looked up to find a woman had not only managed to navigate through the massive foyer but had also darted by the reception area without being stunned by the brilliance of the humidity controlled skylights in the split second it took to turn my caustic and jaded head away from the computer.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” I called after her. She didn’t even glance towards my general direction as she ran off towards the dank recesses of our 5.1 million dollar concrete dinning facility. “Excuse me!” I called after her in growing alarm, my voice echoing upwards to the second story.

I jumped up and chased her echoing footsteps, only to find her standing in the darkness of the dinning room tapping at the glass windows. “Would you like a tour?” I asked her with my cheerfully caustic and jaded voice.

“No. I’m just looking at the glass.”

“I see that…” I trailed off, realizing she was the client who was supposed to tell me who she was before she began tapping on our glass and examining our door hinges.

“My last name is Rosen, so you don’t have to worry about me bombing the place,” she said immediately, which did very little to ease my fears. “My contractor called me and told me to look at your windows. He said you had wonderful windows. Building a house is a hard thing. You have to look at so many windows. Not many places have special windows like this.”

“Well, I can give you a tour if you�d like,” I suggested again.

She stared blankly. “No. That won’t be necessary. I’m here to see the windows. Just the windows.” She paused for a moment, and then added, “My last name is Rosen, so I’m Jewish. Can’t blame you for being suspicious, but I’m here to see just the windows.”

“Sorry about that, but we get a lot of freaks around here,” I said as I walked back to the reception area. “If you have any questions about the glass or our contractors, I’d be willing to answer them for you.”

She trailed behind me and stopped near the door, staring at me intensely as I sat down at my desk. “Actually, do you know where you got that?” she asked suddenly pointing her finger in the direction of our three old fashioned glass candy jars.

“The candy jars?”

“Yes. That has to be the most beautiful glass I’ve ever seen.”

I squinted at the jars. From my perspective, the glass was distorted and misshapen with thick uneven seams protruding like a spine from the backs. “I’m not sure. I think they’re just cheap jars we got at a cooking or restaurant supply store a long time ago.”

“Do you mind if I take a picture?” she asked, pulling a disposable camera out of a lump-filled tan purse. I shrugged my consent. “This is wonderful! You find the most amazing things in the strangest places!”

“That you do,” I agreed, looking at her suspiciously from the corner of my eye.

Take Your Readers to Work Week

How do you follow an inspiring month in Rome? I’ve been at a loss for words lately- everything I write seems trivial after my intensive writing courses abroad. I guess it’s because I’ve lived near/in Seattle my entire life. Perhaps I’m so used to the people and the city that inspiration doesn’t fly into my face.

I always carry a notebook (or two) with me for writing and jotting down notes while on the bus, but I’ve found myself simply examining the grains of a blank page for the duration of my bus rides to and from work. When I come home, I throw my bag and notebook down on the couch, stare for a moment at the notebook outlined by the deep green fabric of my futon, and have a sudden desire to rip my hair out in frustration. In an attempt to be melodramatic, I’ve even gone so far as to actually attempt ripping my hair out in frustration, but I always immediately stop as I’ve found it hurts too much.

So, in an effort to combat my stagnant writing skills, I am going to regale my few loyal readers with tales from work this week. If that doesn’t scare off the five or so readers I have, then I must say that your loyalty is impressive.

Sonic Waves of Pulsating Doom

I replaced the toothbrush head on my Sonicare today because I had been using the other one longer than six months. When it comes to your standard everyday hand-operated toothbrush, I’m really good about replacing them by the six month of use. In fact, I usually loose them before that time. If I don’t loose them, I usually throw them out because they’ve been stained with red wine from one of my college binge drinking events. But when it comes to a Sonicare toothbrush replacement that costs roughly $9 per a brush (versus free toothbrushes from the dentist), I conveniently forget how long I’ve been using any particular attachment.

So, I replaced my Sonicare toothbrush head today, and it freaked me out. Its noise level doubled and I could feel sonic waves pulsating down to the very root-tips of my teeth, spreading outwards through the rest of my body. When I moved the toothbrush to my upper teeth, waves pulsated through my brain and violated the roots of my hair so violently I began to wonder if I would go bald, and if anyone would believe that it was the fault of Sonicare. What would have happened if my fillings popped out? The fact that I have two-point-five fillings is a constant source of internal grief, and I’d be terribly angry if I had to replace those two-point-five fillings at any date in the near future.

I don’t remember replacing the last toothbrush head as being such a big deal. Perhaps my money-mongering ways made me wait a little too long this time. But think of what $9 could buy! That’s twelve packs of gum, eight of my favorite ball point pens, seven bagels with cream cheese, three bubble teas, and almost one paperback book.