Walkin’ in Memphis

This is a two part story about the only vacation I have ever taken with my family. This happened when I was 25 or so. I was between heart surgeries and living in the old apartment.

 

My father, sister, J, and brother, T, all took a drive. My father owned part of a mountain in Arkansas. There was a house on it, and we weren’t sure if his ex girlfriend was still in it or not. He also had a full storage unit that needed clearing out.

 

But we decided to have a little fun on the way up and stop in Tennessee to visit Memphis before we went to Arkansas. My father had some money as his mother had fairly recently died. My brother and sister were both in between jobs. And I hadn’t taken a vacation in several years due to my heart surgeries.

 

My father drove the entire way from Florida to Memphis. We left on a Friday after I got home from work. We were all supposed to sleep while he drove and then be refreshed Saturday morning for Memphis. But I have terrible insomnia under ideal situations. And my father’s driving is far from ideal.

 

Unsurprisingly, I could not relax enough to sleep. So I stayed awake and talked to my father. I was convinced that if I just kept vigil then he couldn’t wreck and kill us all. And he didn’t, so I can only assume I was right.

 

We got to Memphis Saturday morning and took showers and immediately went out to explore the city. I hadn’t slept in about 27 hours by that point. We had breakfast at the closest place to our hotel. It was directly across the trolley tracks.

 

The restaurant was called the Blue Plate Cafe. It was adorable inside. We were served with a big basket of all you can eat biscuits to go with our meal. Now, many of you know that I like to cook. And I am a good cook. And I make excellent biscuits. But these biscuits made mine seem like hockey pucks. I took some home and had them cold later in the day and they were still fantastic.

Just looking at them makes my mouth water

 

Then we took the trolley down to Beale St. This was long before I started drinking. And it was still early in the morning. So we explored the shops. Trolley rides were a dollar and some of the cars were so old and cool.

 

I was obsessed with riding them

 

That song was stuck in my head the whole time I was in Memphis.

 

I ate ribs for lunch and dinner every day we were in Memphis. They were delicious every place we went. My father even ate them and he doesn’t eat pork.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of me. No sleep and in a head shop looking at penis candles.

 

We of course drove past Graceland. And saw the Martin Luther King museum that was built at the hotel where he was shot and killed.

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That white dude is my brother.

 

Every night we went down to Beale St and everyone got drunk (except me) and had a great time. As you know, my family gets on VERY well we we are all drinking.

 

But the best thing we saw was the Belz museum. It was our last day in Memphis and I had wanted to go to the Cotton Museum (I love any kind of museum about pretty much anything) but tickets were just too expensive. As we were wandering the city we happened upon the Belz museum.

 

 

Go there!

 

My family is Jewish and the combination of Asian and Judaic art was pretty much irresistible to us. Also, it seemed like a bizarre combination.

Four foot high semi precious stone carved horses.

 

This museum was incredible. If you are in Tennessee and don’t visit then you are only cheating yourself. I literally gasped at some of the pieces on display there.

Carved mammoth tusk

 

Memphis was a friendly and fun city. However, Arkansas was our next stop and we were going to find it very different from Memphis. In my next post.

 

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I love this piece so much

 

Patron Saint of Driving

I was working on a completely unrelated story when I got side tracked talking about how my family drives and I decided to turn it into it’s own post.

 

My family are all the worst drivers I have ever met.

 

My mother has never learned to smoothly operate a vehicle. Her foot is either on the gas or on the brake at all times. I can’t ride more than 100 feet as a passenger in her car without getting sick.

 

And I get carsick a lot. As long as I am in the front, I am generally okay. Except with her. This leads to me doing most of the driving now that I am an adult, but I am okay with that.

 

My mother also has a very low tolerance for things like stress, traffic, and getting lost. Every time she gets lost, she calls me up frantic and pissed. Sometimes she even cries. And then she doesn’t even know where she is so I can help her find her way. No road names. Nothing. Sometimes she will say something helpful like, “I’m passing a Burger King.” Like that narrows it down.

 

My sister, J, is a VERY careless driver. (I love you J, but it’s true). I remember once when we lived together she was driving us somewhere and changed lanes without even checking the other lane. At all. She was just like, “Oh, I need to be over there.” And swerved into that lane like a fucking maniac.

 

One of my other sisters did not learn to drive until she was over 30. And a third sister taught me many creative uses of the word “fuck” when driving with her. She was also one of the most angry, aggressive drivers I have ever met, even to this day.

 

My brother T is probably the best of the bunch. But as he is usually on some kind of drug or alcohol or both. It tends to make me not trust him with my life.

 

But the truly bad driver is my father. He speeds. To excessive, insane speeds. I recall many times when he was in no particular rush and was still going 100+ miles per hour on the highway. Just because. And he tailgates like crazy, blaming it on the fact that he used to drive in Los Angeles.

 

He doesn’t pay attention to the road. He will slam on his brakes and pull over at almost anything. Yard sales, construction sites, empty lots, trash piles. My father loves them all.

 

He also rolls the windows down and blares rock music. Which he then shouts over to talk to you. And if he is talking to you, he is looking at you. He cannot have a conversation with you without making eye contact with you.

 

He writes himself notes while driving. Ideas for necklaces, poetry, reminders of errands or groceries. And if he wants to look at something on the side of the road, say, a pretty girl or a new billboard; he will twist completely around in his seat to make sure he does not miss one second of it as it passes. And he is interested in looking at every one and every thing. He has some kind of driving ADD and everything catches his eye.

 

He also has zero regard for other drivers or little things like courtesy, medians, traffic lights and sidewalks.

 

One time (recently) we were trying to make a U-turn on a very busy road in Orlando. U-turns were illegal at the next two median breaks. So my father, ever the problem solver, cut across the concrete median. And when his wheel turning base on his truck was too wide to make the U-turn into a proper lane, he drove up over the curb and down about 300 feet of the sidewalk of a newly built restaurant to get to the cross street he was heading for. On the wrong side of a busy road. Against traffic. On the fucking sidewalk.

 

And then he seemed confused and hurt when I wanted to drive after that.
I’m not going to lie and say I am some patron saint of driving. But part of my job involves driving a company vehicle. And though I have been in many accidents, none of them have been determined to be my fault thus far.

We Hit a Bird

In school all of my friends were a bit older than me. I was the youngest in my class due to my birthday being over summer break. That meant they were all getting their licenses and driving months before I would.

 

My friend, K was seeing this guy that I didn’t really like. But we all hung out pretty often, he was older and had a car. Anyway,  he told me a superstition I had never heard before. It is apparently extremely bad luck to hit a bird with your car.

 

 

 

 

Seriously great movie. Though I do adore Hitchcock in general.

I myself am not superstitious, but I do kind of collect superstitions. I am really fascinated with them. So if any of you guys know any, feel free to share them.

She should also have some spilled salt there.

But I wasn’t sure how it was possible to even hit a bird with your car. Don’t they fly? I had never even heard of someone hitting a bird with a car.

 

A few years later T and I were living together and I was carpooling to work with him. We also worked together. I know that it is a terrible idea to date co-workers. A lesson I wish I could say I have learned. But, I am an idiot and will apparently never learn that lesson.

 

I mention T  here. It was very early in the morning, still in the grey light before the sun comes up. We were driving through a rural area.

 

I was in the passenger seat when I saw a tiny bird fly directly into the windshield. It hit the glass with a crunch right before my eyes. I knew it was dead. It had to be dead. I had heard it’s tiny little skull crack.

 

I need a bird skull ring.

 

I freaked out. I turned to T. “Oh my god! Oh my god! You hit a bird!”

 

It was stuck on the windshield. It’s feathers fluttering in the wind. “Do something, quick! Get it off!”

 

T calmly turned on the windshield wipers. But the bird was somehow stuck beneath the wiper. He smeared it’s crushed body across the length of the windshield. Along with a long rainbow of blood.

 

 

 

I couldn’t find one with blood, sorry.

“What are you doing! It’s stuck! Oh god!” I was really grossed out by this point. I’m not great with handling things so early in the morning. I was barely awake, let alone prepared for the bird carnage at this time of day.

 

By this point T was kind of grossed out too. “We killed a bird. We killed a bird.” He kept saying it over and over. But, for the record, I was an innocent passenger. I didn’t kill that bird.

 

The more he ran the wipers, the more blood he smeared across the windshield.

 

Finally, he admitted defeat. He pulled over and got shovel out of the back. He pulled the dead bird off the windshield and flung it into the woods.

I wanted to give it a proper burial. But T was in a rush to get to work. It was one of the few fights we ever actually had. The rest of that relationship was silent seething and constant misery.

He looked shaken and grey when he was done. I barely ate for the rest of the day. I kept seeing that bird hit the windshield. I kept hearing the crunch of it’s skull.


I don’t know if it gave us bad luck. I already had my weird luck long before  he hit that bird. We eventually broke up and I don’t speak to him anymore. Though I’m not sure that us breaking up was bad luck either.

Taco Bell

I have had a migraine for the past 7 days. As such, I have been taking my migraine medicine in a very high quantity trying to knock it on it’s ass. It hasn’t worked yet. This migraine is like some kind of zombie motherfucker that won’t stay dead.

 

On Thursday, I left work at 9am. I was feeling very nauseous and could barely see straight. I went home and took a heady cocktail of all of my migraine prescriptions at once (which I am supposed to do when it gets that bad).

 

The pills hit me pretty hard as I had not eaten breakfast. Or dinner the night before (migraines are great for weight loss). About 30 minutes after I took my drug cocktail I started having the worst craving for Taco Bell ever!

 

I rarely eat at Taco Bell. Mostly because I don’t drink or do drugs. But there I was, dying for it at 10am. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t drive in my condition. I just sat there, impotently wishing for it.

My drug induced obsession.

My drug induced obsession.

I went online and looked up a food delivery service. But they didn’t deliver Taco Bell. I texted a friend at work, asking if he could bring me Taco Bell. But he couldn’t leave his job to satisfy my food cravings.

 

I tried to distract myself with movies and interneting. The hours ticked by. I expected my cravings to dissipate as I got more and more sober. But the craving wouldn’t die.

 

Six hours later, my migraine had returned and I figured I was safe to drive. I did an agility check by walking down my stairs. I felt fine.

 

I also felt incredibly lazy. So I left the house wearing pajama pants, flip flops, undershirt, and hideous cardigan that is two sizes too big that I only wear at home. (You guys already knew how sexy I am, right?).

 

The next issue was that I didn’t know where a Taco Bell was near my house. Like I said, I almost never eat there. So I pulled out my trusty cell phone and GPSed it.

 

My phone began directing me to the nearest Taco Bell. As I was driving, I felt a little light headed, but I figured that was from not eating for 24 hours.

 

I turned onto a major road near my place and said aloud “I don’t know why I should trust this GPS woman when she can’t even properly pronounce the name of the street I am on.”

 

Turns out I was wise to be suspicious. She directed me to a mall parking lot. I wanted to cry. I had been waiting hours for Taco Bell. And now, I was on an unsuccessful quest. I felt like I had been circumnavigating the globe, looking for a passage to India.

 

I decided to just drive until I found a Taco Bell. I was on a major road. There had to be one somewhere. I almost got into an accident merging back into traffic. And that’s when I realized that leaving my apartment had been a huge mistake.

 

But I had to press on. I’d already gone too far not to. I crossed over a bridge and saw it! My quest was over! I triumphantly turned and found myself in the parking lot of a 7-11 gas station.

What the hell? It doesn't even resemble a Taco Bell logo.

What the hell? It doesn’t even resemble a Taco Bell logo.

 

It took me a second to remember that I had been looking for Taco Bell. I pulled back out into traffic. And then, I saw it. For real this time. The most beautiful sight in the world at that moment.

My sweet lord, yes.

My sweet lord, yes.

I pulled into the drive thru. I wanted four, no, five crunchy tacos. I wanted to slake my Taco Bell thirst once and for all.

 

I also got a grilled stuffed nacho, because I was still drugged up and it sounded good. Plus the girl said it was good and tasted delicious. But sadly, I’m afraid Cindy lied to me on that one. Them things are nasty.

Ew.

Ew.

I drove home uneventfully, stuffed full of Taco Bell goodness. And for the first time in my life I realized; Taco Bell really needs to start a delivery service. Seriously, Taco Bell. You can help make the streets a safer place for the sober people and keep people like me off the roads. Think of the children.

Grey Out, Black Out

Sometimes smart people do very stubborn and dangerous things. Usually those stubborn things involve doctors or dentists. These days I am very conscientious about my health. But that wasn’t always the case.

 

My senior year of high school, I was 17 and walking out to the parking lot at the end of the school day. I was in excellent physical shape and not doing anything remotely exertive. I started feeling weird.

 

I can’t even describe that initial feeling to you. I couldn’t tell what was going on. I just felt…tired. So I sat down for a few minutes. The feeling passed and I never bothered with mentioning it to anyone.

 

The following year, in Miami, I was working in an unventilated storage unit. It was hot and humid and miserable and I started feeling a bit dizzy. So I sat down and again the feeling passed. I figured I was just overheated and again promptly forgot about it.

 

After a few episodes similar to this, my symptoms started to escalate. I began to have the sensation of my vision tunneling. The tunneling began to be followed by a complete grey out. The edges of my vision would darken and begin to contract until I couldn’t see anything. But I was still conscious. It even happened a few times while I was driving.

This is from Wikipedia and is exactly what it looked like. Except for the cows.

This is from Wikipedia and is exactly what it looked like. Except for the cows.

 

Yes, I am saying that I would sometimes be driving, in a moving vehicle, completely blind. And I doubt I am the only one this has happened to. It’s a kind of terrifying thought.

 

By the way, this phenomenon is a common occurrence in aircraft test pilots.

 

But I didn’t think too much of it by that point. I had grown accustomed to these weird experiences. I still didn’t think they were serious enough to inspire me to even schedule a doctor’s appointment.

 

Until it started getting really bad. One day A (my bf at the time) found me collapsed and leaning against the side of the house after doing some yardwork.

 

So I scheduled an appointment with a general practitioner. He couldn’t see me for two weeks, but there was no rush. I assumed it was my blood sugar giving me issues.

 

But my situation escalated faster than I could have predicted. The next day I was at work, driving down a very busy major road. I was in the far right hand lane of a six lane highway.

 

Suddenly, my vision began to tunnel. My face was getting warm and I could both feel and hear the blood circulating in my head. My heartbeat felt like it was pulsating in my brain. I started having trouble breathing. I had never felt an episode with so much intensity before. And then, I completely lost consciousness.

 

When I woke up, I had crossed four lanes of traffic. I was in the left hand turn lane. I was inches away from the guardrail. The guardrail that surrounded a 12 foot deep, water filled median.

But it kind of felt like this.

But it kind of felt like this.

I somehow had not hit anyone. But I was really scared. So scared I began to cry. I didn’t drive again for four months.

My doctor agreed to see me the next day. I lost consciousness twice the next morning trying to get ready for the appointment.

 

But I was still so sure it was my blood sugar. Eating always made me feel better after an episode. I could not have even begun to imagine what else it could have been…

 

It never occurred to me for even one second that I had a serious heart problem and was having a series of mini strokes. It turns out it didn’t occur to my doctor either.

 

When my blood sugar tested fine he told me I was just having panic attacks. But not to worry, “lots of women have them.” Yes, he literally said that to me. I was floored, and went from zero to bitch in 0.3 seconds.

 

I explained to him that while I was sure lots of women had panic attacks, I was not having them. I demanded that he run more tests and refused to leave his office. Unfortunately, when I get really upset I get teary eyed and start to shake.

 

I was terrified he was going to send me away and I was going to die. Or worse, black out again while I was driving and kill someone.

 

When the doctor saw me crying and upset he decided to change his tactic. He pulled me into a back room with a female nurse and asked me if I was being abused. I was in an abusive relationship, but again, that wasn’t the issue at hand.

 

Finally, he ran an EKG on me. Mostly, I think to exhaust every option to satisfy my bitch-o-meter.

An EKG, but way more healthy than mine.

An EKG, but way more healthy than mine.

When the EKG printed out the results, he visibly paled. He handed me the printout and told me to “go immediately to the hospital. If you don’t have your purse or insurance information, go without it. Do not stop to eat, do not go by your home, do not go shopping. Go to the hospital.”

 

I was scared and upset and worried that I was dying. But also? I felt vindicated. Having a panic attack, huh? What a misogynistic asshole he was! But who had the last laugh?

 

That’s right, me. I said there was something wrong with me. And not only was there something wrong with me. There was something seriously wrong with me. In your face, Dr. Asshole.

Needless to say, that douche immediately stopped being my primary care physician.