Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stupid Thoughts Come Out to Play

So I sat down to do Becky’s meme about stuff I need (i.e. what’s in my purse). I’d planned to do it last week, but then I ended up in the emergency room with a severe reaction to MSG (monosodium glutamate, for those of you who don’t know. Why is this obviously hideous ingredient still added to foods? Do you know how many people I know react to it? Even one of the nurses in the ER said to me, “Oh, I have terrible reactions to that stuff”) that was wearing an extremely clever and convincing heart attack disguise. Lesson learned: do not eat Asian food whose ingredients you do not know followed by junk food whose ingredients you do not know (no matter how delicious they may taste). Other lesson learned: avoid the emergency room like the plague, which it most likely is. I’m still waiting for whatever I’m sure I caught while there to make its appearance. And yet another lesson learned: it would be kind of nice to lie in a hospital bed for a couple of days, nurses taking care of you, if only they weren’t taking your blood/temperature/blood pressure every other second and saying, “Sorry. I know it’s been twenty hours since you ate anything, but the instructions say, ‘nothing by mouth’ until all the tests are done.” Advice to others: if you’re about to say to your spouse, “I think we need to go to the emergency room," stuff your face while your spouse is locating and putting on shoes, because once you enter through those glass doors, you will no longer be allowed to eat or drink a thing.

Anyway, back to Becky’s meme. It didn’t start out as a meme. She was just creating a brilliant blog post based on the contents of her handbag. However, she then invited readers to comment on the contents of our bags, and I found myself thinking, “Great blog post for a rainy day.” Well, maybe it’s the fact that it’s brilliantly sunny here, but this is not turning out to be a great blog post. You see, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a minimalist, and I just so hate it when the bold facts prove my convictions utterly and completely wrong. You realize I’m one who (despite always being drawn to them in shops) hates purses. I want to be hands free at all times. I’m just about to begin my grand lobby for more pockets in women’s clothing (the sorts of pockets men get to have. Why is it that men’s blazers have those wonderful inside pockets, as well as nice deep front pockets, whereas women’s blazers often have nothing more than decorative flaps where pockets ought to be?). I don’t want to throw my back out lugging around a scary, twenty-pound pocketbook full of useless items (and, I might add, one that obviously enjoys eating pens, because there’s nary a pen in sight when I need one, despite the fact I know I’ve thrown at least ten into it). I trimmed down last year, discarding everything but the bare necessities, swearing it would be something I didn’t even have to carry a good deal of the time.

I actually started on this post while lying in my hospital bed. I was worried that I might finish one of the two books I’d brought with me (yes, the only things I brought with me were my pocketbook and two books, which tells you just about all you need to know about me), so I decided writing might be a good idea, but I hadn’t brought any paper with me. Luckily, Bob had brought a whole bag full of stuff with him, figuring, I guess, he might end up having to write a sermon while hanging out in the ER for 72 hours, so I asked if I could borrow some paper from him. I began listing the contents of my handbag. I got to item #3 and began to feel a little faint. It must have been the lack of food and the loss of all that blood they’d taken. It couldn’t possibly have been that I was appalled by all the junk I haul around with me. I gave up.

Now, a few days later, I’m absolutely fine (well, except for being paranoid that there’s hidden MSG in every single food item in my fridge and pantry). I brought out my purse, started rummaging through it again, and realized it’s still full of junk (what? Those weren’t hospital hallucinations?). I just can’t bring myself to post on it all (maybe one of these days, but not now. I guess I’m not doing a very good job of embracing my inner Junkyard Junkie). So, instead of the stuff I need to have, I’m going to give you the stuff that fills up my brain (i.e. some really stupid thoughts I’ve discovered myself having lately). Meanwhile, any of you women out there (or men. I don’t want to be accused of being sexist, if you happen to be a purse-bearing sort of man) who might like to reveal the contents of your handbag/purse/pocketbook (see what a curse they are to me? I never even know what to call the damn things with my Southern/English/Yankee influences), please feel free in a blog post of your own.

And now, without further delay, Stupid Thoughts from Emily’s Brain:

Stupid Thought (ST): “Man, I can’t believe all these people out there who actually manage to write blog posts about every single book they read. I could never do that.”

Why It’s Stupid (WIS): I’ve been keeping book journals since 1999 in which I write thoughts about every single book I read.

In Fairness to Me (IFTM): A few scribbled pages to remind myself of how books affected me do not a blog make. Also, I only read about half as many books as it seems the average book blogger reads.

ST: “He’s going to visit New York City? He’s so Lucky!”

WIS: NYC is a day trip from where I now live. I could visit it anytime. You’d think I’d moved to Australia or something the way I act.

IFTM: Obviously, I’m adapting well. People in these parts think a half-hour drive is, if not exactly going to Australia, at least going to Europe.

ST: “That is SUCH a cool old house! I wish I lived there.”

WIS: I am living in an extremely cool old house. Most people who like old houses would love to live in my house. Oh, and when something goes wrong with the plumbing, say, as is apt to happen in old houses, and a hole has to be made in the dining room ceiling to get at the pipes (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything), I don’t have to pay for it.

IFTM: It would be much cooler if it weren’t on a busy highway right next to Bob’s church. This summer, we won’t exactly be sitting out on the front porch, cranking up Amy Winehouse, and getting drunk on mint juleps.

ST: “I wonder if The Library of America ever looks for new editors.”

WIS: I have a really fun job at a place of business that is as anti-corporate as a for-profit corporation can possibly be. My colleagues are extremely smart, funny, and nice. Oh yes, and have I mentioned? I get to work in my pajamas if I want.

IFTM: It would be fun to get paid to read all those classics all day long, and to choose which ones to publish, wouldn’t it?

ST: “I’d like to learn to knit!”

WIS: We’ve already discussed that, haven’t we?

IFTM: Little old ladies with arthritic hands can knit those beautiful sweaters. I most certainly ought to be able to knit more than four rows. I am not going to let two little wooden sticks with points and three skeins of yarn conquer me (yet).

I’m sure there are plenty of other stupid thoughts hanging out in popular spots in my brain, but they’re having too much fun to come out right now, so these will have to do for this post.


ZoesMom said...

I am so sorry to hear about you ER experience. That is awful! I hope you're feeling better now, but I still want to hear what exactly is in your purse. I showed you mine...

Susan said...

Hurrah! I was feeling like a bad book person because I haven't read 30+ books already this year, like some book bloggers have. You're right, of course, this is NOT a contest!
Sorry about your trip to the ER,know all about MSG (headache, dry mouth, feeling sick) so avoid it on principle......someday you can come to my house and eat safely!! 72 hours, ugh, no wonder you had stupid thoughts.....! When I was in emergency last year (hernia suddenly decided it didn't want to play nice and go back in) my friend stayed up all night while we waited for doctors to come back on shift....then i got to lay around for two days while the emerg room found a vacancy for my emergency surgery. I can't remember what I read, but I know I read something! Like you, I take books everywhere.
And now i have to know what you lug around in your purse....if it's so empty, why is it so heavy? kind of thing.....but this means i'd have to show you mine, and mine is boring, mostly filled with paper - those LISTS OF BOOKS i want!!! amazing how heavy paper is.

Susan said...

ps glad, very glad you are ok.

Susan said...

Ok I did my meme on the handbag: http://susanflynn.blogspot.com/2008/03/whats-in-your-handbag.html

Anonymous said...

Yikes Emily. MSG poisoning!! I'm glad all's well and you're back home. I love what's in your head and am so glad to hear it's not all that different from the stuff in mine.

Unknown said...

Being new to your blog, I'd just like to say that I'm glad you're still with us :D I'm also glad you're feeling better. Not eating stinks.

I love your crazy thoughts "meme" because I'm pretty sure my mind works in a similar way.

Bybee said...

Oh, I just had a stupid thought:
ST: "Oh, I wish I had a job!"
WIS: "Oh..right. I DO have a job."
IFTM: "I don't work that many hours in a day."

Agree with you about the pockets thing. Land's End was being all chirpy a few years ago and pushing pants with no pockets and justifying this stupidity by saying that we'd look slimmer-hipped. Turned me off them completely; just give me my pockets, people!

Anonymous said...

The MSG thing sounds awful. Just awful. Glad you are recovered and back with us.
I have to disagree on pockets, Emily. Pockets work for men because they carry nothing with them: wallet, cell phone, sunglasses is about all my beloved husband leaves the house with. For gum, mints, tissues, paper, pens, lip balm, directions, anything he might be reading, water, and so on, he turns to me. Women carry so much with them because they have learned that they have to be 'prepared', because if they aren't, noone else will be!

litlove said...

So very sorry to hear about the evil MSG attack - how scary for you. And dear God, I feel the same way about the emergency room. I truly believe it is hell on earth. Very much enjoyed the post on the contents of your handbag. I don't much like to look in mine, and only do so when scrabbling around in there with one hand I get scared it might be bitten off.

Take VERY good care of yourself!

Charlotte said...

Very sorry to hear about your brush with the emergency room! Hope you are feeling better. I also admire yarns and imagine myself knitting something fanciful and lovely, and then I remind myself that my skills lie to knitting scarves and no further! One day, when I retire and have arthritic hands, perhaps I will learn to knit more interesting objects.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, what a scary experience. I know it's sick of me, but I wouldn't mind hearing more about it sometime, since I have my hideous soy allergy. Which reminds me, we should make a plan to meet soon, but anyway...
stupid thoughts. I know them well. Return to your writing, Emily, and all will be well.

Emily Barton said...

ZM, I'll get to it one of these days. (Or I'll just show you when I see you next week, although writing about it will be more fun.)

Susan, oh yes, 30+ books in two months. Forget it. I have to have some time to write and eat, and oh yeah, work. And thanks for letting me know you've done the memes. Will check them out.

Bloglily, oh well, if I'm sharing the contents of YOUR head with you, then those thoughts can't be so stupid after all.

Nik, and I plan to stick around quite a while longer. And glad someone else can attest to the fact that I'm not the only one who has such thoughts.

Bybee, oh, that's a first-class stupid thought. Love it! And yes, who cares if pockets "make you look fat?" (Which I've never noticed with any pair of pants I've ever owned.)

MFS, you're right about women being the ones who are prepared. (Then again, I get tired of being the one who has everything dumped on her.) However, I will tell you that when I wear my (men's) jean jacket that has two very deep inside pockets, and two outside pockets, as well as a pair of jeans with pockets, I can pretty much carry around everything I need (even a "pocket-sized" book, which aren't really small like that anymore, but if it's a nice, slim paperback, it will usually work. I'm betting those new Slightly Foxed books will fit into deep pockets as well).

Litlove, hell on earth, yes very apt description. Except, at least you get to read.

Charlotte, we can meet each other in sunny S.A., which will be good for our arthritis and knit away!

Courtney, yes, I'll tell you in person. Let's make plans soon to get together. (I can't help thinking that you've been avenged for your not being able to vote, well, REALLY vote, in the Michigan primaries by moving to PA where your vote is TRULY going to count this go-around. Isn't it exciting?)

Rebecca H. said...

I'm glad you're okay! One reason to prefer winter (just about the only reason, possibly), is that I can fit everything I need in my coat pockets and so rarely have to carry around a handbag/purse (I don't know what to call them either). In summer, that just won't work. When I can, I carry a backpack, but sometimes there's nothing else to do but get out the stupid purse thingy. Annoying.

darkorpheus said...

So sorry about your MSG reaction.

But in defense of Asian food -- REAL Asian food (the home-cooked variety) don't contain MSG. It's the crap they serve at the restaurants where the ingredients are cheap and not-that-fresh that uses MSG.

But hey, I like that you brought a pocketbook and 2 books to the hospital. I like your priorities. :)

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, oh yes, I hate the shedding of the pockets come sprint. It always takes me a little while to get used to it.

DO, I know, good Asian food, cooked from scratch, with organic tamari sauce, at home is MSG-free. This, though, happened to be "Quick Asian food from a box," with that scary ingredient "spices," which is often code for "MSG."

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your trip to the ER but glad you are recovered. I had to laugh though, even heading to the emergency room you remember to take not one, but two books with you!

I hate purses so much I don't carry one. When I go out I usually slip my driver's license and a credit card into a little pocket in my checkbook and that's it. I wish women's clothes had better and more pockets too because not carrying a bag often leaves me struggling for a place to put my keys and my checkbook. Very annoying.

mandarine said...

Do you carry this kind of invincible humour all the way to the ER, or do you summon it afterwards when all is well?

My ER fears are about my kid(s). If (when) he hurts himself, we are going to have to go there, and I am afraid the sights, sounds and smells will do more harm to him than any kind of physical injury justifying the trip to the hospital in the first place.

Emily Barton said...

Stef, oh, my goal is to be like you and to never carry a purse, but keys are my downfall (as you'll see when I finally do a real post on the contents of my purse). And, yes, even Bob laughed at me for bringing two books (but he ended up being glad when I was able to offer one up to him when he got tired of what he'd brought).

Mandarine, it's like my ghost stories. The humor is sort of hiding out in the background, behind all the fear and worry, but it never completely goes away, and once all danger is past, it has free rein. Meanwhile, my parents managed to raise four kids to the age of 18 with only one trip to the emergency room (my brother had stitches in his forehead, which I still think of as my fault, because I was egging him on to do a flip over the bar on our swing set when he fell). I'm hoping the same ratio for you, so if you don't have four kids, you should be emergency-room free.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily, I was drawn to your blog by the severe msg experience you had. I also have a high sensitivity to this substance and finally decided to create a place those like me "sensitive people" can interact ( not yet public - still in development! ). Please let me know if you would consider sharing your experience in that venue. My guess is that the number of u out there is HUGE, but we have no way to find each other and do something about our own health or lobby for change.
To avoid pain, I've had to learn how msg is hidden in so many forms and under so many names ( some as benign as 'citric acid'). All this can be shared so all of us can avoid unnecessary pain! I understand if this comment is not one you want to share on your blog, but please feel free to contact me. Patricia Berrini pberrini@gmail.com.