This weekend I am going to Tenessee to visit the Jenn. Who is this, you ask? What do you mean, who is this? Don't you know me and my life story? How can you claim to know me so well and not be familiar with the main characters on the stage that is my life? Do we really know each other AT ALL??
Sorry. Didn't mean to get all crazy girlfriend on you. We still buds? Will you still accept my text messages and coffee invitations? Awwww, you're like the best blog-reader in the world!
Aaaaaaaanyway, this weekend I'm going to visit THE most bitchin' Jennifer in the whole wide world - Jennifer. We've been buds since the tenth grade when I sat in front of her in English class, and both of us for the most part just exchanged shy smiles in the way that unpopular kids communicate without talking. Eventually we did start talking and we haven't stopped since. Jenn is actually the basis for the character Ana Pritchard in my book. Together Jenn and I wrote short stories, drew comics and wrote blood and guts stories to go with them, established The Bullshit Bandits, suffered from a Beatles obsession, ate too much cookie dough, ogled boys that we were too shy to talk to, ogled John Cusack who I think liked us and couldn't decide between the two of us so he had to let us go. You know, normal teenage stuff.
As an added bonus I am meeting someone that you blog commentators know as Tom. Tom the word verification master. The cool thing about this is that, though the Toms and I have known each other for a couple of years, we've never met. He's meeting up with Jennifer & I and the three of us are going to hang out. What will happen when three naturally shy people get together? Shy, creative people who all enjoy John Cusack, cookies, and The Beatles? That's easy. All hell breaks loose! The citizens of Jenn's hometown won't know what hit 'em!
Seriously though, during this time when I'm learning that my friendships with truly good people are (que the sensitive, New Age music) one of the greatest treasures in my life, it is absolutely stellar to have one of my oldest and bestest friends meet one of my newest and bestest friends. Whom I have never met (I can only say that for the next two days, so I'm trying to cash in on that shit). I may (sniff!) cry when we all get together! And then Tom and Jenn will feel uncomfortable, look at each other and one will say, "Sensitive, isn't she?" The other will say, "I KNOW," and while they commiserate I will eat the rest of the cookies.
In other related traveling news, yesterday I took a field trip to the pulmonary department on my lunch break. My boss, also a former smoker, once told me that there are blackened lungs in a display case there. He said any time I get a craving it might not be a bad idea to take a walk up to the 9th floor and check it out. So I did.
First of all, I think it's interesting that they've put a department of people who have a hard time breathing on the 9th floor. It's like they're purposely trying to wind these people. If the elevator should break and patients are forced to take the stairs, the ER will have to send stretchers to the third floor to pick up people who have passed out trying to reach the 9th floor. Sickos.
Anyhoo, It took me a while to find the display. They don't have it out there right in front of the patients or anything. Though part of me wonders if they should, in a "this is what could happen" kind of way. Of course, that department is for people who have already developed problems so it would really be more of a "this is what has happened" or an "I told you so" kind of thing, which isn't very helpful. Walking through that wing of the hospital was almost as good as looking at a diseased lung. I heard the inhale and exhale of machines breathing for people, and once I looked into a room and saw a young man getting out of bed with the struggle of someone who was 40 years older than he was. And there I was walking along, breathing unassisted, having jumped out of bed that morning in the pink of health.
I had to ask a nurse where the lungs were. Took me a while to build up to that too. I felt funny pulling someone aside and saying, "So where are the lungs?" But in the end, that's just what I did.
"Hey, uh," I said, suave as ever. "I work in Safety and Security and my boss said you guys have smoker's lungs on display?"
She smiled. "Yeah?"
"Um, can I see 'em?"
"Are you a smoker?"
"I was. I quit. I want to stay quit."
"Well, come on."
They were in an office passed the break room, a place I never would have barged into on my own. There were four of them.
"Are those real?" I asked. "Or are they replicas?"
"They're real," she told me.
"They're not soaking in anything."
She explained something to me, something about why they didn't need to be in formaldehyde. But I wasn't listening. I was looking at them, those parts that were once part of someone, that looked like giant, moldy cauliflowers behind the glass.
I walked out of there, not wanting to ever smoke, or frankly eat, ever again. I know that this is something that I'll forget in the throws of a craving. That's when I make phone calls and wait for that moment to pass. But it helps to remember for the most part.
I think I'll enjoy this weekend's field trip much more. Everyone's lungs will be in their proper rib cages! No respirators! Only company that rocks!
Word verification: bigbagofawesome - (of Turkish origin) What happens when three, non-smoking shy persons get together for the purpose of introductions and silliness.