How I Almost Killed Myself

Yesterday, I almost killed myself. I sent that message to a number of friends shortly afterwards, without realizing that I’d left out the word “accidentally.” So for all of you who nearly sh*t your pants at that, I apologize. Now, here I present to you, a more accurate portrayal of how I almost crossed the River Styx to meet up with dear old St Pete.

It begins with my psychotic landlord (now former landlord).

  • This is a man who counted the number of wire hangers that were left in the closet by previous tenants, then indicated that number on my lease. I wonder how much he charges for a missing hanger.
  • This is a man who calls me “Ms. Weissenberger” every 10 seconds so that I feel like I’m Neo from The Matrix.
  • This is a man who made me take off my shoes before touring the apartment for the first time.
  • This is a man who asked me if I realized that a lease is binding and I “can’t just decide to leave if it doesn’t work out with my boyfriend.” Which, of course, bothered me for two reasons. (1) Apparently, if a girl has a guy friend who lives close by and comes with her to look at an apartment, it must be her boyfriend. It wasn’t my boyfriend. (2) He must think I’m an idiot for not knowing how a lease/contract work.
  • This is a man who insisted on speaking to my employer on the phone prior to renting my apartment, despite having written confirmation on company letterhead that I was employed.
  • This is a man who I told in my 60 day notice that I’d be out “in plenty of time” prior to my move out date,  and then proceeded to call me three times this month to ask if I’d be out early. Funny story about how I paid until the 30th, and I’ll stay until the 30th if I want to stay. (I’ve been mostly moved out for days…I’m making him wait until the 29th out of principle)
  • This is a man who I just made plans to meet tomorrow at 6pm to return my keys, and then insisted that I call him an hour and a half beforehand “to confirm.” I told him I won’t do that, I made plans to meet him at 6pm, I’ll be there at 6pm.

I don’t know if this accurately reflects the man’s obsessive compulsive nature. Nonetheless, I know him to be an extremely detail-oriented, awkward, intrusive, condescending, sexist, cheap prick. As I was packing up my apartment, I could only imagine the kinds of little things he would try withholding from my security deposit. I took my grocery sack over to Safeway, packed it full with cleaning products that would make a maid blush and made my way back to my studio apartment.

I threw open the windows and like everyone’s favorite housekeeper, Amelia Bedelia, pulled up my hypoallergenic latex gloves and got to work.

After two hours of flying suds, lifted dust, sparkling grout, it still wasn’t quite enough. I could imagine “Dr.T” (as he likes to be called) scribbling down on his sheet that he couldn’t quite eat off the floor. Driven by disdain and determination, I threw down my medical-grade cleaning solution on the floor, because nothing less that utter sterile conditions would suffice. As the chemicals buzzed around my head during the obligatory 10 minute “soaking period,” I thought I’d double down and spritz some of my all-purpose cleaner onto the wall to clean up any remaining splashes from my vigorous electric mixing during baking sessions. It wasn’t until I started to get a wee bit woozy that I realized that the floor solution had ammonia and the wall cleaner had bleach and I might be about to pass out and die from noxious fumes.

I dropped the brush, threw on my pants (what, I didn’t want to get bleach on them), and hopped out the door, down the hall, and out the building to fresh air. I gave the apartment some time to air out while I cursed my own silly naïveté. It’s not that I didn’t know not to mix ammonia and bleach, I absolutely did. Sometimes, I’ve been told, smart people, do stupid things.

It might be fitting though, for that to be one of the last things to happen in that apartment. In many ways, my itty bitty studio in Rosslyn saw me grow up. The walls watched as I set of the smoke detector three times in my first week; pulled all nighters to finish papers; slept a weekend away; primped for nights out; snuggled up for nights in; knitted and baked; cried while watching movies that reminded me of home; learned to unclog sinks, toilets, and tubs; got my first job and subsequently struggled to understand benefits and a 401k; and, eventually, nearly killing myself while trying to move on.

Since moving out to D.C.-and then Virginia-a lot has happened. As new beginnings unfold, I find myself looking back at what I’ve learned and into the mirror–or the sparkling floors of my old apartment–at the person I’ve become. I’m not the person that I was when I moved into the apartment. Maybe I didn’t die, but the girl who moved in is certainly gone, and the young woman moving out is using bleach to dispose of the evidence. Seems fitting.

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The 5 Steps to Growing Up

I don’t claim to be an expert on growing up, nor am I claiming to have fully completed the process. I am an expert on being stubborn, though. The last few years have witnessed feats of unparalleled stubborn independence as I braved my way through quite a lot of new experiences. My time as a graduate student has come to an end. Master’s Degree in hand, I provide you some learned wisdom on what it’s meant for me to grow up over the last couple of years.

1. Find something you love. Do it.

2. Find someone you love. Lose them.

3. Live on your own. Love it. Hate it.

4. Be selfish. Discover it’s no fun.

5. Fail. Pick yourself up and move on.

Any other words of advice from my oh-so-wise readers?

George Washington University's  School of Media and Public Affairs M.A. Class of 2013
George Washington University’s
School of Media and Public Affairs
M.A. Class of 2013

A toast…to #GrownUpProblems

Throwback Thursday: Liane Likely to Lose Limb

Thursday : It comes from the Middle English “Thor’s Day.” On this beautiful Thursday in DC, I’m throwing it back! Today’s post brings me back to simpler times–before I had a stock options or a lease. In fact, I barely had a bed. Ok, I still barely have a bed, but a futon is more like a bed than the hostels of Europe. Yes, you heard me right. It’s another in a long line of shameless self-promotion for my Notebook of a Nomad blog. Here’s a throwback, and I hope you’ll check out more if you like it!

During that first run-in with the beach I acquired some new information about Malaga. To tell you this story I’m going to begin with another story: Last year my parents, my brother Erik and I went to Pismo Beach. We stashed our belongings in our room and headed out on a fact-finding expedition. And by fact-finding expedition, I mean we went to check out the beach. After a lovely stroll down the seaside, I discovered a black muck on my foot. I went back to the room and spend a good hour scraping and peeling and scrubbing a persistent goo from my poor foot which was, in some places, now skinless. From what I gathered, this mess was tar. A little later, my father quick to do a little research found out that Pismo Beach was named by the Indians of the area. Pismo was their word for “tar”. I learned that the hard way. Somehow, I always am the one lucky enough to step right into history–literally.

I don’t know what Malaga means, but once again I stepped in something. After Douglas convinced me to swim in the rocky ocean (though there was a less rocky alternative nearby), I emerged with feet whose bottoms were stained the color of iodine (to which scrubbing has had no effect), scrapes all over my legs, and a strangely swollen right big toe. Initially I thought it was a splinter since I could see a little dot/puncture wound. But as the pain increased and no foreign body surfaced, another theory came to light. Perhaps, somewhere in the rocky, algae-filled water…something bit/stung me. I don’t know what it is, but I started freaking out when this morning, I started to lose feeling in my big toe and realized I couldn’t actually walk.

I knew I needed to act quickly, so act quickly I did.

1. Operation Uba: My father, Ralf, is the namesake to this attempt at curing my ailment. It’s also called “Operation Walk-It-Off”. As kids, whenever we hurt ourselves, my parents were fans of the “Get Over It And Walk It Off” method of dealing with it. While insensitive, usually, this actually works. So I threw on my flip-flops and grabbed my camera, intending to kill two birds with one stone and providing you lovely folks with some pictures. I got out the door and only halfway to the pool before I realized that “Operation Uba” had failed. I was limping and the pain was getting worse. I had visions of amputation. Worse, self-inflicted amputation just to stop the pain.

2. Operation Ice, Ice Baby: My next instinct was that the pain was caused by the swelling. So I grabbed an ice-cube, wrapped it in a paper towel, and started Operation Ice, Ice Baby. The swelling continued. The redness was spreading. The pain was spreading too. Fail.

3. Operation Self-Medicate: I take three ibuprofen. Toe is throbbing. Can still not walk. Urge to amputate increases. Assuring myself that I can call it “Operation Operation”. Fear of self increases.

4. Operation Elevator: Douglas suggests elevating the foot. No signs of improvement. Patience wearing thin. Pain making me delirious. I think the knife is smiling at me.

Dismal results have me rethinking my strategy. Up to that point I had been formulating my plans on the assumption that the spreading was bad. Well, the spreading of the pain WAS bad, but what if it was poison not just simple swelling.

Let me explain. I am terrified of being bit by something in the water. I love the ocean. It’s one of my favorite (nonhuman) things. Other than sushi-which comes from the ocean, and doubles my love for it! (I also love the iphone and the internet–these do not mix well with water)I wanted to believe it was a splinter. Because if I had, in fact, been bit/stung by something, one of my deepest, darkest fears had been realized. I am not sure how my psyche would recover. What if I would never swim in the ocean again?

Immediacy of problem increases.

If the new working hypothesis was that it was poison, then I wanted to dissipate the poison through my bloodstream. I needed to spread it faster, not slower. It would explain why the ice made things worse. So I implemented:

5. Operation Hot Tub Time Machine: Great movie, by the way, I was pleasantly surprised. In my final attempt at preserving my love of the ocean–and my toe– I would limp to the leisure center, sit in the Jacuzzi and put my toe in front of one of the jets. Perhaps, if I was lucky, the poison would disperse and travel away from its centralized location on my toe

(insert HOUSE-like graphics where the poison breaks into little balls and moves through the bloodstream–though hopefully not causing some kind of massive internal damage which may or may not include full-body paralysis. If I do go into full-body paralysis, people might mistake me for dead. Then I would be buried alive. And that would make pretty much all my major fears realized.)

When a baby is born, and the nurse puts it into the arms of its (because it could be a he or a she, or some kind of tranny thing or a he “trapped in the body of a she” or a she “trapped in the body of a he”..etc..) parents the first thing they (also, these days it could be a he/she couple, a he/he couple or a she/she couple or other/other couple) do is count the ten fingers and ten toes (then whether its a hermaphrodite or not). (Way too many parenthesis, right?)

So, you sit there wondering, will I come back from Europe with one less digit? Will my parents cry when they see the little stub where my perfectly pedicured big toe once was? Will my brothers laugh when I hobble around because my balance no longer serves me since my equilibrium is destroyed from lack of big toe?

As I sat in the hot tub, I thought about all these macabre possibilities…then I thought about Hot Tub Time Machine, because really–HILARIOUS movie….and then, before I knew it, and before the fat guy in the speedo could re-start the jets…the pain began to subside.

I plan to do a follow-up operation this evening, possibly called Operation Hot Tranny Mess (name still in the works). The current status of the mission is looking brighter. The redness is nearly unnoticeable, the swelling has gone down and I can walk without people checking to see if I have a peg instead of a leg.

Thank you for your concerns, prayers, well-wishes, candle-lit vigils and donations to Make a Wish. The cheery prognosis could not have been possible without you.

And….we’re back in the future. For the record…it was a sea urchin.
Black Spiny Urchins 1920