Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Good Ol' Boys

I got a call around one this afternoon from a old childhood buddy of mine, telling me to get my ass down to Portside because it was time for me to have a beer. Deciding that the swelling in my cheeks had gone down enough to look presentable, I agreed.

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting at Portside's bar - a seafood restaurant where my little sister works as a bus girl - with seven different guys I had known since diapers. Mike, the guy who called me, hugged me and after squaring his Bass Pro Shop hat, told me to tell him how the hell I was and how I had managed to be at home all this time and not give him a heads up.

Few hours later, I had laughed and slapped the bar top numerous times through tales of who had been picked up after a hunting mishap, who was getting married, who had found work, who was going into the military, who had started a bar fight at the VFW and who had been so drunk that they had to be hosed down in a lawn chair before their mother would let them in the house. I was asked how work was, how I could get all of them on "Dirty Jobs" and how was living in the city.

"I couldn't do it," Mike told me. "There's too much stuff there."

"Yeah, not enough space for you," I said.

"Never is."

It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday and aside from an elderly couple or two trying to enjoy their crab cakes, we had the place to ourselves. By beer five, "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash had been played and sung three times and "Sweet Home Alabama" once. Another friend of mine's dad dropped in on his way into town - said he saw all the trucks in the parking lot and figured these guys would be here. He bought us a round of Bud Light, and not wanting to be rude, I accepted. It was the only drink I had.

When Carl, Duke and Eric had come back in from a smoke, they had Mike's mom with them. "Mama K" Kathy had come to pick him up to take him to a family event. After scolding Mike for wearing a worn out t-shirt and jeans to a family thing, Carl took of his button-up and handed it to him.

"Here," he said, standing in the bar bare-chested. "I'll get it from you whenever."

"Lauren, when are you coming back? I need you here to keep my boy straight." Ms. Kathy said to me, pushing Mike out the door and wishing me a Happy New Year.

As much as my hometown has bored me in the past, there are times when I miss it with all my heart.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


After spending the past few days laid up with tea, pureed pasta and four bottles of various medications, I am slowly chewing back into the world of solid foods and technology. I thought instead of repeating my story with phone calls - thanks so much to all of you who called to check up on me, I really appreciate it! - I thought I'd throw in a blog entry.

Not burying the lede, the surgery to remove "the bolt" went well and my doctor seemed pleased with how "the bolt" came out. They put some sort of graphite chips into the hole to help my bone fuse back together, stitched me closed and I have a follow-up on the 6th. The topic of conversation at the dinner table of late has been, "thank god you didn't have this happen 50 years ago," and trust me, I am grateful.

The whole procedure was unnerving from the start because my oral surgeon got me into the chair at 7 am on Tuesday, said, "hmmm, I think I need to take another x-ray just to be sure," and then came back and said, "yep, this bolt is sitting right on the nerves in the jaw. We're going to have to put you under because this is going to be a lot more painful than we thought. Can you come back at 1 pm?"

Sure thing.

So back for round two I must have been a hilarious patient. As the doc slowly increased my IV drip, he asked me, "you took off from work for the whole day, right?" I answered yes and was in the middle of explaining how the only plans I had that day was to lay in bed and watch West Wing..."You know," I said to him as I started to feel warm and tingly, "Joshua Lyman is modeled after Rahm Emmannnuuuuelllll...."

The next thing I knew, I was being stitched up and told to go wait in recovery. I hope Rahm Emmanuel appreciates that he was in my final thoughts before going under and I've decided that one day, I'll tell him so. One day.

So now a couple of days later, I'm resting at home on the Shore, grateful I had saved up my vacation days so I'm off until Jan. 4th, and every day I'm feeling a little less like my mouth got hit by a dump truck. Nothing like Mom's crab cakes and mashed potatoes to get my strength back. Percocet every four hours has also been delightful - you should have seen me trying to wrap Christmas presents. Tape dispensers can be very confusing when under the influence.

Still very loopy and chipmunk-like, I made it through the Christmas holiday and have already finished two seasons of West Wing and a book. I had a dream last night that I was a candle maker in London and so something tells me my restless soul won't be able to sit on the couch much longer. I'm still hoping to fit in a snowboarding trip, after all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Bolt

This is an x-ray of my lower left jaw, starting from the back and moving left heading to the front. I know it's sort of hard to make it out, but all the way to the right, that funny thing that doesn't look like a tooth... that's 'the bolt.' It's scientific dental name is 'implant.'

You can see a lot of white in the tooth next to it and behold! A root canal! I apologize if you're grossed out.

I've you've been keeping up with my health updates, that is what I'm getting taken out of my head tomorrow morning. I'm a little nervious because I have some problems with the first operation when I was 19, but it seems I should be well enough to go back to work on Christmas Eve. Awesome.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Should be the most adorable, scrumptious, straight-out-of-a-movie, pre-Christmas New York City family trip ever this weekend!

If you can't read the text at the bottom, it says, "4 to 6 inches of snow expected."


If I didn't feel ashamed to be an American before, I certainly do now.

Presenting Barney's final White House video. A Christmas Dog Tale:

Me: I wonder how much of my tax money paid for this
Ruth: oh man, that totally grosses me out

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You know the economy is bad when...

Discovery Channel Christmas Party 2007: The company rented out the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for a formal, black-tie ball. Complete with performers, open bar, dinner and dancing.

Discovery Channel Christmas Party 2008: The company rented out half of the main room upstairs at an "Irish" pub in Silver Spring (we shared the other half of the room with a nurses union Christmas party). Complete with open bar, spinach dip and performers i.e. karaoke.

My boss and I rocked the house on my signature karaoke song, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." One coworker keeps calling me Joan Jett.

Health Update: Had the root canal EARLY this morning. It went well I guess, but then again I have nothing to compare it to. My dentist said I was a "textbook case" which was supposed to mean it was an easy procedure, and I'm supposed to be pain-free by tomorrow.

When I came into work after my appointment, my jaw and tongue were so swollen and numb from the Novocain that I had a really hard time saying hard consonants or using proper inflection. I had to stop having verbal conversations with people because they couldn't keep it together when I sounded like a mobster from Brooklyn holding his tongue between his fingers. It was worse than this:

(Thanks Wes)

I'm doing okay; my jaw aches from have it pried open for over an hour but nothing around the root canal site. I get the fake tooth out this coming Tuesday! Yay!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Feedbag Appearance!

It's been awhile but I was on the Discovery's Friday News Feedbag podcast again for the Friday, Dec. 12th show. You can listen, vote, participate in the rubberband ball duel and look at pictures of my desk by clicking on the link below:

(Scroll down to the Dec. 15th posting, the rubberband ball debate takes up most of the blog at this point)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brain Break

Often at work my coworkers and I do "brain breaks" where we pass around hilarious websites we've stumbled across.

These are from today. Enjoy:

Mine: (I was laughing so hard, the girl who sits next to me gave me several snide looks through the slit in our cubicle wall. I got to page 22 before Dave "commanded" I get off the FAIL juice and get back to work).

Jorge: (don't worry, you CAN look at this one on your work computer)

Health update: I am feeling loads better than I was on Friday. The pain has settled down, probably from the fact that I slept about 40 out of the past 48 hours. Thank you to everyone who called/emailed/texted/gchatted to ask! Root canal on Wednesday! Woo!

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Lauren's Tooth Exploded"

To: News Team
From: Lori
Subject: lauren out today
12/11/08 7:58 AM

lauren's tooth exploded overnight, so she's in for an emergency fix today. Hopefully she'll feel better, but I'd count on her being out tomorrow as well.


That's the email my boss sent out to my coworkers after I called her at the crack of dawn yesterday morning to ask for a personal day. I think it's hilarious.

My tooth didn't actually "explode" but I have been in excruciating pain for a few days because of a tooth problem and it hit its zenith yesterday.

Many people don't know this about me but I have a fake tooth. It's not so much a fake tooth as it is an inch long bolt in my jaw with a cap on it that simulates a back molar - aka an "implant." Yes, you can tell it's fake if I open my mouth and point it out to you. I got it put in when I was 16 as an anchor for my messed up mouth. I was born without that back molar on the left hand side, but in it's place was one lone wisdom tooth that came in completely horizontal so to fix my bite or something, this bolt was implanted into my jaw.

Since then, it has been nothing but constant aggravation: I have to use a WaterPik to clean it everyday, it has been replaced twice because the first time it was uneven and the second time it was infected... it's sort of a joke in my family that I really do have a million dollar smile.

I started having pain around that area the weekend after Thanksgiving. It began to spread from the tooth, to my jaw line, to my temples, to my whole head and neck as the week progressed. I was terrified because last time this happened, I was 19 and the implant was infected. My oral surgeon told me if it became severely infected again, I could lose part, if not an entire side, of my jaw. Fabulous.

The following Monday, I called my oral surgeon who put the implant in and explained the above story to the receptionist.

"Well, we can squeeze you in on the 22nd and in the meantime, we'll put you on a call list in case someone cancels, okay?" she told me.

"Uhh... I guess. Okay." I said and took the appointment.

By Wednesday night, I was in so much pain that I didn't sleep at all and just kept breaking down. I did manage to read 100 pages in my book though. Finally at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning I called the emergency number for my regular dentist up here - his cell phone.

He answered right away and I explained to him what was going on.

"Excuse me, your oral surgeon told you to wait two weeks when you're already in pain? That is utterly ridiculous! You come into my office right now and I'll see you right now. This doesn't sounds good."

An hour later I had managed to pick some clothes up off my floor to dress myself - my mother would have thrown up if she had seem my appearance, I was a mess - and was sitting in the dentist chair.

Between my dentist's snide comments at what a horrible person my oral surgeon must be (he's actually a wonderful guy and probably isn't even aware that his receptionist turned me away) my dentist gave me the news: I needed a root canal on the tooth in front of the implant and the implant itself should come out.

A root canal?!? At 22?!? Apparently, it's quite common in ages 18-24, my dentist tells me. "Basically, a root canal fixes a crack inside your tooth, which you can get from something as simple as biting down on a piece of hard candy or ice."

I can also say that I was so happy to hear my implant was coming out I almost cried. It seems an inch long bolt is way to long for someone with my mouth size, "Almost all of the implants I see nowadays are half that size or smaller," my dentist tells me, "it's too close to your nerves and thats why you're having pain everywhere."

Mystery solved and plenty of vicodin and amoxicillin taken, I'm on my way to being on the mend - still having a numbing pain but floating at least. I was in bed by 8 p.m. last night and this morning I am back to work, just very groggy and somewhat out of it - much to my coworkers' amusement. Root canal scheduled for the 17th and what should be my final implant surgery ever is TBD soon. I've never been more excited about an upcoming dentist appointment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Terps are going to a Bowl Game. Woot.

Actual email my roommate received about the Terps going to the Bowl game:
Your Maryland Terrapin football team has been selected to play in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, on December 30th at 4:30 p.m. (EST) versus Nevada. The Roady's Humanitarian Bowl takes place at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
The athletic department is pleased to offer students the opportunity to claim up to two FREE tickets via the student ticket web site. Students must pick their tickets up at the Will Call office located at Bronco Stadium starting 2 hours prior to kick off. Student must show their valid student ID, and proceed directly into the facility.
For travel information please contact Sports Travel International at 301-570-0800.


Terrapin Ticket Office

Actual comment posted on the story The Diamondback ran about the Terps going to the Bowl game:

"As a Nevada fan, I'm excited to see us play a tough ACC team. I saw you guys beat Cal earlier this year, and was impressed with your offense. I know, Boise isn't Florida, Southern California or Hawaii, but you can have fun there. My one recommendation is to avoid their strip clubs. A friend of my went to a Nevada-BSU game a few years ago, and being away from home, wanted to see the night life. After paying $20 to get in, we soon realized that the girls aren't allowed to take their tops off? What? They don't strip at your strip club??? Otherwise, there are some fun bars in Boise, some great skiing nearby, and the people are friendly. Good luck Terps."

Yay boys. Can't wait. By the way, Roady's is referring to Idaho-based Roady's Truck Stops, the nation's largest chain of truck stops, according to their press release.

Roberto also pointed out that the match up was a jip because we're playing Nevada, the state right South of Idaho vs. if we were to trek out there, it would look like this:

I know the map is small, but it doesn't matter. It's all so sad.

Work Quote of the Day

"LET'S FEATURE SOMEONE!!! holy caps lock batman."

Monday, December 8, 2008

You know your masters class is boring when...

From gchat...

me: you posted on my blog 15 minutes into class? wow boring?

me: also, roberto and i are drinking red wine and watching jeopardy
so we're around 72 years old now

Tad: oh man i'm so jealous

New Update on 3pm on Sunday Blog!

Erin is awesome and continues to update our visual blog for us:

Reason why her photos look more interesting than mine: She's in Seoul, Korea, and I am not. Although she did tell me she almost had to take a photo of her Dunkin' Donuts coffee but the changing of the guard at the Deoksu Palace saved her last minute.

The basic gist: We each take a photo of what we're doing/seeing at 3 p.m. every Sunday from (quite literally) worlds apart. Neither of us have super cool cameras so it's not something we plan to do anything with i.e. a book, but it's been a really awesome and different way to keep in touch.

We started the blog at the end of October so we've kept it up for over a month now. I have to say that it has forced me to make plans or try to be active on Sundays - a good thing! It's gotten to the point where I'll say to Tad, "Hey, let's go bike riding on Sunday" or "Let's go walk around D.C. on Sunday." His usual response is, "That sounds... wait you just want something for your blog don't you."

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Shoes

I'm wearing new shoes today. They're black, dressy-type pumps with some patten leather accents, sort of antique looking. I feel in love with them when i put them on because they make my feet look slender and feminine.

Side note - I'm a size 8, which is close to the national average for women, but one of the maintenance guys at work said, "Damn. You got some big ass feet!" when I walked by in tennis shoes the other day, so I've been a little more aware of my feet than usual.

As cute as my new shoes are, they almost broke my neck.

I was strutting towards the coffee pot at work this morning, when suddenly I was doing a half pirouette and managed to catch myself before completely busting my ass on the shiny linoleum floor.

Another female employee who had just come in stopped and asked, "Uhh... are you... are you okay?"

"Yes, yes, thanks, I'm fine," I breathed as I brushed my hair out of my face with my coffee mug and steadied myself, "New shoes."

"Ahhhh yes," the girl replied, and walked away, as an apparent mutual certain-almost-death-by-new-shoes understanding passed between us.

What is it about new shoes that make them impossible to walk proudly across indoor flooring? Even Josh Lyman took a spill in The West Wing when he wore new loafers from his mother, so it happens to the best of us, but really these things should come with a warning label.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Big Southern Thanksgiving

Phew! Lots to catch up on. This will be my first holiday season that I have to work around a real work schedule and it's already affecting my blog posts. So as we come upon St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th, a German holiday we celebrate because my mom spent some of her childhood in Germany on an air force base. We aren't German) let me recap my Big Southern Thanksgiving.

Some background - my dad was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee and almost all of his family still lives there. His sister Doris, brother-in-law Ival, his daughter Kate, her family, my brother's family, and on it goes. This was the first time we had been back in about five or six years.

His connection to Barbourville, Kentucky comes from an aunt and uncle of his who had a good piece of land in the mountains there and left it to Dad when she died. We hadn't been to cabin since Thanksgiving 2000.

Wednesday, Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Eve: I worked a normal day at Discovery and headed for home around 3pm. I was taking shortcuts through neighborhoods and it still took me almost an hour to weave home. I cleaned the house and did laundry to prepare for my parents and sister Leslie to stay the night. We had an early flight out the next morning and so it was easier for them to stay at my place than get a hotel room or drive up from the Shore.

Side note - I realized I have enough bath towels to run an inn.

Thursday, Nov. 27th, Thanksgiving Day: I was really irresponsible. I gave my parents my bed to sleep in, Tad was at home on the Shore for the holiday so my sister took his bed, and I got the futon in the living room. Before falling asleep, I watched some TV until about midnight - Ghost Hunters, and they were in some really creepy sacrificial temple in England hearing and seeing all sorts of weird stuff.

Next to the futon is an enormous radiator that bangs when the heat comes on because our rental house is very old, so you can just imagine why I spent most of the night jolting awake and saying to myself over and over, "it's just the heat coming on." I know, I'm a huge wuss and needless to say, when Dad woke us all up at 4 a.m. I was ready to get up.

We were on the road to Reagan National by 5:30 to catch a flight at 8:40. My dad does this. He gets anxious when we have a place to be and getting there sooner rather than later makes him feel better about traveling. If we complain, his response is, "well, you haven't missed a flight yet, have you?" He has a point there.

We flew into Charlotte, North Carolina to switch planes to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee where my aunt was serving Thanksgiving at 2pm sharp. I'm pretty certain the plane that got us to Chattanooga was a retired crop duster. As I watched them start the propellers, I was just waiting for all the bolts to start falling into my lap.

We roll into Chattanooga, grab the rental car - which had New York tags on it, weird - dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed over to Aunt Doris'. We knew we were in the right area when we passed the "Steak 'n' Shake" Restaurant. To this day, I have no idea what "Steak 'n' Shake" means... but I'll leave that one a mystery.

What a feast! Turkey, ham, brisket - and that's just the meat!

(My brother Zach, carving the turkey while Ival analyzes how to steal some)

Butter, grease and lard were also served ;) We had to take a long walk afterwards and still, it was all I could do to not fall asleep in my dessert. We left around 9 p.m. for the hotel and by 9:30 p.m. I was out cold.

Friday, Nov. 28: Dad was kind enough to let us sleep in until 7:15 am, but then we were up, out the door and back to Doris'. Breakfast was leftovers and a casserole filled with bacon, eggs, cheese and grits - sounds gross but let me tell you, it was better than any gourmet omelette Chef Francois could make.

After a last call for coffee, my parents, Lez, cousin Mark (Doris' son) and his daughter Sydney all loaded up and headed over to the prep school where every male in my family since my ancestors got off the boat attended 7th-12th grade - Baylor School. It's a gorgeous, enormous facility that sits on the Tennessee River.

The place reminded me so much of Maryland's campus that I had to keep reminding myself it was a grade school and not a college. Stables, tennis courts, enormous gym, wrestling facilities, state-of-the-art entertainment room, old brick architecture... it goes on.

After my father graduated, they changed it from an all boys military school to just an all boys prep school, and while Mark was there, it went co-ed. This is the bit of my family's legacy that's honored at the school today. It was the saber my grandfather wore as part of his uniform when he was at Baylor.

I kept an eye on my dad's face the whole time and it was wild to watch him remember and recall getting kicked out of study hall or told off for smoking cigarettes. Suddenly, he was 15 and smirking out of the corner of his mouth and I began to regret backing out of going to sleep-away summer camp there.

After dropping Mark and Sydney off back at Doris', we headed over to my older sister Kate's house to see her, her new husband Brian and my niece Sara Jane. It was the first time we had been to their new house and it was very close to the neighborhood my dad grew up in, which was really neat to hear him point out, "this is where I had cub scout meetings," and "this is the tree I stole Christmas lights from." After wolfing down Tennessee BBQ, sweet tea and pumpkin pie, I once again fought to stay awake as my niece continued to say, "Please!!! Let's go play more!!! Please!!! Just one more book!!!"

Later on, we headed back to Doris' for Shabbat dinner (Dad's side is Jewish, I'm not)and along with a bunch of my aunt's friends, we unsuccessfully tried to teach three year-old Sydney the evening song. Given that the house was full of elderly Jews, naturally, the evening proceeded with multiple attempts to try to find Lez and I suitable husbands - "Oh! I have a grandson in dental school who's about your age, Lauren. Why don't you send me your photo so I can pass it along to my Austin!"

Saturday, Nov. 29: Still unmarried - thank goodness - I climbed into the rental car with the fam, New York tags and all (Ival joked it was a miracle no one had slashed our tires yet), we headed North to our Kentucky cabin in the small old mining town of Barbourville.

After a four hour car ride, we got the house set up, fire going, bedding washed and then... sat. It felt so amazing to just watch the fire for a couple of hours. No moving, no tv, nothing.

It was sort of creepy being there though because most of the stuff in the cabin are things we brought from home over the years that we weren't using anymore. To see our old curtains, lamps, chairs, dishes and sippy cups from three redecorations ago was like a time warp back to my elementary school days.

The lake that you used to be able to look out on was a mess because they're putting in a dam so our beautiful view was punctured by bulldozers. Mom and I still ventured out into the mud to look for arrow heads around the property. She has found a bunch before, but no such luck this time, and yes she is wearing black leather boots. She's such a rock, my mother.

Later that evening, we caught up with our old Kentucky friends - people who live on and near the property - over coffee and Ms. Belva's orange juice cake. It was so funny to see how none of them had changed a bit in eight years, but Ms. Belva kept saying, "Oh Morris, just look at your girls, I can't get over your girls!"

Sunday, Nov. 30: Packing the cabin back up, saying more goodbyes and making promises of having Thanksgiving at the cabin next year, Mom, Dad, Lez and I got back in the car and drove through torrential rain to Knoxville, Ky to the Broyles house.

David Broyle is my dad's dearest and oldest friend - going all the way back to their Baylor days - and so we sat down with him, his wife, their children, their in-laws, and Grandma and Pop-Pop to Kentucky BBQ, Kentucky slaw, Kentucky ├ęclair cake pudding (yes that's all one dish) and loads more. More story sharing and recipe swapping made the few hours we spent at their house fly. We loaded back into the car and headed to the Knoxville airport - on time for our flight of course.

After the most turbulent plane ride ever - Lez was trying not to cry it was so bad - and another long car ride back to my house, I was back where I started: doing laundry and preparing for the next day. Doing two states and three cities in four days exhausted me and I'm still feeling the effects. Besides the 3,000 lbs I gained, I'm still playing catch-up on sleep - but what a vacation! We pretty much hugged every person in my Dad's history and retraced all his childhood steps. It was fascinating to experience his transformation with him and I wonder what my children will think when I take them back through my footprints. I know one thing, the BBQ won't be nearly as good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A lame excuse for a new post, I know

Work Quote of the Day - "FEAR = false evidence appearing real"

I had a wild and crazy Big Southern Thanksgiving - two states, three planes rides, four days - I need a vacation from my vacation.

I have SO many photos from my travels so I'm going to put them in a Google album to send out to family before catching up on posting - because it's going to be a monster. Hopefully, I'll get it all together tonight.

In the meantime, you can see one of my photos on my visual blog with Erin,