24 June 2009

[Imported] Ulcerfest '08!

I know this probably goes without saying, but doing 10 amusement parks in 6 days and traveling 2,200 miles by land (car and bus) to get to all those parks takes a lot out of you. But the most exhausting part was probably the 10th park on the 6th day that I personally added on, along with three! new! friends!, even though it was an entire hour out of my way, and I planned on driving home THAT SAME NIGHT. That's right - a week filled with roller coasters, with an average of five hours of sleep per night, and a sickening amount of hamburgers and potato salad, yet I decided to drive an extra hour north, spend 8 hours at yet another park, and then survive the 8 1/2 hour drive home immediately afterward, and good Lord, the open road has never felt so endless. By the time I arrived home, the only syllable that I could get myself to produce was something like, "gahhhhhgggghlllll." I'm a bit uncertain on the spelling. I can never remember if there's five Hs or six.

But I'm going to talk about the actual trip in a later post. For now, let me tell you about the few days leading up to it.

Monday, I found out that I had a school loan payment of nearly $300.00 due. Tuesday, I calculated my approximate cost for text books, and even when I buy them falling-apart-and-chiseled-out-on-stone-tablets Used, they will cost me about $250.00. Wednesday, my parking permit fee was due, and all I can say is that my parking space better be right inside the dang classroom and lined with gold, because it, too, cost another $300. Thursday, I decided to play it safe and get my remaining two old tires replaced before my trip to PA, since I was told I'd need to get them by my next oil change anyway. Those cost me about $175.00, but like the dentist, I cannot go for just a routine visit and walk away without some costly surprise. What was the problem this time, you ask? I apparently had NO brakes left. And don't suggest that perhaps the place was taking advantage of me because I'm clueless woman when it comes to automobiles. I'm not saying part isn't true, but for the past month, my brakes have been making some pretty horrendous noises not too dissimilar to a crash-landing airplane skidding on the runway. But I chose to ignore the sound the same way a person pretends that the watermelon-sized bulge protruding out of her right hip isn't a 30 pound tumor, just her metabolism slowing down, and goodness me do I ever need to lay off those milkshakes these days! Yes, it's only a problem if a trained professional actually says so. I've pretended that many a jabbing pain in my head wasn't an aneurysm, and look how far it's got me.

Let me pause here so that I may knock on wood.

Anyway, those brakes cost me yet another $270. And - oh my gosh GET THIS - the day before, my dad had sent me $200.00 for spending money on the trip AND I sold my two extra Hersheypark tickets for $70.00. I'll give you a moment to work out that complicated math, but once you work it out and catch that ridiculous coincidence you will see that God clearly did not want me to have a financial safety net on this trip, because I only had $300 in my bank account to spend over the course of the ENTIRE WEEK, and that includes gas to and from Philadelphia.

The thing is I've always been a believer in NOT spending money that I don't have, and up until last June I had never used my credit card. EVER. And in less than two months, I already have accrued a balance of $1,200.00. At least it's from necessities. I can justify those. It'd be a lot harder to justify the $430.00 jacket that I saw back in April and just barely talked myself out of splurging on.

Trust me, if you saw that jacket and what it did for my waist, YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND.

And to add to my financial stress, I also had the stress of breaking up with my boyfriend, and yes, I know - "Wha...? Boyfriend? What boyfriend?" I never talked about it on here, because despite how open I am about my nightly panty preference as well as a few other personal topics, there are still a few things that I just don't feel comfortable blogging about (especially when they read this!). Still, having said that, I don't know if I can EVER date again because breaking up is just unbearably stressful for me. I was quite literally sick to my stomach for days surrounding that moment, and if you could have just seen me during that time frame, you too would be wondering how my body didn't simply implode on itself. Saying that I'm a people pleaser with high anxiety is a lot like saying that the weather on the sun is a bit balmy so you may want to upgrade to the SPF 35 instead of 30 when you visit.


And let's rewind to two weeks before the trip when my PASSPORT HAD STILL NOT COME IN. I opted for the passport card since it was cheaper (this was back in April or so), and the guy at the post office ASSURED me that I would receive it before August. He apparently was a Big Fat Liar, as the passport card did not even GO INTO PRODUCTION UNTIL JULY 30th. I called the trip organizers who told me that luckily for me, the government had recently decided to push back the passport requirement for Canadian/Mexico traveling to next summer (once again), so I was in the clear this time around. But because this is just how things work for me, on the very first day of the trip, my mom called me to let me know that my passport arrived in the mail that day.

You want the definition of irony? Reread that paragraph, friend.

Anyway, you can imagine that when the day finally came for me to travel up to Philadelphia to begin the trip, I was relieved just to be getting away for a week. 7 full days of not worrying about school, money, or boyfriends, and I had a full SIX AND A HALF hours to spend relaxed and zoned out while driving (I love driving) to meet up with the trip group in Philly. Except that due to traffic in Richmond, it delayed my trip an hour and a half, putting me IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AT 5:10PM ON A FRIDAY, GOD HELP ME. It took me 3 1/2 hours to travel 60 miles, and my 6.5 hour trip ended up being a 10 hour nightmare. And it didn't help that D.C. has all new roads that my year-old GPS didn't recognize, so after sitting in one spot for a few minutes, I finally traveled ahead about 10 feet at which point the GPS suddenly said, "Recalculating...Exit right in .2 miles," only THERE WAS NO EXIT, and next thing I knew I was over a bridge that wasn't shown on the map, so it looked like I was driving through water, and that was the point at which I. LOST. IT. I just looked at the poor guy stuck in traffic next to me and started screaming, which seemed to freak him out, since he quickly averted his eyes and moved into another lane shortly afterward.

But after nearly 4 hours of hell, I did finally escape the traffic. What a glorious moment that was. And you know what ELSE was good that day? My wrist wasn't hurting anymore. Remember that from an earlier blog? How I was all worried that I twisted it or sprained it or something? Well, one week later and all better! See, another case where ignoring the problem is the right answer!

Of course, let's not forget that this is ME we're talking about. Things can only be so good for so long. Once out of traffic, I decided to get some dinner. I got a grilled chicken wrap from McDonald's, and three bites into it, I suddenly noticed that I couldn't open my mouth all the way. It wasn't that it had been like that the whole time and I was just now noticing its non-workingness; no, my jaw just SUDDENLY STOPPED WORKING. Now, the left side of my jaw had been popping for about 8 years up till that moment. It was annoying, but it never really hurt, and I learned to live. But then it wasn't popping anymore, it was just opening about half an inch and giving up. I tried opening my mouth the entire way once, only to be met with excruciating pain, and even if I touched my jaw near my ear, it hurt. But like my car brakes, I chose to ignore it. I had driven too far, been through way too much stress, and spent way too much money on this trip to turn around now over a little bit of jaw pain. Besides, I just figured it'd go away and heal itself overnight, as many of my weird, freakish ailments have in the past (my deaf right ear, my disappearing esophagus lining, my inflamed sternum...shall I go on?). But no, it hurt the entire trip. I told no one, though, and I can only hope that no one noticed as I struggled to fit food inside my mouth. I would eat cereal, and half of it would be pushed off the spoon by my too-close lips. I had to actually peel the top of buns off the hamburgers so I could fit the thing in my mouth. I had to "gum" my food with my teeth rather than directly chew it, because it hurt to bite into anything harder than mashed potatoes.

I swear people, I wish I were making this stuff up.

And today I went to the dentist and learned that it's not just TMJ, it's INFLAMED TMJ, and somewhere in there they threw in the word "encapsulated," whatever that means. So now, supposedly, I'm going to have to wear a night-guard the rest of my life because, and I quote, "...we can't repair the damage done to the disk in your jaw, we can only prolong the use you'll get out of it, and with any luck you might not need surgery until you're in your sixties. We'll keep our fingers crossed on that one, okay?"


Now, I've heard from a few others that the dentist I go to is REAL. EFFIN'. GOOD. and freaking people out and making things seem worse than they are, so let's hope that this is the case here as well. But still, on top of my high anxiety, I also can be a bit of a hypochondriac, and OH MY GOSH YOU MIGHT AT WELL WIRE MY JAW SHUT AND PUT ALL MY FUTURE MEALS IN A BLENDER AND LET ME DRINK THEM THROUGH A STRAW RIGHT NOW AND GET IT OVER WITH, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN EVENTUALLY, ISN'T IT?

Okay, okay, okay. Deep breath. I'm going to get off here now and reminisce about good things, about the trip I just got back from. Because despite all the stress leading up to it, and despite the guilt I initially felt for going on it when the amount of money on my charge card now just about equals the amount of money I spend on the entire trip, looking back on it, it was the experience of a lifetime. I met such great people, I rode incredible rides, and I can honestly say it was the best vacation of my life.

More on this in blogs to follow.

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