Just Call Me Ann Landers

There are three pieces of advice I've been given in my life that have seemed to stick with me. The first was from my friend Ellen, with whom I lived in The Coldest House In London during university, weathering such everyday hurdles as the male flatmate who left his forest-green underpants to dry in full view on the radiator and disappeared into the (communal) bathroom for hours at a time with the collected works of Ezra Pound. Oh, he was a sweet boy really, a little dorky but ultimately harmless. He'd often run out to the supermarket in the cold for me if I had a craving for gummy bears in the evening, and I still have several of his books that I never gave back. (Gareth, do you have a gaping hole in your life that can only be filled by the return of your biography of T.S. Eliot? Email me.) Anyway, Ellen's sage advice---and it's a mantra I still repeat to myself on a regular basis and also use to annoy other people---is this: "nobody ever regretted going to the gym." (Sean has a whole argument he uses to contradict this, by the way, mostly centering on the premise that if you went to the gym and you, say, fell off the treadmill and broke your ankle and then had to have all kinds of reconstructive surgery and your insurance company wouldn't pay for it because they said it was a pre-existing condition and so you went bankrupt trying to pay for the medical bills, THEN you'd probably regret going to the damn gym, right?)

The second piece of advice is not really advice, just a very earnest statement made by Sean in an effort to cheer me up, and it's since become rather a catchphrase around these parts---one that's uttered with ironic glee and many exclamation points by various members of my family at every available opportunity. Sean and I were spending the weekend in the mountains of North Carolina once, and I had this gourmet pizza that was pretty much 90% gorgonzola, and I would probably have sold myself to the chef if he'd promised to make it for me every day for the rest of my life. And then the next day we were at this restaurant where the crusty bread was possibly the best crusty bread you'd ever tasted, and then the omelets at the B&B the next morning were just divine, and there was this other place where the tomatoes were just so plump and juicy and sweet, and I don't know if it was the mountain air or what, but I was rapturous over everything I ate that weekend, and I was all about the superlatives, and everything I tried was THE BEST THING I'VE EVER TASTED! and SO AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS! and THE MOST INCREDIBLE THING IN THE WORLD! And then we stopped at this small-town coffee shop on our way back, and I was on such a roll with everything being SO DELICIOUS! that I bought a brownie that I felt sure was also going to be deserving of my unadulterated praise, and it was HARRIBLE! (This is not a typo; you are meant to use your Long Island old lady voice for this word. And if you're an old lady from Long Island, please don't be offended; they say it on Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and it's funny then. ) Anyway, so I was outraged at this awful brownie and began berating the coffee shop at top volume---which didn't help as we were back in the car by that time and many miles from anyone who could have exchanged my sub-par baked good for a more delicious baked good---and I was really very upset at the indignity of being given this shoddy brownie. I mean, it really affected my mood. And Sean said something that has now gone down in the annals of history. Are you ready for this? He said "Holly! You have got to stop relying on food for your happiness!" And now, whenever I exclaim with joy over, like, someone's homemade lemon meringue pie or chicken satay with peanut sauce, at least two people in the room will turn to me and say with a smirk: "Holly! You have got to stop relying on food for your happiness!"

The third piece of advice---and this is actually the one I was trying to write the post about, but I got a little carried away, what with all the exclaiming; have you noticed how much I like to exclaim?---came from my German grandmother. She told me ages ago that a cold will only last nine days: three days for it to take hold, three days when you're in the trenches and you feel awful, and three days in which you slowly start to feel better. And so this is the piece of advice I'm trying to console myself with right now (I'm on day five) while my ears are aching and my throat is scratching and my nose is running and my head is pounding, and I COULD use all sorts of gross words like mucus and sputum and snot here, but I'm far too ladylike for that so I won't. And I do realize that it was only two posts ago that I was complaining of other ailments, so I'll be okay with it if you're kind of over giving me sympathy and sending metaphorical chicken soup (seriously, don't, I hate soup, it's in the About Me section) but I want you to remember that the next time you get a cold, COUNT THE NINE DAYS. Because it will make it so much more bearable. And any advice that can make a cold more bearable is worth sharing. (Also, while we're on the subject, wear your sweatpants to work. It totally helps.)

The only good part about this cold? I've completely lost my sense of taste. Which means, of course, that there's no chance I'll be relying on food for my happiness.

Nov 29, 2005

That's a GOOD thing? The only happy part ABOUT being sick is lounging around eating Dole Fruit'N'Juice Bars and Kraft Mac and Cheese right out of the pot!

Oh, maybe you meant that you'll have the "post sickness liposuction miracle," which is really the only bright star in the nightmare that is the stomach flu. Perhaps a cold has the same effect.

Nov 29, 2005

Your grandmother obviously never came across the Irish cold -- two weeks of hell at least. I've never had one go shorter. They usually develop into pneumonia, too. What I wouldn't give to be German right now!

Nov 30, 2005

Sorry you're under the weather.

Yeah, colds just have to run their course. The counting thing helps, although I'm of Irish descent so like Meg, I tend to count to fourteen. I also like to picture the cold annealing my immune system, making it an unassailable fortress.

I highly recommend Throat Coat tea...

Nov 30, 2005

absurdities! it can't be true! my cold has lasted for - count them - ELEVEN DAYS now. ELEVEN! And I've even been on antibiotics the whole time, and bathing in NyQuil Cough syrup, and dining on Chloraseptic throat lozenges. Could you please ask your grandmother what is wrong with me? do i have mono? and with mono, do you have a cough that sounds like you're both hacking up your right lung and calling forth the dead in one monumental explosion of carbon dioxide?

because really, i want to know.

Nothing But Bonfires
Nov 30, 2005

AGHHH, you all are proving my nine day theory WRONG! Why must you do this to me? It was the thread to which I was clinging! My bubble has burst! I need to place a transatlantic phone call to my grandmother immediately.

Nov 30, 2005

meg, after reading your comment, i felt selfish for complaining about eleven days compared to your fourteen. perhaps once this has cleared my body, i will email you and we can compare our cold symptoms.

also, your comment about pneumonia interested me, and i immediately thought to myself, "Oh my gosh! I have pneumonia! And it hasn't been properly treated! I'm going to die!"

And naturally, i went on my way to research pneumonia, because when i get on a random tangent, only the internet can answer my questions. even if my doctor tells me one thing, i will research the internet to verify whether he is correct. because the internet always holds the truth. please remember this tidbit.

researching pneumonia led me to researching coughs, which led me to researching bronchitis. and now, i no longer believe that i have pneumonia, but rather i have bronchitis. even though i only have four of eleven symptoms. since this illness spell, i think that i have successfully become a hypochondriac. please, shoot me now.

Nov 30, 2005

Look, I don't know if you ever tried them, but Nature's Resource Zinc with Echinacea Lozenges are the shit. If you take them as soon as you get that scratchy yucky feeling, it might posssibly nip the cold in its bud. I kid you not. Get thee to Walgreen's!

Nov 30, 2005

they are the shit? hmmm. doesn't sound like something i want to be sucking on. ;)

Nov 30, 2005

I am so happy to hear you hate soup. It's not even food, really. And nobody could ever rely on it for their happiness, either in sickness or in health.

Nov 30, 2005

Sean is very wise, like a miniature buddha covered in hair. He taught us never to "take all the sleep" and also to "go stand in line for Star Wars tickets".

Nov 30, 2005

No, I suppose you can't rely on food for happiness right now. I am also guessing that if you went to the gym admidst your snotty hazy, you might look at all the healthy hapopy people and regret that you went.

Nov 30, 2005

You know, I've had whatever this horrible sneezing plague is since OCTOBER THIRTIETH. That's a month. A whole month of gut wrenching sneezing and chafed nostrils and carrying a roll of toilet paper around like a teddy bear. All of your 9 day and 14 day sniffles are for pansies. I even have ab-pain from sneezing. Someone told me today that you can break a RIB from sneezing! Personally, I'm just waiting for my eyeballs to burst from their sockets and roll crazily upon the floor like those Fraggle-wannabes from "Labrinth" with David Bowie. Maybe THEN my doctor will pay attention to me. She'll be sorry!

Nov 30, 2005

Oh, Honey, food isn't happiness; food is LOVE. How will my husband know I love him if I don't make him a double chocolate cheesecake? How will I know that my mother loves me if she doesn't make me caramel rolls? You may feel happy because of the love, but trust me, food IS love.

I wonder why I have a weight problem?

And also - feel better soon.

Nov 30, 2005

See, now, really I know nothing at all about Sean, but after reading his gym reasoning, I think I may have a small crush on him.

I'm pretty far away so I hope you and I can remain friends in spite of this. As a show of goodwill, I will send you metaphorical soup which is hypothetically dehydrated into astronaut packets to make it more palatable for you.

Swedish Girl
Nov 30, 2005

My granny gave me this piece of advice:
When you're cutting an onion, put a piece on your head to stop from crying. It's rubbish, of course, but I still do as a homage.

Nov 30, 2005

Nine days sounds about right. At least, that's what I tell my patients. After ten days, I start doling out antibiotics hither and yon.

Or I could send you a cat by express mail. He could sit all over you like a fat yellow comforter (or I have a fluffy pink one, if you prefer) and purr loudly, thereby simultaneously keeping you warm and loosening up the gunk in your poor chest. Or you could lie down and wear him as a hat, which he's very good at being. At least, I keep waking up at night wearing him. And I think we can all agree that those last were not well-constructed sentences.

Dec 01, 2005

What a sweet description of Beanbag... he came to my birthday drinks in August (!) and was much the same. I still remember him in the English Dept. common room, earnestly asking how you were, saying that he hadn't seen you much (mustn't have had any gummy bear cravings for a few days) and you dismissing him with a flick of your hair and a "Yeah, well, I'm elusive." Hope day 7 brings you some much needed relief.

Gretchen C.
Dec 01, 2005

Hmm, nine days. I will have to count, next time. It reminds me of my mother's three-day cold superstition, which is that you get the cold three days the magical event that causes you to catch it, which is usually getting your feet wet, getting a draft on your neck, or one of those other magical cold-causing events which are totally unrelated to viruses.

I do hope you feel better soon, and I am very glad that nasty snotty cold cannot be transmitted over the Internet. Can they? I guess I will know in three days.

Gretchen C.
Dec 01, 2005

Uh, make that "three days AFTER the magical event". This is what happens when your husband is discussing freaking Hemingway with you while you're trying to post a comment. (I hate Hemingway. Although I admire his spare prose, he's far too testosterone-intensive for me.)

Dec 01, 2005

Fantastic post. I agree wholeheartedly with #1, must try to keep #2 in mind, and hadn't really considered #3 before, but I'm sure it will come in handy this winter.

And I love the exclaiming. Tacy exclaims often, especially when she is "reading" aloud.