Two days of my life (and stories about Daddy)

So the night before last my head started hurting — that old pain, which still flirts with me from time to time. Finally I decided, for the first time in I don’t know how long, to give myself an injection of my old frenemy DHE. I went to the bathroom, pulled down my pants, got out an ampule and tried to break it and failed. I don’t know if I’d just forgotten the old trick on how to do it, or if I no longer had enough strength in my hands, or what. But those things are devilishly difficult to open. You have to snap glass with your bare hands.

Michael couldn’t do it either, or M.F. Finally M.F. got out a pair of pliers and patiently scored at the glass for like ten minutes, after which time Michael tried again and got it open. I shot up, and it hurt as much as I had figured it would.

As the rest of the evening passed I began to sorely regret giving myself that shot. In fact I felt tempted to just throw the rest of the DHE away. I became extremely nauseated and had a funny feeling in my mouth, like there was sand there or something. And of course I was limping; I always limp for a day or two after giving myself a shot, and the other leg hurts as well. DHE is a constrictor and it constricts EVERYTHING. I think the funny feeling in my mouth is the result of constriction of the salivary glands or something. Anyway, M.F. had made margaritas, and before he did so (before I gave myself the shot) I’d been game to drink some, but by the time he was finished making them I was too sick to even think about it. We were watching Law and Order on Netflix (I’ve started at Season 1 and aim to watch them all) and Michael was sitting next to me with his margarita and the very smell of it made me want to throw up.

Eventually we went to bed but I felt too sick to my stomach to sleep, and I stayed up and watched Law and Order all night long. I ate a few times but it didn’t make the nausea any better. I went to bed finally around eight a.m. Then at noon, my eyes flew open and Michael was saying something to me. I thought he was telling me my cell phone was ringing. “I don’t know where it is,” I said, and got up and started looking for it. I couldn’t hear it and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I returned to the bedroom and repeated, “I don’t know where it is.”

“Where what is?”
“My phone.”
“It’s right over there.”
I picked it up. “It’s not ringing.”
“So?”
“Didn’t you say it was going off?”
“Um, no. I asked if you wanted to go to lunch with me.”

I did not go to lunch with him, but I did have to go outside and move my car so he could get out of the driveway. I still felt like crap. I watched a few more Law and Order episodes. I surfed the internet on Michael’s computer and read some illusion-destroying articles in the New York Times. Then I went to the library. My friend Bessie wasn’t there, though, and all the other librarians think I’m a pain in the butt.

I did approach one to tell her I’d found a book called something like Life in Christian Ethiopia on a shelf surrounded by books on modern American economics. The call numbers matched up, I said, but it seemed strange to me. She agreed it was probably a mistake, but seemed utterly uninterested in doing anything about it. These are the people I had to complain to three times about a “biography” which I’d read and which wasn’t a biography at all. They kept insisting it was, even though I’d read it and they hadn’t. Even though the cover had a picture of the subject of the “biography” riding a unicorn.

I did find some books my father would be interested in, and since I hadn’t seen the old man since like Christmas, I gave him a call and invited myself over. He was happy to have me. We wound up talking about the days of the old Vietnam War protests, some of which he attended. One of his college friends, a guy named Eric, got clubbed unconscious by a cop’s nightstick and wound up being convicted of assault on a police officer. A few years later, Dad and Eric and one other friend went to Calgary, Alberta to attend a biology symposium.

“Are you draft dodgers?” they asked at the Canadian border.
“No,” they said. “We’re going to a science conference.” Dad gave them a copy of the program and pointed out that their names are all on it, and they were allowed through. But a few miles up the road they were stopped by a Canadian cop.
“Any of you have records?” he asked.
“No,” they said.
“Any of you ever been in jail?”
“No.”
He let them go and then Dad was like, “Uh, Eric…”
And Eric said, “Well, what did you expect me to tell him? That I have a record for assaulting a cop? That I’m a convicted felon and I’m violating my parole to go do my biology presentation? I’m not even supposed to leave the STATE.”

We both had a good laugh about it. I was imagining Eric and Dad being called before a court (Eric for violating his parole and fleeing justice, and Dad for aiding and abetting him) and the judge being like, “So you fled the country…to give a presentation about 600-million-year-old fossil plants?”

Dad was never arrested, but he did probably land on a list of Communist sympathizers. He listened to Chinese short-wave radio and sent them a reception report, and they started send him stuff, a lot of Commie propaganda, including a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. Dad thought it was all pretty interesting and amusing. Among other things, China sent him some articles about physical anthropology, and he passed those on to the chairman of the anthropology department at the U. of Illinois where he was a student. The chair sent him a letter of thanks, saying they had had virtually no other information out of China for ages and Dad’s stuff came in handy.

After a few months, the FBI sent Dad a letter saying, “Do you wish to continue to receive this correspondence from China?” Dad thought about it for a few days and decided, yes, it was his right to read Commie propaganda if he wanted to, and this was not a crime, and yes, he wanted to continue to receive it. So he replied in the affirmative and never heard anything from the FBI again, but he reckons his name got on all sorts of lists. Dad gave Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book to his friend Eric the convicted felon, because Eric was an actual Communist sympathizer who thought Chairman Mao was God’s gift to mankind.

I wonder what Eric thinks of Chairman Mao now. I bet he’s had his felony expunged or something by now. Dad says he hasn’t heard from the guy in years but he thinks he teaches at Penn State.

Anyway, feeling somewhat better, I took my leave of my father and drove back to Fort Wayne. It was extremely cold, around zero, and Michael was worried about me because my car’s on its last legs and he was afraid it would die on the interstate and leave me stranded. I decided to call him to reassure him. I heard “Hello” and then said, “Hi, sweetheart!” and then my mom said, “Meaghan, I believe you meant to call someone else.” Serves me right for trying to dial a cell phone with gloves on.

I went to bed immediately on arriving home. I was very tired.

I woke up with my eight o’clock alarm and now my head hurts again. Same as before. I’ve certainly endured a great deal worse but every time I get one of these headaches I’m afraid it will be as before, and never go away.

3 thoughts on “Two days of my life (and stories about Daddy)

  1. Kat January 22, 2013 / 12:24 pm

    Oh dear, let’s hope the headache does not hang around. Maybe you really are just tired and need nurishment. I do have to say though, I’m not sure if your life is the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, or maybe Biography. You sure have some stories to tell…

    • Meaghan January 22, 2013 / 1:15 pm

      My head actually feels a bit better now. Of course I’ve been trying not to think about it too much, like Cleveland Clinic taught me.

      Yeah, we do have some interesting history in my family. My paternal grandfather was on speaking terms with Eliot Ness. They were in the same fraternity, though not at the same time. When Eliot was running Chicago and needed extra manpower to break up the whiskey distilleries, he’d drop by his old frat house at U. of Chicago and call out Grandpa and the boys and they’d all have a great time.

      • Kat January 22, 2013 / 1:35 pm

        Seriously, you/your family need to write a book. I’d read it! How amazing is it to know so many people involved in history and/or to have a firsthand knowledge of certain times…….

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