Thursday, 1:45AM: I awake with a sharp and rather urgent itch between the 3rd and 4th toe of my right foot. I scratch it, and immediately go back to sleep.
Thursday, 8:30AM: I leave my apartment and head toward the office for another day of work.
Thursday, 11:00AM: The itching on my toe is driving me crazy, so I remove my sock and notice that the skin between my 3rd and 4th toe is a little red. “Great,” I think to myself. “I’ve only been going to the gym for two weeks and already I have a case of athlete’s foot.
Thursday, 11:45AM: Unable to stand the itching in my foot any longer, I leave work for an early lunch and stop off at the drug store to get some ointment for my athlete’s foot. Upon arriving home, I apply the ointment, walk the dog, eat my lunch and return to work.
Thursday, 5:38PM: I return home, my foot itching like crazy. I grab the tube of ointment and take off my shoe and sock to reapply. I notice that my whole toe is now an angry red. As I pull my toes apart to apply the ointment, a rather substantial amount of yellow liquid oozes out from between the toes. After cleaning it up, I notice there is a large (and now ruptured) blister between my toes. I take the dog for a short walk, and come back to lance the blister and drain the remaining liquid.
Thursday, 9:30PM: The drainage is still happening. I am officially starting to freak out. The redness and swelling in my toe has now started spreading up my foot. It’s about an inch back from the joint of the toes where this whole thing started.
Friday, 7:00AM: I awake with my alarm to go to the gym. My foot has swollen so large, I can barely put on my shoes, and about half of my foot is red. The “blister” is STILL draining. Hurts to walk. I take the dog for a quick hobble, and return home, just waiting for the doctor’s office to open to schedule an appointment.
It’s a little hard to tell in this photo, but this was taken Friday morning. The third, fourth, and fifth toes are swollen, as is the top of my foot, about half-way up. In fact, my toes are so swollen and chubby that they look like my sister’s Sausage Toes™. (Sorry Megan, I had to.) Also note: the crusty yellow stuff that is draining from the 4th and 5th toes. Very pleasant. Also, it’s really hard to get a good picture of your own foot without blocking the light.
Friday, 11:30AM: It’s official. I have cellulitis—an infection under the skin that can spread very rapidly. It can be caused by cracks in the skin or bug bites/stings getting infected. I believe that I received a spider bite in bed on Thursday night, because the onset was so rapid. The doctor prescribes antibiotics for the infection, but doesn’t really have any suggestions for the swelling or itching. Fortunately, I’ve had so many problems with my feet, I’m pretty much only a piece of paper away from being a podiatrist myself, so I have a few ideas.
Saturday, 9:00AM: Swelling and redness are both worse. The “blister” is still draining. I’m praying for the antibiotics to kick in soon. Walking is still painful because the blister has spread and now goes from the side of the toe all the way under the toe, right in the joint. My tennis shoes won’t fit, so I have to wear my Adidas sandals, but since I don’t want to get anything in my wound and it’s gross, I have to wear a sock on my right foot. But, because I don’t want anyone to think that I would actually wear socks with sandals without a serious medical reason, I only wear a sock on my right foot. It is, I have to admit, a look that just brings in ALL the cute boys.</sarcasm>
Saturday, 11:30PM: Still swollen, still draining. Not quite as itchy. Still can’t wear shoes. Only left the house today for long enough to go to Pizza Hut express and get a personal pan pizza and some breadsticks. And, despite the fact that dinner last night consisted of leftover rotisserie chicken, Applets and Cotlets™, Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips, and four Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies, and dinner tonight consisted of 1900 calories of greasy pseudo-pizza, I’ve still managed to lose weight. Apparently, this antibiotic, while not actually doing anything for my infection, has given me a raging case of diarrhea, so at least I’ve got that working in my favor. All in all, I have to admit that this is not one of my favorite Labor Day weekends.
One of the downsides of being stuck inside my house, because a) I can barely walk and b) I can’t be too far away from the nearest commode, is that I finally had some time to sit down in my studio and work on a song that I wrote a couple of months ago. I had written it, and recorded all of the instruments, but I hadn’t had time to mix or master it, so I dedicated a few hours last night, and most of the day today, toward getting this one wrapped up. So here it is.
The song is titled There Was a Time. A couple of months ago, I had started dating a really great guy that I liked a lot. We had only been on a couple of dates, but I felt like it was going really well. Then he got weird. He would set up a time to get together, and then have to travel out of town suddenly, and couldn’t make it. I would text or email him, and he would take days to respond. When he did, it was very short or terse. I could see and recognize the warnings signs, but I liked him so much, I tried to give the benefit of the doubt. Big mistake.
There are a lot of problems with trying to get started in the dating scene so late in life. For starters, I have no frame of reference for “appropriate” dating behavior. I like to understand the world around me, so I would find myself spending a lot of time analyzing each and every interaction we had to try to figure out how I felt, how he was feeling, where was it headings, etc. Also, I discovered that my late start made me feel as though I had to rush things a little. I am so far behind where I feel like I should be in regards to the personal aspects of my life, and I was looking at these first couple of dates as the gateway to the life I had always dreamed about. I wasn’t beginning with the end in mind—I was going from zero to committed couple in three easy dates.
To make matters worse was the advice. Oy, the advice. It’s amazing HOW MANY straight people were so willing to offer me advice about gay dating. Everyone had an opinion. And everyone gave it. And most of the time, it conflicted with the opinions of almost everyone else. By the time I was two dates into this whole thing, I was a hot mess.
Finally, after nearly three weeks of being able to see him, I got a little angry. I had been obsessing over this guy for nearly a month, despite the fact we had only been on two dates. I was thinking about him all the time. “Why,” I thought, “am I putting myself through this? I’m better than this. I’m a good person. I’m funny, I’m smart, I’m a good cook, I’m a romantic at heart, I’m not completely troll-like. Why should I be chasing after this guy who, although he is everything I’ve ever wanted in a partner, doesn’t feel the same way about me?” But then I would think, “Yes, but he really is almost everything I’ve ever wanted in a partner. Don’t freak out. You’re just trying to move too fast. Maybe he does really like you, but is waiting for you to make the first move.” On and on this went in my head. I overanalyzed it to death. Finally, I decided that I would make one last try. I texted him, wishing him luck on an upcoming marathon that he was running. Within a few minutes, he texted me back and asked if I wanted to get together for dinner later in the week. “See,” I though to myself smugly. “He was just waiting for you. Aren’t you glad you didn’t brush him off?” We set a date, and he said he’d get back in touch with me to iron out the details. He never did.
That’s right, y’all. The bastard stood me up.
To say I was pissed would be an understatement. I was also hurt, and depressed, and despondent. First of all, despite all of my shortcomings, and I have plenty, I still care about myself too much to let someone treat me like that. (I know a lot of women who I wish would do the same.) Nevertheless, the rejection from someone I liked so much really knocked me back on my ass. For the first time in my life, I had started feeling confident and happy. I mean, he had reached out to me. It wasn’t me chasing some guy who was way out of my league. I finally, for the first time ever, had started feeling attractive. And then to have him treat me so disrespectfully was a real blow to my already-fragile ego.
A sidenote to every single person ever: Hey you. I know that dating can be hard. But here’s the thing: this passive aggressive thing that people do when they date? It’s stupid. If you’re not interested in a person, just tell them. Be nice about it, but be honest. You’re not doing anyone any favors by continuing to string them along and then stand them up. Or hem and haw about plans, but never follow through. It may hurt a little bit, but it’s better than making out on the couch one night and then ignoring the person the next three weeks. Be a little mature about it, okay? And a note to anyone who ever wants to date me, please, tell me if you’re not interested. I was an actor. I can handle blantant, in your face rejection. I majored in rejection in college.
Anyway, while going through my own little five stages with the breakup of my imaginary relationship that was never really a relationship, I started writing this song. I went through about seven or eight drafts of the lyrics. When I started, I was hovering between the bargaining and depression stages, so it was all about “give me another chance, I can make this work” or “I understand why you could never love a hideous troll like me.” Of course, that was ridiculous, since, as I mentioned, we had only been on two dates. So I adjusted the lyrics to heighten the stakes a little to make it sound like a conversation between two people who had been in a long-term relationship.
Right about the time I made that rewrite, I cycled back around to anger again. That’s when the song really started to take shape. I was angry at myself for getting so invested so quickly, for acting like a teenage girl drawing hearts on her Jr. High notebook, and for wasting so much of my life fantasizing about being in love while being too scared to do anything about actually trying to find real love. I was angry at being so casually dismissed. And I was REALLY angry about being stood up. I was even angry at Hollywood for making me imagine that real love was accompanied by a soundtrack of lushly orchestrated jazz standards and backdrops of autumn in Central Park. Most of all, though, I was angry about the end—not the end of a relationship that didn’t ever actually exist, but more angry about the end of the fantasy I had constructed about the relationship that I hope would have existed.
So, when I started ‘round the bend on the current version of the lyrics, I wrapped a lot of that anger into it. For me, the song eventually became about the end of the relationship I had imagined I could have had, rather than the un-relationship I actually did.
In the end, writing the song was good therapy, singing the song was good practice (I hit a note I haven’t been able to hit since I did 42nd Street at the Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley back in 2005), and the whole experience was a good lesson. The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to relationships of any kind, I’m still a complete and total novice. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn and explore them when I was a teenager and the stakes were so much lower. Starting to date at this point in my life is like learning how to drive by being dropped onto a NASCAR racetrack mid-race. This experience was an early crash and burn. And there will be many more like them in the future. But hopefully, I’ll be able to get the hang of things and eventually I’ll be able to navigate the turns without going up in a ball of flamers. (*Rim Shot*)