Tears, A Royal Wedding, And A Whole Lot Of Soul

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I’m still slightly reeling from the spectacle, grandeur and emotion that was the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan. As I’ve made no secret, I was looking forward to this event the way most other people would await other key life milestones… like a job promotion, a college graduation, or the birth of a baby— if that baby were a six-foot beardy prince with ginger hair. I was stoked. I was ready.

I set up two DVR recordings in case of a disaster— you never know when one network could go kaput and you need a backup recording to watch, instead. While this may seem excessive and overly-cautious, I really don’t think so. You never know when a stiff breeze could cause a piece of the thousand-year-old Windsor Castle to fall down on top of the ABC News truck. Shit happens. Just ask all those people in Hawaii who have molten lava running through their neighborhoods.

I woke up early to watch the event and all the guests arriving to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. It was a beautiful, clear day— I didn’t notice a big wind, which boded well for the ABC News truck. There were celebrities and royals, and a lot of people that I didn’t recognize. I assume these people were friends, or family— and not random strangers or seat fillers like they have at the Oscars.

The sea of arriving colored hats, pastel frocks and dreary grey suits did grow tiresome after a while, which made me briefly regret waking up so early for the wedding in the first place. But, then, when the bride arrived and stepped out of that super old and fancy Rolls Royce, I was transfixed. She looked like a princess from an old Hollywood movie, wearing a simple, classy dress that could just as easily have been fashionable in 1950, as it would be in 2050. Timeless. She floated up the stairs and the church aisle like a veiled pixie. And I mean VEILED! That beautiful lace veil had to be at least 15 feet long. It was big enough to double as a WWII parachute. After the wedding this morning, she could have been dropped by a plane over northern France and still have had time to save some poor villagers from Nazis before making it back to the castle for dinner. Yes, the veil was that epic.

So, by this point in the wedding, I was super committed. I was all-in. But, then, as Meghan swept to the front of the church, where Harry awaited, I saw a glisten in the groom’s eye. I felt a mountain of “awws” rush up from inside of me, in a place in my heart that I usually only access when I’m watching a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts.

It got worse. As Meghan and Harry were beaming and holding hands during the beginning of the service, I saw beads of moisture escaping his eyes. He reached up several times to brush them away. He was crying. PRINCE HARRY WAS FUCKING CRYING. Holy shit. I felt tears prickle my own eyes.

This was an astonishing development, because I, like, NEVER cry. I’m not one of those girls that cries at the drop of a hat… or when there is an especially touching Hallmark commercial with an old man wearing suspenders and a bow tie. I cry only when I really, really mean it. Like when a loved one dies, a pet has to be put to sleep, or my internet goes down for more than twenty minutes.

So, the fact that I was crying watching a British prince tear up at his own wedding is quite a feat. I didn’t know Harry had it in him. I didn’t know I had it in me.

Luckily, as the boring parts of the service began, Harry and I worked through some of our emotions until we were on a steady keel, again.

Until… Bishop Michael Curry, a high-ranking preacher from Chicago (yes, Illinois, USA!!), took the pulpit for the main sermon. His rousing, passionate speech had the effect of a lightning bolt striking Windsor Castle. It was like a revival had taken root inside of St. George’s Chapel.

Half the gathered 600 guests were struck dumb— confused and bewildered by the crescendoed words flying from the first African-American leader of the Episcopal Church’s soul. A sermon, such as this, had never been delivered at a royal wedding before— events that are generally known for their stoicism, tradition, and… yes, I’m gonna say it… boringness.

The other wedding guests, not incapacitated by shock by Bishop Curry, were either smiling, smirking, or, if you were Prince William, slightly giggling (and hoping no one saw).

But… yes, William, I did see you.

I’m certain William was thinking of his own wedding service, and how staid and vanilla that it was. And that only his cheeky little brother, Harry, could get away with having a rousing wedding service such as this. Lucky bastard.

A gospel choir followed up this sermon with a gorgeous version of Stand By Me, which nearly had me yelling AMEN! at my television while I tried not to cry again. I think I did hear Elton John sniffing, at this point, also, but it could have just been all in my head. (So many things are, after all.)

It was beautiful. But, for fuck’s sake, the crying needed to stop.

I made it through the vows. And all the remaining loved-up cuteness of the bride and groom, to the point when they all exited the church— to the sound of the gospel choir, again— to wave to the crowds outside. Then, Harry piled Meghan, and her parachute veil, into a horse-drawn carriage that they stole from Disneyland to take a ride around town.

Okay, so maybe they didn’t steal the carriage… but, those horses looked so damn perfect that I’d swear that they were animated.

By this point, I was glad the wedding was nearly over. I didn’t think I could handle any more emotion, or pomp, or circumstance. I was emotionally and physically spent. My soul was full.

But, my stomach wasn’t.

So, I pulled out my tiny curried egg sandwiches, and some tea, and chowed down. I didn’t have any fancy china or teacups to use, so I searched for the most royal-looking cup I could find in my cupboard.

The winner? An Aladdin mug.

Before you protest my choice, please take note of the picture on the mug. The palace in Agrabah. That’s where Jasmine lives. And she’s a fucking princess. So, there.

It seems fitting on another level, too. For as Jasmine and Aladdin sang about “a whole new world” in the movie, Bishop Curry’s final remarks to Harry and Meghan were “…we will make of this old world a new world.

And, if this wedding is any indication, they are well on their way.

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Curried Egg Salad… And A Royal Wedding Countdown

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I’m probably one of the last people you’d expect to be a obsessed with Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s royal wedding— or, really, any royal wedding. But, alas, I am. I’ve been counting down the days to this event the same way a nine-year-old does before summer vacation. I am EXCITED. Let me clarify that further— I am SUPER FUCKING EXCITED.

It is important to note that I’m generally not known to be a person that lacks enthusiasm in my everyday life. Quite to the contrary— my obsessive nature means that if you were to compare my enthusiasm level to Homeland Security’s color-coded terror alert level, I’ll always come in as at least ‘elevated’ — if not higher. I’m like an al-Qaeda terror attack just waiting to happen.

But, there are times when my excitement hits an abnormally high level. Moments when my palms get sweaty and my heart actually races. And, with this royal wedding, that’s definitely happening right now. This is an extraordinary achievement, because usually I only hit this level of anticipation under these kinds of circumstances:

• I’m drinking my first pumpkin spice latte of the year.

• I unexpectedly see a photo of Henry Cavill online.

• I’m watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games on TV.

• I get to write a joke about a dictator (preferably Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un).

As these scenarios are quite specific, this finger-tingling level of joy is fleeting and rare. But, this time, Harry and Meghan have delivered big time. They’ve dished me up a giant helping of YAAAAAAAY!

I’m totally committed to this event. I’m reading all the news articles about the wedding, following all The Royal Family’s social media accounts, and watching all the TV specials. It’s been great. While I had a similar attachment to Prince William’s wedding to Kate, Meghan’s Americanness makes this especially exciting. Plus, it’s fun to watch the priggish British press freak out about a bi-racial American divorcée marrying their beloved Harry. It makes me want to stand up and cheer. (If I could actually stand up, that is.)

All that said… intellectually, I am not a fan of the concept of a monarchy. I don’t like the notion that a person can be born into a position that, supposedly, makes them better than an entire nation full of people. It’s dumb. And archaic. It’s why America fought a revolution and why France invented the guillotine.

The monarchy shouldn’t exist in a modern world. It really, really shouldn’t.

But…

The fact that it does exist means that I’m going to soak up the ridiculous, messy spectacle that it is. Like a labrador retriever licking a spoon of peanut butter until it’s completely gone.

So, in the hours leading up to the royal wedding, I’ve got everything planned. Here are the pertinent details:

•   My DVR is set for 2am California Time. While I’m super stoked about the whole thing, I’m not deranged enough to wake up that early on a Saturday morning to watch it live. I’m obsessive, but not fucking stupid. Also, I have my DVR set to two different channels in case one network has a technical disaster. Imagine if, as Meghan is about to step out of the car in her dress, a fucking NBC antenna tower falls on top of a royal horse? Signal lost. Feed lost. I would be majorly pissed.

• I’ve got English Breakfast Tea. The jury is still out on if I will actually drink this on Saturday morning, though. I’m generally a coffee girl (as I’ve mentioned previously), but I might give it a go for the tradition of it all… plus, the tea bag has a pretty label.

Curried Egg Salad is on the menu. I’m making mini tea sandwiches to eat on Saturday morning, too. I’m doing curried egg salad, which is the most ridiculously British type of sandwich I could dream up. (I forgot to buy a cucumber at the store. #fail) It’s important to note that I’ve never eaten curried egg salad before. So, it might be total shit. This is highly possible because British food generally blows.

I will be doing none of these things while wearing a hat. I don’t care if hats are required at British royal weddings. I’m not wearing one. Frankly, I don’t need to wear something that will make my head look any bigger than it already is.

I’d best go… it’s time to rest up for the big day. Look out, Harry & Meghan, here I come!

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Mondays, Angry Drivers & Getting to #6

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Some Mondays can exist on their own cosmic plane. An alternate reality where weird stuff happens more frequently than other days of the week. It’s a day for hangovers, short tempers, and trying to get all the things done that you should have done over the weekend — if you hadn’t been rewatching the latest season of The Crown while still wearing your pajamas. By the way, Princess Margaret would have definitely approved of pajama-wearing after 2pm. Her sister, the Queen, however? Not so much.

Earlier this week, I had one of those Mondays. It was the day of my 6th injection of Spinraza and I went into it primed, pumped, and ready. But, the signs presented fairly early on that day that things were gonna be just a little bit weird— like a Kanye West interview.

The drive to Stanford is always arduous— and traffic-ridden. With the number of cars and trucks that are trying to push through the freeways from the Central Valley to the Bay Area, it’s like trying to pass a rump roast through a shower drain.

It always amazes me that so many folks make this long commute on a daily basis. It boggles my mind. I’d have a serious mental breakdown if I had to do that. The kind that would make me unable to enjoy the mythical 4,000 square-foot suburban house that I could maybe afford, but never have time to live in.

On this particular Monday, the traffic, surprisingly, wasn’t too bad— meaning that it was only moderately heinous. You know, like rice cakes or gender reveal parties for unborn babies. It was tolerable, but not something you’d voluntarily go out and do.

Anyway, despite the flowing traffic, the mood of the drivers was decidedly grim. And, frequently, downright hostile. Dozens of horns were honked. Many cars were aggressively passed. And a slew of motorcycles were cutting off cars at each opportunity. There was more tension on that freeway than in the last episode of The Bachelor.

A case of the Mondays was in full-form.

We arrived to the Neuroscience building earlier than expected (shockingly!!), and the nurses took me back to the room to prepare for my lumbar puncture. It wasn’t long before one of the doctors came to go over the last details of the procedure. Given that Stanford is a teaching facility, they work in pairs— an attending (teacher) with a fellow (student). There’s also no way of knowing which doctors will be on duty on a particular day, either.

Having a lumbar puncture is always a tricky business, but when you have complex anatomy, like me, it’s even more precise. I lay on my side and they use a fluoroscopy machine (like an x-ray) to monitor their progress as they move the five-inch needle around my spinal rods and into the small space in my vertebrae to access my spinal fluid— where the Spinraza must be injected. It’s like a playing a game of darts in a really sterile bar— only the target is me, and I’m awake and not a cork board.

Given this complexity, there are lots of factors that can determine how quickly and easily the procedure will go. The experience of the doctor. My position on the table. And, frankly, a good amount of luck.

The fellow (student) worked the needle into position in my spine and all seemed okay… but, the spinal fluid wouldn’t drip out the needle (how you verify that you are actually in the right spot).

Remember when we talked about the Mondays? Yeah, well, it wasn’t finished with me, yet.

The fellow readjusted the needle, back and forth. In and out. Making small centimeter-sized adjustments to try to yield the spinal fluid. But, it WOULDN’T FUCKING COME OUT.

Meanwhile, with each move of the needle, tiny nerve pains were boomeranging around my back and hip. They even tried tilting the table so that gravity might help the fluid to dribble out.

But, no, it didn’t work. Isaac Newton’s Law of Gravity was a piece of shit. I don’t care what they teach us in physics class— it doesn’t always work. Especially in the alternate reality that is a Monday.

After this went on for a while, the attending doctor (the teacher), pushed aside the fellow (the student) and proceeded to give it a go himself. Frankly, if Isaac Newton had been in the procedure room in that moment, the attending doctor might have kicked him in his 17th century balls. A few minutes later, though, he was finally able to get it done. Gravity be damned.

I was so relieved. And so were the sore muscles in my shoulder, and the nerves in my hip and back. I daresay even both doctors were relieved.

About an hour later, I was back in my wheelchair and ready to load up in the car for the ride home. Just as we were opening the doors to my van, another vehicle with a disabled placard began aggressively revving their engine behind us, trying to hurry us into leaving the parking spot so they could take it themselves. It reminded me of all those angry folks on the road from earlier in the morning.

Then, a few seconds later, the driver rudely waved at us— as if hand gestures were like spells from Harry Potter that could magically make me load up into my van, strap me (and my wheelchair) securely inside, all in five seconds.

My friend, Edith, that had accompanied me on the trip, raised an eyebrow as I drove my wheelchair up my van’s ramp, “I think we need to make this car-loading-up thing take much longer than usual. What do you think?

I grinned, “Oh, yes.

Fuck Mondays.

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Netflix, Stones & Scones

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When I get bored, or if I’m a little sad, I like watching documentaries on my laptop about old, historical things— like English castles, Russian tsars and evil Nazis dickheads. It’s calming and therapeutic… yet, cheaper than Xanax.

Today, I stumbled upon a documentary about Westminster Abbey on Netflix. You know that big, old Gothic church that Prince William and his wife, Kate, got married a few years ago? Yeah, that building. It’s been around for nearly a thousand years… and it’s THE place to get buried if you are super cool and accomplished. There are kings, queens, princes, dukes and even scientists— like Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. There are scads of writers, too, including Aphra Behn— who, in the mid-1600s was the first woman to make a living as a novelist, playwright and poet. #oldtimeygirlpower

Westminster Abbey is also the place where the kings and queens of England are crowned. During the ceremony, the monarch sits on this really old wooden chair that was built in 1296. The chair still exists today. It’s survived generations of termites, vandals, and the really fat ass of King George IV, who in the mid-1800s spent most of his time eating large amounts of food and shagging women— all while being addicted to opium. He was a real winner. #momoneymoproblems

The chair was designed to house a special slab of stone beneath the seat. This slab is called the Stone of Scone. It’s important to note that the name has nothing to do with actual breakfast scones, much to George IV’s utter disappointment. Rather, the stone was the seat upon which hundreds of years of Scottish kings were crowned a really long time ago. In 1296, though, King Edward I of England took the stone from the Scots so that it could become the coronation seat for his many future, royal, and sometimes tubby, descendants.

As you may guess, this did not sit well with the Scottish. It didn’t take much to inflame their ire during this time, but stealing their favorite old rock was an easy way to do it. In between eating haggis, playing bagpipes, and drinking whiskey, the Scots stewed about this horrendous act for hundreds of years— even after the two nations joined together under one monarch. The English refused their many requests to have the stone returned— unwilling to compromise with the plaid-wearin’, brogue-talkin’ heathens to the north.

Fast forward 700 years. (I didn’t promise this would be a short story.) On Christmas Day in 1950, four Scottish students broke into Westminster Abbey with a crowbar and snatched the Stone of Scone from beneath the seat of the coronation chair. Okay, snatched might not be the best word for something that weighs 336 pounds. Rather, they dragged the stone out of the Abbey on an old winter coat and managed to secret the slab of rock across the border to an eager, and joyous Scotland.

British police vigorously searched for the stone for three months before the Scots finally relinquished the stone in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation months later. The boys that took the stone were pardoned and details of the investigation were plastered all over the newspapers. Yet, each side still claimed ownership of the Stone of Scone and its history. Eventually a deal was reached so that Scotland could keep the stone for most of the time, except during coronations… every other Christmas, and the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Like a divorced couple’s joint custody arrangement of their 336 pound baby. It was all very complicated.

Strike that. No… no, it wasn’t complicated. It’s actually very simple. England and Scotland, two very advanced nations and pioneers in the development of representative democracy, were fighting over a FUCKING ROCK. A piece of goddamn stone that you can find in any riverbed, on any hillside… hell, even in someone’s weedy backyard.

See, this is why history is so awesome. And this is why I watch historical documentaries to make myself feel better. Because even if I’m having a bad day, a sad day, or I’m depressed about what’s on the 5 o’clock news, I know that we humans have done stupid stuff all throughout our history. The dates and years on the calendar may change, but our stupidity does not.

IMG_3927And there is definitely something comforting in that.

Don’t you think?