Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Accidental Missionary

I have been trying to think of an appropriately holiday-themed topic for my blog post this week, but I couldn't come up with anything. I was writing about the stupid War on Christmas bullshit that is the most useless movement in the history of life (people, saying Happy Holidays is not an insult to Christians) but it was getting long and preachy and not very exciting.

As I was writing it, though, I remembered a funny little story from my childhood. And what's more Christmassy than a story about childlike curiosity, youthful naivety and friendship? I can't help but chuckle to myself as I'm writing it, so I hope you think it's funny too.

When I was a kid, around nine or ten years old, I got a pen pal through one of those Let's All Be Friends and Hold Hands With Kids Around The World type programs. It didn't last long - maybe two letters each - before we stopped caring about each other. My pen pal was a little girl from New York who I'm sure was a very nice person despite our general indifference to continue the letter-writing friendship after the novelty wore off.

I don't remember her name, but I'll pretend it is Hannah. One of the first things Hannah told me about herself in her initial letter to me was that she was Jewish. I found that very exotic and exciting. I didn't know many Jewish people and, because I was nine and stupid, I figured that she probably didn't know many Christians or much about Christianity.

I was curious about Judaism. I knew that Jews celebrated some sort of weeklong holiday called Hannukah around the same time that us Gentiles were waiting for Santa, but I didn't know anything about Hannukah or what Jewish holiday traditions were like.

I wanted to ask her, but I thought it would be rude to just ask her for information and not give her any of my own. We were pen pals, after all; it was all about getting to know one another, and sharing parts of you with someone else in the name of cultural harmony and yada yada yada. So I figured that, if I was going to ask her what Hannukah was like, I should tell her about Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Partial Hearing Loss

Warning (to most people) and/or selling point (for ten-year-old boys and people who have the mentality of ten-year-old boys): There are gross medical pictures in this post.

I've mentioned a couple of times now that I am hard of hearing. When I was a little kid - three or four - I started developping chronic, really bad ear infections. Ear infections are bad news bears, guys; they should never be neglected. Sadly, no one told my family doctor this, so despite my parents's repeated concerns that this wasn't normal, the doctor kept brushing it off and refusing to do anything about it. He is awful. So very awful. I will call him Dr. Awful. Eventually, my infections were so bad that even Dr. Awful finally acknowledged that maybe I needed to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. But it was too late: the problems has progressed beyond the point of antibiotics and bedrest.

My new ENT doctor, who I will call Dr. Awesome, determined that I had a condition called cholesteatoma. (Yes, I definitely spelled that wrong at first.)Cholesteatoma is a specific type of skin cyst that forms on the eardrum. It's a fucking asshole and should probably die.

If you want to learn more about cholesteatoma, here you go, but unless you are a doctor, biologist, or Trekkie, that Wikipedia page might as well be written in Klingon. I'll try and dumb it down, although I am not a doctor myself and most of this went on when I was too young to really get it, so my own interpretation is probably a bit off.