Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I won The Moth Storyslam!!!

I took my pee story to the Moth tonight at Martyrs for the "Love Hurts" theme and won!!!!  I practiced it on Sunday in Boston, where I was visiting family, at a local storytelling series called Massmouth.  The theme was "The Beast," and I was pretty severely penalized for going off topic, I came in second to last.  I was hoping the judges would include my UTI story under the rubric of "the beast within," but they were far more literal with the theme than I'd anticipated.  When it was over, I realized I could have changed a couple lines to include phrases like "microscopic beasts," but it was too late.  No matter though, I flew home to Chicago this afternoon, got home at 5:45, left the house at 6:15 so I could make it to the Moth, and won!!!!  I'm stunned and giddy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Urine, A Love Story

You may recognize this one, it's one I dusted off and made some improvements to, and brought with me to last night's Story Club.  Dana Norris, the woman who runs Story Club, told me I should tighten it up, get it down to 5 minutes, and bring it to the Moth later this month where the theme is "love hurts".  I haven't gone to the Moth since it first came to Chicago and was jam packed, and put my name in the hat but never got called up on stage.  The Moth is a little more intimidating that your usual reading: you only get 5 minutes, you're not allowed to bring notes onstage with you, you get judged by a panel and somebody wins, and  you have to put your name in a hat and don't know until they call your name if you're getting a chance to read.  I've been told that the Moth has slowed down since it's Chicago inaugural, and isn't quite as packed or competitive as it used to be, and have been meaning to check it out.  I'll have to spend the next couple weeks working on this, and maybe I'll get a chance to do the Moth.  Here, for your reading pleasure, is my pseudo-Valentine's day story:

Urine, A Love Story

My sister called me from Boston to ask me about the man I’d just started seeing, and during the course of our conversation I happened to mention the strange sensation I felt when I peed. A UTI veteran, (that’s urinary tract infection for those of you not in the know), she told me to go to the closest health food store and buy a bottle of Lakewood 100% cranberry juice - not cranberry juice cocktail, but 100% cranberry juice. No added water, no sugar, tart enough to turn my mouth inside out and sour enough to give me a stomach ache. She said that should help. We continued talking and when I described the strange pressure I felt on urinating she said “oh girl, if you’re feeling pressure when you pee, it’s too late for cranberry juice. You get off the phone and you go to the doctor. Now!”

I was taken aback by the tone in her voice, it was one she reserved for delivering really, really bad news, like when someone died or something valuable caught on fire. I was scared; really scared. The next time I peed it felt like someone was stabbing me in the urethra with a barbecue skewer, and when I looked into the toilet bowl it wasn’t yellow - it was red.

I considered my options: the closest emergency room was a block away, but I couldn't walk a block, it hurt too much. Everything hurt too much; there wasn't a position I could stand, sit or lie down in that didn't hurt. I needed someone to drive me. My roommate had a car but she was stoned, and didn't seem terribly alarmed by my situation. The only other person I knew who had a car was the guy I had just started seeing. I calmed down as much as I could before dialing his number. I don't think he even said "hello" before I burst in with “I’m bleeding, I have to get to a doctor, NOW!”
“Where are you bleeding from?” he asked. I hesitated, we had only been seeing each other for a couple weeks, he had just gotten out of a long term relationship and wasn’t ready to commit to anything serious, but I really liked him and was trying so hard not to like him too much, and this was way too intimate a conversation to be having with him at this stage in our relationship but my urethra was on fire and I couldn't think of a pretty, alluring way to say it: “When I pee,” I blurted, “blood comes out when I pee!”

He drove me to Thorek hospital on Montrose and Broadway, a place I’d heard vague rumors about, but had never actually seen the inside of.  I walked up to the receptionist and said “I think I have a urinary tract infection, when I pee blood comes out!” She told me to take a seat and fill out some paperwork. I remained standing, not that it helped stop the pain.

At the time I was a heavy watcher of the NBC series ER, and I imagined that I’d be waiting for hours as people with shotgun and stab wounds were wheeled in on stretchers, surrounded by fast talking medics, maybe Dr. John Carter himself would be pumping furiously on their chests in an effort to save their lives, but the reality was much different - I was the only one in the ER that night, their biggest emergency was that blood was coming out of my pee hole.

I was seen by a doctor, and had to produce a sample. I never truly appreciated just what a wonderful thing it is to urinate without pain, what a wonderful, magical thing it is to pull down my pants, sit on a toilet, and let the urine flow while my mind wanders until that simple act of voiding made me do the silent scream - have you ever done the silent scream? I sat on the ER toilet with a plastic cup between my legs, eyes squinched closed and mouth wide open, silently screaming as a tiny river of red daggers stabbed their way out of me.

This was not how I’d imagined things would progress with my new man.

The doctor examined my bloody discharge, and wrote a prescription. My boyfriend - I mean the guy I was seeing, drove me to a 24 hour pharmacy to get the prescription filled, and took me back home. Back in the apartment my roommate was stoned and watching loud TV, and barely acknowledged my presence. She kept the TV on all night, turning it off somewhere around 6 a.m. At 6:30 my alarm went off. I had a temp job to get to, and I needed the money more than I needed the sleep. I took a shower, clothed myself, and in a haze made my way to an office building near Union Station. I looked like hell, but nobody seemed to notice. It was a fairly quiet day, and I passed the time drinking huge quantities of water and visiting the ladies room, where I slammed the sides of the stall with my hands and silently screamed every single time.

After an eternity of watching the clock, 5pm blessedly arrived. I made the trek back to my apartment, opened the door, and found my roommate on the couch in the same position she’d been in the night before, stoned and reclining on the sofa, watching loud TV next to the guy I was seeing. I barely said a word to either of them, closing myself into my bedroom and curling up onto the twin futon mattress on the floor. I heard a soft knock; it was the guy I was seeing. He entered the room quietly, removed his shoes, climbed under the sheets, put his arm around me, and stayed there until I fell asleep.  Neither of us could think much beyond the next morning, and if we could have seen into the future, we would have seen other apartments, roommates, and emergencies, some better and some worse than the ones we were in the thick of at that moment, but if either of us knew that we were destined, five years later, to become married, neither of us showed it.  I can’t say that that was the moment when I knew I’d be with him for the rest of my life, but something had changed.  Not long afterward, a friend of his told me that he’d stopped referring to me as “the girl I’m seeing,” and replaced that ungainly phrase with the more elegant “my girlfriend.”  I stopped trying not to like him so much, and waited to see what would happen next.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I have to find the restroom.