I left my Heart in Paris and my Appendix in Berlin

Last year in early March, I was so stressed out from working up a high-stakes violin audition, living with a (now ex) boyfriend who was incapable of love, and getting bombarded by walls of anxiety texts from friends looking for advice or validation; that I downloaded an app that literally kicks you off your phone and MAKES YOU PAY to get back on. It’s called “Off the Grid,” and it is AMAZING. I made it so that friends could only solicit my emotional labour from 9-10am, and 5-7pm. (Realistically the problem was my boyfriend but I didn’t figure that out until 7 months later) On top of the $100/month I already pay for my phone bill, I added on another $5.95/month to have unlimited use of 5 apps that ensure my daily survival: Music, Clock, Transit, Google Maps* and Uber; plus the threat of a $1.29 penalty fee per infraction just to be able to NOT USE MY PHONE. (*I have zero sense of direction and there’s no way I’m going back to that dark time when my phone was in a repair shop for 2 months and I had to hand-draw maps in advance of every single place I went.)

I know what you’re thinking, “Do you have literally no self-control?!” “Can’t you just like, not respond to texts?! Or tell your friends to find a therapist??” And the answer is, nope. It stresses me out beyond belief to leave walls of text hanging in the air, unanswered, because I care WAY too much about other people’s needs. I’d probably help a complete stranger move during the apocalypse if they begged me nicely. I think because I’ve been disappointed so many times and know how it feels, I never want to be the one doing it to others. (I’m aware this needs re-evaluation)

Anyway, I was pretty excited to go on a 2-week tour to Europe with the Montreal Symphony in mid-March; to get out of the half-snow half-slush hellscape of Montreal and see a hint of spring. Embrace some new surroundings so I didn’t feel so tied to my phone. I could feel my anxiety dissipating already… I just had to pack my suitcase and get myself to the airport.

After a few days of extreme packing because I overthink everything, I’d finally assembled the perfect suitcase. All my outfits and shoes are perfectly planned out to accommodate the most possible color coordination combos; I have enough socks and underwear to defy all logic; travel pillow, travel blanket; some tasteful scarves to disguise the fact I’m wearing the same outfit for the third day in a row… 5 hours before my transatlantic flight, I’m making a last minute swap. The white blouse will match my jeans AND the green skirt while the purple one only really matches my jeans… when I get a whiff of a familiar scent from my suitcase.

It’s cat pee. My boyfriend’s cat has rage-pissed all over my beautifully packed suitcase, mirroring the way his human treats me in perfect feline symmetry. All over the clothing, books, inside my shoes… in and amongst the suitcase lining. I start frantically throwing all the clothes in the wash, hand-washing my black suede shoes in the bathtub (*tear*), and DOUSING my suitcase lining with baking soda, scrubbing it with hydrogen peroxide, then vacuuming all the powder up like some sort of hobo dry-cleaning service. I fucking HUSTLED, and made it to the airport smelling only a little bit like urine.            

WANTED: For Petty Pee

When I got to Germany, they had lost my suitcase, but I didn’t even care. I’d made it to a land without snow. I almost immediately started indulging in the local diet of beer, bread and sausage, and continued to do so for the next 12 days. I got constipated. Like, really constipated. So constipated I had to stop eating because there was no room for anything else… I felt like shit. I mean, I was probably 80% shit. But at this point I had a horrible cramp in my lower right side, a fever, and no appetite. Do these symptoms sound familiar to anyone? Yeah I hadn’t eaten too many brats, I had fucking appendicitis. I just didn’t know it yet.

For the last few days of my trip after the tour was done, I’d booked an AirBnb in Berlin to do some exploring, but all I wanted to do when I got there was go to my room, collapse on my bed and let the darkness consume me. Thing is, I had saved TWENTY WHOLE BUCKS by booking a “shared apartment” with a chain-smoking, neurotic old German lady with a penchant for leaving dildo boxes out in the open; who made it her business to knock on my door every few minutes to give me tips on Berlin or more rules to follow in her apartment. The Parliament Building is a “must-see, it’ll only take 6-7 hours. (I’d rather die) No eating or drinking in bed. (Where else am I supposed to do it?!) Don’t turn on the heat. But if you must, shut your window.

At one point I’m sitting on my bed fresh out of a hot shower, window wide open and heat on full blast, trying to simultaneously warm up and cool down from fever flashes. I’m so exhausted from pain I’m just staring at the wall. She comes in, ignores the fact I look like I’m about to drop dead, and asks me to squeegee her glass shower stall and then dry it with a towel. So here I am, appendix about to burst and kill me, on my hands and knees drying out her fucking shower so it doesn’t get water spots. Why? Because heaven forbid I disappoint this weird German lady.

After I finish, I calmly call an Uber to escort me to Emergency.

I leave most of my things in my room because I’m convinced the doctor will just push on my belly and I’ll let out a big fart or something and go back home… but he confirms I need to have my appendix removed the next morning and spend three days in the hospital recovering. I’d left my cell phone charger, my toothbrush, every single piece of clothing I’d packed… wet… and hanging to dry all over my room because of course I took advantage of the free laundry. But the last thing I want to do is contact my crackpot air bnb host to bring me all my things. So post-surgery, I just rest in my nifty hospital bed being doted on by nurses that don’t speak my language as my phone battery fizzles out; wearing half a paper-thin gown and hospital issued mesh underwear that broadcasts my entire ass to other hospital guests every time I walk to the washroom. I’m overcome with this feeling… Complete bliss.

I’ve been upgraded to “Off the Grid” premium, where for only $5000…

Living my Best Life

How to be Sick and Single

Despite getting the flu shot a month or so ago when I thought for a hot second that it would make me immune to coronavirus, I came down with a nasty cold this week. Most people have the luxury of taking a few days off of work when they’re sick, but I’m a freelance musician! So you better believe I’m marching that cold into work and sharing my germs like it’s Christmas because orchestra subs don’t get sick leave. If you miss one rehearsal, you miss the whole week and hence the whole week’s pay. Do I care about my colleagues enough to forfeit $substantial amount of money that I depend on to pay my 4-figure rent just so they don’t catch my minor cold? No, no I don’t.

Lucky for me (and my 80 or so colleagues) I had 2 days off before the week’s concert cycle began to shank my cold, and I think I did a pretty amazing job. I don’t think I’ve had somebody take care of me when I was sick since I was young and still living with my mom, and I’m okay with that. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love it if a guy I was dating brought me some soup and a flash drive full of movies to watch together while slowly rubbing my back; but I am REALLY good at taking care of myself, so I thought I’d share some tips.

  • Start stockpiling bones NOW. Chicken bones, you weirdo. Plop that carcass of whatever bone-laden roast you made for dinner in a freezer-safe ziplock bag and into the freezer. Then as soon as you have a free day to chill at home, make a bone broth* in your instant pot. (If you don’t have one of these, get one! You can make things that take hours on the stove in a fraction of the time) *If you’re vegetarian, stockpile the ends of all your veggies: peels, cores, roots, whatever; and make a veggie stock. Chuck a whole bulb of garlic in there, it’s a natural antibiotic.
  • Save 1 litre of this bone broth and whip up a chicken soup (Or do this at your next convenience, but I like to just do it all in one evening while trying to dance to afrobeats and drinking vodka)
  • Now take your freezer-safe ziplocks and freeze all the goodness you just made into 2 cup portions. Next time you’re sick, you’ve already got buttloads of homemade soup and broth to sip, made by the person who loves you most! *wipes away a small tear*
  • At the first sign of a tickly throat, start popping Cold-FX twice a day. I swear this stuff works though at $25 a bottle, you might as well just buy whisky
  • Get yourself to a grocery store before you become a walking snott blanket and stock up on gatorade, saltine crackers, oranges, lemons, ginger, honey and trashy magazines. You won’t really need the gatorade or crackers for a cold, but they’ll come in handy the next time you drink too much tequila/eat bad sushi/contract a trendy virus
  • Every morning for the duration of your cold, blend or shake about 1 cup of orange juice, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of honey, a knob of grated ginger, and a pinch of cayenne and drink before you eat anything.
  • Use your cold as an excuse to bail on ALL the things
  • Put on your best fleece onesie and order enough food from UberEats for 8 people. Tell them you won’t be needing 8 plastic fucking forks though because that’s bad for the environment. 2 will be fine. (Your UberEats driver mustn’t know you are eating all this food by yourself)
  • Have the food delivered directly to your blanket fort.
  • Coerce your cat into the blanket fort and use a wrestling hold to force him to cuddle. If no cat is available, fill up a hot water bottle and hug it, whispering “I love you” until it feels real.
  • Then, when you inevitably have to go to work still kindof sick, there’s nothing wrong with taking a little Sudafed to give people the illusion that you are healthy. Just don’t be a dick; use hand sanitizer every time you fuck up and sneeze or cough into your hand like an animal, and don’t ask to try a sip of your friend’s oat milk latte.