Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Eternal Vine

My parents have this Jumanji vine consuming a whole side of their house. They planted it back before the war when they were young and dumb and so full of hope and purpose. Now they reserve all three of their annual swearwords for the phone call I receive this time of year in which they put me on speakerphone and scream about how much they hate the vine while begging me to come climb a ladder to chop it back.

I always go because I'm the official Son Of The Year, every year. (And I'm always so gracious when I receive the award and I'm like "I don't deserve this. This really should have gone to Beyoncé." But then I keep it.)

The vine has now grown so high up onto the house that Bob & Cathie have had to buy ladders from NASA previously only used for engineers to climb up to the International Space Station for repairs. We plop the ladder onto the side of the house, I climb up through the clouds, and Bob & Cathie stand below as I chop and drop long pieces of vine onto their heads with reckless abandon. This always feels really disrespectful but I was a pretty well-behaved teenager so I think the karma evens out.

Last week they called me said they had had it with the vine and they were ready to take more drastic measures. Typically we just chop back the new growth. Now they wanted to pull half of it off of the house and then not let it grow above where they can reach "so we don't have to keep calling you" which now that I'm thinking about it, are my parents disowning me?

Anyway, Duncan and I showed up at their house yesterday evening ready for our farm chores. I climbed the ladder and started yanking and pulling and eventually I discovered that the upper part of the vine wasn't really attached very well to the house because suddenly a wall of matted English Ivy started folding off of the house in one solid piece.

I slid down the ladder to try to catch this thing from below. I got underneath it, held up my hands, and stared upward, like I was at a Christian Rock Church getting ready to pray the gay away, and the next thing I knew, all of the dirt and leaves and sticks and bird poop and Queen of Colors that has ever existed in the greater Mountain West area came tumbling directly into my open eyes.

My left eye in particular was basically punctured all the way through to the back of my head. Bob & Cathie helped me wash it out, gave me a good game slap on the butt, and sent me on my way.

Ok, I'm kidding about that last part. They were exceptionally worried and said they felt "terrible" that this had happened. I'm not totally convinced they weren't just nervous I was going to lawyer up and sue them, which I absolutely would do if I knew anything about law.

Anyway, we did pull the vine down. You can see in the below photo the area we uncovered in our Indiana Jones archaeological vertical dig.

By the time I left, my eye was basically sealed shut.

I don't think I've ever scratched my eyeball before. In case you haven't had the pleasure, let me educate you: it hurts worse than giving birth. They should give epidurals for this. Like, if you know you're going to scratch your eyeball, you should be able to go to the hospital and have someone inject something into your head so you don't feel anything. And then other eyeball scratch victims on the internet should be able to comment on your social media posts about how scratching your eyeball is more meaningful if you do it naturally. And you should be able to roll your numb eyes at those people while you unintentionally poop onto a table in front of a room full of strangers and loved ones.

Basically what I'm saying is I fully understand labor pains and the miracle of life now.

I had to drive to Matt's house after I left Bob & Cathie because Matt recently grew the entire Garden of Eden in his backyard and decided he wanted to can his tomatoes but he's never done that before and didn't have any canning supplies. Being the good pioneer woman that I am (who also now knows what it's like to become a mother), I immediately loaded my car with my canner and a handful of other devices.

By the time I got to Matt's house, covered in Earth, unable to see nearly anything to the point that I probably should not have been driving a car, I had a constant stream of puss and tears coming out of my left eye.

Nevertheless he persisted.

We canned tomato sauce for a few hours until I finally decided I just needed to go home and lie down.

Skylar was at the house when I got there. He performed an eye exam on me and then said "take some ibuprofen and call me in the morning" which I guess is what we've paid $497,234.18 for him to learn in the last two years.

I went into the bathroom to take a shower and get ready for bed. I pulled my shirt off and discovered two large black bugs walking across my shoulders, not even remotely looking like they got caught doing something wrong. So confident. So at home. They'd already started having their mail sent there.

I have no idea how I went several hours not realizing there were bugs in my shirt.

I better get nominated for Son of the Decade this time.

[P.S., if you haven't checked out this week's Strangerville yet, please do so below or on Spotify or on your favorite podcast app.]

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Eli: there is no pain worse on earth than scratching an eyeball

    Wait until you find out about prk!

  2. I cut my eyeball with the corner of a bookmark once (a Sunday afternoon book-and-nap gone horribly wrong!) and even though I've never given birth I have perimenopausal menstrual cramps so I basically know what it's like and eyeball pain is the WORST! I missed three days of work and had to stumble around my house like a blind person foraging for anything I could consume without any effort. I lived off Wheat Thins for those three days. And for several years after that if I opened my eyes too quickly it would hurt again and to this day I round the corners of my bookmarks. Anyway, I went to the ER and they basically couldn't help me other than to give me good drugs once to deaden the pain enough for them to examine my eyeball and tell me I cut it with the corner of my bookmark. Which I already knew. But later someone told me I should have gone to an eyeball specialist and they would have fixed it for real. So I feel your pain and recommend an ophthalmologist visit toot suite!

    1. This is the most upsetting comment I have ever seen on this God-forsaken website!

    2. Nope. I'm about to top it.

  3. My oldest got a chemical burn on her cornea. The doctors said that is one of the most painful areas to injure. She is lucky she didn't lose any vision. Took a couple of weeks for it heal enough for her to open her eye (daily visits to the Moran emergency). Then a couple of months for it to heal completely.

    As for the pain of child birth I will need to take your word for it. I wimped out both times and had the kids surgically evicted.

    You should also win "Son of the Decade" just for your hair alone!

  4. My vote for son of the century would be for you. You are a good son. Thanks for your willingness to help. Dad

  5. LOL on your post!! And....Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For all your help! You were just a helper...helping us...helping Matt! Mr Rogers said to look for the helpers! And you DO get 'Best Son Of the Century!" award even without pulling our ivy down and risking your life! XOXOXOXO

  6. I got a paper cut on my tongue one time, so I can totally understand. I also once got a petechiae on my eyelid electrocuted, which I will never ever ever do again, but I still whine more about the paper cut. No birth stories.

  7. What, no pictures?!?!? This eye needs a name to rival Tami!!! -Alanna

  8. Ok but for real, eye stuff is the WORST. I haven’t had the pleasure of scratching my eyeball, but one time I got 4 styes in one eye at the SAME TIME. Two of which were underneath my eyelid. Which I didn’t know was a thing until it happened to me. And then one under the eye and one on the outside turned into a chalazion (it’s gross but it’s like the infected gunk turns into a hard rock wedged into the follicle that takes weeks to work itself out). I think the worst part is that it seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal...it’s just your tiny little eye! But it completely puts you out and ruins your life for a few weeks. I’ve given birth 3 times (twice with no epidural) and can confirm that I would rather give birth again than scratch my eyeball or get styes. Birth hurts like the dickens, but at least it’s over quickly and you feel like a powerful Goddess afterwards. Eye injuries last for weeks and make you feel like a whimpering baby.

    1. I’ve had a chalazion! Multiple times now. So freaking annoying. I went to the eye doctor and got cool pics of it and when I got home, I sat the kids down, showed them the pictures, and told them it was an extra nose growing. I’m the worst mom. But it was really funny!

    2. Hahaha!!! I love that so much!

  9. One time, I decided it would be a good idea to belong to a fitness "boot camp". I legit popped blood vessels in my eyeball doing an active plank - Imagine the mix of emotions I experienced - I could FINALLY prove to my mother I wasn't created to exercise (praise Jesus THAT day finally arrived) and MY EYEBALL WAS BLEEDING! The vessels are weak in that eye now so if I take makeup off with to much pressure - BAM! Blood clots.

  10. Go to the eye doctor and get some antibiotic ointment NOW! I am old enough to be your mother and so you must do as I say. Don't mess around with your eyes, son.

  11. In 7th grade, I was walking up the stairs at school right behind a girl who was swinging her arms as she walked. Despite my extreme love of personal space, I was apparently waaaaay too close because she managed to hit me in BOTH eyes with her fingernails. This was right before the dismissal bell rang, and the school nurse had left for the day. So I had to take the bus home with both of my corneas scratched. I don't remember much of what happened that afternoon when I got home, but I do remember when the sun had finally set, I was laying down outside on a couch on the patio with my eyes closed and a cold washcloth on top of my eyelids. I was outside in the dark because any light inside the house hurt my eyes when I would try to open them.

    My parents seemed set on letting me just keep my eyes closed and deal with the scratched corneas with a wet washcloth, but then my older brother came home from riding his bike. His hand was hanging very limply off of his arm. He had swerved to miss a neighborhood kid who ran out in front of him and stopped like a deer in front of a car, and my brother ended up flying off of his bike over his handlebars and snapped his wrist.

    So my dad took my brother and me to the emergency room (he said I could come along to see if the hospital could do anything about my eyes). I was given eye drops to use for a few days, and my brother had to get a cast for his broken wrist. I spent the next couple days with my eyes shut as my corneas healed. Had my brother not broken his wrist that day, I'm pretty sure I never would have been seen by a doctor despite the fact I couldn't open either one of my eyes as any light hurt too much. Yay for parents in the late 80s/early 90s!

  12. I've scratched my eye twice in my life, and both were awful. The first time I was able to get some lovely drugs and a Dr's note (I was in college), but the second was around Christmas and I was far from home. I obsessively texted my friend who was in med school, and she told me that she didn't know anything about it, but take some painkillers and keep it closed. I bought some eye patches, and my husband started planning out the custom eye patches he was going to have made for me.

    The scratches healed, but the memories are there. Eye scratches are the worst! Good luck with yours!

  13. Once when I was in college I was playing basketball with a group of girls, one of whom had very long and strong fingernails. At some point under the basket one of her fingernails found its way into the white of my eye. After they revived me with the defibrillator, I made it to the locker room to see with my other eye the bloody tears streaming down one side of my face like a horror movie.

    Wanna know what we college geniuses did to treat it? Cold compress. I thank God often that I still have the use of that eye.

    The upside was getting to enthusiastically recount the story to total strangers every time one of them gasped and said "Dear God what happened to you?!?!" as they saw the blood red half moon on the white of my eye for a couple weeks.

    So I sympathize with your pain, Son of the Decade shoe-in.

  14. My best eye scratch story happened to someone else: in college the phone rang in our dorm at about 4 in the morning, our friend begging my roommate to drive him to the ER (she was the only person on campus we knew who had a car, we were freshman). He had somehow fallen asleep near a cake and woken up with cake in his eye, and had gotten cake crumbs all over the inside of his eye. He was a hot mess. I have given birth three times no pain meds, and one emergency c section, but I will honestly say your stories are terrifying. (keep your fingernails short people!) Reading and exercise are now officially health hazards, and don’t come near my eyes please and thank you.

  15. I got lasik several years ago and they put this stuff in your eyeball to numb it before surgery. After the numbing wore off it was the second worst pain I'd ever experienced. I practically screamed the entire way home. Childbirth? That's the third worst pain so yeah - I'd say you understand now.