Periodic Table of Girl Scout Cookies

Scene: My cubicle. Afternoon. Various papers and files lying in piles, some neat, some not so neat. Computer. Two monitors. Keyboard. Mouse. An old color copy of the periodic table hangs from two clips stuck in the fabric walls.

Hey, May. So, you wanna order Girl Scout Cookies?

Without a moment’s hesitation and with a slight smirk, Yes, please.


You have a periodic table?

Yes, but I haven’t looked at it in a long time.

I look at the order form. They have new dulce de leche cookies.

What’s the symbol for …

Come on, it’s been since high school.

… gold?


… silver?


… copper?

Cu, as I check off a box of Samoas

… iron?


… tungsten?

I roll my eyes. W. I want tagalongs, too.

… lead?


… tin?

Sn. I check off 1 box of the classic Thin Mints.


Okay, I’m done with my order. Three boxes.



I appreciate that he tried asking me the “hard” ones, where the letters of the symbols don’t exactly correspond to the English names of the elements.

The periodic table has nice, straight lines, a neat, orderly structure according to valance shells. Especially reactive elements on the sides, the inert gases on the far right side. Hi, noble gases!

The Girl Scout Cookie order form wasn’t too dissimilar. A lot of the same colors as the periodic table. Beautiful pictures of the cookies to the left with perfect descriptions beneath them. The ordering grid on the right: write your name on the blank , write the number of boxes you want under the cookie names, and try not to have that number greater than 1, or maybe two. I held it to one box each of three kinds of cookies. Restraint, people.

Mendeleev. He or his people probably created the Girl Scout Cookie order form. And I couldn’t help but order three boxes of cookies WHILE rattling off the correct symbols of elements from the periodic table. Brilliant, I tell you. Simply brilliant.

Things I Maybe Shouldn’t Have Done In the Past Few Days

(I’m gonna head all these up by saying I shouldn’t have even stepped outside. Seriously. It only gets worse every time I leave the building.)

-gone to church, though that would have meant I wouldn’t have been to the incredible meetings which ended in a splendid, joyous weepfest

-held a baby, and I apologize to the mom for holding her even though I’m sick. But, it was a sleeping baby, and I couldn’t resist, but then the baby woke, and I didn’t want to hold her on my shoulder, close to my face, so I gave her back to the mom, and I felt better when someone healthy could comfort her.

-lingered longer after church. Being cooped up in the apartment against my will has made me crave some social interaction, but I saw a few people there I wanted to hug, because they were sad.

-gone to dinner at a friend’s place (without a jacket). It was a relatively pleasant day in the afternoon. I shouldn’t actually have accepted the invitation to dinner, but these were some of my favorite people, and it was hard to say no.

-gone outside yesterday. But that would have meant I probably wouldn’t have gotten to see some friends for yet another week that I really wanted to see.

I’m very glad I saw them.

So, while I should be taking care of myself, I really miss people. My life has been so much about me lately, and I guess it needs to keep being about me until I get better. Consider all the hugging I couldn’t do, or comforting babies, or sharing food, or giving backrubs. Those are things I’m pretty good at, and my being sick benefits no one.

What I will do now is bundle up and go to the store and pick up some juice and a nice herbal tea and something electrolytic and perhaps something chocolate. Yes.

I should have done that long before now.

In An Email to A Friend: 10-word Image

The boughs sway
When the wind
Isn’t even blowing.

I just Googled it. There’s a lot of imagery like it, but so far it’s unique. I was afraid I’d plagiarized it, and this email response came either just before or in the midst of an emotional breakdown. So my brain wasn’t all that clear, but my heart was heavy. Ten words. Just like that.

While at Church

“There has to be some powerful metaphor about my sore throat and not being able to sing loud or high or in tune and how I can hear myself and it’s a little amusing yet frustrating because my vocal chords really do want to sound good, but all I can really do is croak. Does that count, croaking? When the desire is there and that’s all that’s within my ability at this time?”

That’s all I got.  Less than half a page in a small notebook that I carry around. Trying to sing hymns today was a little challenging. But I had healthy, strong voices around me supporting me, worshiping through their robust song. It didn’t diminish my church experience at all. Quite the contrary.

Church today was pretty amazing, the spirit was particularly strong. The speakers’ messages rang especially true within me. Sunday school classes were insightful and stimulating and profound. The stream of tears was constant. The fellowship and unity were tight.

The sun is shining. I still sound a little bit froggy, but my health is definitely on the upswing.

For all those who know what’s going on in my life, thank you for your prayers and support, your buoying spirits, your being there, just like angels.

Sick Ramble

My body decided to stick to a seminary schedule instead of switching to a sick schedule. I woke up at 4:00 this morning, and it was just as well, because I couldn’t breathe. I used the bathroom and got a drink of water and ate another cough drop. I’ve discovered that sitting up or being upright helps my breathing quite a bit. The exudate from my respiratory tract is thick and viscous, and when I’m lying down, it probably accumulates in the passages and near the openings and blocks the breathways. When I tried blowing my nose, it wasn’t … productive. It’s probably so sticky and so  dense it clings to the walls of my nose and throat. 

Did I even mention the drool? Since I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, I slept with my mouth open, and when I woke up at 4:00 the hair by my face was wet; my left cheek was slimy. I swallowed, and maybe a full teaspoon of saliva descended my burning throat. It was out of control. My body is not mine when I’m sick.

But, I did go back to bed. My body was probably a little ticked that I tried forcing a sick schedule on it (I set my alarm for 8:45, because that seemed to be a reasonable time to get up and that would have given me 9 hours of much desired and needed rest)  because I woke up at 7:00 this morning with the gut feeling I wouldn’t be going back to sleep. My breathing felt a little halted, so I decided to take a shower, hoping the steam would loosen up the gunk. It was somewhat helpful. I’ll spare describing the loogies, except to say they were like little mucus manatees, traveling to the drain at their own pace, paying no mind to the water’s swift stream to the same drain.

And now, I’m typing in my living room. One of my roommates is sick, too, and she seems to be doing a dandy job sleeping like she’s on a sick schedule. My lower back aches; my thorax feels like one of those Dante ovens in one of the inner circles; the fronts of my shins are throbbing, not in a shin splint way, but like my pulse is trying to dig an escape route through my shins. It’s weird. And, my throat. Somebody, please extinguish my throat.

I made some cream of wheat, and it was perfect. I took some cold medicine, and I drank some more water. The need to blow my nose is constant, but whenever I try, hardly anything comes. If I ever get back to sleep, I’ll try it sitting up or at least at a decent incline. It’s nice to breathe.

Today is going to be full of reading and writing. And maybe even just staring at the television. I’m going to keep encouraging a sick schedule on my body. I’ll be in my pajamas all day. If any of you want to risk the trek to north Manhattan for a visit, that would be great, but I’ll understand if you don’t. This ramble might have grossed you out enough to keep you as far away from me as possible.

It looks beautiful outside. Enjoy it. Have a great weekend.