That Time My Dad Bought My Mum a 30 Pound Ham for Christmas

Merry Christmas! How you doin’? Me? It’s 10 p.m. on Christmas Day and I’m running a fever. Because obviously.

So because Mum had to take care of Aunt for a couple days we had the big family celebration not on Christmas Eve as usual but on Christmas Day. Which, in hindsight, was a clever ploy of fate because on Christmas Eve I felt all shipshape and Bristol fashion, but today was another story. All morning I’d felt sort of queasy. Hadn’t slept much, because I somehow woke up at 7 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. That’s never a good sign. Sometime after lunch my back started hurting so bad. Also not a good sign. And now I’m here chained to my bed, and not the sexy kind, heating pad on my back like an old lady and running temperature. Awesome. When I said I was going to take it easy for a few days I didn’t mean this. Anyway.

Maybe now I’ll have time to try this new battery powered manicure set my mum gave me. Are my nails finally gonna look fancy and like I have my shit together?

Anyway, Dad got whiskey, Mum got stuff for her phone (first smart phone, already addicted) and a giftcard for as many kindle books as her device can eat, Great Aunt got food and wine (she’s 91 and a hoarder, we can’t really give her stuff), Boyfriend got his 237th Doctor Who DVD. And after all this… Dad comes in with a big box.

The box stands about 1 metre tall. It has a note taped to it that details the adventure Santa had to go on to get this thing, whatever it is. Dad grins. It is the grin of a dad who is terribly pleased with himself. The grin that has a joke coming. Armies have fled in terror before the Dad Grin. Those who see it seldom live to tell the tale. So Boyfriend and me proceed to open the box because Mum apparently has a terrible premonition and doesn’t want to.

The box contains a smoked Serrano ham. A whole one. Weighing roughly 15 kg, or 30 pounds. The whole pig’s leg without the foot. Smoked. From Spain. With a cutting board.

Mum lets her head fall into her hands and seems to scream internally.

I have a terrible flashback. This is probably my fault.

Roughly twelve years ago, during the weekly grocery shopping when I was still living with my parents (being severely underaged tends to do that to a person), I saw a giant ham at the market. Very similar to this one. And I may or may not have joked that this would be something for the next barbecue. My father, bless his kidneys, may have remembered that remark. For over a decade. This decision probably started with the sentence “Hey, didn’t Kiddo say she wants something like that?”

Yes. Maybe. As a joke. Back before there were smart phones. Back before there was Youtube. Dad, why?

Back in the present, Mom seems trapped between laughing and yelling. Dad is grinning from ear to ear. I secretly dub the whole affair Hamgate 2015.

“But it’s Serrano ham You like Serrano ham. Everyone likes Serrano ham.” – “But what are we going to do with it?” – “Eat it.” – “This will go bad within days!” – “No, we’ll just eat it!” – “Alright, tomorrow you’ll cut this thing into nice thin slices and deliver it in portions to your aunt, the children, and the neighbours! Have fun cutting for two hours!”

Paraphrasing, of course. The half laughed and half despairing argument went on for half an hour. And that is why there is a 30 pound leg of ham on my parent’s balcony. I’m going to keep telling this story until I’m 90.

So… guess I’ll wait for a ham delivery tomorrow. Wonder if this works out or if mum makes herself a widow tonight by use of a 30 pound pig’s leg. If nothing else, this was a present to remember. It will probably be brought up as a stern warning for the next, oh, let’s say twenty years.

Maybe next year we’ll get a wheel of cheese to go with the ham, but I better not say anything out loud in front of Dad.


Rant Day! Things That Pissed Me Off, Oct 12 – 18

Item 1: Remember how I spent all summer complaining about the heat? Yeah, well, now I’m cold. Is there no decent weather to be had on this rotten planet?

Item 2: Got up early, had breakfast, got dressed, was super motivated, only to find out my class was cancelled. Goddamnit!

Item 3: Why is it always the old male profs who are so hideously unorganised it makes me want to bash my brains out with a steel rod? Is that sexist? Is that ageist? I mean, yeah, maybe, but it’s also true. Like, any female prof and young male prof I ever had arrived in the first session all like, “Alright, attendance list, check. Waiting list, check. Sorry, you’re out, better luck next time. Here’s your reading list and your schedule for the semester, it also tells you how you are being graded, everyone take one, but it’s also online. Here’s a list with group presentation topics and dates, everyone pick one and collect contact addresses from your presentation colleagues. I’ll expect you to mail me your powerpoint slides at least two days in advance. You’ll also be writing your paper on this topic, short paper, about ten pages, just an fyi. Use any style sheet you’re comfortable with, but be consistent. On X date I’m not here, so there’s no class, on X date we’ll have our final exam, you’ll get to choose between two questions dealing with any of the literature we’ve discussed, you pick one, write a short essay, about 700 words. Deadline for your papers is X. My office hours are X, drop in any time. Any questions? No? Alright, let’s get this party started with an introduction to our topic and why the works on the reading list are significant.”

And every old male prof I ever had is like, “Alright, attendance… oh, no, why don’t I first tell you what this course is about, it’s not like you actually read the info when you signed up. How about I go on a tangent about why I love this particular book so much? Attendance? Oh, well, pass a list around. Who’s on the waiting list? Oh, we’ll get to that later. So anyway… [anecdote][tangent][unrelated thing] By the way, has anyone read any of the books on the reading list already? In another course maybe? Okay, well, don’t pick that one for your presentation. Have I mentioned you’re supposed to do a presentation? What, group or single? We’ll get to that later. Yes, about this book… [tangent] Right, why don’t we set some presentation dates? We’ll get to the exact topics later. Actually, let’s not bother with the topics right now, just see me in my office hour, I’ll think of something. Group presentation? Ah, well, if you think it’s necessary. Final exam? We’ll get to that later. Anyway, do you use X style sheet? Oh, there’s another? Alright, use that. But this one is very different from X style sheet, yes? Ah, well, I’ll think about which you can use. Okay, I changed my mind about topics, everyone presenting in November will have X work and everyone presenting in December will have Y work. Oh, there’s also January? Alright, you take Z work. Deadline for the paper? Oh, let’s say mid-December. Now, remember, I want you to use input from your in-class discussion in your paper. Let’s ignore completely how that’s not possible for anyone presenting after mid-December. Anyway, about this book [tangent][anecdote][entire class confused].”


Item 4: Why is it that in the first week of university everything goes wrong? And I mean everything at once. Like, full on, colleagues having hospital scale accidents. Is there something in the water?

Item 5: Public transport, my arch nemesis! Listen up, fuckboys, the tram is entirely the wrong place for establishing dominance by claiming territory. You don’t have territory here. People are moving all the time. And you’re in the way. That door is broken, I need to get to the other. I said “Excuse me” in a reasonable tone and volume. Thing 1, why don’t you get off the phone for two seconds to move your briefcase that’s in the middle of the aisle? Thing 2, don’t just stare at the wall, move your fat ass out of the way. Let me try again with a slightly louder “Excuse me”. No? Still no reaction? I might as well be thin air. Fine, gentlemen, nice knowing you, meet my umbrella! What? Don’t complain. Move yourselves or get moved.

Item 6: My eye’s hurting again and it’s torture. Also, I’m having the migraine attack from hell on the weekend and nothing is helping. Water, check. Tea, check. Moar water, check. Aspirin, check. Other medical stuff, check. Yoga, check. Nothing! And I so wanted to go to the night flea market! I’m noticing a trend here, every time I prepare to go out and do something fun my body is just like, “Nope!” It’s like the universe is telling me to stay home for reasons I can’t quite fathom and I hope this will make some fucking sense in the fucking future because right now it just feels twelve levels of unfair.

Sigh. I wear my suuuunglasses indoors, so I can, so I can, not die from pain because fuck these liiiights….

There’s Something In My Eye and No One Knows What It Is

For a few weeks now I’ve been having the worst trouble with my left eye. Somehow the inner corner always hurts really badly in the early morning, as if I had the eyelash from hell stuck in it. Only there isn’t an eyelash from hell stuck in it. There is absolutely nothing stuck in it. It just bloody hurts sometimes. Not even everyday. Just sometimes. And it goes away when I pull my lids in a weird way. And I mean, my body does weird hurty things sometimes, so I wasn’t too surprised. Instead I went down the list: Things stuck in the eye? Nope. Take moisturising eyedrops and wait a day. Done.

Allergic reaction to make-up? Throw everything out, don’t use eye make-up for a few days, wash all brushes, take eyedrops and wait. Done.

Allergic reaction to something else? Take eyedrops, clean flat, and wait. Done.

Something wrong with the lid maybe? Tape eye shut at a weird angle at night. Doesn’t hurt. Hm. Am I on to something? But do I want to keep my eye taped every night? Go to the doctor. Done… wait.

My eye doctor? On holiday. Her substitute? On holiday. My friend’s eye doctor? On holiday. My parents’ eye doctor? On holiday. Every other doctor in my district? On holiday. Every doctor in the surrounding districts? On holiday. Every other doctor I could reach? Booked until September.

Because I’m me, I only get ill when everyone’s on leave. Of fucking course.

So, dancing on the edge of a nervous breakdown, I went to the hospital today.

I hate hospitals. I spent a good part of my childhood in one and I didn’t like it. It’s unhygienic with all those sick people around. And you have to wait forever. And the porters are rude. And doctors in Austria generally have an annoying habit of not taking you very seriously. I don’t go to hospitals unless it’s an emergency, and it’s not an emergency until you’re bleeding out of places you shouldn’t be bleeding out of. But I’m kinda out of options.

In the hospital I promptly got lost because when the porter told me first corridor on the left my brain misfunctioned again and I was halfway to radiology before I decided this was not what I was looking for. So I went back to the starting point and tried again. And took the first corridor on the right.

I had an IQ test done when I was a child and it came back pretty high. You’d think that I’d be able to follow directions. I can’t. I also can’t read maps. The only way I get around town is by using the GPS on my phone and my city map app as a mini map like in World of Warcraft. I’m the reason every place needs huge honking signs everywhere, but what I’d really need are huge neon coloured blinking arrows pointing me in the right direction every two metres or so. This is why I will never fly a spaceship. Like, imagine me on a mission to the Andromeda galaxy and they tell me “Okay, captain, you take a left turn at Saturn”, and I’d turn right and discovery three new galaxies and fifteen different slightly confused alien species before NASA would be like “This is ground control to Andromeda I, where the hell are you?!”

I got to the eye ambulance eventually, and I’m sure I will make for excellent break room talk today.

So I sit and wait. Because it’s a hospital, I’m completely prepared. I can camp out all day. I brought water and my new shiny laptop-tablet-hybrid which my mom made my dad buy me (a while ago I mentioned in passing that I was going to buy myself a small light tablet for uni work in September, and my mother looked at my dad, looked at me, and said, “I’m sure your father is feeling generous, aren’t you, dear?” And because my dad is a happily married man for a reason he nodded in defeat.) I even figured out how to use my phone as a wifi hotspot and I had some master thesis related PDF files to read through anyway.

I waited all of ten minutes. And got lost on my way to the examination room.

The doctor looked like he was fresh out of university and already hated every aspect of this. I made a brief summary of my eye problem and doc went to have a look at the offending body part. Which proved to be really difficult because I have the most nervous eyes in the history of ever. I blink like I’m trying to give myself a seizure when something gets near my eye. Doc had to call the nurse over to hold my eye lid still with some sort of medical chopstick.

“Well, you probably have a mild eye infection…”

Two words I don’t like to hear in the context of medicine: ‘probably’ and ‘mild’. Mild shouldn’t hurt like this. And, probably? You mean you’re not sure? And that’s why I’m all for over the counter antibiotics, if you’re not sure and I’m not sure, let me just experiment instead of spending the better part of an hour on public transport to come here.

“… so I’m going to give you some eye drops and I want you to check in with your regular doctor in a week.”

I mention that everyone is on holiday. He says to go to whoever is not and gives me a card that basically says, Hello Mr/Mrs eye physician, this patient here comes from the hospital so you have to take them on. It even has the official stamp.

And now I’m at home and hope to hell this shit works for my eye because I already miss mascara. And I have to get my mom a decent mobile phone plan tomorrow, that’s going to be fun.