Draining

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To-Go container for Vampires

I have too much iron in my blood as the result of 200 some odd blood transfusions.  When you get a transfusion of Red Blood Cells, the cells eventually die, but the iron they contained remains.  You get rid of enough iron naturally to keep the balance if you’re making and maintaining your own blood, but getting daily transfusions causes a build up you just can’t naturally clear.  Women have a way of clearing excess iron, but, being not a woman, & being naturally reluctant to pretend I’m some sort of expert on women’s bodies the way Congress does, I won’t expand on that any further.

At any rate, the amount of iron I have swimming (yes, iron literally swims, like sea lions, in a Sea Park) around in my blood stream (stream, for swimming) is toxic to some of my organs.  There are chelating agents (drugs) I could take to help clear some of that iron (piss it out) but due to my renal damage, it would not be a good idea as they can actually make the damage worse.  Also, since I have already lost total hearing in my left ear, I need to avoid the chelating route as those agents can also be audio toxic.

So while waiting for my blood counts to recover and stabilize I have been iron man, without the suit that makes it worthwhile.  Finally, a week ago, I had my first bit of blood drained off me, in another way to reduce the iron content (the iron rich blood goes bye-bye, to be replaced by normal iron new blood.)  My hematocrit has been holding steady for enough weeks that my oncologist recommended we start.

And even though they took very little blood, only enough to drop my Hematocrit 3 points and keep it in the normal range, I’ve been feeling, well…drained.

Yesterday, I went in for an IVIG infusion.  This is basically goo full of antibodies to help bolster my immune system that can’t produce its own antibodies because it is being an asshole and still hasn’t started producing B cells.  Before my infusion, I had labs to check my blood counts and also to have an IV placed for the infusion.

And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, despite feeling so drained, my hematocrit had already recovered two of the points I lost when they drained the blood from me last week.  You’d think this was great news, and, about that, you’d be right.

While in the lab, attempting to get my IV placed, the phlebotomist (smiley person who enjoys sticking you with needless) was having difficulties finding a vein.  My appointment was early (for me), I hadn’t yet had a lot of water, I slept poorly last night, & like me, my veins just didn’t feel like waking up.  Apparently, I also have a lot of valves wherever a vein does show, and you can’t put an IV through a valve.  Anyway, eventually the smiley pokey person settled on a spot they saw fit to attempt to inset the needle guided plastic vein catheter-and immediately hit a valve.  So the phlebotomist (if that IS her real name) pulled the IV back from the valve until it was just in.  She got the two vials of blood for my CBC (complete blood count) & my renal function and liver enzymes (renal function and liver enzymes) test.  She then flushed the precariously placed IV with 10cc of saline (STAT!) and blew out the vein.  This means as she was pushing the saline into the vein, the pressure moved the IV out of the vein and just somewhere under my skin.  So, the blood from my vein rushed out to join the saline ball under my skin in order to maximize the pain and discolor the walnut sized lump.  Hooray!  The smiley pokey phlebotomist was less smiley as she told me that we could not use that IV now (Gee, ya think?) and would have to try to place one in the other arm.  So after having two heat packs placed on my other arm, then wrapped in a warm blanket, another smiley pokey phlebotomist came over to attempt IV part 2, the revenge.  And so after telling me how bad my veins sucked, she found one that would accept her instrument into my waiting vessel.

And we went up to the infusion floor for my IVIG infusion.  Before they started, we checked to see if my labs came back, and I felt drained once again.  While my hematocrit did recover nicely (I already told you that, pay attention!), my white count dropped even lower and I am only .05 on my neutrophils away from being neutropenic.  Something is stressing my marrow again, and I’m getting tired of it.  I know I will continue to have problems, I know there are bumps in the road, but I haven’t been too worried about being neutropenic for a while.  So then the anxiety, & flashbacks kick in.  I’m consumed with worry that the cancer has returned, or that my marrow cells are dying, or something terrible is happening.  In actuality, this has happened a few times, & usually results in one or two Neupogen shots and a rebound.  The holding and recovery of the other counts should be comforting, but rational thinking does not rule.  My anxiety and PTSD take over, and I freak out until I’m drained.

So, before the infusion they must give me Benadryl to make sure I don’t have a reaction to the goo they are going to pump into me over the next 3 hours.  Benadryl, is diphenhydramine, the sleep-aid in any PM pain reliever you can buy over the counter.  So with the Benadryl, the very small amount of energy I have remaining drains away.  But I’m on a bed, I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’ll just take advantage and sleep for the next 3 hours, right?  No, they need to check vitals every 30 minutes, so no sleep for me.  And my hopes for feeling a little less drained just drained away.

I apologize for this post.  I bet it was pretty draining to read.  It was draining to write, but I wanted to do it anyway, because I don’t want my intention to post everyday to just go down the drain.

This post was brought to you by Drain Cleaner Pro.

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I tried, but failed…

Mr. Bruno Mars,

I’m so sorry to inform you of this, but I have failed in my attempts to dislike you and your music. I’m sure I do not need to tell you that your music is currently very popular.  What you may not know, is that I am automatically suspicious of current popular music.

So when my wife (who, like almost every woman in the world, loves you) started talking about you and listening to your music on her popular music Pandora station, I thought I had found the target for my venom that I so desperately crave.

When I was in the hospital, you came to town and my wife and her mother went to your concert.  When she gushed about your performance and that she thought if I was there I would’ve enjoyed it, I met her enthusiasm with deep skepticism.

When she purchased your CD (those things still exist?) I would leave the room (once home) every time she pressed play.

When you were chosen to perform at halftime for the big game (actual sporting event name trademarked), I knew I had to be right because, let’s face it, their track record of picking artists isn’t exactly stellar, is it? And so, grudgingly, I watched you perform at halftime (for my wife) & thought it was better than expected.  But it was a halftime show, likely lip-synched, or at least performed to a pre-recorded backing (as is the halftime show standard), & I figured your band was likely put there for show, and didn’t actually play, there, or on record.

And then I tried to forget about you. But my wife kept playing your music.

And then she would tell me of how listening to your music would make it easier to get through the months I spent in the hospital while she was home for the hour or two each day to shower and get ready to come back to stay with me.

And I thought, maybe I should open my mind and give this music a shot.

And then your song “Just the Way You Are” started to appear in every ad campaign on every television station every minute of the day.  And once again, I convinced myself to try to dislike you and your music.

But then you released “Uptown Funk”.  And I thought, “That’s pretty cool.”  But I first heard it on Ellen, where there was a DJ in the back and the music was piped in.  I saw your band dancing around with you and thought, “If these guys actually played this music, then it would be good.”  And then…disaster struck.

My wife played a video on YouTube, of you and your band in a live performance, in a relatively small venue.  It was the kind of venue where if someone isn’t actually playing their instruments, and isn’t actually singing, it can’t be hidden.  And, to the best of my knowledge, there was nothing to hide.

Needless to say, my world crumbled around me.  My entire belief system was shattered.  I started to doubt everything I thought I knew.  Music, pop culture, my place in this world…my very existence.   How could this be?  I can’t like popular music!

Eventually, after the denial, grief, & anger subsided, I started to accept my condition.  I went back and re-examined your catalog that I all too easily dismissed before.  And as I listened, I asked myself, “Without the production bells and whistles required of today’s popular music, would this music stand up?”

And I’m sorry to have to be the one to break this to you, Mr. Mars, but the answer to that question is yes.

And so I dropped my attempts at disliking your music, and instead turned my focus to disliking you.  But again, and I do apologize, my efforts came up short in that area as well.

I’ve heard the criticisms that you are a Michael Jackson clone and that you stole your act from James Brown.  Those criticisms served as my last bastion of hope.  I thought, “Yes!  I can like the music because it is basically stolen from past artists.”  Sadly however, I knew I was just lying to myself.  I’m sorry, Mr. Mars, but I have to respectfully disagree with those criticisms.

I had to admit that, while your music certainly does seem influenced by those artists, it is clear it is your own (& your band’s, & anyone involved in writing & performing the songs).  You aren’t a Michael Jackson clone, you didn’t steal from James Brown, & that was really upsetting to me.  No, you are almost like a combination of Michael Jackson, James Brown, & George Clinton evolved to their next logical step, with your own style thrown in for good measure.

You pay homage to the great music of the past.  You don’t steal from it.  And I am actually happy that your music has achieved commercial success, even if it does mean having to hear the same snippet of your song 72 million times a day in ads for everything.  I have to admit, my initial impression of you was wrong.  How could you do this to me?!?  I hate being wrong!

In all seriousness though, thank you for your music, for proving that talent can still be popular, and for providing some light in my wife’s world (& therefore mine) during our darkest days.

Much continued success,

A formerly reluctant fan

Proud to be American?

I’m not proud of being an American.  I’m not ashamed, but I’m not proud.  Why would I be proud because of the country I was born in?  I am not superior to anyone because I was fortunate enough to be born into a place where, even though my family was rather poor, we were filthy rich by world standards.

That said, I think living in the United States (because America is a continent, not a country), is pretty awesome.  The prosperity we’ve enjoyed and freedoms we TRY to maintain are pretty great.  I love the 4th of July, I love the flag, I love our national anthem.  All the patriotic hoopla makes me feel very lucky.  Lucky, but not proud.

Again, I’m not ashamed either.  I think the whole concept of nationalism is rather stupid.  I’m proud and ashamed of my own actions, not those of the people making policy decisions, or the people who made policy decisions before I was even born.  I’m proud when someone I vote for seems to do good for people, because I made what I feel was a good decision to vote for them.  I am not proud of their individual achievements or good legislation, because it’s not as if I had a hand in that.  I’m ashamed some politicians I’ve voted for didn’t live up to my expectations, because then I feel I let myself be fooled.  I wish all our politicians were elected nationally, so that a certain block of politicians that answer only to a small number of constituents would be more inclined to make policy for the benefit of the majority, but that just isn’t the way it is.

I get that our system isn’t perfect.  I understand that real reforms need to take place.  But I really like that many of us are still trying to live up to the ideals we claim to represent.  Am I proud of that?  No.  I can only be proud when I do things that live up to the ideals I try and represent.  I can be happy about things, without being proud of them.

One of the things I dislike about the US is our consumer culture.  Yet one of my favorite television shows is The Price Is Right-a show all about and dedicated to consumerism.  It is a dichotomy many of us live with.  We detest something, but still contribute to it.  I like The Price Is Right because Drew Carey, George, and the models seem to genuinely want the contestants to win.  They want the people playing, in the audience, & watching television to be happy.  The fact that getting stuff is what makes them happy, is a fact I have to ignore to enjoy the show.

To pretend I’m not a part of it would just be lying.  I’m not proud of that.  I like to have the things I possess, and I readily admit that I wish I had more things.  There is an image of US citizens as greedy and lazy.  And many of us are.  I think there is a line I have where I could recognize when enough becomes too much, & I hope I’m right.  There are many people here who don’t seem to have that line, but I’m not ashamed, because that is not me.

The country I live in has a very long history, for being such a young nation.  It is a history full of contradictions.  We advocate democracy, yet for most of our history we have denied people the vote (& are still trying to, in some states).  We speak of freedom, but had legal slavery.  We say that all men are created equal, yet still can’t seem to put that idea into practice.  We claim to be the home of the brave, yet push through into horrible foreign policy actions by exploiting our fear.  We condemn attacks on civilians as terrorism, yet we had no problem firebombing Dresden and Tokyo, & dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki.  We also don’t speak up when our allies do not even attempt to mitigate “collateral damage.”  We even use the term “collateral damage” to deflect away the thoughts of innocent dead.  We believe in self-determination unless people determine they’d rather live in a way contrary to our “interests” (usually economic), & then we are all too happy to undermine or institute a coup.

But I’m not ashamed.  We’re not evil.  Most of us had nothing to do with this.  We simply live our lives the best we can.  Many of us even tried to prevent the darker actions of our history.

The United States is not a perfect union.  I do believe that most of us still strive to form a more perfect union.  When we, as individuals do that, we should be proud.

Just the same, if you don’t live in the United States, you also should not be ashamed or proud.  I bet your country has many accomplishments as well as many failures in its history.  That is something we all likely have in common.

Your behavior is what makes you good or bad, not the place you live or the beliefs you hold.  If you do good, be proud of that.  If you make a mistake and do bad, be ashamed of that.  It is on you, not your country, another’s country, your religion, another’s religion or lack of religion, etc…

Own your actions.  Try to make yourself proud of you.  Count yourself among the lucky if you love where you live.  But don’t be proud of it.

Hateful

Yesterday’s post was one of the most successful posts I have posted to date.  That is really funny to me.  Not funny ha ha, but funny ironic.  It is ironic because it was an awfully written, vitriolic, reactionary, piece of hateful garbage that relied so heavily on the f-word; it reads like it was written by a 12 year-old boy trying to impress his friends.  I mean, I actually suggested the poor sap who made this decision should commit suicide!  Who does that?!?  Well…me, apparently.

So I’ve been thinking of what conclusions can be drawn from the popularity of this post, & I’ve narrowed it down to 3 possibilities:

  1. People feed off of hate and anger.
  2. My post was reblogged by a blogger with a larger following.  (Thanks, btw.  That was very nice of you, & I’ll return the favor if I ever get enough unique visitors to make a difference.)
  3. People really, really hate the involvement of insurance companies getting between their providers and their health.  (Please God, let it be this one!)

If you’re interested in signing the petition asking Express Scripts to defer to the judgment of the prescribing physicians, you can do so here.

So while I’m hoping the reason yesterday’s post seemed to resonate is #3.  I fear it is more likely due to #1.  This fear isn’t just the result of some paranoid delusion, it is based on actual pseudo-scientific studies conducted in loosely controlled conditions by untrained amateurs in disrespected institutions.  Okay, so there is no study, just my opinion based on observations filtered through my perspective which may, in fact, be colored by paranoid delusions.

But, there is also my experiences.  Before my cancer, I held many different jobs since I started working.  Quite a few of those jobs were as a telephone customer service representative.  One of those jobs, was a telephone customer service representative…for a health insurance company!

That’s right, I answered phones for a company in one of the most immoral industries I can think of.  I would have felt better about myself if I were a phone sex operator.  I hold crack dealers in a higher regard than the executives at health insurance companies.  I hated that job.  I hated myself for doing it.  But, I needed to eat.

So don’t get me wrong here, I’m not trying to take back the hatred of the person who made the decision to deny coverage of the medication I was prescribed, or the person who created the policy and procedures that person followed in denying coverage; I am just pointing out that not everyone associated with practices we despise deserves our wrath.  People need to eat.

There is no more difficult job than being a front-line employee for a company you ethically disagree with.  You learn a million ways to defend policies you despise.  Sometimes, the customers take their hatred of the company and its policies out on you, and you actually begin to welcome that.  It makes siding with the horrible company and their evil policies a bit easier when someone describes the awful things they are going to do to your mother.

You hate the company, you hate the customers, and you hate yourself.  And if you’re really good, you don’t throw your headset at your supervisor’s tiny head and scream obscenities as you walk off in the middle of your shift 6 months into the job.

And do you know what?  Companies are so desperate for Customer Service Representatives that if you do that, it doesn’t prevent you from getting hired to do the same job somewhere else.  After all, you’ve never been fired!

“Well Josh, we see you’ve held 18 different Customer Service Representative positions in the last 2 years.  That is quite a bit of experience you have!”

“Um…thanks?”

“And how did you manage to hold the positions for so long?”

“Well, I’m a very patient, articulate person.”

“And if we called your previous supervisors, what do you think they’d say about you?”

“Well, you likely won’t be able to get a hold of any of them due to turnover.  But I worked very hard, got excellent monitor ratings, and had the highest stats in my work group.”

“And did you quit, or were you fired?”

“Oh, I quit.”

“Would you be eligible for rehire?”

“No, they like to have 2 weeks notice which I could not give to pursue the next opportunity.  I did my best to ensure adequate coverage before leaving, and, if you call their customer service line, you’ll get an answer, so I think I succeeded in that endeavor.”

“Great!  Training starts next Monday!”

There are a lot of things to hate in this world.  Some of it is deserved, some of it is not.  I’m not anti-hate.  I’m not going to say I think it is bad that we respond so enthusiastically to the negative over the positive.  We need to vent sometimes, & it is nice to see we are not alone in our frustration.

But keep this in mind:  You can hate the things people do, you can hate the people that do the things you hate, but you shouldn’t hate everyone you associate with the people or the things you hate.  Or to put it far less convoluted…remember what you hate is bad apples in a bunch of apples that just need to eat.  Okay, so I lied about the whole “less convoluted” thing.

The people responsible for the things you hate, are rarely the people you will actually be dealing with, and I think it is important we remember that.

The people fighting the battles are not the ones who create them.  The people pulling the strings are not the puppets in the trenches.  The people arguing with you on the other end of the phone are not the people who you really want to talk to.  Many people are tools of the people doing the things you hate.  Some are even manipulated into believing they are more.  And I really hate that.

Open Letter To Express Scripts

Who the fuck do you think you are?

I don’t know what kind of pencil-neck, paper pusher you are.  I don’t know how many years of experience in your fucking job you have.  I don’t care if you can say that you personally saved your shitty company and their greedy fucking shareholders millions of dollars.  What I do know, is that if you make the decision on what medications you will and will not cover…you should kill yourself.

That’s right, motherfucker.  Take one for Team Humanity, you soulless, evil, greedy, egotistical waste of DNA.

In case you don’t know me, I am a cancer survivor with a shit-ton of damage from the cancer itself, the chemotherapy, the stem cell transplant, the Graft verses Host Disease, the medications used to stop it, the prophylactic antibiotics & antivirals used to prevent infection due to my immunosupression, the medication I continue to take for those reasons, and on, and on.

One of the most debilitating issues is the peripheral neuropathy that I acquired from the chemotherapy, and possibly from the Cipro that I had to take during nadir.  I bet you don’t even know what fucking nadir is, do you, you fucking bean counter?  Nadir is when your counts are at zero.  Zero white blood cells.  Zero platelets.  Zero red blood cells.  I had transfusions of red blood cells and platelets all the time, but you can’t do transfusions of white blood cells.  So I lived without them.  For months.  Could you do that?  I fucking doubt it.

So when I saw my brilliant oncologist (one of the world’s foremost experts in bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants and the patients who have them, who works as part of the center that fucking PIONEERED them), & let her know that my neuropathy in my feet is so bad (particularly in the cold) that I can barely walk some days, she prescribed Lyrica.

And you sent her a questionnaire asking her why.

And I waited.

And she filled out the questionnaire explaining her reasoning for choosing to prescribe that particular drug for me.

And I waited.

And you sent her another questionnaire with more questions.

And I waited.  And my fucking feet hurt.

And then you sent her office a denial notice.

You, some fucking desk-jockey at (since your merger with Medco) what is basically a monopolistic prescription coverage insurance provider.  You, after receiving my brilliant doctor’s explanation of why that drug was prescribed over the cheaper alternatives, you denied coverage.

I guarantee you, you do not know one-tenth the information about the effectiveness, and consequences of the medications I’m prescribed as my oncologist does.  If my oncologist gives you reasons the cheaper alternatives would not be in my best interest, she is right.

Remember this argument as a reason single-payer, government administered health care was a bad idea?  Because government “death panels” would be overriding the decisions of the doctors?  Well, wouldn’t that be better than greedy, private monopolies, beholden to their shareholders only doing the same fucking thing?  At least the government doing it would have made the process cheaper.  And, usually, if my brilliant oncologist gives a reasonable explanation of the necessity of something, the government bureaucrats believe it.  How do I know this?  Because part of my medical coverage is Medicare.  Medicare tells you upfront what isn’t covered, and if they initially deny something they do cover, or ask questions, and my doctor explains what the need is, they are intelligent enough to yield to the decision of my doctor.  Express Scripts doesn’t flat-out not cover Lyrica.  No, Express Scripts will, if you have tried the cheaper alternatives first, and they didn’t work.  Even if this cheaper alternatives will kill you.

So the private, near monopoly (for group coverage) death panel decides for you.

So, my options at this point are to either risk my life taking their preferred medications, or suffer with the crippling pain and numbness.

Yes, taking these medications is a risk to my life.  My white cell count is low.  Borderline low, but low.  My neutrophils are just above what could be considered neutropenic.  My world-class oncologist advises me that the alternative medications are known to be toxic to my white blood cells.  Since you, Express Scripts worker obviously are too stupid to understand the implications of that, I will explain.

Despite what those dumb probiotic commercials claim, 70% of your immune system is not in your gut.  (Don’t believe me?  Ask someone with full-blown AIDS.)  It is in your blood.  Your various types of white blood cells.  Sure, the microbes in your gut may protect you from food-born illness, but it does not compromise 70% of your immune system.  So, basically any drop in my white cell count further compromises my already compromised immune system.  This leaves me at an extreme risk of infection, and a higher likelihood of death.  The cheaper alternatives you are trying to force on me, can kill me in that way.

But wait!  There’s more!

Due to the side-effects of some of the other life-saving medications I needed to take, I have kidney damage.  I’d call it renal damage, but you probably couldn’t understand that, so let’s stick to basics, shall we?  The cheaper alternative medications you require, also are known to damage kidney function.  And this isn’t just to people with impaired kidneys, this is for healthy people too.  Even Lyrica has this possible side-effect, but at low-doses is known to be less harmful.  Known by who?  Well, there is my world-class oncologist, the pharmacist she consults with, and oh yeah, the drug manufacturers themselves.

Why does Lyrica exist, if these other medications are safe and effective?  They aren’t safe and effective for everyone.  This medication is more advanced, newer, and as a result, more expensive.  But do you know what is more expensive to your company than paying for this drug?  Bad publicity.

You have just started a fight that your legal department, PR teams, and representation on retainer give you the illusion that you can’t lose.

But, you started a fight with someone who beat cancer.  I’ve already won a fight I was told I wouldn’t win.  I’ve been against the ropes and down on the mat, & everytime, I got up and knocked my opponent out.  I’ve got some wounds, sure.  But I’m only getting stronger, and once I fight, I don’t stop.

Eat shit and die because your insurance won’t cover the medication necessary to treat your infection from eating shit.

Most sincerely,

Me

Comfortable

When Josh left for The Underground that first night, he did not have the purest intentions.  He was looking for a good time.  After his divorce, the furthest thing from his mind was a relationship.  To be honest, he had sworn off relationships all together.  He was looking for a good time.  He was not desperate or immoral enough to take advantage of one of the Woo-girls, but he wanted nothing more than casual fun.

Even after being so intrigued by the strange “Hold me like a baby” incident, and the beautiful woman who said those words to him; and even after pursuing her at The Cantina Los Tres Hombres, the great chemistry, and their amazing kiss, he wasn’t looking for anything serious.

Josh was never the type of guy who enjoyed one-night-stands either.  He was not the “player” type (or whatever term the kids use today).  He didn’t want to take advantage of anyone, he just wanted to keep things casual.  He wondered for a brief second if that was something he’d have to explain to her, but put it out of his mind as they left the now out of business Cantina for the last time.

Josh had consumed a few drinks and was just about to ask for Hannah’s phone number, so he could give her one final kiss goodbye before calling a cab to take him home.  He did kiss her again, but was interrupted by, “Hey!  What are you doing?”

“What?”  Josh asked his friend as he pulled his lips from Hannah.

“You’re coming back to the house.  We’re all going back there and I can drive you back to your car in the morning,” said his friend, Hannah’s sister, who, for the purposes of this story and because it’s her name, we’ll call Drea.

“But I was just going to call a cab and-”

“Please?” Hannah interrupted.

“You can drive?” Josh asked to Drea.

“Yeah, I barely drank anything,” she responded.

Josh didn’t need to consider it very long.  In their talking earlier in the night, he was told that Hannah was living with Drea.  He also knew he wouldn’t have to pay the cab fare two times, so that was a bonus.  He didn’t want the night to end.  And most importantly of all, he was being asked to go back with Hannah to her place.

So he got into Drea’s truck with Drea, one of her friends, and Hannah.  He was relieved to find that Drea was indeed okay to drive.  He fought the urge to spend the entirety of the short drive making out with Hannah, and opted instead to talk and joke with Drea, and her friend.  The logistics would’ve been difficult too, considering Hannah was up front next to Drea and Josh was in the back with her friend.

They arrived back at Drea’s house, where Hannah was staying.  They all went to the living room and talked for a while.  It was a good time and Josh was feeling very comfortable.  He liked talking with Drea.  He was glad that she still had the qualities he liked about her in high school.  He liked all her friends.  They reached out to him and immediately made him feel welcomed into their circle.  Josh knew his social anxiety could make him seem stand-offish at first, but they pushed right through that.  And as they sat and talked, Josh would continue to sneak glances and smiles at the beautiful Hannah sitting next to him on the couch.  He was happier than he had been in years.

Eventually, the night wound down.  Drea’s husband arrived home from the post-closing duties, her friend left to go home, and Drea and her husband went to their room.  Everyone was tired.  Everyone, except that is, Josh and Hannah.

They were alone.  Josh, trying to act the gentleman, went against his hormones and explained he would just crash there on the couch, & she could go off to her room if she was tired.

She replied with exactly what he wanted to hear.  “I’m not tired yet.  Are you?”

“No,” he smiled.

She sat next to him on the couch.  They would talk for a while, joke for a while, and passionately kiss for a while.  After about an hour of this, Hannah got up and said, “I’m just going to go slip into something more comfortable.”

Josh’s pulse quickened.  He knew exactly what that meant.  “Slip into something more comfortable?!?”  He had heard that line just before the gratuitous sex scene in about a hundred different movies.  He couldn’t believe how things were progressing, but was enjoying every second of it.

As he waited on the couch for her return, his mind filled with images of her walking out in some sexy lingerie, and him taking her in a passionate embrace.  He imagined things that would not be fit for print in this family-friendly blog-type-thing.

And then she came back into the room.  He prepared himself for the scene he was certain would unfold.  He looked up from the couch to see her returning to the room in this.

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Fluffy Christmas pants.  She was also wearing a teal tank-top.  Her hair was put up, and she had exchanged her contacts for a pair of glasses.

In his head, he could not stop laughing.  He didn’t want her to think it was because of how she looked now, so he kept his laughter inside his head.  It wasn’t about the way she looked either.  She actually looked beautiful.  In fluffy Christmas pants, glasses, and a tank-top, she looked absolutely beautiful.  No, he wasn’t laughing on the inside because of that.  He was laughing at his expectations.  He was laughing at the words she used, a known segue into moving the night into a sexual direction.  Known to him, but apparently not to her.

She honestly meant what she said.  She slipped into something more comfortable.  She was comfortable enough around him to come out in her comfortable clothes.  Josh knew his fantasy of what would happen would not occur that night.  And as they talked and joked and kissed until morning, he knew his original intention of casual fun was not going to occur either.  And he was really comfortable with that.

If you missed part 1 of How I Met The Hannah, you can read it here.

Part  2, is here.

Cantina For The Best Time

About a week had gone by since the night at The Underground, but Josh just couldn’t seem to get it out of his head.  So when his old friend (& now again current friend) called him up and invited him out again he jumped at the chance.  The Reno Cantina Los Tres Hombres was closing, her husband worked there as a bartender, and they were closing down the bar by coming close to giving drinks away.  A good time was promised to all.

Josh was excited.  He had just cashed his unemployment check that he was receiving since the company he worked for in Washington closed down due to the financial crisis.  Because he was getting it from Washington (through Nevada), the amount he was making was almost the maximum someone in Nevada could get on unemployment.  Because the cost of living in Nevada was so much lower than in Seattle, the unemployment check could go pretty far.  Because Josh was living with his dad for the time being, his expenses were near zero, meaning that check went even further.

So again, Josh borrowed his father’s Dodge Magnum and headed to Reno for what promised to be a good time.  It was another warm night, and though he wasn’t exactly sure what it was, there was a definite feel of excitement in the air.  The only thing that tempered his excitement was knowing he had been thinking about his friend’s odd sister, and the odd moment he had with that odd sister the last time he saw her.  He had to remind himself that she was off limits.

He arrived at the Cantina.  Knowing it was closing was somewhat a disappointment for him, because he had fond memories of playing shows there, back when he was in a band.  He was happy to see that a large amount of people seemed to have turned out for its last hurrah.  He parked in the lot, and walked through the warm, electric night air inside.

There was no doorman, no group of people waiting to get in.  Since the Cantina was also a restaurant, you weren’t carded until you sat at the bar to order a drink.  From the entrance Josh used, the bar is basically the first thing you see, so there was no need to look around for his friend, the group she was with, and particularly…the sister.

His eyes went to the sister immediately.  She looked good.  She was sitting on one side of the half-square bar, closest to the door from which he entered.  At first, he was disappointed to see people sitting on either side of her.  He quickly shook that feeling off, reminding himself that it would be wrong to make a move on his friend’s sister.  He thought it would be particularly wrong, since he had recently asked out his friend’s cousin.

“Your friend is going to think you’re using her to go through her friends and family members,” he thought to himself as he sat on the side of the bar diagonally across, yet close enough to talk to the beautiful sister.  “You are going to hell for this.”

He didn’t even try to hide that he was eyeing her.  He knew he shouldn’t be, but she looked so good.  The internal struggle consumed him when she looked his way and smiled.  A smile so beautiful, his ethical dilemma suddenly left his mind.  He looked away, then back.  She smiled again.

It was on.  Sister or not, it was on.  He was just about to say something to her when the cousin walked in and sat a couple seats down.  He was worried it would be akward, but she was with somebody.  So he said hi to her and introduced himself to him, and turned his attention back to the beautiful sister.

“Hannah!” he shouted across the bar.  “What are you drinking?”

“What?” she asked in reply.

“What can I get you to drink?”

She smiled, and answered that she liked tequila.  He was scared.  His family has a history with tequila and so, aside from the occasional Margarita at a Mexican restaurant, he pretty much stayed away from it.  He didn’t even really know tequila, except Patron seemed to be really popular, so he asked if she wanted that.

“No, I like Cazadores.”

“Casa what?” he thought to himself.  “Oh well, we’ll give it a shot,”he thought again before shouting to everybody, “Who’s gonna drink with us?”

And so he ordered Cazadores shots for everyone at the bar and toasted to the Cantina.  Her friend’s husband was behind the bar along with another woman.  In between sneaking glances and smiles at Hannah, (his friend’s beautiful sister, the “Hold me like a baby” girl he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about), he talked with her friend’s husband and the other bartender about the closing, and asked how many people were working that night.  He asked if he could buy them all a round and he did.  Then he asked Hannah if he could buy her another drink.  He repeated those steps a few times before engaging Hannah in small talk from across the bar.

At some point, he considered asking his friend if she would mind him trying to pick up her sister, but he never got the chance.  The woman he was sitting next to, (another friend of his friend’s), tapped him on the shoulder and showed him a napkin.  On the napkin was a message.  “Trade seats with Hannah.  She likes Josh.”  It was written by his friend.

She did trade seats when Hannah got up to go to the bathroom.  So Hannah came and sat next to Josh.  They talked about anything and everything.  They joked and laughed.  They had a few more drinks but did not get sloppy.  He didn’t need the napkin to know she was interested, but now he had a clear conscience.  They continued flirting, talking, and laughing.  The rest of the Cantina seemed to fade into the background as it was fading into history.

He paused the conversation for a moment, looking deep into her eyes.  She smiled, and Josh said, “Come here.”

And she leaned in, and he kissed her for the very first time.  He knew then, that he didn’t want to stop.  And as they left the Cantina for the very last time, they were still kissing.

And in his head, played the silly jingle he’ll never forget.  “Cantina for a great time.  Los Tres Hombres.  Cantina for the best time.  Los Tres Hombres.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final chapter of the epic How I Met The Hannah trilogy!