The Literal Grapes of Wrath

2019 sucks. It has been a hard year and it’s only April, so if that’s any indication of how the next 8 months are going to go, I will just go throw myself off a bridge right now and save myself the trouble. Obviously, I wouldn’t really do that, but God almighty, it’s been rough these last four months.

I am by no means a superstitious person, but I’m tracking all of this horrendous bad luck to New Year’s Eve. As part of Spanish tradition, we eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the year on this night; starting at 11:59:48, if you get all 12 grapes down, you are supposed to have good luck all 12 months of the new year. In the past, I of course have not been able to eat all 12, and some years I’ve eaten them all and didn’t win the lottery or anything. There was one year where my mom bought grapes that were the circumference of silver dollars, and needless to say, we all almost choked and got nowhere near finishing 12 grapes. We’ve done this every year, even on years when we’re apart or at a party somewhere (yes, I’ve taken a sandwich baggie of 12 grapes over to people’s houses for NYE parties). You just don’t break tradition.

This year, Timmy and I celebrated at our home in St. Pete after a winter break of driving all over the place, like always. We began December with a trip to the Bahamas with our good friends who were escaping the Chicago winter. I ended up having a 24 hour stomach bug the last day there.

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Then over the winter break in Atlanta, I had a terrible cold and needed my weight in Sudafed and went through 2 boxes of tissues. We took a quick trip to NC with our good friends Mathew and Lucie and enjoyed a lot of time with family.

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Then NYE came upon us when that terrible thing happened and it’s been a rapid descent into hell on earth since then.

Timmy and I both do the grapes tradition on NYE. Usually I can at least get them in my mouth, if not fully swallowed and digested, which is close enough. This year, I wasn’t able to get 4 down. They were just sitting in the sandwich bag, mocking me. I immediately said (after swallowing the 8 I had been able to eat), “Shit, I’m going to have a really bad 4-months in 2019!” 

No truer words have ever been spoken in the history of ever.

A few weeks into January, I got a concussion. I was in our work break room, moving food for an event from the freezer to the fridge when I stood up and my head went right into the bottom of the freezer door. I’m almost passed out and immediately felt nauseated. The next day, I had a conference in DC. My second day of the conference, I started to slur my words, speak slowly, and had basically no ability to focus or concentrate, so I made my way to the ER. 45 minutes later, I was diagnosed with a head injury (no shit) and was discharged. That lovely bill came later and with insurance, I (now my worker’s compensation) owe nearly $700…for 45 minutes. Insane. I did get to see some of my friends so there was a wonderful upside to that trip, but the conference was kind of a bust. 

The next few weeks, we were able to see some friends at Disney and Anna Maria, and finally got to see Hamilton for Timmy’s birthday (which totally lived up to the hype, it was that incredible). Honestly, I’ve been so underwater this semester from working full time, teaching class, and taking 6 credits online, I can’t really remember many details from visiting with our friends in the first place. Add in that concussion, and let’s just say it was all really fun.

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I recovered over the next few weeks and in February, nearly a month to the day of the first concussion, I got yet another concussion.

I’m not kidding you. Timmy and I were attempting to go paddleboarding but it was an extremely windy day. I was on the driver’s side of the car when Timmy tried to lift the top paddleboard off my car and the wind took it from there, right into the backside of my head. In what should’ve been complete whiplash, I fell to the ground and couldn’t really move much. A kind stranger witnessed the whole thing, and while Timmy rushed to secure back the paddleboards so they didn’t fly off again, she stayed with me and eventually helped me walk back, very shakily, to the car. I didn’t have to go to the ER then because I was still recovering from the first concussion, so any additional symptoms would’ve been same ole same ole at that point.

My immediate reaction on the car ride home was, “God, I don’t want to be dumb.” After all the concussions and CTE news, I was and am still pretty concerned that after surviving an entire childhood with no concussions, I have had 3 in 6 years (2 from paddleboards, oddly enough). I can’t deal with memory loss, lowered intelligence, and random bursts of anger, y’all, I got stuff to accomplish!

Then the last Monday of February, which was the beginning of Spring Wellness Week, a week of wellness-related events that I’m completely responsible for, I woke up at 3 am with what I thought was food poisoning. As the day wore on and I was unable to go to work, I realized that something about this was different.

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know it’ll be gone in 24 hours and it has you wishing for death. A trip anywhere other than the bathroom is not to be attempted nor could it be without you vomiting and/or shitting your pants. However, I ended up in the ER again for what we think now was a stomach virus that had me in tears, doubled over in pain from muscle spasms in my upper abdomen due to all the heaving and purging. The entire week after, I couldn’t eat anything but bland foods and soup (which I can’t stand) and my intestines were so distended, I looked 5 months pregnant.

All of this should’ve been enough, right? Like any normal person would’ve been greatly affected by just one of these things happening, let alone all 3 in 2 months.

But I’m not done yet.

Two weeks later, we went to Panama with my entire family for spring break. We were able to see so much of my dad’s side there, and honestly it was a great trip. The timing was horrendous though because I had been spending most Sundays up until then back in my office, trying to catch up on schoolwork, and Timmy really needed to be in the states for his work. But all in all, throw in hotel upgrades in Panama City and again in Buenaventura (this time, to a 4 bedroom villa that could’ve housed everyone), it really was a super fun time.

We took a 9-hour tour that took us on a boat on the Panama Canal, fed some monkeys on Monkey Island, saw the Fort of San Lorenzo, walked across one of the locks of the Panama Canal, and witnessed a large ship crossing through the Agua Clara locks of the Canal. I remember when I was much younger watching the Panama Canal ship crossing and not really being super into it, but now as an adult, that thing is an engineering marvel and really interesting to see in person.

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The rest of March passed by hitting my allergies HARD. I have never bought so much Sudafed (and I’m talking the meth-making kind), Mucinex, and tissues IN MY LIFE COLLECTIVELY than in the last 6 months. I couldn’t breathe, sleep was a distant memory, I was sneezing every 5 minutes, and then the drainage…Oh the drainage.

Then April hit, and the shitstorm just kept rolling. I am on Marco Polo with a bunch of my grad school girlfriends and while they were all marveling at my ridiculous string of bad luck, I told them, “What’s the worst that can happen from here on out? A bone break?”

OMG I WAS SO WRONG.

Two weeks ago, someone hacked my Amazon account and reloaded my gift card balance using my credit card to $100, no doubt to use the gift card balance themselves. I caught this, and Amazon removed it. I went on a few days later after changing my password and bought a few things, not realizing that those items had been charged to my newly uploaded gift card balance AGAIN. Apparently, they rehacked my account after the password change, but I used up the balance before they could.

Then, I woke up last Tuesday morning to 25 emails from Amazon, each thanking me for purchasing Playstation gift cards in various amounts from $25 to $50 through the night, totaling almost $400 worth of charges. Even though this dumbass dude (and yes, I’m saying it’s a man) used my Decatur billing address AND the fact that I’ve never purchased anything Playstation related in the close to 15 years I’ve been on Amazon, the dude got his gift cards and spent the amounts quickly because you receive the redemption codes upon purchase.

Another thing this asshole did was use my account to upload trade-in items. I guess when you trade-in items on Amazon, you get paid immediately for them, which is what he used to transfer to my gift card balance and used them right away. I started getting emails saying that I had 16 days to send in the trade-in items, but guess what…I don’t actually have any of those items. So I had to spend an entire morning with Amazon, making sure my account was labeled as unauthorized use, and closed down temporarily for 2 days, after which I could create a new password and start using it again.

I have to admit, the hacker used a brilliant tactic to ensure that he got free stuff and never had it tracked back to him because guess what is nonrefundable on Amazon? Gift cards and gaming purchases!

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “God damn Victoria, that’s enough! I hope your string of bad luck has ended!”

BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

Last Thursday, while Timmy was traveling for work, I was really really wanting ice cream so I got in my car with Floyd to satisfy my late evening craving. As soon as I started the car, I, without thinking, reached down to close the garage door as I was backing out. Yes, I have sensors to stop the door, but my tires hadn’t reached them yet. By the time I realized what I had done and quickly put my car in forward drive, the garage door clipped the top of my car and bent the bottom panel, pulling the door off the tracks.

Almost about to cry, I thought to myself, “Fuck it. I already broke it. Ice cream, I’m coming for you!”

The next day, I had one of those national garage companies come to give me an estimate, and as soon as I saw these young, smug, white dudes walk up, I knew they were going to tell me I needed a new garage door. They quoted me $1000 for a new door that would’ve looked nothing like Timmy’s garage door, which obviously wouldn’t have worked, especially because of our HOA. So in essence, they were telling me I needed to pay $2000 for 2 new garage doors. I told them no, and as soon as they left, I called this other guy I had used once before when I bent the upper panel of my garage door (it was right after we moved in. Again, my fault, because I didn’t park my car in far enough). He came 1 hour later, fixed it in 1 hour and it was $175.

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My quick thinking at least saved me from a moronic sales pitch. I like to imagine that without 2 concussions, I would never have broken the door in the first place, so let’s leave it at that.

I left my Amazon account alone for nearly 6 days, and then I changed my password this Monday. Lo and behold, not even 5 hours later, during my evening class, I got an email thanking me for the $10 Xbox gift card purchase and redemption I had done! So yet, again, I had to spend more time with Amazon doing the exact same thing as before.

Suffice it to say, I haven’t gone on Amazon since.

April, you have 2 more weeks. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. These grapes of wrath have taken their toll on me, and I’m the most overwhelmed, moody, and stressed I’ve ever been in my life (wedding planning not included bc I wasn’t also hit with a bunch of medical issues during it). Like I said, I’m not superstitious, but 4 grapes not eaten, 4 horrific months of 2019…there has to be a connection and I’m over it.

I turn 36 in two and a half weeks, and all I’m wishing for at this point is no more head injuries. Happy. birthday. to. me.

♥, VB

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