Tag Archives: women

Traveling and Pharmacies

Standard

beijing-medicines

Originally written for and published by Wanderful 🙂

“NOT a sunburn. No sunburn. Sunburn — no! Rash from sun. Sun rash!” I frantically motioned to the “sun” (aka pharmacy ceiling) and then to my blotchy, red legs.

This was me trying to communicate to a pharmacist in Greece — and failing miserably like some idiot American on a sitcom.

Surprisingly, I wound up getting what I needed.

Most of us know that traveling does not come with a guarantee of 100% safety and well-being.

 

No matter how much of a planner you are, there’s just no possible way to pack every single thing you might possibly need for every fathomable emergency situation. I always carry a mini first aid kit when I travel, but nothing in it was helpful in the slightest during the times I needed medical attention.

So, what do you do when you’re in a country whose language you don’t speak, you need medicine of some sort, and you need it ASAP?

This is what you do.

The good ol’ point and show method.

It’s more effective than you think.

 

My aforementioned rash flabbergasted me — I had no idea what kind of cream to ask for, but I knew I needed more than fancy aloe vera or 100 SPF sunscreen.

In Greece, I developed the aggressive breakout that began crawling up from my ankles all the way to my mid-thigh. It was terrifying. Red, blotchy, itchy, and then painful. I later came to the conclusion that I’d developed “Hiker’s Rash” — which was strange because I really wasn’t doing any intense hiking (some people are just more sensitive to walking in hot, humid weather for too long).

And it happened again in Beijing recently. I was bewildered — it wasn’t too hot and all we were doing was walking around a couple of different temples in the city. I was completely unprepared.

Luckily, this is a very visible symptom. Multiple pharmacists looked my legs up and down before displaying two different cream choices before me, which brings me to my second tip.

 

Bite the bullet and buy more than you need.

I knew I didn’t need more than one tube of cream, but I also knew that one would most likely work better than the other because they both had different ingredients, different pictures, etc.

Not knowing which one that was, I bought both and figured it out over the next few days.

Extra medicine is never a bad thing, and your safety and comfort is worth the money you fork over, I promise.

 

Use a translator before you go to the store.

If you don’t have a data plan or phone that you can whip out at the store, see if your hotel, hostel, or accommodations have computers available that you can use. Then, write down a translation of everything you can think would be helpful — things you think your condition might be, products you think could help, products you know will not help, things you’re allergic to (that’s important), active ingredients to look for or avoid, and so on.

Nowadays, however, there are all sorts of apps that allow you to translate even while you’re offline. Google Translate, for instance, has an offline component, or you can check out Lonely Planet’s Offline Translator app.

Alternatively, if you have a friend or tour guide who speaks the language, take them with you.

When I studied abroad in Costa Rica, I got a terrible fever blister. That one was on me — I should’ve known to pack something for cold sores because I get them anytime I lose too much sleep, get overly stressed, or get too much sun.

In Costa Rica — even though my Spanish was pretty decent — a member of my host family went to the drugstore to buy me cold sore cream. She told me that if I went alone, they’d know right away that I wasn’t from there and would try to sell it to me for five times the true price. (That’s a whole other article.)

Closely inspect the box or bottle.

You might be surprised at how many have English somewhere on the labeling. It could be just the active ingredients that are listed in English, but that’s better than nothing! Then, if you have a data plan or wifi available, you do a quick Google to see what they’re commonly used to treat.

 

Most medicines also typically have some sort of visual aid, even if it’s just in the brand’s marketing. Every little thing is helpful. That’s how I knew which creams were for sunburns (which was NOT what I was suffering from); they had pictures of the sun with an aloe vera leaf.

Trust the pharmacist.

It may seem like they’re trying to sell you some quack cream or suspicious pill, but more often than not they’re just doing their job and trying to get you what they honestly believe will help you.

On the same Greece trip, I was casually strolling down from Meteora (the coolest “floating” monasteries, it’s a magical place) when I tripped over a huge nail that was strangely hammered into the ground.

I face-planted. Hard. I mean I really, really ate it. There was a lot of blood. My cute little Band-Aids and tiny packets of Neosporin weren’t going to cut it.

I just wanted to buy the cheapest, most Western-looking cream and bandages, but the pharmacist kept trying to sell me a more expensive cream. I bought it, even though I felt a little robbed. It turned out to be some sort of magical potion that cleared up my scrapes in record time.

I hope you’re not as accident-prone as I am and that you never get injured in any way on your adventures.

But if you do, please keep these suggestions in mind.

Medicine is kind of a universal language, when you think about it. It’s one of many things tying us all together; the fact that everyone — every single person across the globe — bleeds and burns and breaks out into rashes and peels and scabs and suffers from you-name-it.

Happy traveling, wanderful women!

Advertisements

Friendships Age Too

Standard

Everyone always talks about romantic relationships and how difficult they are–the compromising, the settling, how hard it is to be single, how hard it is to be married, blah blah blah.

No one ever really spends too much time gabbing about how difficult friendships can be. Friendships are supposed to be easy, right? Comfortable, lasting longer than any romantic relationship you’ve ever had. I guess that used to be true.

Somewhere around Real Adult Life (not Fake Adult Life), you realize how tough friendships can actually be. Hangouts no longer consist of last minute happy hours that turn into long, carb-filled dinners that turn into late-night pillow talk and accidental sleepovers. Hangouts now have to be planned weeks in advance. Alcohol and carbs are out because someone is on an insane diet. Late nights and accidental sleepovers are out because someone has to wake up early for work or get home ASAP to a baby or a husband or a boyfriend. Suddenly, you’re not a priority in their life anymore–you’re third or fourth fiddle, at best.

At some point, jobs and men, raises and promotions and…men became more important than keeping up with what you’ve been cooking for dinner or watching on Netflix…GASP?! It’s normal, I know. But that doesn’t make it suck any less.

The worst part is, you want to be happy for them, you TRY your damnedest to be happy for them…but mostly, you just feel deflated. There was a time in my life when I talked to my friends every day (usually multiple times a day). Questions like, “Hey, did you wind up buying that necklace?” have turned into “Hey, how’ve you been?”

I’ve never been one of those 27 Dresses types–I’ve always had a close-knit pack of two or three women who were more like sisters to me. I’m currently down to…one. Insert the *eek!* emoji. Yeah. One bestie who keeps up with my woes pretty well–not like she used to, but still pretty well.

Is it because she and I are the only single ladies of the once-wolf-pack? Perhaps. But more likely, it’s because we’ve been best friends since we met in middle school, when she saw me bleeding from my knees and lip and asked if I was OK (ridiculous Spanish Dancing Club incident). Hopefully, she’ll be my person forevs, but let’s be real…she could turn into a Husband-Hungry villain at any moment… That, folks, will be the day I adopt a handful of pets and babies or move to an island and live out the rest of my days befriending only coconuts.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here, I apologize. I have a few acquaintance-types who are fun, but they’re seeking the same thing I am–people to fill in the gaps leftover by once upon a time best friends, sisters. It’s great to have people who you can share a meal with, but it’s crazy to feel like you don’t have anyone to tell the deep, dark stuff to.

It can be pretty lonely, here in adulthood. No wonder people kept getting married even after property promises and dowries weren’t a thing anymore–it’s the only way of ensuring that you won’t slip and die in the shower, your remains left rotting under an enormous water bill for weeks. I kid, I kid.

How do we keep friendships, even after X, Y, or Z? How do we balance other life obligations with these people who know way too much about us? How do we remain understanding, even after being shoved aside to make room for “more” or “different” or “better”?

Dear Future Husband

Standard

ecc2726a24fd14672ec865457b52cd28

Dear Future Husband,

I’m sorry that you missed me in my prime, man. Damn I was FIT. I now value the happiness that bread and booze bring me over the happiness that my jean size used to bring me. I care a whole hell of lot more about making a friend’s happy hour celebration or checking out a new restaurant than I do about how many minutes of cardio I got in. I’ve accepted butt cellulite and you should too, sir. I still get carded sometimes, I’ll have you know.

I know what I want. This has been a little off-putting for some men–they want me to only want…what they want. To accept everything they say and everything they do, without question. I’m not that girl. I’m not easily suppressed. I have strong opinions, I stand up for myself, I tell you when you hurt my feelings and I tell you WHY. Thank you for loving that about me without being intimidated. I love the same things about you.

I’m no longer in a rush. I’m not going to settle for that dude who called teaching “such an easy job,” that dude who smoked way too much weed, that dude who spoke in teenager-slang, or that dude who wouldn’t stop talking about his huge bank account–I’m waiting for YOU, obviously.

Thanks for supporting my writing. Thanks for wanting to get to know my friends and family. Thanks for wanting more than just sex, but…ya’ know, thanks for also wanting sex. Thanks for being a foodie (thank you for not letting me settle for that dude with the ginger allergy) and thanks for wanting to travel with me (thanks for not letting me settle for that dude who didn’t even want to buy a passport). Thank you for reading books and not just Facebook posts.

Just thanks, for being you, whoever you are 🙂

 

Love,

Alysha

Prompt: Unexpected Night

Standard

Sometimes, when I’m in a writing slump (which lately, is always), I allow Twitter to feed me prompts. There are an astounding number of tweeps whose sole tweet purpose is to motivate others to write. It’s pretty great. So here goes: an unexpected night.

Mystique-as-a-child-teen-and-adult

Blue paint was creeping into my nostrils and caking around every crease of my lips but I was two drinks down and feeling anything but blue. I guess I can be more specific—it wasn’t blue paint exactly, that was curdling around my eyebrows—it was (unfortunately) more like periwinkle. Luckily, I had a BLUE long-sleeved t-shirt, BLUE shorts, and BLUE tights to combat any confusion: I was blue (even if my face was periwinkle). A long, RED (orange-red, if I’m being honest) wig draped itself around my splotchy neck and YELLOW (definite on this one) cat-eye contacts continued to rotate creepily since I was wearing them over my regular contacts.

In other words, I was a bit of a mess. The paint wasn’t spreading onto my skin very evenly, in fact, it was being downright exasperating. I had chunks on one side of my face that were thick and wet, spots on the other side that were thin and dry, flecks in strands of my hair (real and wig), flecks everywhere else within a 10-foot radius… I looked like something out of a budget Smurf production. An elementary school’s Spring performance. An understudy for a second-grade Smurfette.

Luckily, I didn’t give a damn. Amazing friends, Halloween excitement, and vodka do wonderful things to a mind, body, and soul. I hopped around my living room in my beige canvas slip-ons (apparently I don’t own blue shoes), sipping and laughing and unknowingly splattering a few paint specks on couch pillows and the likes.

“Girrrrrl, you are BLUE!” Anne giggled in her goddess dress and I eyed her (cat-eyed her) jealously. She looked like a goddess, with or without the costume. Giant green eyes, dark hair, olive skin, white dress, curves for days—she was straight out of a Greek myth.

“Do I even look like Mystique, though? Or do I just look like a blue girl?” Mystique has been an idol of sorts for years. First of all, holy hell she’s smokin’ hot. Secondly, she kicks ass. Third, she can literally be ANYONE she wants to be. I’d thought about buying a latex suit to look more like her—I mean, let’s face it, clothes really aren’t her thing. But um, tummy pudge is also not her thing, so yeah, I decided on the t-shirt-shorts-tights.

“Yes, you really do. You really, really do!” I knew she was lying, but in a lovely, daughter of Zeus kind of way.

“It’s actually creeping me out,” Jennifer the 80’s rocker chick chimed in. I was surrounded by such happy, “fluffy” costumes. Athena, the Molly Ringwald-esque punkstress, Tara was Rainbow Brite, and Sandra was a cute pirate. I stood out, obviously. I looked pretty evil, but like I said, Smurfette. So a Smurfette gone bad.

We eventually shuffled into a taxi and met up with a few more friends on Rainey Street. Here’s where I cut to the chase. Fill in the holes with (what else) drinking. There was lots of that. Also, random guys shouting out things like, “Ohhh, I get it! AVATAR!!!” and “Genie chick, cooooool.” To the bro’ who guessed that I was Beetlejuice: You. Are. An. Idiot.

—– cut>>>>chase:

Two pedi-cabs and lots of walking later, we drunkenly made it to our final destination: Gypsy Bar on East 6th to see our friend Brian’s band play.

Here’s where it’s important to know a couple things about me and alcohol.

  1. I’m pretty good at it.
  2. I get suuuuuper ballsy and confident and seductive sometimes (i.e. when I see something I want).

Also, I’d told Anne earlier in the night, “I’m gonna make out with someone tonight, OK? That’s the goal. You in?” And she was in, SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO EXECUTE THIS PLAN WITH ME. However, the goddess, Molly, Rainbow, and One Eye watched as I, and I alone, smoothly decided to yell at a stranger, “WHY aren’t you wearing a costume?! How lame! It’s HALLOWEEN, HELLO!”

Super sexy, amiright? Paired with my crusty paint job and rotating, wompy contacts, I was basically a catch. Did I mention that my skin was starting to itch underneath all that periwinkle? Downright foxy.

Look: he had dimples and he was really tall and someone obviously needed to yell at him for not wearing a costume (that’s just dumb…why even go out?).

Even closer: goddamn he was really tall and he had a random sprinkling of freckles and gray hairs and his eyes were kind of caramel in the light and he immediately matched my bluntness with, “Well, at least my paint isn’t weirdly coming off. And your contacts are all kinds of crooked too.”

Barely a breath between us: “Well then here.” I pulled the cheap tube of paint out of my purse—it was almost the only item in there. “And while you’re at it, go ahead and rotate my contacts for me please.” I leaned up towards his stubbly chin and opened my eyes wide, not allowing him to hesitate, my lips pursed in amusement.

All of our friends had vanished by this point, leaving us in a strange bubble we’d created within minutes. This is apparently the point in which I tell a stranger everything about me: teaching, my novel, moving from Hawaii…I don’t even know what else I told him, I just know that we were locked in conversation and we’d moved to a picnic table and it was ten minutes ‘til the bar closed.

“I really want to kiss you but you’re going to get blue paint all over your face.”

Yeah. That came out of my mouth.

He must’ve said he didn’t care or he might’ve not said anything at all, but as people shuffled out of the back gate and the lights were being shut off, Mystique made out with the costumeless man with two last names. He looked like he’d been periwinkle-pied. I giggled and tried to wipe it off of his lips. He asked for my number. I gave it to him, scampered off, and expected to never hear from him again.

Five months later and my friends still affectionately call him “Blue Man Group,” but usually just behind his back.

Sometimes it’s not a terrible idea to paint yourself periwinkle, take a few shots, and yell at a stranger.