How Canadian Blood Services saved my life

Woman's hand spraying and wiping a table clean, bucket in backgroundThis afternoon. I will be volunteering for the last time at Canadian Blood Services. I am hoping for a busy shift, so I can serve a lot of soup and dole out a lot of cookies. Time passes quickly when all those donor chairs are filled.

I owe a great deal to CBS. We are blessed with easy access to blood products when we need them in Canada. In the past, I have needed them. Whenever I did, the gift of life was there, thanks to the generosity of donors. When I was bleeding internally several years back and doctors couldn’t easily identify the source, a series of transfusions kept me alive.

I seem to be entering a phase of my illness where I may again need frequent topping up. Last week I was infused with mega doses of platelets. On Friday, I was due to receive two units of whole blood but the transfusion was cancelled last minute when my body decided to ramp up its own blood-cell production. I am leaving CBS as my need for its products is rising.

Sometimes I worry about how the clinic will run without me, which is ridiculous because it was running well without me before I got there and will thrive with the fresh blood of new volunteers. I’m not irreplaceable. But who can better thank the donors for coming? Who will be able to stress how important their donations are from personal experience? And who will wipe the tables after the donors leave? There’s a stray cookie crumb hiding on every table.

I have worked with many wonderful volunteers over the past year and a half at CBS. Many are students seeking entry to science programs or medicine. Others are grown adults like me who have some connection to blood donation through their own or others’ need. Some have set ways of doing things, while others go with the flow.

Some volunteers provide soup with one package of salty crackers while others give two packs; some push the cookies while others encourage fluids, offering juice or pop; some stock the shelves while others schmooze with donors. There have been long discussions over whether to place the spoons facing up or down in the dishwasher. This I do not feel strongly about, although I’ve learned that others do.

Somehow I have become obsessed with wiping the tables. Whichever shift I’m on, I assume the task of cleaning up after donors leave. Call me the table-wiping overfunctioner. Knowing I am quick to eradicate table messes, my fellow volunteers have learned to underfunction, i.e., to neglect that task altogether. Take note, all you overfunctioners out there: leave work for others to do; they will do it in their own time.

It’s a good thing I’m leaving, then, since cleaning tables is a good skill for all to acquire, especially the young ones who will soon move out of their parents’ homes. I’ll do one final swipe before I depart this afternoon. Then I’ll say good bye, knowing someone will pick up the cloth within minutes of my leaving. Maybe the new table wiper will do a better job than me. Maybe I’ll surprise J. and start wiping counters at home. Stranger things have happened.

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The challenges of ladling hot soup

Soup in bowl with crackers on side

Do you folks recall when I started volunteering? In the summer of 2016 I started applying for positions, unsure whether I’d be accepted for work because of my leukemia. Neither agency I approached seemed to exclude me on the basis of my illness, so unexpectedly I ended up with two volunteer gigs rather than one. I started at Canadian Blood Services in September 2016 and at PALS with Jelly a few months later.

I never thought I could sustain two weekly commitments for long, as much as I enjoyed both. I figured keeping up that pace would draw on too much of my precious energy. Some weeks were tough but I managed to attend the vast majority of my scheduled shifts. My health has been so remarkably stable over this time that there’s been no need to bail.

But, as you well know, loyal readers, my health is changing in ways I don’t yet understand. And these changes have necessitated an increasing number of doctors appointments. Jelly and I had to bail on our scheduled PALS visit last week because of my corkscrew procedure, for example.

Over the next while, I anticipate ramping up my time at the cancer centre, whether for appointments with Dr. Blood Lite, blood transfusions (thank you dear donors), or other procedures. Sometimes I’ll have sufficient notice to work around my volunteer schedule but at other times, like last week’s biopsy which I was informed of the day prior, I will not.

After considerable deliberation during one of my sleepless nights–I’m trying to make my middle-of-the-night awakenings productive–I gave notice at Canadian Blood Services a few days ago. I will have one final shift next week and then I will no longer be spending my Monday afternoons feeding people soup, juice, and cookies. I can no longer manage the two hours of heavy lifting–those soup cans weigh a ton–and dishwashing and table wiping and encouraging the donors to come back again soon. I am so wiped by the end of my shifts that even the drive home through rush hour traffic is becoming a challenge.

I could have left PALS instead, but our visits are shorter and less physically demanding. I transport Jelly to the visit site, sit on a chair while Jelly lays on the floor, and don’t move much until the visit is over. Also, Jelly has told me she’d like to keep PALSing, especially since some days her ageing body is not up to a walk. These visits get both of us out of the house with minimal effort.

Still, CBS had its own rewards. I was thrilled by the sight of a busy clinic, or of regular donors reaching milestone donations. I loved meeting first-time donors who realized the process was a breeze and planned to return. And I took great pride in eventually mastering soup ladling without major spillage or skin burnage. Not everyone belongs in food services.

I was an abject failure at one responsibility, however: I panicked on the rare occasion when someone fainted after donating. My ability to manage such crises did not improve over time. Thank goodness others could step in when I froze. We all have our shortcomings.

 

The Syrians are coming! The Syrians are coming!

Over the holidays, I was seated beside a lovely fellow at a get together. Out of nowhere, he said he didn’t understand why Muslim women had to wear head coverings now that they were living in Canada. “They should dress more like us,” he said. Then, to my alarm, he added, “We won’t be able to tell if they are terrorists.” Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.

I challenged him politely, suggesting I thought everybody should be able to choose the way they dressed. Maybe I was too polite, though, because he then asked me if I agreed with him. I fumbled. I didn’t want to offend someone I’d known for a long time and would likely see again, but I strongly disagreed, and told him so. The conversation was unsettling.

I frequently interact with Muslim women wearing traditional garb in my day-to-day life. They may be students at the university who pet Jelly during her visits, or professional women, or moms shopping with their children at the grocery store. I’ve never worried that they were terrorists because of the way they were dressed. Why would I? We’re all more similar than different.

Thank goodness my unsettling experience was followed by a quick counterexample. Thank goodness I volunteered at Canadian Blood Services on New Year’s Day. For weeks now, the volunteers had been reminded that a large group of recent Syrian immigrants would be donating blood that day for the first time in Canada.

When I arrived, the clinic was hopping. I’ve never seen it so busy. Syrians filled every donor bed. Giving blood is ingrained in the Syrian culture because of all the political unrest: when they were back home, they never knew when a sister or child or friend might need blood, so they gave just in case. They may have donated blood regularly in Syria, but they were out of practice since their arrival here.

The Syrian group was accompanied by a bevy of interpreters to ensure they understood the process. There was genuine warm camaraderie amongst the (mostly) men. It was a social outing for them, a time to hang out with friends. I couldn’t understand their language, but it looked like some donors were being chided by the others for being nervous. Each donor had the company of a friend or two to chat with while he gave. We volunteers were to provide refreshments to these donors after they’d finished donating.

I am pleased to report I didn’t spot one terrorist among the group. These were warm, friendly fellows who seemed happy to be there that day and grateful for the chance to socialize with fellow Syrians. Whatever stresses they’d surely endured since arriving in Canada seemed irrelevant for that short time. They were simply enjoying the company of compatriots.

I wasn’t the greatest volunteer that day. I was too busy tearing up. I was astounded by the generosity of this group of newcomers. It was quite a sight to see such a crowd making an effort to give back to the country that had welcomed them. Know that I’ll gladly take your blood if I need it, Syrians. I, for one, thank you for donating.

Nurse with Syrian blood donor making peace sign as he donates

Celebrate your milestones, whatever they are

3 Light the Night walkers with their Survivor t-shirts

We leave on our big vacation in 12 sleeps. When we were first planning this vacation, J. told me her rush of fall weddings would end immediately following Thanksgiving. We could be on the plane already, except I didn’t want to miss the annual leukemia walk. Which would you choose, a trip to Israel or a leukemia walk? Don’t answer that.

This decision to delay the vacation may not make sense to you; I’m a little bewildered by it myself. Going on this annual walk, hanging out with my fellow leukemics, wearing my guest-of-honour SURVIVOR t-shirt, has become a significant event in my year. I’ll try to explain.

My definition of a milestone has changed over my five years with leukemia. After I became so sick, I was proud of being able to walk unassisted and to tie my shoes without falling over. I vividly recall my first post-diagnosis yoga class, which I survived despite falling over a few times. I remember cooking my first real dinner post diagnosis, and seeing my first client. Being alert enough to drive again was another milestone.

As time passes, the goals have shifted. There’s the annual Cancer Centre’s Christmas gift-basket draw, which means I’m alive to lose my money again for a good cause. I don’t hate my birthday anymore, and the importance of cancerversaries is self-explanatory. For whatever reason, this leukemia walk has taken on an odd significance in my annual calendar. It’s my prize for getting leukemia and not dying from it.

This year’s will be all the more special because I will finally receive my 5-year pin. Now you know the real reason I delayed my vacation: I wanted a silly little commemorative pin. Frankly, I could have lied about how many years I’d had the illness and received this pin anytime–no one asks for a doctor’s letter–but I’m too honest for such deception.

This coveted pin is nothing to speak of. It’s the shape and colour of a drop of blood with a 5 on it. The blood-drop symbol is almost identical to that used by Canadian Blood Services. When I wear my pin proudly, people may well assume I am a blood donor (I selfishly only take blood), and not a leukemia survivor.

Does it matter that the pin will have meaning only to me? Of course not. If anyone asks, I can always set them straight. (Ha ha. “Gay person sets unknowing one straight.” And they say we’re out [no pun intended, truly] to convert people!)

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I never envisioned reaching goals like these. Now, planning for my next milestone keeps me hopeful that leukemia is not going to take my life. No wonder cancer-related goals, however insignificant, have become so important to me.

Then, two days later, J. and I will leave for Israel. Who ever thought I’d get any doctor’s blessing to travel so far? Yet another cause for celebration. That and anticipation of the best hummus and falafel anywhere. I can almost taste it….

A plate of hummus with falafel balls in the middle

Volunteering by proxy

Calgary Stampede midway crowded with people

That’s me in the top right corner.

I must apologize for not writing yesterday, especially since I know how you hang on my every word. I spent the day carousing at the Stampede grounds. Just kidding. I’d rather sleep than watch adults young and old embarrassing themselves in public.

Stampede is a time for reckless alcohol overconsumption. With that comes an increase in philandering, and of course, STIs and unwanted pregnancies, despite the local campaign to “put a condom on your cowboy.” Not surprisingly, divorces spike following the week-long party. Stampeding sounds too risky to me, so I hunker down at home instead.

J., on the other hand, plans two visits to the grounds with our good friend, Triple D. They will be there from supper time until midnight both nights, but they won’t have time for drinking or philandering; they’ll be selling lottery tickets for fancy cars. They are volunteering for this task in support of PALS. J. noticed that PALS was seeking people for this fundraising event, and not only did she volunteer for two long shifts, she signed up Triple D, who is known for always making time for a good deed.

When I became a PAL, I learned that, in addition to our regularly scheduled visits, I’d be expected to support the organization in other ways. This included, for example, interviewing new recruits, helping out on the multi-station dog-assessment day, or attending fundraising events with or without my little pal in tow.

Most of these activities involve longer hours than I have the stamina for, so I pass. I do my part by volunteering for one-time visits–last week’s parade is a recent example, although that day felt more like a gift than an obligation–on top of our regularly scheduled visits with the old folks.

The same is true for Calgary Blood Services. I can’t donate blood, so I feed soup and cookies to those who can, and try to encourage healthy others to donate in my stead. I’m grateful to J. for persisting in giving despite her fainting after her second blood donation, and to my dear friend known affectionately as Spongebob (for reasons that will remain a mystery to you) who donated for the first time last month with no ill effects. Anticipating the milkshake he’d be buying on his way home probably helped him through the itty bitty pin prick.

Maybe I shouldn’t say that I pass on the volunteer duties I can’t fulfill since the truth is that I pass them on to gracious and willing others wherever I can. I wish I could volunteer myself, but I know my limits. A 6-hour sales shift ending at midnight–assuming I did not sleep through the chaos like Jelly did at that parade–would knock me out for days. I also know that the screening interviewers at Canadian Blood Services would laugh at me if I tried to donate blood despite my leukemia. I know what my limits are, and that there are some things I can’t do, however much I wish I could.

Kudos to those folks, J. et al., who donate their time or their gift of life (blood, that is) in my stead. Their generosity makes my heart sing, and I’m not the heart-singing type.

Increasing my blog’s readership, one visitor at a time

It was a record week with two real live clients. For whatever reason, my second client found the session helpful and decided to rebook. At this rate, I may actually have a bit of income to declare at year end. Do you think her rebooking had anything to do with the despairing look on my face as the session neared its end? Or my begging? I thought so too.

I commended this client for making contact since we hadn’t seen each other for some time. I can’t imagine calling my therapist not knowing if she’d died since we’d last met. Kudos to her for taking the risk. I believe she could see, once she arrived, that my death is not imminent, or at least doesn’t seem to be so.

On a much triter note, I’d love my writing to find a larger audience. All writers would, wouldn’t they? Sometimes my narcissistic side wonders why my blog hasn’t garnered more attention over time. Is it my abrasively opinionated stance? My biting humour? How about my many random syntax errors? You’re probably wondering whether I’ll ever learn to stop my participles from dangling.

Despite my ongoing efforts to keep you entertained–“Enough already,” you say, “I wouldn’t have committed to this blog if I knew we’d be forging a long-term relationship”–I haven’t yet garnered any publishing contracts, I’ve had no requests for guest articles in esteemed newspapers, no talk-show appearances, not even any invitations to relocate to L.A. Perhaps my fame will follow my death, just like that of Bach or van Gogh.

It would probably help if I used social media to broaden my reading audience, but, because I don’t live with a teenager, I’m at a loss. I’ve taken a more primitive approach to expanding readership instead: I awkwardly tell people about the blog and ask them to take a look.

Sadness doll

Can you see the resemblance?

Take, for example, Mr. Platelet at the Calgary Blood Services clinic, the regular platelet donor who likened me to Little Miss Sunshine a few weeks back rather than my soulmate, Sadness, from Inside Out. You know Sadness, who’s forever trying to bring Joy down. (As a side note, notwithstanding the pale blue facial tone, I bear a striking resemblance to Sadness, even when I’m happy. The higher-than-average BMI, the frumpy sweater, the glasses, and the eyes that are always wide open. Hey, maybe that’s why Sadness is always sad. She’s tired all the time!)

I caught up with Mr. Platelet–would “Little Mr. Sunshine” be a better moniker?–this past Monday when I was volunteering and, while he was quietly eating his soup, I told him how touched I was by his kind words last time he was in. And then I clumsily directed him to the recent blog post where he’d played a starring role. In yet another act of kindness, he gamely read the post while consuming his soup. And just like that, I increased my readership that day. Poor fellow probably didn’t know what hit him. Even my clients would say I’ve never been known for my delicate touch.

No wonder my blog readership is increasing at a snail’s pace. Should I reconsider the social media approach? It’s less intrusive. Now I just need a teenager….

Social media icons (twitter, Pinterest, youtube

In certain circles, I’m known as Little Miss Sunshine

Stuffed toy of Little Miss Sunshine

If you think Sadness and Fear are my constant companions, I beg to differ. Sure, I’ve been a little off kilter lately due to my gouty complications, my unrelenting fatigue, and my difficulty handling doctor change, but the rest of the time, Joy prevails.

If you know me only by what I write, you may envision my holding back tears all the time. You may even wonder how I ever managed to become a psychologist. Before you write my provincial regulatory body to rescind my license lest I harm the public, I beg you to hear me out.

Despite your negative preconceptions, under the right conditions I am an unimaginable bundle of joy. I bring light and life to those around me. People can’t help but smile when I enter a room, and not only because my fly is undone.

To demonstrate my point, I’d like to share a story from earlier this week, before I became unduly distracted–and distressed, I might add, in case you didn’t pick that up–by the Trauma of the Changing of the Doctors. My moment of unbridled happiness took place on Monday afternoon while I was volunteering at Canadian Blood Services.

I’ve been on the Monday shift since I started volunteering at the clinic last September. It turns out that donors often set their appointments on the same day of the week, and that over the months I’ve become familiar with many Monday donors. I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can anticipate their soup preferences or cookie choices, but I do see them on a fairly regular basis.

Earlier in the shift, I was feeling somewhat verklempt because I had met a donor who was profoundly hearing impaired. I did not realize her impairment until I noticed her reading my lips and heard an unusual lilt in her voice. Her hearing was impaired, but her blood was not, so in she came to give. The range of people who attend the clinic never ceases to amaze me.

Then Mr. Platelet entered. Mr. Platelet is a lovely fellow who donates frequently. Platelet and plasma donors often attend the clinic more often because they can, and thus we get to know them better. For the first time, Mr. Platelet called me by my name, which is on my little red volunteer vest. We had never chatted before but we spoke briefly as he was leaving. During this conversation, he told me he liked donating during my shifts because I am “all smiles and sunshine”. Not wanting to disabuse him of that notion, I thanked him warmly and told him he was very sweet.

And in truth, I am Little Miss Sunshine at the clinic. I look out upon the donors slurping their soup each week and imagine, “Are you the one who saved my life when I needed blood (or platelets or plasma)?” Thanks for that.

After Mr. Platelet left, I broke the volunteer code of conduct: I neglected the donors while pulling out my phone to text J. I wrote, simply, “I am all smiles and sunshine.” She promptly responded, “I know.” And so, too, should you, dear readers, in case you sometimes forget. I’d forget too if I were you.

Am I heartless to the homeless?

Hand with ladle putting soup in bowl two hands are holding

I went into volunteering with my eyes wide open, yet I hadn’t considered the ethical quandaries I might face in my positions. On Monday at Canadian Blood Services, I was tested. As I share this story, I expect some of you may disagree with my thought process or my actions. If so, I trust you will tell me.

I’d been hoping that my International Happiness Day would not include Sadness, and it didn’t until I was almost finished my Canadian Blood Services shift. Then, a homeless person wandered in the clinic back door, by our little free restaurant. (I assumed homelessness based on her dishevelled appearance and soiled clothing.) She walked toward the nursing station and was greeted by the head nurse.

Then she returned to the restaurant with snacks the nurse had given her, stopping to request a bowl of soup. She sat down only briefly before asking me to put the remainder in a cup to go. I refused. Because the soup is hot, no one leaves the clinic with it.

The woman was angry with me for saying no, and after trying to coerce me into changing my mind, she returned to her table to finish eating. I trust she was genuinely hungry, and I knew she had cookies and juice for the road as well. I had to leave while she was still eating, so I don’t know how the story ended.

You may wonder, based on this incident, whether I care about homeless people and I can assure you I do. I know that mental illness and addiction plague the homeless community, and that those who do not suffer these ills are on the streets because of other unfortunate circumstances such as unemployment or relationship breakdown. Homelessness is a serious problem in Calgary as in any major metropolis.

I treat homeless people respectfully because they are human beings in unfortunate situations. But if I see a person begging on the street, I do not give money because I don’t think my buck or two helps. I also know there are social-service agencies offering food and lodging to people in need. I believe that donating to these agencies addresses homelessness more effectively than giving randomly to individuals.

I normally lavish praise and food on everyone who comes to the clinic. Some have been deemed unable to donate while others are there in support of a friend or loved one. This woman did not come in to donate, and the resources are not designated for her. It’s as simple as that, but it’s never simple. It’s just a bowl of soup, but it’s not.

What if she returns regularly in search of a free meal? Say she brings a group of her friends with her next time. What then? By meeting her immediate needs that day, am I potentially creating a problem down the road?

Thankfully, the head nurse witnessed our interchange and came over to lend a hand. She kindly supported me for how I had handled myself. She also provided some guidelines were I to run into a similar situation again.

Was I really thinking I could park my ethics at the volunteer door? Not possible. But some of these situations are harder to handle than others. What would you have done?

Happy Rebirthday to you, Fred

I may rush in last minute when we meet for coffee, but I’m always early for my volunteering shifts. That’s how I was first volunteer to arrive at my scheduled Blood Services shift last Monday, only to be met by a FRiendly Donor (Fred seems the obvious moniker here) awaiting his appointment. Fred seemed in good spirits and, as the only two people there, we chatted while I warmed the soup.

Within a few minutes, I’d learned that Fred was donating blood that day, his 37th birthday. After offering him unlimited cookies (sadly I had no cake), he added, “I celebrated another birthday yesterday.” I looked confused, so he explained.

The day before his 33rd birthday, Fred underwent brain surgery to remove a benign tumour. He said the doctors had found the growth by chance. The surgery was successful, and after it was over, Fred experienced two major changes: the migraines he’d endured for years stopped and he was no longer depressed. He wasn’t aware that the tumour was causing these problems and was pleasantly surprised when they vanished. No wonder Fred celebrates that day. He considers his surgery-related birthday more important than his real birthday because of how his life has changed for the better since.

Hanging whole blood unitsWhat does this have to do with blood donation? Before the surgery, Fred noticed ten units of blood hanging nearby in case they were needed during his operation. Thankfully he did not need any of that blood, but the experience motivated him to become a regular donor.

I became unexpectedly emotional as Fred shared his story. When I was at my sickest, I received 22 transfusions–whole blood, platelets, and plasma–and I’ve required the odd top up since. Thank goodness Fred didn’t need all that blood during his surgery; he left more in reserve for cancerous people like me. And now, with his donations, he’s bolstering these life-saving supplies on a regular basis.

Fred had shared so much that I did something I don’t often do when I’m volunteering there: I told Fred I had leukemia, which deepens my gratitude for donors like him. Although I always feel this gratitude, I rarely tell donors how much their giving means to me personally. Could Fred’s blood have helped me at some point? I’ll never know, but I think he’d have good blood. He seemed like a decent person.

I’m not one to hijack a conversation, yet my sharing felt appropriate in that moment. Fred had disclosed a lot to me, and I wanted to let him know in the only way I knew how why his story had moved me as deeply as it did. The psychologist in me wondered whether Fred was as touched by my disclosure as I was by his. He asked me how I was doing with appropriate caring and concern and without a touch of pity, thank God.

As is my nature, I returned the focus to Fred within a minute or two, but I was glad I trusted him in that moment. Donors can only benefit from the chance to meet a recipient who is alive because of donations like theirs. I can be that grateful recipient, even while I’m warming soup.

Hopefully Fred and I will cross paths again so I can ask him his real name.

Introducing the Booger Rule

I’ve been finding my three-hour Blood Services shifts exhausting, since they’re closer to four hours by the time I drive to and from the site. I love the work, but I’m comatose by the end of my shift and it takes me a full day to recover. Last week, I asked the volunteer coordinator if I might shorten my shift to a manageable two hours. Thank goodness she was responsive and accommodating, as is her way.

For my first two-hour shift yesterday, the driving was atrocious (heavy snowfall + deep freeze = icy road conditions), so I asked J. to chauffeur me. Some days I’m just not up to driving, and the thought of taking transit in such inclement weather was grossly unappealing. J. dropped me off early and retrieved me a few hours later. On a good note, with my shorter shift, I didn’t resort to keeping myself awake by eating the high-sodium vegetable soup.

I climbed into J.’s warm car (the person who invented heated seats should win a Nobel Prize for Coziness), only to have her say, “Is that a booger on the end of your nose?” My first reaction, after my abject horror of course, was to say, “That’s highly possible.” Then I cried, “Why didn’t you notice this problem on the way to the clinic rather than on the drive home?”

I admit I’m not one to look in the mirror before I leave the house. That’s why so often my fly is undone, I have lunch on my shirt, I have food between my teeth and, it turns out, I sometimes have boogers on the end of my nose. Even if I did inspect myself in the mirror, my near vision is so poor that I’d need reading glasses to notice anything untoward.

Now let’s remember here that I’d just spend the previous two hours serving food to the generous donors, who’d trekked to the clinic through cold and deep snow. Thankfully our eye (or nose) contact was fleeting. I didn’t stand over people’s tables watching them consume their treats; I delivered the wares and went back behind the counter with all the other volunteers. (Alas! Did the volunteers notice too?) Now I’m wondering how many of the donors were thinking, “I don’t want the booger woman serving me my food.”

There is an obvious solution to this problem: I could start looking in the mirror before I leave the house. Who am I kidding? I haven’t been concerned with my appearance for over 53 years; do you think I’m suddenly going to start checking myself before I go out? I don’t want to see how large the black circles are under my eyes, or how bloodshot my eyes are from chronic fatigue, or even how much I look like I have leukemia.

I have a better solution, assuming you’re willing to help. From now on, please invoke the Booger Rule, i.e., alert me if I have boogers on my nose (or greenies between my teeth, or lunch on my shirt, or an open fly). Maybe you wouldn’t want to know, but, trust me, I would. My fleeting embarrassment is surely preferable to my sporting visible boogers all day, don’t you think?

Quote: I'm making eyes at you, hoping you'll see. For my lips cannot form the words. and all I want to say is that which must remain unspoken between us. (also, you have a bit of spinach in your teeth.)