Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Good news.  I got my new Social Security card.  I not only got it, but after staring at it for four days, I signed it.  And this time, I even signed it correctly.  Miracles really do happen.

This entire Social Security card thing has been a learning experience.  Here's what I learned:  the Social Security Administration office is a happenin' place where people meet up.  I know this.  I've been there twice now.  The experience was the same both time, and it goes like this:  I walk in.  I get a ticket by using the kiosk.  I sit down.  I kill some time reading emails and checking Facebook on my phone.  And I eavesdrop, just a little.

Mainly I eavesdrop because the Social Security Administration office is full of old people, a good amount of whom are hard of hearing.  It's also apparent that the closer you get to retirement, the less you get out, but once you get to the Social Security office, you will run into someone you know.  And when you do, the conversation will go something like this:

"Oh hey, Bud, how are you?  I haven't seen you in forever."
"Oh hey.  I'm good."
"I heard that your brother died."
"Yep, he died last month.  His (heart/kidneys/liver/insert organ of choice) failed after he had a (stroke/heart attack/transplant/insert medical event of choice).  He had just moved to (Florida/Texas/Arizona/insert warm weather location of choice).  He was only there for a (week/month/year/insert timeframe of choice) and now he's gone."
"Oh wow, that's terrible.  At least you look great.  I am retiring next month.  How about you?"
"Well, I'm going to retire, but I'm also working at (Walmart/Bob Evans/McDonald's/insert menial job of your choice)."
"That's great.  Hey, I gotta go.  Call me and we'll go (hunting/shopping/to church/insert recreational event of choice), ok?"
"Yeah, that sounds great.  See you later."

As soon as the buddy leaves, his friend will pipe up with "wow, I haven't seen him in years.  He looks terrible."  True story.  Every. Time.

As for me, I hope to not have to go to the Social Security office again anytime soon.  If I do, the little old men there are going to start thinking I'm stalking them.

Friday, April 04, 2014

When You're Gettin Married In The Morning..........

When I got married the first time, we didn't do any premarital counselling.  Perhaps it's because my dad was performing the ceremony, so that would be weird, but we didn't have to do any.  Well, I take that back,  we did get counselled on one thing: the "nuptual" kiss.

My dad had, at that point, done a lot of weddings, and had probably seen just about everything, though ministers, like nurses, never claim to have actually seen everything.  There's always something out there to surprise us.  Heck, he even did a funeral once where the gravedigger fell into the grave, causing a rather pregnant pause, followed by a firm "I'm OK" to filter up from the depths.  So yeah, stuff happens.

Apparently, one of the things that can happen is that the bride and groom linger a bit too long at the "you may kiss the bride" booth.  My father was rather clear on it, saying something to the effect of "it doesn't have to be a peck, but don't get carried away.  It's a nuptual kiss."  I've sometimes wondered if he said this to everyone, or if it was a fatherly boundary being set by a man who was getting ready to marry off his youngest child.  In either event, I listened.

The other thing he said was for me to hang onto my veil when we blew out the unity candles, because there apparently was some kind of a fire hazard involved.  Whether or not he actually saw a bride self immolate, I have no idea, but he was concerned.  I haven't watched the video in years, but I do believe that you can see him take a small lunge toward me when he realizes that I completely ignored his advice and was, in fact, briefly in danger of becoming The Human Torch.  Oh well, it was the heat of the moment (no pun intended), and I survived.  The marriage, not so much.

So this time around, a dear friend of ours performed the ceremony.  As I mentioned, it was intended as a private affair, so there was no pressure.  No pressure, that is, till he said that he pretty much insists that everyone he marries take a premarital test, and then have some counselling before the wedding.  Oh dear.  No, Jill and Michael had just taken their test a few weeks before, and she was sure that they had "failed."  I had been assuring her that you can't really "fail" a premarital test, but she, The Voice Of Doom, was sure that they had failed.  She didn't say what was on the test, and since neither Jim or I had ever done counselling before, we went into it blind.

Let me tell you, some of those questions were HARD.  It was one of those "rate this from 1-5, with 1 being strongly disagree, and 5 being strongly agree" tests.  I hate when they say that, because you just KNOW that there are going to be questions that require an asterisk.  But there is no asterisk (reminder to self:  tell the story of the greatest April Fool's joke I ever did), so you just have to commit.  I guess that's why it's a premarital test -- they must want you to commit -- but I cheated and was asking one of my friends "how would you answer this" on Facebook while I was testing.

Take, for example, the statement "I believe I know everything about my future spouse."  Well honey, I was married long enough to know that you NEVER EVER know everything -- and frequently you know NOTHING -- about your spouse.  But I paused, worried about what it means to answer with a disagreement to this question.  Would that mean we aren't compatible?  That he has secrets?  That we haven't been together long enough?  That he won't fold the towels right?  Oops, forget that last one.  Well, I really grappled with that question, finally asking my friend - who has been married for thirty years, and has known her husband even longer -- what she thought about that question.  She stated rather matter of factly that even she learns new things about her husband from time to time.  I calmed down and finished.

Jim took his test a couple of days later, and then the fretting began.  By now, I was calm and knew it was gonna be fine -- though some counselling topics could get weird when doing it with a close friend.  Jim worried that we had failed.  Oye vay, I'm surrounded by voices of doom.  He finally had me text the pastor, who replied that we had done fine.  "What does THAT mean," Jim asked.  He dialed the phone, and jumped right in, asking how we had done.

Well, it turned out that we had done well.  As in, we showed more compatibility than almost anyone the pastor had ever married.  This is no small accomplishment, since he's been a pastor for over fifty years.  Even he sounded surprised.  I'm not sure why that is, but it is what it is:  we always knew from day one that it was right.  (Yes, I have a story about that too, but it will wait for another day.) We ended up doing our counselling the day before the wedding, and found out that we had no areas for improvement, and even scored 100% match on several areas.  We had, indeed, done well.  It led, nonetheless, to some interesting discussions on that day.  We found that we had just misread a couple of questions,  and would have done even better had we read them correctly, but it didn't matter -- interesting discussions were had, as well as some laughs.  The wedding was ON.  We planned to have a brunch together before the wedding.  Yes, if you plan your wedding right, the minister and his wife will feed you before the wedding.

The next morning, we got up and started getting ready.  My phone dinged a text notification, and I went to check it. It was from the minister, who said, and I quote:

"This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Do you have any white wine with you?"

Gotta love that man.  We took the Riesling we had with us, had a nice little wedding, a wee dram o' Scotch, and it was all over.  As in, no nuptual kiss.  He never told Jim to kiss his bride.  I'm not sure if he forgot or, more likely, that since we were using a new template of the ceremony that didn't have him pronounce us as husband and wife (WE did, in the vows), that perhaps the nuptual kiss was left out too.

My dad would be proud.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Some Things Are Just Plain Hard

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was engaged.  She (kind of) jokingly said to her fiance that he should take HER name when they got married.  Her name was, after all, easier for people to pronounce.  And it didn't consist of a part of a female cow's anatomy.  The fiance stared at her silently.  She pled her case -- again (kind of) jokingly, they laughed about the idea and moved on.

Three days later, the fiance came to her and said, quite seriously and totally out of the blue, "I just want you to know that if you don't want to take my name, then we aren't going to get married.  A man waits his whole life to give his name to a woman, and if my name's not good enough for you, then we aren't getting married."  Whoa, Dude.  JOKING.  (Kind of.)  She took his name, forever banishing their children to a life of harassment about dairy cows and women's reproductive organs.

Over time, she found that the name was somewhat useful.  When you have a name that starts with M, you always have to figure out what line you get in, or where in the seating chart you are, or where to look on the list of names up on the wall, because you're smack in the middle.  But when your last name starts with U, it's all pretty simple -- you're always at the end.  Your film (back in the day) or your prescriptions are easy to find, because there aren't many things in the U bin.  Having a U name can be rather useful, she found.

That girl was me, and I eventually made piece with the name.  The kids, except the Bratty Gurl, basically did, after putting up with the harassment from time to time.  It fit well into our life of Utter Chaos, so it was ok.  And the Bratty Gurl would get married one day and lose the name that she hates so much.

Fast forward to the part where I divorced his lying, cheating ass.  I thought seriously of taking back the maiden name but didn't, because Bratty was so anxious to change HER name that the only way to chill her out was to say "hey, NO ONE gets to change their name till I do."  She agreed, and I didn't change my name.  Moms have a way of winning, always.  It's a gift that is delivered before the first placenta, I think.

And so it was, that after a heartfelt New Year's Eve proposal a couple of years ago, and many settings and changings of dates, we took the plunge last month and got married in a private, very personal ceremony in Florida, complete with Scottish tartan, a quiach, and some Scotch whiskey, to boot.  It was lovely and simple and perfect.  We had a great honeymoon, full of relaxation, margaritas, sand, and not a care in the world.  And then everything got complicated.

Men will never understand what a pain in the butt it is to change your name.  Jim was really sweet in asking if I was going to change it at all, or if I perhaps wanted to go back to my maiden name.  I asked him -- as I've asked a number of male friends over the years -- if a man does indeed live his whole life waiting to give a woman his name, because the thought intrigued me.  He, like every other man I have ever asked, looked at me crazy and said an emphatic "NO.  Why would it matter?"  Just as I thought.  But I told him that I planned to take his name, which seemed to please him, nonetheless.  Plus, the commonality of his name means going into the Witness Protection Program is all that much easier, should the need ever arise.

And so it was that I found myself in Anderson, Indiana last week, clutching all the documentation proving my names over the course of the past half century or so.  I spoke with a very nice gentleman who told me that my new card would appear in about 2 weeks, and I set out to wait.  You know, you can't change anything till that Social Security card arrives. It's very annoying, because in the meantime, what IS your name?  Everyone congratulates you with one name, but you sign everything with the old name.  It's all a bit confusing.
 
Lucky for me that the new card arrived on Friday, a mere five days after I applied for it.  Yippee!  Me being me, and last week being as nutty as it was (cleaning up from the great flood, unpacking from the trip, painting the closet where the flood started, and work was off the chain busy, so little sleep was had), I opened the envelope and then put it aside to deal with it later.  When I went into my office, I decided to go ahead and scan it for Human Resources, then just sat and looked at it.  Lack of sleep meant my rheumatoid arthritis was pretty bad, and my hands were extremely painful.  And cold.  And stiff.  Last week was chilly, and my hands are always really cold when the temperature dips.  So the card just sat there next to me while I started my workday.

It turned into a bit of a process.  I decided to let my hands warm up, because once you sign that card, you have to look at that signature forever.  It needs to be a good signature, not one like what you sign on the credit card machine at the grocery.  It needs to be neat and legible, and one to be proud of, not unlike how you'd write it for your kids' teacher when they send home a permission slip.  Yes, the hands needed to warm up, because when they warm up, they aren't as stiff.  Or painful.  Limber fingers make pretty handwriting.  By the by, the fingers felt better, and I decided it was time to take the plunge.  I picked out the pen.  Nope, not that one.  Got another one that flowed freely.  Tested it to make sure it was working -- I didn't want to have to trace over part of the signature and make it look tacky.  Yep, pen was working great.  I took a big breath and wrote my name.  Sat back and looked at it, thinking to myself "wow, that looks really  GOOD."

Then I realized that I had signed my old last name.

I am pretty sure that life came to a standstill for about two minutes while I regained my composure.  I mean seriously, NOW what?  I couldn't turn it in as ID to get my driver's license if it had two different names on it.  Heck, if I tried to use it at the bank, I might get up close and personal with the security guard.  All thoughts of name-changing came to a screeching halt.  All I could think was "DAMMIT."

Jim got home, and I started to tell him the story. He interrupted me midstream and said "you signed the wrong name, didn't you" before I could even finish.  He may or may not have laughed to the point of tears.  He informed me that I should've waited till he got home, cause he had wanted to have a little ceremonious signing of the card, and HE would've made sure that I didn't sign the wrong name.  ::sigh:: I mean, really.  I've been signing that name since 1987.  This name change thing is HARD.  Men just don't get it.

And so it was that the dog and I popped into the convertible, put the top down, and drove to the Social Security office again this week.  I waited.  They called my name.  The girl asked how she could help me.  I just handed her my card and yes, she burst out laughing.  Now, I don't know for certain, but I'm fairly certain that federal government employees are not supposed to laugh at people, much less people in the Social Security office.  I mean, most of the people there are either senior citizens or people on disability.  It would seem unkind, and perhaps a bit confusing to the customer, for clerks to spontaneously guffaw.  But then again, I was in Anderson -- home of the only restaurant sign that hawks "Pastries, Barbecue, and Bail Bonds."  Political correctness may not be their forte. But I digress...........

So here I am again, back to square one, waiting for the new card.  Fortunately, I had already scanned the first one before I signed it, so I was able to change my name at work -- but to add to the confusion, I can't change my nursing license yet, so I still have to use the old name when I'm working.  I walk around confused most of the time.  Hopefully, by next week, I will be able to start the name changing process in earnest, and put the old name to rest, once and for all.  And trust me, if anything happens to my dear husband sometime in the distant future, and some man tries to say that he's waited his whole life to give me his name, I'm gonna tell him where he can shove it.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Jim-anese

Well, it was bound to happen. My dear husband has caught the tongue-twisting-brain-bending virus otherwise known as Sethanese.  He swears he hasn't always been this way, so of course, it's the baby's fault.  I feel Seth's pain, and we have bonded over the baby-of-the-family issue more than once.  I suspect, however, that Jim has been like this longer than he thinks.  He also has more in common with Seth than he thinks.

Case in point:  we were walking out of our hotel last week, whilst having a discussion about something.  Jim says to me, "well, I'm very anatomic, you know."  I actually stopped in my tracks.  My mind went completely blank. All I kept thinking of was the Animatronic rides at Disney, or anatomically correct dolls, neither of which fit into the conversation.  Seth's been in college for too long now.  My interpretive powers are not as sharp as they once were. I stared at him for a minute and said "what are you talking about?" to which he responded "you know, like a cartoon character."  "Do you mean animated?" He looked at me blankly, then just walked away laughing.

I swear, I'm lucky that I end the day with any kind of brain cells at all, if you consider who I hang out with.  I wouldn't have it any other way though.  This guys are the best.  Even if they do need a few screws tightened up.




Monday, March 17, 2014

Say Cheese

I think I almost killed my boo today.  It was totally an accident, but it certainly had more than one person worried for a few minutes.

I took a trip recently and brought Jim back a few souvenirs along the way. It was a route I've taken more than once, but never stopped at any of the local haunts.  I generally meander around when I take a road trip, making stops to find antiques, sewing patterns, or whatever amuses me.  I've never stopped to get any local treats, so I made it my goal this time.  I ended up coming home with four bottles of local wines, three six packs of beer from regional microbreweries, some Mackinac taffy (HUGE hit with the spare to the throne) and some cheese from a cool cheese shop.

That was where it all went wrong.

Jim likes to have appetizers before dinner sometimes, making us trays of cheese and crackers, olives, salami, and what have you.  I thought that I'd get him some interesting cheeses as a little surprise, so I picked up some (VERY yummy) tomato basil cheddar, some mild plain cheddar, some horseradish somethingorother cheese, and one with ghost peppers in it.  Jim is always amazed at how my body protests at any kind of spiciness, especially given how much he loves spiciness.  He tells stories about how he and his Marine buddies would tempt each other with jalapenos and such, and usually owns the bragging rights, so I figured I'd punch it up a notch to the real deal.

For the unindoctrinated, the ghost pepper has been known as the hottest pepper in the world for several years.  Seth's best friend grew some in his garden at one point, and decided to try them with a couple of friends.  No one was able to keep them down.  I believe the description was, as given by his devoutly Catholic friend, that they were hotter than hell itself.  Coming from a Catholic, that means something.

I told Jim I'd bought him some treats, and put them into the fridge.  I didn't pay a lot of attention to it, and he probably didn't either, because we keep a lot of stuff like that on hand for when friends stop by, or there's a pitchin at work. So tonight, we decided to get together with friends.  He grabbed up a bunch of various types of crackers, as well as several kinds of cheese from the fridge.  He fixed them all up in a beautiful arrangement, then brought them to the table, explaining what each one was.  We all helped ourselves.

We were only a few minutes into the conversation when I heard something strange next to me.  I looked over, and realized his face was red.  VERY red.  And he was breathing hard.  Next thing you know, he was fanning himself.  Vigorously.  Then, the choking started.  Every time he thought he had his breath, he'd start again.  Once in a while, he would gasp "Oh my GOD, Lisa, what have you done to me?"  Tears running down his cheeks, he started swabbing himself with his cloth napkin.  Then he got up and grabbed paper towels.  He caught his breath, and a new wave hit.  Mary, ever the gracious hostess, asked if water would help.  He choked out "MILK," and she made for the kitchen.

He finally got the milk down, and within a few minutes, he recovered.  We sat staring at him, while he sat staring at the plate of cheese.  Silence fell over the room.  Finally, Mary said "which one did you have?"  He just pointed.  Mary reached for a different piece on another part of the plate.  Jim took a swig of beer and stared at the plate, then silently grabbed up the offenders and wrapped them into a napkin.  Fred, ever the gentleman, asked "who do you think we could give it to?  It seems a shame to throw it away."  Jim looked him straight in the eye and said "NO.  You do NOT want to inflict that on anyone.  It's.............a weapon of mass destruction."

I am now thinking of offering a government contract for  a weapon to end all wars, cure the flu, eradicate the Asian carp, manage the snake population in the Everglades, and control crying children in public areas.  I'm going to call it The Government Cheese.  Bring your own Kleenex.








Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Biggest Heart


Today, our beloved Boo Bear left us.  Though not unexpected, it is devastating, nonetheless.

A couple of months ago, I took Boo to the vet for a checkup.  He was breathing fast - panting at times - and he was more restless than usual.  Boo's always been an anxious boy, but he was pacing nearly constantly, and coughing.  His appetite had dropped off.  The vet started conservatively, and gave him prednisone and antibiotics.  He couldn't hear heart sounds well, but said he might have some bronchitis and a sore throat from the coughing.  He was concerned, as his belly was full of fluid as well.  He did fairly well on the meds, but relapsed as soon as he came off of them, so we did a chest x-ray.  That's when reality set in.

When I went to pick him up after the xray, I was seated in the waiting room.  I could see an xray on a viewbox in an exam room, and I thought "if that's Boo's xray, then we are in big trouble."  It was, and we were.  His heart, which should've been slightly larger than a plum, was roughly the size of a small pumpkin.  Boo had end stage congestive heart failure.  Now, I'm a nurse, so I knew what this meant: no cure, and progressive worsening, but hopefully management on medications.  He was placed on three different heart meds.  The cough continued, in varying degrees, but he calmed a bit and started eating again.  I had hope.

Last weekend, he took a turn for the worse.  He was coughing a LOT, even at night, and was extremely anxious when he couldn't stop.  His breathing was more labored, and he looked like he was ready to give birth.  As happenstance would have it, we had dinner with our vet on Sunday night, and he told me to bring him in the next day.  By the time I got him there, he was coughing nearly constantly, and looked miserable.  He had gained six pounds in less than a month, and we knew where it was -- in that huge belly.  The vet and I had a heart to heart.  She wanted to know what I thought about his condition, and I was direct -- I know he's not going to be cured, and that he's worse -- much worse.  I told her that I had told myself from the time of his diagnosis that I was not going to do anything to keep him here, suffering, just so that I could have more time with him.  The vet nodded in agreement.

She suggested that I take him home so that Jill could say goodbye, as she was here for the weekend, but had spent the night before at her best friend's house.  We agreed that I'd bring him back today.  I asked if we could give him something to calm him a bit, as I know that they use Xanax or other meds for anxiety.  She was concerned that his heart was so compromised that meds would tilt the scale the wrong way, and he would end up in severe distress in the middle of the night.  I made an appointment to bring him back today.

I took him home and tried to give him his meds -- he refused to eat.  He wouldn't eat his favorite cheese.  I offered him a cupcake -- leftover from Jill's bridal shower -- and he turned up his nose.  My heart shattered into a thousand pieces.  We loved on him all night as he alternately laid down, coughed, then got up and paced while he tried to get air during the coughing spasms.  He was tired, and didn't follow me around like he always has -- every step I take, he's always been right there.  He had to be coaxed up to our room when we went to bed, and he dropped won, exhausted from the stairs.  Mercifully, he slept all night without coughing.  I was afraid he was dead, but got up this morning, and coaxed him downstairs.

He still refused to eat.  I brushed him out, then decided to take him on a walk -- something that's always been difficult with him, as he always wanted to try to kill anyone or anything in his path.  I started to take him to the park, and instead decided on a nature preserve nearby, where there are rarely any other people, and where he could wander freely.  I figured I would only take him if he was enjoying himself, and if it didn't cause more coughing.  He sniffed and wandered, and mucked about in the mud, always looking back to make sure that I was only a step behind him.  We wandered out and walked back to the car.  He only had three coughing fits, and they didn't last long, so though I knew he was tiring, he wasn't any worse than usual.  He had trouble launching himself into the car for that final ride to the vet, but once he was there, he relaxed and laid down.

I had taken his dog bed with me, so when we got to the exam room, Boo laid on it till the coughing returned.  At that point, he hopped up and wandered anxiously, tongue and gums blue, until he could regain his breath.  The cycle repeated several times -- he couldn't lie down because the fluid in his belly was taking up space in his chest, so his lung didn't have any air capacity anymore.  His nose was running with overflow of fluid from his lungs.  He was drowning.  My heart broke.

He was gone before the vet even finished the injection.  Quietly, without a sound, with his head on my lap, he left this world and crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  I'm sure that my sweet Timmy met him there, and he's already taught him how to play -- something he could never figure out in this world -- and he's made friends -- another challenge in a world where Boo thought everyone was a threat.  I like to think they're playing tug of war right now.

Boo was a challenge -- he was anxious, and scared, and scary.  We got him from a shelter three hours south of here -- something the ex never knew -- where they had found him running the streets.  As a result, he had a street dog's mentality.  He scavenged.  He wanted to kill anyone who made their way into our entryway, once even biting Dan's brother right on the family jewels (and drawing blood).  He broke one of our leaded glass windows, to the tune of $500 or so, because he though he could get through it and kill the nemesis of the canine world: the mailman.  He escaped the yard multiple times, and once even got run over on a very busy street.  He spent the night in the hospital, to the tune of $700 or so, and he could never quite lift his left leg to pee after that.  He'd alternately bark like he was going to kill you, then allow you to pet him all evening while his tail was between his legs.  And when Jim would fall asleep with his arm hanging off the bed, as he usually does, Boo would walk underneath it and rub his head on his hand for ten minutes or more.  He loved his people, and he loved them BIG.  And we loved him big, too.

I will miss my boy.  His heart was big in more ways than one, and in the end, it was simply too big for this world.  So rest well, my Boo Bear.  And tell my Timmy Dawg I love him.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nerd-speak

Back in the day, Jill used to complain when the boys in her homeschool co-op "spoke Nerd" during their lunch break.  Being the only girl there much of the time, it got rather tiresome for her.  After all, girlfriend was the only girl in the family, and essentially the only girl in the neighborhood.  She had more than her share of Nerd-speak at home.  She just wasn't having it at school.

I'm used to it and, after working as a nursery nurse for some years, I learned to tune stuff out a long time ago.  I listen to the boys in the car only to a point, but when it starts getting too thick, I tune it out and let them at it.  Jim cracks up at how they go at it, truthfully stating that the could go on for hours -- and they've done it many a time.

So here was yesterday's tete-a-tete on Facebook.

Thomas to Seth:  tell your father im here and tell him the lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts.  Tell me you didn't get hella chills from that.
My friend Sally:  What's a lannister?
Seth:  So gud.  Also got chills at "if you're looking for justic, you came to the wrong place." since I know what it's in ressponse to.  Also, EVERY SCENE WITH OBERYN especially the one where he's fighting mr big man.
Thomas: i'm unfathomable levels of excited for "if you die before you say her name, ser, I will hunt you through all seven hells."
Seth:  And also the opening bit with "some dead man." Also that bit with the dude  that killed Jeor, leaving the baby in the woods (sacrificing it to an Other) is pretty....interesting.
Jill:  Nerdz.
Jim:  WTH game or movie is this from?
Chris:  It was so GOOD.
Me: Game of Thrones is my guess.
Seth: This.
Chris:  Game of Awesome Thrones.
Me: I knew it.  Only Game of Thrones can bring out this level of nerd.

I have NO idea what any of this means.  I do know that Seth is practically giddy over the return of the show, and apparently Thomas and Chris are too, to the point that punctuation and spelling obviously become optional where Game of Thrones is involved.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.