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Archive for the ‘Chief Complaint’ Category

I have been feeling a little melancholy the past few days. I think I’ve pinpointed some of the sources: It’s that odd time of year, between holidays, where I am sad and exhausted after my full-of-family house emptied out, and the pressure of All Things Christmas is already hot and heavy. I have been rewatching The Closer, which is one of my favorite television shows, but I had forgotten how dreadfully stressful and sad the final season is. I haven’t been writing (paid work and then company/Thanksgiving), which always makes me feel unsettled and off. I read a well-written and deeply sad article in The New Yorker about dementia that hasn’t left me. My husband and I are going to see a lawyer to (FINALLY) do our estate planning. And, of course, the clouds have settled in for what promises to be many months.

It all adds up to feeling extra sensitive to silly things – a probably offhand but seemingly poignant comment from the checker at the grocery store; the way Brenda’s team is so loyal to her on The Closer; having to throw away gobs of carefully, lovingly made Thanksgiving leftovers that no one will eat; that sort of thing – and feeling a little mopey and down.

One of the other sources of my broodiness is a current heightened awareness of the juggernaut of time.

The retail sector is at least partially to blame, I think. All the frenzied emails about Christmas began what feels like months ago and have only increased in intensity. I get anxious just checking my email – all those companies yelling at me to hurry! Going fast! Don’t wait to get in on this! Shop more, save more! Ends tonight! Extended! Don’t miss out! Such a ceaseless cacophony of urgency that I am somehow unable to ignore.

Hanukkah is early this year, which makes me feel like I’m already behind.

My parents were looking at retirement homes when they were here for Thanksgiving. While I am grateful to them for preparing for their old age, and for being so open and frank about the subjects of aging and infirmity and death, it makes me sad and panicky. I may be nearly middle-aged, but I still feel like I’m somewhere in the big swirl of age twenty-to-thirty, and I’m not ready to think seriously about my parents being old.

As I literally just mentioned, I am rapidly approaching middle age, with its attendant anxieties. My skin has frequent eruptions of pique. I vacillate between feeling delighted about my middle-age invisibility and feeling angry about the fact that my husband grows increasingly attractive while I do the opposite and feeling depressed that I am fading into the wallpaper and winding inexorably toward death.

Plus – and, although it may seem like the least important item on my list, it is not– my child has her first loose tooth. As with so many childhood milestones, this feels remarkable and significant. Her little face will change so much once she loses teeth. Teeth she’s had since she was a BABY. And I’m suddenly hyper-aware that she’s five-and-a-half, which is almost six. And while five felt So Big – kindergarten!!!! – six seems practically ancient. This loose tooth has me all in a tizzy of Childhood Is Fleeting and I am simultaneously frantic about making Christmas Special While She Still Gets So Excited About Everything and mooning over all the times I failed to Cherish Every Moment. And now her babyhood is really and truly GONE. She’s practically a GROWN UP.

Of course her growing up is tied inextricably to my own mortality. It all comes down to this: This feeling that I want to keep my baby little – even while I love, LOVE how she is growing. The knowledge that it’s impossible to do so. The desperate need to take in everything – soak up every little bit of her – all the time, and watching as the moment steamrolls past even as I grasp for it.

Last night, I went in to her room to take her to the bathroom before I went to sleep. Usually, she climbs out of bed – she’s really getting too big for me to carry – but this time, I picked her up. She turned her little face up to mine for a kiss, and then draped herself over my shoulder. I stood there for a moment, just holding her. The weight of her in my arms. The warmth of her body, the baking-bread scent of her skin, the gentle sound of her sucking her thumb. Just a minute ago, she was small enough to fit in the curve of my neck. Now, her long legs dangle down to my knees. My big girl. My baby.

Well. Melancholy.

There’s a fresh layer of snow on all the trees, and a steady soft flurry. I got a bright assortment of bell peppers from the grocery store yesterday – the bright green and yellow and orange and red are a nice contrast to the grey. I’ve gotten my meager “fall” décor put away, but am allowing myself a few days before I put out the Christmas stuff; there’s no hurry, and I want to stave off that closed-in feeling I get after too many weeks of Christmas Everything Everywhere I Turn. But because I am a woman of contradictions, I put on a Christmas music station – and Mariah Carey and Tony Bennett and Wham! have done a lot to help chip away at the glum. I have coffee planned with a lovely friend. Just now, I have answered the door to find a beautiful wreath from my mother – it smells like Christmastime and is now hanging proudly on my door. It all helps.

Wreath.jpg

So too does the knowledge that this feeling shall pass, and the hope that maybe someday I will be able to enjoy the present moment without mourning its eventual passage.

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Do you have A Best Friend in the place that you live? I don’t; I have acquaintances and former work friends and mom friends, but no one who’s really… a Best Friend. I mean, I have my spouse! He’s certainly my best friend and my soul mate, but let’s not get all ooey gooey about him. I’m talking about a non-romantic bestie, someone to go grab a glass of wine with, someone who will go shopping with you and tell you which jeans look best, someone who knows and loves you for who you are, someone who will dissect every facet of an awkward interaction ad nauseum, perhaps while watching The Good Place.

I do have close friends. They just… don’t live nearby.

Some days I am totally fine with the fact that I don’t have a best friend right here in town with me; other days I feel crushing woe. This is a crushing woe period, and I think the root of the current woe is a communication desert between me and these friends. Take my lifelong best friend, for instance. She lives in our hometown, where we met more than 25 years ago. She and I have maintained our relationship via the magic of phone calls since we left for college in fall of 1999. Sometimes we talk every day. Sometimes we go a few weeks without talking – especially in the past few years. But I’d say on average we talk about once a week. And right now, we’re in a period of very infrequent contact. It sucks.

Same goes for… pretty much everyone else on my Regular Contact list. For some reason, there’s a lull in communication with everyone. And it’s freaking me out. I miss these people! I miss knowing what’s going on in their lives. And I miss talking to someone who knows me really well; it’s really hard, for me at least, to get to the point in a friendship where you feel fully relaxed and comfortable around the other person.  I just don’t have that kind of relationship with any of the mom friends I’ve made.

I am 95% sure – based on past experience – that the communication desert has nothing to do with me. The most likely explanation for the radio silence is that my friends are just really busy, and keeping up with me isn’t top of the priority list at this moment. If I think about that too hard, it makes me sad, but I do understand it.

Since I believe that my friends are just busy, I do try to stay in touch anyway, despite a lack of response. But that can be tiring. And disheartening; I end up wondering if I’m being annoying, or if I’m pushing on boundaries my friend is trying to set, or if I’m not getting the hint.

Because even though I know the likely explanation is that they are just busy, it’s hard not to worry. Did I offend them somehow? Is something really upsetting going on in their lives that they can’t tell me about? Worst of all, are we drifting apart? Are they ghosting me? Is this the end of our friendship? Am I unlikable and destined to go through life friendless and alone?

Okay, okay, let’s rein it in here. I am feeling lonely and adrift and the gloom of ceaseless rain seems like it’s here to stay but dwelling on it certainly isn’t helping, so I am going to change the subject.

Have you ever bitten your nails? Carla does, and it’s to the point that I cannot look at her fingers without every molecule of my body cringing. I worry she’s permanently disfiguring her fingers. Or that it’s just a matter of time before she gets some horrific bacterial infection and goes into septic shock or loses her hands. I haven’t heard a lot of stories about nail-biting-related amputations (and nor do I want to, thank you!!!!) (must… resist… googling…) but my mind always goes to the worst possible outcome.

I talked to her pediatrician, and he was pretty blasé about it; he recommended touching her hand gently every time I notice it. That was it. That’s all well and good if she bites her nails while I’m sitting next to her, or if she’s sitting on my lap while I’m reading to her. But what if she’s in the next room? What if she’s in the back seat of the car? What if she’s at school? The “knock it off, Carla!” and “stop biting your nails, Carla!” yelled across the room/car method is not a good deterrent, that’s for sure.

We tried putting special tape on each of her fingers, creating a physical barrier between her teeth and her nails. The tape stayed on for approximately three minutes and then came off.

We suggested bandaids instead, but Carla has a severe phobia of bandaids (I’m not kidding), and just trying to convince her to let us put one on a single one of her fingers was traumatic enough that we gave up.

We bought some of that nail biting polish that tastes horrible, and tried that. It did not work. She still bites her nails.

We tried bribing her with pretty nail polish and with those cute nail stickers — the ones that have unicorns, mermaids, flowers, or animal faces that you can stick directly on your fingernails. But her nails are so bitten that the stickers don’t fit on them, and so far the bribe hasn’t been enticing enough to keep her from biting.

So now I am trying the Ignoring It method.

My husband used to bite his nails, until quite recently. He finally just quit cold turkey. I have no idea how. My mother and father-in-law both used to bite their nails, and they managed to quit. So there’s hope.

And I used to bite mine – still do, if I’m being honest. At some point in high school or college, I stopped biting them compulsively. But anytime they get so long that they peel or crack, I bite them. And I cannot wear nail polish because the instant it chips, I peel it off with my teeth (I know, GROSS and probably poisonous) (In my youth, I used to wear Sally Hansen Hard As Nails clear nail polish just so I could peel it off with my teeth. Kids are weird, man.) and then bite my nails. Sigh.

So maybe it’s genetic. And maybe she will eventually get over it (like her father and grandparents have) or learn to manage it (like I have). But sheesh. It is so awful.

Well, at least she doesn’t bite her toenails. I suppose I should be thankful for THAT.

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Procrastination list

Usually when I go to the trouble of writing things down on actual paper, I have an easier time of getting them done. Something about the physical act of crossing things out. Something about having a slip of paper on my table/counter/desk rather than easily-ignorable in an email or on my phone. Plus, by the time things are so dire I need to write them down in list form, I usually Mean Business. And I bullet the items and then whittle the list down until it’s merely a pile of strike-throughs.

Well, my current to-do list is resisting whittling. I have had it for… three weeks, now? And I have managed to cross off a measly THREE and 6/7 items. And one of those three is “laundry” but, while I have done an altogether excessive amount of laundry in the past few weeks, that it is DONE is a little bit of a fib, because I still have a pile of laundry on my closet floor, waiting to be put into the washer; a washer full of clean towels to put into the dryer; and a laundry bin full of clean clothing to fold and put away. SIGH.

Okay, there, I moved the towels into the dryer. Baby steps.

My To-Do list – well, I guess this is my procrastination list, now. Because all I see when I look at the list are Things I Do Not Want to Do for Completely Valid and Justifiable Reasons.

My Procrastination List stayed on my kitchen island for a very long time and I HATE having things on my kitchen island. That island is for preparing meals and eating those meals, nothing else. So I looked at it DAILY for a long time, hating it and its very presence but doing little to relieve myself of the need to have it there. And then it fell into the junk drawer (which I finally cleaned, although that was not on the list at ALL) and I saw it less often but still regularly, every time I needed some scotch tape or a pen or a rubber band. And then I used it as scratch paper to help Carla write some things. And then it disappeared for awhile until I spotted it again this morning. And now I have resurfaced it, because despite the fact that I am not DOING the things on the list, they still need to be done.

Let’s take a peek, shall we?

  1. Order contacts

Top of the list is ordering new contact lenses. I finally got a new eye doctor and went to see her, and she set me up with a trial pack of new lenses. Which I then immediately hated. She’d given me her business card and had told me to call the number listed to order my contacts, after I’d tried them. She didn’t mention what to do if I tried them and hated them, and I didn’t ask; we both assumed I would love them, I guess. Anyway, the card lists an “appointment scheduling” phone number and a “contact lens ordering” number. Which do I call??? I don’t need an appointment, but maybe if I called that number I could leave a message for the doctor, asking if she could get me a sample of a different kind of contact? But maybe I should call the contact line instead, because they are accustomed to dealing with the specific item I am in need of, and should be best positioned to help? But then again, what if the contact line people are equipped to put in an order only, and do nothing else? ARGH! So here I sit, dithering and refusing to call. Fortunately, I have a nice stockpile of the OLD contact lenses I have and hate, so I’m all set as far as seeing goes.

2, 4, & 13. Buy & change air filter, put up rack in laundry room, grill???

(I apologize sincerely for the lack of parallelism in the header of this list item. Especially because “grill” is also a verb. It’s very confusing. But I wanted to group them together for reasons that will soon become clear.)

Some of the things on this list are probably ludicrous; they’ve been needing doing for so long, it was simply some fit of hyper-industriousness that caused me to put them on the list in the first place. That’s the main problem with to-do lists in general, right? You usually don’t have as much of an issue with taking care of the URGENT stuff. It’s really the stuff that can languish for a while that needs explicit calling out. I mean, the little sticker on our air filter says we last changed in 2013, so clearly a few more months won’t hurt. (REALLY?!?! 2013?!?! The current air filter is as old as my KINDERGARTENER? That is disgusting. I don’t believe it, for one thing; I’d say that we simply didn’t change the sticker the last time we changed it, because that totally sounds like an oversight we would make. But how do I know for sure? The sticker says, very plainly, in my husband’s writing, that we changed it in 2013.) The laundry rack thing is similarly old and not particularly urgent; we got a new washer and dryer earlier this summer and had to remove the little shelf that was sitting on the floor in the laundry room, so we bought a hanging rack to replace it. We have not hung the rack yet, and I’m beginning to suspect we may never do so. Ditto the grill, which has been broken since LAST FALL and swells me up with such rage that I will have to write about it later.

  1. Halloween costumes

This item fills me with dread. We have, for the first time ever, been invited to a Halloween party and are expected to dress up. My husband does not want to dress up. But I don’t want to show up and be the only ones without a costume. So I have been spinning in terrified circles for WEEKS trying to come up with The Perfect No-Effort Costume that will allow us to fit in no matter what. The party is THIS WEEKEND so the time for wheel spinning has come to an end and I still have nothing to show for it. (I realize that I have shifted metaphors somewhere along the way but I am too panicked to fix it.)

  1. Mail boxes

I have had boxes sitting in my office for MONTHS that need to go to various people. But they aren’t technically urgent – they aren’t birthday gifts or anything, they aren’t time sensitive; it’s more along the lines of me saying I would send you a T-shirt you liked and then not doing it – so there they sit. And, of course, the longer they sit, the more I fret about them; are the intended recipients annoyed that it’s taking so long? Will they think poorly of me once they finally, presumably, receive them? Have they already written me off as a lost cause and not worthy of speaking to? It’s so bad that I haven’t even SPOKEN to one recipient in months because I am so embarrassed it is taking me so long to mail her this silly item. Two weeks ago, I moved one of the boxes into the kitchen, near the door, to help move it on to the post office more quickly. That has not worked but has increased my general dissatisfaction with a) my own lack of follow-through and b) the cluttered state of my kitchen.

This also reminds me that I need to mail a housewarming gift to a friend who bought her first house. In July. SIGH. Why am I like this?????

  1. Set up cooking class + sitter

We received – as a gift for our anniversary (in DECEMBER) (of 2017 I wish I could all-caps numbers) – a gift certificate to take a cooking class at Sur la Table. We’ve done one of those classes before and it was great fun; I have no idea why we haven’t scheduled this one yet. (Well, I have some idea; it’s the same reason that I only finally this past April used a pedicure gift certificate that I got as a baby shower gift in 2013.) Anyway, I have at the very least chosen the class we want to attend and texted the babysitter and am now waiting anxiously for her to respond; perhaps she doesn’t know how gratifying it would be to cross another item off this list or she would have gotten back to me more quickly.

  1. Presents for bdays

Carla has been invited to a LOT of Classmate Birthday Parties this fall. So I have been buying gifts left and right. I am down to needing ONE gift (of the upcoming birthdays I know about; but we’re into December already for three of the kids, so I feel pretty safe) and I already have that child’s card, so I feel good about the status of this item.

  1. Cards

For the aforementioned children, plus my brother. DONE.

  1. Fill out details for TB

This is a detailed financial overview for a prospective financial advisor. It asks a bunch of questions about retirement and money fears that either a) I’ve never thought about with any purpose or b) send me into a frenzy of “life is short and then it ends” pessimism. So I’ve been avoiding it. Plus, it requires information from me and my husband, so we have to find simultaneous time to go through it together.

  1. Call about ice maker

Our refrigerator’s ice maker has been on the fritz for several years, and finally, over the summer, gave up producing anything besides a horrific grinding noise. So I have to figure out how to get it fixed. There’s nothing in the manual about how to fix it. My best bet is to call the appliance store where we bought it and see if they know who I can call to look at it. But that’s a guaranteed TWO phone calls about something I don’t know how to describe (aside from “horrific grinding” and “no ice”). So it remains on the list.

  1. Air filter cleaning?

By the way, this should say “air DUCT cleaning” but whatever. Doesn’t matter as long as I know what it means, right? After the horrifying discovery that we may not have replaced our furnace air filter in five years, I started feeling like maybe we should do MORE to purify the air we breathe. I happened to stop at a light behind a truck that was advertising air duct cleaning, which got me thinking that maybe we should do that. (It’s a service I didn’t know existed.) I went so far as to research and email three different companies that offer this service and get estimates from two of them via the phone. But I have not yet scheduled anything.

  1. Laundry

Well. We know where this stands. It’s an ongoing thing. It only made the list because it had gotten out of control. Now it is back to manageable status so I guess crossing it off is the right thing to do.

  1. New sneakers

I need to get new sneakers for Carla. But I hate buying shoes for her, because a) they are expensive, b) they will need replacing in about five minutes, and c) she will insist she likes a pair of shoes… and then never wear them. And I don’t know about you, but getting her out the door and to school on time is already so fraught that I am not going to add “forcing her to wear shoes she doesn’t want to wear” to the mix. No thank you. But now we’re getting to the point where she needs shoes for gym and the shoes I bought her in May are too tight and I can’t find any good sales and BLARGH. I just need to bite the bullet and get her ANY PAIR, but I keep looking online and then going back through a, b, and c, and not buying anything.

  1. Teacher appreciation

The PTA asked parents to volunteer to bring snacks for Teacher Appreciation week; I signed up and already bought the item I signed up for AND already delivered it to the school. BOO YA ending on a high note.

 

Okay, the whole point of this post is to shame myself into tackling SOMETHING. What shall it be? What… shall it be?

UPDATE: Per the magic of posting one’s failings on the Internet, I did, in fact, pursue a few of these items.

1. I called the place where we got our refrigerator and asked for a recommendation for an appliance repair person. However, when I subsequently googled the appliance repair company they suggested, I noticed they have TERRIBLE reviews. So I think I need to either a) find my own appliance repair company or b) call the fridge place back and ask for an alternate recommendation. So I am back at square one with this one.

2. I called the appointment-making line for my eye doctor and explained to the receptionist what I needed. I apologized profusely for calling her, when I KNEW she was an appointment making person, and she was very nice about it but also very clear that I had called the wrong number. She connected me to someone with whom I left a message for my eye doctor; whoever THAT was said I might need to come in and get refitted for contact lenses which fills me with despair. I JUST had an appointment, and I don’t see why those measurements would have suddenly disappeared just because I don’t like the brand of lenses she had me try. Can’t she just… give me another type of lenses to try? Without having to make a separate appointment and come in for what surely will NOT be covered by insurance? But I suppose we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

3. I put my brother’s birthday card in the mail. That wasn’t one of the packages I mentioned above, but it’s something.

4. I am taking Carla to a department store TODAY after school to fit her for new shoes, and then if they aren’t horrendously expensive, I will buy some right then and there.

Man, this was a LOT of work and I don’t think I can even cross a SINGLE THING off of my list. BLARGH.

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Internet, I am so sick of all food and have no idea what to cook and yet I STILL feel obligated to feed my family.

Yes, I have been here before. But this rut ravine crevasse feels especially deep and wide and insurmountable.

Let’s list all the things that are contributing to these dark feelings:

  1. My grill is broken, so none of my summery “throw some meat and veg on the grill” options are available to me
  2. My in-laws are here, which means I feel (self-applied, only) extra pressure to cook Things That Are Special
  3. I have still not gotten accustomed to our summer schedule, so I feel off-kilter in general
  4. It’s hot and I don’t have any extra energy for cooking
  5. I used up every last store of Cooking Enthusiasm in June, when I baked two cakes and countless cupcakes and hosted my in-laws for multiple Special Meals

First, I tried to make meal planning more interesting by adding two or three Brand New Recipes to the weekly list of dinners. But that requires research and energy, and I am fresh out of both. Okay, I am not “fresh out” of research. I am fresh out of PATIENCE for research. DESIRE to research. And patience and desire for this line of sentencing.

Next, we have been eating lot of meals outside the home, which takes all the planning and cooking weight off of me. But eating out all the time is expensive and time consuming. And I tend not to make the healthiest choices when I go out to eat (if I’m going to spend money on a meal, it better be tasty and fancier than a SALAD is my line of thinking).

Finally, I have turned to cooking super easy things, like Crockpot BBQ Pork or Tacos or Burritos. But my husband is growing weary of all of those things, and they aren’t really the lightest fare, either. I love to eat foods that are smothered in cheese and sour cream, but there’s only so much of that you can eat before you start to feel like YOU are smothered in cheese and sour cream.

How in the world do you climb out of such a deep and overwhelming food chasm?

Probably what I need most is some fresh ideas. Which is difficult to ask for because a) I have a HUGE list of recipes I haven’t tried and b) I am super picky and so 90% of recipes people suggest never sound that great. Really makes you want to help me, doesn’t it?

What are your go-to meals, when you want something easy and delicious? Bonus points if you would serve it to guests.

(Where does this come from, this need to do Something Special for guests? If a food is good enough to serve to my family, why doesn’t that make it good enough to serve to other people? And yet there are MANY things that my husband and I eat all the time – and LOVE! – that I have never thought twice about serving to others. Some of them are pretty spicy, so maybe that’s part of it… we like a spice level that wouldn’t be comfortable to many other people. Some of them seem… plain, I guess? Like the Crockpot BBQ Pork, which is just a pork tenderloin and an onion dumped into the crock pot with some BBQ sauce [and sriracha]. I usually eat it with a baked potato and some green beans. I LOVE it. But I wouldn’t consider serving it to friends because… I don’t know! It seems too homely somehow? It seems like a B-Team Meal, and when you have people over, it seems like you should be serving them only A-Team foods? It’s too easy to make, and you should put in Real Effort when you entertain? I have no idea. Is this Foods-Suitable-for-Guests thing unique to me and my husband?)

In exchange, I will give you my FAVORITE recipe of late. It is so good. So good that I refrain from making it too often, lest I get sick of it.

(And I cook the chicken in the oven – 425F for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is 165F – so it doesn’t matter that our grill is broken.)

It’s called Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls from How Sweet Eats but I think of it as a big, delicious salad. I use lots of mixed greens for the base, and I cut some fresh corn and bell peppers and carrots and avocado and add those to the salad. And then I top everything with a mixture of the lime dressing the recipe recommends and a generous drizzle of the cooked marinade from the chicken.  I was really suspicious of putting quinoa on a salad, but it adds a very pleasant texture that I love. We served this to my in-laws recently, and they loved it.

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Do you know the difference between these two bottles?

Eyes.JPG

The righthand bottle is plain old saline solution. It’s for rinsing and storing your contact lenses. The lefthand bottle is a special enzyme-cleaning solution for your contacts. You put it in a special case with your contacts and the case contains a neutralizing material that does the crucial neutralizing over many (six, I think) hours. You can see right up on the top of the bottle in big, bold letters that you should NOT put it in your eyes. If you are a contact-lenses wearer, you probably already know that. I have been wearing contacts since fourth grade so I DEFINITELY know that.

And yet, the other day, I removed my contacts from the case, put one lens on the tip of my finger, and instead of filling the lens with normal saline as I have EVERY DAY OF MY ADULT LIFE AND MUCH OF MY CHILDHOOD, I filled it with the enzyme cleaner instead. And, not noticing my HEINOUS ERROR, I put the enzyme-solution-filled lens in my eye. And then I died.

No, I didn’t die. But I was felled by immediate, searing pain. I literally collapsed to my knees, on my bathroom floor, in a very dramatic fashion.

I like to think this act of unfathomable stupidity was a test of my emergency-handling skills. Okay, I will admit that my immediate reaction was to crumple to the floor and screech loudly and wonder who in the hell was going to call 911 for me (I was alone in the house), which doesn’t bode well for fires or murderers.

But then my logical brain took over, and I started flushing my eye with lots of cold water. My eye refused to open because the last time it did, I tried to murder it. So I soaked a washcloth in water and pushed that up against my eye until it finally did let me open it a crack. Then more flushing until I was finally able to pry to contact out of my eye. More flushing still. Then I was able to google what a person was to do if she was so ridiculous as to put enzyme solution directly in her eye. Flush with water, is the answer. Contact your eye doctor if the pain and irritation remains after several hours.

PHEW.

Let us now look at a soothing hibiscus bush.

Hibiscus.JPG

Yesterday, there was a single blossom… today, many! Just like popcorn, where you wait and wait and wait, and then all of a sudden your bush is full! But of hibiscus, not popcorn! Which I don’t put on shrubbery anyway! This metaphor has gone awry!

Before and since the Solution Incident of ’18, my eyes have been bothering me for a different reason. I am going to guess “allergies,” given the fact that I also sneeze a lot.

Whatever the case, my eye are constantly red and itchy and uncomfortable. I am constantly rubbing them and trying not to rub them and wiping them with washcloths. In the morning, they are encrusted by… well, crust. It’s really delightful.

I have been self-medicating with over-the-counter antihistamines and allergy eyedrops. They work a teensy bit. The great and all-knowing internet suggests that my best recourse is to stop wearing makeup and contacts. Blah. I like wearing makeup. My face looks naked without at least mascara. And I like wearing contacts. It’s almost a necessity, in summer, because I need to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes against the solar glare. And I don’t have prescription sunglasses, so I can’t wear them unless I am wearing contacts.

Well, I will give up both. If I have to. But the goal here is to have eyes that a) can see and b) can do so without redness, itching, or total nakedness.

Nothing I am doing on my own (eyedrops, antihistamines, rubbing) is working. I think I need either a) a diagnosis and an actual treatment plan or b) an updated glasses prescription so I can get some sunglasses with prescription lenses. In either case, I need to find a new eye doctor.

You may choose to skip this ranty/boring part:

The last time we discussed my eye doctor, I was frustrated by insurance issues. (Which we ended up paying; to make a long story still unfortunately long, my husband and I both got a bill from our eye doctor for the exact same service. Our insurance was covering part of my visit, but not part of my husband’s. Our insurance claimed that my eye doctor was no longer a preferred provider, so they wouldn’t be covering charges. Turns out he WAS a preferred provider, but only became one a month or so after my husband’s visit [and a few weeks before MY visit, which means the insurance company covered part of my visit out of the kindness of their hearts] [he’d just joined a new practice; previous to that he was a preferred provider according to our insurance].) Anyway, we thought we got the insurance issues sorted out. But recently, my husband made an appointment to see the eye doctor and once he was there, in the waiting room, for his appointment, they informed him that our eye doctor is no longer a preferred provider under our insurance plan. SIGH. So we paid in full for covered services for my husband two years in a row. And now we all need to find a new eye doctor anyway.

End

I do not WANT to find a new eye doctor. I want my OLD eye doctor. And I want him to be covered by our insurance. Yes, yes, I know I am very fortunate to have eyes and a selection of eye doctors in the area AND insurance that covers eye stuff. I can still be grumpy about having to find an eye doctor.

You know what this means, right? Research, and then calls to the doctor to see if s/he is taking new patients. And then calls to my insurance provider to see if the doctor is covered. And then calls to the doctor to make an appointment. It sounds like only three calls, which I acknowledge is manageable if mentally TRYING, but let’s agree that it will actually require many, many more than three.

Let us now look at a charming and probably hypoallergenic baby deer that would totally be a preferred provider lookit his little spotties awwwwww.

Fawn 2

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At 12:45 last night/this morning, Carla SCREAMED my name (well, she screamed “Mommy” which is pretty close to a name) and I leapt out of bed from a deep sleep, heart flinging itself out of my chest, trying to get away from what was certainly a murderer. And it might as well have been: Carla was cowering in the bathroom and refused to go back into her bedroom without me. She’d had a nightmare. She couldn’t remember what it was about, but the terror had followed her outside the cocoon of sleep. Poor kiddo. I sent my husband in to lie down with her but she kicked him out for snoring. So I went in to lie with her until she fell asleep. Pretty normal parenting fare.

But then she couldn’t get back to sleep. She wanted the lights on. No. She wanted to watch videos. No. She wanted to sleep with her bunny and bear. No (both in the laundry after an earlier wake up incident).  She would settle for her fox, but I couldn’t find it and I refused to turn on the lights. Eventually I located it under the bed.

She was too hot. She wanted to watch just one little video please Mommy just one. No.

She was Wide Awake.

I contemplated starting the day at two a.m. I quickly shoved that idea aside. I told Carla firmly but kindly that it was time for bed, she needed to lie down and close her eyes and try to sleep.

“I’m not sleepy, Mommy.”

CHILD. How?!?!?!

I scratched her back. I got her water. I sang her every song in my Lullaby-and-Adjacent repertoire. I even googled some lullabies whose tunes I knew but whose words I was unsure of. Then I googled some soothing music to play on my phone. (FYI – a large number of the “lullabies for babies” options on You Tube are the same collection of notes played in an infinite loop. Very boring.

“This is boring, Mommy,” Carla said.

“I know, that’s the point,” I told her.)

The repetition of the notes started digging deep ruts through my brain, so I kept stopping them and searching for new ones. I just wanted a playlist of soothing lullabies! Did I search for “playlist of soothing lullabies”? No. Eventually, I settled on a track that combined a burbling brook with some soft piano music. Finally – FINALLY – at 3:15 a.m. in the morning, Carla fell back to sleep. I went back to bed and of course couldn’t sleep. So I read a few entries in Swistle’s archives – very soothing – until I fell asleep. Then Carla woke me up promptly at 6:18 a.m. in the morning so I am very tired.

 

Sleep

What a restful night. (I made the executive decision to hand Carla my phone at 6:18 so she watched a couple episodes of Berenstain Bears while I slept for another hour.)

* * *

At camp drop off, I ran into someone who I see pretty frequently. I wouldn’t exactly call her a friend, for reasons that will soon be clear. Sure enough, she irritated the hell right out of me, right away.

“Oh, wow, you look tired!” she said.

Yes. Yes, I do look tired. And I have good cause for it. But for the love of Brie and crackers, WHY would you ever say such a thing to someone else? It’s not the first time she’s uttered that exact phrase to me (although it’s been a while, for some reason).

This person has a habit of making comments about my appearance or general mien, and it’s very off-putting, and I am not close enough to her to have a heart-to-heart about why she should STOP IMMEDIATELY.

“Your face is SO red! Were you just exercising?”

No, no I wasn’t. But thanks for making me self-conscious about my face.

“You look like you’ve lost weight.”

Is that any of your business? Or anyone’s business? Why are you monitoring my weight?

“You look so refreshed! Were you napping?”

What…? Do I really look like I have time to nap?

Or, my recent favorite: “You seem pretty hassled.”

What? What does that even mean? Does it mean that I seem flustered and out of sorts and frustrated? Perhaps I am. Because if you MUST KNOW my child was having a Very Rough Day and just before you got in my face I had to put her on time out not once but twice and we are late for The Thing We Are All At and I am feeling hot and frazzled and a little crazed right now and I am at This Thing and so I am trying to put on a pleasant and capable and not on the edge of losing my mind face for the public while I try to regain my grip. So yes, I AM HASSLED. But do you really think COMMENTING on it is going to help? If you are actually concerned about my state of mind, aren’t there kind, friendly, gentle ways to ASK about it, rather than pointing out that I am not hiding my true feelings very well?

PANT, PANT.

I get that maybe she thinks she is being… friendly? Or… that she is trying to be A Good Friend, and thinks saying these kinds of things is an invitation for me to unload. But it does NOT come across that way. Am I being too sensitive? Too prickly? I just… don’t comment on people that way! I mean, I might say I like your shoes or your nail polish or your lipstick or whatever… but the closest I’ve come to saying anything about anyone’s actual appearance is something like, “You look so great!”

Maybe there are some people who wouldn’t mind this woman’s comments. Maybe some people would appreciate how observant she is about Every Single Aspect of their appearance and attitude. How in tune she is with their… whatever.

I am not one of those people. Well-intentioned though they may be, I find her comments to be invasive and rude. But again, we’re not close enough for me to tell her to knock it off. So I have started responding with single-word answers and perplexed looks in hopes of shutting down the conversation.

“Your face is SO red! Were you just exercising?” –> “Nope.” * confused look *

“You look like you’ve lost weight.” –> “Oh?” * bland smile, subject change *

“You look so refreshed! Were you napping?” –> “Nope.” * perplexed look *

“You seem pretty hassled.” –> “I don’t know what that means.” * blank face * (To this one, though, she responded, “I’m going to take that as a yes.” STEAM IS ESCPAING FROM MY EYE AND NOSE HOLES.)

Exhausting. But it is not my job to teach another person how to properly interact with other humans. Good luck to her.

* * *

I was sitting in my kitchen after exercising this morning, in my sports bra, gulping water and trying to catch my breath after my strenuous twenty-minute exercise video and gazing aimlessly out into the backyard through the sliding glass doors, when a STRANGE MAN waltzed across my lawn. You understand he didn’t really waltz, per se. But he was in my yard, moving in a manner that implied he’d been invited. He had NOT.

He was wearing a bright yellow vest and was carrying some sort of tree-trimming type tool. I shrank away from the doors, hideously embarrassed to be in my BRA and NO SHIRT, and then watched from a distance as he prowled around my yard and then walked back around the house to the front yard. There he joined a few other young men, all in the same clothing, and they tromped across my neighbor’s yard and down the block.

I remember vaguely getting some sort of notice that some sort of workers might be in our area. But I don’t remember who they were or what they were supposed to be doing. And I CERTAINLY don’t remember that they were going to be in my BACK YARD, which seems a whole different kind of deal than doing whatever it is they were doing (inspecting trees/power lines? looking for alligators? scouting potential gold mines?) in people’s FRONT yards.

UGH. Seems like the least a person could do is knock on the door and ASK if they could peruse your back yard, right? Not that I would have answered the door – everyone knows that murderers always knock first and wear bright yellow vests to divert attention away from their murderousness – but STILL. There’s the PRINCIPLE to think about!

* * *

Tomorrow is a holiday but I am not feeling very festive. I love my country but so much about it makes me so sad and hopeless these days. And it is unbearably hot and steamy here. And I hate fireworks because they keep my child awake and make me worry about gunfire and fire-fire.

Okay, okay. My crankiness is making ME weary.

Let’s try to think of the positives: My in laws are coming over and my husband is off work and Carla doesn’t have camp. We will go to a parade in the morning. I bought some pretty red, white, and blue flowers. I have good food planned for us to eat. Also margaritas.

Well, crud. My attempt at brightsiding is not working, because now I am reminded that my grill is on the fritz (is that the right phrase? looks weird but I am on four hours’ sleep so a lot of things look weird) so I am going to have to cook hot dogs and ribs in my OVEN tomorrow. Yes, yes, I know. This is not the worst thing to happen to a person by any sort of measure. And I am deeply grateful to have both an oven and ribs/hot dogs. AND YET. I AM CRANKY.

Feeling grateful for the things I DO have does not mean I have to be HAPPY about the things that are BROKEN. (That last sentence seems perfectly applicable to the state of our country, too, doesn’t it?)

Blueberry cake. We will also have blueberry cake. There. I ended on a high note.

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Yesterday we had a Parent Appreciation Luncheon at Carla’s school and I am still reeling from the experience.  Reeling may not be the right word. Perhaps “steeped in self pity” is more accurate, I’m not sure, I am destined to fail at all things including appropriate word choice.

At the top of the luncheon, all the kids in the entire grade got up and did a little song and dance routine. It was very cute. And then they got to usher us to our seats in the cafeteria and then we all ate lunch(eon) together. There was a lot of down time at the beginning while the teachers corralled all the kiddos and got them pointed in the right direction. Which meant that there was plenty of time for me to be SUPER socially awkward and inept and anxious about it.

Let’s just get one frustrating thing out of the way right up front, which is that my husband wasn’t able to make it to the luncheon. And yes, he’s on call, and yes, I’m sure there were single parents in the mix, and even in the case of two-parent households, I’m sure that other parents weren’t able to make it, and/or they have been at their jobs longer than my husband has been at his and feel more comfortable taking off in the middle of the day and/or have spouses who were more persistent about reminding them to find some way to take the time off, but it SEEMED like every child there had two parents except Carla, including two other physicians, which at baseline made me a) feel guilty and b) feel lonely. If my husband had been there, I could have at least talked exclusively to him, instead of sitting there mentally rending my garments as I tried desperately to gather the courage to go talk to someone.

While we were waiting for the kids to set up, I saw another mom that I have been friendly with in the past. If I’m being honest, I wish she were my best friend: she’s so lovely and put together and smart and friendly and kind. She started talking to me, which was nice. But then one of her friends came up to us, and the two of them started talking, and I started to panic. Was I supposed to join in the conversation, about things they have in common and about which I know nothing? Was I supposed to excuse myself and go… stand in a corner? I ended up doing neither, and just stood there silently with what I hoped was a calm, friendly, I’m-a-good-listener smile plastered on my face and nodded along with them. They were nice about it, making eye contact with me occasionally as though I were part of the conversation. It’s not like I was entirely mute; I tried to make interested-sounding noises even though I was much too panicked to focus on what they were saying. And then another friend of theirs came up and joined in and I just kept standing there, my anxiety flinging itself against the inside of my brain like a fish trying to escape its tank, and I tried to ask questions where I could – but they were obviously “I am making conversation” questions and not “I’m part of the conversation” questions, you know? – and tried to laugh and continue to make “I’m totally taking part in this discussion” noises. And the cafeteria was super hot and I started sweating and I became uncomfortably aware of the inside of my mouth and how my breath could not be great even though I definitely brushed and flossed before I came. And I didn’t know the other moms at all, or who their kids were, and – as is always the case anyway – I couldn’t figure out the rhythm of the conversation well enough to interject with a new subject or a related anecdote or a pertinent question. Not that I could properly follow along with the conversation anyway; as I mentioned before, I was too focused on all the THINGS going on in my head to focus on what they were saying.

Finally, a teacher called us to attention and we got to watch the kids’ little performance, which was a nice break. The ladies I’d been “talking with” drifted off to find their spouses and I stood by myself, clutching my sweater (why had I brought a sweater when clearly I’d entered one of the flaming hottest circles of hell???) and my purse and my desire to leave immediately and/or melt into the floor.

And then it was “luncheon” time, and once again I had to navigate the extreme horror of talking to a parent I don’t know that well. This time, across the table. Unfortunately, this parent was either as shy/uncomfortable as I am, or she had already written me off as no use to her. So my lame attempts at conversation were met with single word answers and apparent disinterest. You’d think this would be a good thing! Lets me off the hook, right? But instead, I kept trying to make lame small talk because I wanted her to like me. Obviously she wasn’t talking to me because she’d written me off as Not Worthy of Her Time, right? Okay, okay, so possibly she was having her own inner freak out about having to talk to me and fending off similar worries. Either way, I don’t hold it against her.

Fortunately, Carla was with me at this point, so I could direct most of my attention to her. But as we lunched, I was very aware of all the other parents in the room, laughing and chatting and having a great time. I mean, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only person in the room who doesn’t like groups/crowds/forcible mingling. But it never FEELS like there are others. Instead, it feels like everyone else finds social interaction super easy, and, not only that, but fun, which I find incomprehensible. I long for “easy.” Fun is a pipe dream.

Finally, when I was able to escape, I ran into a couple of familiar couples on the way down the hall. They are all super nice and friendly, but they were in couples, and seemed to be talking to each other, and plus one of the women was the woman whose friend-group I’d horned in on earlier and she was almost certainly done with conversational babysitting, so I tried to smile and make nice friendly noises, but then I motored on past to leave the school and get in my car and go far far away. And as I was doing that, I was mentally chiding myself for avoiding them instead of trying to interact with them. You can’t make friends with people if you dart past them every time you see them! Friendships are not built on awkward smiles and waves and “have a great day”s tossed over your shoulder! (Why not, though?)

And I DO wish I were friends with more of the parents at Carla’s school. So many of them seem great! But the way you get to know people is by talking to them during these school events, and I get so flustered and self-conscious that I just can’t do it. It’s moderately okay one on one, but when there are two or more people, I stop being able to think. I have no idea how to join the flow of conversation. I have no idea what to say. I often walk past little clusters of moms in the hallway after drop off and wonder what in the hell are they talking about?!?! I have no clue, absolutely none.

And then I go home and feel horrible, as I did yesterday. And the bad feelings remain. I feel lonely and isolated, which are terrible feelings to begin with. But then I also feel culpable, because it’s my own fault I don’t have friends. It can’t be THAT hard! Other people do it all the time! There must be something wrong with me that I am always and forever on the outside.

Hence the pity party.

We have a big Parent Breakfast coming up, as part of the kids’ transition into kindergarten. (KINDERGARTEN. Let’s reserve that panic attack for another post.) So I anticipate more of the same sweaty awkwardness and wallflowering and self-loathing to follow in a few short days! Yay!

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