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Archive for the ‘General Health’ Category

HOW is it October already? And am I destined to repeat some form of that query every month, every season, every year, with increasing levels of incredulity until my skeleton is staring vacantly at the sky? Probably asking, “HOW have I decomposed already? Feels like only yesterday I was fully fleshed and today I am nothing but bones!”

I am feeling a surge of randomosity today. 

  • After having felt Very Down for a couple weeks solid, I finally feel like my mood is on the upswing. I attribute this shift partly to the fact that I am on a strict media diet, and have forced myself to stop looking at updates on the Gabby Petito case and to stop reading about the many, many other missing people in this country. But the main source of the improvement is a date night with my husband. We have been on – checks notes – ONE date since 2019, and that date was a quick lunch while our daughter was at a birthday party. Turns out that some time alone with my person – outside our house and away from our normal habits and responsibilities – is a real mood lifter. Last night’s date wasn’t even anything FANCY; we went out for fast food burgers, which we ate on a bench outside the restaurant. Then we got milkshakes and drank them while walking around, looking in shop windows and chatting about nothing. Then we went to our all-time favorite date night destination, Barnes & Noble, where we tried to pin down our next audiobook by handing one another books that we have on our individual To Be Read lists. I lean heavily toward Mystery and Thriller and my husband is more of a contemporary literary fiction kind of guy, and there is a very narrow overlap in our interests. A friend of mine said very bluntly, “Man, you two are boring,” but I really enjoyed our time together! We both love books, so why not spend an evening together among the stacks?
  • Because I can and will talk about books all day, I will tell you our top three audiobook contendersThe Rib King by Ladee Hubbard, Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh, and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. We had a gift subscription to Audible that expires this month, so we are looking for a new book to “buy” with our last credit. Unfortunately, neither of us loved the reading style of the Rib King narrator, the Moshfegh got some reviews that turned my husband off to listening to it, and we somehow already owned the Tartt. So we are back to square one. If you have an audiobook to recommend, please let me know!

  • Every time I think about or talk about The Secret Historya modified version of the little Ted Lasso ditty starts playing in my brain. Donna Tartt, doo do, doo doo dodo, Donna Tartt doo do, doo doo dodoo, Donna Tartt.
  • Speaking of Ted Lasso: I rewatched the entire first season as part of my recent efforts at self-care and it was just as lovely as it was the first time around… but – perhaps because of my mood, perhaps because of what I have seen of the second season – it felt a bit more melancholy this go round. I still love the series with my whole heart, though. 
  • In quick updates about distressing things: 1. My root canal has been set for November. My husband had a light day, and was able to reschedule his patients (sorry patients!!!!) so he could be with me for my appointment. Nitrous oxide does nothing for me, and my husband said he would want to be sedated for a root canal no matter how “not a big deal” it is, so I am doing the conscious sedation and my husband will be there with me. HUGE RELIEF. Except for the part where I have to get a root canal. 2. My mother-in-law got the final results of her pathology back. Her cancer is at stage 1A, which means they caught it very very early and the prognosis is good. But the type of cancer is extremely aggressive. So, even though we initially thought she would only need radiation, she will be undergoing both radiation and chemotherapy to hopefully zap any tiny fragments of the cancer that escaped the surgery. Her doctors are very positive but of course the news is upsetting and stressful. 
  • Her doctor said that only radiation is necessary. He is an expert in her type of cancer, and he has conducted research on post-surgical adjuvant therapies, and has found that doing radiation vs. radiation and chemotherapy makes no difference in the short- and long-term recurrence rate. So his recommendation would be only radiation. However. He presented her case to a Cancer Board at the hospital, and the other experts who were on the board all pushed for chemo as well. AND he said that in his experience, the stress of not feeling like you are doing “all you can” can be worse than the chemo. Hence my mother-in-law’s decision to do both. My husband says, based on the research, he would only do the radiation, if it were him. But I just don’t know. I don’t think you DO know until you are the person in the situation. I kind of think I would do everything, too, just so I wouldn’t sit around thinking, “Dammit, if only…” should there be a recurrence. Which of course is a form of magical thinking. But it’s so hard when it’s your life at stake. 
  • CHANGING SUBJECTS DRAMATICALLY: I have made my first candy corn purchase of the year. Man, I love candy corn. 
  • Usually, I don’t put out fall décor until quite late in October. But this year, I’m getting the Halloween itch a little earlier than usual. If I didn’t have Real Things to do today, I might dedicate some time to putting out the ghosts and maybe buying some mums. 
  • Here is where I call on your plant knowledge. My summer planters did not turn out the way I wanted them to. I wanted them to be full and to have these tiny white flowers and yellow petunia-style flowers spilling down the sides, with these big spiky plants in back for some texture and height. And some little hot pink flowers in there for added color. Perhaps part of my problem is that I have no idea which flowers I planted, nor how they tend to grow; I typically walk through the garden center and grab things that look pretty together and do a quick check to see if they are deer resistant (although our local deer laugh in the face of deer resistant flora) and then stuff them in a planter and hope for the best. Anyway, I am ready, now, to move on from my summer failure into fall florals. Who are we if we cannot draw strength, if not knowledge, from our errors and stride forward with renewed purpose. What remain of the white flowers will have to go. But I don’t know what to do with the tall spiky plants. From an aesthetic standpoint, they are different heights and girths which bothers me; I want symmetry on my front stoop! But they, unlike the white flowers, are thriving. So I don’t necessarily want to euthanize them in their prime. Plus, they might look nice with some bright yellow or orange mums in the foreground? Can I… DO that? Remove some of the things in the planters but not all? And add new plants without disrupting those that are already growing? What do I do here?
  • Don’t even get me started on the planters in the back.
  • Carla has decided to be a witch this year. We ordered her costume – which she picked out; she had a lot of specifications for the ideal costume, including “sparkles” and “big sleeves.” It arrived yesterday and it is amazing. Except that the glitter gets EVERYWHERE. My entire kitchen floor sparkles. My husband washed my face with a wet paper towel – yes, like I was a toddler – before our date because I somehow had glitter all over me.  She told me that she is a witch of glitter and sparkles and I think that summarizes her personality and her effect on people pretty accurately. 
image from amazon.com. Carla not pictured.
  • The Christmas Fret has set in pretty hard, especially since a friend expressed Extreme Shock that I hadn’t yet started my holiday shopping. I know, I know – supply chain issues, postal service delays, etc. etc. This weekend, I plan to badger my husband into picking out some things for Carla, just so we have SOMETHING. But I absolutely cannot think about what to get my husband. His birthday is next week and I had to scrape the darkest corners of my brain to figure out what to get him for THAT, so I am completely tapped out for Christmas. 
  • What are you having for dinner tonight? I am making taco pizza. I have been looking forward to it since Wednesday, when I finally got my act together enough to plan meals for the remainder of the week. Not the weekend, though. So who knows what will happen tomorrow or Sunday, food wise. Not I.

Well, I have run out of randomosity steam. Hoping your day is going well so far, and that your weekend is relaxing and enjoyable.

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I need a root canal. Deciding that the tooth pain was bad enough to warrant a dental appointment wasn’t super fun. Confirming that I needed a root canal – first at my dentist’s office, then at the endodontist – was agony. 

The dentist kept saying he was sorry for causing me pain, even though the whole point of the tests he was doing was to elicit pain. It was kind, but I have that reflex where I say, “that’s okay” or “it’s not that bad” in response to someone apologizing, which felt a) silly and b) untrue. 

The endodontist did not apologize; not in a sadist-y way; he was kind, but just sort of stood there watching me clutch at my jaw as tears leaked from my eyes. He also offered me an Advil. His tests – which were very similar to the ones my dentist had done, just 30 minutes earlier – elicited a MUCH higher pain response. One test – he put liquid nitrogen or something on a swab and swabbed my tooth – hurt so bad that I cried. And then I felt ridiculous for crying. I tried to comfort myself by thinking that I couldn’t be the ONLY person to ever cry in that office; that must be why the assistant had tissues at the ready for me to dry my tears.

My dentist thinks, based on how nervous I get for dental work, that I need some sort of extra medication. Either something like V@lium or @tivan prior to the appointment, or conscious sedation during the procedure. He said, kindly, “That’s what I would recommend for my wife; she gets nervous about dental work. But I’m just telling you the options – you don’t need it. I wouldn’t do it, myself. Dental work doesn’t bother me.” Which made me wonder: ARE there people who are unbothered by dental work??????? This was a wholly novel concept to me. I figured that there was a spectrum, of course, from moderately nervous to requiring sedation just for a simple cleaning. But I never once imagined that there exist human beings who don’t mind dental work. 

(As for my spot on the spectrum: I get nervous for a simple dental cleaning; I clench my hands into fists, my arms and legs are rigid the entire time, I have to do anti-anxiety breathing while I’m in the chair, waiting for the exam to begin. I did a LOT of focused breathing today, let me tell you. And then cried in my car all the way home.)

The thing is, for me to do any sort of pre-medication, I need someone to drive me to and from the appointment. And my husband is unlikely to be able to do that anytime in the near future, if at all. And I don’t know that I have any friends who I would feel comfortable asking. So I am feeling very sorry for myself indeed. I suppose there is always Uber, but I have never once used Uber so that’s another hurdle to surmount.

Part of the reason I cried in the car (aside from the lingering tooth pain following the swab) was that I felt so ridiculous about crying. The crying was bad enough on its own. But then I couldn’t stop crying. And even when I finally got the actual tears under control, I still had Wobbly Voice. Ugh. I couldn’t stop thinking of that awful anesthesiologist who commented on my ability to withstand pain when I was in labor. Maybe I have a very low pain threshold, and other people are going around dealing with similar or worse pain without being fazed one bit. And maybe everyone thinks I am a huge baby who is making a mountain out of a molar pain. And I am FORTY YEARS OLD for floss sake, why can I not just GET IT TOGETHER like the adult I supposedly am instead of acting like a whiny child? 

This is just the latest in a run of negative self-talk that I can’t seem to squash. It started with my writing and has since spilled over into every other aspect of my life. 

I am suspecting – and hoping – that it has at least something to do with the calendar: both the monthly calendar, which has spun right around to canker sores and chocolate cravings, and the annual calendar, which has turned once again to the anniversary of my friend’s death. Not to mention, we are now sliding down the dark slope of fewer hours of sunshine each day and facing the looming pressures of the holiday season. 

While I do my focused breathing and wait for the calendar to flip a few pages forward, if you have any advice for how you pull yourself out of this kind of self-talk tailspin, I would greatly appreciate it. For now, I have self-medicated with Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese and some of my only-on-the-weekends good tea. And, of course, I am blabbering it all to you. (Thank you for listening.)

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I just got off of back-to-back phone calls and am feeling drained and relieved and, as always, a little self-scoldy because making a phone call is rarely quite as bad as I think it will be. Honestly, even if a phone call IS as bad as I imagined (issue remains unresolved, I have to talk to someone unpleasant, I feel like I have no idea what I’m talking about), it is usually over fairly quickly. Much more quickly than justifies the days/weeks/months of procrastinating, resisting, and fretting before I make the phone call. 

One of the calls was for a dermatology appointment – I have a mole that’s being constantly irritated by non-negotiable clothing, and I would like to have it removed. Plus, I would like to get a skin check. The scheduler seemed to think I could just go for a skin check, and have the dermatologist look at the mole then; I suppose that makes sense, to have him check it out first before he commits to scraping it from my body or whatever mole-removal procedure he uses. I had been delaying this call because I have only been to a dermatologist once before, and I could NOT for the LIFE of me remember her name. So I blurted that out right at the beginning, and the scheduler was very lovely and said she could look it up, and it turned out that my previous dermatologist was no longer with this health system so I will be going to a new one entirely. 

To continue telling you overly personal and yet somehow deeply boring things about me, I figured that as long as I was on the phone ALREADY, I would try to do something that I have wanted to do since January: find a new gynecologist. I had SUCH a bad experience this past time – more than an hour’s wait, with no updates from the staff, in an increasingly crowded waiting room during a pandemic – that I was ready to leave. But I had made no progress toward finding someone new. This is the sort of thing that works best with a referral, but all of my friends see doctors in a different health system, not covered by health insurance. So! I simply asked the scheduler if she could get me in with a new gynecologist. Since I don’t need an appointment until next January, I figured I had a good chance of finding someone. And lo! the scheduler DID find me a new gynecologist and I got an appointment and PHEW. Cross two items off my list. 

The second phone call was with a company that provides entertainment for children’s parties. Specifically, they bring dinosaurs to your event and play dinosaur-themed versions of Red Light Green Light etc, and bring out fossils and talk about dinosaur facts. The dinosaurs are adult-human sized and seem to be half robot, half puppet. Carla is obsessed with dinosaurs, so I think she would love it… but I am a leeetle bit concerned that it will be too babyish for her. Like… maybe it would be ideal for the 3- to 5-year-old set. The woman I spoke to said that eight is on the upper range of the ages they serve – any older, and the kids get a little scoff-y. That was… only slightly reassuring. I mean, maybe CARLA would love it – I really think she would – but maybe her six-months-older friends would find it babyish and lame. And I think having your friends think your party is babyish and lame would be absolutely crushing at this age. Anyway, I am still mulling it. NOTE: If you would like to watch some brief Instagram videos of this company in action and weigh in on the babyishness factor, please email me and I will send you the link. 

Just as bad as the concern over how babyish it might be is the fact that the party would need to take place in my backyard. Please believe me when I say that having a party in my backyard fills me with utter dread. I am pre-stressed by even the IDEA of it. I want to go somewhere that is in the business of kids’ parties, where all I need to do is show up with a cake and some decorations, and they do everything else. And then at the end I can leave. I promise you that I will be stressed enough just doing that. 

(Last week, I did call just such a place! I had a couple of questions that didn’t have answers on their website – in fact, one question was about an add-on that was mentioned on the website, with no further details than price – so I wanted to speak to a human. I waited on hold for a long time just to leave a message. And then got an email last Friday that listed the exact same details that were on the website, and no more. I responded via email immediately, with no response; and emailed again today, only to get an out-of-office reply.)

Sadly, this is going to be a phone-call heavy week. Not only do I have a school meeting via Zoom that I have been fretting about, but I also need to call U-Haul to ask about getting a trailer hitch installed on my car. THAT is the type of phone call I hate the most, because I have no idea what I’m talking about. They will ask questions and I will have no answers. 

I also need to schedule a dentist appointment; I think I need another crown. No need to speculate on why I am dragging my feet on that one.

You know how I mentioned above that I felt a little reproachful of myself for wasting so much energy agonizing over the phone calls when really they weren’t that bad? Yeah, well, that feeling didn’t linger. 

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Tuesday, we had 73 degrees and sunshine. This morning, we woke up to at least two – possibly three – inches of snow, with more hurrying down from the sky. 

This is my kind of April Fool’s Day prank. But I do love snow. 

When I woke Carla to share with her the trick the weather had played, she was first delighted then dismayed because she had not come up with her own prank. I assured her it was fine – REALLY, it was fine; I do not care for April Fool’s Day or really pranks of any type. I had vague plans to track down some googly eyes, to put on household items, but forgot my plans once I was inside Target. And really. I just cannot muster any enthusiasm for a day that purports to deceive and embarrass. Yes, I sound like a huge prissy party pooper, but SO BE IT. 

Aside from that last sentence there, I am recovered from my crabbiness. I attribute the recovery to you and your comments about candy and hormonal fluctuations. Thank you for commiserating. 

To abruptly change topics, Swistle posted yesterday about her experience getting the Covid vaccine. I suspect that, for me, vaccine reports could EASILY rank right up next to grocery store reports in terms of pandemic subjects I find fascinating. In case you also find that sort of thing fascinating, I am going to post about my own experience getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer). 

First, I had a friend who got the vaccine a month or so ago and she started to gently urge me to find a way to get it. She had some friends who were… massaging the system a bit, with the desired results, and she was passing this information on to me in case I, too, wanted to know how to get a vaccine as quickly as possible. 

This next bit is going to be a little awkward to write, because I want to be clear that I DO NOT CARE how or why you or anyone else gets a vaccine. As long as you are not knocking a syringe out of a wheezing elderly person’s arm or kidnapping a vaccine provider, I am just pleased to hear when a person is vaccinated. I do not care if you had to fudge the truth a little. Or a lot. TRULY.

And yet I am and will always remain A Rule Follower, and so I could not bring myself to lie. I TRIED. I went onto the websites my friend suggested, but whenever it asked if I was 50 or older, I could not bring myself to click yes. Nor could I come up with any remotely reasonable way I fit into any of the medical exceptions. 

However, I was prepared to sign up the INSTANT that it became possible to schedule a vaccine for my age group. I signed up on my hospital system’s website to be notified as soon as I was eligible. Please note that I had to put in my age and my birth date, so that the system had all the information necessary to determine when I was eligible. 

Time passed. My age group became eligible for the vaccine in my state. A (different) friend sent me a link to a not-my-hospital provider that had openings. I dithered a little bit, and texted my husband to see what he thought, but in the few seconds he took to respond, the appointment had been snatched out from under me. Filled with regret and dismay, I refreshed the page until a new appointment popped up. The only issue was that the location was an hour’s drive away. But FINE! I will drive an hour! I signed up, I had an appointment, HOORAY! 

Three days before my appointment, I got a text from my hospital system. It said, and I quote: 

Suzanne, it’s time to schedule your COVID-19 vaccination. Supplies are limited. You can schedule online at LINK.

I clicked that link SO FAST, you guys. (Yes, I know I already had an appointment. But I was hoping for a nearer vaccination site. And my appointment was still far enough away I felt I could cancel without, like, RUINING the vaccine they had intended for me.)

On my hospital website, one of the questions you had to answer, before scheduling, was if you were age 50 and up. 

I looked at that question for a long time. A very long time indeed when you feel that vaccination slots are being filled every nanosecond.

In our state, the 40-and-over group was newly eligible. I had pre-registered with my hospital system. I had given my age during the pre-registration. The hospital system had texted me and explicitly said it was time to schedule my vaccine. 

I decided that they had simply not updated their website to reflect the new eligibility requirements. It had only been a couple of days, after all. So I clicked that I was 50 and up. Which is a LIE and felt WRONG. I told you, I am A Rule Follower. But I felt like the website was inaccurate, and that I was still adhering to the rules, which said people 40 and over could get a vaccine. (Perhaps this is the type of slippery justification that everyone makes when they LIE to get their way.) (Grimace emoji.)

After I LIED justified my inaccurate answer, I was able to schedule an appointment for the very same day that my previous appointment had been on, which was great news because my husband was off work so I didn’t have to worry about Carla. Plus, the vaccination location was about ten minutes from my house rather than an hour. Unlike with my previous scheduling experience, I was able to schedule my second vaccine at the same time. 

(In the interest of completeness, it was not SIMPLE to schedule the vaccine. There was a nine minute time limit on your ability to secure a specific time. And I am sure the system was overwhelmed with people making appointments, so I spent a lot of time holding my breath while the “waiting” wheel churned on my screen. I dithered VERY SLIGHTLY in scheduling my follow up (just so I could check my calendar!) and the spot was filled. So I had to start all over again and click YES on the 50-and-up question again, which was agonizing. Okay, so it only took two tries to secure an appointment. But it took nearly the entire nine minutes each time, which was very stressful. Like watching 24 only you are tied to a chair in a flaming building while you wait for Jack Bauer. Perhaps I am being a touch dramatic.)

As soon as I got a confirmation email, which took just a few minutes, I cancelled my previously-scheduled vaccination. I hope it was filled quickly by someone local.

I slept terribly the night before the vaccine. Pre-vaccination jitters? I don’t know. 

I left my house a little early, so I would arrive at the vaccination site about ten minutes before my vaccine. When I got close to the medical building hosting the vaccinations, there was lots of easy-to-see-and-read signage about where to go. I pulled into the parking lot and opened my window to speak to a man with a bullhorn. He asked me what time my appointment was and told me they were running late. He said I should pull into a parking lot to the right and back into a spot. Then listen for him to call my vaccination time, at which point I should drive through the parking lot, past him, and into a parking lot closer to the building. Then walk in and follow signs to the registration desk. 

I do not like backing into parking spots, but I did as I was told. I had to wait about twenty minutes, which passed quickly because of adrenaline. Also because two vehicles nearly got into an accident – one backing into a spot didn’t see the other was within hitting distance. The person who was almost hit leaned on her horn and yelled foul things at the first person, and then, surprisingly (to me), backed into the spot directly next to the perpetrator. That seems like an awkward situation she could have easily avoided, but people make interesting choices all the time. 

I was worried that I wouldn’t hear the bullhorn, but I did. I pulled out of my spot, found a nearer parking spot, and walked into the building. Lots of volunteers were on hand to keep people on track. The line was long but moved quickly. Stickers on the walls and floor marked out six feet of space between each person; unfortunately, the people behind me ignored them completely and crowded me. If Carla had been there, I would have made a loud, cheerful, passive aggressive comment to her about how nice it was that the hospital had put up these stickers to help us keep adequate distance from others, but she was not there and so I merely looked over my shoulder in a shocked and uncomfortable way several times. The people behind me did not notice. 

The first stop was a table where volunteers took our temperatures and gave us paperwork about the Pfizer vaccine. Legal disclaimers and side effect information. I did not read it because I was going to get the vaccine regardless. There was also a personal information sheet, but the volunteer said we would fill it out at the next station. The next stop was at the door to a large room. Volunteers and hospital staff sat at long tables on either side of the room. Each person had a computer. In the middle of the room were two lines of people waiting to be taken back for their vaccines. When there was a spot open at a computer station, I went and sat down. There was a big bottle of hand sanitizer on the table. The tired-looking but kind staff person asked me things like my name and BIRTH DATE and the typical “have you had any Covid symptoms” questions we have all answered a million times by now. She had me sign something – I can’t remember what but I am assuming it was a consent form of some sort. Then she had me go stand in one of the two lines in the middle of the room. Again, there were stickers on the floor. The same people who had been behind me earlier lined up behind me again, though this time they did less crowding. 

When I was first in line, a volunteer motioned for me to follow him. He led me past a bunch of curtained cubicles to one with an open curtain. A man sat inside the cubicle and told me to sit down, then he closed the curtain and asked me a few more questions, including my birthdate. The man – who turned out to be a nurse from my hospital system; he was wearing a nametag and scrubs – was very nice, let me clear on that, but he was the type of person who makes sort of awkward jokey comments. So I did a lot of polite/awkward laughing. Like, he made some comment about how do I come here often? and that I don’t look forty at all! I am not good at this type of banter.

He also asked me why I was there. “To get my vaccine,” I said. 

“But… You’re only forty. Do you have any of the eligibility requirements – asthma, diabetes?” he asked. I started to get nervous at that point. 

“No,” I told him.

“Then why are you here?” He was very congenial, not accusatory, and kept filling out my vaccine card the entire time he was asking me questions, which helped me stay calm.

“I got a text from the hospital saying it was time to sign up, so I did,” I told him.

“Hmmm,” he said, still very conversational and friendly. “I thought we were only scheduling people ages 50 and up. But what do I know?” 

I remained silent. 

“Well, ages 40 and up are eligible as of what, last Friday?” He was preparing the syringe. 

I nodded. Silently. 

He shrugged and scooted closer to me. He wiped my shoulder with an antibacterial swab.

I felt like I had gotten away with something. (LYING.) But I was also irritated at the hospital system for a) not adhering to the state-wide eligibility requirements and b) texting me to say I should schedule my appointment if they really didn’t mean for me to do exactly that.

He said something jokey about how he would try not to let it hurt. I told him that I was going to look away, which I tell everyone when I get a shot, because if I look at the syringe – or wood board the syringe entering my skin – I will pass the eff out.  He made some jokey comment about how he was going to look away, too. 

The shot hurt as much/as little as any shot does. He applied a Band-Aid, while making a jokey comment about how he couldn’t even see the puncture and he’d been looking away so he had no idea where it was. He handed me a timer, which he had set for 15 minutes. He handed me my vaccination card. 

I thanked him, profusely, and left the little cubicle. Across the hall, a volunteer directed me into a big room that had dozens of chairs set up, roughly six feet apart (I am assuming), with people sitting in about half of them. A volunteer told me to sit on a chair with a sticker on it. The sticker turned out to be my “I am vaccinated!” sticker, which I obviously photographed immediately and sent to all my friends.

As I sat there with a dozen or so of my fellow vaccine recipients, I was full of so many feelings! I was so happy to be halfway vaccinated! I was so proud of all these people in the room who had made the same choice! I was so grateful to the nurses and volunteers and the vaccine makers! I was so relieved! I was so terribly sad that we’d all had this collective experience of fear and grief and loss. I thought I would cry but I didn’t. 

I was also a little anxious – okay, more than a little – to be in a room with so many strangers. I could hear one poor woman hacking and coughing in the distance and I hoped fervently that no one would get Covid from the vaccination site. 

My timer went off and I handed it to a volunteer who immediately sanitized it. Then I followed signs to the exit, got in my car, and went home. 

It was a very smooth, efficient, and surreal experience. 

My arm was sore to the touch for two days. It hurt to sleep on that side for two nights, but didn’t hurt to move or lift. My appointment was in the morning and I felt crummy (tired, nauseated, glum) for the rest of the day, but it’s possible it was because I hadn’t slept well the night before. And now I am half vaccinated, with my second shot scheduled for mid-April. My husband, brother, and sister-in-law are fully vaccinated. My parents get their second vaccinations this week. That just leaves my husband’s parents, my other sister-in-law, my niece, and my daughter (and my niece and my daughter will be a loooooong way off). I find that with each person in my circle who gets vaccinated, I feel a burden of worry lift off of me. Similarly, when I read about vaccinations happening – to friends, acquaintances, or strangers – I feel a wonderful lightening. 

I hope YOU and your loved ones have a vaccination in your near future. But I’m hoping – hoping hoping – that with each shot that enters into the tissue of someone’s arm, another little tiny layer of protection surrounds you in the meantime.

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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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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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I did not think of it quickly enough to add to Friday’s post, but I am IN LOVE with this workout video:

Shape: Best-Ever Hollywood Workout

 

Shape best ever Hollywood

Photo from amazon.com. Every time I put this in my DVD player – EVERY TIME – I think about Paul Hollywood, of Great British Baking Show fame. I think I might prefer a Paul Hollywood exercise video. Especially if it involved cake.

I really hate going to the gym. Likewise, I hate exercise classes of any type. If I’m going to exercise, I’m going to do it in my own home where no one can hear me huffing and grunting or see how inflexible I am.

It took me… nearly 40 years to figure to this out, but my library has a lot of exercise videos that you can just… CHECK OUT! For FREE! So for the past six months or so, I have been adding two or three of them to my pile of books every time I go to the library. Some of them, as you may imagine, are terrible. Others are so good I plan on buying them.

The Shape: Best-Ever Hollywood Workout is my current favorite. It has lots of benefits:

  1. The “star” or “host” or “exercise guru” or whatever you want to call him is Gunnar Peterson, and he is not annoying at all. Some of the stars of these videos make me want to turn off the video. They can be too peppy or too aggressive. Jillian Michaels, for instance, is constantly reminding you that you have to WORK to see results. Don’t just sit there and eat ice cream while she’s working out. You have to DO THE EXERCISES. You want your abs to look like this backup exerciser right here? Well, you have to WORK to get them. Rock hard abs aren’t FREE. Sigh. It’s true and a good reminder and all that but it annoys the crap out of me. I’m DOING THE VIDEO, all right? Lay off me! Gunnar Peterson doesn’t really do any reminders like that. He basically says, “Do this exercise” and then he does some counting down to the last rep and then he moves on to the next exercise. Once in a while he’ll say, “Great job” or “Don’t let your arms gets sloppy” or something along those lines. That’s it.
  2. It has OPTIONS. There are two 20-minute workouts for the whole body and two 10-minute “targeted” workouts (one for your arms, one for your buns and thighs). I like to have options. It gets boring to do the same thing over and over, and so this allows me to rotate things.
  3. It’s FAST. You can do a whole workout in 20 minutes! Or 10 minutes, if you want to! And even in 20 minutes, I get my heart rate up and my muscles are noticeably sore the next day. I feel like it’s a worthwhile 20 minutes. And if you have 30 minutes, you can do one of the 20-minute workouts and then one of the 10-minute ones.
  4. It doesn’t really require special equipment. You can use hand weights, if you want. But usually one of the two backup exercisers isn’t using weights at all. You can use a yoga mat, if you want. Depends on how hard your floor is. But that’s really it. No exercise bands or balls or whatever else the kids are using these days.
  5. The exercises go by really quickly. If I’m doing a plank, I get to the point where I don’t think I can hold it much longer and it’s over. I’ve tried (vaguely, lazily) to count how many repetitions of each exercise you do, and it’s not many. Maybe 10, tops? It’s doable, is what I’m saying. So if there’s something you hate, you can get through it pretty quickly.
  6. It’s fairly low impact. I have bad knees, so I steer clear of anything high impact. One of the workouts has a small section of jumps, but it’s very fast and hasn’t bothered my knees at all. And you can skip it if you aren’t interested.
  7. There’s an option for “customizing” your workout – i.e., you go to a menu of all four workouts, and you can select which ones you want to do. And then they will play automatically. I feel like this should be #20 on the list, because it’s not really that great. I mean, it prevents you from having to press a couple of buttons on your remote, that’s all. But it’s a nice idea, I guess. I still end up fast forwarding through the cool-down of the first session and the warm-up of the second session. There’s only so much warming-up and cooling-down I can handle.

Disadvantages:

  1. This is a DVD, from 2010, which is nearly a DECADE ago. So if you don’t have a DVD player or a PlayStation that can play it, you are out of luck.
  2. Somehow, even though it’s a DVD, it’s still $14.98, which seems like a lot for a piece of near-defunct technology. I am still going to buy it, though. But maybe you could get it used, or check it out from your library. Or, for all I know, it exists in the ether in some digital form that you can access for free.

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Every year for the past… many years, I’ve ditched alcohol for the month of January. So many people do this, the month even has a silly nickname (Dry-nuary). I do it because I tend to go overboard during the holidays. With family around, it’s very easy for me to get into the habit of having wine or a cocktail every day. And for me, I prefer to keep my alcohol intake to two or three days a week; I don’t have any specific reasons; I guess it’s fewer calories, it’s less expensive, and I just feel better (I am Morning Headache After Drinking One Glass of Wine years old, after all). But the problem – for me – with doing something every day is that it becomes a habit. I am a very routine-based person, so when I’m enjoying the holidays with a fancy cocktail every night, it doesn’t take long before a normal Tuesday feels like it requires a gin and tonic. Taking a month off helps me reset my mental and physiological expectations.

In April, I decided to apply the same principle to sugar.

Let’s be clear: I don’t have anything against sugar. I enjoy it. As with pretty much anything, I am totally fine with it in moderation. But I was no longer doing a good job of moderating. Sugar had become a habit. After every single meal, I kid you not, I found myself thinking, “Hmmm. I could go for something sweet right now.” I was eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup with my almonds and tea for breakfast. Which is a delicious breakfast, by the way. And I am not OPPOSED to having a Reese’s peanut butter cup for breakfast. What I am opposed to is my body’s willfulness and my mind’s lack of will power. I don’t like being bossed around by my cravings for sugar. I want to be in charge, and if I want to have a Reese’s peanut butter cup for breakfast, fine. But if I don’t want one, I don’t want my body to protest and whine and pout and wheedle until I give into the badgering.

So I decided to give it up. Just for a month, just to see if I could do a hard reset on my expectations. I got my husband on board (this was important) and I roped Carla in and on April 1, we gorged ourselves on sugar (because it was Easter) and the next day we gave it up. Cold turkey. (Well, except for Carla. She still ate PB&J for lunches, and pancakes with syrup at breakfast, and when friends brought donuts for brunch one day, we let her have one so she wasn’t the only kid who couldn’t eat a donut.)

In an admittedly half-assed way, I tried to do some research before we started. Based on some of the things I’d read, we crafted our own Sugar Free plan. We weren’t doing it for health reasons, so there was no need to be super strict. Which meant that we defined “No Sugar” as “no artificial sweeteners, no added sugar, no sweets.” We continued to consume milk products, fruit, and things like pasta and rice. (We also continued to consume things like ketchup and barbecue sauce and a few other things that probably had sugar as an ingredient. But those instances were pretty rare; I even avoided recipes where sugar was an ingredient in the marinade or the sauce.)

Most of the major differences for me were a) getting rid of the morning Reese’s cup (and maybe an afternoon spoonful of cookie dough here and there), b) eliminating my normal sweet creamer from my morning tea and c) cutting out all the diet soda I was drinking (usually one but sometimes two a day).  And of course, I stopped eating dessert.

To really jumpstart things, I did the first three days without any milk or fruit, too. On the fourth day, I added one piece of fruit (if I wanted it) and milk back into my day, and I also drank a glass of red wine in the evening if I felt like it.

The first week was BRUTAL. I thought about sweets all day every day. After every meal, my body would send up this internal notification: Ping! Feed me something sweet! Ping! I need candy! Ping! Ice cream needed urgently! Every time I was online, I was looking at recipes for cookies or cakes or pies. I was desperate for a Diet Coke. I transferred all my desire for sweets onto carbs, and found myself wanting bread and pasta more often than normal (which is already, at baseline, a lot). Instead of eating dessert after dinner, I’d prowl around trying to stem the craving with something else: almonds, Triscuits, tortilla chips. We bought cartloads of dried fruit (no sugar added) from Trader Joe’s. I once ate an entire bag of dried apples in one sitting.

The second week was less brutal but still pretty rough. I usually drink black tea with a hefty slug of sweetened creamer. Black tea with milk was NOTHING like black tea with sweetened creamer. I switched to green tea. Then to matcha lattes with whole milk. I drank a lot of water. I hated every sip of every drink. It was nice to drink the red wine at night; that helped stem some of the dessert cravings. But I longed for a glass of sweet Riesling or even prosecco. I thought a lot about fizzy, ice cold Coca Cola in a tall glass, ice cubes clinking together, the bubbles effervescing on my tongue.

Week three, something clicked. I no longer wanted anything sweet. I went to a birthday party and a beautiful piece of birthday cake was set in front of me and I did not take a bite or have any desire to do so. I didn’t even smell it. It was a completely neutral presence. My internal sweets notification alarm had either deactivated or been turned down so low I could barely hear it.  I still had the occasional craving for Diet Coke, but even that was less frequent.

Week four passed quickly and smoothly. My husband and I agreed that the worst part of the sugar restriction was the liquid portion of our diets, and we started to split a packet of sweetener to add to our respective coffee and tea each morning. That helped immensely. Water no longer became a chore to drink. At night, I’d sometimes still have a phantom dessert thought flicker through my brain – “Hmmm, wouldn’t it be nice to have something sweet?” – but I couldn’t ever transfer that general desire to something specific. If I rummaged around in the pantry or fridge, I could never even find something I wanted. I stopped gorging on almonds and chips and crackers to fill the sweets void.

April 30 was our last day of the No Sugar Month. I think I can safely say that I eliminated my sugar cravings. To tell you the truth, I’m glad that’s the reason we did the No Sugar Month, because we didn’t experience any of the other supposed benefits. One thing I heard from a lot of people about giving up sugar is that they lost a ton of weight. My husband and I did not experience that. I lost two pounds right away and then stayed pretty stagnant. It’s possible that if we decided to use it as a weight loss technique, we would have approached it differently (less fruit, for instance).  I’d also heard that it would improve my skin. Nope. That has not happened. And that I’d begin to taste the natural sweetness in foods (bell peppers, fruit) that I’d never experienced before. Nope. Everything tasted the same. (Well, except milk. That began to taste sweet to me.) If I had given up sugar for a month because I wanted some of these other benefits, I would have been pretty annoyed. Of course, we weren’t as stringent as we could have been, so that probably has a lot to do with it.

Now that I’m done… I’m not sure where to go from here. I would certainly enjoy my morning tea more if I could add some sugar or some honey. I don’t really want to go back to my sweetened creamer. I swapped out my normal raspberry yogurt with plain Fage topped with pomegranate seeds, and I suppose I don’t really want to spend my life’s savings on pomegranate seeds anymore, so maybe I’ll switch back. I am delighted that I no longer want my afternoon soda, or my post-breakfast Reese’s cup, or my post-dinner whatever.

But I also really want to go get ice cream with Carla when the weather gets nice. And I want to make cookies with her. And I want to bake her a big sugary birthday cake with lots of sugary frosting. So I think we are going to resume eating sugar, just at a much lower level than before. We want to try to keep sweets to once a week. That way, they’ll really be treats rather than a regular part of our diet.

Time will tell, I suppose! Hopefully a month of no sugar has at least enabled me to enjoy sugar in moderation.

(Of course, you know what I did the very first day of May right? Cupcake for breakfast. And a huge glass of Coke for dinner.)

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I am dreading this recap this year, for some reason. Yet I am still doing it because TRADITION. I think I may start liberally tossing questions out the window. So BE PREPARED FOR THAT.

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

Oh! And if YOU do this yearly recap, always or for the first time this year, send me a link in the comments won’t you? I love reading these.

  • What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I quit my job to write a novel. (Which I have not yet completed, BLARGH.) (Prediction: I sense that the topic of the previous parenthetical may reappear below.)

  • Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

I do think I have made solid steps on all fronts, and I attribute all progress to leaving my job at the end of March. I feel very fortunate that I have this little pocket of time during which I can be part-time novelist/part-time stay-at-home-mom. The reduction in stress has helped me be more present with my husband and daughter, and helped me really focus on contributing to my family in new ways. It has not been easy, for me, to give up on being a financial contributor. That has altered the identity I always felt I had, and it has been a challenge to adapt. But I do think I’m contributing in new and different ways, or at least contributing more in areas where I wasn’t before.

This year, I am going to finish the novel. That’s my primary goal. It’s taking so much longer than I anticipated just to eke out a first draft. I need to find some way to speed up the process. Because the first draft is only the beginning.

  • Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Did anyone close to you die?
  • What countries did you visit?

Same as last year: Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

I can’t really imagine the answers changing in a big way anytime soon.

  • What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Better ability to prioritize my time. A fully drafted novel. Making my time with Carla richer, somehow, rather than making a bunch of slipshod and ultimately frustrating attempts at “activities.”

  • What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 31, which was my last day of working in the office.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking a leap of faith and quitting my office job. (OMG, broken record much?)

  • What was your biggest failure?

Not getting enough words on the page each day! I can trot out a 7,000-word blog post of a morning, but I seem to spend hours and hours coming up with a measly 200 for my manuscript! What gives? If I can do it elsewhere, why can’t I blather and drivel my way through a first draft?

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

I am currently enjoying a bout of asthmatic bronchitis, which is super fun. Other than that, nothing too crazy.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

Scrivener!!! It is a tool for writers and I loooooooove it.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. He is a rockstar. I can’t even express all the ways he’s shown up this year without drowning my keyboard in tears, so let’s move on.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I mean do you really have to ask, non-sentient Survey created years ago with no knowledge of our current times? I think I’m going to cross this one out because it makes me sad and bewildered and fearful and shaky.

  • Where did most of your money go?

This question sucks. I really want to say something fun like “a new ski lodge in Aspen!” or “a twelve-week trek around Europe!” I guess I could say my potential earnings went toward financing my lifelong dream but that makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach so MOVING ON.

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

As with last year, I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been super over the moon about everything. And she gets stuff now. Like, she understood the little countdown-to-Christmas calendar I put in her room, and the last couple of days she switched the numbers all by herself before I even got to her room. She has been really gung-ho about Hanukkah, and has helped her dad light the menorah and say the prayers. She loved decorating the tree and every night for a week she would pick up a present that she knew was for her and squeeze it and hop up and down and say, “It’s so HARD to WAIT until Christmas to open my present!” I mean, a tree full of presents and she didn’t realize most of them were for her, and yet she got So Worked Up about this one tiny thing. She loved all the holiday books I pull out each year, and expressed interest in Santa and Baby Jesus and the Maccabees alike. She loved the stockings, and asked questions about how Santa could do such and such. She loved painting ornaments for her grandparents. She loved collecting the Amazon boxes from the front stoop and putting them in the guest room to await her grandmother’s arrival. She loved singing Christmas carols. Everything this year was just SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope we have at least a couple more years of this pure, unadulterated joy in the season. It’s a mood lifter for sure, and helps make all those I-want-them-to-be-fun-and-meaningful-but-are-really-kind-of-tedious projects seem worthwhile and enjoyable.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2016?

I have to say the Frozen soundtrack. Carla hadn’t seen a movie in her entire life until Christmas 2015, and once we started we couldn’t stop. As toddlers are wont to do, she fell in love with Frozen and we have watched it eleventy billion times. PLUS we bought the Frozen soundtrack (we call it “Carly Songs”) on CD (yes, I still use CDs in my car) and we have listened to THAT at least seventy gazillion times. Also: Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” and “Let Me Love You” by DJ Snake featuring The Beibs. “Waves” by Miguel (the Kacey Musgraves version). “One Dance” by Drake. Carla does a mean dance move to Drake, and sings along very sweetly to “Let Me Love You” and “Waves.” Also also, on the classical front, I have grown very attached to Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. I have some fantasy that I will learn to play it. (HA.)

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder? Happier but more fearful about the future, I think?
  2. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Which kind of sucks because I lost 12 pounds after I left my job. I have since gained it back. But I kind of hate this question because I just do. I am scowling at it.
  3. c) richer or poorer? I am skipping this question because math.

This is a question I don’t care to answer anymore, I think. Are these really the benchmarks by which I want to measure the year? No, no I don’t think so. MORE SCOWLING.

  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. (Always.) Submitting my work for publication. Figuring out a better time management system.

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. Yelling. Procrastinating. Writing poor-quality apocalyptic poetry. Wasting time on my phone. Feeling too hot or too cold; that’s really annoying when the house maintains a stable temperature.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, with my husband and Carla, and my husband’s parents. It was lovely and fun. Also lovely and fun was adding my sister and niece the day after Christmas, but that amped up the freneticism by several degrees. How does adding ONE additional child to the mix make things exponentially more crazy?

  • Did you fall in love in 2016?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He has been supportive of me and my dreams in a way that shatters me. I hope I make him feel even half as loved and understood and… seen as he makes me feel.

And, as we allow the tears to dry a bit, I fall newly in love with Carla with each new stage in her life. Three has been challenging, but it has also been utterly delightful as she becomes more independent and imaginative and curious and affectionate and funny and fun and inquisitive. I just adore her.

  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

What a year for TV! Standouts from the year include the OJ Simpson mini-series, The Night Of, Westward, and the Gilmore Girls revival (even though I hated GG as much as I loved it – many flaws, no?). I also loved the latest seasons of The Americans, The Great British Baking Competition, Shark Tank, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Middle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. What can I say? I like feel-good shows to balance out the gritty stuff slash real life. Oh! And two series my husband and I watched and loved that were new to us this year were Master of None and Catastrophe. God, I love TV.

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t even. This question has got to go.

  • What was the best book you read?

I READ SO MANY BOOKS THIS YEAR! Contenders for best book include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin. There have been others, but those are the standouts. For me, all had great stories with interesting, well-rounded characters, and truly beautiful language that enriched the story without getting in the way. Then sometime in November I fell into a Sue Grafton wormhole and have been reading my way through her Kinsey Millhone series (again) because it’s fun.

  • What did you want and get?

A chance to write a book. More time with my daughter. More time to exercise. More time in general, I guess. Less stress. And also this gorgeous green coat from Boden that unfortunately didn’t fit so BOO to that. My hips are not British enough, it seems. Oh! And I got the sheet music for Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, and have been painstakingly picking out the right hand notes. That’s really all I’ve managed.

  • What did you want and not get?

A finished first draft of my manuscript because I am SLOW.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Let’s see. My husband and I took a break from watching TV to watch all of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. That was fun, but I wasn’t as… enamored of the most recent (last?) film as I was of the earlier ones. (To be fair, Daniel Craig seemed less enamored of it as well.) Did I watch anything else? Of the (many) kids’ movies I’ve seen this year, Brave is my favorite, followed by Wall-E and then probably a tie between Tangled and Frozen. I did not care for Zootopia, and Robin Hood – a childhood favorite – sadly did not live up to my memory version. (Robin Hood himself is still by far the foxiest cartoon I’ve ever encountered, though. No pun intended.)

EDITED TO ADD: My husband and I watched Sicario just last night, right under the 2016 wire, and it was really well done. Dark and disturbing but a heart-thumping, thought provoking film.

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 this year, and I can’t really remember what I did. Which is a pattern at least a few years running, so I am getting rid of this question.

  • What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Same as last year: I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

Also, this year I started doing Fabletics (I joined Fabletics? I am not sure of the proper verbiage here. It’s just a subscription service in the vein of Stitch Fix. Sort of. Third cousins.), and so have added some very cute workout ensembles to my wardrobe, which means that sometimes I switch up my leggings with legging-like yoga pants. You can spot the difference because I wear tennis shoes with the yoga pants version.

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. Being able to write every day most days.

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I adore Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe. The characters they play are adorable and funny and in-your-face in a way I find charming. Sterling K. Brown. Constance Wu (her and her character as Jessica Huang on Fresh Off the Boat) because she seems fearless and take-no-prisoners and also is hilarious and beautiful and talented. Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore. Okay, so maybe these are primarily TV CHARACTERS and not necessarily the actors themselves but whatever.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. NOPE. Not even going to. CUT.

  • Who did you miss?

Same as last year, although – shocker – blogging more frequently myself has helped a teeny bit: I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  • Who was the best new person you met?

As last year, I don’t know that I met many new people this year. AM A HERMIT. Oh wait, that’s not true. I have made a couple of (tentative strides toward making) mom friends through Carla’s new school.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Write it down, don’t write it right, for the love of all that is holey.

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

(I don’t know if the following makes sense as a lyric or as the answer to this question, but it’s in my head, so I’m going with it.)

Don’t you give up, nah nah nah / Never give up, nah nah nah / Let me love you.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope 2017 goes a hell of a lot better than we fear!

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