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Posts Tagged ‘whine whine whine’

I have a case of the grumps, and I can trace each grump directly to its source, and they are all very mundane and so silly that my inner critic is standing there with her hands on her hips and her head tilted condescendingly saying, “Perhaps you should be grateful that you aren’t an Afghan refugee instead of whining about your perfectly lovely life, ever think about that, hmmm?” Well. She can eat a bee. Sometimes the only way to escape a particularly irksome grump is to share it, so here we go.

  • I am living in filth. My lovely, creative, crafty daughter has crafted our house into a trash heap. (I trust that you will understand I mean “likes to make crafts” here rather than “deceitful and cunning.”) Her gorgeous brain is constantly coming up with things to make and build and decorate, and I love it. I do. I am astonished by the things she thinks up and astounded by how she can bring them to life with scraps of plastic and bits of cardboard and copious amount of glue. And yet despite my pride and delight in her crafty pursuits, I have begun to feel like I am living in an actual garbage dump. Carla has an entire designated craft cabinet in which to stow her materials, but the results of her work end up everywhere. Little tiny seashells made into crabs. Skewers turned into swingsets and chopsticks and the legs of little clay beings. Cardboard shelving units and apartment blocks. Toys wearing clothing made of paper and string. Purses made out of plastic and cloth and clay. Little bits of paper that now represent dog food, toilet paper rolls, confetti, Barbie workbooks. There is no place to PUT these creations, and of course each one is rare and precious, so we have designated a section of the dining room (which is never, ever used for dining) as the Craft Waiting Area. But do the crafts wait quietly in their area, until such time as Carla deems them ready for the great Outdoor Craft Storage Compartment? No they do not. They migrate. And, with them, creative detritus piles up. Sheets of foam that have been cut into jagged lace. Broken bits of pottery. Plastic baggies. Pencils. Scissors. Sequins. Stickers. Chunks of clay. Slabs of dried glue. Q-tips. Empty play-doh containers. Rocks. Fluffy rainbow pom poms. Barettes. Three sets of needle nose pliers. Pencils, markers, paintbrushes, and pens. Corners and slips and strips of paper. Plastic baggies filled with scraps of paper and broken crayons and tiny rubber bands and bits of yarn. IT IS A GARBAGE DUMP. And, have I mentioned, every single scrap of anything is PRECIOUS and USEFUL and NECESSARY. If ever I suggest moving any of these items into the trash, Carla collapses in tears of betrayal and shock.
This is a photo I took several weeks ago, and it isn’t anywhere near as bad as things were this morning. Picture this doubled.
More detailed look at all the bits and bobs. Note the scrap of masking tape on the wall, there for no reason at all.
  • My family and I continue to require sustenance. Dinner continues to seem like an alien concept. I continue to suffer from meal-amnesia. Since Monday, my family and I have eaten tacos three times: I went to the grocery store with literally only the single idea for a meal this week (tacos), hoping that the shelves would shove meal ideas at me (they did not) (except, I guess, in the case I am about to describe), and when I walked in, there was a display of everything a human could need to make fish tacos, so I bought those things and we ate fish tacos Monday, leftover fish tacos Wednesday, ground beef tacos Thursday, and, on Tuesday, the chicken shawarma that I had planned and purchased for the first week of October. Yes, the broccoli managed to survive that long in my crisper. I have absolutely NO IDEA what to make for dinner tonight. My in laws are back next week (for two weeks), and I doubt that they will be as amenable to Tacos Every Day as my husband and child are, and yet I have no ideas. Food is a mystery. And even though I have catalogued my own meal planning here for several years now, and have multitudes of recipes both in my online files and in the files in my kitchen… and despite having access to both dozens of cookbooks AND the internet, I have no ideas. None. If you were to press a recipe into my hands and say “Make this,” it would surely gradually dissolve into gas and float away on the air.  

  • My husband is giving me guff about holiday cards. It is no secret, either here or in my marriage, that holiday cards are MY FAVORITE PART OF THE HOLIDAYS. I love to send them, I love to receive them. I love them. I thought this was well-established. I thought that my husband, who doesn’t give a goat’s beard about any of it, had nonetheless fallen in line. AND YET. I requested that we go somewhere pretty this weekend to take a family photo for holiday cards, and he grumbled that he doesn’t WANT to do holiday cards. They are stupid and a waste of time and money. While he is entitled to his own grumps, of course, I am feeling CRANKY AND STUBBORN. This is My Thing. Why is he objecting? It will take an hour, maybe, to find a spot and take a serviceable photo. I will do the card-options-narrowing-down work, and offer him a few to choose from. I will send them out. It is not a big drain on him, time-wise. Money-wise, sure, it’s not super expensive. But it’s not going to break the bank. Why can’t he just bend to my will? Why can’t he just fall in line? WHY????? (We have taken exactly two (2) photos of the three of us since summer of 2020. Neither is holiday card worthy, you will just have to trust me. And I would slap a bunch of photos from throughout the year on a card and call it a day in a frosty second, but my husband always, always hates those kinds of cards when I mock them up, and despite the fact that he is making the whole thing harder than it needs to be, he and I still feel he gets a say in a card representing/featuring him that goes to all our friends and family.)

  • Our health insurance is being downgraded. Oh, excuse me: “improved” and “enhanced.” I get that my husband’s company is a business, and they need to find ways to keep costs down, blah blah blah. And I get that I am very fortunate to have access to health insurance at all, and the means to pay for it. But I am still DEEPLY ANNOYED. Mainly because my husband’s hospital system is trying to spin it as a benefit when it clearly is NOT. They sent out this piece of direct mail giving us a heads-up about one of the changes to the insurance plan, which is that they are going to now “leverage” the hospital system’s own pharmacy system. Isn’t that great?!?! Aren’t we so happy?!?! They alluded to benefits from this change: We are now going to “get the best medication outcomes.” What the fluff does that mean? We will now have the “convenience” of using hospital pharmacies (NOT convenient, unless you are at one of the FOUR ON-SITE PHARMACIES in a 100-mile radius) or mail-order (NOT convenient if you have a necessary daily medication that happens to be a controlled substance and may not be available via mail order). And we will have “one card” for pharmacy and medical insurance coverage. Wowee, what a benefit! (Eye roll.) I suppose they do also allude to lower costs. There is also a black box notifying us that we need to stock up on medications so that the switch to the new plan doesn’t affect our prescriptions. Is this even possible with the medications we have? WHO KNOWS. And then it says to go to the website of the new company for more details. But the website does not have ANY USEFUL DETAILS for non-members. This does not feel like they are “expanding and enhancing” my healthcare benefits, that’s for sure.

  • We still have not completed my gallery wall dream. I have been saying for years that I want to have a gallery wall of photos/paintings in our living room. And my husband keeps jumping on and off board. The artwork and empty frames that I had chosen for the gallery wall have been pushed up against the dining room wall (see above) for months and months now, and I think I may have to admit defeat. It is not going to happen in this house. My husband has no interest in helping me plan, but I will need his help to execute the whole thing, and I just don’t know if I can summon enough umph to see it through. So I am summoning grump instead.

To help counteract the Grumps, I will share two goods:

  • The other day I went to a Work Event. I was very anxious about a) being around a bunch of people at a restaurant and b) feeling self-conscious about all the weight I’ve gained since I last saw these people and c) worrying that my much-increased social anxiety would make me panicky and weird. I went out and bought an entire new outfit; I haven’t had to don Office Wear regularly since 2016, and I have since been hard at work “expanding and enhancing” my size, so I had nothing remotely appropriate to wear. I got a pair of black dress pants and a burgundy sweater at Talbots (for 30% off! plus 10% off for joining their rewards program! plus $10 off for joining their mobile mailing list!), which helped tremendously. I felt like I looked put together and appropriate, and like someone who would be totally competent at doing freelance work in the future. But, even better, the event was GREAT. It was outdoors, everyone was vaccinated, and I hadn’t seen most of the attendees in five years. People gave me hugs and seemed genuinely excited to see me and we had comfortable, easy conversations and the whole thing was super, super lovely.

  • I have hacked away at some of the trash heap. Just now, I got a surge of Living In Garbage-related energy and tackled both the Dining Room Trash Heap and Carla’s craft cabinet, and threw a LOT of stuff away, but also organized everything. It doesn’t look good, but it looks significantly better, and now feel much less Strangled By Junk. Hopefully I can persuade Carla that I kept most of her things and simply organized them all in a way that looks like I threw most of it in the trash (I did throw a lot of things in the trash – but really, WHO NEEDS ten plastic baggies filled with tiny bits of paper and string and the cottony ends of Q-tips? The garbage bin, is who.) I need to take a similar approach to her desk in her bedroom, and then we’ll really be rocking and rolling.
At least it is all contained to the giant slab of cardboard now. If I move the artwork and frames down to the basement, it will look even better.

Tell me your grumps, if you’ve got em.

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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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Well, I’m a day late and a dollar short and don’t care a WHIT because I am typing this outside in my backyard in the sunshine. It may be – checks calendar – only April 7 but it FEELS like summer, and right now that is a novel and welcome feeling so I’m going to bask in it a bit. There are so few opportunities for good basking, don’t you agree? 

The reason I am late with my dinners this week is because I have hit my semi-annual Dinner Wall and hit it hard. Nothing sounds good. I cannot bear to think of food. Not a single food sounds remotely edible, not even my one true love: tacos. Perhaps I have overdone it on the Easter candy. Although I don’t really think so, because even that sounds repulsive at pleasant. I tracked down a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs at Walgreens (thanks for the recommendation, NGS!) and I have not opened it. That’s how dire things are, people.

Of course, we are once again confronted by the undeniable fact that we must eat to survive, and therefore I need to plan something. (Even takeout sounds unappealing, which is an indication of where I am, food-ily.) (I am feeling, temporarily I’m sure, wary of takeout because I had a Bad Experience at a new pizza place we tried over the weekend. Super crowded, like an endless line of people going in and out; MULTIPLE staff members wearing their masks around their chins; at one point, ten entire customers packed into the narrow vestibule together; MULTIPLE customers not wearing their masks properly. I waited outside, which helped – I could feel aghast without feeling personally at risk. But then I also saw a person pick up a stack of boxes, leave the pizza place for an undetermined amount of time, return with the boxes, and hand the boxes back to the checkout person, and then the checkout person put them back in the warming cupboard. One of the customers said something about the returned boxes, and a different staff person removed them and, presumably, threw them away, while telling the checkout person that you can’t put food that has left the premises back in the warming cupboard and return it to circulation. A learning experience for all. But I think you understand why I am feeling a bit skittish about takeout after that. SADLY, the pizza was really good.) 

In times like these, when NOTHING sounds good, not even cheese and crackers or nachos for beets’ sake, we turn to things we know we enjoy, no matter what. And yet… every single one of my tried-and-true, easy breezy go-to meals sounds revolting and vomitous. Okay. So we shift to meals that provide nourishment only, and don’t worry about the taste as much. And yet… contemplating a plain Jane meat-plus-veg formula makes me want to violently fling a chicken breast into a broccoli patch.

Nonetheless, after much feet dragging and moaning, I have dug up some recipes that don’t make me want to throw poultry. Plus, I badgered my husband into contributing two meal ideas. Let’s ignore the fact that one of those ideas is a food I refuse to eat and the other is out of season.

Dinners for the Week of April 6-12

  • Beer Braised Chipotle Chicken TacosTacos have yet to fail me. And this is a new-to-me recipe, so it has the novelty factor.
  • Grilled Thai Pork Tenderloin with Soba Noodle Salad: This sounds interesting and summery. Let’s give it a shot.
  • Southwest Salmon SaladI can almost get a little excited to eat this. 
  • Fake Shack BurgersThe restaurant food I have missed the most during the pandemic has been A Really Good Burger. We have tried making burgers on the grill and in the instant pot, and – while both have their merits – they just aren’t the same as a thick, greasy burger from my favorite burger place. (Shake Shack, which I am sure is lovely, is not the place to which I am referring.) I just can’t see getting a burger as takeout. I think it would ruin the burger. So when I came across this recipe I thought maybe it would be The Secret to getting the burger I’ve been craving. We’ll see how it goes.
  • Baked Feta Pasta (for my husband) and Gigi Hadid’s Spicy Vodka Pasta (for me): Who am I to deny my husband the experience of a TikTok fad, and myself a meal of delicious, delicious pasta?
  • Persian Pomegranate ChickenThis is my husband’s other contribution to the meal plan. It does not sound appealing to me, but it does sound DIFFERENT, and sometimes different is just as good as appealing. Plus, I am all in favor of encouraging my husband to take part in the meal planning process. The thing is… pomegranates are not in season right now. And also this is a FALL meal. Even though I already said nothing sounds good and so this next bit might sound contradictory: I don’t want FALL meals, I want salads and things we can grill. But! Nonetheless, if I can track down some pomegranate arils and some pomegranate molasses, we will be giving this a shot this week. If there are no pomegranates to be found at this time of year, we will have, instead, Szechuan Stir Fry.

What do you provide for dinner when nothing sounds good?

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You would think that having basically covered two meals each week (Wednesday crockpot, Thursday microwave meals) for the foreseeable future, that menu planning would be much easier. I suppose it IS a bit easier. But I am still feeling like every week’s meal plan is such a SLOG.

Part of it is that winter has resettled itself over my city. We have been having intermittent Days of Snow and Days of Rain. The snow is pretty, until the rain turns it into a sloppy mess. And every day the sky is as heavy and cheerless as wet cement.

Part of it is that I have serious Crockpot Limitations. First Limitation: I am really picky, and, it seems, especially so about what I will entertain crockpot-wise. I have been googling and going through many long lists of Healthy Crockpot Options! and Easy Slow Cooker Menu Ideas! and What to Make in Your Slow Cooker! and Crockpot Favorites! and so few of them appeal. SIGH. Then I grow very impatient and irritated with myself, because why can’t I have a broader, more accepting palate??? And then I get snippy with myself, because I am nearly 40, so it’s unlikely that my tastes will change and I refuse to make something that I know I probably won’t like just out of principle and then have to throw away perfectly good (for someone else) food. Just stick with food you KNOW you like! What’s wrong with that?

It’s exhausting and fruitless to argue with yourself, especially over something as ridiculous as what to make in the slow cooker.

Looking back, where I listed “First Limitation,” it seemed like I had multiple limitations. But I am too tired/annoyed with myself to remember what they are.

Well, let’s trudge together through some dinner options, shall we?

Dinners for the Week of January 28-February (!!!!!) 3

 

What are you eating this week, Internet?

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I have some bones to pick with blog commenting lately.

First of all, I think that it has become VERY HARD to comment on blogs. I am not talking about the difficulty of painstakingly typing out a comment on one’s phone, using clumsy fingers that constantly choose X instead of C. Nor am I talking about the attention difficulty, wherein you read a post on your phone and mean to leave a comment, but then your attention is diverted elsewhere by a stray child or a Luke Perry retrospective and you forget about the blog and then days pass and then you feel ridiculous joining a conversation that has long since left you behind.

Instead, I am talking about how blogs themselves seem to care Not One Whit about whether you can leave a comment or not.

BLOGS, not bloggers. The bloggers, I am sure, or perhaps I am projecting too much of my own neediness onto others, are wondering what is the POINT of putting their carefully crafted thoughts out into the universe when no one seems to read or care? The bloggers, as far as I can tell, are blameless.

It’s the BLOGS.

Let’s begin with a caveat: I acknowledge that it’s (highly) possible NO ONE wants my long-winded and overly frenetic comments on their blog. (Have you ever read an old comment you left on someone’s blog and wanted to melt into the floor with embarrassment? No. That’s because YOU are an excellent commenter. Me, not so much.) I also acknowledge that people may not even want or need comments on their blogs. The act of writing is probably MORE THAN ENOUGH for many people. And yet in the cases I will describe below, the blog comments are turned ON. Therefore I am going to assume that these bloggers want comments. Or at least are open to receiving them.

The first thing I have noticed is that CAPTCHAs have become increasingly difficult. It made me really frustrated, at first. But then I read this great article at The Verge about why they are so hard to complete these days. (TL;DR: Computers are getting too good at completing them, so they need to be increasingly difficult for human users to solve in order to thwart the machines.) That helped me feel less growly toward the CAPTCHAs, sure, but still, it’s a labor of love, nowadays, to leave a comment on a blog. Because first you have to type up your inane thoughtful response. And then you have to input your name and email address and URL. And THEN you have to solve a series of object identification questions that require superhuman vision and discernment. “Choose all images of a bicycle.” “Choose all boxes that have a traffic light.” Or, my least favorite, “Choose all images of a storefront.” (What counts as a storefront, pray tell? Does it just mean “any building with an awning”? I never get that one right. Good luck, machines.) And sometimes, even if you get it all right, you have to do ANOTHER test, just to be really, doubly, extra sure you’re human.

CAPTCHA

Does the POLE count as part of the traffic light? Or are we supposed to click on only the lights themselves? These are some of the highly important questions I find myself asking.

Fine. I get that this is just a necessary evil in today’s fruitless exercise in delaying the Machines Will Take Over Eventually No Matter What reality.

But that’s not the only issue I’m having.

Even WORSE, some blogs just… eat my comments. I will type out a comment, fill in the Name/URL fields, and hit “done” or “reply,” and the blog seems to react to that in some way, reloading or redirecting me back to the top of the post — but doing SOMETHING that indicates I have input a command and the blog has received a command. But then my comment never shows up. No “comment is awaiting moderation,” just nothing. The blog has straight-out rejected my words. There is a blogger I have been reading FOREVER whose blog does this, and it makes me so mad. She writes interesting, thought-provoking things! I want to respond! Sometimes I have questions! Her blog does not care.

So far, most of my issues are with blogspot blogs. But wordpress is not immune, oh no! I struggle with a particularly mysterious issue with wordpress blogs, where it asks me to sign in to wordpress… but even when I do, nothing happens. It just tells me, in a very condescending way I might add, that I am being asked to log in because I am NOT logged in. Even when I AM logged in. I can log in fifty times and the site never recognizes that I am, in fact, LOGGED IN. And eventually I give up and my comment never posts.

CAPTCHA 2

I AM logged in. I PROMISE.

SIGH.

I don’t want this to become a General Wistful Moan about blog commenting being so different from the halcyon days of yore. No. “Blogging” is a different thing than it was back then, but people DO comment, and I am fine with the way it is. But I do get really frustrated — for myself, as a Person Who Likes to Comment, and for bloggers who (I am projecting again) want to build an online community or desire feedback or simply hope that their writing is making an impact.  It’s hard enough, as a blogger, to compete with Twitter and Instagram and readers’ limited attention spans. These completely unnecessary barriers to commenting are not helping. And I feel so impotent to do anything about it besides whine on my blog!

Anyway, I hope you know that if you ever want to comment here, and you CAN’T, you can always email me at lifeofadoctorswife [at] gmail and I will gladly respond.

In the meantime, I guess I should figure out a way to befriend our computer overlords. Maybe THEY can fix these problems.

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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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You know those tasks that you do every day and some days you do it without a thought and other days you do it while grumbling quietly and other days you hate yourself and your life and you would prefer to abandon your spouse and children and live life in a yurt on a remote island than remove ONE MORE TIME the daily mass of hair from the shower drain? Well, I have reached the latter stage with changing the toilet paper rolls, which seem to ALL THREE need changing simultaneously, only by me, and at an alarming rate of turnover.

Of course, my irritation is on the level of hair strands burrowing in a drain, which is a near infinite distance from the level of My House Just Got Leveled By A Hurricane or My Backyard Is Burning And Has Been Since July or My Country May Or May Not Be In The Imminent Path of Nuclear Disaster. But rather than spend $1,000 on all the gas masks and emergency rations that are in my Amazon cart at the moment, I am turning my thoughts instead to the minutiae of life’s drain-hair-nest of irritations in hopes that it distracts me from The End Times for a while longer.

Something that is high on my list of unimportant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things irritations lately is my eye doctor. Not him, per se. But his office and their apparent COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE with submitting charges to my insurance company. (Let’s acknowledge all the inherent privileges in this source of exasperation: access to health care, access to eye doctor, access to funds to pay for the services in case my insurance company denies the claims, house standing in a hurricane-free area, backyard absent of fire and smoke, etc.)

My eye doctor – whom I’ve seen for nearly a decade, and therefore do not want to leave, not so much out of loyalty as out of desire not to meet a new person – just joined a larger practice. He used to be part of the University Health System for which my husband also works. Now, he works for a practice called, confusingly, University Ophthalmologists. This is important to my plight.

After the eye doctor joined this new practice, my husband and I each went for our yearly eye exam. (I actually had several additional appointments, but that’s another story and I’d rather not fret about my steady march toward sightless doom at this time.) We got a bill several months later.

The bill says clearly, “If there is an asterisk next to the thing we are charging you for, we have submitted a claim to your insurance for that thing.”

The bill had zero asterisks, and it looked as though – unsurprisingly – none of the items had been covered at all by our insurance, despite the fact that our insurance covers yearly eye exams in full.

Since the bill said we had to pay by X date or face a collections agency, I called the number for the billing office.

The woman who answered – let’s call her Doris – said she could help me. I told her it didn’t look like our appointments had been submitted to insurance. She asked me what our insurance carrier was, and I told her. Recognizing the carrier, she asked, “Is your husband employed by University Health System?” and I confirmed that he is.

That’s when her brain shut down tight like a toddler throwing herself on the floor in prone, immovable refusal to wear the perfectly reasonable pants she already agreed to wear. Doris said, “Well, if you have the employee insurance, we don’t take it. We aren’t PART of the University Health System. We’re separate. Even though our name is University Ophthalmologists, we are NOT part of the University Health System. We are out of network to that insurance because we are not part of the University Health System.” She repeated this information several times and in a variety of ways, lest I misunderstand what she was saying.

When she finally ran through all possible variations on “we are not part of the University Health System,” I brought out my trump card (which no longer sounds as pleasantly triumphant as it should) and told her that we had in fact emailed our insurance company prior to our appointments to make sure that our eye doctor was still an in-network provider. The insurance company had responded that he was indeed an in-network provider.

Doris was still on toddler tantrum mode and this information did not sink in.

At some point she paused long enough for me to finally ask the question I had been intending to ask from the beginning, which was, “Did you actually even TRY to submit the claim to our insurance company? Because the bill says you did not. No asterisks.”

That got through somehow – her brain toddler must have spotted a soothing My Little Pony or something – and she said, no, it didn’t look like they had submitted the claim. So she would do that. BUT MARK HER WORDS, she said, it wouldn’t make any difference because they were out-of-network for my insurance company, not part of University Health, yada yada, the sound of my blood pressure drowned out her words at that point.

Internet, we have since received at least a dozen bills. Some of the claims have been submitted to our insurance. Some have been PARTIALLY COVERED.

One bill showed that part of my routine annual exam was covered… but my husband’s was not. Same exact service. Same exact insurance. So I had to call again. And Doris answered again. And we went through the SAME EXACT RIGAMOROLE.

Perhaps you are well aware how maddening it is to tell someone a fact and have them completely ignore that fact as they steamroll right over you with their own agenda. She was so completely caught up in this “we are not part of the University Health System” thing that she could not see that my insurance WAS IN FACT COVERING THINGS. Nor could she take a breath and look at the identical appointments my husband and I had, and note that there was no earthly reason for our insurance to make a payment on MINE and not on HIS.

The call ended with me asking, again, for her to re-submit the claim (which, again, had NO ASTERISK on their own form which said clearly that an asterisk means it has been submitted and ipso facto LACK OF ASTERISK means it has NOT been submitted). And again, we got a bill with incomplete asteriskage and mismatched claims information. Exhausting.

I am seriously considering leaving my eye doctor because of this! It is not worth going through this every couple of weeks! I never want to speak to Doris again!

And listen, I can empathize with Doris. I can. She probably has to talk to a billion people a day, many of whom are probably confused/enraged by the fact that University Ophthalmologists is not part of the University Health System and therefore doesn’t accept their insurance. That would be confusing and enraging! And so she probably has to shut off the part of her brain that listens so she won’t be bombarded by insults and profanity from angry, frustrated clients. And probably there is a limited number of variations on how insurance companies respond to claims so she likely thinks she’s seen it all. And maybe she’s worked there for fifty years and HAS seen most things and has a good grasp of her job and what can and cannot be done. She’s probably a very efficient, hard-working woman who maybe has too many things on her plate and might be a wee bit exasperated by all these patients the new doctor is bringing into the practice with their associated ignorance about what the word “University” means when it’s part of a practice name. Maybe she hates her job and goes home each night and cries. I try to think of all these things every time I speak to her, with limited effect on my blood pressure.

When the most recent bill arrived, I waited as long as I could. Then I gritted my teeth and geared up to deal with Doris. But! Lovely, reasonable, fresh-voiced Heather answered the phone! Heather, who trotted out the same “we are not in-network for University Health System insurance” line, but then listened as I pointed out that a) our insurance told us our eye doctor is in-network and b) our insurance had been covering some of the claims. And then she agreed that it was odd! And that she would look into it!

I have no doubt that I will be back on the phone with Doris in a couple of weeks, because insurance matters take YEARS to untangle. (Surely I’ve complained here in the past about the insurance company that had “University of City, Name Memorial Hospital” on their list of in-network providers, but the hospital itself put simply “Name Memorial Hospital” on the claims it submitted, so the insurance denied them all? That was a fun one to deal with.) (No.) But maybe, knowing Heather is around, I won’t have to leave my eye doctor altogether?

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Let’s just put it out there: I am not adjusting well to Carla being in preschool.

This is not, as everyone assumes, because I miss her horribly and it’s hard to spend time without her. Don’t get me wrong, I DO miss her horribly and it IS hard to spend time without her, but those things aren’t any worse than they used to be – in fact, they are much BETTER. After all, she was in daycare from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm pretty much every day from four months old on. She spends LESS time at preschool which means we get much more time together.

What I am adjusting to, in descending order of Level of Stressiness, are 1) Dealing with Teachers, 2) Dealing with the School Schedule (otherwise known as Trying to Find Time to Get Anything Done During the Day), and 3) Helping Carla Adjust to Preschool.

Let’s take them in reverse order, shall we?

3) Helping Carla Adjust to Preschool

Carla is an adaptable, easy-going kiddo. But that doesn’t mean that change is EASY for her. Like, she happily goes to this new school with its new schedule and its whole new set of rules and dozens of brand-new people… but it’s not like her being HAPPY and ENJOYING HERSELF erase the stress that accompanies adjusting to all those things, you know? And, even though we are eight weeks in or so, I think she IS still adjusting. There were more obvious (to me) stress signs in the first few weeks, and those have largely lessened or disappeared. But I still think she’s in a transition period, rather than having fully settled into the new environment and routine.

Aside from the energy is takes to fret about whether your child is stressed, just the normal practice of preschool is new and exhausting. It takes a surprising amount of energy to preview the school day each night before bed and each morning before school, to keep track of whether she’s having gym or music on which day, to remind her to bring her library book back to school and to help her keep her excitement and energy under control when she’s at school, which is – wonderfully – exciting and stimulating and fun.

So trying to help her deal with new expectations and rules and schedules is occupying a big chunk of time, and I spend many hours feeling the normal fears that I am a horrible parent for putting her in this new situation and wondering if this is the RIGHT place for her, and did we make a mistake by moving her out of the previous school, and would she have done better if we’d held off until kindergarten blah blah yada yada second guessing blech.

We have Carla enrolled in a great school. My husband and I really believe that this will be a good learning environment for Carla. (Although we are open to changing that mindset if it turns out that it is NOT a good fit.) Nonetheless, it has been A Whole New Experience and we are all still a bit unsettled.

I think that PART of what feeds this lengthy adjustment period is that we still haven’t developed a RHYTHM. And part of the reason for that is the school schedule. Which brings me right to…

2) Dealing with the School Schedule (otherwise known as Trying to Find Time to Get Anything Done During the Day)

In particular, I am having a hard time adjusting to our new schedule. It feels like School Related Stuff takes up ENORMOUS amounts of time.

I imagine every seasoned mom who is reading this right now is wearing that head-tilted expression of bemused sympathy. Because one of my (our?) biggest struggles is the school schedule. We’ve already had three days off from school just this month… and next week the school is closed for a day and a half. She’s OFF for 20% of the school month! Okay, so it doesn’t sound like THAT much time not in class, but it FEELS like it.And it’s very hard to feel settled in a routine when you might have only three or four days of school in a week, you know?

On top of the no-school days, we are all adjusting to the overall new schedule – which is very different from her five-days-a-week, seven-to-eight-hours-a-day daycare schedule. Now, Carla goes to school “full-time” (about six hours a day) four days a week, and for two hours one day a week.

There are also optional but important (I think?) things that eat up time, like meetings with Carla’s teachers (obviously important) or phone calls from her teachers with various updates (head bonk, sad morning, proud words, etc.) and parent association events and coffees with other parents. I really and truly want to make some new friends and to build a nice network of people who have kids Carla’s age in Carla’s school… but it takes TIME.

Side note: I know that it no longer applies, and that I’m very FORTUNATE that it no longer applies, and I’m GRATEFUL, but man: how would I be managing this if I still worked full time?

When I left my job this past spring, my husband and I were very clear that I was going to make WRITING my full-time occupation. Which went swimmingly for many months, enough so that I developed a schedule and wrote a big chunk of a novel and then discovered it wasn’t working and then began (and now have a bigger chunk of!) another completely separate novel. This has been my literal lifelong dream, and we are in a rare pocket of time wherein it is feasible for me to undertake this don’t-get-me-wrong-I-know-it’s-the-height-of-self-indulgence-and-luxury project, and so I am damned if I am going to squander this opportunity.

But now that Carla is in preschool, I am now trying to squeeze what once fit neatly into about 37 hours into 26 hours. I constantly feel rushed and frantic, is what I’m saying.

Part of the stress, I think, is related to my transition from Working Mom to Stay at Home Mom. Which is really like switching careers, you know? It’s a whole different set of tasks and priorities and concerns. It requires a whole different mindset and skill set. I now have the wonderful luxury of handling those things that I couldn’t easily handle while working: having the plumber over to look at a leaky faucet, or running my husband’s new watch back to the store to exchange it, or taking Carla to the doctor for a flu shot, or running to the store mid-week to pick up more bananas. I am at home, and so doing laundry is more convenient; cleaning the oven; scrubbing the grout. But all of those things also take time. And yes, while it’s great to be able to do them, it still feels like I’m stealing from the time I should be devoting to writing. This career shift has not been simple, is what I’m saying. And the accompanying new expectations and challenges result in stress.

But all of it pales, I think, in comparison to my number one major school stress, which is Dealing with Teachers.

Let me be VERY CLEAR that Carla’s teachers are amazing and I adore them. They are kind and relaxed and friendly and accommodating. They are EXCELLENT at communicating. They clearly love Carla and see her for all of her wonderful unique assets. If they weren’t my child’s teachers, I would totally want to be friends with them.

But man, they would never want to be friends with ME because I have somehow become this high maintenance, flaky, ridiculous mom! Okay, truth time: maybe I was all those things before, and just didn’t really notice. Now, I feel like Carla and I are ALWAYS late. And I completely forgot her “homework” assignment recently, even though her teachers are super up front about what she needs to do and when, AND they give plenty of advance notice. The other day I was late to pick up Carla from school – I just somehow FORGOT what time I was supposed to get her, despite having to pick her up At The Same Time Every Day (except that one day each week when it’s different). I mean, what the hell?

Also, and I feel kind of dumb saying this, but: Carla’s teachers are so clearly experts at dealing with kids. They have all this special positive, simple, clear language and terminology that they use to talk to their students. And it really highlights, for me, that I say, “Don’t do that” a LOT and that I’m doing way more correcting than redirecting. It’s a good lesson, but a hard one for my ego, you know?

There are also all the new uncertainties that come with new situations. For instance, for a while there, I was really unsure about what to do when a teacher and I were both interacting with Carla simultaneously. Do I defer to the teacher? I mean, we’re on her turf. I don’t want to say or do or suggest something that wouldn’t be appropriate in terms of classroom rules/style/tradition. I resolved this by asking what the protocol was (am genius), so there’s one teeny little point in my favor. But the answer was that the teacher defers to ME, and that makes me uncomfortable: all my “don’t do that” crap parenting techniques that get nary a twitch out of my child are on display for the teachers to judge or pity.

Plus, there seem to be School Expectations that I’m just not aware of, or clear on. Like, I came a few minutes early (literally FIFTEEN minutes early) to get Carla for an appointment, and the receptionist yelled at me! For not signing her out! Which I didn’t know was a thing I had to do! (Don’t get me wrong, I’m GLAD it’s a thing, and that the receptionist is so eagle-eyed.) But it’s just an example of these invisible rules that are spiderwebbed all over everything. And there’s no obvious way for me to ask for clarity. I really want a MANUAL, you know? One that spells out, this is exactly what we the teachers expect you to do and say every step of the way on every occasion. I am good at following rules! (Unless it’s about being on time to school or remembering my child’s day for show and share GAH.) I just need to know what they ARE!

It’s the old desperation to please authority figures, I guess. I just want to be the easy parent, but instead I’m frazzled and forgetful. I send them emails that I read, later, that say NOTHING REMOTELY CLOSE to what I was trying to say. And then when they misunderstand my INTENDED COMMUNICATION (read: not what I actually communicated), I have to ask for changes and they must think I am CRAZY. Or an idiot. Or a crazy idiot.

And I get so nervous and wound up when we have parent/teacher meetings – I feel like I’ve been called to the principal’s office. So when I should be advocating for Carla, I am instead worried that I’m doing the wrong thing or inconveniencing them or making a bad impression. I EVEN STARTED TO CRY ONCE, FOR PETE’S SAKE. So now I am the crazy idiot flaky hysterical mom.

UGH. It is the worst. Even though I realize it is unlikely as bad as I think – and even though Carla’s teachers remain kind and friendly and helpful as ever – I feel like I’m being evaluated and coming up short every time.

The worst thing of all, I think, is that I really REALLY don’t want my stress and discomfort to be impacting Carla or her experience at school. She is super perceptive, so I know I can’t fully hide anything from her. But I really hope I’m disguising my Issues enough that it’s not amplifying her own stresses. And I really hope that she is on the last leg of the Transitional Period, and that the new school will start to feel known and comfortable – soon.

UGH. Preschool. Who knew it would be so HARD (for me)?

What I want to have is reassurance: that I’m not the only one who stresses about these ridiculous things. That all these stresses are likely magnified by the horrific political environment. That it’s probably not as bad as I think it is. That it will get better. For me but DEFINITELY for Carla.

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