Couples Massage. You’re about to be Swistled.


On Friday, Phil and I got a couples massage. I’d never had a massage before, and I had a lot of angst leading up to it since I don’t like to be touched. Like, at all. And all the other parts of a massage that seemed really awkward and distressing to me before I had one. I got more and more worked up about it as it approached, but I ended up going through with it. As I consider myself to be the most average person on Earth, I assume there are plenty of other people who have never had a massage or have massage-related first-worldy anxiety. Once it was over, I decided to lay it all out, Swistle-style, so anyone who is in my previous position can get an idea of what to expect. Swistle does this the best, so you’ll have to pardon me for doing a poor Swistle-imitation.

Phil and I don’t usually celebrate mother’s and father’s day. We actually have a kind of non-celebratey approach to holidays and such all together. We just usually end up mutually agreeing to let it pass without gifts, etc. This is especially true around the holiday season – we have our anniversary, then there’s Thanksgiving, then my birthday, then his, then Christmas, and it’s just a whole lot of events. So for our birthdays, we usually skip gifts and just do some joint activity, usually dinner, and call it good.

The joint birthday dinner was one time a huge problem. I love nothing in the world more than chocolate cake. Before we moved to a place with extremely limited choices, I used to choose where we went to dinner based on the potential for chocolate cake. So, one year, we decided to go to a restaurant for our joint birthday dinner, chosen because they had amazing chocolate cake. Phil and Penny had just gotten over a really bad stomach virus, so we were all ready to get out and eat some real food. I couldn’t really eat too much of my dinner and Phil was stuffed, so we took our slice of chocolate cake to go to share later. Later that night, I was struck with the same stomach virus. A day or two later, as I was laying in bed miserable, Phil came into our bedroom and said something about having some chocolate cake. Why not. I couldn’t eat it yet, so he might as well have some of it while it was still at its best.

WELL HE ATE ALL OF IT. He ate ALL of our joint birthday cake while I was sick, knowing chocolate cake is my favorite thing ever, and knowing that HE was the one who brought the death bug into our house.

AND THEN?

He bought me a box of Funfetti cake mix. “So you can make a new cake if you want.”

Anyway, despite that disaster that nearly lead to Phil’s perfectly timely death, we decided at random to go with a couples massage as a joint mothers/fathers day gift. He’s been really stressed lately, and I’m just a generally high stress individual, though I have nothing in life to actually be stressed about. Also, a couple of weeks ago? I hurt my back? And that’s a question, because I didn’t actually do anything. It just started hurting one day. And then my leg started spasming so badly I was shrieking in pain. The back pain went away, but the leg pain lingered for a long time. Even when it stopped twitching as much, my leg was so sore, like I’d been exercising it, but of course I hadn’t, because come on. So the massage seemed like a good idea at the time.

I booked it online, which is something I love about living in the future. I live in a small town, so it probably wasn’t as expensive as it could be, but it wasn’t a “let’s do this every week!” kind of amount of money, either. Definitely fell into the “treat” category.

Like I said, I’d never had a massage before because I always figured it was more suited for other people. I had several concerns. The first was that I generally really don’t care for being touched. It feels strange and uncomfortable to me. Relatedly, when someone has rubbed my back or something in the past, it hurt. I have no way of knowing if I’m more sensitive than other people or anything like that, but firm physical contact – hugs, hand shakes, etc – are often painful. Even Phil hurts my arms when he hugs me. Is that normal? I really can’t have any idea, but whether it’s standard or not, it’s one of the reasons I thought I wouldn’t enjoy a massage. Based on life experience, I assumed it would be uncomfortably painful. The second concern was obviously the undressed-ness. You can give yourself all the pep talks in the world about how a massage therapist is a professional and has seen everything, but the everything they’ve seen hasn’t included MY body, so there’s some angst in there. I assumed I’d be so focused on body insecurity that I wouldn’t be able to relax. Basically, I’d never had a massage because I didn’t think I’d find it at all comfortable and relaxing.

So. The reality of how it went.

We got there a couple minutes early as requested and we each filled out a short form about medical conditions and any current problems for the therapists to focus on. We went to a small room with the two massage beds in it. It was really dim and smelled nice, but not TOO much smell. Just enough smell. There was a bathroom attached to the room, and they suggested we use it if we needed to because we’d be laying down for an hour, then they told us to “undress to our comfort level.” That was one of the things I was worried about, because that’s what everything on the Internet said – just undress to the point you’re comfortable. I would be more comfortable if I knew what was expected and then decided my actual comfort level from there. But the therapist followed with “most people undress to just their bottom underwear.”

Before we got there, I’d seriously been fully intending to keep my pants on because I couldn’t imagine being comfortable without them, and definitely keeping my bra on because I am not comfortable without a bra, period. My therapist said it would be difficult for her to massage my back with my bra on, so I decided to just suck it up and take it all off down to my underpants. They left the room while we changed and said we should get under the blankets on the tables when we were done, so there was only really a moment of OH GOD I’M BASICALLY NUDE IN PUBLIC. I don’t even take that much of my clothes off for the doctor. They leave the little paper dress and come back to find me fully dressed with a little paper dress sitting next to me, because no. I don’t like to have more than 30% of my body exposed at a time. Everyone’s got their limit, and that’s mine. But the tables had both a sheet and a heavy soft blanket on them, pulled up really high, so I could get right in there and be covered up to my neck. Plus, Phil was there in his underpants. I think that made it easier for me. I don’t know if I’d have done a massage for the first time by myself.

There was a little heated thing on the table to go behind our necks or shoulders while we waited for the therapists to come back. They gave us plenty of time, so no chance of being caught naked and diving under the sheet. They explained what they were going to do, and how we should try to stay as limp as possible, etc.

So here’s something I didn’t expect, but probably should have if I had thought it through. The first thing the therapist did was take my hair down. I guess I’d thought putting it up – which I always do anyway – would have it out of her way and save a lot of hassle, but she wanted it down. If I’d known she was going to take it down, I wouldn’t have put my usual 8000 pins in it, because that was a pain in the ass for her, and I kept apologizing. Also, Penny was at a sitter for the day, so Phil and I were out kind of making a day of it (I also had a doctor’s appointment, so it wasn’t like a super FUN day or anything, but still), so I’d done my makeup. I know I talk a lot about makeup, but I don’t wear a full face every day or even most days, but since I was having a day out with Phil, I did wear quite a bit. She started with massaging my head, forehead, and sides of my face, so the massage oil rubbed off a lot of my makeup. Just something I’d remember in the future, and probably should have thought of beforehand.

ON TO MY WORRIES.

First, I was concerned I’d be super sensitive about my body. Before we started, they asked if there was anywhere we didn’t want to be touched, and I gestured to my whole middle area. She informed me that they don’t touch there anyway, so that was good. And since they start at the top, like with the head, neck, shoulders, and arms, it’s kind of like easing into it. Every time a new area was touched, I’d feel a twinge of angst about how it looked or felt, but I didn’t end up dwelling on that like I’d assumed I would. Except for when they’re doing the arms, you really don’t actually see the therapist too much. That’s obviously extra true if you keep your eyes closed. Because the room is so quiet and because you don’t see the therapist too much, for me it was almost kind of easy to forget there was a person there. I don’t mean to dehumanize the therapist or anything, but that’s the best way I can think to explain it. It doesn’t really feel like hands attached to a person. It’s easy to kind of let go of the idea that there’s another person there.

And that brings up a whole other thing, about paying a person to rub all up on your body, but these are not normal people. I mean, they’re people, but massage therapist people are different than you and me. If you’ve gotten a back rub or massage from your husband or whatever, that’s one thing, but these women maintained such consistent pressure with their hands, I feel like they probably crack open walnuts and crush full beer cans without a problem. They’re not like hands I’d ever felt before, which adds to the whole ability to kind of detach from the fact there’s a person rubbing all up on you.

Another thing. You know how people associate Enya and pan flutes and all of that with spas and woo woo tra la la stuff. I thought I’d be kind of annoyed by the music – standard pan flutes and nature sounds and whatever – but it turns out they play that stuff for a reason. It’s totally part of it. I had thought maybe I’d want my own headphones to listen to my own music, but that would have detracted from the experience for sure. But silence would have been too uncomfortable. That weird woo woo stuff is actually played for a legit reason.

A good thing: I was never more than 30% exposed. That was a delightful surprise. After she worked on each arm, she tucked it back into the blanket. When she did the legs, she’d uncover one and carefully tuck the sheets and blanket around the other one, then cover the first one before exposing the second. That was another thing that hadn’t occurred to me, but it’s a really thoughtful process. I guess I thought I’d end up with a sheet draped over my butt region and nothing else. The reality was way better.

Laying on my stomach was a bit uncomfortable. I have a large chest and I didn’t wear my bra, so there was really no getting around that. But when it was time to lay on my stomach, the therapist lifted the blanket to create a sort of tent shield and explained how she wanted me to turn, so even the awkward flip was fully covered. Nary a nipple was seen that day.

Our massage included hot rocks, and the therapist would say “hot” right before she touched me with one, and they WERE hot. For the first few seconds, I was very close to saying “too hot TOO HOT,” but I waited it out for a moment and I adjusted quickly. But that didn’t stop me from feeling the same little flare of panic each time she added a new rock. It was just bordering on “oh shit,” but not quite there.

At the end, they put steam towels on our backs left the room. They told us not to get up, because they were just going to get us some water. They brought cool water back in (apparently you should drink a lot of water the day you get massaged or you’ll be sore), took the towels off our backs, and told us to take our time getting ready and they’d meet us out in the lobby. We didn’t lay too long because it’s not really our style, but since the room is dim and calm and quiet, I could see how some people might want to take a few minutes before getting up.

When we went out to pay, they had more water for us, and I drank all of it and left none for Phil because that’s how our marriage works.

Our appointment was for 75 minutes, and I thought an hour was a really, really long time to lay still and be rubbed by someone, but it does go by quickly. Not so fast I was like, “whoa, what?,” but fast enough that my concerns about being bored/having to pee/etc were not necessary.

So the massage itself was really pleasant, but I didn’t feel different upon leaving. That is, I didn’t feel super loose and wobbly or whatever. My leg wasn’t sore for the rest of the day, so that was nice, but I wouldn’t say I experienced any lasting benefits from the massage. Maybe that’s something that happens if you get them regularly.

I thought I’d spend the whole time so uptight about my body and nudity and someone touching me that I wouldn’t be able to relax, and that didn’t turn out to be true at all. However, there is a lot of time for your mind to kind of wander, which lead to me thinking about things like work, decisions we have to make for Penelope, and random other stressful things. I suppose that’s better than spending an hour angsting over how my butt looks, but not especially relaxing. If you’re good at clearing your mind, you probably wouldn’t have that problem, but if you’re prone to over thinking things, a massage is a lot of time to lay there and think.

One of the main comforting things that people say about massage therapists is that they’ve seen everything, so you don’t have to worry about them thinking something weird about you. That’s never really worked for me. What might have worked for me is to know that massage therapists are really very, very good about ensuring your comfort without making it seem like they’re going out of their way to cater to your prudishness. The whole system is so carefully thought out and enacted that there’s not really any space to feel exposed or vulnerable or insecure. You also don’t have to make any decisions or judgments on your own. Like you don’t have to spend time wondering about how your going to execute your turnover without exposing your belly stretch marks. They already have a plan for that.

Some parts did hurt a little bit, but I got the impression she was focusing on those areas – like the spot between my neck and shoulder – because she felt they were particularly tight, so I didn’t ask her to ease up. I also never asked her to increase the pressure, though she told me I should let her know if I wanted it harder or softer. It’s possible I didn’t feel as loose and relaxed afterward because I didn’t ask her to increase the pressure. The pressure she used, though, didn’t hurt and since I generally expect firm contact to hurt, I felt like I should just leave it where it was.

If you’ve had massages before, you probably knew all of this. Or maybe you haven’t had a massage before and still knew all of this. But again, I’m operating on the idea that I’m the most average person on Earth, so there are definitely some people out there who spend the days leading up to a massage scouring the Internet for information to prepare a little better, and these are some of the things I would have wanted beforehand.

To my surprise, I would definitely do it again. At this point, I’d be comfortable going on my own, as well, if I went to the same place. Even though I didn’t experience any lasting benefits, the whole thing was a enjoyable use of time.

Oh, Phil liked it, too.

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So here’s a thing I think I kind of understand now.


Like most of you, I’m pretty serious about car seats and their safe use. Putting your child in the car is absolutely the most dangerous thing you do every day, and hopefully the most dangerous thing they encounter in their entire lives, for the sake of my nerves and sanity. It absolutely is dangerous for a child to be in the car. They are much more likely to be injured or killed in your car than anywhere else. Car seats do an incredible amount to mitigate potential damage, but they must be used correctly.

These are facts. You can’t argue with them. Well, you can, but you’d be wrong. These things are true and there’s not anything you can do to make them untrue, even if you find it incredibly stressful to think about the fact that your daily errands are actually the biggest risk to your child, and not, say, letting them walk home from the park two blocks away by themselves. The car is more dangerous and we do it all the time.

The fact that these are inarguable facts is what always ends up making car seat discussions so weird to me. The reaction of some people just never made sense. Because you can’t argue with facts. But you know how it goes – an article goes around Facebook, giving some tips about proper chest clip placement or a new guideline for car seats. And you or someone else shares it, because it’s information we all need. There’s some discussion, and then someone explains why it’s not actually the safe thing to do in their specific situation. Which, fine. That’s fine. We all have to make decisions for our kids like that, things that go against what everyone else does or what someone else might think is the best thing to do. You are allowed to do that. It’s your child, you know best. End of. You should be okay with this, no matter the decisions you make. For most people, I in no way feel that these choices aren’t made from a place of proper concern and care of the child.

However, your (the general your) choice not to follow a specific safety guideline does not invalidate that guideline. Your choice to do something different doesn’t immediately make your version of the rules just as safe as the issued guidelines. It doesn’t. You should feel confident in your choices, because you wouldn’t have made them if you didn’t weigh it out and decide it was the right way to go, but your choices don’t have a place in discussions of actual safety guidelines. You’ve evaluated the information on your own and made a decision based on those facts, your own life, and your own child. That does not mean it’s okay for others to make the same choice, or that others should be encouraged to discard guidelines.

And this is the weird part. In a lot of these discussions, it ends up being an absolute refusal to accept that the issued guidelines are the safest thing to do. Whether you follow them or not, they are the safest. When you choose not to follow them, you are trading a measure of this kind of safety for a measure of whatever works best for your family. And again, that’s fine. It could not be more fine. If you understand the safety guidelines and choose something else, you’re well within your rights and you probably have good reasons. There are people out there who don’t know the proper guidelines, though. Who place the chest clip too low, who turn the seat around way too early, who put their kids in giant bulky coats in the infant bucket. What they’re doing is not safe, because they don’t know the guidelines and haven’t made an informed choice to do these things. They’re just doing it wrong.

So what always surprises me is one, that refusal to acknowledge that whatever you decide to do, there IS a “safest way.” And two, how agitated people who don’t follow the guidelines get over the fact that there ARE guidelines they’re not following. It just keeps going, with justification after justification for not following them, as if they need someone to say, “okay, in your situation, that’s fine, because the guidelines don’t apply to you.” You must acknowledge that my child is as safe as yours. You HAVE to acknowledge it, or you’re a dick. But if you’re not following the guidelines, your child is NOT as safe as mine in a car accident. That’s just a fact. You can’t argue with it, and the other side can’t truthfully acknowledge that your kid is just as safe, because he isn’t. If you’re going to go against posted guidelines, you need to accept the fact that you’ve made that trade off and feel okay with the idea that it works for you, without approval from those who are guidelines-sticklers.

Until a couple of days ago, this phenomenon made no sense to me. It’s TOTALLY FINE to do whatever you want with your own child after availing yourself of the information and making an informed decision. Why are you getting so worked up that other people don’t agree that it’s the absolute best thing to do? It doesn’t matter. Your individual choice to go against whatever is in the article posted has zero effect on anyone else. On top of that, you probably understand that you’re going against the “rules” and know that it’s not a good idea to encourage others to do the same. So just… why so worked up?

BUT THEN. There was this article posted on Reddit. It discusses how children who receive general anesthesia before the age of 4 had “diminished language comprehension, lower IQ and decreased gray matter density in posterior regions of their brain.” And my immediate gut reaction was, “THAT’S NOT TRUE.” I was instantly aggravated and denied the possibility that it could possibly be true. Because Penny had surgery before the age of 4. I thought, “What was I supposed to do? She needed surgery. We did the right thing. It can’t be harmful, because we did the right thing.” And that’s when the whole car seat thing clicked for me.

It’s a fact – children who receive general anesthesia before the age of 4 do present those limitations and whatnot. But I instantly felt like it couldn’t be true, because I would never harm Penny like that. How dare some science article imply that my choice caused damage to my kid? I wouldn’t do that. But it’s true. It’s a fact, and my intentions matter nothing to facts.

That immediate, “I WILL KICK YOU IN THE FACE FOR THESE LIES ABOUT ME ENDANGERING MY OWN CHILD” reaction makes me kind of understand where the Facebook comment arguers are coming from. I’m a good (okay, decent) parent. I always have Penelope’s best interests at heart. To suggest that I don’t – even with facts I can’t argue with – is infuriating and upsetting.

But facts are facts. I did what was best for my kid, and the facts say there could be consequences. It’s upsetting, but I did what I thought was best with the best intentions. I need to be okay with that because it’s reality, just like people who choose different car seat practices need to be okay with the potential consequences of their own choices, provided they make them with plenty of information and the best intentions.

Anyway, that’s all.

pennyicecream

Baffled is the word. We’re going with baffled.


Let me tell you about this thing I’ve planned to post about for a couple years now, but every time I thought, “okay, today is the day I’ll post that,” someone would engage in the behavior I was talking about or a similar behavior, and everyone knows that you can’t say something annoys you without every person who has ever engaged in such a behavior one, assuming it is about him specifically, and two, concluding that you must hate them as a person in total because this one common behavior kind of annoys you. Then you have to go through the whole polite, accepted process of justifying why you’re annoyed and inventing circumstances that allow you to say, “No, it doesn’t annoy me when YOU do it. When YOU do it, it’s fine.” So I needed to achieve some distance from any kind of specific instance so as to fully assure everyone I know it’s not about you, I don’t hate you, and keep doing it, I don’t give a shit, I’m just writing a blog here.

So this is kind of in two parts, because if I don’t put it in two parts, I’ll just go off on a tangent on the real part, and you know how I hate to do that. This is the first part, which is something about me that I guess makes me more sensitive to the second part. Well, sensitive isn’t the right word, it’s not like I get my feeler hurt if it happens, it’s just a thing. But because of my personal experience, I probably note it happening more than other people might make a note of it, but I don’t know that for sure. I’m not you. Anyway. First thing. About me. I’m going to move to a new paragraph for ease of reading, not for dramatic impact.

I don’t really like movies. That might be too harsh. I’m really neutral on movies as a thing. I haven’t seen many compared to the average person, I think. I kind of find movie theaters uncomfortable and then just never really get around to seeing many at home. This isn’t new. I haven’t seen much in recent years other than the Harry Potter movies, and I haven’t seen a lot of stuff that’s considered standard for my generation. I don’t think this is a big thing, really, or unique to me. There are probably tons of people just like me. I do consider myself to be the most average person I know, so normally I’d assume a huge amount of the population is exactly like me. It probably is, but slightly less than the normal giant portion. I’m pretty used to the gasps of shock when things come up, you know, “WHAT? You haven’t SEEN THAT?” I don’t know, I was doing something else that day. Sometimes I remember exactly what I was doing that day, like when I opted to take a practice SAT instead of watching Jurassic Park or when my friend turned on Star Wars and I said, “Let’s do something else.”

It’s not a thing at the TIME, though. It doesn’t become a thing until the time has passed and you’re an adult, and someone is shocked that you didn’t see something that they – or a large number of theys – consider to be a quintessential part of growing up from  years 19XX to now. So, right, there’s fairly often a bit of “HOW have you not SEEN that?” in my life. I don’t know how often it’s in yours. I usually just shrug it off. There’s not really a “how” involved. I just didn’t watch it. It wasn’t required, I didn’t do it. That’s the whole story.

Moving on to part two, the actual thing. I am kind of baffled by – okay, I’m moving away from annoyed. I’m not really annoyed, it’s not the right word. Baffled is closer. I can’t work myself around to the mindset of people who say these kinds of things, because it me, it doesn’t really make sense. It’s baffling, so that’s what we’re going with. So, how often do you hear someone say something like – if the someone is you, that’s fine, I don’t hate you, none of this means I hate you – “I was talking to some high schoolers today and they had no idea who Popular Singer/Band/Actor of my time was!” Or “I overhead some college girls talking today and they had never heard of This Movie. I FEEL SO OLD.” Often followed with something like, “Kids today don’t appreciate the classics” or “It must be unique to this one specific young person because there’s no way huge swaths of people don’t know something that everyone knows.”

I don’t get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t, when I really think it through. People of a younger generation don’t appreciate key elements that felt like a dear and important part of your growing years. It’s shocking, I guess, to find that something so deeply appreciated by and ingrained in you has not even bounced off the surface of today’s younger people. And I suppose it can make them seem shallow, because you have such a deep appreciation and if they don’t even KNOW who it IS, there’s no way they have such a deep appreciation of things.

But here is what I think: it’s not even remotely unusual that someone who grew up years separated from the cultural experiences of your youth wouldn’t catch a reference to them or even have heard of them before. Why would they? There’s no expected responsibility on young people to take the time to research into the back catalogs of everyone who came before. We didn’t, not most of us, not to any huge extent. I know – WE know who the classic rock gods who came before our popular music were. But so do they. They know the big names, generally. But when they’re thinking of appreciating classic songs and older music, maybe it’s… I don’t know, Green Day.

It’s weird to me to be shocked and appalled at the lack of cultural knowledge of younger people, because it’s assuming that your cultural knowledge and experience is the universal one, which is a natural thing to do. But how deeply aware of college students’ impactful cultural experiences are you, or of teenagers? Do you know all the songs that are going to remind them of their last year of high school, and have you seen all the movies they’re going to be excited to show their own kids some day? Probably a bit, but not the whole rich cultural background they’re going to carry to your own age. It doesn’t really make sense for you to do know all of it as if you’d experienced it, because you haven’t experienced it. Same as they haven’t experienced yours. All of it is available to everyone, but if you don’t feel like taking it in, you’re not going to, and why would you? It’s not yours, really.

It’s not really weird to be shocked at a younger person’s lack of what you consider to be basic knowledge or general experience, because it happens to everyone. But when you really think it through, it doesn’t make sense. There’s no real reason to be amazed that a person hasn’t seen a certain movie or has never heard of your teenage favorite band. They didn’t watch the movie because it wasn’t important to them. They haven’t heard that band because they were, at best, a fetus when the band was popular and fetuses aren’t known for their expansive knowledge of popular culture.

I realize I’m blending two things together here – my own “failure” to take in a lot of the popular media of my own generation and the perceived failure of younger generations to appreciate the popular media of my generation, but I think they kind of go together. There are a lot of weird things we do because they’re things we do, but when you take the time to think them through to the end, they don’t actually make much logical sense. So, that’s all.

This is what Penelope looks like now, if you’re interested.

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Penny-188

How have you all been? What’s going on? Anything interesting you want to tell me? I’m here all day.

Put a cushion on your reading chair.


I’m ready to come back here now, but I only want to talk about stuff I want to talk about.

Let’s meet back here tomorrow.

Don’t call it a comeback.


1. What did you do in 2014 that you’ve never done before?

We PCS’d to another base. Phil’s done it before, obviously, but it was my first time. I’ve moved a lot of times, but always by choice and always to places I wanted to be. This move was entirely different in every single way. Also, I went to New Mexico for the first time. And then I stayed there. I remain here to this very moment.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Looking back, I didn’t make any for 2014 because, as I said in this post last year, I knew 2014 was going to be a shitshow. When I made the post in December of last year, I already knew we were moving to New Mexico. I didn’t tell the Internet because, I don’t know, I don’t tell you guys everything, but I did already know. And I’m glad I didn’t make any resolutions for 2014 because it was a really hard year. A really, really hard year. We got through and that feels like enough.

I don’t plan on making any specific resolutions for 2015. Just the normal new year, clean slate type of stuff. I’ll attempt to be better in nearly every aspect of my life, fail at most or all of them, and then not feel even a little bit bad about it when this question comes around again next year.

You know what, I’ll blog more. How about that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I want to refer you to last year’s answer.

People I know gave birth, but no one close enough for me to visit them in the hospital. That’s going to be my new definition of “close” for these surveys going forward. Would I have visited in the hospital? That is someone close to me. None of those people gave birth in 2013. You should also know I would only visit someone in the hospital after she gave birth if explicitly invited. Just so you know. If you give birth and you’re expecting me to just show up because we’re close and you didn’t call me beforehand and say, hey, once the baby arrives, come on over, I won’t show up. Actually, not to put too much on you after you’ve just given birth, but you should probably let me know after, as well. Because maybe you told me beforehand, but then you had the baby, and I decide to stay home anyway because you never know beforehand how you’re going to feel after and I just think, better safe than sorry, and look, your baby isn’t bread and he isn’t going to go moldy, he’s going to be just as fresh when I come and see him later, you know? It’s nothing against you, it’s for you. It’s that I have a hard time imagining why you’d really want me there, probably the same way some people have a hard time imagining why other women might want no one around, you know? So maybe just have your husband send a confirmation text. Actually, I’m going to send a card or something, okay? I’m just not coming. I’m not. The answer to this question is just going to be perpetually no, because I’m never going to see anyone’s fresh baby in the hospital, thus by my own definition, no one close to me will ever give birth. So. That’s… a no.

I’m sticking with that answer, and also sticking with my resolve to not visit you in the hospital if you have a baby. I still feel really good about this answer. One, no one who I would visit in the hospital had a baby and two, I will never visit a new mother in the hospital. I’ve been there. If I was ever there again, I wouldn’t want to see any of you. No offense. Or offense, whatever, I’m not the boss of your feelings and that’s fine.

4. Did anyone close to you die.

Yes.

5. What other countries did you visit?

Stealing last year’s answer, which was stolen from 2012, which was stolen from 2011.

Stealing last year’s answer, which I stole from the year before, as I intend to do for the foreseeable future. And by foreseeable future, I basically mean forever. And look, I don’t feel guilty about it. I’m done feeling guilty or ashamed about the fact that I don’t care to travel. I don’t. Not everyone does. There’s nothing wrong with a person who has no desire to travel. There isn’t.

None. You can also retroactively write that down as my year end wrap up answer for every year since 1981, though it isn’t really fair to count 1981, since I was born in December of that year and didn’t even have my birth certificate issued until early 1982, let alone a passport.

Additionally, I don’t want to travel at all and I don’t feel bad about it. 2014 was a year of not feeling bad about stuff.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Control over more aspects of life.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched in your memory?

The day we all found out how sick Hugo was. It’s also a day that we coincidentally got some incredibly good news for our family, news that lifted an enormous burden that had followed us for a long while. I had more feelings that day than I’ve had in my life total. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I was sick almost the entire year. For the majority of the year, I spent 4 out of every 7 days in bed. Things have turned a corner fairly recently, but for most of the year, the fact that everyone stayed alive and fed was pretty major. PJs was a pretty big achievement, as usual, but it doesn’t feel that big because I’m not big on effort. I also got Penelope involved in way more things than I have before, which feels like an achievement because I truly hate being involved in things, yet I press on.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, I spent almost the entirety of 2014 in bed, so.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Ah, yes. On a grand scale.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I really love the Vice 3 palette. I also expanded my makeup brush collection, and listen, you are never going to regret upgrading your brushes. You’re just not. I promise.

We bought a new car, which was amazing, because the one we had was paid off and mostly mechanically sound, but slowly driving us insane. Only the front windows worked. Only the passenger door would open from the outside. Most of the door handles were broken on the inside. Little by little it was falling apart around us and while it wasn’t great timing and it really chapped my ass to take on a car payment, it was a good choice. It’s amazing, too, because we were driving a 2004 model car and bought a 2014, so it was like leaping 10 years into the future. BLUETOOTH! RANGE ESTIMATORS! INTACT DOOR HANDLES.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The Internet (parts of it) has really stepped up for a lot of people this year, and that was great.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

You know what, I’m going to stick with the Internet for my answer for this one, too.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Oh, you guys, my dogs. Brinkley broke his leg last Christmas day. Then he got an aural hematoma that required surgery. Then he got a lump in his eye that required surgery. Then, when he went to get the stitches out of his eye, we found out that the cough he’d had was actually Valley Fever. Shortly after he started medicine for that and just a day or so before we left Arizona, he developed an enormous abscess in his leg, likely from the Valley Fever, that took us literally months to heal. We thought he’d lose his leg, it was so devastating and terrible. Come the fall, he was finally about 95% healed, but the abscess and resulting lameness had taken away ALL the muscle mass in his back legs and his arthritis had gotten terrible, so he went for several different types of injections to help move him along more comfortable. And then? Sheldon got bitten by a brown recluse. That. Was. HORRIFYING. That happened at the end of October and he remains in a cone today. That’s where all our money went. ALL of it. Multiply whatever you’re thinking by 2. Or 4. Or 5. Thousands. Multiple thousands. We’d spend every penny of it again, of course, but for our sake and theirs, I sure hope we don’t have to.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?

Korean television. PJs. A Korean television star on the cake at PJs.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? I’m super neutral right now.
b) thinner or fatter? I think about the same, though I was notably thinner sometime in between.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer. For sure.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Keeping up here. A lot went on in the last year and I really let it slide past because I was probably always asleep. I slept a lot this year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Same as last year: yelling at Penny, procrastinating work, laying in bed.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home, just the three of us, just like we wanted. We spaced out the preparation this year after last year’s flu bit us in the ass and left us crying in the middle of the night trying to set up Santa stuff. We didn’t get sick this year, and almost every single thing was done ahead of time. In bed by 10pm. Perfect. Penny was incredibly spoiled by generous friends and family.

21. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX?

2013′s answer: this is a stupid question. I’ll delete it next year.

22. What was your favorite TV show?

It’s Okay, That’s Love was OUTSTANDING. It was so good. My Love From Another Star ended this year, too, and it was also just great. There’s a REASON I keep pushing people toward Korean television, and both of those shows were total standouts. I’ve really liked others, too, but if you’re going to watch some – and you SHOULD – try one of those. DM me on Twitter and I’ll send you my phone number and I will support you via text all the way through. You won’t regret it. Well, you won’t regret watching. You might regret giving me your phone number.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate at this time last year?

I don’t think so. Maybe a hate the same people with a more matured hate.

24. What was the best book you read?

I really did not read much in 2014. It’s a shame, really, because every time I pick up a book I realize how much I missed reading this year. But it just wasn’t possible most of the time. What should I read next year? Let me know. I like everything except stuff that’s terrible.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Kpop continues to delight me to no end. I really got into 2NE1 a lot this year, and Taeyang, along with Big Bang, Girl’s Generation, and a lot of other stuff, let’s be honest, you don’t care.

26. What did you want and get by year’s end?

I feel a lot better. It’s not perfect and it’s not great, but there were a lot of times this year when I was pretty sure I would never feel good again and my whole life was ruined, not in the teenage dramatics kind of way, but literally ruined. I just feel a lot better.

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?

I want to go back to Phoenix really badly. That’s not going to happen any time soon, but that’s not going to stop me from wanting it. If anything, this move has really solidified for both of us how much we liked the Phoenix area and how certain we are that it will be our final destination after Phil retires from the Air Force.

28. What was your favorite film of the year?

It’s time to come clean. I don’t like movies.

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

We sent Penelope to a sitter on base the night before my birthday and decided to go out for dinner. After driving around and trying to decide, we had Wendy’s because that’s what I like. Thinking back, we had Wendy’s for my birthday last year. I don’t even care. Bacon me. Then on my actual birthday, I was sick, just like last year. I am now 33.

30. What do you think would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Actually participating in it.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

I have never in my life had any kind of concept for any aspect of my being, but I will tell you what, I am late to the game but have now fully jumped on the long shirts/leggings combo and 2015 is going to be the year of no zippers. I am not stuffing my c-section pouch into another pair of jeans if I can help it. Nope. Done. Forget it. Elastic exists and we should make use of it.

32. What kept you sane?

I don’t know if any particular thing is responsible for my sanity, but I can tell you that every week, I look forward to watching Running Man, and it makes my week every single time. Nothing makes me laugh like Running Man, and it just really puts me in a good mood.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Kim Jong Kook. He can show me his fancy any time.

34. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX?

2013 answer: I’ll also delete this one next year.

35. Who did you miss?

Phoenix. And I miss everyone from the shows I watch after they’re over. That’s a thing, you know it is. Except maybe it happens to you with books. That’s only because you’re not on the kdrama train yet. Get on board. Text me.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I don’t.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

I don’t feel bad about stuff.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up the year.

Nope.

 

It’s Traditional.


Keep the change, ya filthy animals.

Crotch Gate Gate.


Yesterday I mentioned that my post was going to be in three parts, and there ended up being only two parts, for two reasons. The first reason was that I kind of got carried away talking about how I was going to talk about The Wet Brush, which is kind of the problem here – it’s never what I want to talk about that ends up being so many words, but me talking about what I’m going to talk about, and the lead in to what I’m going to talk about, and the things I think about that are kind of related to what I’m going to talk about that add so much bulk on to what could be an average size blog post. What does an average size post weigh in at these days, anyway? What are all the kids doing? 1200 words? 1500? I don’t know. Probably somewhere in there, right?

And then the second reason that I had to abandon part three was that there was a whole other development to the story when Phil came home for lunch. I was initially already planning to write this little bit up, like I usually do, “Hey, listen to this ridiculous thing my husband does,” and wrap it up with something like, “So, at what point does he cross the line from thoughtless knob into total inconsiderate ass captain?” BUT THEN. He came home for lunch. And not only was he wearing the team uniform of the New Mexico Inconsiderate Ass Captains, he proceeded to break one of our number one marriage rules or possibly THE NUMBER ONE rule of our marriage, thus DOUBLE SEALING his place on the losing side of this situation, which is pretty much my favorite kind of thing to have happen.

We have this really big expandable baby gate that we bought when we were still living in Arizona and had this weird half wall situation around the den that we used as an office. We had tried several different gates and sent them back because we needed to find one that was the right combination of wide enough to stretch across the very big opening, but also short enough of go up against the very low wall we were dealing with on one side. We ended up with this Safety 1st Wide Doorways Fabric Gate. It’s 27″ high and expands up to 60″ across and it can be a little tedious to install, since you have to twist these little knob thingers on the top and bottom on one side to pressure mount it to the wall firmly. That worked for us, though, since we were renting and didn’t want to install anything permanently.

We kept it across the opening to the office area for awhile, but eventually moved it to separate the two halves of the split floor plan house, mounting it in the normal-sized doorway between the kitchen and the playroom. This effectively divided the house into a dog side and a Penelope side, with the kitchen, back living room and our bedroom for the dogs and the big playroom, two other bedrooms, and office area for Penelope. As an aside, I will tell you that that is not how this new house is laid out and the dogs are not pleased with the new development. (“Stop. Stop. STOP. HE IS RUNNING AWAY BECAUSE HE DOESN’T LIKE YOU.“) We kept it up almost constantly, because it served the dual purpose of keeping Penelope out of the kitchen and keeping the dogs out of the playroom (Brinkley is a toy-eater). Sometimes, though, we let it down, because we have a toddler, and we have dogs, and toddlers and dogs just go together, most notably when you don’t feel like getting out the vacuum, so you just let the cleaning crew rumble through.

Phil was usually the one to let the gate down, in the evenings, after Penelope had gone to bed (which means after I had also gone to bed, because I go to bed when Penelope goes to bed, no exceptions). In the mornings, I’d wake up and the gate would be back in place. Or it would look like it was back in place. If you’ll recall, I mentioned that the gate is 27″ high – convenient for the space we were looking to fill at the time, and I guess a convenient height for dogs and toddlers. Now, pardon me if I’m about to be crude, but it’s also the exact height of my crotch. I can’t just step comfortably over the gate. It touches. I can’t physically get over the gate without brushing it. With my business. It’s not that I’m very short – I mean, I’m short, but just regular short. You might meet me some day and note that I’m not particularly tall but it’s not shocking. You wouldn’t have to make a mental note to yourself to not stare or anything. I’m just regular not tall. I know that bringing up lack of height on the Internet is dangerous because it can quickly turn into a faux-humility pissing contest over who is the most petite and what you can’t reach on the shelves and whose crotch touches what but I will tell you now I don’t consider height or lack of height to be anything. And that is not a partial sentence, I meant to stop right there. I’m just stating a fact for this story, I am a regular short person. It’s not a thing I wish to bond over.

The problems would arise when I would step over the gate I assumed was placed correctly only to find that, no, in fact, it was not. It was placed BY PHIL. So in a perfect world, gate placed correctly, I’d step one foot over, brush, and place my other foot over. In the real world, gate placed BY PHIL, I’d step one foot over, brush, the act of brushing would DISLODGE the gate that was only half-assedly twisted against the wall, knocking it into the leg that was already over, usually taking me to the ground with it.

The first time? Weird. The second time? Weird. The third time? I’D CAUGHT ON, PHIL.

“Dude. If you take the gate down, you’ve got to put it back on tightly.”
“I do.”
“Uh, no, because it comes down and knocks me over.”
“Okay.”

Fourth time. Fifth time.

“Phil. Seriously. The gate.”
“I do put it back on tightly.”
“I was carrying her lunch. I threw it all over the playroom.”
“Sorry, but I put it back on this time.”
“No, THIS is putting it back on.”
“Okay. Okay.”

Six. Seven. Eight.

“PHIL. COME ON.”
“I get it. Okay. Sorry.”

And then we moved to New Mexico. Before we moved here, we talked a bit about the layout of the new place and where we were going to put the gate, and if we wanted to get a permanently installed gate, since the new place has stairs. Also, Penelope can just force this gate down now, no matter who screws it in, but she knows she’s supposed to leave it up when it’s up. It’s more of a symbolic gate where she’s concerned, but it does still keep the dogs where we want them. For now, we’ve decided to keep it at the bottom of the stairs, in front of the bottom step. We keep the dogs downstairs during the day, to keep Brinkley from running up and down the steps. In addition to his current injury, he’s also almost 10 and does have arthritis. We initially even considered keeping them downstairs entirely and went with that for a few days, but I thought they were lonely and we started letting them sleep upstairs at night pretty quickly. In the morning, Phil takes the dogs and usually Penny, if she’s awake, downstairs to eat breakfast and he replaces the gate. I leave it up for the rest of the day and it comes back down at night when everyone comes up.

CROTCHGATE

Incredibly boring picture of the scene of the crime.

Yesterday, I came downstairs with Penelope and went to step over the gate, as I do – you know, step, brush, step – only to enjoy my first New Mexico ass-over-tea kettling courtesy of the crotch gate. Step, brush, CRASH. It was not even half-assedly pressure twisted to the wall. I don’t even know if it was leaning against the wall. I swear, it was hovering there. Just balanced. Like he spent time and effort achieving some miracle of physics specifically to screw with me, so I’d end up with my face in the carpet. Why? Why, Phil? We haven’t even been here long enough for you to set up any hidden cameras. Why? Why do you do this?

I immediately started composing part three of yesterday’s post in my mind. What I was thinking was something along the lines of what I said about – when does someone cross the line from thoughtless knob to inconsiderate ass captain when it comes to something you’re asking them to do for you? See, I know that Phil really seems to think he tightens the gate enough. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t at all. When I put the gate up, I can safely step over it without it budging at all. It takes effort – I have to get down on my hands and knees to tighten the knob on the bottom or the lower half of the gate will swing freely, which loosens the top half. That’s why it’s not tight when Phil puts it up – he tightens the top knob, but he doesn’t bother with the lower one. Because it’s a pain in the ass. I know it is.

The first couple of times I fell, I brought it up to him nicely. Please tighten the gate properly, because I don’t know if you know this, but my crotch. It touches.

The next few times, I was annoyed, but I still brought it up pretty kindly. Dude. I ride low to the ground. You’ve got to tighten that gate.

The gate was still loose and still causing issues. Is he not getting it? Phil. I am physically being knocked to the ground. My body. My person. It is hitting the floor. Please. The gate.

And that’s where I was at lunchtime yesterday. I was going to pose that question to you yesterday. Has Phil crossed the line yet? Is his refusal to take an extra admittedly pain in the ass step to do something properly for my benefit alone (I assume his business makes no contact) over the line into inconsiderate ass captain territory yet?

BUT THEN.

HE CAME HOME FOR LUNCH.

I was making Penelope a quesadilla and I couldn’t find my piranha pizza cutter, also known as the best pizza cutter I have ever owned (I’ve owned three, which I think is enough). It was nowhere, so I was furious, because Phil has a habit of just putting things wherever, which he promised he wouldn’t do in this new place. I know that if I give a shit about where things go, putting them away should be my job, but still. There’s a line. And that line is put my piranha pizza cutter somewhere where I can find it when I need to cut a quesadilla, especially when I’m already pissed at you. (Side note: It turns out Phil doesn’t know where it is, either, which is a nightmare.)

He came into the kitchen, and I was stomping around, slamming drawers, and immediately started bitching about the pizza cutter. When he said he didn’t know where it was, either, I calmed down a bit, but I was already worked into a good huff, so I wheeled around and said, “THE GATE. I FELL. AGAIN. INTO THE LIVING ROOM. YOU NEED TO TIGHTEN THE GATE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.”

And that’s when it happened. The biggest crime you can commit in our marriage, the number one rule, the thing we Do Not Do, the ultimate in unfairness: Retaliatory Anger.

“I DO TIGHTEN IT.”
“Obviously not.”
“I TIGHTEN IT PLENTY ENOUGH FOR ME!”
“Plenty enough for you? The fact that I’m still falling over it means there’s obviously a problem with your method.”
“WELL I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO.”
“What do you suggest I do, Phil? GET A VAGINA LIFT?”

At that point I went upstairs and I know it probably looked like I was storming away angrily, but I wasn’t, because I already knew I had double won. I didn’t need to be convinced I was in the right about the gate, because I am. I just am. He’s wrong. On top of that, I know I’m in the right about the gate, I brought it up to him, and he came back at me aggressively and angrily in response. Oh hell no. Not in our marriage. We may be weird and we may keep score and we may be locked in a lifelong battle to the death for superiority, but there is no retaliatory anger allowed. If I get mad at him, or he gets mad at me, if one of us has a legitimate beef with the other one, it is absolutely forbidden to get angry in response. No. Nope. You cannot get mad at me because I am mad at you for something you did. Is that a reaction that people do have? Sure is. That’s a thing that happens. That’s a thing that used to happen a lot in this relationship. That is also a thing We Do Not Do Anymore. So if you’re counting, that’s a Double Win for me.

Before he left, he came back upstairs in a much more docile mood, clearly having the experience to know it’s best to give in quickly and completely and let me beat my win out of you rather than holding on to pride, heading back to work, and letting me simmer on some kind of revenge for the rest of the day.

“Hey.”
“Hello.”
“I will try to tighten the gate from now on.”
“Thank you. You know, it’s not my fault I have a low crotch.”
“I know.”
“And I did approach you very kindly the first four thousand times.”
“I know.”
It’s not like when you used to leave the shower head pointed so it hit me in the face every time I turned it on. That was just annoying. I keep falling down.”
“I know.”
“So it’s understandable that I would come at you aggressively after reminding you so many times and you seemingly not caring enough to make an effort.”
“It really is.”
“I’m not an asshole for that.”
“You’re not.”
“You’re kind of an asshole for not making an effort and letting your wife fall over and over, really.”
“I am.”
“And then, when I finally get angry about it, which you agree is understandable, it’s not really fair of you to get angry back.”
“It’s not.”
“You’re kind of an asshole for that.”
“I am.”
“So you’re kind of a double asshole.”
“I am.”
“And I’m not one at all.”
“No, I am the asshole.”
“Good talk.”

Anyway, it turned out I actually didn’t need you at all yesterday, Internet.

Disclaimer: You will never find a serious marital issue or argument discussed on this website.

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