I’ve really enjoyed The Good Place because discussing moral philosophy and associated thought exercises has been one of my favorite things since I took my first of a jillion philosophy classes in college.
I’ve enjoyed it in that way that’s like, wow, why doesn’t everyone love this? Not in an asshole “I can’t believe you’re too dumb to see how great this is” kind of way but in that way when you just enjoy something SO MUCH it’s kind of impossible to understand why people don’t enjoy it just as much, even if you rationally understand that they don’t, and everyone has different tastes and things they like to do with their time and some people are just never going to watch kdramas no matter HOW MANY TIMES YOU TRY TO TELL THEM.
I got into a really fun discussion a few days ago about the ethical issues that crop up when it comes to self-driving cars, and just general talk about what the issues are and the different ways to think about them. People were having a nice time talking about it, even those who aren’t generally into the topic, because it CAN be really interesting, just working through the various issues in the “I understand there isn’t a perfect solution but thinking through it is kind of a nice way to pass some time” kind of way and I really was having fun.
AND THEN an absolutely shining example of That Guy came along. Just divebombed into a conversation that had been going on for hours. And he said “You just need to do XYZ.” Like, hey, dummies, problem solved, since you were clearly trying to solve the ethical issues of self-driving cars here in a Discord chat and FAILING AT IT. Totally ignoring the fact that no one was trying to solve anything, people were just talking. Just talking about the various ins and outs of different situations that could come up and what that might mean, and anyway, I don’t have to describe the entire situation because you already know exactly what this was. No one needs help, no one needs rescue, no one needs an answer and That Guy DESCENDS FROM ON HIGH (likely sitting atop his own towering sense of self-assurance that causes him to never even consider questioning whether his input is welcome, appropriate, or even on topic) and I was immediately like, oh. I see now why people don’t like to talk about this for fun. This is no longer fun for me.
Thanks, That Guys, for your insufferable need to be right and smug in situations where NO ONE EVEN ASKED YOU ANY QUESTION, LET ALONE THE SPECIFIC QUESTION YOU DECIDED TO ANSWER, ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS TO THE FACT THAT YOU ARE RUINING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE GOING ON BECAUSE YOU CANNOT IMAGINE A WORLD IN WHICH YOUR OPINION IS NOT HOTLY AWAITED AND WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS.
You might be about to say, “well, maybe he wanted to join in on the conversation” and I will say to you, very patiently, that you know damn well in your gut that isn’t true, because we all know That Guy, and he’s probably 85% of the reason people avoid philosophy like the plague in the first place. And I further submit that if he wanted to join in the conversation, which is understandable, because you’ll have to trust me when I say we were legitimately having fun, he would have taken a moment to UNDERSTAND THE ACTUAL CONVERSATION AND ITS PARTICIPANTS (at least one person with an ACTUAL DEGREE IN THE SUBJECT), and made an effort to join in the conversation that was ACTUALLY BEING HAD, rather than arrive, throw down his “I’VE SOLVED THIS FOR YOU!” dick on our virtual table, and waited for praise on his unwelcome wiener.
We did not praise his unwelcome wiener, and the conversation immediately broke up, as it was no longer fun, but hey, at least he got to tell us how much smarter he was than all of us and probably felt good about himself for a while, and isn’t that all that matters in the end? That random men you encounter throughout life come away from every interaction, including those they’ve forced themselves into, feeling good about themselves?
I have an unrelated story that you will either GET or you won’t, and both are fine, because this is definitely a me thing, and encapsulates the way I feel about a thing. You know how lately if something is praised as having all female writers, or a 90% female team, or anything at all like that, most of us can recognize that as a good thing, progress. But there’s always going to be That Guy who comes into the tweet stream to be like “YOU BITCHES SAY YOU WANT EQUALITY AND NOW YOU’RE EXCLUDING MEN? DOESN’T SOUND VERY EQUAL. BITCHES. YOU’RE BITCHES.”
That’s super irritating. It really is. I don’t think anyone who I would willingly associate with can argue that it isn’t super irritating. But for a long time, it was like tugging at the corner of my mind, I felt a way about it but couldn’t exactly put it into words, but then I remembered this story from my childhood that kind of summed up the sort of impotent injustice feeling and this is what happened.
The house I grew up in had three bathrooms, one being the master, and my sister and I were each responsible for cleaning one of the other ones every Saturday. There was the big one upstairs that had a big counter, and more space, and a bathtub/shower, and a smaller half bath downstairs. When we initially took on this job, it was decided that I’d clean upstairs for six months and my sister would do the half bath for six months, and then after that we’d swap for six months, and continue on in that way.
Well, when the first six months finally ended, my parents felt that the arrangement wasn’t exactly fair – maybe it wasn’t, maybe they had something else in mind, maybe they just changed their minds. Who knows, who cares. The new arrangement, starting right then, was to be a more even split, switching off week by week. So it’s finally my turn to have the easy job for a long while, and suddenly it’s only fair that the one who has had the easy job the whole time gets to split it with me?
IF THAT ISN’T EXACTLY IT, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
The comments are still broken. I might fix them someday, I might not. Just like whenever the last time I did this was, you can talk to me on Twitter, or DM me on IG, or you can email me, or you can even text me, if you contact me and ask for the number I have just for that, and I will give it to you without question no matter who you are, because some people like to text and that’s valid. It goes to my phone but don’t bother calling me because that number doesn’t ring, I don’t use my phone for that, and I don’t actually want to speak to you with my voice. I feel I have provided several suitable ONE MIGHT EVEN SAY EXCESSIVE ways for you to comment, so I don’t feel particularly bad about my lack of urgency to fix this site, although clearly bad enough to dust off an old number for your convenience. We will call this even, and it is my blog, so I’m allowed to make that decision.
I initially posted this last night, after I had backed up the site and then fixed one or two things, I can’t remember. I fixed something, and then I posted this, and it turned out the comments were broken, so I tried to unfix it, but the comments were still broken. So I restored the site from the backup, and not only were the comments still broken, but the backup didn’t have this post. Fortunately, some people had it populate in their feed readers and sent it back to me, and on rereading it, I thought, well, that was garbage and probably better lost to the pit of the Internet, but the only thing I hate more than making an effort is wasting an effort, so here it is again.
There is something wrong with my wrists and elbows and sometimes my knees, but not something wrong in the Alert Danger Something Terrible Has Happened kind of way, but something wrong more in the well, I guess this is just my life now kind of way. They hurt and the pain is very similar, extremely similar, maybe even exactly the same, to how I remember my wrist hurting when it had a hairline fracture in it, one I lived with for several days because it did not look nor did I act like one might expect a broken child bone to cause, though I did repeatedly insist something was wrong with it back then, too, but I was not known for my high pain tolerance so it kind of got blown off for a while before it was revealed to be broken, and look, we need to discuss this pain tolerance thing, because I think people with a low pain tolerance are unfairly shamed, because what are you even supposed to do about that?
When we say someone has a lower pain tolerance, I think it is natural to assume “Oh that person is overreacting to the same type of pain I can handle without blinking, this is some sort of failing on their part” and I suppose yes, maybe, in some cases, like the joke of the man cold, some people are less able to tolerate what is really rather minor discomfort, but then again, who is to say what is and isn’t minor discomfort, when you think about it? Look, I rationally KNOW that stubbing my toe is not the end of the world, but that doesn’t stop my body from immediately trying to throw up my whole lunch. And if the tip of my finger gets pinched in a drawer? I will faint. It has happened. Several times. Is that my fault? Is that a moral failing on my part? I don’t know.
I thought about it a lot when I was in labor because I definitely hit a point of pain that I could not tolerate, I was not able to handle it, but at the same time was aware that many women can get to however many more centimeters dilated before an epidural would be considered standard, and I was somehow at fault for the fact that I did not end up getting to that whatever point before I got an epidural, and look, this is what I am saying: who are you, or we, or anyone to decide what kind of pain someone else should or shouldn’t be able to or should have to tolerate? You are not a superior person for handling more pain for longer. Maybe you are a very unfortunate person that you had to do that, or maybe you personally feel it demonstrates your inner strength, or some other quality about yourself, but you are not in any way a superior person for being able to handle more. Maybe you can handle more and that is a very fortunate quality for you to have. I mean, it really is quite lucky, when you think about it. OR maybe you really feel it less, somehow. That is also good, kind of, but could also be not great. And you know what, there’s probably people with really high pain tolerances out there who don’t just note it as something interesting about themselves but instead believe that makes them somehow a better person (fortunately I have not run into many of those), but of THOSE people, I bet some don’t put their shopping carts away, so.
No wait, what I was saying was that my wrists and elbows hurt in the same kind of way that my wrist hurt when I broke it a long time ago, like the same kind of quality of ache, except it is not constant and more comes in brief waves of “man that is annoying” and I guess that’s just a thing that happens now.
I will be on an episode of a podcast soon, so if you’re interested in that, good luck, maybe you’ll find it.
A post went around recently, from the Next Door app, or Facebook, or something, I can’t be bothered with details when it’s not about me, and it was clearly satire and has been confirmed to be satire but in the brief window between when it appeared and when it was confirmed to be satire, I felt VERY RIGHTEOUS, because in a way, I agreed. It was this dude talking about how he’d noticed his kid’s Halloween candy haul in recent years had been really lacking and in HIS neighborhood, which was apparently quite wealthy in general, he expected better and was issuing a call to arms for parents to STEP UP THEIR GAME and there would be maps and marked curbs and you might be OUSTED FROM HALLOWEEN FOREVER.
Now look, I am not trying to oust anyone and I don’t have any complaints about cheap vs expensive Halloween candy. My problem is this: where is the chocolate. Halloween has gotten ENTIRELY too Skittles and Starburst heavy and don’t get me wrong, I like those things, too, but I really need you to look at your kids’ Halloween candy when it comes back this year and see how much chocolate is in there and then see if you yourself were giving out chocolate or if you were counting on other homes to provide the chocolate, and I need you to go forward Being the Chocolate You Want to See in the Halloween. Please buy your Halloween candy thinking about what I might like to eat. And I’m going to tell you this right now – I don’t want to eat lollipops. And I don’t let my kid eat lollipops. A general household rule – no food my child is going to get bored of and leave somewhere. MORE CHOCOLATE LESS TOOTSIE POPS THANK YOU.
Here is my question for you today: do you consider listening to audiobooks reading? In the past, I would ask these questions and gather your opinions and take careful mental notes on who had a Bad Take and never forgive them but also never let them know I was holding this tiny grudge, because it would hardly be fair since I didn’t reveal my side of things before asking for answers, so I will try something new this time.
Here is the question again: Do you consider listening to audiobooks to be reading, because it is, and if you don’t think it is, you’re wrong, but I’m willing to give you space to voice your reasoning which I will totally discount because listening to audiobooks is reading.
Thank you and good night.
It says good night because this was originally posted last night, but now I have added the below bits, so also hello and good morning.
As I said above, the comments are broken. You cannot leave a comment. Actually, a lot about this site is broken. It’s been broken and repaired and taped back together so many times over the last however many too many years, mostly irresponsibly, in a sort of “that sounds like a future me problem” kind of way, and guess what me, the future is here. I think it would take a lot of work to get this site to fully functional, especially considering I have no earthly idea on where to begin, and the last time I made a major, major repair, years ago, many posts ended up missing large chunks, and I have no way to fix them, and honestly, that sounds so exhausting.
I don’t know if I’ll fix this site or just keep playing Nearer My God to Thee while the ship goes down around me, but the point is this: you can’t leave a comment. And you know what? That’s fine. You can email me, or bring the discussion to Twitter, or send me some sort of direct video rant on Instagram, that would be charming of you. Perhaps I will apply a bunny filter and send one back, and it will become Our Thing, and we will message each other short ranty videos long past when you and I are done discussing a particular post and we will attend each other’s children’s weddings and think it is funny to Instagram DM each other videos about the mother-in-law’s dress from across the reception hall. That could be how our deep and lasting friendship starts, you never know. There are many ways to contact me and I am not hiding.
I know a lot of people really enjoy the comment section on this site on certain kinds of posts so I will make you a promise – I will assume you are reading, whether you decide to contact me through one of those other methods or not, and I will give you a check mark for attendance whether you show up or not, and attendance won’t be part of your final grade, and should I decide to write one of Those Posts, I will note in the post that we shall all discuss on Twitter and you can drop in and out all day, like some kind of Blog Post Open House, and I will remain by my Twitter to make sure the same sort of entertaining discussion you enjoy happens there, instead of here, and that’s the best I can do for now, because this blog is a dented rusty lunchbox and I’m doing my best.
You know how old I am now? Yes, I know over there it says I’m 32 but if you’ll recall there used to be a lot of dudes who commented on this site and a lot of them were the “aahhh I’m just giving you a hard time!” type, you know the ones? Of course you do. And they used to start commenting the SECOND that section of the site got out of date. “Um, aren’t you 30 now? Shouldn’t that say you live with your husband, not your boyfriend? Don’t you have a baby now?” Anyway, I’m sure you understand why I take great glee in just never updating that section of my site, ever. Actually, I intend to update it with my exact age and location in my house and what I’m wearing at 11:59pm on the night before my birthday, just because that’s who I am as a person and when you get to be my age (I am now an age where I think I can say “when you get to be my age,” partially because I spend a large part of every day interacting with young people who imagine my age not so much as a set point they themselves will eventually reach, but more of an abstract concept sort of phenomenon that happens to other people), you probably take great delight in making statements you can end with “because that’s who I am as a person” and being totally okay with that being who you are as a person.
You know how old I am now? I am “the last time I went to the doctor, I had shrunk” years old.
Why am I still getting measured at the doctor? Isn’t this something I can self report at this point in my life? Yes, I know, people shrink a bit, okay. But surely I have reached an age where “roughly this many” is good enough? Why do you even need to know? Yeah. Yeah, I know. You need my height because you need to put that plus my weight in your special formula to get my BMI which. Come on. You don’t need any of that. Why do you need my BMI? You don’t, you just really don’t. I get that there are situations in which weight needs to be monitored, like sudden loss or gain, or some kind of goal has been set, or… whatever, it’s between a doctor and whoever. But again, can I not just self-report? I’m this many tall and I weigh about this many.
If you need to prescribe something, you can say “Hey, hop on the ol scale there so we can get exactly how many to make sure I give you an effective treatment” or something, I guess. And for real. You really don’t need my BMI. You’re a goddamn doctor. If a person looks to you like they weigh too few, many less than the last time you saw them, and you Have Concerns of a legitimate and real medical type, are you going to have them hop up on the scale and check their height and if their BMI skooches them .01 into “REAL LOW NORMAL” instead of “POTENTIAL DANGER” are you just going to not be concerned? OF COURSE NOT, BECAUSE BMI IS STUPID AND YOU HAVE EYEBALLS AND DOCTOR KNOWLEDGE AND A SENSE FOR THESE THINGS. ONE. WOULD. ASSUME.
What I’m saying is, stop checking my height every goddamn time I come in to the doctor. I see some sort of doctor like twice a month. If a vertebra suddenly falls out or something, I promise to alert the nurse who takes my vitals. Otherwise, can we just agree to a rough sameness of height from now until I die? Because I really didn’t need to spend a whole day contemplating how thick the sole of my sneaker is, and how much of my foot is INSIDE the sole and how much is just decorative outer sole, and yeah I gave myself an extra inch when I got my driver’s license when I was 16 but I’m pretty sure I grew into that inch, and am I shrinking? I might have fallen below the original lie number.
You know what, hang on.
Okay, so I was pretty sure I had just psyched myself out about the shrinking thing, because actually I have always been 5’2″ and I don’t have a problem with that, I am not offended by short jokes nor do I think they are funny, because I’m just. Not tall. That’s not funny. It’s not insulting, either. It just is. And sometimes my family likes to joke like hahaha you were never 5’2″ as if I am extraordinarily small, as if any person walking on the street could look at me at a glance and say, oh no, that is not a full 62″, in no world is that human tall enough to be sixty two entire inches of human, but it is true, I have always been 5’2″, and I don’t think it is particularly short, and I don’t ever feel short, except this stupid house – we bought a house, did you know that? Anyway, it’s built for giants and that’s a whole other thing that is probably best served with pictures and I just made all this effort with a ruler because I couldn’t find a tape measure, so you will need to wait.
So it is the dead of night and I am crouched on the floor with a ruler trying to measure upward to my pencil mark, and I was so concentrated on getting it exactly right that I kept losing count of the feet (and thinking back, I did not really need to count the feet) and thinking, “I AM APPROACHING THE MARK TOO FAST, IT’S ONLY BEEN FOUR WALL RULERS.” Which is ridiculous, because I have always been 5’2″, but when the nurse measured me at this last appointment, I forget what kind, I think cardiologist, who cares, she said I was 5’2″ and a quarter and I looked at Phil triumphantly like, see? I have always been 5’2″ and I don’t understand why it’s funny to suggest I was less than that, because while there is nothing wrong with being less than that, nothing at all, I JUST DON’T SEE WHY IT IS FUNNY THAT I WOULD BE ONE NOT TALL HEIGHT INSTEAD OF ANOTHER NOT TALL HEIGHT. I’m just not tall and that is a NORMAL THING TO BE.
Anyway, the doctor was talking and my mind kept wandering to HOW MUCH SOLE IS ON THESE SHOES, and I had pretty well convinced myself, as you can see by the start of this post, which is about six exits back and there isn’t another for 14 more miles, that I had definitely shrunk, because yes the shoes put me over 5’2″, but HOW MUCH SHOE? And as this post went on I realized how ridiculous I was being – something that rarely stops me – that I do not wear platforms or shoes designed for any sort of activity that would require bulk of sole, and also that I totally could have solved this immediately upon arriving home instead of sitting here for a week contemplating my new “I’m not 5’2″ anymore” existence, so I went, just now – well, not just now because I also want to tell a story about Sheldon and probably won’t do that until the morning so this post will sit half finished until then – and I found the ruler and was ready to put this whole thing to rest and also myself to rest, comfortably stretching out the full 62″ I have always been, and anyway, suspense over, I’m 5’1″ and three quarters, so.
How have you been? Me? Same as ever. Promising I’m going to post about a thing and then not doing it, like how a couple hundred words ago I told you I had a story about my dog and the title of this post was even originally about my dog but then I just posted without it anyway, without even taking out the part where I referenced it, knowing full well this post now contains an outright lie about what I will post and when. If you think about it, in these troubling times, it’s really very comforting to know I haven’t changed at all, isn’t it?
How are thiiiiiiings? This is how my things are: yesterday was my kid’s birthday. She’s been around a long time now, but she’s not as tall as me yet so I think I’ve still got some time with her. She IS trending on the 50th percentile for height, though, whereas I am slightly… not… that… so maybe not too long. I can almost still lift her. Sort of. Her feet don’t get very far off the ground. She’s quite long. She made me take her picture before she went to sleep the night before her birthday so she could compare how tall she got when she woke up 7. She’s more of an art kid, not so much science and math. Very alien to me. My husband is… well he’s not here right now but I’m sure he’s fine. Whenever he’s out of sight he manages to find his way to some ice cream, so yeah, I’m sure he’s fine. For me, I have had, like, a million specialist appointments lately, none of which were expected to find anything crazy, but I still had to be subjected to them just in CASE. I am FINALLY down to only two appointments on my calendar – my neurologist, who might as well be my primary care doctor for as often as I have to go there, and ophthalmology, but that one is a YEAR away, as is normal, after a weird period of “Oh shit I need to see you back here in 4 months instead” followed by my neurologist saying “Actually we need you to see optho tomorrow.” But as usual everything is fine and my neurological condition (one of them) has not yet begun to render me blind.
So this is the kind of bullshit I have been dealing with, ok. My neuro sends me to a vestibular specialist just to CHECK. Nothing major expected, and there was nothing and it was fine, EXCEPT the said, so you’ve got some abnormal structure in your right ear and you need to see an ENT (ANOTHER ENT, THE FIRST ONE BEING A WHOLE OTHER THING), and I said okay, well, does it cause the symptoms I’m here for? And they said no, and I said, is it affecting my hearing? And they said yeah, probably some conductive hearing loss. And I said but you JUST TODAY tested my hearing and said it’s in the perfectly normal actually pretty excellent range. And they said, well, still, perhaps it is less excellent than it could be. Anyway, that ended with both my neuro and my primary care doctor saying “so you’re supposed to see an ENT” and me being like “nah I’m not doing that” because I am SO DONE with medical invasions that are meant to do nothing but confirm normalcy, I am at the very end of my rope. I even am wearing a 30 day heart monitor right now to CONFIRM THAT MY HEART IS FINE so they can confirm something else neurological (except no, I fell asleep, and it started screeching for some reason so I ripped the batteries out and it fell behind the bed. It’s now a 29 day monitor.) ANYWAY the OTHER ENT visit was apparently because I have a mega deviated septum with bone spurs, but I asked them if it was DOING anything to me and they said no but we can still fix it and I was like the hell you will. I REMAIN DEVIATED.
ANYway, that brings me to last week. I had to go see my primary care doctor to get her to sign off on me getting a PA drivers license because while Phil was active duty military I was allowed to carry an expired license, but it is TOO expired for them to just hand me a new one at this point. So I go to that appointment and it’s just a physical (AT WHICH SHE DENIES MY REQUEST AND REVOKES MY DRIVING PRIVILEGES BUT I’VE MOVED ON TO BEING ANGRY ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE SO FORGET THAT PART) and I tell her hey, so, like a year ago, I found this tiny lump in my forearm and I thought I was hallucinating it, but over the last 6 months or so, it started to grow – are you still reading all this? – and I think it’s a lipoma like my husband had, but I guess if anything starts to grow you should bring it up to your doctor. Especially since it went from a size where I thought I was hallucinating it to the point that you can not only easily feel it, you can SEE it from the outside. And she’s like yeah, and feels it, and says it SEEMS like a lipoma but she’s going to order an ultrasound, which was today.
So I go to the stupid ultrasound and I’m already mad, because it’s just a dumb test to confirm something is normal and it is so 99% likely to be entirely normal. And if for any reason it appeared slightly ABnormal, I knew they were going to have to do further tests only to come up with the exact same conclusion and I am SO TIRED of the doctor. Anyway, the ultrasound dude looks at my arm and says yeah, I see that, and feels it and I said, “I think it’s a lipoma” and he goes “seems like, but let’s take a look” and he puts on the gel and he’s scanning and scanning, turning my arm and scanning and scanning, feeling the bump and finding the edges and scanning the edges, and I was looking at the screen thinking I saw it and it just looked like blackness to me, or very similar to when I was pregnant, but I am certain I am not pregnant at all, let alone pregnant in the arm.
So he’s looking and looking and he says, it’s not there. I can’t see it. And I’m like, excuse me? It’s there. And he’s like, I know, I can feel it and I can see it on your arm, but it is not on the scan at all. And I asked, is that weird? And he’s like, “uh, yeah, a bit.” And I said, but it’s a lipoma? And he said, well, no, because a lipoma would show up as a bright area right here. Then what is it? No idea. It’s absolutely indistinguishable from muscle fiber, there is no way to see where it starts and ends or how deep it is or how big it is. It is there, he felt it, he can SEE it, my doctor felt it and can see it, but it declines to show itself.
What happens next will depend on how much my doctor believes in CYA, I guess, and the tech mentioned both MRI and waiting 6 months to see if it decides to change texture and show itself. Personally, I am firmly in the waiting six months camp, because I am just. so. done. With everything. With all of this. NORMAL TESTS THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO JUST SHOW THAT SOMETHING IS NORMAL AS SUSPECTED BUT REFUSE TO BE NORMAL ENOUGH TO JUST DROP IT. OVER IT.
Anyway, I guess to cover everything I will also say that after six years of being mysteriously ill in ways I have sometimes described here and sometimes kept entirely to myself, I have a diagnosis, myalgic encephalomyelitis, which is something I’m not entirely convinced actually exists, like I know a lot of you will feel if you look it up, which you shouldn’t, because it’s boring. And I’m in a weird position where, like, I don’t think this is real? But at the same time it is the current title for my particular collection of symptoms. But it is a diagnosis of elimination, and it makes me feel like the attitude is “well we’ve hit a dead end so here, you have this thing that may or may not be real, and we can’t prove, and there’s no cure or real treatment, good luck to you,” and on one hand, ok, it’s convenient to say I have this thing, so the collection of symptoms is instantly understood, but on the other hand, it is like, come on, keep looking, I refuse to accept that in 2018 you’ve just come to a dead end with no further suggestions, and on the other other hand, it’s embarrassing and weird because it’s one of those conditions with a stigma, because EVEN I DON’T FULLY BELIEVE IT’S REAL, so why would anyone else, so you MUST be able to find something else because no one even believes in this and I don’t want to carry this label and never be taken seriously by doctors again, which you know is going to happen, if not all of the time, at least some of the time.
But what I can tell you is this, that while maybe the condition is real or it is not real, the symptoms are real, and telling me, “oh yeah, I get really tired sometimes, too” is NOT going to go over well with me, even though I will nod and smile and not get into a pain olympics situation with you. And if I have learned anything at all over the last six years, it is two things: you need, NEED to really push for yourself with doctors. I have a crippling fear of being seen as “that patient” or drug seeking even though I flat REFUSE narcotics on the regular. I want to be taken seriously and somehow that has perverted itself into the idea that if I just go along with everything doctors say and I’m not too loud or too whiny or too annoying, they’ll think I’m a “good” patient and know I’m not dicking them around, but you know what, sometimes that works and sometimes YOU GET NOWHERE FOR SIX YEARS.
And the other thing I’ve learned is that… you shouldn’t… hm. How to put this? Don’t make chronically ill people prove to you how sick they are. I don’t mean doctors, I mean the general you. Don’t tell them “but you look fine,” and put them in the awkward position of being like, “well, I’m actually not” and listing off to you how life is garbage, because that makes everyone feel like garbage. If someone you know is sick and seems to be living a normal life, let them. I don’t know how to better explain it. Don’t make me whine to you. Just let me be. If I appear happy and healthy and having a good time, well, good for me. What a great day. Just let it be a great day.
Okay, so, that’s it. What’s up with you?
I think the thing is, it just feels better over here.
First of all, I’m going to acknowledge that I totally know that this is a part of life, a part of the specific life I deliberately signed up for, even. I know that. I fully know that. This is absolutely a post of straight bitching about a situation other people would consider themselves lucky to be in, with no redeeming humor or point of any kind. But that isn’t going to stop me bitching about it for even one second so here I go, no more preamble.
Penelope started pre-k a few weeks ago. I wasn’t too sunrise, sunset about the whole thing because the whole set up of the program she goes to so clearly indicates that it is pre kindergarten. She is not yet in kindergarten. She’s playing with other kids all day long and learning some basic social skills and generally getting the idea of the structure of going to school, but it’s three hours a day. It’s so clearly not actually school that I didn’t get very angsty about my baby growing up or anything like that. Though I also don’t think I will when she actually does go to kindergarten because that’s not really the kind of thing that gets me about my kid growing up. I do get where those sunrise, sunset people are coming from, though.
Anyway, here’s the standard “first day” shot so you can know it really happened and sunrise, sunset about Garlic Bread yourself, if that’s your style. I’m fine with that.
Like I said, she goes to school for three hours a day. Three hours, right in the middle of the day. We had our choice of a couple programs in our little town, which was nice. One was four days a week, 8am to 3pm. That just seemed like a little too much for my particular kid. It’s a decent program that a lot of parents around here like, but I just didn’t see Penny as ready to do such a long day almost every day. She had been going to an in home program one day a week for a full day for the whole summer, but four days… eh. I don’t know, you know your own kid, right? It just wasn’t the right one. So we decided on the 3 hour a day program. Our choices were 8am to 11am, or 11:30 to 2:30pm. We went back and forth a bit, who cares, but eventually we ended up doing the second session. So every day, I have to bring her out to school at 11:30.
Okay, first, you know we moved to this base in New Mexico. The town the base is “in” is actually about 15-20 minutes away. The base is just… by itself. In the middle of the desert. Which is fine, really, because if you’ve been on a military base, you know that you can kind of just stay there, without leaving, for long stretches of time. We’ve got a grocery store and a general-type store, a few quick service restaurants, a gas station, playgrounds, a pool, a library. Just like a tiny town of its own. Before Penny started pre-k, we didn’t go to the town all that often. Maybe once a week? There’s not much in the town, either. It’s just a small place also in the middle of nowhere, but it’s got basic needs covered. I don’t know, I’m trying not to talk badly about it because I’ve been here a year now and it’s been fine, but just infer something from my tone. It’s… fine.
So now she’s in school and I’ve got to come out here every day. We’ve only got the one car, so it’s a bit juggle-y right now. Phil goes to the gym every morning while Penny and I are still in bed, because he has to and we prefer to sleep. He comes home to shower, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I take Penny to the same in-home care that she went to over the summer. She stays there those mornings so I can work. By the time I come home, Phil is usually dressed and ready to go, so I drive him out to work. He works in the bomb dump which is the most remote point on base, for reasons I’m sure you can imagine. That’s about a 20 minute round trip, and then I come home and work for awhile. Around 11, I go and get Penelope and take her to school in town. This is the same on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except that she hangs out with me at home in the morning and I take Phil to work or swap the car with him at his lunch time, depending on how his schedule is working that day.
Once I’ve taken her out to school, it’s 11:30, and I can either drive all the way back to the base and leave the house again to get her at 2, or I can hang out in town. Most days, I choose to sit at a coffee shop. I have some stuff I’m studying, or I have conference calls, and whatever, I kill the few hours until I have to go pick her up again. Sometimes I do go back home, but it just seems like a lot of gas and a lot of miles to put on the car to go back to the house to sit for a couple of hours and then come back out to town. It’s not like it’s a hard drive – there’s no traffic here and it’s just a straight shot. It just feels obnoxious to go back and forth twice a day. So I hang out by myself for three hours in relative peace and quiet, doing whatever I want to do. (I know.)
I pick Penny back up at 2:30 and then… it varies. Sometimes we run an errand. Sometimes we go get frozen yogurt. Sometimes we go right home. Regardless, we kill some time. If we go straight home, we’re there by about 2:50, 3pm, and we can sit there until 3:50, when it’s time to go get Phil. If we don’t go right home, I have to figure out some activity that’s going to take long enough to eat up the time til we can pick Phil up at work. Sometimes I work more after we get home, and sometimes I don’t.
So what’s the point of giving you this entire boring run down of my entire boring life? It’s that Penny starting school has been my first introduction to a major factor of life with kids. I knew that as she got older, she was going to get involved in activities and I’d have to spend time at practices and in waiting rooms and adjusting my schedule around her schedule as she became more and more busy with her own interests, but what I didn’t really ever think about was how much time I was going to spend in the motherfucking car.
A lot of it is a factor of where we live, how far we are from town, and the options available for her schooling. And also the fact that we have only one car. But still. Still. I spend so much goddamn time in the car. When the weekend ends, I’m not dreading the start of the week because I work during the week, which I do. I’m dreading getting back in the stupid car. And buckling her in an out of her car seat, oh my god. I will skip going to the grocery store six days in a row even if we’re out of every single one of the six foods she eats just to avoid buckling her in and out of her car seat one more time. Holy shit. It’s soul crushing.
So where am I going with all of this? Nowhere. I’m lucky, I know. I have a kid, I have a car. She gets to go to school and I get to sit by myself, undisturbed except for standard coffee shop creepers, almost every single day. I’m not going to layer in a whole bunch of garbage about how this situation is especially hard for me because of my personal situation right now, I don’t even need to add that to feel like bitching about this perfectly normal situation. Just. Holy shit. You guys. So much time in the car. I’m so sick of it, and it’s barely even started. This is just the pre-start. All the driving, all the awkward blocks of time I have to fill with errands I don’t actually have or just standing around being talked to by strangers in places I don’t want to be. It’s just the very start. You don’t even have to “just wait” me, because I know. I am staring down the many future years of trying to find a place to stick my useless self while I wait for my kid to be done doing whatever important thing she’s doing. I see it all and holy shit. I just wanted to say it.
This is a question I’ve asked before, sort of, and it’s been on my mind again recently. Not for any particular reason, I don’t think. I don’t think I even have my own answer off the top of my head. But I guess I’m interested in what you’ve got to say.
I think in the past I asked if you could think of a time where you had to make a choice, and you knew – or now know – that the choice you made at the time had a notable affect on the way your life went from them on. I guess I’m basically asking the same thing again, but with some refinements.
First, can you think of a specific decision you’ve made in your life – like do you right now remember what the choice was, and what your options were, and can you say what path that specific decision put your life on, and take a good guess at what you think might have happened if you made the other choice? Or one of the other choices, if there was more than one?
Maybe something like, on such and such a day, you decided to get coffee at a new place instead of your usual place. In doing that, you met the person who later introduced you to your husband. Had you gone to your usual place instead, you wouldn’t have met that person, and maybe you would have gone to more college and taken a totally different job and lived a whole new life because you didn’t meet your husband and decide together with him on a different career path for yourself. I mean something specific like that, where you can point to the exact choice that ended up leading your a certain way. Can you think of one of those in your life? Big or little. Can you bring one of those really specific choices to mind, even if at the time you were making the choice, it wasn’t obvious that it would end up being significant or the first step in a chain of events?
Now, I think the last time I asked a question like this, I stopped there, but today I have more to add. Starting with the obvious – if you could go back to that decision with all the knowledge you have now of the way that decision ended up pushing your life to the place it is now, would you make the same decision again? Like you made a choice that lead to you living in, say, Oklahoma, and another option would have lead you to California. Life is good in Oklahoma, but you can go back and make the choice again, leading to California instead, but with full memory of your Oklahoma life. If you apply that idea to the specific decision you have in mind, would you do it?
And how about this – if someone came to you right now and said something like, hey, remember that decision you made? I have a one time offer for you to go back to that day and make the opposite choice or pick a different option or whatever, and your life will go forward from that point, but without knowing what you know now about the way your life actually turned out. You get to get a do over, pick the other thing, without ever remembering what happened when you made the original choice. So, for example, if you had made a choice that lead to you living in Oklahoma and the other choice would have lead you to California, maybe you wouldn’t want to go back and change it because, you know, life in Oklahoma hasn’t turned out so bad and you don’t know that you’d want to miss out on that. But you’re getting the chance to make the California decision as if you’d never made the Oklahoma decision. You’d never know the difference or what you’d be missing. Then would you do it?
Anyway, I spend a lot of time laying really still and thinking, I guess.