It’s been five years since we moved to Marshfield.
Those five years have flown by in the blink of an eye.
It’s also been five years since I left DC.
But when my plane touched down here tonight, it all felt like a lifetime ago.
Same five years. How can it feel so different?
You guys should have seen me tonight. Fumbling to purchase a SmarTrip card, trying to figure out which side of the Metro platform to stand on, acting like a total tourist as we transferred from the yellow to the blue line. Oh! oh! and I almost forgot about the time I knocked my suitcase down the up escalator as we exited at Federal Center SW. Nothing but suave. Yes. Suave.
My public transit skills have evaporated, my mental maps have faded, and my sense of where I am in the city is basically gone, gone, gone. I’m no longer the young, metropolitan woman I’d spent six years becoming. Five shorts years — and I’ve completely unbecome.
And also rebecome. A pretty poignant reminder of what time can do.
It’s so interesting to be back here. So exciting. Somehow scary all over again.
And in a few short hours, it’s exhausted me. So. Netflix in the hotel room until this midwestern local yokel ventures back out into the big city for a few days.
I straighten my hair maybe twice a year. It’s kind of a lot of work and exceptionally sensitive to moisture, so only given the right amount of time and a precipitation-free forecast will I even consider doing it on my own.
Last Friday was one such day. It was a marathon training rest day, which makes for a considerable amount of extra time in the morning because I am a s-l-o-w runner, and there was a 0% chance of precipitation (lies!! but that’s not important).
As I ran those super-heated ceramic plates over and over and over my clipped up, back, over, and down strands, I thought back to the first time…
It was my senior year of high school and I sat on a toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom at my bestie Stephine’s. We were getting ready for a Halloween party — I was going as a witch. A subtly sexy witch, heavily eye make-upped, and nursing a crush on a friend. That was when Stephine pulled out the straightening iron. Because nothing says I’m-subtly-sexy-and-you-should-date-me like flat-ironed locks, am I right?
Stephine did my hair and then I returned the favor. We both looked ridiculously good, of course. Probably less because of our hair than because we always, always had F-U-N together and the party promised more of the same. But I don’t remember the party, really. Only a little bit, and probably mostly because there are pictures.
(Of importance here, LHS c/o 2001 was exceptionally goody two shoed. And quite frankly, proud of it. Chances are excellent that Christin’s parents were home during the party. Probably participating. Because they’re awesome, as were all of our parents, and they treated us like the fun loving nerds that we were. I’m sure alcohol and the like happened… but it must have been happening elsewhere. Mostly, we ate pizza and sang to whatever Stephine’s dad played for us while sitting around a fire or biology books or a Pistons game or a lawn croquet set or whatever. A lot of us literally went to band camp, the rest of us were in drama and/or AP biology. All that to say that when I write “I don’t remember the party, really,” it’s not about being blackout drunk or otherwise altered in anyway. It was just a long time ago.)
So, I don’t really remember the party. But I do remember that tiny bathroom, the flat iron, and my friend Stephine making me feel pretty for some long forgotten boy.
In this season of It’s a Wonderful Life and my frequent internal response of, “really? is it?” this small scene that popped into my head made a surprisingly big difference. Certainly, that flat iron didn’t really* change my life. But sometimes that memory comes back anyway. And it made existence kind of seem worth it. (Non-sequitur, yes, but hang with me for a sec.)
To wish for non-existence is a hard thing to explain. It’s not that I wish to be dead… just that I didn’t exist. And there’s a surprisingly big difference there. I hate the things I think about myself, I hate the things I know other people are thinking about me. The debates they have amongst themselves about when to tell me what so as how best to not hurt me (hint: it always hurts, so it really doesn’t matter). The whispered plans about what might be “too hard” for me, what might be ok (hint: it’s always simultaneously too hard and in the end ok). The feeling that I’m surrounded by land mines covered in egg shells.
If I just didn’t exist, none of that would be true.
And let’s be honest — I’m not exactly George Bailey. My wingless angel isn’t going to show me miserable people and a hometown swallowed whole by corruption. One less blog, a few still-happy people with an alternative assortment of friends or family, a different writer in my chair, perhaps. But nothing earth shattering. Except away go the egg shells and the landmines. No need to tiptoe, no cause to whisper. And that’s what I thought would be best. For everyone.
But to not exist means to not have the flat iron scene in that little bathroom. Or any little scene like it.
Callie purring on the end of my bed. The taste of over-sweetened grape koolaid at the kitchen counter. Pointless hikes through a poison ivy infested field. Drumsticks flying through a Go! cadence. Popping into the room next door on the fourth floor of Wadsworth Hall. The northern lights swirling around Misery Bay. Trussing a duck; still not really knowing what trussing means. Surprise kisses from Curly.
A million little moments. Moments that didn’t change anyone’s life, really, but matter anyway.
When I stood in the bathroom on Friday, straightening my hair, desperately trying to not sweat (because moisture from the inside is as threatening to straight hair as moisture from without), I thought that maybe that’s what existing is about. Maybe that’s the problem with loving It’s a Wonderful Life — it makes me believe in the notion that my life is only worth anything if no one else could possibly do without me.
That’s narcissistic. Yet, so is my realization — that my life really is about me.
Yes, by existing in my broken state, I probably do pose a challenge to other people. I’m probably frustrating, a source of discomfort. Surrounded by egg shells and landmines. But the way other people choose to react to my brokenness, on tiptoe or otherwise, isn’t really my business, is it? My existence is not to please another, but to have moments along the way that please me when I look back on them. Like the little scene with Stephine.
Maybe, if I’m doing things right, I may even pop up as part of the happy scenes that come back when other people find themselves doing mundane things. And that’s nice. But probably not the point.
My friend Lara, doctor of philosophy, writer of novels, mother of human, said to me on one of my more recent boo hooey posts:
Please don’t think your worth is tied to what you can do for others. You matter simply because you *are*, because you exist.
Because she’s smarter than me. By a lot.
I originally interpreted the notion she presented as a reason to wish myself out of existence. I think that was not her point.
Rather, on a day-to-day basis, existence is about moments. Getting through the hard ones, surviving the devastating ones, enjoying the simple ones, remembering the happy ones, being present whenever possible. Maybe there’s a larger purpose, a plan, a tapestry, but I know that’s not something I should be too concerned about. Even though I continually am. I can’t see it or change it or feel it. Not really. I can only trust it. Only live my moments. Exist.
Incidentally, like Stephine introduced me to hair straightening, Lara introduced me to microbiology — gone was the tiny bathroom of high school, in its place the lab where Lara ruled and I rotated first. Lara was the first person I tried to talk to about microbiology, when it was still so new and so fresh that I was saying “Monkey” agar instead of MacConkey Agar. Which even now makes me laugh.
Moment worth existing for.
(Or, for those opposed to ending on a preposition, no matter how thoughtful: A moment that makes existence worthwhile.)
*Ok, maybe the straightener did change my life. A blow dry alone, sans flat iron, as was my frequent habit in my pre-curl-acceptance days, was really not a good look. Exhibit A. (Oh, hey Bekah — you happen to be in a pretty glorious photo of my HAIR, so there you are!)
As I write this, I’m sitting on the chaise end of an enormous comfy couch located in a gorgeous penthouse suite at the tippy top of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii. I have a view of Diamondhead Crater and Waikiki Beach through the gauzy balcony curtains. This moment is 100% Facebook-able. Not unlike the large number of other Facebook-able and Instagram-worthy moments I’ve posted since departing the chilly Wisconsin fall in favor of the sandy beaches, aqua ocean, and tropical climes of Oahu early Saturday morning.
I posted about the upgrade to first class on the 6+ hour flight en route from Salt Lake City to Honolulu that Seth gifted to me and the mai tai I was offered the second I sat down. It was super sweet of Seth and definitely a cush way to travel, I think I captured that… but I didn’t describe the anxiety the began to plague me the second we left our house on Friday evening. I didn’t describe the panic it turned into before we boarded that plane in SLC. The heartbeat that wouldn’t slow down, the breaths that became increasingly difficult to take, the feeling that something was stuck in my throat and sitting on my chest, the tears that wouldn’t stop coming, over and over again for almost the entire 6+ hours.
We met our friends in the airport — I quickly confessed my unwavering anxiety to Melissa and she rapidly and genuinely assured me that she loves me no matter what. I believed her. Mostly. But not entirely, because anxiety…
But then again, gratitude, you know? And this place, this vacation, these friends — so much gratitude. And we were in Hawaii, and I was wearing a beautiful lei, and I posted a (tired) selfie with the words “Aloha!” and a smattering of super fitting emoji. I posted a snapshot of our view and showed everyone the perfection that surrounded me. And it was good.
Chris came to join us from his hustle bustle, fancy wedding-in-the-mountains lifestyle on Sunday afternoon and he made dinner plans for us at Roy’s Waikiki. (Have you been there? This sentence, how is this my life?) As we piled into the car and headed down the beach, I felt the panic rise again. There were tears burning the back of my eyes and a tightness in my chest I couldn’t swallow away. There was no reason, yet over pre-dinner drinks Halekulani, Seth put a hand on my back and asked me if I was ok and I lost it. Lost it and couldn’t get it back. There was this picture that Chris took, and it’s nice. But I can see the white knuckle grip my fingers have on my own arms, the strained smile, the panic…
Dinner was lovely. I had a perfectly cooked local butterfish in a deliciously complex orange sauce followed by a few bites of chocolate souffle perfection for dessert. That’s all Facebook-worthy, Twitter-perfect… but the moments in the fancy bathroom spent messaging my mental illness guru (<3 <3 <3) and fighting tears and the constriction in my chest at the table… not those. Those (plus Seth’s, shall we say, insistent urging) were enough to convince me to message my psychiatric nurse practitioner about perhaps calling something in for me — a temporary solution to get me through the flights home before I get back to Wisconsin and into the clinic.
I was so hesitant to take the drugs. Depression is my thing. Not anxiety. This is not me. Was not me? And the Hawaiian restrictions on prescriptions for anxiolytic drugs that wouldn’t allow the local pharmacy to fill the Rx faxed in by my provider (I get it though, Hawaii, I really do — and I’m totally not upset) and the necessity to seek out a walk-in clinic and explain my situation all over again nearly did me in. Fortunately, my sweet husband and amazing friends didn’t give up on me and, with their encouragement, I did what I needed to do to get some help. I went to some weird places and walked some strange roads through Honolulu on Tuesday, but met the “helpers” that Mr. Rogers (the elderly, sweater-wearing, shoe-changing variety) tells us about and got the help that I needed for now.
It was on Monday, as I pondered the absolute absurdity of my goings-on that I thought about all that I was showing and all that I wasn’t and how utterly ridiculous it is for me to know with absolute certainty that that is true about myself, but to constantly and consistently doubt the same must-be-fact about others. We don’t post selfies in the lobby of the Japanese-only (except apparently not because they treated me) walk-in clinic we stumble into while in Hawaii. We don’t become facebook friends with the also Japanese MA who hugged me when I told her I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago and then told me about her own journey through IVF with no success; the woman with whom I shared a surprisingly sweet moment of sadness and mutual understanding. We don’t chat about the kind Walgreens clerk who explained Hawaiian prescription laws and then discussed our mutual love of the Packers and cheese with me while waiting for my sketchy almost-in-Japanese-but-from-a-Hawaii-licensed-prescriber prescription for valium to be filled. Nope. We post the leis and the luaus and the sunset and the smiles. Because those are the things that belong on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever the kids are using these days.
But then again… Tuesday night happened too. And while some of it made it to Facebook, the most amazing bits are relegated forever to my memory because, well:
iPhones, at least in my hands, don’t take pictures of stars. Facebook can’t really capture the beauty of Melissa’s face when she looked up and nearly screamed, completely giddy from altitude and excitement, “is that THE MILK from the Milky Way?!! Am I seeing the milk???” You guys… it was the milk. The faint light of millions and billions of stars in our beautiful and enormous and amazing and mind boggling galaxy. The milk.
But not just that. It was the whole trip. The warm sun and strong breeze on the ground in Kona while we ate lunch overlooking a little harbor. The stop at the little abandoned sheep station for dinner on our way up. The stars, the stars, the stars. I saw Cassiopeia and followed her arrow to the north star. We saw a dusty little nebula, a star cluster that might as well have been fluorescently stained cells in a dish (the feeling that I had seen that before, wow), and even a glimmer of the “nearby” spiral andromeda galaxy.
The next day, we came back to Oahu early and then headed to the Polynesian Cultural Center as Super Ambassadors where our sweet guide Danica took us from island to island where we heard music and helped to make it, watched beautiful dances and shook our hips as best we could when they taught us how. The Maori gave me goosebumps, the Samoans made me laugh hysterically, and the Ha Breath of Life show brought tears to my eyes in a truly good way.
I took pictures in all those places, at all those times. Facebook-worthy, Instagram-perfect pictures — but there’s no way to capture it all. I can show you the pictures, but I can’t show you the best parts. I can’t describe to you how beautiful my friend was when she saw that milk, how happy my husband was to have finally made it to the top of Mauna Kea. There’s no way to adequately explain the feelings, the real meat of the experience.
And that’s really my point I think. I can post things about my miscarriage, my grief over the loss of our first baby, and the consequent (I think) anxiety and panic I’m experiencing. But even if you know, even if you have experienced it yourself, you haven’t had my experience and I haven’t had yours, so there’s a whole depth there, beyond social media and even the words, words, words I share here, that we really can’t cross. Similarly, you have had beautiful experiences — weddings days and amazing vacations, deep and important friendships and tiny perfect moments — and so have I, but again, there’s a depth of experience that make these things so personal, so uniquely our own, that no amount of photo sharing or photo shopping can ever really capture or convey what it meant to be there, to have lived it.
But it can give us a clue — a clue that something is worth digging in over. Several years ago, when a friend of mind posted something hinting at depression, I messaged her. And a couple days ago, when I found myself in that fancy bathroom, we had another nuanced and deep conversation, despite the panic, that was exactly what I needed in that moment. Similarly, Aunt Becky, PhD, saw our pictures of the sunset from Mauna Kea on the Big Island and was reminded of her own sunrise trip to the top of Maui’s Haleakala and shared her own beautiful photos, reminders of another beautiful experience, with me.
Life is so complicated and messy, yet it sets up up for so many moments that are beautiful beyond words. Sometimes we manage to capture some of that beauty and little snapshots of frustration or grief. It’s not the whole truth, though. It can’t be. We can only live what’s real and show the highlight reel. There’s no other way to go about it. And, for me, it’s so important to remember that the beautiful, picture perfect moments are only a very small fraction of the story, but that all of the experience matters.
On Monday night I was in a complete state (as I imagine a genteel southern woman would delicately call the messy ball of anxiety I had become). I went up to our room, took a sleeping pill, and came back down to say goodnight. But my sweet friend Melissa saved me from myself. We went out onto that beautiful penthouse balcony and I sobbed about my miscarriage, the struggle with infertility, the unfairness of it all… the pain, the grief, the self-pity. I unloaded it all. It was not pretty. And then I couldn’t stop apologizing because one of my biggest fears before we left was being the ruiner of vacation — I couldn’t bare the thought of ruining this beautiful trip for people I love so much. Instead, my friend said to me, with the most Melissa-y quiet confidence the likes of which I have never seen in another person, that she was sure we would look back on this trip someday and be grateful for this moment. This moment that felt so ugly and pathetic, yet truly was deepening and strengthening for our friendship. She talked about how well we’ve walked together through the highest of highs (our vacation dossier is ridiculous) and how this was truly our first opportunity to run our friendship through the lowest of lows. She’s right, of course. And those are the things you would never see on Facebook.
It’s a self-deprecating Queen reference… get me? Although, how self-deprecating can a fat bottom be if Queen rocked out about it once upon a time. Not very, am I right?
A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to catch up with a good friend from the old hood — we chatted for a good long while and lots and lots of memories came flooding back. I probably hadn’t talked to Dante in more than 5 years… maybe even 7 or 8… since whenever the last time we ran into each other at our parents’ houses on Raintree Drive…
After our conversation, I was reminded of his long ago (possibly still, but at least he didn’t use it) description of me… as an endangered moose.
Have you ever seen a moose in person? It’s a total insult. They’re enormous and goofy looking all weird legs and big body and crazy antlers. Insults were kind of what we did though, so the grain of truth in it, meh… part of growing up nextdoor to a boy the same age, I suppose.
It made me laugh to think about it again last week and it’s been on my mind.
I actually nearly ran into a moose in Michigamee one time– the town motto is “Michigamee, where the moose run loose” so it’s not terribly surprising that that’s where it would have happened. I came around a bend on US41 in my bitty little Geo Tracker and bam, there it was. Standing in the road, looking at me. We sat there like that for a while — me, a moose, looking straight ahead at the real deal.
I’m a big person — big in pretty much every way a woman “shouldn’t” be big. My body, height and width, my hair, my head, my hands and feet. Heck, even my jaw is big. I’m a big person.
These days I’m feeling a lot more ok with that. I mean, I am what I am. I can exercise and eat well and use hair products to minimize some of it, but when it comes to bone structure and genetic propensity for size, there’s not a ton I can do.
Actually, let me rephrase that, not a ton that I’m willing to do… I did spend several months thin as could be, but a little scene from Drop Dead Gorgeous comes to mind when I think about it:
“With one week to go before the pageant, I was finishing my outfit, rehearsing my talent, brushing up on current events, and running 18 miles a day on about 400 calories. I was ready.”
Yeah, I got sucked up in the wedding crazies… very little food, lots and lots of gym time, just not a life I’m willing to live.
So bigness it is.
What really surprised me recently though was how much it matters to me, even at the age of 31, that I see people that look like me, big me, being awesome.
On Tuesday night, Seth and I went with some friends to see Spy, the new Melissa McCarthy movie. It… was… hillarious. I laughed hard for two hours straight. I just loved it.
No, it’s not Oscar-worthy cinema, but it’s flipping funny and Melissa McCarthy and her amazing bestie-from-the-basement Miranda Hart were amazing.
So were Rose Byrne and Jason Statham and Jude Law and Allison Janney and the rest of the cast. But man, Melissa and Miranda. They rocked my world?
Because they were hilarious, mostly. But also, and the thing I’m trying to talk about now, is because they were completely and totally imperfect. Large and in charge, they looked like me and they were awesome.
We all have personally defining characteristics. I can’t know how other people see me, but I know that when I think about how others see me and the way I see myself, I think big — body, hair, feet, hands, brain, jaw. All of it. Big.
So for me, to see someone else who is big being awesome? It thrills me.
And it was mostly just fun until I checked Facebook mid-post-writing last night and saw Daily Kos’s breaking coverage of the absolutely horrifying AME church shooting in Charleston, SC, and I realized that it doesn’t just matter to me that I see big people being awesome — you need to see it too. And we both need to see a lot more diverse people being awesome all the dang time. Because then maybe fat people, black people, transgender people, disfigured people, people of all different shapes and sizes and colors and orientations won’t be scary, they’ll just be people. People with the capacity to be awesome. Or funny or sexy or interesting or whatever. People that deserve to be.
I realize that it’s not really fair to compare weight bias and the expectations that society has about women’s bodies to the disgusting, pervasive, systemic racism that still exists in our country… but you get my point, don’t you?
And it was really hammered home to me when another neighbor from long ago, who lived behind both Dante and me, Heather, posted this BuzzFeed link on Facebook:
People, beautiful, awesome, amazing, real people… just like you and me. People we need to see. Not just now that they’re gone, but all the time. It’s not the answer, but it’s part of it, don’t you think. I mean, think back to the whole ridiculous notion of separate-but-equal when little black girls wants to play with little white dollies because that’s what they saw as the norm, as they good, as the worthy. I hate that. It makes my stomach turn. But it still happens on our tvs and our movie screens and our magazine pages. We can talk about and celebrate Viola Davis and Mindy Kaling and Melissa McCarthy and Laverne Cox and Peter Dinklage, yes… but those are singular names, the exceptions rather than the rule.
It’s important to see ourselves, to understand that we have the potential to be awesome. It’s also important to see others, those who are different than us, to understand that they have the potential to be awesome. We all do. We need to see it. We can all make the rockin world go round
By yesterday afternoon, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of posts about the lovely and courageous Caitlyn Jenner. Mostly using words that mirrored my own thoughts — lovely, courageous, brave, beautiful, strong, etc.
But there were a couple that did not. A couple that were derogatory, bigoted, hateful.
(Those I will absolutely not repeat nor re-post. Not here. Not anywhere else.)
Besides the general attitude of the posts, I noticed another difference that really stuck out to me — the grammar. The grammar was 100% better 100% of the time in the positive posts.
Is my feed biased? Oh, totes ma-goats. It’s bound to be chock-full of over-educated, grammar-enthused, open-minded nerds. It’s normal to cluster amongst like-minded people, I think. It was just something interesting that I noticed. That somehow misuse of their/they’re/there and its/it’s and except/accept, etc, tended to cluster with the posts full of anger and disgust and a basic disrespect for the humanity of one very famous woman who has made a brave and difficult choice to show the public who she really is.
I get that’s it’s Facebook. And I get that even on my own blog, my own feed, my own space, I am rarely grammatically perfect. But the one thing I strive to never be, in any of these spaces, is close-minded. And why is that? Why do I have that going for me? Should I be thanking my parents? My education? My privilege in general?
I don’t know. Kind of a big question. And as much as I’d love to explore it, I’m not really sure where to go. Or how best to respond to instances in which I note disrespect, injustice, and the like.
I love open-mindedness. Acceptance. The freedom of individuals to express their gender anywhere on the continuum, without conforming to the societal dichotomy of male (rawr!) and female (meow…)
I love celebration of courage and bravery. I love when people share their stories, their struggles. I love watching a family love and accept each other no matter their differences.
I love that we live in a time and place that allows a transgender woman like Caitlyn Jenner to be open and honest. Where a show like Transparent can be not just aired, but also adored. (Have you seen it? A-ma-zing.) Where this powerful message of courage and hope can be transmitted times a million via news media and social media and word of mouth to thousands and millions of other transgender individuals that currently live in fear or confusion. And perhaps even more importantly, to their friends and families who really just want to love them, for the person they are, male, female, or anywhere in between.
Yes, this world is a hard place too. There is fear and hate and anger. There are bad things. Bad things that happen to good people and some genuinely bad apples looking for trouble. But, you guys, what I saw yesterday… so… much… love! And so much progress! Even just in my relatively short lifetime. (I said relatively!) It’s a good, good thing. It’s hard not to be moved by the type of courage Caitlyn Jenner has shown us all. Or Jeffrey Tambor. Or even sweet Leelah Alcorn, rest her soul. Each in their own way.
PS: One of the best things I read yesterday was an article in which GLAAD provided tips for the media on transgender terminology — it was so enlightening and definitely worth the read. (I was definitely misusing the -ed ending!!) If you happen to notices any mistakes in the language I used above, please rest assured that 1) it is not intentional and 2) if you point it out to me, I will gladly change it. Or should I say GLAADly???
Ho-ly cow! When it rains it pours! And I am basically being swept away!
But for seriously, I’m writing a big old grant right now and by the time I get home (late! woe is me!), I’ve basically used up all of my writing juices and I’ve been unable to get anything bloggy out the door (although stuff’s cooking, I swear it).
All day today, though, I’ve been itching, itching, itching to write for fun! Weird because I was also on a crazy roll all day with less fun writing– if my fingers weren’t moving a mile a minute, my mouth was! Talking and writing and thinking and writing some more. Super productive!
So quickly, while the juices are flowing, a short and quick list of things I super love! Ready? Go!
1. My sister’s use of emoji. She’s a genius at it… she turns it into an art.
Those emojis though, right?! It’s awesome, awesome, funny, ha ha… then bam, martini glass and I die! I love my sister girl so so so much, you guys!
2. Making humble people accidentally compliment themselves. It’s the best! I think I like it so much because it satisfies my evil tendency to trick people into doing things while still being nice. Genius! (Evil genius– wringing hands, narrowing eyes…) I kind of got my friend Marie to acknowledge being fascinating and thoughtful today. It was thrilling! (She’s both, by the way, for seriously. And way too humble about it.)
3. Watching people open the perfect Christmas gift. And this is really my favorite favorite. The thing I love more than anything else throughout the whole year.
I don’t want to toot my own horn too loudly here or anything, but I am a good gift giver. (And I’ve got almost all of my gifts for this year already! Burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket because I just want to give them all right NOW!) Because I love it. I love thinking of something and then watching someone else open it and finding the just right thing inside– so satisfying! It makes me crazy happy.
And this grant right now. It’s like that. As I’m finishing it up, I feel like it’s Christmas… which is what prompted this post.
It’s insane, really, this grant. I’ve been working my tail of and I’m completely beat, but you guys, it’s GOOD. Like real good. I’m more proud of this than I’ve ever been of anything else I’ve ever written. Even my dissertation.
Let me say that again real quick:
EVEN MY DISSERTATION.
That’s big! But this is big, and I’m so excited! It’s like I’m putting on the finishing touches, wrapping it up just so and affixing a perfectly coordinated label and bow before slipping it under the tree and I’m getting so crazy excited to see it opened up!
Where in this case the grant is the gift, and the tree is PCORI, and the recipients are the physicians I’m writing for, and you know, metaphors.
Just trust me, it’s good. And worth the time it’s taking. Worth every single second, because it could really help some people and the people I’m writing for are 100% inspiring.
So… as a wise man once sang to us all while changing his shoes:
I’ll be back, when the grant (poetic license) is through
And I’ll have more ideas for you
You’ll have things you want to talk about
I will too.
See you on the flipside!!! (of the grant.. because I’ve been busy writing it… I made that clear already, right?)
Oh. And #4. I also love Anchorman. Hence the lamp thing in the title.
It’s day 3 of my wonky work schedule. The morning of day 3 even. And I’m SUPER off. Like way too off for only having dealt with three days of slightly shifting my hours at work.
Clearly, change is not my thing. Not at all.
I’ve got all sorts of awesome ideas and several blog posts started, but… nothing yet.
This week at work, I’m moderating some focus groups for patients and caregivers all over the country. In this respect, it’s a way good deal to be living in the Central time zone, not too far from the east or the west, but conducting the groups after hours means that I’ve had to adjust my work schedule… they just don’t pay me enough to work all those extra hours without compensation, so I’m going in late. Like noon or one-ish and staying until I’m done (like 9 or 10-ish).
It’s a couple of hours. So, no big deal, right? Except… I’m barely functional. Everything is off. I can’t wake up in the morning, I can’t fall asleep at night, my meal schedule is crazy and I’ve been unable to get myself to exercise (with the exception of a couple walks) or to do simple household tasks, like loading or unloading the dishwasher, until the wee hours of the morning when desperation sets in.
My behavior is just bizarre. Clearly, I am meant for a regular 9 – 5, nothing different.
It’s particularly interesting because I spent six years in grad school burning the candle from both ends, constantly working, at work, away from work, thinking hard in the car on my way to and from work… never a moment where it wasn’t gonorrhea, chlamydia, mice, mice, mice on my mind. Maybe I burned myself completely out? I no longer have that capacity, I guess.
And at the moment, I’m completely useless.
That scares me.
I’m a 30-year-old woman who claims to want to start a family (and desperately so!), but can’t manage a 4-hour shift in my activities of daily living.
Maybe the G-man knows something I don’t. That I’m clearly not ready for any additional responsibility in life, because, seriously, look at me…
Or maybe I’m over-analyzing a tired, particularly off week? Half a week, even.
Who knows. But I’m freaking out.
For some reason, this relatively minor shift in hours feels like it has completely removed me from the world I lived in before. It’s been literally 3 days, and I just feel completely disconnected… like I’m no longer living in parallel with everyone and everything around me. Just off.
I suppose, though, that some days are like that… even in Australia. (Can you believe they’re making that into a movie, btw?! Not sure how I feel about seeing grumpy goose Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day on the big screen…)
This morning, I was planning to go into work for a 10:00 am PCORI webinar, but decided to do it at home, on my couch, in my comfies, with a mug of tea instead. It was a good choice. I was already freaking out about the possibility of a 10 – 10 work day and the stress I was feeling was so overly dramatic and unnecessary. This morning of couch surfing and learning and sipping tea and enjoying the view from my window (goooooorgeous day) was a much better choice. A little chance to blog-style reflect on what my deal is.
Perhaps my deal is just that I don’t like to feel disconnected. An interesting observation for an introvert like me. But hear me out…
Although I’m an introvert, I do still feel connected to the world around me. I enjoy the walk into work in the morning, plans for lunch at noon, a short walk with my pup and a long jog for myself after I get home. I like making dinner for myself and my husband, having a brownie on the couch afterward. Doing some writing. I like tucking myself into bed around 10:00 and reading and reading and reading until my eyes won’t stay open any more (and the panic of realizing I shouldn’t have done that when I sleep through another alarm in the morning).
I like routine. That’s not such a bad thing, I suppose.
The bad thing, the thing I’m worried about, is that I can’t seem to deal real well with a disruption, no matter how minor or temporary.
Maybe the temporary is the problem though. Maybe it’s when the disruption becomes the routine, a la the six years of my life spent in grad school, that I actually settle in to the pattern and let it be the norm.
When Curls had her first knee surgery back in October of 2013, using the leash and sling to take her out every time she had to go potty was a major disruption for both Seth and me. It seemed like such a big deal. But we’ve been doing it now for over a year and it has, in fact, become the norm… I no longer even think twice about grabbing the leash and the sling and taking Curly out into the yard. It’s just life.
Well, look at this… a live a ha! moment. Change is hard at first, it requires adjustment, and without the opportunity to adjust into something and let it become the regular, it’s going to feel off, at least for me. I can be off for a week, a week with a wonky schedule, and it’s not going to derail my entire life. That’s reassuring.
Being off this week, to me, feels like a big deal. But my life and the lives around me are going on… moving forward… and I’ll rejoin the march, in step, next week.
So let’s all look forward to that. To getting back on track and feeling like myself again. To connecting with you again on a regular and personal basis. To giving myself grace to be off for a week… yet letting this week do it’s work on me (because it is working, these focus groups, talking to these patients and their families).
Although, my sister brought my soundly back to Earth when I talked about how awesome these focus groups were on Facebook:
Oh snap, Shabsky! She and I are both studying meme-use and sarcasm under the tutelage of our sarcastic meme-using genius of a brother. Abby is learning quickly! I’m impressed!
Too many metaphors, Cho (that’s what my brother used to call me, pacifier hanging out of his mouth, and sometimes I call myself that in my head). Water, sand, sinking, it’s all too much. But none of it’s clear to me either. Because depression is like that.
Suddenly, or perhaps not so suddenly, but eventually, I was unable to muster up the energy necessary to do even basic daily things… forget about writing (for fun– I didn’t want to get fired after all, but even writing at work was hard). I mostly just sat around, laid around, moped around. For quite a while.
Things are back on the up and up, the sun is shining a bit more often, some of my flowers are blooming (some— it is Wisconsin, after all), and I feel like my mood is making some progress.
I had a therapy appointment today and it was pretty good. He helped me to realize that it wasn’t an all of the sudden thing, but rather a series of relatively big stressors in rapid succession (as an example, I had to cancel my last therapy appointment because I had to go to the dermatologist to have my crazy hands taken care of and I had to take Curls to the vet because her pin sites were oozing… so there’s that) and I have a plan for continuing forward (you know, time spent outdoors, learning to (gulp) meditate, and blogging).
Ultimately, I know that my life is a good life and I have a million and four reasons to be really, really happy. But I also know that sometimes my neurons don’t fire quite right and even getting out of bed in the morning (or off the couch or floor in the afternoon or evening) is unreasonably difficult. I don’t know why it happens, but I know that it will probably always happen, off and on. So I have to baby step my way out of it.
What then, pray tell, ought my bloggy baby steps be?
Amazing things, that’s what. Things worthy of my obsessive attention, anyway. Amazing is relative, after all.
I posted some tough stuff recently and I broke my soul or something. (Also, I’m crazy over-dramatic.) So for now, a little bit of positive. I started a list of A to Z amazing things that I’m super (read: overly) into in a way that was totally inspired by my friend Lara’s April A to Z Challenge… but very, very late. Because now it’s May and I feel like I can move my fingers again.
I can’t make promises regarding frequency or consistency, but I will do my best. So join me, will you? And soon we can discuss everything from General Lee’s surrender at the Appamatox Courthouse (also The Alligator and apple butter) to the deliciously hilarious Derrick Zoolander (what is this?! a center for ants?!!).
Most importantly, thanks for hanging around despite my recent silence. Either people still check in every once in a while or I have a LOT of bot traffic. Because I can’t tell the difference, it totally makes me feel good. So thanks, whoever you are, bot or not-bot, you’re awesome to me and I appreciate it! (For the bots out there, that’s: beep-boop-beep-beep-boop.)
I’m absolutely obsessive about paint colors. (No, I don’t expect that to surprise you.) And my master bedroom was, of course, no exception.
I agonized over the color. I had a vague idea of what I wanted (thank you, Pinterest!), but was scared out of my mind to actually pull the trigger. After considerable deliberation, I finally bought the paint during a Menard’s 11% off sale last spring. Then I got some lovely prints to match it from a local photographer at the Marshfield Mother’s Day art fair. I purchased new curtains and curtain rods and hung them. I sewed a duvet cover in cream and white to match (which took for-ev-er). And I even bought some little shelves at Ikea the last time I was in Minneapolis. But here we are, nearly one year later, and I only just now put the color up on the walls.
It was so scary!
But dang! Did it ever turn out nice!
Don’t you think???
The color is called “blue fjord,” not the best name ever, which is a bummer because, call me ridiculous, but the name of the color is incredibly important to me. (My living room is painted, you will not believe this, Ypsilanti skies! YPSILANTI! Of all the random cities! Ypsilanti! Too awesome!) I got a little nervous when Seth seemed pretty weirded out right off the bat and then I texted some friends a pictures and one of them said, and I quote, “Rachel. Are you painting it black??” and I could imagine her saying it with shock and it totally made me laugh.
It’s not black, not even dark gray, it dried a lovely shade of blue and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it.
After having a couple days to let it sink in, Seth declared last night that it looked very “adult.” I’m glad he likes his big boy room 😉
And because I’m very grown up and adult, I couldn’t complete the look without hanging these beautiful Albus Dumbledore quotations!
I’m still jonesing for some new, adult-style furniture, but Curly’s knee is our priority (and Uncle Sam insisted on being priority #2– a hole) so that’ll have to wait. E-ven-tu-al-ly. I’m cool with baby steps.
***Just in case you didn’t already know, Ypsilanti is the name of the town I hail from. It’s in southern Michigan, just a few miles north of Ohio and west of Detroit. The Y is pronounced like an I and you can call it Ypsi for short. Oh, Y-town, how I love thee!
My dad does lots and lots of good stuffs in Detroit. Like a lot. Food and toiletries for the homeless, volunteer tutoring, soup kitchens on his lunch break, etc. At the moment, he’s encouraging folks to vote for Veronika Scott, Founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan and inventor of sleeping bag coats for the homeless for a DVF Award. According to their website, “The DVF Awards were created in 2010 by Diane von Furstenberg and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to honor and support extraordinary women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire. Women who have transformed the lives of others through their commitment, resources and visibility.” That’s awesome!
If you’ve got a moment and think it’s cool to help people and want the DVF award to go to a really deserving woman who does a lot to help a really troubled city, it would be awesome if you cold take a second to vote for Veronika Scott. VOTE HERE.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program… also inspired (mostly) by my dad, the man who introduced me to the brilliance of the Looney Tunes!
Something a little more light-hearted for this dreary Monday afternoon. It’s feeling especially dreary to me as my husband is in Miami for the week and my friend* spent the morning sending me pictures from the beach in Puerto Rico. Joke’s on them, though– I don’t have a window in my office! So there!
On Saturday night, I crawled into bed and then (very carefully) painted my nails. The fact that I can paint my nails in bed is made possible by the good people of Poshe who invented the niftiest quick dry/top coat ever. I painted my nails a sparkly gold I was unable to resist the last time I was at Ulta.
On Sunday morning, I was in church and I was over-warm and my mind started to wander. (I’m terrible, I know.) There was a light right above our pew and it was hitting my sparkly gold fingernails just so… they were lovely!
That’s when my mind really went wandering.
Pretty Lady Fingernails Nail Salon (you remember, Mrs. Swan, right? Heeee-aaaaa look-a like a man?!)
Bugs Bunny pretending to be a manicurist saying to Gossamer the monster, “Now let’s dip our patties in the water!”
And then I was so happy. Because the fact that I can replay 60 year old Bugs Bunny cartoons in my head at the drop of a hat is awesome.
I was looking for a picture to accompany this post and tried googling several iterations of “Bugs Bunny” and “paddies,” “patties,” or “paddys” until I finally found what I was looking for and lo and behold– there’s an entire Wiki entry for that one Bugs episode. (Hair-Raising Hare… the puns kill me!) Awesome.com!
Also, it had a complete transcript of Bugs pretending to be a manicurist:
He starts talking and acting like a girl and says, “Oh, for shame! Just look at those fingernails! (he pulls out a table and chair and starts working on his nails) My, I’ll bet you monsters lead in-teresting lives. I said to my girl friend just the other day, ‘Gee, I’ll bet monsters are in-teresting.’ I said. The places you must go and the things you must see — my stars! I bet you meet lots of in-teresting people too. I’m always in-terested in meeting in-teresting people. Now let’s dip our patties in the water!” He puts the monster’s fingers into the water to have his fingernails cut, but it contains two mousetraps. The monster yelps in pain, and then sobs.
It’s just too hilarious!
I know I’m an old lady and sound even more so by starting a sentence with “Kids these days…”, but kids these days! I tell ya. Wouldn’t know a good cartoon if it bit them on the nose!
But in other pattie/patty/paddie/paddy-related news: Happy St. Paddy’s day, y’all! To be perfectly honest with you, this is probably my least favorite of all major holidays and I’m glad that for the most part I can focus on Easter… but it did give me a great reason to wear the super cute hand-dyed green and yellow silk scarf I got from my aunt relatively recently. It totally brings out my Godzilla eyes (they are green, mostly, but with quite a disturbing bit of yellow around the middle… you know, like Godzilla).
Happy Monday! Enjoy your green beer, if that’s your style, and drive safely, pretty please!
*Did you catch that “my friend” part? Because that pediatrician, the really pretty one, that I told you about a long while ago– she’s my legit real live friend now. Little bit of a jerk for sending me vacation photos while she knows I’m stuck in a gray office in chilly, chilly Wisconsin, but my friend nevertheless. You know you’re real friends when teasing becomes ok. Amazing what can happen when you (I) just get over your(my)self and try!