Category: whinery

The Dentist

(Writing from May 20, 2011.)
***
This is what it is like to get a five-year-old boy to the dentist for his 6-month check-up in my world:

6:30 am: He wakes up. Drinks his morning cup of milk. Refuses to eat breakfast.

6:45 am: I nag him to put on the clothes I picked out, and then we go to the bathroom where I brush his teeth twice with his electric toothbrush so they will be clean for the dentist. He refuses to use the toilet before we leave, insisting he doesn’t need to go.

7:15 am: We walk to the car where I strap him into his car seat, or “trap him” as he calls it. He turns on his Discovery Kids MP3 Player boombox and proceeds to play a song his father wrote and recorded over and over again during the drive to the dentist. He also does this every single morning and afternoon during the rides to and from school. Needless to say, I love his father very much, and think he has a beautiful voice, but I am really tired of hearing him sing.

7:30 am: My son informs me from the backseat that he has just pooped his pants. When I ask him how this happened, he tells me that he “gambled and lost,” which is code in our family for when you think you only need to fart and are mistaken. Very disgustingly mistaken.

7:31 am: I rage silently, wondering like I do in such moments how I went from playing guitar and singing in rock bands in Los Angeles to wiping up the shit of another human being in Oklahoma.

7:32 am: My son asks, “Well? Are we going to turn around the car and drive home for new underwear for me?”

7:33 am: I rage silently. More rock band versus poop contemplation.

7:34 am: I tell him that we can’t cancel this appointment last minute and there isn’t enough time to run home as we are now more than halfway there, so we’re going to try to clean him up when we get there. If the mess is too bad, we have a spare pair of underwear and shorts in his school backpack we will use.

7:35 am: He turns his father’s song back up so we can both enjoy it all the way to the dentist. The car continues to reek of shit and frustration.

7:45 am: We arrive at the dentist’s office 15 minutes early. I pat myself on the back for being so neurotic that I am 15 minutes early to every appointment, because today this quality has enabled me to clean poop off of my son’s buttocks and still be on time. Yes, today, poop has validated one of my neuroses, and probably not for the last time.

7:50 am: I walk with my son to the elevators and take them to the 4th floor. We enter the ladies’ room and crowd into a stall together. I wipe him off and am pleasantly surprised to discover that his underpants are cleanable. I can work with these Scooby Doo doo-doo stained drawers. The emergency pair of Wall-E underpants in his school backpack can remain there in case they are needed later.

7:55 am: We walk into the dentist’s office with 5 minutes to spare. The receptionist has just arrived and is putting her purse on her desk. She tells me in a chipper voice that they have a staff meeting in the back and leaves. The office is completely empty, so my son runs to the Thomas the Train table and begins to play. I grab an In Style magazine and sit down on a nearby couch, excited to indulge my superficial magazines fetish, as I stopped subscribing to all magazines two years ago to save money. (Well, except for one. I can’t give up Elle Décor. I need to be able to look at beautiful places, even if I can’t afford them.)

8:00 am: My Type-A starts itching as nobody reappears from the back to staff the receptionist area. “I hold others to the same high punctuality standards to which I hold myself” is what I’ll tell you if I’m trying to make myself look kinder, but really, if I’m being honest, I’m a little bit bitchy about lateness. I don’t like it when people waste my time. People can make all the excuses for their lateness in the world, but what someone is really saying by being late is that they consider their time more important than everyone else’s, and that’s rude.

8:05 am: Still waiting for the receptionist to return from the staff meeting. Wondering what’s happening at a dental staff meeting that is more important than keeping an 8 am appointment with one of the customers who pays for said staff. Start visualizing scenarios messing with receptionist’s desk while she’s in the back. Might enjoy placing a random object from the waiting room directly in the middle of the desk, such as a magazine opened to an odd advertisement. Or a potted plant. Will feign innocence if confronted, despite the fact that we’re the only ones here. Will suggest ghosts if accusations continue. It’s good to have a back-up plan.

8:06 am: Son stops playing with train set and runs over to me with a frantic look on his face, exclaiming that he needs to poop. Now. We run out the door and down the hall to the restroom.

8:07 am: I stand in a dingy, dirty public restroom stall while my son has explosive diarrhea, trying to lean as far away from him as 3 feet will allow in an attempt to escape the smell. He will not let me leave the stall because I made him use the ladies’ room and he feels like he’s not supposed to be in there without me by his side. Lucky me.

8:11 am: I help him clean up (i.e. wipe his ass) and we hurry back to the dental office. He plays with the Thomas toy and I wait, annoyed that I actually worried about getting here on time for his 8 am appointment.

8:17 am: Finally, the receptionist calls my son back for his appointment. I settle in for trashy magazine reading, mellow overhead music listening, and people watching of those now entering waiting room.

8:18 am: I think about what the opposite of a “wonderland” might be, and what John Mayer might sing about my post-pregnancy body. Would my body be a scary theme park, or perhaps some sort of roller coaster ride for the very brave and foolish?

8:24 am: I try not to twitch visibly as I listen to a woman whose son is playing with the Thomas toy call it “rasslin’” instead of wrestling, and pronounce the word “cement” as “SEE-ment.” I decide she probably calls it “EYE-talian” dressing too, and try to focus on my crappy magazine.

8:35 am: I wonder why they aren’t done looking at my kid’s teeth. They’re tiny — like little white Chiclets. They aren’t even doing x-rays today. How long should this really take?

8:40 am: I send my husband snarky texts about how long the appointment is taking and the excellent people watching I’m experiencing in this waiting room. He suggests “Your body is Silver Dollar City,” or maybe, “Your body is Six Flags” for my own personal John Mayer ballad, and I don’t really know how to take it.

8:45 am: The dentist and his assistant call me to the back to discuss my son’s teeth. My boy runs circles around us while we talk as I try to get him to be still, to no avail. I am trying to listen attentively to the dental people, and he is fully aware of this, taking advantage of my diverted focus. The dentist and assistant both comment on how “active” he is, with big, sympathetic eyes when I agree that, yes, he never stops in a weary, haunted voice. The dentist tells me he is the father of 6 boys and it occurs to me that a man with 6 kids is actually giving me sympathetic looks about the rambunctiousness of my child. I am momentarily humiliated by this realization, but then I have to stop my son from lifting a glass coffee table into the air to “show us how strong he is,” which breaks my shame spiral.

8:46 am: I interrupt the dentist to tell my son that the boomerang they’ve given him as a reward is an outdoor toy only because he’s started throwing it across the room.

8:47 am: Dentist and assistant recognize that conversation is pointless because my crazed, manic child will destroy the waiting room if I don’t stop him, and we part with pleasantries.

8:48 am: I make the appointment for his next 6 month checkup while he runs to the waiting room. I find him there hiding magazines inside the toy box “as a funny joke.” I would normally get the magazines out and put them back where they belong, but feel justified wasting the time of whichever employee will have to do this chore because they’ve made me wait so much this morning. I leave them. We walk out the door and head down the hall to the elevators.

8:49 am: My son screams, “I lost my boomerang!” and runs frantically back down the hallway to the dentist’s office. He finds the boomerang, and we leave again, after he shouts, “We found it! We found my boomerang!” to the entire waiting room, and the receptionist who manages to somehow look condescending and amused by my psychological discomfort at the same time. She is clearly not excited for us.

8:55 am: My son snarfs down an entire bowl of dry Cheerios in the car during the trip to his school. I drop him off and drive home.

9:15 am: I arrive at home. I am already exhausted. I decide that parenting a hyperactive 5-year-old boy is kind of like playing in a rock band with a coke-head, so really, my life isn’t all that different than it used to be, right?

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Dear Diary #572

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572. That’s a random number. I don’t know how many times I’ve actually taken to the Internet to ramble about the mundane details of my life to nobody and everybody, depending on how bored the people of our fine planet may be, but it’s probably not in the 500 range. I’m a liar. Sorry.

I call these ‘Dear Diary’ entries because they’re extremely random, and make me feel much like a 13-year-old girl whining in my journal. It’s a living.

I’m writing. I haven’t done this in a long time. I’ve had a bad case of the why-the-fuck-should-anybody-care-about-your-stupid-life writing yips, and I’m trying to move past it. I write words for me, just like I used to write songs for me. It’s cathartic. If someone wants to read it, cool. If not, also cool. I used to not give a shit what anybody thought because no matter what, I was being authentic. I wrote songs because I had something I needed to get off my chest, not to impress anybody else, and I need to get back into this mindset.

This is not a fuck you mindset, just to be clear. It’s a fuck me and my stupid insecurities mindset. Fuck me. Stop caring what people think, you big dork, I say to myself. It’s only life. Don’t take this, yourself, or anything too seriously. Someday none of this will matter, so don’t let it get inside your head and matter now.

Nothing matters. Say it with me, kids. Nothing matters. And everything matters. All at the same time. Nothing and everything matters. Now who wants cookies?

This is also why I turn off the comments beneath my writings. Because I’m not writing to chat about or listen to notes on my feelings, and I’m definitely not wasting precious time responding to trolls. I’m writing because I feel better inside after I write. The end.

And because hot damn, I need a creative outlet. A stress outlet. A nervous energy outlet. A pull-up-the-lid-and-let-out-some-psychic-steam-before-I-explode outlet. Kindergarten through high school, I took dance classes or danced in my bedroom until I was soaked with sweat, sang in every choir class I could take, and I sat in my bedroom endlessly singing to music. In my 20s, I lifted weights, I ran miles, I learned guitar, I wrote songs, played guitar and sang in bands… and then I had a child. Insert screeching brakes noise.

My musical life stopped as my child and heart grew. But my brain never stopped moving. And my brain will slowly drive me crazy if I don’t give it anywhere to go. My brain is a hyperactive child tugging at my sleeve trying to show me all of the things in the world while pulling me in infinite directions all at the same time. My brain never stops. Viva la ADHD.

My brain then demanded I start writing words because pretending to be a poorly-aging rock star in crap bars doesn’t work so well with the whole breastfeeding and being the mommy thing. And I suck at drawing, painting, and art. So words it is, for my much needed creative outlet. Lucky you.

***

I’m about to take an Internet hiatus because the political screaming and racism all over social media and news sites has been doing my head in. I hate to hide when I need to be a voice, but I’m no good to anyone when I’m an anxious mess. And if I see one more hilarious hashtag with the word “matter” and ANYTHING in front of it except “blacklives” I am going to throat punch someone. People’s children are dying and that shit’s not funny. Check yourself.

Another stressor: my husband is in the process of scheduling hip replacement surgery, so I’ll need to be strong as he goes through the operation and months of physical therapy afterward. I’m going to be single-parenting while taking care of my healing life partner and two cats, and I don’t see anywhere jacking around on social media sites can reasonably fit into that schedule. Without the throat punching feeling, I mean.

***

I take these breaks to secure peace of mind from time to time, but this is the first time I’ve decided to put my computer away and completely abstain. No email checking. No Facebook. No news sites. Nothing.

I have a cute little writing-only laptop I use to work on the book a chapter at a time (you know… THE BOOK all writers are working on forever), and it doesn’t allow the Internet, so I’m going to write on that. Only that. I’m forcing myself to be productive and stop playing in the comments sections of Facebook, hoping for peace and productivity. Fingers crossed.

(Humiliating aside: I once said “Fingers crossed!” in a meeting with a college advisor who happened to have a hand condition. It looked like a possible thalidomide-related issue, as her fingers were fused, leaving her two on each hand. She typed faster than I do, and I was genuinely impressed. And then, because I’m an awkward idiot, I used the term “Fingers crossed!” about being able to finally finish my degree, and then I died inside a lot. We exchanged a look. There was a pause. And then I died inside some more. And this is why I don’t like to leave the house. Because I should probably not talk to anyone ever.)

***

My husband isn’t 70, by the way. We’re both middle-aged. We remember where we were when we first heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” song. He was really active in his youth, damaged his hip joint, and that caused a bad condition called avascular necrosis. (You know… the Bo Jackson/Brett Fav-rahh thing?) A lot of football players and people who throw their bodies very hard at not-soft surfaces have his issue.

This is because pretty much, when you beat the shit out of any part of your body, the tissue dies. Avascular = blood flow. Necrosis = death. Damaged bone loses blood flow, and the bone eventually dies. So my husband is on crutches and in pain. He had an MRI that revealed his hip has withered away and he needs the replacement he was hoping to stave off until retirement, which is over 20 years away. Didn’t quite make it. (He’s 6’5″ and gravity is a harder on his bones.)

He had a surgery in 2001 where they drill into the bone and try to make it grow back stronger, to no avail. He was on crutches for eleven months after that surgery. (He learned to play guitar and cook really well during that time, from which I now benefit.)

We checked out his MRI, and rather than looking smooth and round like the hip ball joint on the other side, his right hip ball looks like the surface of the moon. After mice have chewed on it. Giant space mice, I suppose. Anyhow, it looks bad. So the main body part thingy that holds him up on the right side is crumbling, and he can barely sleep because what used to be an often-pain is now a constant-pain.

It’s hard to watch someone you love in constant pain. I’m moving into depression when I need to be not-depressed for someone who needs me, because I will not selfishly make my poor husband’s dying hip about me. I’m really fighting the urge to slip back into the “my mom has stage 4 cancer” depression cocoon I crawled into a few years ago to join my good friends Netflix and too many carbs in a melancholy quest towards unnecessary weight gain. This means I’m drained, pissed off, and looking for an excuse to take out my frustration on anyone who fucks with me… and it’s definitely time to get off social media. (At least I’m mature enough to recognize this about myself, even if I can’t quite fix it. Sadly, this is progress for me.)

My Depression Netflix Jam was all seasons of Gilmore Girls during my mom’s cancer battle; this time I’ve been enjoying House, M.D. when wallowing freely about the cabin. I have been on my own financially since barely-17 and could never afford cable, so I didn’t bother with a TV. This means there are many shows and culturally significant events I completely missed. Thusly, I’d never caught an episode of either of these shows before Netflix. God bless Netflix.

With the need to be stronger than usual, getting away from the soul-draining bigotry, xenophobia, and other awful stuff online seems like a step in the right direction. I’m also grabbing naps without guilt where I can, and getting to the gym for gentle cardio. I might start yoga again. I’ve been reading a lot. I’m doing things that build me up, because the world seems to want to tear us all down right now, and I can’t handle that.

***

I’ve been spending a lot of time putting articles I wrote and sold when I worked in native advertising on this site because I have them on an external hard drive, but nothing lasts forever. I want to have them safely somewhere else for storage, and also, if I decide to write for a similar company again someday, I’ll have an easily accessed example of my “articles for people without much time to read” here for them to peruse.

I used to call them “articles for dummies” because the format is so basic: bold subheadings, numbered lists, titles that let the potential reader know there won’t be a huge time commitment involved if they click, etcetera. That’s the point. But they convey information I avidly researched and tried to present in a somewhat interesting manner, so I don’t consider them articles for dummies: I consider them articles for busy people.

You say “clickbait,” I say “people don’t want to spend 30 minutes reading long essays anymore… deal with it.” Technology is rapidly changing the average American attention span, whether we like it or not. (I actually don’t like it, but I accept it. I rebel against the dying of the attention span by reading multiple books a week and raising a child who loves to read.)

The job was great training for me, because as I’m sure is apparent while you skim this hot burst of my current brain steam, I’m a rambling writer. I write very stream-of-consciousness style, and don’t bother editing if it’s not a professional piece. But the native advertising job forced me to write within a 700-1000 word format, and it was excellent training. Concise has never been my strong suit. I can admit it. (I can also pose the question, “Why does everything need to be concise?” Can’t a girl ramble once in awhile without being shut down? WHATEVER, OPPRESSOR.)

***

My son has been nominated for the National Elementary Honor Society, which is really great because it’s not only offered to kids who get straight As; they have to meet behavioral standards as well. He’s working grades above average in all subjects, but this can often lead to boredom and disruptive behavior, like not being able to sit still or talking out of turn. So I was more impressed by the behavioral standards being met than the academic requirements. I tell him all of the time that there are many people out there with smart brains, but the person who works the hardest will win the job over the big brain every time. Work ethic > intelligence.

His teachers have also had to ban him from the computers because he hacks into them and changes the code. And they’ve told us verbatim that the FBI or CIA need to recruit him now because he’s so smart. I should feel proud, but I’m a little bit scared because we have no idea how to navigate the “learning about the online world versus keeping our child safe” conundrum. So that’s not causing me anxiety at all. Nope. No red wine being consumed in alarming rates in this house. Not here.

Anyhow… that’s my latest. If you’re reading this, I hope you’re well, friends.

xoxo.

 

P.S. I took a stupid Facebook quiz recently, called “What Is Your Subconscious Hiding?” and I got this:

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I laughed pretty hard at this result, but probably for the wrong reasons.

Join me?

 

 

 

 

The Real Reason Women Dread the Man Cold

 

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***

If you’re female, you’ve probably rolled your eyes along with other women at some point in reference to the dreaded Man Cold. This can look bitter or mean to those who haven’t dealt with this phenomenon, and can understandably make men feel mocked.

For this reason I would like to announce right now to all men that we’re not picking on you. I promise. We aren’t even really making fun of you: it’s more like we’re making fun of our society. Hate the game, not the player.

I’ll explain.

Although there is a growing trend of men being the primary caretakers of the children in families, this duty quite often falls on the shoulders of the woman. The mother. So please reverse everything I’m about to say if you are reading this as a stay-at-home dad. My husband and I decided whoever makes the most money will do so, and the other will take care of our child only because it made financial sense: we are not bound by traditional gender roles.

My fella can make more money than me. So that makes me the stay-at-home parent in our situation. Not because I’m female, but because we like being able to afford food and bills and stuff.

***

My husband works in a crowded office environment, and often finds himself surrounded by sick people who inexplicably refuse to use their sick leave for its intended purpose— to lessen the spread of productivity-lowering contagion.

When this happens—when his coworkers ignore management’s pleas to stay home when ill to instead share their misery with the workforce—my husband will eventually catch the illness. He then brings it home to our family, where our son and I usually catch it.

Because I have calcifications all over my lungs from either a fungal infection or multiple untreated past pneumonias during my “no health care” minimum wage job days, I inevitably end up on antibiotics for pneumonia. (The last virus was so brutal, my husband ended up with a secondary infection that morphed into pneumonia, and on antibiotics as well.)

This makes us angry because the inconsiderate coworker who came to work and shared the virus with us has now destroyed our quality of life for at least a month while we all take turns being sick. They’ve disrupted our child’s schedule and activities, cost us money in doctor visits and medications, and stolen precious sleep from two adults with a child who has fought sleep since he was in utero. We don’t take loss of sleep lightly at this point. Do not fuck with our sleep.

This also means that if the person who didn’t stay away from work while sick is a young, child-free person who got over it in a few days, with the luxury of resting when needed, rather than taking care of a child/children while feeling like ass, yet has no idea how deeply and adversely they’ve impacted our family and finances… I want to drive to my husband’s job and punch them in the face every day until our entire family is finally over the stinking virus they decided they could “tough it out” and work through.

Because hey, guess what, people who come to work with contagious illnesses? Nobody thinks you’re tough. They think you’re an inconsiderate asshole. Your bosses resent you because you’ve now infected a large portion of the other people who make money for their company, and your coworkers resent you because of the month-of-sickness spiral into which you’ve now sent their families spinning.*

It’s not cool, bro.

***

This week, my husband caught what my girlfriends and I not-so-affectionately refer to as the Man Cold. When we call it that, we are sometimes referring to the guys who say things like, “I must have caught a stronger version of this virus than you,” to us, or emotionally regress back to an age before they had grass on the field when ill. But really, most men aren’t wimpy about colds. This isn’t what makes us angry.

What makes us angry enough to label it the Man Cold is that the primary caretaker of the children (not always the mother, obviously, but true in my case) doesn’t get to be sick. We don’t get to stop preparing the children for school, doing laundry, making meals, bathing them, helping with homework, driving them to and from everywhere; and if they have caught the illness, we take care of them. All while being sick ourselves.

(And no, it’s not a “weaker version than your virus,” it’s the fact that women are inherently strong as fuck. Did you not see us grow a human with our body and deliver it into the world? Are you new?)

Who takes care of the mother with a Woman Cold you might ask? Well I’m glad you did, because that right there is the source of our sneering and eye-rolling about the Man Cold. Because the answer is nobody.

Nobody takes care of the Woman Cold.

The Woman Cold must be ignored while the equally-sick female in the relationship is required to continue life as usual.

And here comes our Good Will Hunting moment, you guys. Brace yourselves. Maybe grab a tissue.

It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

Okay, stop fighting me and come in for the hug now. It’s okay to cry. This is a safe space.

***

My husband has currently been sick for days, and because he also believes sharing contagious illnesses with coworkers is a shitty thing to do, he’s been using his sick days, lying in the master bedroom while closed off to protect our son and me from his wicked respiratory virus.

We have no doubt we will catch it eventually because we all live together and touch the same surfaces; all we can hope is that we manage to stagger the onset of my symptoms and our child’s symptoms so there might be one person strong enough to help the others at any given point in the next month while we deal.

He’s been sick, and I’ve been performing most of the duties we normally share. His feeling crummy makes me feel sorry for him, of course, but a wee bit resentful, even though I know he needs to rest, sleep, watch television, and read. I get it. I’m not a jerk, I swear.

The Man Cold resentment breeds only because past history has shown once my husband is well enough to go back to work, I will most likely be the next one to fall ill.

Having used his sick days as intended, this means I will not be able to retreat with my Mom Cold to rest, sleep, watch television, and read. I don’t ever get an uninterrupted week-long break to be sick. I will still have to perform all of my house chores and childcare duties, no matter how awful I feel. And I don’t like them apples. There is no such thing as the Mom Cold, and for this reason, we have grown resentful.

(Obviously exchange “Mom Cold” with “Dad Cold” and “Man Cold” with “Woman Cold” if you’re a stay-at-home dad. And use both genders if in a same-sex marriage. Like contagious viruses, I don’t discriminate.)

So you see, guys… in a perfect world (or in a more evolved country), after taking your week to heal from the wretched virus, you would then have enough sick days leftover to give your now-sick partners the same chance to rest and rebuild you had. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and in this one, we got the short end of the “sick stick.” So… Man Cold, we sneer. Don’t take it personally. We’re not actually mad at you: we’re mad at a country that doesn’t give employees ample time off, the dumbest part being that productivity increases drastically in well-rested, healthy people with good quality of life.

Short version: Man Cold actually means the system sucks, and damn it, primary caretakers of children really wish they could simply be allowed to be sick, rather than miserably slogging through after the now-healthy partner in the relationship must go back to work.

Unless you’re a whiny baby about minor illnesses, of course. Then yes, we’re mocking you personally. Woman up.

Huge shout-out to single parents who must be both bearer of Man Cold and Female Cold and Mom Cold and Dad Cold, by the way. Universal Colds. I bow down at your eternally exhausted feet in awe as I fearfully take zinc and vitamin C supplements, waiting for my dance with the latest respiratory virus.

 

*Those who work jobs without sick leave are exempt from this rant. Been there, done that, and I know when people complain about your being at work sick, you want to scream, “Well then are YOU going to pay my fucking rent? No? Then SHUT UP.” Because of course you don’t want to have to work while you’re sick. Duh. And employers who don’t give paid sick leave: you suck. You really, truly do. Stop it.