Swedish finally found my food

I got a call from the hospital yesterday evening saying they finally found my food, and do I want these bowls or what. They didn’t say where they called FROM specifically so I just called the switchboard. I guess I wouldn’t want to identify myself if I worked for them either.

I got bounced to security after getting looped back to the switchboard four times because there was a “code grey.” I had to look this up: Combative Person. I’m guessing it was a patient, and I feel you, girl.

Security did not know where my bowls are. “Did you try registration? Try registration.” Click. Ok.

I was just thinking about The Olde Thymes when you would have to call a large institution using a list of numbers in a book, which you would keep open in front of you, because you knew your first few tries would be unsuccessful. Sometimes a nice person would give you a secret number that was not in the book. Now people just ring off because you can just incorrectly guess the next number yourself using the internet.

I tried registration. “Not here…what room were you in?”

“I have no idea, but it was the 11th floor.”

“Ok, I’ll transfer you.”

Well, there they were, sitting in a sink I guess. It was nice of them not to find my soup and then to pour it out.

“It did not look so fresh,” the lady said. I imagine not. So now I come get my bowls or they will get rid of them, like tomorrow.

My sister has gone back to work and I’m rolling solo today. Yesterday we went to see the cherry blossoms at UW, which I haven’t done in eons because I’ve been so wrapped up in working my way through my apprenticeship. She said she gets really rocked a few days after the drive ends and she was really feeling it. We’ve been hanging out watching movies and eating our weight in mochi and muscats, but I just wanted to lay in bed after walking around campus and so did she. So I sent her home at noon.

PEAK BLOSSOM. Citizens are advised to freak the fuck out.

A post shared by Taibas Jones (@asstagramme) on

I wanted to do a cute picture of the dogs among the trees but I couldn’t summon the energy to bend down, since they are short and the trees are tall. You’ll have to believe me that they were there. We met a couple of cute two-year-olds and one could say “Cavalier” as clear as day because she has one in her life named Simon. It was pretty impressive. Lots of people were pointing at the dogs and talking to us, as people in public do.

“I don’t think I could have a dog!” my sister said. “Too much attention!”

“You get used to it,” I said. “It’s mostly when they’re puppies.”

I worry about my sister, sometimes, because she reminds me of myself ten years ago. When she’s on, she’s social, and when she’s not working, she’s not interested. I thought it was a family trait because I got increasingly unsocial to the point of somewhat phobic as time went on. My grandmother was isolated because of her health and attitude about the world, and had no friends for years at a time. My mother seemed to be an extrovert, liked people and was attracted to them, but had some truly antisocial behaviors. She had severe misophonia, which would trigger behavior like mocking people in public, which was excruciating. Especially if you were trapped in a restaurant booth with her and the people she was mocking were across the way. And there were no other diners!

I’ve got a long way to go in general, both mentally and physically. I know I’m severely kneecapped in some areas of my life, and doing ok in others. I know I’ve said this so many times, but the thing that has helped about a billion percent is nutrition. All those little tics, the impatience, the anxiety, are almost down to nothing. Insomnia is over unless I truly do something stupid like take a massive nap or drink too much wine for restful sleep. I’m more mentally resilient–less of a hair-trigger temper (which usually didn’t come out, so the rage was just inside me bouncing around), less likely to take offense at anything anyone says offhandedly or not. I can tell myself that people mean well, and if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t realize that muting all the little microaggressions that were mostly self-inflicted would positively impact my relationships.

I know when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, but I wish I could time travel and find my grandparents in the 40s and say, “Hey, you know this better living through science shit? It’s not for us. Have some veggies and a multivitamin.” Ha ha, if only.

Today I hung my mason bee house on the back porch, facing the morning sun. It is very small and light. It felt great to swing a hammer! Sometimes I have a little disconnect between my actual skills now and what I can do at home. I looked at the nail and the porch post, and said, “Ok, self, don’t fuck this up.” I used to hammer nails in crookedly in all damn time.

I used to hit my thumb: OW OW OW fifteen minute break followed by a snack and a nap! Now I still hit myself, and give myself blood blisters, but I just tell myself it doesn’t bother me and I move on, because I realized it doesn’t actually hurt that bad if you think about pain in a certain way, as just a sensation or feedback from your body. If the feeling doesn’t come back in fifteen minutes or I feel blood pooling I will take my glove off and look. It turns out I was born to be an oaf, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

I took the cocoons out of my fridge where they’ve been residing for the past few weeks.


Bee cocoons come in a little box and look kind of like bees that have been wrapped up by a spider. You put them on top of the inside of the bee house in their box.


The kit also came with clay that you turn into mud and leave nearby so they can seal their tubes after laying eggs. I’m leaving it out now in case some native bees show up and want to get in on this hotel action. Now I just have to wait 2-4 weeks for the cocoons to open. THAT’S FOREVER.

I’ll post more pictures when they’re flying and when they make more cocoons midsummer. I read that ten mason bees can pollinate one fruit tree, and they like hazelnuts, which we have three of. Yeah!

A little health update: everything is feeling better daily. I’m six days out and sleeping on both of my sides. A weird thing is waking up with Death Flavor in my mouth, which I’m told is anesthesia working its way out, still. How about it works its way out of my elbows or something instead of my mouth? It is also making me want to eat what I want to eat, and not reasonable homecooked meals. So there’s a lot of juice and cheese happening, because nothing else tastes good.

Peeing is a magical experience now. I go, and then I have the sensation of not having to go anymore. I had the feeling of constantly low-grade (or high-grade) having to go for years. What is kind of odd now is how my bladder feels. I was at the blossoms yesterday and just sort of felt vaguely uncomfortable and off, and then I was like…you know what…I better see if I have to pee. I did. What? I don’t know either.

I took a shower yesterday and had another new feeling: a normal vulva instead of one with a uterus that was trying to later days out of it. Have you had a baby come out of your business? Do you remember that feeling of pressure? Every time I stood up I was basically crowning, ahaHAHAHAHAHA *uncontrollable sobbing*. There is so much less pressure on my pelvic floor I just feel light now. Next time someone takes me out, I’m going to get thank you cards and write my surgeons. I knew this would be life-changing, but I didn’t know it would be like, 96 pt font flashing LIFE-CHANGING.

I’m a little achy around where my uterus was (kind of like negative space menstrual cramps) and definitely super tired. Also sad that my medical glue is coming off my incisions already because it’s kind of this gross blue which is neat because I’m glued together! and I figure it’s good to have them covered. I had a dream that tea was coming out of my incision holes like I was a cartoon. My brain also keeps reminding me, “There’s nothing but a vagina now, ISN’T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD?” Go be amazed somewhere else, brain.

How to be an Asshole during your hysterectomy

On Wednesday morning I got up, double checked my hospital packing list and bags, and hung out with the kid for a while before she went to school. I had a cup of tea and tried to distract myself with reading. I think Horace picked up on my nerves and really didn’t like the looks of the suitcase since I had just gone to SF a couple of weeks ago.

I gave myself a pep talk. I was all set set! Everyone was on board with my health issues! This was going to be great. Okay, so I knew it wasn’t going to be great, but I felt ready and I thought they were ready for me.

I didn’t take any speed because I’d been on a liquid diet for two days at that point and it seemed unnecessarily harsh. I took my normal morning antihistamines and one kind of mast cell stabilizer (quercetin). I taxied to the hospital, checked in, and immediately got hit by the wave of hospital and people smells and got sleepy. I shut down and fell asleep the first time while I was waiting for them to call me for preop–just like the old pre-speed days!

I pulled one of my gowns out of my bag that I knew I wouldn’t react to/get hives from and that was immediately a fight–they wanted me to wear something that was some kind of paper. I brought stew I’d made the night before asked them to please get my food into the fridge. I know that time=rising histamine levels for warming food.

It made me feel better to cook a huge stew the night before, even though I couldn’t eat it. I was doing something normal that I was ok at. It had chicken, onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, potatoes, and chickpeas. I kitchen-sinked it because I was hoping there would be some when I got home, too. The nurse looked confused as I handed the bowls of stew to her. She said they would put it somewhere “if they could” and write down where it was.

I told both of the nurses that my surgeons had approved me to wear my own gowns. There was a lot of conferring at the nurses station that I couldn’t hear all of. I had a wild thought and made a pact with myself that if they were just assholes about everything I could bail on surgery all together. It was ok to change my mind on something this major even at the last minute. Finally, my gowns were allowed, but my sheets were not.

I wasn’t upset, really. I walk into a big institution like this and expect to have to try tell people what my deal is repeatedly and accept things quickly that won’t budge.

I got asked the same questions over and over as they do for everyone, I’m sure. The admissions nurse wanted to know what happens when I’m exposed to triggers. I told her the anaphylaxis symptoms I get as well as passing out. “That’s not anaphylaxis,” she said.

“Well, ok, that’s a thing that happens a lot, though, if I don’t take Adderall.”

We had spent about an hour talking about corn at that point. IV bags appeared and I asked her to make sure the bags were saline only and the line flush didn’t have dextrose in them and she said, “Oh are you allergic to that, too? What does that do to you?”

My eyes started dumping like I was crying, which is another thing that often happens, sometimes even if I smell popcorn. It has nothing to do with what mood I’m in. The admit nurse tried to be reassuring, “Oh this is a lot, isn’t it?” I tried to tell her it was just another side effect. My throat was getting phlegmy and my voice was getting hoarse. My head floated and it was hard to think of words.

I had a chat with the surgeons. My gyno surgeon asked if they could do anything for me now. They were trying to start an IV line on me and that nurse was completely failing, which is weird because usually my veins are really easy to find. I asked if maybe they could start the IV Benadryl now? She said they could and said the anesthesiologist was going to stop by in a few minutes.

“Is it a dude? They are always dudes.” I don’t know what made me say this. Filter drop.

“Actually, you’ll have a woman today, she’s great. There’s a lot of women here.”

“I know, that’s why I’m here!” I said. She and my urology surgeon laughed.

The anesthesiologist popped up, took over, and got my IV in so fast I barely noticed. She started the Benadryl right after that. It kicked in extremely quickly and I went from feeling congested, scratchy, crappy, weepy eyes to clearing up in a matter of minutes. Much better. I felt like I could think again, but I also felt kind of drunk.

I handed her my hand-written list of what I take every day (long, crazy-looking). She scanned over it. “Oh good. I saw your chart and was surprised you weren’t taking quercetin. Here it is.”

“Every time I say that to a nurse it gets entered as turmeric,” I said.

I’m taking three things right now that are supposed to have mast cell stabilizing effects: quercetin, luteolin, and moringa. I’ve noticed that since starting moringa I’m getting fewer hives on certain places in my body. I don’t get them on my stomach anymore but I still get them behind my ears and on my face. It seems like flavonoids inhibit mast cells really well.

Like my surgeons, she had read a ton about mast cell so it was nice to talk with her. She had figured out which painkillers and antibiotics did not have dextrose in them. I knew I would degranulate when they made incisions and whatnot, much like with my vein procedure the week before. After we were done she gave me the big shot and I was relieved–all that waiting and then I could go to sleep.

I remember being wheeled into the OR. There was some big fucking thingamaworks at the end of the room that my feet pointed at that made me think of Robocop.

“Is that the vagina robot?” I said.

“Yes,” a nurse said. Good night.


FUCK YOU, PROLAPSE!

I had a little worry that nagged at me all week, because I remember the first time waking up after childbirth when the endorphins were all gone. My vulva felt like roadkill and I was pretty sure my bones were scraping together. I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I was ready for that feeling again.


IV attempt #2: Unsuccessful!

I didn’t have it though–I woke up three hours later confused, shaking violently, weeping. I sort of remember the recovery room but I was so in my body I don’t remember what anyone said to me. I think they did give me more IV pain meds. A nurse tried to hand me some extra-strength Tylenol and water and I said, “I can’t take these, I have a corn allergy.” My voice sounded like it was coming from far away.

I did not feel like I’d been hit by a truck. Surgery is funny in that you just lie there, whereas childbirth was a whole marathon that I was not ready for the first time since I was so out-of-shape.

They assigned me a room on the fly. I figured out really quickly that it wasn’t private, which I’d asked for and the pre-op nurse on the phone a few days before said would be no problem. “I don’t know why they’re still telling patients that, we remodeled two years ago,” a nurse said. “We only have like, two private rooms for people who actually need them.”

A couple of nurses who came in and out said, “Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t get your PRIVATE ROOM.” The way they said it sounded like it meant, not, “private room” but “YOU’RE THE REASON I HATE MY JOB.” Yikes. I had immediately made myself the most unpopular person on the floor, so it was a pretty typical experience compared to everywhere else I go. I had better get out of here, I thought.

I’d had a similar experience at Group Health with Strudel. I came in after laboring for 47 hours or whatever and no baby. I remember one of the nurses got way in my face, which is probably a good idea since your awareness “bubble” gets really small and people do need to get in close. She said: “I’M SORRY YOU CAN’T HAVE THE HOMEBIRTH YOU PLANNED.” I get the feeling through training and practice they have a script they follow but after saying it hundreds (millions?) of times it can sound kind of rote and hostile. I was thinking to myself, “I don’t care, I just want this baby out.” Home would have been easiest, but if the kid won’t come out, call a fucking plumber.


IV attempt #3: Success!

They hung up my signs that said “keep door closed” etc. but people were coming in and out of the room so much they were being ignored. They were still trying to push Tylenol on me, which was easy to refuse, of course, but it made me wish I had a sign on my forehead (besides the one that obviously said “crazy diva”). I asked someone where my food was and they said they didn’t know. I had brought some shelf-stable snacks with me and inhaled them. I knew as soon as my Benadryl wore off I would be sick again and would wake up at 2 a.m. all scratchy and swollen with my heart racing.

There was a lady in the bed next to me who was in so much pain post-op she was just laying there moaning, poor thing. She said, “I’m not contagious,” which was kind of a three-word essay on how women are socialized to be accommodating at all times. “It’s ok, it’s not you, sorry,” I said. “I have a cellular disorder.” As if that explained anything.

I got super cranky and started unleashing the f-bombs as I normally do, not AT anyone, but just as my usual cavalcade of ignorant and vulgar adjectives. “I need to get out of this fucking place.” They said they would try to reach one of my surgeons to get permission for me to be discharged. I felt bad because it was the dinner hour but I knew my clock was ticking and my pain meds AND antihistamines were going to wear off. I had to use the push they were going to give me to get out of there.

The conditions came back–I had to wear/take my catheter home, and I had to prove that I could walk. “Ok!” I said. I had been assigned some other flavor of patient relations nurse because I’m sure my overworked floor nurse immediately threw her hands up like “this bitch.”

Special Nurse got me up and running with the IV pole/cool catheter combo and threw a robe on me as I ambled out of the room. I walked down the hall and watched the floor and walls spin up at me.

“How’re you doing, dear?”

“GREAT! I feel fine really.”

“Pain?”

“It’s at a one. Or a zero. Let’s say ‘zero.”

“Do you want to go further?” she asked.

“Oh, no, I’m good. I can turn around any time.” We had made it about halfway down the first hallway, or maybe an eighth of the way around the whole loop. I was amazed to see how not-far I’d come. It was like when you’re super, super baked and three minutes feels like three hours. I saw nurses and whatnot at their stations looking at me. I hoped it was “normal” looking. I hoped I was normal-looking.

I began the laborious process of dressing myself and getting out of my gown.

“Can I have some privacy while I get dressed?” I asked the nurse, pointing to the curtain on the other side. The moaning lady’s husband was over there and I was sure if I started to change he would suddenly pop his head around, because life always has to be as awkward as possible. She kicked him out!

“Thanks, sorry, I really just wanted my curtain closed, sorry,” I said as everyone left. Then it was just me and moaning lady on the other side. I struggled to get my gown untied and to get a shirt on.

“Sorry you had to put up with my shit,” moaning lady said. I loved her for swearing. I assumed I was offending her and her lovely adult children the whole time.

“Oh no no no no, sorry you had to put up with MY shit. I’ll be out of here soon. I really hope you feel much better tomorrow.”

“Me too,” she said.

Regular Nurse taped my catheter tube to my leg really tightly and helped me get my pants on. They brought a wheelchair and I told them I couldn’t leave until I had my stuff. I knew they would miss a bag if I let them out of my sight. They brought a utility cart for my bags. I still didn’t know where my food was and I didn’t mention it.

“Sorry I’m being a dick,” I said. I thought I was? But I was so doped up and am reflexively British/overapologetic so I couldn’t read the room.

“Did you walk?” Regular Nurse asked.

“Oh yes.”

“The WHOLE loop?”

“Oh yes, absolutely, it was great,” I oversold. “Thanks for everything!”

Then I was wheeled downstairs.

“Is your ride here?” the aide asked me.

“Yes…no…she will be soon.”

They conferred among themselves over my head about how they couldn’t wait here with me.

“I can just sit in a chair,” I said, pointing to the lobby. I wanted to be quit of them as much as they wanted to be through with me I guess.

“Can you leave the cart?” I asked.

“No.” They dropped my stuff next to me. “What is she going to do?” one asked the other.

“Ok I guess that’s my problem,” I said, but their backs were already to me.

“We wish you well in your recovery,” the chair pusher called over her shoulder, sounding like she was talking in her sleep.

Upstairs, right before I left, I noticed it was 7 o’clock, which I knew was important because my sister’s gig was ending then and she said she could pick me up. I had no idea where she was in the city or how long it would take her to get there. I just knew she would come. I texted her with my update. As it turned out, she was two blocks away! Whew.


Here is a text message from a desperate woman.

Then while I waited it was just me, sans the dinner and breakfast I arrived with, and my sidekick, a catheter.

Going home was the right decision. I was able to relax into my own bed without all the monitoring and beeping and fucking allergy-type triggers around. I slept intermittently and woke up at 1:30 and took some more safe Tylenol.

The last few days have been really good. I’ve felt and looked at my five small incisions. One surprise is that they are uneven on my torso; I thought they’d be arranged symmetrically, kind of like pips on a die. I have no idea why I assumed that. Two days after the hysto I went for my leg vein follow up, to make sure they’d killed the varicose vein good and dead and that everything looked all right. The nurse said, “Wow, look at your bruise! I’ve never seen so little bruising! This all looks great.”

I told my sister about this and she said, “Boom! Vitamins!”

Now I think I’m having kind of the dream hysto recovery. I don’t have pain unless I jab myself. I’m not bending over, lifting shit, stretching up high, cleaning, cooking. I’m doing a lot of resting, but I’m doing walking, too. I have had a couple of naps, but mostly because I had trouble sleeping the first night. I’m not even taking Tylenol continuously anymore. My sister just finished her fund drive at work so she’s vegetating with me and we’re watching Drunk History and Hitchhiker’s. She’s been fixing meals. We did a short walk with the dogs today also.

I was still a little on the fence my first day after, wondering if things were about to get much worse, and I hadn’t taken my catheter out yet, so that still hurt. A lovely twitter friend, @kang72, sent me this awesome article. Perfect timing.

The anesthesiologist explained that during surgery and recovery I would be given strong painkillers, but once I got home the pain would not require narcotics. To paraphrase him, he said: “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”

With my surgeon’s nurse’s over-the-phone instructions, I snipped the catheter line that would deflate the balloon and let it come out. Removal wasn’t too bad. Pulling the gauze packing out of my vagina was no picnic and resulted in some fresh blood that’s slowing down now. However–a miracle has occurred. I no longer feel the constant heaviness of my shit trying to fall out. I don’t have the feeling of having to pee constantly. It’s wonderful.

I’m resting! And I stand by my conviction that hospitals are for fleeing from.

You just popped in the Kanye West get right for summer workout tape

A. Nobody Wants a Little Tight Ass

WARNING: There’s going to be pictures of my sad leg down this post. Trigger warning for white, Northern hemisphere, middle-aged lady leg, and to a lesser degree surgical incisions and bruising.

I just had minor varicose vein surgery in my left leg on Thursday. It’s kind of unfortunate timing, because I’m set to have my uterus out on Pi Day (March 14th). My veins started blowing out in my legs a couple of years before I got really sick, which doesn’t surprise me. Everything got pretty flimsy and inflamed and messed up then, and I felt like I wanted to put out all the fires but more kept popping up.

There is a PROCESS you go through to get a vein stripped. When I walked in to the clinic a few months ago, both of my legs hurt at the end of the day and sometimes all day, but I can’t see through my skin (YET!) so I didn’t know exactly what was happening. It turns out my right leg has a baby varicose vein going on but the left leg had a whole turnpike situation. Also it was leaking blood into my leg continuously (as they are wont to do) and so it hurt a lot and always looked like some gorilla had squeezed my calves for a minute or ten.

So, as we all know, the insurance companies do not want to pay for an actual existing condition that won’t get better. They want to say, “Here, bite this stick for three months, and in time you will be adjusted to biting the stick and you will love the stick so much you’ll forget you wanted us to pay for something in the system you pay for access to.”

The num-num stick was: support hose. I was supposed to undergo a trial of wearing them and hopefully at the end of three months I would forget all about my pain. That did not happen. In fact, most days the support hose on my left side felt worse, and I still had a lot of deep throbbing pain at the end of the day, even if I hadn’t worked a whole day. So when the nurse called me and asked if I was still having pain and did I want to proceed with the left leg I said YES.

To be fair, my right leg is improved. It doesn’t have pain at the end of the day. The bruising has greatly reduced. I will keep wearing a compression sleeve on that side.

Of course the only day my leg surgeon was available this month was six days before the hysterectomy. I thought about it for a bit because on one hand, I knew it would be hard to have two procedures done in one month, but on the other, I can only take so much time off work and they both involve some resting, so I might as well go for it.

Stripping is what it sounds like. They yank the vein out. For whatever reason they didn’t send me prescriptions for Xanax, an antibiotic, and numbing cream beforehand like they were supposed to, but I never let that hold me back from having a good time. The doctor had me check the ingredients in Versed and then dosed me up with a little of that. It was nice because I was nervous when I came in, and then in about five minutes I didn’t care about the tugging sensations and snapping noises I heard below my knee.

My heart rate went up really high for a few minutes (histamine dump?). I felt myself getting sleepy in the chair as they were working on me. My Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses were kicking in. I had to walk for 20 minutes post-procedure and then I was yawning and barely awake all the way home. I came home and shut the fuck down. My body went NOPE and I went to that really swift mast cell narcolepsy place where I’m asleep in 30 seconds. Minor trauma buys me a 20 minute trip to BuhByeport, but this had me out for an hour and a half. I did not get corned! No hives! Good job leg clinic! It was just regular old trauma that caused me to degranulate and knock out, ha ha.


Hole up and camp? Y

I have eight small incisions in my leg now. I had to wear bandages and thigh-high compression hose for 24 hours, and then I was allowed to take a shower last night. My nurse told me watery blood coming through the bandages was okay, because that was leakage from the saline solution they pump around the vein, but bright, original recipe blood was not. I did have some real deal breakthrough bleeding on one incision that came all the way through the gauze wrap, but it looked like it stopped pretty early. I’m guessing it happened the first afternoon/night when animals were jumping on me before I could stop them.

I’m already making it around okay, but I don’t want to overdo it. Just sitting here, or walking around the house, I’m not in any pain currently. I took the dogs for a short walk yesterday with my sister and it was fine. The nurse told me to “stay on top of pain” by taking pain killers 3x a day, because supposedly the pain peaks today or tomorrow. I am able to take Goody’s powders since they don’t seem to contain corn. Tonight is Strudel’s birthday dinner and I probably won’t be making sushi this year, but I’ll help with the menu.

This morning as I was waddling around like Danny Devito’s Penguin, I kept wondering why my left leg was messed up but not my right. What happened in there? Was it congenital? Did I stand and walk unevenly? Probably. It doesn’t matter. I go back in a week for a check in, then 60 days, then on 90 days they do laser cleanup with any bruising that’s still visible. So not only should I have way less pain, but it will also look like the gorilla stopped squeezing me.


After I took off the compression stocking and Coban. Ruh roh, blood.


Top of leg (duh)


Black line is a sharpie road map for the surgeon.

Don’t fight over me, boys and girls, there’s plenty to go around.

B. Give head, stop breathe, get up, check your weave

Surgery #2 rundown: it’s on like Donkey Kong. The plan is sutures, sutures, sutures instead of mesh, which is forever. They are dissolvable and probably made of corn, but it’s unavoidable I guess. So it could be a rocky 3-6 months. Or not. I have no idea! Basically my vagina and bladder are getting Croydon facelifts. They will make about five incisions and fish all the uterine and fallopian tube chunks out through those like a claw machine and the Operation game had a GD baby. My ovaries are staying put.

An amazing thing happened. They are going ahead with the mast cell surgical protocol, which involves Benadryl and Prednisone in the IV. I think we’ve found IV antibiotics without dextrose as well. They want to keep me overnight to observe my reactions to things. I’m bringing my own sheets, gowns, and food. I’m also bringing signs to remind people not to put dextrose in my IV. This is largely thanks to work Corn Allergy Girl has done.

I had my last pre-op call with a nurse and I asked her if I could have a private room to avoid other people’s fragrances, food, and whatnot. She said she would put a request in, but that most of the rooms were private. This of course triggered a nightmare that night where I was in a giant ward with 12 people, including a naked guy who was beating off in his bed when I came to. His dick was nightmarishly large, like an eggplant. WHAT. I tried to get back to sleep, but I realized my bed was covered in glittery powder that looked and smelled like LUSH bath bomb dust. The nurse was mean. Horace was there, but he was trying to stamp on my incisions. HELLO ANXIETY. I SEE YOU.

C. Cover your mouth up like you got SARS

Last weekend I went to California. I had a talk with myself and made a mini-bucket list before surgery. What do Asshole want to do?

1. Rice for dinner three nights in a row
2. Visit Shannon and see Jen if she’s not busy. I also saw Michael and we went to the Columbarium (as you do) and the Legion of Honor.

Tiny Bucket List Achieved!

Shan’s husband was giving Jen a ride home after dinner and I was riding along. She asked me why I showed up just then since I hadn’t visited anyone in, like, four years, and it’s hard (but not impossible) for me to stay with people.

“Uhh…you know, in case I die or something in surgery. It’s unlikely! But I wanted to see Shan.”

“So this is your End of the World Tour?”

“Yes!”

“Oh that’s so nice. I want to be someone’s End of the World Tour.”

“Well, you were on my list too,” I said.

California is my place I’m always happy even if I’m a wreck. Which I wasn’t. The plane and airport gave me hives coming and going, but I had a great time at her house.

So if you see me tweeting/gramming on or after March 15th you’ll know I made it. I will also try to blog again soon as I am recovering. I have to recover, because Krumpy and I are planning to do a podcast together (first record tomorrow I hope!) and I HAVE to see that through.

Being 40 is going pretty well so far and I am doing a lot of maintenance and rehab on my broken parts that diet and prayers to Our Dark Lord cannot fix. Dig it: 1. ancient filling replaced with tooth crown finally ; 2. uterus OUT; 3. Painful legs OUT; 4. I’ve been getting my painful face flushy veins zapped, which I don’t think I mentioned, so my face doesn’t hurt 5x a day; 5. therapy ongoing and necessary; 6. Flying to Corvallis to see mast cell specialist later this month.

I’m not going down without a fight.

I’m No Longer Watching Her

My sister was driving me to IKEA on a day that we both had off. Work’s been really slow and I often get cut just in time to get stuck in normal rush hour, before the northbound express lanes open. But not this day–it was a small field trip mostly to gawk at the store’s remodel and an excuse to hang out.

The freeway was lit with that strange Seattle late fall light that looks yellow and cuts through the clouds at an angle so you feel like someone’s holding a giant filtered spotlight on part of the city. There was a good blow on too so on stretches of the freeway the leaves were tumbling along with us at 60 mph before destroying themselves on retaining walls and under truck wheels.

Morgan looked beautiful in silhouette, in the sepia light. I could see the fine lines that are forming on her delicate skin that are making a record of her life. I imagined her drawing on a cigarette, as I had seen many times before. I imagined her eating. I imagined her crying. I imagined her mouth wrapped around a child’s pacifier as I had seen many times.

She turned her head toward me briefly and I saw the vertical scar on her upper lip perfectly illuminated for a second. I forget about it for months and years at a time until it pops out. I see it even less now that she quit smoking three years ago.

Morgan was small when it happened, just beginning to pull up. I remember her creeping around our living room one day and my mother hissing at me where I sat on our massive sectional, reading the TV Guide cover-to-cover as I did every week: “Watch her!” My mother was on the phone, wandering around the dining room and out of sight. I got sucked back in to reading about what Tony Danza was up to in his spare time.

I saw Morgan fall out of the corner of my eye, followed by the blunt smack of flesh meeting a hard surface and then a wail. My mother swore, put the phone down, and came back into the room. I rushed over to pull Morgan up and there was blood all over her mouth. She had cracked her face on the sharp wooden corner of our giant television. I wondered if she would go to the hospital like I did when the dart machine fell on me and split my head open.

By this time my mother was off the phone. “I TOLD YOU TO WATCH HER!” This was my fault. Every time I saw the bandage and then the angry red scar for the next few years, I felt a twinge of guilt. I should have been watching her.

In grad school Franny was small and I was burning the candle. Now was the time to make a big push, I reckoned. I was still so young so it was okay to work and take too many classes and spend time with Franny whenever I could. I had a night class and I would come home and work on papers or reading and then I had the day off home to continue the unending slog through books and papers. In the morning SeaFed was gone, pretending to drive his taxi but becoming increasingly disinterested in working again.

I remember always getting sleepy around ten o’clock, just in time for Sesame Street. I would twiddle the bunny ears on our 19″ teevee to make PBS as clear as possible. I poured a cup of Cheerios for Franny and would lie down on the couch, bending my knees and locking her in behind them. I would doze but would snap awake if she tried to move out of her little fort. If I was lucky I could steal a 15 minute nap in this way.

It always made me think of Morgan, too. She liked being trapped behind my legs like this. We would play “prisoner” over and over when I was 12. My legs would swing shut, locking her onto the couch and say, “You’re my prisoner!” She would scream “PRITNER!” and laugh. Or she would pretend she was driving a car and my legs were the door and then the dashboard.

The phone rang, snapping me out of my short nap. It was red and a cord attached it to the wall, and no one could get through if I had the dial up internet on. Franny was where I’d put her, in a trance, watching Elmo, methodically eating one Cheerio after another. It was my mother. I’m sure I sounded groggy when I answered.

“I’m just hanging out with the kid,” I said. She sounded a little odd, but I was disinterested in unpacking her mood. I don’t remember what she wanted.

Later my sister, who was 15 then, told me that my mother rang off and immediately said, “I think she was asleep!”

“And?” my sister said, or some variation on that. Due to a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and decent experiences, my sister trusted my parenting.

“She should be watching her!”

A few months later, my sister was spending most of her spare time at my house, even though we were in the middle of unending reno hell and there was only a couch for her to sleep on. SeaFed didn’t really notice or care; at times his obliviousness was advantageous. I think I needed my sister around as much as she needed me then.

She’s been a great source of support for me lately, which still surprises me. Now she’s watching over me. She reads between the lines on my texts: “Everything ok?”

No, not really. This is hard to say and I’ve been trying to say it for almost a month: Franny moved out before Thanksgiving and in with her dad.

I have to pull away from this sentence before my melt onto my dining room floor and ugly cry until I die of dehydration. So.

I’ve been experiencing waves of anger over the last few weeks that I think are kind of protecting me and keeping me functional so I’m not just a big wound constantly, and I can do things like go to work and buy groceries. The things that feel so stupid and pointless but are kind of reassuring because you know that life is going to go on.

I also don’t like this feeling, though. It’s like a death in that every meal you make that the missing person liked but is not eating with you, or every little change you make to your house, or every passing day is a brick in the path that takes you away from that person you miss, leaving them in the blurry past.

I am crying again, I need to pull away from this again, so I will be shitty and angry: SeaFed, who has relinquished himself to his father’s care, has been gifted some kind of large property on his island with multiple mother-in-law cottages. It sounds like their previous house was kind of melting due to age, neglect, and poor DIY repair work. His father used to attempt to set him up in business, either at an office or working for himself. Now I think he’s just resigned himself to being his carer. I think there will probably be a trust set up after his father dies.

It’s like the movie The Truman Show. I think everyone around him is invested in the appearance of SeaFed being a functional adult, and this is how it works for them. I was not ever good at participating in this charade, although I realize I could be a lady of leisure on an island in my own compound if I could have played along.

I had another realization recently that SeaFed is a high-functioning autistic. I think his mother was autistic, and it sounds like his grandfather was too. (Leslie you know it’s true and it’s too late now. Get you-know-who tested.)

I spoke with Franny about these thoughts a few months ago and she seemed somewhat reassured that there could be a reason that her father wasn’t very engaged with her life nor did he remember what her health conditions were, so couldn’t accommodate her. What I was saying made sense to her. At the same time, I feel like this possibility made her angry. I think it was hard for her to reframe the narrative of her situation with her father and see him as someone who had a reason for being limited beyond just thoughtlessness. I remember her being ten or so and saying out of the blue, “I think there’s something wrong with my dad.” She was right that he’s not typical.

In the first couple of years we were married, I remember SeaFed’s father expressed relief a couple of times that I’d come into his life and seemed to be steering the ship. They had reached their wit’s end with him as a teenager when he really dialed into his dual talents of wasting someone else’s hard-earned money and his penchant for petty criminality. Here was someone who could take them off his hands. Maybe he would get his act together now.

My increase in responsibility happened bit by bit. When I met SeaFed, I had no idea how to adult beyond knowing that I had to have a job and write a rent check every month. He would take me out places and not pay parking. I didn’t have a car and I came from a village where you could pretty much park on a cow or a corn or in the middle of the road if you felt like it, but I was fairly certain the signs reading “PAY HERE” hanging in the lots with numbered spots had an implied “This means you, buddy” ring to them.

“Don’t you need to pay to park?” I asked. What a rube I was then.

He would shrug. “Nah it’s fine.”

After we were married he got a collections notice for hundreds of dollars of unpaid parking tickets in Oregon from when he was 18, plus fees, plus bonus threats of credit ruination. He was spending a lot of time in Portland and parking willy-nilly as he did in Seattle.

“Why didn’t you pay these?” I asked.

Same shrug. “It’s a different state so I just thought I wouldn’t go back there so whatever.” He didn’t care, since he was all-cash druglord lifestyle at the time.

I think I married an idiot, I thought. I started paying the bills and doing the taxes. Later I thought I’d married a sociopath, due to his lack of interest in me and cavalier care of Franny. You know how that came out.

So Franny left in the middle of the night (11 is the middle of the night when you wake up before 4 a.m.). We had been fighting that night and the tension had been increasing between us for the past few months. Franny hits walls when she doesn’t want to do something. She may tell you she’ll do it, or that she’s doing it to get you off her back, but in the end, she does what she wants.

A friend used to watch her for me while I was at school. Franny was about to turn three. If Franny didn’t like something, she would stop short, not move, and stare you down impassively. My friend, who had extremely verbal children who could tell you off six ways from Sunday, and were no strangers to the well-timed tantrum, was amazed by this Ghandi act. They nicknamed her The Mountain.

I’d been getting Mountains of bullshit from Franny for the past year.

Are you going to start going to class again?
-Yes of course

Are you going to take the SAT this time?
-I would have but the bus had an accident

How about this time?
-Well this time the bus didn’t come

What about that make up work that you need to do before June?
-I’ll do it

You didn’t do your make up work. How are you going to graduate?
-I can make it up my senior year

What’s your senior project going to be?
shrug

Are you going to apply for the library again like you said you would?
shrug

Finally, near the end, some honesty. She told me she didn’t want to take the SAT. She didn’t want to go to university, which her grandfather would pay for. She didn’t want to get a job. She wanted to attend community college and live at home. I remembered her father going to community college several times in fits and starts and always flunking out after the withdrawal period was over. I knew she would dwindle down to one class and just kind of turn into a directionless fungus on the wifi all day.

Oh no, I thought. You are becoming your father and it is like the cold knife of the past is going through me. Did I want to take the role of SeaFed’s father, his carer forever, regardless of wives, children, the appearance of productivity and normalcy? This was hard.

A reliable witness saw her smoking and told me. Now the knife was twisting. Her, with the breathing problems and doctor visits and asthma inhalers and lung pain. When this sort of thing happens, every cell in a parent’s body screams out: I TOLD YOU NOT TO MAKE THE SAME STUPID MISTAKES I DID! That was kind of the last straw.

“You cannot live with me if you’re going to do nothing,” I told her. “I can help you move in with your dad and you can do nothing at his house.” I may have said that louder and with more fuck-bombs than I’ve represented here. Then I went downstairs to my bathroom and cried on the bathmat for about three hours and went to bed. Then she packed a bag and left. I know I am a terrible person (see title).

She is living in one of the mother-in-laws in SeaFed’s Retirement Villa and Jazz Ranch.

(Pete said, “I want to do nothing and get a house!” Amen brother.)

I was getting text and email updates from SeaFed that were cheery in tone, like a Christmas newsletter from your neighbor that leaves a sour taste in your mouth because you know how many times the cops came out. SJ, everything is under control. It’s handled. I’ve got this parenting thing in the bag. Girl you crazy and now it’s SeaFed’s time to shine.

He was telling me how great everything was, and how he was in communication with Franny’s advisor and she only has a little bit of makeup work, and she’s feeling great and doesn’t even seem sick! She’s super on track to graduation! She’s making her own meals! This sounded familiar. “Of course we are in the honeymoon period,” he conceded.

SeaFed has this paradoxical tendency to try to scam people (passing off lemon cars, stealing from past employers, etc) while imputing the best motives in other people, like Franny who has turned up on his doorstep after not speaking to him for over a year and now is being the perfect angel baby. It’s probably good he claims to have quit doing crime, because I had never known a more credulous criminal.

I face-palmed after realizing that I’d chased her off to a situation where she had been rewarded with her own apartment, instead of living with a family who she’d be accountable to. On the other hand, me being straight with her about SeaFed has probably made her realize she cannot really rely on anything but her father’s access to money.

I finally replied to him and included her on the email as well, since she’s almost an adult and I wanted her to hear what I had to say. I told him I was in the same position a year ago. That she only had a little makeup work to do and she was reassuring me she would finish everything, but didn’t. Now she’s behind from junior year and her absences this year. I told him that she has up periods where she seems fine and then has a huge energy crash and misses school, and that she’s probably going to need to learn to balance her disabilities and self-care herself, since my advice and interventions didn’t seem to help.

I put her on blast and said that I had been contacting her about arranging to pick up her stuff and she was ignoring me, and that I was hoping she would get it out of here before xmas. SeaFed immediately made arrangements to pick up her boxes.

He said “thanks for the input” about the school and lying stuff and was probably too tired from patting himself on the back for his gold star parenting to say more. He asked me for her medical records (she needs to request them herself at her age anyway), and I told him this was the last time I was going to deal with him as her go-between, and that she knows how to get in touch with me if she needs anything, and muted the email.

She’s blocked me on Instagram and told Strudel we are Nazis and that we’re reading their texts (false, I’m just good at guessing the obvious). Also that she is never going to speak to me again.

Somewhere my terrible mother sat bolt upright in bed next to her 14th fiance and said, “AHA VENGEANCE IS MINE!”


In Other News

Let’s have something cheerier, like an update on my impending hysterectomy. I had to have something called a urodynamics test. This is to see what’s what with your bladder and how much urine you’re leaking if everything is normal (meaning uterus UP!), if any.

You come into a room with a fake toilet in it and you have to pee in the middle of a room into this fake toilet, which gives you a weird unhousebroken feeling.

Then they weigh that and see if there’s any pee left in your bladder via ultrasound. Then, Lidocane goes in your urethra, so you know something bad’s going to happen to that guy: camera catheter!

I saw the inside of my bladder.

“Oh god, gross,” I said. The nurse laughed.

“It’s not gross!” my doctor said. “It’s a great bladder. We’re going to turn to the left and see that hole?” Oh no ugh please stop “That’s where the pee comes in from your kidneys.” The hole opened and sphinctered itself shut again. “See, some pee just came in.”

Then we drove upwards (north??) and I saw the bulge of where my uterus was just chilling on my bladder, making a big-ass dent in it. It was like, enough already, lady. No wonder I never feel like I’m quite finished peeing.

Then I got a pessary jammed up to hold up my uterus to see how my bladder would function under normal conditions. This involved more catheters and a bunch of sensors. My bladder was filled slowly with mystery liquid that I forgot to ask about and was probably corny. I had to cough at points.

“Let me know when you first feel your bladder filling up. Ok, can you relax a little and not hold yourself up on the edge like that?”

“Sorry, I am trying not to run away,” I said. Her nurse thought I was hilarious at this point.

“Now I want you to tell me two more things: when you first feel like you have to go, and then, when you have to go SO BAD that if there were bears outside your tent you would still run out and pee.”

“Ok.”

There was more coughing. “Are you leaking?” I wasn’t. Everything seems to behave when my bladder isn’t involved. She was trying to distract me by asking about Ehlers-Danlos in my family and who had a normal uterus and who had other problems.

“Um I think I’m at bears,” I interrupted.

“You’re at a gas station and it’s all dark and no one’s around! Do you get out of the car?”

“I GO TO THE MURDERERS.”

WAS MY BLADDER GOING TO POP? I felt like she was Willy Wonka and we were on that hellboat. “There’s no earthly way of knowing/when I’m going to rupture one of your major organs…”

Finally she stopped, there was more coughing, and then she wanted me to pee to see how much would come out. I could not make myself pee into the catheter, so she took it out, and I went again, in the middle of a room as if that’s normal.

“Oh good, more volume than what I put it. It’s all working great.”

As I dressed I stared at this painting.

I went home and degranulated and felt very ill for the rest of the night. I’m guessing there was dextrose in the saline? I managed to look up the antibiotic she gave me and saw that it’s corny so I declined to take it.

She left the pessary in because it was a great relief to have my uterus in place for the first time in years, but it started dislodging at work the next day (of course). I was using a welding machine when I felt like I was going into labor. So much fucking pain. I pulled it out in the loo, wrapped it up, and threw it away since it obviously doesn’t fit right. It was a nice twelve-hour break.

Next I get to research which pain meds and antibiotics I can use if any. They won’t operate on me without preventive antibiotics, of course. Luckily I have Corn Allergy Girl’s great guides. They are willing to operate without installing meshes, which is good.

May is Rare Disease Unawareness Month

Paralysis! I’ve been wanting to write, or to scream my thoughts into a bucket at least, but I’ve just been dealing with a lot of changes. Sometimes I miss audioblogging. Previously on I, Asshole: I’ve been living with assorted aches, pains, and fatigue for most of my life, which seemed to have evolved into extreme and mysterious “allergies” after I got sick and had the attack in Maui in 2014. I kind of hit the wall recently on just putting up with things.

This has all kicked off because I’ve been attempting to have OTC medications compounded, because many of the useful ones, like cold medication, are filled out with cornstarch. I can take a tiny pill, like a Benadryl, and get immediate allergy relief, but then have days of whatever grab bag of problems my body decides to shit on me.

This spring I hit the limit with what insurance will cover, because of FDA restrictions on compounding and whatnot. We’re looking at $135 for a bottle of Tylenol. I asked a well-respected allergy blogger if she knew anything about compounding and workarounds, and she told me that she didn’t know much, but that masto/mast cell disease people knew a lot about these things, and I should check out their forums.

Mast cells? Masto? I had never heard of any of this. I had a look to see if I had anything in common with them…uh oh. Oh shit. Ok. Something to look into.

I’d been in this limbo where I’ve been telling people I have allergies, or at least allergic reactions, and kind of muscling through. I was kind of frankenpatched together with amphetamines. If I didn’t take them I would probably be unable to stop myself from sleeping sixteen hours a day.

So I was interested that maybe there is this tribe of people who had the same weird problems we did, and maybe this explained what my grandmother had too. We could work with this.

Of course things got worse. Take me, universe, I say. I am already ruined. The universe is not content with this, and neither is the time bomb that is my family genes. Franny has been getting sicker, exhibiting weird symptoms that I’ve never had. She had an “attack” in April that was similar to my Maui attack, and spent most of spring break in bed with a fever. In the past year her cousin, who is the infamous Auntie Jaguar’s daughter, got very sick too, showing similar symptoms.

Strudel is also having aches, pains, and fatigue, in addition to the allergy problems. Both of the girls are challenged by the fact that they go to school with kids who are covered in perfumes, fabric softeners, carrying energy drinks, cafeteria smells, eating corn chips in class, whatever.

We’re working on diagnoses with the girls right now. I’m not quite ready to discuss what it looks like it is for Franny, and what her cousin has already been diagnosed with.

I also had another realization recently, finally, along the theme of me tolerating not-so-great situations for way too long but then being spurred into action when my children are affected (see also: my divorce). We are in the process of separating from my long time doctor as well. I realized I was spinning my wheels with her and she’s not really helping us move forward.

I’ve been complaining about fatigue and joint pain back to 2010 at least, and I get some variation on “Hmm, that’s weird,” from her, and then get a basic blood panel which shows everything is normal (hooray, but also not helpful). Recently she had me run through a blood panel again, as well as the tests for autoimmune disease, which where all negative/normal. I feel like we’ve already been down this road in 2014 when I was tested for lupus, etc, so I was unsurprised to see I don’t have markers for autoimmune. This is good that my body is not attacking itself, per se.

I asked for an additional test, which is a standard starting point for identifying mast cell problems. There was a lot of dithering from her office about how to bill for it and even if she should order it and that she couldn’t interpret it when it came back. Fine, I said. Finally I said I would pay for it out of pocket, and sure enough, the test result was high/abnormal.

I’m kind of glad I lived through the 90s, when no one I knew between the ages of 18 and 35 had health insurance. It makes me a lot more prone to just trying shit when doctors are unhelpful. I started taking antihistamines, and ramping up to pretty high doses, which are recommended for people with mast cell issues. Within a week I started feeling better. I encouraged the girls to up their doses as well. It is hard to overdose or harm yourself with OTC antihistamines.

Franny is connected with a good allergist and immunologist who has recommended the same for her. I’m now taking Zyrtec three times a day, and I notice if I miss a dose. I am taking Zantac twice a day, which has an offlabel use as an antihistamine. I am also taking a supplement called quercetin which is doing wonders for reducing the painful facial flushing I would get several times a day.

A thing I haven’t been writing about this winter and spring, because it’s been very disheartening, is the doctor-go-round I’ve been on with Franny. Our doctor did make referrals to a few different places, like a pediatric cardiologist for her palpitations and chest pain. He suggested the rare disease she appears to have, then dismissed it and told us it was anxiety. The good news was her heart has been declared normal. We did see a different allergist who did a scratch test that showed no “true” allergies to food and told her she should start eating dairy, wheat, and corn again and that her problem was anxiety. This “hey, it’s all in your head” stuff is kind of a theme with some specialists, I’ve heard.

At this point we’re waiting on some genetic testing for Franny, which I am told might indicate which levers we can pull medically to help. There’s some weird stuff in my family history, but it looks like the origin for this was SeaFed’s genes (considering Franny’s cousin is having similar problems) plus the cool genes of the people they got with. A nice thing is that it seems like SeaFed’s family doesn’t have mast cell problems, because my very rudimentary understanding of how this can work is that if mast cell people breed you can end up in the land of mastocytosis and not being able to breathe much.

As usual life is a combination of a turd burger with a really bomb side of sweet potato fries. I am finally getting to the bottom of the family curse, and based on testing it looks like I have wacky mast cells that sometimes keep it real…Harold Smith…around here, which I’ve passed on to the girls.

On the other hand, it looks like we’re probably not going to flip over to the cancer or anaphylaxis type of mast cell problems. Franny had a little epiphany recently that the sheep cheese we’ve been eating for over a year now was probably bothering her–her lips were swelling when we were having pizza night. I stopped eating it with her and lo, my joint pain that had come back and not gone away for three months cleared up in a couple of days. And this is after eating cheese and yogurt for over a year and tolerating it fine. So we’re all feeling better lately and I’ve been doing a ton of gardening, which is something I’ve missed.

Right now I’m taking a ton of pills every day, some of which will probably be with me forever (antihistamines). There’s the turd burger. On the other hand, the lower my histamine level seems to be in my body, the sharper my brain and memory is. I’m also dropping about a pound a week without really trying. My appetite is lower and I feel full faster on a reasonable amount of food. Being inflamed seems to make me puffy and hang on to weight, even when counting calories. Ultimately, I’d love it if I could stop taking Adderall and have normal energy levels on my own, and a normal, non-fuzzy brain.

This spring has been a really big deal. After almost 40 years of being sick, I’m starting to get a clue and acknowledge the fact that I’m chronically ill and not going to get over it. I’m also thinking about what this means for my girls for the rest of their lives. But it’s starting to feel more manageable now that I know where most of the rakes in the grass are.

I have been emailing with SeaFed a little to keep him up to date on Franny and her symptoms, which I’ve being doing intermittently for a few years now. He hasn’t made much of a response to any of it, at least not to the extent Franny would like (meaning making more of an effort to prevent her from getting ill when she was visiting him and remembering or acknowledging what her issues were). He forwarded me an email from his sister after Franny’s cousin got her diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic. It included a list of what was going on with the girl and how they tied to her diagnoses. “This list made me think of Franny and her symptoms,” he wrote. “What a coincidence.”

It humored me to read that, as SeaFed used to say.

I’m sure I’ve had enough to know when I have had enough

Soo I had a memory of posting sometime in December, but apparently I didn’t. I’m trying to set writing on my calendar now and I’m hoping it’ll be easier now that the holidays are over. Also now that I’ve made so many changes to my house and life. I went through a big teardown period where I noticed everything that was wrong or broken or dirty and I had to fix it. Not in a OOooOOH METH way, though. I swear. I just needed systems and some order again. And to internalize what life felt like when it wasn’t on hard mode.


I know just how Horace feels. I don’t want to leave my warm bed either, even if someone is trying to make it.

I’ve got about 12 new perspectives on things. That’s not just my usual blizzard of ideas, either. (Okay maybe the inside of my head is still blizzardy in sections). It’s that my brain is working differently. I can look at something I’ve looked at for years and see a totally new solution to it. This is keeping me pretty busy. I’m also trying to find time to just fuck off and feel good about it. WHICH I DO.

The biggest change after the white noise falling out of my head is getting my energy back. The one daily dose of Adderall I was on worked for my brain and getting things right at my job, but it was wearing off after about six hours. After a normal day of work, I would limp around and my back would hurt, and I’d be exhausted. I’d be exhausted on days I didn’t work, either. (I was exhausted before when I worked in an office too.)

The second dose that I take at lunch is finally getting me up to bedtime. I am a reasonable amount of tired after work, but I don’t feel broken or extremely sore. I thought that was normal, since I’ve felt this way since I had standing jobs in high school and college. Hell, I was tired out as a young kid. I used to force myself to exercise for years, too, because I thought that would give me more energy like everyone said. It never really did and I often injured myself doing relatively minor things (like cleaning my house) no matter how fit I was.

This is the vaguest, most unscientific explanation, but I have been reading that malfunctioning brain receptors don’t just affect mood and focus, but can also affect how your body deals with pain and energy. I think I was a flickering bulb with dirty connections before. It’s been astounding and a huge relief to me that speed is bridging the gap in there.

I shared a house with my mother briefly when I was in my early 20s and I was pregnant with Franny. She was around my age now and I remember her being in chronic pain and in bed very early every night, and not sleeping well. She was often in bed by 8 or 9 when I was in high school too. At some point after her early 30s, she just kind of…ran out of gas. She was given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which I had my doubts about. “She’s just getting old,” I told my sister, like an ignorant asshole. My sister was having chronic pains, too, and doubted what I was saying, I think, though at 13 she was less likely to disagree with me about anything.

By the time my grandmother was my age, she was finished working for the rest of her life. She was dizzy, in pain, slept poorly, and lived on black coffee and cigarettes. They took one of her inner ears, thinking it would help with her Meniere’s disease diagnosis. (I had vertigo and tinnitus for 20+ years until I stopped eating corn and assumed I had inherited her condition.) I don’t know if she was collecting disability, but she probably should have been. I was worried I was heading in that direction myself.

Now that my own oxygen mask is on, I’m trying to help Franny with her health issues. It seems that she’s gotten my dud wrists and we’re exploring carpal tunnel surgery, before she goes to college. I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but I took her a few months ago to have a vein in her nose cauterized and her chronic nosebleeds that she’s had since she was two stopped. I’d like it if the stuff I suffered with for years (especially related to my digestion) could just be avoided for them. We’re working on her breathing issues as well. I’m hoping life doesn’t have to be hard mode for the girls.

SO. What have I been doing since Thanksgiving.


BYE UGLY

1. In addition to taking blurry cameraphone photos (sigh), my stove died. HOORAY! This was early December. I was making pizza as usual on Saturday night and when I took the last one out and turned off the broiler, it wouldn’t turn off without being unplugged. We are going to redo the kitchen, I hope starting this summer, so we talked about whether we wanted to try to repair this oven, which we didn’t like, or spring for a new one now. We sprung.

I have never had a new stove, let alone one I loved. I was incubating this fantasy of putting in a double oven on one wall and just having a gas cooktop, but my kitchen is not terrifically large as it is. It turns out that double ovens are kind of a thing now, which I had no idea about. There is more available burner space on top, as well as a long oven burner in the middle for a griddle or a big gravy pan. As a bonus the lower stove is so low that Mere can watch bacon cook. It just cooks better. No more random burnt cookies.

It is very interesting having serious food allergies and living without a stove for a few days. We did a lot of microwaving and even some wintery grilling. In the past I would have just fucked off out to dinner.

2. Goethe got ill. She is my little trouble cat. Jail visits, face breakage, and now this. She was living to drink out of our leaking bathroom faucet and was getting matted fur. I worried that it was hyperthyroid or diabetes, but her blood etc came back normal and it looks like it is something common in cats, IBS. They are all on the nicest kibble but switching to wet food seems to have made her feel better immediately, and all the animals are enjoying being back on wet food. I went to kibble because the dogs were stealing the cats food, but I feel like this is something I have the energy to monitor now.

3. The basement is moving again. It’s never easy to work full time and do home renovation, but obviously we’ve had some challenges. Recently Pete dyed the floor a russet-y color of my choosing. We talked about making the color variegated, but neither of us had handled the dye before or knew exactly how it would turn out once it was try.

Well. I hated it.

See the kind of blotchy parts that look like spills? “Looks like a murder happened,” Franny remarked. “Several of them.” It’s not showing up in this photo, but the dark blotches were actually reflecting back a weird iridescent green. He got back in there with some water and a sponge and smoothed the transitions between the lighter and darker spots.

I like it a lot better now, and even more so after he sealed and waxed it. It’s hard to see because this is more of a glamour shot, but it turned out well. More photos to come.

Still on the to-do list is to find an egress diggin’ company, design the walk-in closet, replace the regular windows, hang a closet door, paint, and more. Piece of cake, RIGHT? Yikes.

4. Right before xmas we fucked off to Port Townsend, because they claimed they were having their Yuletide festival. We didn’t see the train rides or Victorian carolers, and the Victorian home tours were sold out by the day we left. Also the gingerbread house contest had about 3 entries. Get your shit together, Port Townsend.

But we had fun walking around in the falling snow.


Blurry! Bummer.


I bought a painting in a junk shop for my tropical bathroom paradise.


Last day of the farmer’s market.


In the Palace Hotel.

5. As part of my campaign to reorganize parts of my house, I tackled the pantry early one morning. It’s really more of a broom closet that Pete put shelves in when we moved in, because I guess all the other people who lived her before me were okay with a pretty small amount of kitchen storage. BUT WHERE DID THEY KEEP THEIR TAJINE? I said when I moved in. Ahem.

In the very very back of the original top shelf I found Spot Bee Gone!


It still had its Bon Marche price tag.


Made in Seattle!! The Henry Building was at 4th and University and Rainier Tower is there now.

6. Franny wanted to redo her room, so for Xmas I gave her a “gift certificate” entitling her to paint, curtains, and some new throw pillows. She wanted it to be less tweeny (pink, purple, orange, and yellow). Now it is a matoor blue.


Three lighter walls and one darker. “It’s not DONE!” she yelled when I came in. She is always a little dramatic when her boyfriend is over.

She’s also cleaned out a lot of her clutter and kid things she doesn’t use anymore, and we took a massive trip to Goodwill.

Her bedpost started to peel down to the color it was when we bought it and she’s picking at it. I think we put latex over oil paint. Whoops. I like this halfway look. It’s kind of representative of the metamorphosis she’s going through at the moment. I told her she can’t strip it yet because it needs to be done outdoors and it’s been too cold and wet.

7. Other than my everyday cooking, I haven’t been doing much. Xmas was pizza, and it was delicious. Strudel is obsessed with the old Harvest Moon games for Nintendo, and asked me if I knew anything about “moon dumplings.” I did not, but now I do!

I love mochi anything, and these were relatively quick and easy. We’re going to explore more dango now.

I’m not feeling particularly reflective on the new year or at the close of the old one as I often am. I will say because I had so much positive change this year (especially at the second half) that I don’t hate 2016 like a lot of people did. So I will just say: Happy new year!

Further adventures in getting my shit together

1.

Now that it is winter, a small brown hawk (or hawks) is visiting our yard and scaring the shit out of the chickens. I came home on Wednesday to do a quick Thanksgiving grocery/flowers drop off and bounce back out to a doctor’s appointment when I realized there were two chickens hiding under my porch shoe rack (very weird), but none of the other chickens were in evidence.


our lackluster decorating this year

I forgot the girls went downtown to have lunch with Pete, so no one had been home for a couple of hours. I called the chickens how I do when I want to feed them scraps and there was no movement. I have a pariah chicken that hides in the coop most of the time and I found her, so that made three of the eight. Then I saw the girls and Pete walking down the street from the bus stop and I asked them what was up. Nothing, they said, the chickens were there when they left.

I had to go but the girls said they would look around the neighborhood in case they had jumped over the fence. As it turns out, within an hour Franny was able to find them all in the yard, very very silently socked in to small crevices and under thick hedges. The good news is that they are bin Laden-level hide and seek experts, but the bad news is that if they hide like that and we don’t find them, they are likely to get picked off by a raccoon that night.

I suspect this is the same kind of hawk that struck Death Ray dead last winter, but Pete and I finally saw it recently. He saw it swooping into the yard and we saw it later being chased by crows. It’s too little to actually carry a chicken off.

This is weirdly frustrating. Could you at least eat what you terrify?

2.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving. I dithered on the menu until I ended up in the realm of completely traditional and boring and I was very okay with that. I butterflied and spatchcocked the turkey again this year. Apparently I did this last year and have ZERO memory of it. I do remember the car crash and that an entertaining was a Herculean effort due to feeling generally shitty and being depressed. Whee.


another year, another turkey. But, it was delicious again.

This year I super enjoyed myself for no real reason. Everything came together very easily and I didn’t make a schedule in five minute increments like I usually do, and I didn’t forget anything. I think I was also less interested in over-the-top food weirdness like I usually am. I’m starting to feel like I can direct my energy where it counts now, and save it sometimes when it doesn’t.

We had garden pumpkins saved from summer and I baked them for pie, like I sometimes do. I’m sure there’s a ton of traditional pumpkin pie recipes out there that don’t contain evaporated or sweetened milk but I didn’t feel like hunting one down. I took a peep in the Joy and found something called Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. It called for a custard, egg whites, and gelatin as a thickener/fluffiner, and it was nice and light without being at all rubbery. I had the last piece for breakfast Friday morning.

What I REALLY was looking forward to was the Gilmore Girls revival that dropped on Friday. I had a little party with the girls, my sister, and a friend, all of whom are superfans. I don’t have a ton to say about the show here. I think you have to accept Amy Sherman Paladino products for what they are. As many recappers and reviewers have pointed out when the show was on the air, it had plotholes ahoy as well as time and other logic problems. That pattern wasn’t really resolved in the revival. I was happy to spend more time with the characters and we all laughed and cried.

I made a Gilmore-inspired buffet and my guests hung through the first two episodes, which was three hours of viewing. I made pizza, Chinese food, a cake, and Pete made The Rory, which is a very pink cocktail that Emily had concocted for Rory’s 21st birthday. I made some deviled eggs benedict, as a nod to Emily’s fancy parties but also the episode where Lorelai and Rory devil egged Jess’s car. Franny made whoopie pies because they are chocolatey and marshmallowy and good.

My sister captured the “before” better than I did because I was buzzing around finishing things up, but I did get an after.



3.

For the first time ever, I seem to be able to successfully use list/task software consistently and well. I’ve always kept a calendar, and I kept a datebook while I was in school so I could turn things in on time, but other than that I was a little random and would struggle.

During my decline and fall in the corporate world, I tried kanban-ing and task listing and bullet diary-ing and anything I could think of to make sure things didn’t fall through the cracks. I would also spend time reading the bon mots of productivity gurus and then being annoyed by them and hating them and then hating myself. Then I realized I wasn’t always using my apps consistently or even remembering to update or even open them. Pretty disheartening. But now I find that if it goes on my task list, it gets done, if not day of, then the next day.

I’m using Epic Win at the moment. It’s simple, but good for me for recurring tasks (monthly dog and cat flea treatment) as well as daily ones like flossing. Yes, my task list includes flossing, something I often forgot or put off. Some day I hope it will be so ingrained I can take it off again.

I include one-offs on my task list as well. I decided today would be the day I would clean off my rain lamp so I can consign it.

I enjoyed owning a rain lamp for a short time until I realized that oily surface = dust nightmare, and it always smells like a melted crayon when I run it. Also, in the summer when it gets above 80 the oil starts to evaporate and leaves specks on the wall, table, pictures, the statuette in the lamp, and so on.

I told myself that if I cleaned it and made sure it was running well, and consigned it, I could begin the process of looking for a TV lamp. A few months ago I found the book mentioned in this article about the history of TV lamps. I thought it would be fun to replace the rain lamp with one. Just a little spot of tacky decorative light on the credenza and a lot less maintenance.

But anything like this was an uphill battle a couple of months ago. Please excuse this terrible metaphor, but I felt like much of my life was spent paying off blackmailers rather than going to the hideout and kneecapping the source of the problem. I had a lot of inertia going. I was sad my lamp was dusty and partly clogged, and making a mess on the wall in the hot part of the summer, but didn’t have the energy or organization to deal with it. My list kept getting longer and longer. Today it rolled up on my to-do list, I found that motivation lever and dealt with it in less than an hour. It’s still very weird and something I’m trying to get used to.

4.

Last week I had trade school for the first time. It was a mix of classroom time with basic math review (area, radius, fractions, decimals, etc), OSHA training, and some shop time. I found the shop time the most challenging because I knew what kind of metal bends or folds I wanted to produce, but not always which machines did what and how to use them.

We had to make a useless duct, which was kind of a nightmare on the first go round and turned out very poorly!

My teacher said, “Write your name on your duct!” but I was embarrassed so hedged a little.

By the time Friday rolled around I passed the written test since math, history, vocab, and so on is not my hurdle. I was nervous about the final shop project since all we had was a spec sheet, but it finally clicked. I finished last, but I did fine and finished well within the time limit.

On one hand school was WAY easier to sit still, pay attention, and focus on, than it was from first grade through grad school. On the other, I was not ready for the feeling of being back to something I haven’t done in over ten years. Fortunately it’s only a week at a time and they really want you to succeed.

This week I talked to a cool journeywoman who was doing trimble work on my jobsite for a couple of days. She remembered me from the women’s meeting in October. I told her about my shop challenges and she said, “Oh yeah, I remember that. I’ve told them how hard that is for shop newbies!” She said she was organizing some shop time for the women’s committee to come in and build small objects like toolboxes for outreach programs in high schools. She told me that is a great time to come into the shop and take pictures of the machines with a note about what they do as reference for later. GREAT IDEA.

Work’s going well. Life’s going pretty well. Drugs have been like a switch going on in my life. There’s a daily “FLICK” when they kick in and my thoughts get orderly and calm, but even when they wear off (by midmorning) my mood still stays pretty good over the course of 24 hours until I take another one. After they wear off, though, I feel my brain getting skippy and sludgy again, which makes me bored and grumpy. I’m working out what a second midday dose will look like.

My doctor wants to put me on something really low dose and reasonable for a second dose so I can get to sleep at night, which I think is a good idea, since I treasure my restful, unanxious sleep now. I have an interesting reaction with these drugs. I’ve discovered I can take speed and immediately go to sleep if I need or want a nap. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. I don’t think it’s going to interfere with my sleep. What fucks up my sleep is not being on drugs and being out of work. I used to need to be exhausted, like utterly destroyed to stay asleep or fall back to sleep after I’d snapped awake at 2 or 3 a.m. But ideally I do need my brain happy and my body at least tired.


me unmedicated

I’m still not pushing myself super hard to take on big projects or new hobbies or even get back to writing…yet. I want to motor along for a while until being happy and getting things done feels normal and not novel.

Welcome Back to the Blog and Make it a Cool Font

Other than Pete, I’m going to talk to you about this first.

When I was younger, my weight fluctuated a lot. When I was poor, I ate less and lost weight. Then I had more money, and I shoveled in General Tso like there was no Tsomorrow and gained weight. I had a well-meaning but completely ignorant go at vegetarianism for about nine years. I was never what I derisively called a “french fry vegetarian” but there were many nights that were just salad and some French bread. Close enough. Like many people, I was also very uneducated about nutrition in general, which is something I tried to correct after I had Franny (how do you feed a kid? Let’s read several books on the topic and then get more confused).

So you take an ignorant person who’s not eating enough fat or protein, and combine that with mysterious and random pains and extreme tiredness, making it hard to exercise, and that person’s weight fluctuates. It was frustrating to me and of course I blamed myself. IF ONLY I could get my shit together and eat right and exercise, I would think. Everything would fall into place. That was the lie I told myself. I was on the right track, though. Everyone needs a good diet and exercise, but especially me, as it turns out.

For the most part, I fixed it. This is not news to you. The nutrition part was absolutely involuntary, but critical, and the exercise part is forced but, of course, voluntary with my career change. I’m very glad about those two things.

I thought some kind of magical transformation would take place once I started feeling better physically. I was super glad I was feeling so much better, and like I might want to and enjoy living past 50. But I felt like my progress bar was stuck on 79% or so, spinning, spinning…. I was depressed at times. Completely bored with my life but not wanting to or able to go back out into restaurants, bars, and movie theatres multiple times a week. I wasn’t suddenly going to discover rock climbing or anything. If I stayed home or worked outside, I felt better. But anxiety was still there, jabbing me, especially if I had to go out and function in the (corny) world. A visit to the movies could leave me in tears or vomiting, or both. I also knew I wasn’t functioning as well as I could be even after getting the corn out of my system.

I’m at a point now where I can’t struggle against myself anymore. It’s too hard. I’ve hacked and self-medicated myself for many years and I’m tired of doing it all on my own. I had a talk with myself. I’m super good at these.

BRAIN: Remember when we were on speed all the time and got so much stuff done and could remember people’s names and wanted to write bad scifi and there weren’t piles everywhere and people liked us and we could answer the phone?

Me: We don’t do that anymore, brain, now we have carrots and zinc supplements. Plus I think we were an acquired taste even then.

BRAIN: Yes but you have class coming up and things to memorize and your children are starting to work around your bad memory….

Me: SHUT UP SHUT UP

BRAIN: Maybe we could pretend…wait, what was I saying? You know what would be great right now? Getting into the shower and crying.

Me: We already did that today

BRAIN: You should get a tattoo! Or just start tatting. Tat-a-tat tippicanoe…

Me: ??? Thanks for nothing, asshole

Brain: *Hold please*

But my horrible, traitorous brain got me thinking. Speed and copious amounts of coffee was the only thing that kept me functional before I figured out I was allergic to life. Ready, this is where it gets REALLY pathetic.

Maybe…maybe I could FAKE adhd to get a legal script for speed. I started looking at signs and symptoms of adhd. I started reading message boards about people who have faked their way into the various drugs. I started reading people’s stories. Uh oh.

This was the lightbulb moment: I think…I actually HAVE adhd and wouldn’t need to fake anything. Shit.

I got tested a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Squirm factor rating was “Court” but with less emotional anguish. Think about a cavalcade of small tasks that you hate to do the most and do that for about three hours. For me it was things like mental math and memorizing, reordering, and reciting strings of letters and numbers. I kind of wanted to run out of the room. The battery was very thorough. And in the end, yes, inattentive adhd. I was honest about using stimulants for years and how they got me through graduate school and the doc said, “Yes, the fact that they work for you so well adds to the evidence that you have it.”

She said something insightful to me that made me feel a lot better and lose a lot of the guilt and shame of my lifelong, sad struggling. This goes way back, pretty much back to everything that happened after kindergarten. My complete disinterest in school, ever doing homework, complying with authority, being told I was smart but lazy. I was bored out of my mind, even in the face of new material (I had to really care about it to focus). Really my patterns of bad behavior were the origin for this blog. There are so many things I HAVEN’T told you about but that seal’s popping when Franny turns 18, ha.

What she said was pretty simple: “You told me you never did homework but skated into tests and passed them so they passed you on. You taught yourself what you wanted to out of books and ignored everything else. You’ve been successful at many things (referring to finishing grad school especially) and that’s because you’re smart. You’ve figured out how to cope.” She said she had one “aha” moment when I did well on the IQ test, pretty well on the memory tests, but as she watched me, she could see I was closing my eyes and chunking the numbers, like a phone number. I TANKED on the solo attention stuff. “You’re obviously better in a one-on-one setting,” she said, about my focus.

“This is the real me on no coffee,” I told her.

So now I get onto the (legal) medication-go-round. I feel so relieved. I am already having nicer conversations with my brain and trying to be more patient with it when I forget things right now or see a shiny thing. I am too old to think “YES THIS IS THE ANSWER NOW, we’re all done.” But based on my past experience I expect improvement. This is another lever I can pull.

Speaking of pulling people’s levers.

I did get Franny some actual factual birthday presents, but we hadn’t seen Mr. Coconut milk for a few months so I had to wrap it up. I was gratified by the “ARGGH” I was looking for.

I have a sixteen-year-old. Things are moving fast for her right now and it’s freaking her out. She’s leveling up. Her boyfriend has graduated and has a job. I took her to get a state ID the other day, which I figure she should have and will increasingly need. I turned over her social security card and implored her to memorize her number (she won’t). She is still volunteering at KEXP with her aunt but has just applied for her first paying job.

She asked me to shave part of her head last weekend, which I did. With the dog clippers, naturally.

I used to tease her about having a mohawk when she was little and it would always make her scream. I remember when my neighbor shaved most of my head in high school and my mother laughed at me until she was in tears. I still don’t get that reaction.

Franny’s flip phone is dying, and the “kid” service we have her on has gotten pretty lame. They no longer sell phones, and if you bring your own phone, it must meet a lot of criteria, like being older than one year, not certain models, etc. We don’t use any of the special features anymore either (we used to cut her texting off at a certain time of night so she would not have her sleep interrupted).

Pete, sensibly, doesn’t want to be a spurting artery of parental largesse for either of the girls, which is something I respect about him. We dithered about what to do. I thought about putting her on our phone service, but the reason it works for us is that it’s “pay for what you use” and we’re very light users (two lines, $45 a month on average). I knew her 5000+ monthly texts would really send us through the roof.

We made a deal with her. I told her I would buy her a very basic flip phone again, gratis, and she could pay for what she uses once she’s employed, which ideally will be before xmastime. I am also setting it up in the meantime so we get alert texts and features turn off if she goes near overages. Alternately she could buy herself a smartphone, and I would pay for text and talk, and when she gets a job we can turn on data and she can pay for the whole schmear. Naturally she went for the smart phone. I’m going to give her access to the usage page for our cell service as well so she can practice keeping an eye on that. As usual, trying to do the training wheels thing with her so adulthood doesn’t scream “BITE THE PILLOW, I’M GOING IN DRY” like it did for me.

Franny wanted to Do Something for her birthday, and we want to have more family trips, large or small, before she graduates. We haven’t gone anywhere since Maui Death Trip. We settled on a long weekend in L.A., which has Harry Potterport, Hollywood, and palm trees. Franny wanted to go to the Museum of Death as well. Strudel was tired a couple of days in and got headachey, especially after a day of roller coasters, so Franny and I took an afternoon to drive all of Mulholland Drive, which was really fun and beautiful. She sneaky peed at an overlook and I kept watch. “I’m a great outdoor pee-er!” she said.

We tried to hit LACMA after landing, but were tired and getting corned at the museum, so bailed out for the tar pits.

I skipped them the first time I went to LA, thinking they were pretty tourist trappy, but it was actually cool to see them bubbling.

One of my favorite parts was when we were on our way to Universal Studios and Pete realized that no one had packed sunscreen. We stopped at the West Hollywood Whole Foods and he ran in to get some. We watched a beautiful woman who had obviously just finished exercising pick out a selection of squashes and decorative corn. It was Friday morning.

“She’s having a dinner party,” I said.

“Her workout pants are very trendy right now,” Franny said. They had the little peekaboo mesh slashes. “I bet she’s a personal trainer.”

“I bet she doesn’t work,” I said. “Look at that ring.”

“Don’t pick that squash!” Strudel yelled from inside our car (windows rolled up). “It doesn’t go with the other ones!”

I was fascinated by the WeHo Whole Foods and I couldn’t figure out why. It was grubby. The produce really sucked. The clientele was weird looking in a LA way instead of in a Seattle way. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized…it actually looked and functioned like a city grocery store. Even the middle of town at Whole Foods here I feel like I’m in the suburbs somehow. Also we could not get much for gluten free beer (tiny violins, I know). Seattle is a very special bubble and I am very spoiled with great food and I know it.

It was nice to sneak in some 70s weather in the middle of October.

The air bnb was ADORABLE.

I know I have said next to nothing about Strudel, but she’s doing so, so well right now. She’s interested in picking up another day of violin, which we’re going to see if we can make work after xmas (also I am not working at the moment). She’s really a pleasure and taking to middle school beautifully. She looks a tiny bit stressed out every day because there’s still (always) Mean Girl drama. Recently a kid came back to her small school from the BIG cluster middle school, and we are so grateful to him because he gave everyone the lowdown about the fistfights and bullying and teachers completely phoning it in and she is glad to be where she is. Middle school is no picnic for anyone but she’s doing well. Challenged in math but a lot of the subjects are teaching the same units again.

She told me she goes to visit her incredible 5th grade teacher, the one who sorted them into Hogwarts houses and did math rpgs. He is back to having a group of very difficult kids this year, because this is the reward you get for being an amazing teacher apparently? Strudel’s group of gifted nerds was a brief respite year and cookie for him, we suspect.

“I’m bored,” she told him.

“Me too,” he said.

I feel like I can’t quite see who she’s going to be yet, which is how I felt about Franny in middle school. She’s still in the chrysalis. Franny is going to get more life experience, and more mature, but spending time with her solo in LA gave me a little preview of what our adult relationship will be like. Franny seems like she’s Alice, halfway through a wee door and trying to finish pulling through. She knows she’s the right size, but the door is kind of an odd size. Strudel is still Eat Me and Drink Me-ing herself dizzy. I’m not in a hurry, though. I’m enjoying Strudel and her weird tweeny ways now.

Asspophasis

So I guess I’m blogging once a month right now. I still have that thing, that long, long entrenched habit, where I have racing thoughts about what I could write down, especially relating to the looking-glass that is work, but I’m not getting there. Something in my motivation has changed, post-corn. I used to feel like I was always running to something significant, like a good change, like more opportunities to do what I want with writing or travel or my hobbies. I’m not saying my life was always topsy-turvy, it wasn’t, just that there was something on the horizon. Lately I feel very static, like some pudding that has set up too much.

I spend a lot of time avoiding situations that will make me sick. Before I used to throw myself into them, because I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t know how to describe this well…before, I was always ill. I always felt bad and just learned to cope and try to grit my teeth and be pleasant. Now I feel well most of the time but I hardly go anywhere or see anyone. I have been considering masks but I feel like that crosses a line somehow. Says the person who prepares all of her own food and travels with her own sheets.


me rollin up in the art museum with my homies

I am going to try some nasal filters to see if that will help. When we go out we make like Persephone but we all still have to breathe.

Sometimes I think about jumping back in and eating and drinking corn with gusto, if only to get that frantic feeling of being REALLY ALIVE for a few hours, but then I remember that my hair was falling out and sometimes I would go completely, momentarily deaf from tinnitus. Lots of people live secluded, unknown lives and always have, but it is hard to step back and out of the world. I used to feel driven to write something, anything, even if it was complete garbage or something like, well, a blog (Venn diagram overlaps sometimes). Now it’s pulling teeth. My brain doesn’t crackle, it just sits, gelling. I’m facing living longer (maybe) but being completely bored with myself.

I don’t burden my girls with my thoughts along these lines. It’s not for them. They’re not my friends, they have no idea what existential horrors and delights will come when they’re in their 30s (neither do I of course). I do hope I intervened with them young enough that they won’t feel as outside of the world as I do lately. I hope we will all be able to find an acceptable way to get through.

It’s their first days of school.

This new middle schooler is a little excited.

This Satanist is starting her junior year.

There is something on the other side that is NOT black:

Normally I am frantic for them to go back to school, but this year they’ve been so easy and fun to hang out with. I’ve spent the last week with them because I got laid off (building was about finished).

No more being up on tall roofs for the moment. Next week I go to a week-long class that’s meant to be a first year trade orientation, kind of like electrician boot camp was. I’m in a pickle at the moment because of course they didn’t process my automatic union dues correctly, and I can’t come to class without a receipt. Administrative problems are rife in this union as well it seems. I’m sure I can straighten it out with a phone call.

If I don’t get back in a month…Friday (9/9) is my 15 year blog anniversary. I have outlasted Samuel Pepys at this point, though he was more frequent and diligent. I have some images I want to replace this banner with, but am even failing at replacing them (this template is completely terrible and I think it’s not helping with writing more often), which seems like a good project for an idle Friday when I am waiting to go to school and the girls are gone. Happy fall.

Beestung lips sounds so attractive until you think about it

On Thursday night we were poised to see the last episode of The Office. I threw on some first season episodes around Xmastime when I was cooking and the girls got sucked in. Five months later, we watched all nine seasons. I was very disloyal when it was airing and would dip in and out, only to binge watch a season at a time. I think it was a lot more enjoyable pacing ourselves like this and getting all the way through.

So I popped out into the yard after dinner to water the garden, which is growing well after the little cold period we had recently. We have some volunteer cilantro and tomatoes in my lettuce bed, which I will roll with. I have to take pictures soon. It is awesome. Anyway, I watered and came in and the girls were watching something short and I put my hand on my hip…and…BZZT! Stung in the middle finger.

I brought in a hitchhiker. I scraped out the venom sac right away. Friday was kind of miserable at work, with my hand steadily swelling and the site around the sting turning purple. I thought that would be the end of it, but my hand got enormous. It looked like the hand of an obese toddler by Saturday, throbbed, and hurt all the way down to the tendons.

Normally I have knuckle dents and visible veins and whatnot, especially now that I’m not kind of swollen all the time like I was when I was sick. There were some bony-ass fingers hidden under my bloatpaws and I love them. They look like the hands of a 38-year-old, instead of a pile of dough.

This afternoon I was marinating some chicken thighs to grill later when I saw it: a black dot in the middle of the angry, red sting site, raised past the rest of the raised skin. I knew I would have to operate. I scraped the skin off and there was hardly any blood, to my surprise, and then I found the stinger! No bigger than a hair, of course, but causing a lot of trouble. Damn.

Isn’t it amazing that most of the time when you get something foreign in your body, your skin either eats it or serves it back up to you like some kind of gross offering? Feels better already.