Escape of the Inner Monologue

World, inside of my head. Inside of my head, world.

I’m a Writer

In tenth grade, my English teacher asked us to write a short story. By asked, I mean assigned homework. My general memories of high school all have a bit of a fuzz about them – my memory is not super. But I remember thinking this was the easiest homework ever. I sat down and typed out (on an electric typewriter, you whippersnappers) my story in an evening. I gave it to my mom to edit.

My mom was a writer – or ex-writer. She had written prolifically in her younger days, and was quite talented. She had even gone to a pretty impressive graduate program. But as time and her mental illness had progressed, she had stopped writing.

I remember her eyes being a bit glassy after she finished reading my story. I thought it was boredom, but she assured me it was tears. She had been quite moved by what I had written, and aside from some grammar corrections – my mom really should have been an editor – she thought it was perfect.

I turned the story in and waited. I received the story back with a 100% and several stars drawn on the top. My teacher then made the entire class read my story, which was equal parts awesome and humiliating. I was later called down to the principal’s office, an event that only happened two times in my school career. (The other time was for a crime I did in fact commit, but that’s another story.) The principal wanted to praise my story as well. In his scary office. To my nervous and, I’m certain, bright-red face.

I went to college thinking that although I loved writing, I couldn’t make a living at it. I’m not sure why – my parents had never said this to me, I don’t think. I majored in something I thought would be more employable, and took some writing classes when my schedule allowed.

I don’t remember writing much for fun after I went to college. I would sporadically decide to start journaling, or open a blank document on my computer and type out an outline for a story I’d never finish. I wrote some obligatory angsty poetry. Something had happened in my head that just said over and over again this isn’t something you can do, or something you should spend time on, or something (fill in the self-defeating thought here).

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that my time spent writing in the last couple of years has increased. I found a wonderful therapist. I think everyone should have a therapist they love. If I were ever going to run for President, that might be my entire platform. But I’ve now got some fantastic tools to use to fight back when those mean thoughts pop up and try to get me to quit writing.

I recently had the chance to see my first published short story in print. I got pretty emotional holding the book, but more than that, I got itchy, right in the tips of my fingers. I wanted to go write.

I’ve read a lot on the internet about “when do I become a real writer?” Can I say I’m a writer when I get an agent? Or when I get published? Or when I get a certain number of rejection letters?

I have no idea when other people may think I’m a writer, but I finally believe I’m a writer.

The Neverending To Do

It’s funny how much is involved in keeping a little person alive, let alone entertained and happy. I’ve been reading a lot recently about the mental load of women, and at the end of each article I don’t know if I am more happy because I’m not crazy for feeling mentally drained all the time, or more sad because now I have the additional mental load of the awareness of my mental load.

I’m aware of how lucky I am on so many levels. I recognize that I have a lot of advantages others don’t, and my daughter is really the easiest kid. But nonetheless at the end of the day I can’t settle down to sleep because my brain is spinning up helpful things like “But did I REALLY write toilet paper on the grocery list?” and “I don’t have enough PTO to cover all these school breaks” and “Did my period just start, or am I just gassy?” The standard playlist of the mom at rest.

So anyway – I use an app, Wunderlist, to manage a lot of things. And I even set up a list in there for things just for me. One of the things on that list is “Write blog entry.” That item has been on my to do list for easily a year. I kept pushing it back. I either was too tired or too uninspired or too busy to ever sit down and do this one thing. A thing I like doing. A thing that is important to me. A thing that lets me practice my writing, which is a thing I love.

So I’m going to work harder to not negotiate with myself on this to do in the future.

Maybe if nothing else I’ll make lists of all the things I think of when I’m trying to fall asleep. At least then I won’t lose them. And everyone loves to read lists of 80s rap songs I still know the lyrics to, right?

Things My Child Has Said in the Last 24 Hours

“These are the rules of war: no boogers, and no hard stuff.”

“My nipple got wet and now I’m SUPER FREEZING.”

“We should use our farts to pop popcorn.”

“I have an evil plan for when we get home. Not super evil, like killing someone, but a tiny bit evil. I am going to watch that show you think is gross on Netflix.” *evil giggle and wringing of hands

Please direct all parenting award inquiries to my publicity officer. She has some free time now that she’s finished fartpopping her snack.

Tears and Pride

Tomorrow we are putting our two elderly cats to sleep. They have crossed the point where life tips away from joy and down into struggle. R has owned these ladies since they were handfuls of fluff, only a couple weeks old. Now 16 years later it is time to say goodnight.

We have each discussed their impending departure with L. I dug out the Mr. Rogers book I bought about a year ago when our dog passed away. Tonight we got out the laser pointer and the catnip and sat with the cats for a bit.

Watching them roll around in the nip, R got misty eyed.

L: Are you sad?

R: Yes, I am.

L: Do you want to talk about it?

She then went over and gave him a big hug, and they sat together and talked about their memories of the cats.

It was an incredible moment. The person we are raising is by far better than either of us. Her innate caring and empathy are inspiring. I am so incapable of articulating how proud I am of her. And she’s only 5.

Keep shining, my little sunshine.

Safety

Me: Ok, you’re going to a big crowded place with lots of people. What are your rules?

L: Stay where (babysitters) can see me.

Me: And?

L: And where I can see them.

Me: And are you going to go anywhere with a stranger?

L: No!

Me: And what do you do if a stranger tries to make you go someplace with them?

L: Yell?

Me: Yep. Yell and fight like hell.

L: (brightly) I could rip their head off!

Me: You do whatever you need to to be safe.

Babbysitter: I never thought talking about ripping heads off could sound so cute.

New Foods: Guacamole

L: Mom, I tried whaucamole at school today!

Me: Oh neat! Did you like it?

L: It tasted like slop and car gas!

Me:….

L: Like, mixed together.

Me: Got it. You didn’t say that to the cook, did you?

L: No, but I’m saying it to you so you know I really tried it.

Me: Ah. Well. I’m proud of you for trying it.

L: The chips were good!

Titdor the Squishanator

Apologies to Homestar Runner for the title. But that was sincerely the very first thought that went through my mind as I walked up to the mammogram machine.

You see, one of the perks of becoming a 40 year old woman in possession of preventative healthcare is that you get sent to get your first mammogram. My doctor carefully discussed the potential discomfort of the exam with me while stressing the importance of it. I looked at her and said, you needn’t sell me on it, it’s not gonna be worse than giving birth to Sideways the Wonder Child so sign me up immediately. Evidently some people feel it’s better to bypass a handful of minutes of discomfort and forgo the benefits of a cancer screening, because ouchie boobies? Woman up, ladies.

Anyway, having been suitably warned that I might experience mild discomfort, I called to schedule the big event. The scheduler I spoke with asked me a couple questions – no, I do not have implants, and yes, I can wipe off my own deodorant if provided with a wet nap – and got me in that same day. She told me that they generally tell people to allow 5 minutes per cup size. So an A cup takes five minutes, a B cup takes 10, and so on. So my DD chest and I set aside three hours and headed off. My chest and I are not good at math.

While waiting to be called back for the exam, I sat next to a gentleman who was there to have some blood drawn. He spoke at length about this, and about how he was going to stop for a beer and burger after the test, and about traffic. He asked me what I was waiting for, and I told him I was waiting to have my breasts xeroxed. Luckily he was called back just then and thus we were both spared from him having to develop a response.

When my name was called, I was led back to a changing room, where I was given what looked like an adorable 60s-style mod dress. It was quilted and soft and warm and nearly the victim of theft by yours truly. It was so strangely flattering. I have finally discovered my body’s best dress shape – hospital gown. This makes sense as I am shaped like a potato, which means sacks are totally my jam.

After admiring myself in the mirror and wishing for go go boots, I stepped out and followed the nurse into the mammogram room. Mammoroom? She explained all the steps and what we were going to do and how. I removed my deodorant with the wipes so as to prove I had not lied to the scheduler lady. And then I grasped both sides of my gown and busted my puppies out. The Superman theme played in my head. It was quite cinematic.

The first step of the exam was what people generally think of when they think mammogram – a vertical squishing of the breast between two plates. It was not painful. Rather it felt a bit like my boob was an overstuffed sandwich that someone was pushing down on extremely firmly, so they could take a bite of it without squishing tomatoes and turkey out the backside. After doing the squash to both sides, she tilted the machine so they could get a kind of sideways/diagonal view. She had me sort of wrap myself around the machine and lean forward and to the right, while she sort of smoothed my boob out onto one of the plates of the titholder. Then she’d lower the other plate and run and take a picture. This part was not painful either. This pose felt a bit like a teen boy had finally gotten to hold his first boob, and did not know what to do with himself or the boob and therefore was just going to nervously squeeze it rather firmly to hide the fact that he was frozen in fear. When we switched to the other side I did experience a bit of discomfort because the plate was pressing down on my sternum, which made breathing a bit uncomfortable for 30 seconds.

And that was it. She cautioned me that I’d likely get called in for more pictures, given the size of my sweater kittens and the level of thoroughness they like to achieve when establishing a baseline scan. I promised not to freak out when I received the call asking me to come in for more testing. I reluctantly surrendered my adorable outfit, although honorable mention should be given to my friend K, who suggested via text that I poop on it and “take it home to launder for them” as a means of escaping with my gown. K is a criminal genius, do not cross her.

And that was it. My first mammogram was over. I filled out the comment card with all positives, as I felt like the tech deserved it for how often my breast tissue needed to be re-smoothed in order to be properly photographed. It was a bit like trying to nail jello to a tree, and she was a real trooper about it. She deserved 5 stars. I walked out of the clinic, promising my tits that I’d dribble something delicious on them at dinner as a reward, and headed home to give myself a sticker for having adulted for the day.

So get those mammograms, ladies. It’s not painful and it just may save your life one day.

Survey Says

I’m a sucker for meaningless internet surveys. I’m also a heavy user of a Magic 8 Ball, so FYI if you want to eat chips right now the OUTLOOK IS NOT SO GOOD. Possibly because I ate them. Or because the universe said so. That’s the beauty of internet quizzes and Magic 8 Balls.

But I really do appreciate how every single sorting quiz of any variety puts me in Slytherin. I find this very validating. Also it allows me to wear my Slytherin sweater to Target and do my shopping without feeling like an imposter. I like to save feeling like an imposter for all other areas of my life.

So, you may be asking yourself, is there some sort of survey included in this post? SIGNS POINT TO YES.

This one is going around the FBs recently. Since I treat these less like surveys and more like writing prompts, I figured I’d force people to come here if they wanted my answers.

1. Favorite smell: L’s head, except for when she’s been running at full speed for 45 minutes straight. Then she’s got a bit too much of the funk to qualify as favorite. So, cleanish L’s head. Because that smell means we are having snuggles which is my favorite thing to do all the time always.

2. Last time I cried: Yesterday. It was the five year anniversary of my dad’s passing.

3. Favorite pizza: The best pizza I ever had was in Naples, Italy, after hiking to the top of Mount Vesuvius and touring Pompeii. The pizza tasted good because it was delicious, but also because I had successfully completed my visit without being murdered by a volcano.

4. Favorite Flower: Roses. I am a tad bit obsessed. Make something rose anything and I AM IN. Rose smells, rose flavors, rose gold…. this is an expensive preference.

5. Favorite dog breed: I have had the honor of owning some truly remarkable dogs in my life, and they were all shelter specials. My german shepherd was super into full contact snuggles, and also required me to carry his 75 pounds for a full mile after he saw a snake on a walk once. My shiba inu was a priss who hated getting dirty, but once went full psycho on a guy who grabbed me on the street, causing him to run for safety. I bought her a cheeseburger after that one. My poodle would lie next to me in bed and lick my hand until I fell asleep. My minipin would attack the dog who lived in the shiny and very reflective dishwasher door, but also looked dashing as hell in a sweater. My first dog ever lost an eye after getting out one night – the vet who saw him in the emergency room felt it was deliberately done. But he was still the most loving and sweet little guy. All dogs are amazing, but all mine have been my favorites.

6. Untie laces before shoes come off: Except for my Converse and my running shoes, I have successfully managed to eliminate laces from my shoe wardrobe. And one of my pairs of Chuck is slip on. I untie my Chucks but not my running shoes. 

7. Roller Coaster: I’m trying to remember the last time I was on a roller coaster and I am failing. I used to love them – I fear this is something that if I were to try again, I would discover I have aged out of. But if I get the chance, I will try and report back. I’m certain you’ll be waiting here to find out. 

8. Favorite ice cream: My favorite ice cream ever in the history of ice cream was Baskin Robbins’ Chocolate Mousse Royale. Which was discontinued. Because of course. MY REPLY IS SUCK IT says the universe. 

9. Pet peeve: Assholes. Figuratively and literally. 

10. Shorts or jeans: Where is the leggings option? I would like to see the leggings option. I have joined the Leggings As Pants army if I have enough butt coverage. Shorts are necessary on some hot days, and jeans are a wardrobe staple. But black leggings are always my first choice now. Because I’m 40 and completely out of fucks. 

12. Color of your vehicle: Grey, with a thorough covering of road salt. I also have two stickers on the back of my car, because she’s old enough to have a couple of tattoos. One is Totoro and one is the Wonder Woman insignia. 

13. Color of eyes: Blue. I think. 

14. Favorite food: Food shared with people I care about. As long as there are no mushrooms. 

15. Favorite Holiday: This is a difficult decision, but Christmas edges out Halloween by a snowflake. 

16. Night owl or morning?: I can be either but you will like me more if I’ve had at least seven hours of sleep. 

17. Favorite day of the week: Saturday! 

18. Do you have a nick name?: I probably have lots of them that I’m not even aware of. For example, what did you think when you saw this blog post? “Oh, Crazy Pants posted again” or “Ugh better read this so when she tries to pitifully beg for validation I can say, yeah, Needy Bitch, I read that trash.” Other than that my parents used to call me Pancake because I resembled a child featured on a Jefferson Airplane album whose name was given as Pancake. But my body type hasn’t been pancakey in a long time, so that one kinda fell by the wayside. Also my parents are dead so they don’t call me anything much anymore. 

19. Favorite music: The failures of my enemies whirling in a blender. Or, I dunno, New Kids on the Block. Honestly I love all kinds of music. Although I will confess that my Spotify “Most Listened To” list of 2017 was composed entirely of songs from my daughter’s playlist, led by her eternal favorite, Immortals by Fall Out Boy. Damn Big Hero 6. 

20. Tattoos: Three. So one more than my car. Not that it’s a race. But I’m winning. Winning the tattoo race, not an actual race. Because I would lose to my car. Assuming I’d given someone the keys and they were driving her. Because she would lose if I hadn’t. So maybe I’ve just sorted this all out and I’m winning both kinds of races with my car. Not that we are having one at all. 

Have a fun internet survey? Post it in the comments. OUTLOOK GOOD I will go and take it. But if the results don’t put me in Slytherin then it’s not a valid quiz. #qualitycontrol

 

Monsters in the Walls

In the spirit of the Victorians, let’s tell a scary ghost story just before Christmas. It’s a better way to be in the Victorian spirit than using arsenic as makeup anyway.

When we moved into the current house, L was two years old. From the very first night, she refused to sleep in her room. Even though we’d been sure to set up her crib and make certain that all the essential, familiar items were unpacked and ready, she staged an epic protest and insisted on sleeping in the master bedroom with us. All she would say, when asked why, was that her room was not nice, and had monsters.

So I embarked on an epic effort to make the room nice. We hung her curtains, put up stickers… it was a regular Fixer Upper, Toddler Edition (more Tinkerbell, less shiplap). Still, she wanted nothing to do with the room at night. Eventually she was able to say why… there were monsters. I figured she was using her amazing imagination and working her way through a really big change. After all, I was feeling overwhelmed and out of my element after moving to a new state, so I’m sure she was too. I figured it would pass after things settled down.

Narrator: It did not pass.

Gandalf: I told you.

We would periodically have conversations with her about what would make her want to sleep in her room, which led to the purchase of a toddler bed, then a full sized bed. She would sleep in there if one of us joined her, but never alone. She insisted there were monsters.

As she got older, she was able to describe the monsters in more detail. There was a mother monster (not Gaga) and a baby monster. The mother monster did not talk, but the baby did, and the baby would tell L that the momma monster was “very bad.” The monsters were stuck in the walls and ceiling, but had very very long arms, with talons at the the tips of their fingers. Yes, my daughter used the word talons. And…the monsters only wanted blonde girls.

Gulp.

The consistency of her story, the details she included, and the way she’d talk about it so matter of factly all added up so much that now I’m afraid to go in her room alone. That plus the creepy notebook we found hidden in the basement ceiling when we moved in, and the fact that the last family who lived here moved out for apparently no reason, and how I’d been assuming it was the cats opening her closet doors all the time…

A couple days ago, L reported that the monsters were gone. They were bored, and left. Evidently we’d starved them out of house and our home. I’m grateful we had quitter monsters who decided to just peace out and find a new food source, rather than get all nasty about the lack of service. But I think I’ll sage the house just in case.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a monster-free night!

 

Pain in the Neck

About eight years ago, I fell down. And this wasn’t one of my typical falls, which happen with such frequency and consistency that I’m fairly certain that one side of my head is permanently floor shaped. “Please, only photograph me from my flat side,” I say to the imaginary paparazzi.

This fall was epic, in the sense that I fell with such wild abandon and force that I tore all the muscles in my neck. I of course did not go to the hospital because that would be an expensive habit when you fall recreationally as much as I do. But as the pain got worse I eventually went to see my doctor, who diagnosed the injury and yelled at me for not going to the hospital. He literally yelled. I started physical therapy, which went on for about as long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy felt like it went on. I eventually achieved a level of near constant pain that was acceptable and called it a win.

At the beginning of this year, both my arms started doing this super adorable thing where they would turn into fiery tubes of pain. I typically describe it as going numb, which isn’t accurate because I can feel everything. But most everyone has had that pins and needles sensation, so it’s a more approachable description than “millions of ants armed with flaming swords storming my arms and fighting their damnedest for queen and country.” This sensation at least only happens at the most convenient of times – when I’m sleeping, driving, typing, or using a knife. Or standing or walking or petting the cat or hugging my daughter. Also known as almost constantly.

My doctor (a new one, not the yelling one) took some pictures of the inside of my body and I was promptly diagnosed with bone spurs in my cervical vertebrae, arthritis in the same area, and inflamed discs. All this mess was pressing on my nerves, causing the super fun Sleeves of Pain. No, you can’t use that as your band name.

In an effort to help alleviate my perpetual discomfort, I was sent for a therapeutic epidural. I had had an epidural while giving birth to L. The concept of a needle being placed into the rope that makes my body go was terrifying, but the totality of the pain of labor was enough to get me past it. This time, I had nearly a month before the procedure to contemplate the horror that would befall me when inevitably the doctor sneezed while placing the needle, because that is just the sort of bad movie premise that is my life. (Oscar clip, featuring Kristen Bell as me and David Tennant as the surgeon: ME: Bless you. SURGEON: (sadly) It looks like you’re the one who will need that blessing…)

So when I headed back to the procedure room, it is safe to say I was nervous. Shoulder tension makes my arms much worse, so they had been meat tubes full of hot sauce and knives all morning. The doctor and the nurse were both incredibly kind, patient, and caring, and neither sneezed at all while they walked me through what they were going to do. Essentially, they were going to have me lie face down and use an x-ray to help them guide the needle to exactly where it needed to be in my spine. Then, they would fill me full of drugs like a donut full of custard and send me on my way. Easy peasy, butt cheek squeezy. They had me practice deep breathing, using a straw. The doctor said I won the award for the longest exhale they have ever had during the breathing practice. I made a comment about being full of hot air because when I’m nervous I’m as funny as a four year old’s knock knock routine but still feel compelled to use humor as a protective shield and therefore make some stunningly horrible jokes.

They helped me up onto the table, which given the jello-filled sausage cases of suffering my arms were was quite a trick. They had me lie on a couple of pillows and then had me get back up to re-arrange the pillows to create a boob divot, as the gals were preventing me from lying on my stomach such that my back was flat. After they finally had me settled in, the nurse very sweetly and gently tied me to the table. (Evidently including sentences that may lead to my posts coming up in a porn search is my thing.) She assured me this was so I could let my arms relax, and not to prevent me from running away. I accepted that premise, as I had no choice, what with being strapped to the table.

The procedure went smoothly until the end, when they were mid-spinal custard pump, when I mentioned how terribly hot it was in the room. It was as if I had said some magic word, like on PeeWee’s playhouse but with less puppet screaming and more cool compresses. (I think that might be my new slogan… less puppet screaming and more cool compresses. Vote Me in 2020.) I was evidently having a vagal reaction, which I misheard several times, leaving me very baffled as to why my nether regions were getting involved in things at all. But evidently my body decided that despite my amazing ability to exhale everything WAS NOT OK, and enacted emergency maneuvers, which to my body means slowing my heart down to a nice relaxing 50 bpm. Because my body sucks at survival strategery. Please do not share this information with any area bears.

But many compresses and glasses of water later, I was fine and ready to go home and recover. The doctor advised me that I should mention the vagal reaction in the future, which I assume means this should be my new fun fact I use to break the ice at parties. “Did you know that if you put a needle in my spine, chances are good I will pass out?” That sounds like a perfect way to get the cheese plate all to myself. And if that isn’t the road the health I don’t know what is.