Escape of the Inner Monologue

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

Sun Spots

Every year in January I try to get all my appointments out of the way. I hit up my doctor, my dentist, the gyno, and the eye doctor. It’s a simple way to stay on track with my health care, and it gives a bit of instant gratification to my annual “take better care of myself” goal setting.

I realized at my annual physical that it’d been five years since I’d been given a good once over for weird moles or rouge freckles. My skin tone is best described as clear. Google a picture of a baby manta ray and you’ll get a good likeness, not only of my skin tone, but also of the face I make if you wake me up in the middle of a nap. I’ve never been tan – the closest I come is getting enough freckles together in one spot that if you squint at me from a distance, I look a little darker. But I can burn in under 3 minutes. Plus, my family has some history of troubling skin spots. So I instituted a regular inspection appointment in 2000, and asked my doctor to check me over for areas of concern.

My GP gave me a cursory once over, said she didn’t see anything problematic, and offered me a referral to a dermatologist. I happily accepted and scheduled my appointment, quietly congratulating myself on being such a responsible and conscientious skin owner.

At the dermatologist, they asked me to strip down to my underpants and put on a stylish floral gown. The nurse then said that I was also free to remove my socks if I’d like the doctor to check the skin on my feet. “Wait – why wouldn’t I have her check my feet?” I asked, genuinely wondering if there was some secret dermatological protocol I’d be violating. “I dunno, some people don’t want their feet checked,” she responded, and excused herself, leaving me wondering why someone would be happy to let the doctor examine their butt crack and armpits for questionable lesions but would feel that exposing their feet was simply too personal.

The doctor came in and got to work, giving me my exam while seamlessly weaving together genuinely fun conversation with skin care tips. It was truly skillful. She went from making a joke about the weather to discouraging me from ever using spray sunscreen without missing a beat. They must practice on each other during slow times. “Ok now try to segue from your favorite hot dish recipe to a discussion on why rash guards are the best swimsuits. Go!”

After looking me over from my scalp to my scandalously exposed feet, she looked at me and said, “Ok, there’s a spot on your nose we need to treat. It’s a pre-cancerous spot and we can treat it right here in the office.” There was more after that but my brain had seized up and refused to keep up with her. The word cancer strikes fear in the heart of any thinking person, and if you’ve witnessed loved ones fight that particular demon, there’s an especially sharp edge to that terror. She must have caught the look in my eyes, because she paused her charming patter to reassure me that it was just a small spot, wasn’t yet a problem, and that she could treat it and it wouldn’t become an issue. I thanked her, and then asked if she wouldn’t like to recheck the rest of my body because holy fuck. She laughed and said that nothing else looked problematic at all, but that they’d bring me back in next year to take another look, and I could always come in if I thought something looked funny. She then asked if I’d like to have the spot treated that day. I said yes before she even finished the sentence. “Are you sure? Do you have any big events coming up, like a wedding you’re in, or a big presentation? The treatment will leave a red mark that will be there for a couple weeks, and it may blister,” she said. “Please to get the cancer off my face. Now. Please,” I responded.

Which is how I came to be looking down the barrel of a liquid nitrogen gun. She warned me that it was going to hurt, and that I should hold very still. She then shot my nose for a few seconds and told me to flip over so she could check my back. I was stunned that that was it. It wasn’t even all that painful.

I passed the rest of my exam with flying colors, and made my follow up appointment for next January. To be honest, I felt pretty wigged out for the rest of the day. (The kids are still saying wigged out, right?) Despite my hypochondriatic leanings, I didn’t suspect she’d actually find anything. I’m not even 40 yet, and I’m pretty dedicated to my sunscreen regimen. And my GP hadn’t noticed the spot, despite it being front and center on my face. I spent the rest of the day feeling happy that I had dodged a bullet and scared that I had been shot at in the first place.

So take advantage of your sunscreen dear readers, and stay on top of your health. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to invent a vat I can use to dip my daughter in SPF 100 every morning.

My Sleep Number is ZZZZZZ

When R and I first started discussing the relocation, I told him that my condition on agreeing to the move would be that we’d invest in a new bed. We’d been putting up with a crappy Ikea king size mattress for years. I was waking up in so much pain I was unable to fully straighten my legs for about 20 minutes after getting out of bed. And R is a professional snore generator, so I specified that I wanted a fancy bed with a button I could use to smother him raise his head when he woke me up for the fifth time in a night.

Several months passed in the new house, and we still hadn’t done anything about the bed. While on our recent vacation, R and I discussed our goals for 2016. And we both agreed – good sleep was a primary goal for the whole family.

And thus, on Christmas Eve, I found myself wearing my pajamas, lying on an air bladder, trying to ignore the salesperson hovering nearby, while also trying to give the impression that I was seriously considering the information he was sharing about the mattress instead of just trying not to nod off in the store.

The mattress shopping experience was an interesting one. R is one for intense internet research, and he hit up the Reports de Consumers for recommendations. Those people love them some Sleep Numbers, so we went to the store to check them out. They do this demonstration where they have you lie down on a specific bed that then creates a rendering of your personal high pressure points when laying down. Although, assuming the average customer doesn’t have a case of elephantiasis, I’m guessing the results are pretty similar for most people. Then they adjust your number until all the pressure goes away. Voila, your Sleep Number. Then you go around to the other mattresses in the store and lie on them with your Sleep Number in place and decide if you want to commit. All while trying to not continuously make eye contact with the crotch of the salesperson who is standing nearby earnestly describing the different kinds of foam cradling your butt. Seriously, it was like the Mona Lisa, always following you. Every time I opened my eyes, BOOM, stranger crotch. It wasn’t deliberate – I had no sense that he was some kind of passive aggressive harasser. It was just badly awkward timing between his laps of the bed and my eyes opening. I started just keeping my eyes shut until i had sat up completely, so he wouldn’t think I was some kind of ball stalker.

I forced us to visit another store to try out some traditional mattresses, because I can’t spend significant amounts of money without performing comparison shopping first, and I needed new crotch level scenery. We agreed that we liked the Sleep Number better. Now we had to decide which one.

Having mandated that I wanted to be able to adjust the angle of R’s thunderous sleep trumpet, we knew we were going with at least a half split mattress. That way his head can be elevated but mine can still be flat. We then had to decide if we were going full split. Which sounds like the name of a Bruce Willis movie that takes place at a gymnastic competition. (“Stick this landing, mother fucker!”) But it actually means that our king bed would essentially be two twin beds – allowing for fully independent motion of the head and feet for each of us.

The most interesting part of this discussion was when we asked the salesperson why people typically decide against the full split, he said it was because they didn’t like the distance it created between them. Interestingly, a colleague at a recent work dinner raised this same point when I was singing the praises of the new bed. I told my colleague that although I was flattered by his concern about my ability to get sweet lovin, a half inch depression down the center of the bed was not exactly the equivalent of the “leaving room for the Holy Spirit” style of couples dancing they enforce at Catholic grade schools. Perhaps if R and I were cuddlers when we sleep we’d feel differently, but we’re secure enough to agree that we sleep much better when we’re not trying to battle for arm location supremacy. Which is why we have a king size bed in the first place. It’s just like Patrick Swayze’s rules for dance space in Dirty Dancing, but about sleeping. Also no one is carrying a watermelon.

So having overcome the awkward discussion of the strength of our marriage with a mattress salesperson we had met a mere 45 minutes prior, R and I signed on the line and went for it. I am happy to report that if you need people to recreate the Craftmatic adjustable bed commercials, we are now fully equipped to do so. And let me tell you, it’s been great. No more morning pain, awesomely comfortable reading positions, and the fun of watching the cats freak out as you suddenly deflate the bed beneath them. That alone is worth every penny.

Ah The Holidays

And we’re back!

I hope everyone had a terrific holiday season. We had the chance to host one of our dearest friends for Thanksgiving, and showed him all the wonders our new home town had to offer. Just kidding, we totally sat around in our pajamas eating too much and watching movies. I did get to share the wonders of a much loved family recipe with my awesome new MN friends, who loved it as much as we all have for years, so that was very rewarding.

We spent the middle of December on a boat. Our second Disney cruise, to be precise. Disney has perfected vacations and cruises are no different. We sailed on the Disney Wonder and got to enjoy being unplugged for a solid week. Then we spent a quick weekend with friends in Houston and it was back north for Christmas.

I felt mixed emotions about being gone for 10 days of my precious Christmas season. I really really love Christmas, and I did miss being away from our new home and experiencing the season just as things were starting to ramp up. Between that and the odd weather, I just never got around to feeling Christmasy. Until Boxing Day, of course. Timely as always. But then again I’ll never complain about being on a cruise.

New Year’s we went to the birthday party of a charming young man, the son of one of my MN friends. L had a ball playing with all the kids and talking to the birthday boy’s uncle for the better part of an hour about her sippy cup and snacks, while he very patiently did not ask her to please stop standing in front of the football game he was watching.

An overall low key but enjoyable holiday season.

I didn’t end up making resolutions for this year, really. Last year proved that anything can happen, so fuck your plans. Instead I decided to pick my focus for the year, a focus I could apply to decisions, plans, and the day to day. This year’s focus is self care. I’ve been letting a lot slip when it comes to slowing down and taking time and energy to serve my own needs. So now every day I try to set aside some time to think about what I’ve done and what I can do to make sure I’m taking care of myself. I know it’s only day 22 but so far so good.

I hope you all had a wonderful season and set sail with happy hearts in 2016.

Daughter Wisdom

How has it been more than a fricking month since I posted? Insane. Time flies… as does judgment. It’s funny, but I find myself second guessing myself so much. I’ll think of something that might be a fun blog post and then I just mentally shoot it down until it doesn’t exist anymore. I mean, I’ve got a bucketful of excuses about how busy we are and how quickly the days move and whatnot but it really comes down to feeling like I can’t think of anything worth posting about.

Enter my glorious daughter.

We had just returned from a really fun weekend celebrating the marriage of two amazing people. We had had to get up super early for our flight home, and there was all the usual travel nonsense of driving, turning in the car, riding on a tram, hanging out in the airport, plus the actual flight and drive home …. all the waiting and sitting that 2 year olds really don’t care for. But she was, as usual, such a patient little traveler. So when we got home and she asked to go outside, I was more than happy to follow her lead and let her drive the next day part for a change.

She asked for her chalk and told me she wanted to draw airplanes on the driveway. We did that, and then I was instructed to draw a shark, a BEEEEG dragon, Totoro, and a snake. Then she wanted to sit down and color on her own for a while. She told me to sit next to her, and she happily started chalking away. I watched her for a few minutes, admiring her creation. She noticed I wasn’t drawing, picked up some pink chalk, and said, “Draw Mommy.”

“Ok. What should I draw?”

“Draw.”

“Ok.” I sat and stared at the blank pavement before me. I fiddled with the chalk. I stared some more.

“Mommy. Just draw.”

That kid is a genius, I tell you. I drew a heart, because in that moment she made mine feel very, very full.

IUDon’t

So several weeks ago I posted a chipper little piece on how I was enjoying my new uterine accessory, the Mirena IUD.

Oh 20/20 hindsight, aren’t you a peach.

Several days after posting that piece I began to acknowledge that I hadn’t taken a deep breath in several days. I thought, well, I am super stressed out about the upcoming relocation, move away from all my friends and familiar places, etc. But as the days passed it got worse and worse. I actually had a couple full on anxiety attacks, which I haven’t had in years. But I kept shaking my head and saying, wow whee! I sure am stressed out by life!

In addition to the lack of breathing and anxiety attacks, I was also having memory problems, trouble sleeping, and a constant case of the sweats. Day by day, my existence was getting less and less enjoyable, mostly due to my mental state. It was all I could do to act normal around other people most of the time, although I was primarily concerned with not losing my crap in front of L. No 2 year old dealing with all the upheaval that was going on in our lives at that time needs her mom to suddenly start clutching at her throat and crying because she can’t breathe. I have always excelled at keeping myself together for the benefit of other people so that made the day to day a bit better. But even as I felt worse and worse and more and more anxious, I just kept thinking, well hopefully after the move is over I will feel better! I mean, even though I feel worse now than I felt about either of my parents dying, I’m sure I’ll perk up once we’re all settled in at the new place! (Insert crazed laughter here.)

And although I am certain that there was a lot of stress going on because of the move, it wasn’t until R was reading an article about potential side effects of IUDs that scared him a bit that it dawned on me that all of the insanity going on in my body might not be naturally occurring. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that the overwhelming emotional crisis I was having might be artificially induced, or heightened. Amazing what you can not see about your own situation, isn’t it? So I made an appointment to have the IUD removed.

And within 24 hours of the removal I was feeling almost like my old self again. It was amazing. There was still stress, sure, but I was handling it as well as I normally do, instead of having chest pains and shallow breathing and the absolute certainty that I was going to drop dead. I returned to my normal amount of sweaty, and no longer had to pretend like I was keeping it together – I (mostly) actually was.

So the moral of the story is don’t forget that you have a hormone laced plastic insert in your uterus when you start feeling terrible 24/7. This may not be the most universally applicable moral, but my name isn’t Aesop so you’ll just have to take it or leave it. I’m too busy enjoying the sensation of being able to take a deep breath to care.

Two Lessons Learned in the Past 24 Hours

Lesson One: Technology = Getting Slapped in the Balls

So if Murphy wrote laws specifically designed for blogs, I bet one of them would be “When you finally decide to publicly announce that you’re spilling your inner musings onto a web page, when you’ve mustered the courage to offer up your tender inner vulnerable core of feelings to the world, when you throw caution and fear of judgment to the wind and throw open the gates to your private mind…. you will inadvertently install a WordPress update that ruins your custom theme and makes your blog look like a piece of poo that’s been sitting out in the elements for two weeks.”

So high five there for me! The format of the blog has been fixed, although I will continue to tweak it back to how it was. But it is once again legible, so I’m ahead of where I was yesterday.

Lesson Two: Ironic Sex Toys Save Bedtime

Once many years ago, my mom bought me riding crop as a joke. I sadly cannot even remember the exact circumstances under which this happened, but I’m certain it either had to do with me being a bitch or my mom trying to get me to be a bitch. Believe it or not I used to have a problem with timidity. Anyway, point is, I own a riding crop that has never been used for anything other than making cleaning people and movers feel uncomfortable as they pick it up and relocate it while they do their respective jobs. It’s one of those things that I keep thinking to myself, man, I should throw that away. And then I go about my life and promptly forget all about it.

Last night, L was super overtired and grumping to an unusual degree about falling asleep. She has been refusing to sleep in her room since we moved into the new house, and as such has been sleeping with us for the last three weeks or so. This is really the only thing she has had any trouble adjusting to with all the massive changes recently, so we are giving her the time to work through things. But, last night, she was literally flailing her exhausted little limbs around with frustration about bedtime. And then at one point, she pitched her binky behind the bed.

These binkies are the Kong of the toddler world – they are a higher level of indestructible than the average bink, as cutting molars leads to a lot of vigorous and destructive chewing. As such they are more expensive. So I don’t own a billion of them like I did of her other binks. However, I did have a spare on my night stand, so I handed her the other bink, and prayed I’d remember to retrieve the exiled bink from behind the headboard in the morning. She rejected this new bink, and cried for the other one. So, thinking I was super clever, I took the new bink, got down on the ground next to the bed, and happily popped up a few seconds later proclaiming “found it!” I handed her the bink – no dice. She totally knew I was totally faking and she was totally not having it. She cried harder and demanded her original bink back again. I turned on the light and looked under the bed. The bink had landed in the wasteland of the under the bed space that I can’t reach from either side. Because life.

So, I cast about for a way to retrieve the bink without having to move the bed… and thought of my good ol’ riding crop. Turns out it is the perfect tool for retrieving binkies from underneath king sized beds. In fact I am surprised that isn’t their slogan. “Riding Crops: Giddy Up Little Binky!”

(I just had to google how to spell giddy up. THANKS BRAIN.)

So That Happened

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and the reason is that I’ve been caught up in a sea change – my family relocated from my lifelong hometown to Minneapolis. My husband was offered a fantastic job, and we decided to go for it. And we’ve been packing, moving, working logistics, and reorienting for the last month or so.

I’m still feeling so greatly overwhelmed by this whole thing that I still can’t truly put it into words. I’m in a new city for the first time in my life. It’s exciting and scary, and stressful and energizing. I have no idea why I’m shying away from writing about it however – it’s like my brain is standing there, staring at the sausage machine (not a euphemism for a body part), with its little brain hands full of words and thoughts and feelings and emotions, and saying, nah, I really can’t bring myself to cram all this into the porous intestinal casing of the English language right now.

It’s unusual to me to feel so stymied about a topic. So I’m going to divide and conquer – fingers crossed. I’ll start trying to write little posts about small aspects of this huge event, and see if that makes it any more approachable. And then we’ll take it from there, my devoted eyeballs. All two of you. 🙂

But please forgive my absence, and know that if it were not for the fact that my emotions have been doing their best impression of Houdini’s water escapes recently, I would have been faithfully posting.

I Cannen’t Wear Heels

There was a lot of talk in the news a couple months ago about the Cannes Film Festival refusing women entry because they were not wearing high heels. Evidently it is extremely important for your toes to be numb in order to properly enjoy a movie. If you have a uterus that is. If not, feel free to enjoy circulation throughout your body as you sip wine and eat crudités.

I have, for a very long time, felt uncomfortable wearing high heels. I am extremely clumsy, and teetering on under-oxygenated feet while at work or a fancy party just seems akin to walking around blindfolded – why increase the chances of a mishap so dramatically? But heels look so good, and can make you feel really sexy. if you are someone else, who isn’t worried about toppling over or counting down the minutes until she can pull a Britney Spears and go barefoot.

I used to joke that I knew I was old when I decided it was more important to not die of frostbite than to arrive at a club or bar without a coat. Now I know that I am even older because I will design any look for any occasion based on the flattest, most comfortable footwear I can get away with wearing. My daughter serves as a convenient excuse for this pattern, as it is much easier to chase, squat, and otherwise entertain a toddler in my favorite pair of chucks than in a pair of high heels. But my shoe preference has more to do with my nearly 40 years than her 2 years.

For certain events, though, a pair of heels is desirable. When R and I went out to celebrate our recent wedding anniversary, for example, I wanted to get dolled up. You know, wear the fancy sweatpants for a change. I actually put on a cute dress, did my makeup, ditched my customary ponytail, and dug out a pair of low but heeled shoes. I looked pretty cute. As I was doing a final outfit review and verifying that I had no exposed underpants or makeup smudges, I decided that I should blow dry my hair a bit to make it look even more like I was an adult and not a recently escaped sanitarium patient. Yes folks, I was going all out. I went from our bathroom, out into the hall, into my daughter’s bathroom, and snagged my hair dryer. I started to head back to our bathroom, hair dryer in hand, when my ankles decided they were no longer fluent in high heels, and I tripped on myself. I bobbled the hair dryer, did a half spin, and landed on my butt, inches from the top step of the staircase. In a message that might as well have been signed “Love, The Universe”, the hair dryer landed on my right ankle. I switched to ballet flats. After all, if I was that nimble sober…

Accepting that I am simply past the point of even trying to wear heels has been very freeing. I donated a lot of shoes. I gained a lot of storage space. And I have, most importantly, stopped fucking worrying about it when I have to look nice. I own nice flat shoes that do not look like they were purchased at a medical supply store. And better yet, I know that I will not be seen flailing for balance, with a look that is equal parts resignation and panic on my face, as I fall over into a puddle. And better still, I can just say that heels aren’t me, and put another little tick mark next to something that I have finally accepted about myself. Here’s to enjoying events without wondering how many toes I will have sacrificed by the end of the night!

Things I Have (Mostly) Stopped Myself from Saying in an Elevator Full of Strangers

“You ever stop to think about which corner of the elevator you’d use as a bathroom if you got trapped in one of these things?”

“You seem pretty dedicated to being the Big Spoon here.”

“I am assuming you saved someone’s life this morning, and that is why you reek of sweat and week old stroganoff. Not simply because you didn’t bother to shower.”

“Do you see a guy putting on his Superman costume in here? No, you don’t. Because this isn’t a phone booth. Hang up your damn cell.”

“Did you know 30 people get killed by elevators every year?”

“Let’s play a carnival game! Let’s all try to guess how many cigarettes she’s had today based only on how she smells!”

Me and My IUD

Our daughter is the light of my life. My husband and I adore her more than words can say. But we are a one child type of family. And I’m either just so constantly enthralled by the very deepest mysteries of the universe or so tired and forgetful that I have gotten a little, shall we say, flexible with the taking of my birth control pill. Several friends of mine had given their IUDs rave reviews, so I decided that perhaps something that did not require daily attention was a good idea for me. I made the appointment and immediately began psyching myself out about how painful the procedure would be. Remember, the last time something traveled through my cervix it was about as enjoyable as gobbling up glass shards covered in sriracha, so I was a bit gun shy about the whole idea.

Having received no warnings from my midwife to pre-comfort myself with ibuprofen, bring a friend to drive me home, or make sure my living will was on file, I guessed that the procedure was not a big deal. Still, I was a bit amused by the regularness of the whole thing. No special room, no special gown, no lecture from the nurse about after care. I felt the occasion was a bit of a milestone – a reversible milestone, but still a marker of the end of my reproducing years. An acceptance and official recognition that I will never again sniff a fresh baby head that I made, mix up a bottle of formula of my choosing, or try to negotiate a breastfeeding attempt at 3am with an infant who feels very strongly that no matter what we try it is all wrong and terrible. As you can guess, some of these things made me a bit sad, and some of these things were a big relief.

The first step of an IUD insertion is having your uterus sounded. I happened to know what sounding means, as during a wine fueled evening of raucous laughter with R and some of our best friends, we got into one of those conversational tangents that led to an Incognito-Mode exploration of some of the more hilariously NSFW sites online, and discovered the wide world of medical fetishism. Evidently some people derive pleasure from having the depths of their urinary or reproductive organs measured by way of insertion of a metal stick with markings. My personal experience was almost completely unnoticed by yours truly, as I asked how long it would take and my midwife replied that she had finished already.

The point of this exercise in this case was to determine how long to cut the strings that hang off of the IUD, through the cervix, and into your vagina. After all, you don’t want danglers. But they have to be long enough for you to check that they are still there every month, so you know that your IUD hasn’t perforated your uterus and gone wandering around your body, wearing socks with sandals and stopping to take tourist photos on busy sidewalks. Or giving you sepsis. The most disturbing part of this is that evidently you can’t feel it when an IUD perforates. Notifying you that there has been a perimeter breach is not high on the list of things to do for the average uterus.

Once the IUD has had its haircut, it’s insertion time! This process takes about thirty seconds, and for me, was about as painful as a hard pinch. Then it was pants on and pay up time.

I went home and spent the rest of the day having pretty bad cramps, which they said was normal. I think this is why they want you to be on your period when they place the IUD – all the cramps just blend together and by the time the week is over it’s all a hazy menstrual memory.

It’s been a couple weeks at this point and I’ve had no issues so far. I still sometimes stop and wait to see if I’ve managed to sneeze hard enough to dislodge it. Have to keep yourself entertained somehow.