Do I have a STORY about the election? Well, I do have a story about that. Sure I do. Since when do I not have a story about something?
I woke up early on Tuesday to vote. REALLY early. I already get up early this week and I got up earlier than early. I wanted to vote before work because after work I had to go to auditions. So I got up early, and I went on over to the polling place. Which is one of our local elementary schools. And I went in, and I went to my little table (and saw handsome friend R., who gave me a delicious hug and he always smells SO GOOD and we both agreed we were voting for the right person and he was all “we will celebrate tonight!” and I said, “Oh, R., I hope so, I so hope so”) and then I got my sheet (I was number 62, and I’m pretty sure that’s a very good number) and I went to my little cubby which was all tippy and cheap and one of the legs wasn’t long enough and I scribbled in my bubbles and I double and triple-checked that I filled in ALL the bubbles and then I went on over to the Scantron machine.
Pretty prestigious, right?
The woman in front of my was VERY BUSY and in a hurry. So she just popped her sheet in the machine and walked off all busy tappy feet. And after she left and before the lady waved me up to the machine, the busy lady’s ballot popped on out of the Scantron machine with a very annoying beeping noise.
The polling place lady was all “URGHHHHH” and went over and jammed it back into the machine. It popped out and beeped. Tried again. Popped out and beeped. Over and over. She was NOT amused. The line of people ready to scan their trons was getting pretty long.
Finally, she was all, “Ugh, THIS isn’t going to work. YOUR TURN,” to me, and walked away from the machine with the woman’s ballot.
Stupid ballot. Who cares about this ballot? NO ONE CARES.
“Um…that’s…that woman’s ballot isn’t going to work?” I said.
“Nope. Go,” she said.
“What…happens to her ballot?” I said.
She just rolled her eyes and waved in an annoyed fashion at the machine. I WAS HOLDING UP THE LINE.
So, with this undecided ballot-thing hanging over my head, I walked up to the faulty Scantron machine and put in my ballot.
“YOU’RE DONE NOW, BYE,” she said.
Now, I knew I wasn’t done. The machine, once it accepts your ballot, gives you a cheery “Your ballot has been counted, thank you” message. First, she was still standing there holding that woman’s PRESIDENTIAL EFFING BALLOT in her hand. Not even in its privacy folder. (Doesn’t “privacy folder” sound fancy? It’s a legal-sized manila folder, there’s nothing fancy about it.) Just hanging all out. Anyone could have seen that woman’s vote. AND SHE DIDN’T EVEN SEEM TO CARE. Then, THEN, she was trying to HURRY me, so MY ballot wasn’t going to count.
(I know this isn’t voter fraud, but there has to be some sort of name for what this is. Pollworker malaise? I don’t know. Whatever it is, IT IS WRONG AND I AM FURIOUS.)
Well, I think you can guess how well I took her pushing me around, right?
I never outgrew this stage of development. Sorry, childhood.
“I am not done,” I said.
“You’re done,” she said. She walked over, that woman’s ballot flapping in her hand.
At that moment, the machine came up with its “Your vote has been counted, thank you!” message. I looked at it. I looked at her in triumph.
“NOW I’m done,” I said, and I strolled out of the school.
I WIN VOTING.
Oh, wait, I’m not even done. I have more.
So, I was petrified on Tuesday. All day long. So, so scared. Of course I was. I know. I KNOW. People have good points, like “what really changes, once we get a new president?” and “both candidates were…well, pretty shitty, objectively” and one of my coworkers was all, “Amy. WE WORK AT AN ANSWERING SERVICE. How is who the president is going to affect us? Seriously? We’re the poor people that presidents hate, you know?” and he’s kind of right. But also, Romney and Ryan hated my uterus. And my gay friends. And I didn’t want to live in a country run by them. So, I was petrified. For all of his faults, Obama likes the ladies. And he’s got no beef with the gays.
Well, shit, if I had seen this, I wouldn’t have freaked out!
So before I went to bed (way too late, auditions went way overtime, but we cast the show, and MAN do I wish you all lived closer, our Laramie Project is going to be AMAZING, one audition piece made me CRY, and that was just the AUDITION) I emailed three of my nearest and dearest who I knew were going to be awake until the bitter end, because I couldn’t stay up any more. I had to get up at 5:30am, and staying up until who-knows-how-long to see who won was a very bad idea for me, sleeping-wise, considering I’d had very little sleep the night before. So I said, “dear people I love, you will be awake. I need to go to bed. I can’t handle going on Facebook or Twitter tomorrow morning until I know who wins. So please, if you love me, email me once you know who wins. If it’s the right person, just say, ‘you’re ok, Amy, all’s well, you can go on the internet again.’ And if not, please break the news kindly. I think I can take it if it comes from you. Love love love.”
(I didn’t say it this succinctly. I did it more rambly-like. They still love me. Hence the “nearest and dearest” monikers.)
Then I went to sleep. But I didn’t really go to sleep, because I tossed and I turned and the cat kept bothering me and I couldn’t sleep because of the MARES of NIGHT and I kept waking up and I should have just checked the damn phone but I was afraid if the results hadn’t come in I’d be in a worse situation, or what if the wrong person won? So I didn’t. Just kept tossing and turning. All night long.
Then I crawled out of bed when the alarm went off and looked at the phone all balefully. I was afraid to check it. So I started to get ready for work. WITHOUT CHECKING THE PHONE. I never start my day without checking the phone. It’s the first thing I do every morning. I was too scared.
So I got all ready for work.
Still too scared.
Then I made fed Dumbcat, who was blissfully ignorant of what was happening and just dorby-dorbing around.
Still too scared.
Then I finally sat on the couch and said, you check the phone, you dummy.
All the email.
Three of them I couldn’t see what they were about. One started with “Don’t worry, Amy” so that could have gone either way. One just had the subject line of “Okay” so again, could have gone either way. One said “YAY!” but MAYBE THAT WAS A TRICK. My people are sarcastic (and I love ’em for it), so who knows? (My phone only gives you a very brief preview of what’s happening in the email.)
And one said something I’m not going to say because, well, it’s my personal email and therefore NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, but it made it VERY CLEAR, based on the person who’d sent it, that I was going to be ok.
And I whooped.
Then I wept.
And I scared the cat.
And I wept some more.
And I read my email, every last bit of it, and all my tweets, while sniveling.
I love you guys. Thank you.
Listen, it wasn’t much of a victory. 2 million popular votes as of 2:30pm Wednesday. That’s better than the results I first heard – 50,000 popular votes. But still. 2 million. That’s not a huge margin. There are a lot of people out there who are not happy with who won. My dad’s one of them. He and I can’t even discuss this. He’s so upset, and I don’t rub salt in the wound, you know? (He would have, were the tables turned, but that’s neither here nor there. We’re different people.)
Do I think the best person won? Yes. But think about this – who the hell would WANT the position? Mom and I were talking about this tonight. It’s a TERRIBLE job. People HATE you. People want to KILL you. You age insane amounts, you have so much pressure on you, no one likes anything you do, you have to deal with so much shit all the time – what a horrible job. You couldn’t pay me enough money, seriously.
Anyway. Four more years until I have to go through this again. I don’t think my heart can take it.
If you’re not a Twitter (or even a Facebook) person, you don’t get your news all in-a-flashy like we do, so you might not have found out right away. But Tuesday night, I was sitting around writing something up for another blog (you’ll see, it’ll be out next week) and flipping back and forth to my social networks. That’s what I do when I’m writing. Here, I’ll give you a glimpse behind the curtain. You like that sort of thing, right? You want to see the Great and Powerful Oz?
This is totally me, only less manly. And wizardy. And curtainy.
Here you go. I sit down to write, I open up the following tabs: Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, WordPress. Then I write for a while, and when I’m either stuck or bored or need a break or notice I have a notification in one of the tabs, I flip around and see what’s up. I know I could probably get work done a hell of a lot faster if I ignored (or refused to open) the other tabs (and when I’m in a hurry, I don’t open them at all, and wait to check them until I’m done – I’m not a complete moron about what drains my time) but I like that they’re there, and I like that I can see if people are trying to get in touch with me or if important things are going on or what-have-you.
So I was writing and writing and flipping around and catching up on back episodes of Haven while I wrote (I have such a weird crush on Eric Balfour with his big old noggin it’s kind of insane) and flipped over to Facebook and saw a post that just said “Oh” and the link said Nora Ephron had passed away.
And because I am a gigantic sap I totally started to cry.
Listen, Nora Ephron was a pretty stellar woman. You all probably know her from When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail (the first of which she wrote, the latter two she both wrote and directed) and you might think “meh, romantic comedies, whatever, cheesity cheese cheese” but she was really kind of someone we can all look up to, and it’s a huge loss that she’s gone.
She interned for John F. Kennedy. She was a low-level mail girl (imagine calling someone an ANYTHING girl now? the mind just boggles) at Newsweek back in the 60s. Why? Because they didn’t hire female writers and she wanted to work in publishing. Her just-for-fun satirical writing with some friends led to her first writing job, with the New York Post. It’s the writer’s version of being discovered at a soda fountain and going on to become a famous actress, I think. (Side note: the person who noticed her writing? The publisher of the Post? A woman. Nice job with the early integration, Post.) From there, Ephron became a well-known reporter, essayist, and humorist, writing for not only the Post, but Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and New York magazine, as well as collecting her essays into a number of books.
That’s her with the notebook. And RFK. Neat, right?
So she conquered journalism. She was a hipster feminist, WAY before it was cool.
Also, she looked pretty kickass while doing it.
What next? Well, in her personal life, she married, she divorced, she married again (Carl Bernstein, maybe you heard of a little thing called Watergate? The journalists who broke Watergate? Woodward & Bernstein? This is that Bernstein, and Ephron knew who Deep Throat was THE WHOLE TIME, yo), Bernstein cheated on her with one of her friends, she wrote a scathing screenplay about it (Heartburn, in which she says the cheating husband is “capable of having sex with a Venetian blind,” hee!) and she married again, to a screenwriter, by all reports quite happily.
70s feathered hair makes me smile. Here’s Ephron and Bernstein before the Venetian-blind-screwing.
So. Screenplays, huh? After she helped Woodward & Bernstein clean up their screenplay for All the President’s Men (her version wasn’t used), her writing caught Hollywood’s eye. Not long after, When Harry Met Sally happened. (Oh, she also wrote Silkwood. So whenever I say I want to Silkwood-shower my brain after I see something especially icky? Thank you, Nora Ephron.)
Without Nora Ephron (for better or for worse, because YES, I KNOW, it’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN) we’d never get the line all women are kind of secretly hoping some guy will say a variant of to us at some point or other in our lives:
I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Yes, yes, like I said. It’s irrational to expect this. But think about it. Don’t we all kind of want someone to love us not only despite, but for, our quirks? The things that we think, “huh, this is probably driving someone nuts” – someone noticing that? And loving it? That’s something, right? That’s your person. The person that loves you FOR those quirks. The person who notices all of our junk and thinks, eh, we all have junk. The person who wants the rest of their life to start right now, because they found you. Don’t you even say this isn’t a little bit awesome. Is it irrational? Yeah. But it’s also a little bit awesome and kind of true and I love it.
Or how about, “Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?” or “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash. But I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie.” Or that they don’t make Sunday days-of-the-week panties, “because of God.” Or “Oh, but ‘baby fish mouth’ is sweeping the nation?” Or (sob) “I am not your consolation prize, Harry.”
I know that it makes me a huge old girly-girl and I know that it’s creating these unobtainable expectations for romance, but I will always, always, ALWAYS want a When-Harry-Met-Sally romance on some level. Always and forever. I know it’s not coming, of course I do. The practical side of me is well-aware of that. But the side of me that still picks up wishing-pennies and refuses to step on cracks still holds out some hope. She’s optimistic, that one.
Then Ephron decided, huh. I liked writing that. That went really well. Let’s try some directing, what do you say?
The first one (This is My Life – heard of it? Nope, me either) wasn’t a home run. I love her a little more for that. If she hit it out of the park the first time, she wouldn’t be as relatable. Then: Sleepless in Seattle.
Pair up Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at the height of their squishy adorableness. Keep them separated for most of the movie. Throw in a ton of longing and heartbreak and the statistic (how much did THIS kill the women watching? I was in my early TWENTIES and was a little panic-stricken!) “It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than it is to find a husband over the age of 40!” The Empire State Building. “That’s your problem! You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.” (I do. That is my problem. I ABSOLUTELY want to be in love in a movie.) Their faces when they see each other for the first time. “Magic.”
Yep. Nice job, Nora Ephron. Add “meeting on the Empire State Building” to the “things all women secretly kinda want” list.
Then You’ve Got Mail. Did everyone love this as much as I did? Or is it just me who was completely swept away in the whole New York City/bookstores and the love of literature/rivals/secret identities/falling in love without seeing each other’s faces thing? I’m ok with it if it’s just me.
I’m going to quote the hell out of You’ve Got Mail. Listen, I tried to narrow it down. I just couldn’t. I love it so much.
Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.
I would have asked for your number, and I wouldn’t have been able to wait twenty-four hours before calling you and saying, “Hey, how about… oh, how about some coffee or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie… for as long as we both shall live?”
I love daisies…They’re so friendly. Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?
What will NY152 say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You’ve got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.
Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.
When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.
The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.
I wanted to be your friend…I knew it wasn’t…possible. What can I say, sometimes a guy just wants the impossible.
And, the line that can make me cry just thinking of it, the line that I didn’t have to look up online for the exact wording because sometimes it comes to mind with Meg Ryan’s face attached, her hopeful, relieved, teary face, and I just get all weepy all over again because it’s just perfect:
I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.
If it makes me sappy and girly and silly, so be it. But I like the magic in this movie. I like that there are two people out there so, so perfect for each other, and they meet in the least likely of ways, and they, despite all odds, manage to make it work. I like that. So much. I like that it speaks to those of us who spend a lot of our time online – not the “ZOMG WE’RE GOING TO FALL IN LURVE” thing, but the making-a-connection thing through the computer, with someone you’ve never met, through their words and their thoughts and getting to know them through the minutae of their day, you know? I love that. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The two of them really were the cutest together in these movies back in the day, weren’t they?
She continued to direct (her last movie was Julie and Julia, which wasn’t that long ago) and write books. She had two children. She had a large group of friends and supported up-and-coming young writers and comedians and directors; many of whom were women. She believed that (unlike a lot of men, both then and now) women in comedy WERE funny, ARE funny, and if they had to work twice as hard to show that? Well, nothing wrong with a little hard work. She openly talked about (shh!) “female issues” – sex, aging, romance, motherhood, divorce – and she made them FUNNY. And RELEVANT. She made them so MEN wanted to read about them or watch them. MEN! Interested in WOMEN’S issues, can you imagine the HORROR? She reportedly had a huge cackle; if you made Nora cackle, you knew you’d done something really special.
I would have liked to make Nora cackle. I have a cackle. I’ve been told the same thing, actually; that if someone hears my laugh in an audience, from all the way backstage, they know the show’s going well. I’m proud we have that in common. We’re not the type to be silenced. We don’t whisper; we roar.
I love this. This is 80 flavors of adorable.
She believed very strongly in the power of the written word. From Hilary Rosen’s piece about her in the Huffington Post: “What do you do when your friend Nora Ephron dies? You cry and then you write about it. Because that is what she said to do whenever you told her a story that moved her or amused her. ‘Write about it’ she’d say. It was like Beethoven telling you to play a symphony or Billie Jean King telling you to serve the ball or Springsteen telling you to rock. She was the best of the best and when she said, ‘write’ she was telling you to engage in the noblest pastime she knew.”
How can you not love a woman who believed in the written word this much? “The noblest pastime she knew.” Chills. Just, chills.
From Lisa Belkin’s piece, also from the Huffington Post: “’Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim,’ she said in a 1996 speech to the graduating class of Wellesley College.” My college graduation speaker told us to make sure to save for retirement, I think. I’d have liked a speech about being the heroine of my own life. I try to be. I think I’m succeeding.
And finally, from Arianna Huffington’s piece from the Huffington Post. (See, Nora Ephron didn’t really need to write anymore, and didn’t have time to, really. But when Arianna Huffington approached her about a new blog she was starting, Ephron did some research and realized that blogs were the wave of the future in writing and making that immediate connection. She made the time, because she loved it so much. She was a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and good friends with Arianna Huffington.)
Ephron and Arianna Huffington.
“Nora excelled not only as a blogger but as a blogging evangelist, spreading word of the medium’s particular value and making many converts. She quickly grasped that ‘one of the reasons for blogging was to start the conversation and to create the community that comes together briefly to talk about things they might not be talking about if you hadn’t written your blog.’”
Savvy woman, that Nora Ephron.
She intimated she was ill in her last book, but very few people knew she was suffering from leukemia. She played that close to the vest. I can appreciate that. I’d do the same thing. Who needs the sympathy? Life’s too short for that. She passed away on Tuesday from complications related to the disease.
We lost one of the good ones Tuesday. She paved the way for a lot of women in writing and in comedy. She showed what we can do, us women, if we work together; if we refuse to take no for an answer; if we work our asses off. She wrote beautifully and told it like it was and she loved deeply and she laughed, and she laughed, and she laughed.
Thank you, Nora. You’ll be missed. In your honor: I think I’ll write.
Before we start, I need to take a poll and be all sciencey. I’ve never done one of these before, let’s see what happens. You all LOVED the post yesterday SO MUCH. Like, holy COW, you guys. Most hits I’ve ever had in one day EVER. WordPress was all “YOU BROKE A RECORD LUCYSFOOTBALL!!!” So…here is my question…even though it will PAIN ME SO SO MUCH YOU GUYS. I’ll give you like a week and report on your answers and do whatever you tell me because I AM YOUR PUPPET apparently.
On to the real postiness of the post today…
I was futzing around online today (what? shut up, you know you all do the same exact thing) and found this article, which tells us that hospitals are too loud and are preventing patients from sleeping. Well, DUH. Hospitals are the WORST. What, you don’t believe me? You think hospitals are a haven of happiness and hushed-tones and healing? Well! I have a STORY for you. This story is called:
THE TIME AMY HAD MAJOR SURGERY (BECAUSE SHE WAS GOING TO DIE OF DEATH) AND THE HOSPITAL WAS THE SUCK
(Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t tell you this yet. I’ve told you pretty much everything else. I did a search, and I really didn’t tell this story yet. Parts of it, but not the whole thing. Huh. Well, aren’t YOU in for a treat.)
A few years ago, I went for my annual checkup. The doctor was a new doctor. She was young and very blonde and very gung-ho and kept saying I needed to exercise more. Mostly I like my doctors to be all, “Yeah, you’re fine, here’s a year’s worth of prescriptions, have a nice day.” This one was very guilt-trippy. Just give me my migraine and sleep medication prescriptions, lady, I know I need to sweat to the oldies more, I’m not an idiot, I’m just lazy. There’s nothing flabby about my BRAIN.
So she did all the poking and prodding and such (above the belt, I have a SPECIAL doctor for my lady-bits, because I’m all kinds of broken in my sensitive areas) and when she got to my throat, she was all, “Huh.” But not a GOOD huh, a very doubtful “huh.” Then she kept palpitating my throat and rubbing it and poking it and I was starting to get pretty sure she was a vampire or something.
“Let’s run some tests,” she said. “You’ve got something going on in your thyroid I don’t like.”
Oh! Well, that’s fantastic, most of my other glands and nodes and such have malfunctioned, so this was peachy and totally par for the course.
So tests were run, and listen, I wasn’t expecting much to be wrong. At most, I was expecting her to forget all about me, like the gynecologist usually does after tests, and never call again.
About a week later, she called me at work. Not her nurse, her. Well, THAT’S never good.
“You need to get in to the endocrinologist immediately,” she said. She sounded very businesslike. So I did what anyone would do and made a joke.
“Yeah, because I’m dying of cancer, right? Ha ha,” I said. “I’ll make an appointment in a couple of weeks, I have a lot going on at work right now.”
She was silent. I got a really, really bad feeling.
“You might not have a couple of weeks,” she said. “This can’t wait. You need to get in immediately. Call this number right now.”
“Um…I have cancer?” I said. “Are you saying I have cancer? DID YOU CALL ME AT WORK TO TELL ME I’M DYING OF CANCER?”
“You won’t die if you get in to see the doctor immediately,” she said. “We might have caught it in time.”
So as you can guess, I was totally productive for the rest of the day. I WAS TOTALLY DYING OF CANCER. I did research on thyroid cancer. It wasn’t good. Not at all good. It KILLED people. OK, not a lot of people, it wasn’t like breast cancer or lung cancer, statistic-wise, but people had DIED of this. I was totally dying. I probably needed to make a will and start saying my goodbyes and maybe skydive or something, isn’t that what people do when they’re dying young? Or maybe sleep with Julia Roberts, I think I saw that in a movie once.
Listen, I don’t want to sleep with Julia Roberts, she freaks me out.
So I went to the specialist, who was a very official surgeon with many ALL CAPS ABBREVIATIONS after his name. I had a SURGEON. Oh, this was bad. This was totally bad. But I was still kind of in denial. Listen, LITTLE crappy things happen to me all the time, but not BIG crappy things. I’m lucky like that.
I went in and thought, eh, he’ll probably tell me we’ll keep an eye on it or something. Nope.
“So we need to take your thyroid out, it’s got nodules in it,” he said. (NODULES! That just SOUNDS terrible! Already!) “They may or may not be cancerous. It’s major surgery. You’ll be in the hospital overnight. How about a month from now?”
I was going on vacation a month from then. His next availability was in late September, which worked for me. (He apparently didn’t think the cancer was going to kill me immediately, as this was June. Stupid scare-tactician doctor at my primary care provider. I have never gone back to her again, by the way. You don’t call someone up at work and tell them they have cancer and may only have a couple of weeks to live when you have NO IDEA whether or not they have cancer. I hate her the most.)
He went through what would happen – I would go to the hospital, be put under, they’d make an incision at the base of my throat, take out my thyroid, stitch me back up, and then I’d spend the night at the hospital to make sure I was ok. I’d be released the next day. If it was cancer, I’d have to have radioactive iodine therapy, which meant I’d have to spend time in the hospital again – you get radioactive iodine injected into you, which makes YOU radioactive, so you have to go into a safe room for a few days so you don’t contaminate other people or the ground water. I’m not even kidding. The nurses waiting on you wear Hazmat suits and have Geiger counters. TRUE STORY. Only I would have superhero cancer. Then when you go home, for like a week you have to swab the toilet down with special wipes after you pee so you don’t give anyone you’re living with radioactive asses when they pee after you. Again, you THINK I’m kidding, but I am not.
“Hi, my name is Gary, and I’ll be your nurse today DON’T TOUCH ME!”
“Um…my throat? You’re going to cut open…”
“Yeah. That’s where your thyroid is.” He poked the base of my throat, right where it joined my chest. “We cut from here to here” (he indicated from mid-clavicle to mid-clavicle) “and take it out. The scarring ranges from severe to minimal, depending on how well you heal.”
“I’m going to have a scar? That people can see? On my throat?”
He nodded. “You can wear turtlenecks or something.”
Like this! I could be pretty like THIS! EVERY DAMN DAY!
So, from Doom & Gloom McGillicutty to All-Business Pete, we had ALL THE FRIENDLY DOCTORS.
I went into the parking lot and made it to my car and WAILED. I had cancer! I was dying! Dying of cancer! All the cancer! I tried to call Dad but he was not home. I called Mom. Mom is not sympathetic to anything, from major paper cuts to broken arms (when I actually broke my arm, her response was, “Well, what the hell were you doing standing on a chair in the first place?”) so she was obviously not my first choice. However, she was a LITTLE sympathetic when I called her up in HYSTERICS all, “I AM DYING OF CANCERRRR and I need to have SURGERRYYYY” and there was weeping and snot was happening. Finally she managed to get out of me that I MIGHT not be dying of cancer, but that I did have to have surgery after all, so she was all, “Um, maybe stop crying in the parking lot, you have to get back to work now.” (SIDE NOTE: it is obvious I do not get my personality from my mom.) (Second SIDE NOTE: I might be a little melodramatic. But listen, you might be, too, if you were in your early 30s and dying of cancer that only a miniscule percentage of people get and were going to go through life wearing a collection of sad saggy turtleneck sweaters.)
I love this so much I can’t even. Is one of us the FROG in this scenario? I AM THE FROG. I AM THE FROG.
So I spent the summer all cancered up and sure my thyroid was trying to kill me and all nervous. I went on two vacations. I was nervous the entire summer. The ENTIRE summer. In retrospect, I should have just had the damn thing out sooner, but, see, I was sure I was going to a., die on the operating table, or b., have to go through radioactive iodine therapy for all the cancer I no-doubt had, so my life would pretty much be over.
I asked the doctor how I got this, and he said most people get this because they were exposed to radiation. “Were you exposed to radiation, or did you grow up around a toxic waste dump?” he said. Um. No. I told my brother this and his response was “Oh. Shit. I TOLD you not to pick up that glowing meteor we found in the woods and have it made into a locket.” And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you know my brother and I are genetically related.
Holy cow, glowing lockets are a THING. I found a crap-ton on Etsy. DON’T GET THEM YOU WILL NEED SURGERY YO!
I did all the research. Listen, don’t look up “thyroid removal scars.” OK, fine, here’s a sample of what I found. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I was pretty sure I was going to have this for the rest of my life; that is, if I survived. Which I was pretty sure I wouldn’t.
Could be this…
…or this. Both super-pretty and not at all traumatic.
Also, I barely told anyone, because I was brought up that you don’t spread around your personal info. However, the people I told told EVERYONE, even when I told them not to, because apparently having medical gossip about people is like CASH MONEY BABY. So people I barely knew were coming up to me all, “Aw, how ARE you,” and I hate that shit so much. A theater person came up to me and said, “We need to talk” and pulled aside her big honking necklace and she had a huge scar and she was like, “I survived, so can you” and she had to have the crazy Hazmat suit therapy and she went on and on and ON about how the scar has affected her life and how she can never wear anything but turtlenecks or huge necklaces and then she said (which is still a joke between me and my friend K., who was there at the time) “I can’t believe you’re nervous about surgery. You have a STUD in your TONGUE and you’re being a baby about getting your THROAT SLIT?” Um. They’re not the same. At all, really. I was AWAKE for the tongue piercing, lady. Also, “throat slit?” No no no. Not the terminology to use, thanks. Now I’m imagining Dr. All-Business as Sweeney Todd and am MORE nervous.
So the day of the surgery arrived. I was nervous. I made up a list of just-in-cases for my parents in case I died on the operating table because I watch a lot of medical dramas and that shit HAPPENS, yo. My parents came up because someone had to drive you to and from the hospital, and because they wanted to be there. I was fine with them NOT being there, because I was nervous enough, and seeing THEM be nervous was making it worse. I packed a bag of stuff for the hospital. I got my affairs in order. Away we went.
Listen, this is known as one of the best hospitals in the area. You say the name of this hospital and people nod and are all, “Yep, that’s a good one.” So I was all prepared for good.
We got there and because I was nervous and I hadn’t slept the night before and I was pretty sure I was going to die and this was pre-Twitter so I didn’t even have anyone to TALK to I started crying. Not all loud, just leaking? I don’t make sobby noises or anything. It’s what I do when I’m really nervous or upset. I leak. I can still talk and function, I’m just weeping while I do it. I couldn’t stop. This made the intake interview an adventure for the nurse asking the questions.
Finally, they made me put on a hospital gown that was all open in the back (what’s the point of these things? My DAD was there. I don’t want my dad seeing my ass-side) and then wheeled me off. They totally gave my parents one of those Olive-Garden beepers for when I was done. So they’d know when there was a table ready, I guess. I WAS THE TABLE.
Your table is ready. And by table, we mean we killed your daughter on the operating table. What, it’s KIND of a table. Same thing.
I got to the pre-op room which was a room full of equally nervous people (although I’m pretty sure I was the only one OPENLY WEEPING) and also there was a totally rude nurse who said “Why are you crying? You’re a grown-ass woman.” Um. That should have been a clue that this probably wasn’t going to go well. I wasn’t crying for EFFECT, lady. I couldn’t STOP crying. Also? “Grown-ass woman?” You’re a professional at work. This is how you talk at work? I mean, it’s how I talk at work (also, I use the f-word a lot, but that’s because I hate my job) but I’m not dealing with patients, now am I?
When I Google Image Searched “grown-ass woman” this sultry photo of Ron Swanson came up. Who am I to argue with Google, I ask you? WHO?
So they put a needle in the back of my hand (SIDE NOTE: I bruise like a peach so that left bruises for weeks) and talked to me a little and said, “We’re going to give you something to calm you down” and I was like “ZOMG YES PLEASE AS YOU CAN SEE I CAN’T STOP CRYING ALL UP IN HERE” and then whatever they gave me was like a calming wave. Aah. Then the nurse was like, “I think you need a little more of that,” and I was all, “Yo, whatever, I’m cooooool” and then I woke up in a completely different room. TRICKERY!
I was COUGHING AND COUGHING. No one warned me (I think someone was supposed to tell me that?) that they had to put a tube down my throat during surgery so I could breathe, and that when they remove it, it makes you cough and cough and COUGH and also it gives you a sore throat for like a week that hurts more than the healing does. I’ve talked to other people who’ve had surgery since and they all agree. Throat tube = the devil.
The surgeon was standing there. King of bedside manner, this one. “Breathe,” he said, in a bored tone.
I then said the two most intelligent things a person’s ever said when coming out of anesthesia:
“Am I dead?”
“Do I have all the cancer?”
The doctor looked at me like maybe instead of a thyroidectomy he’d accidentally done a full frontal lobotomy and said, “Um, no, and we don’t know yet, we have to send your thyroid off for a biopsy, it’ll be a week or so.”
“Can I see it?” I asked. (Listen, I love to see things. X-rays. Moles. Broken bones. Things that are not normally allowed to be seen? I totally dig that. How often does one get to see one’s own MUTINOUS THYROID?)
“No,” he said. “No, you cannot.”
(SIDE NOTE: because I love you, I’m not putting a photo I found online of a removed thyroid in here. It’s pretty icky. But also FASCINATING.)
That was disheartening.
So then they wheeled me back to my room, and my parents rushed in with their Olive Garden table-is-ready flashy thing, which a nurse immediately took from them (probably because they needed it to tell someone else their table was ready) and I was still coughing and coughing and then the doctor left after hooking me up to the BIGGEST BAG OF IV FLUIDS EVER. Is “lactated ringer’s” (don’t even yell at me for that apostrophe, the internet says it belongs there) the funniest name for an IV drip solution ever? Yes. It’s also the name of my next band.
See? There’s an apostrophe, I wasn’t making that shit up.
The point of lactated ringer’s is to replace whatever blood poured out of me during surgery with fluid, and also to make me pee like a racehorse. Every five minutes. For an hour. I have never had to pee so much in my life. Up and down and up and DOWN to the bathroom in my flappy hospital gown. So, Dad, hoped you liked seeing your grown-ass daughter’s panties REPEATEDLY. You might want to get a therapist for that.
When the nurse came in I asked her if we could turn off the lactated ringer’s because it was obvious the doctor hadn’t removed my kidneys but she said no. Coldly. No sense of humor at all, these nurses.
So the day passed, and my parents went and got me all the pudding (that’s a perk of the hospital – ALL THE PUDDING) and my incision didn’t even hurt but I kept touching the bandages and worrying what it would look like under there and there was a lot of dried blood all over and I was like, “well, turtlenecks for me. Also all the cancer.”
ALL THE PUDDING. Listen, if you’re sick, you can tell your parents to bring you back all the pudding from the hospital cafeteria? AND THEY WILL. It’s like magic.
Then it was time for my parents to leave because it was night. A new patient was brought into my room. A girl in her early twenties. With about four other people. All of whom were on cell phones. Loudly. Well. Fun. There were SIGNS that said NO CELL PHONES but apparently I was in a room with a bunch of vocal illiterates.
The nurse had to check on me every hour for my vital signs, in case I kicked it, I guess. I asked her if I could have a sleeping pill, because I was told they kept the medication I use in stock. She said she’d bring one in a minute and left.
The girl in the bed on the other side of the curtain started vomiting. The people with her started screaming, “NURSE!” Vomit and blood started oozing on the floor onto my side of the room. So, that was nice and not at all worrisome and zombie-flu-indicatory.
The nurse never brought my sleeping pill. When she came back the next time for my vitals, I reminded her. She said she’d be right back with it. Nope.
The girl in the bed next to me began projectile vomiting. “I didn’t know people had that much blood in them!” one of the people with her mused loudly. “Shh, I’m trying to watch Animal Planet,” another one hissed.
The nurse came back for another vitals check. I reminded her about the sleeping pill. “Someone already brought you that,” she said. I said no one had. “Says here on your chart they did,” she said, and left. What the hell am I supposed to do about that, argue? They’d probably lock me down on the psyche floor. In case they didn’t provide my pills, I’d stuffed some in my bag, even though they said DO NOT BRING ANY PILLS OF YOUR OWN. I totally took one of my OWN pills (like the drug addict I am, addicted to sleep, that’s me.) (SIDE NOTE: when I got my itemized bill from the insurance company, the hospital charged me for the pill they didn’t give me. LYING LIARS WHO LIE!!! INSURANCE FRAUD!!!) It didn’t help. Because of the loud people on the other side of the curtain and the projectile vomiting and the loud television they were listening to and their cell phone conversations and the nurses and doctors running in and out dealing with the vomiting of the blood.
Finally they took her away to another floor, I assume the morgue, and a man came in and mopped the floor for like a year. Then it was quiet. I could sleep. Except for them coming and checking my vitals every hour.
Oh, wait, no, I couldn’t sleep. Because then it was GOSSIP HOUR.
So I was lying there in my bed, attempting to sleep (and also? SO HOT. Because under the sheet on my bed, there was a RUBBER sheet. I assume in case I peed the bed. Which I haven’t done since I was 2, and probably won’t do again until I’m 82. But the side effect of rubber sheets is that they reflect all of your heat back at you like a little Easybake oven. SO HOT. I had cranked up my air conditioning but it wasn’t helping) and these two nurses came in. It wasn’t vitals check time so I didn’t know what they wanted. I pretended to be asleep.
Like this only less surgery-y and more gossip-y.
They sat on my air conditioner and loudly said, “Whoo! It’s hot in the hospital today. This is the coolest room on the floor!” Then they GOSSIPED LOUDLY FOR AN HOUR. I’m not even kidding. I wish I was. They were about six inches from my knees and talking as loudly as they could. At one point, one of them said, “I can’t believe she can sleep through this! We’re being really loud! HA HA HA!” Yes, I know I should have said something. But what the hell was the point, they weren’t giving me my meds, they’d put me in a room with Regan from The Exorcist and her unable-to-modulate-the-volume-of-their-voice family, and I couldn’t sleep anyway.
Like this. You remember this skit, right? I LOVED THIS. But not so much when I’m trying to sleep.
When the vitals nurse came in, the other two were all, “Oh, well, time for us to take off, I guess” and left. I had about three hours to myself. I gave up on trying to sleep and instead watched middle-of-the-night television. The Loudersons next door were right about Animal Planet. It was just about the only channel on television that wasn’t showing infomercials. I watched a lot of Animal Planet until my parents showed back up.
The minute my parents showed up I buzzed the nurse and was all, “I’m ready to go home now. NOW. Ready to go home AT THIS EXACT TIME.” She was all, “Did you poop?”
Now listen, how often are you asked if you pooped when you are a GROWN-ASS WOMAN? Apparently, after surgery, if you don’t poo, that’s a problem, because sometimes going under anesthesia does something to your pooing abilities, I don’t know. Luckily, I had the correct answer to this.
“YES I POOPED,” I said, all proud of something a child can do. “IN THE TOILET. LIKE A BIG GIRL. I can go home now, yes?”
“We have to wait for the doctor to round, then you can go home,” she said, and rolled her eyes and left.
I told my parents about the night from hell. I don’t know that they believed me. My dad said, “Well, no one comes to the hospital to sleep.” “HOW DO THEY GET BETTER?” I asked. “They don’t, they just die here,” he said, looking around all mistrustfully. My dad’s family doesn’t have the best track record with hospitals.
The doctor finally came, and then I had to wait AGAIN, for the nurse to come (ALL THE WAITING) and then I could finally go home. I was told I could shower, and all the stitches were internal, so I just had to go back to the doctor in a week to get the butterfly bandages off and have the incision checked and then I’d be ok.
Oh, also, I’d be on thyroid medication for the rest of my life, so when the apocalypse comes and we run out of medication, I’ll be one of the first to die. Dammit. And, AND, some of the side effects of not having a thyroid are that I have weird heat/cold issues (if it’s hot, I’m BURNING UP, if it’s cold, I’m FREEZING) and also I have the metabolism of a dead sloth. So that’s nice, I am sleepy all the time (still can’t sleep, it did nothing with my insomnia) and also I can’t seem to lose weight. YAY NO THYROID THANKS GENETICS. Also, I can no longer metabolize calcium, so have to take a billion calcium supplements a day and probably will get osteoporosis and also break a lot of bones in my dotage. YIPPEE SOMETHING ELSE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.
(Also, my roommate at the time took much glee in the fact that one of the medications I might be prescribed went by the name “Armour Thyroid.” “It’s like a SUPERHERO MEDICATION!” she said. I unfortunately did not get the superhero medication and just got the plain old generic medication instead. I could use some ARMOUR THYROID about now, I think.)
ARMOUR THYROID! For when you want a SUPER PROTECTED THROATAL AREA!
I took a couple days off work and when I got back, the office gossip had found out what was up and told everyone I probably wouldn’t be back because I was dying of cancer (so it was like a game of telephone gone bad) so I had to deal with a lot of “how ARE you”s and that was annoying. I was fine.
And when I got to the doctor’s office a week later and he took off the bandages? Nothing. A slight red line that’s faded into this:
I drew you a helpful arrow, because otherwise? YOU CAN’T SEE IT. My surgeon rocked, yo. (The other lines you can see are WRINKLES. I am OLD.) Also, no, I have no idea why the middle of my neck is yellow like that. It doesn’t look like that in real life. Pollen? Camera flash? Who the hell knows.
You can barely see it if at all. I can feel it if I run my fingers along it, but you have to be pretty close to see it. (No one gets that close to me without me screaming stranger danger, promise.) For all of his negative bedside manner, the doctor did good work in not making me look like Frankenstein’s monster. (The first time I saw my brother after surgery, he asked where the bolts in my neck were. I was so relieved not to be dead, I laughed like a moron.)
Aren’t you so glad I didn’t end up looking like THIS? FIRE BAD.
And, no. It wasn’t cancer. I didn’t have to have Hazmat suit radioactive iodine therapy. It was pre-cancerous – the nodules apparently would have turned cancerous, left to their own devices – but we caught it early enough and removed the whole thing and all is well, lemon drops. Other than the fun side effects mentioned above, I suppose.
So! Yes. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get a good night’s sleep in the hospital; I can attest to that. Also, doctors are kind of sucky; my body is trying to kill me (but I keep FOILING it); and nurses are even suckier than doctors. Also, a human can vomit up a LOT of blood and keep on ticking like a Timex, who knew? And lactated ringer’s makes you pee like a mofo.
However, I’ll take a little more of whatever was in that IV the first time around. It made things super smoooothhhhh. It was like jazz in an injection. Aahhhhh.
Happy Friday! Look at that, we made it to the weekend, how’d that happen? HUZZAH!
Well, here we are, jellybeans. Tax season is now in the rearview. I have days and days of cleanup and filing and various nonsense to take care of, but the deadline hanging over my head is DONE. I just have to make it through a day and a half and I get a whole day off! Whoo-hoo!
Listen, I’m going to be squishy for a minute, so if you hate things like that, cover your ears. Or your eyes. Or whatever you cover, I don’t know. I NEED TO BE SQUISHY SO DEAL WITH IT.
I’ve been through seven tax seasons with this firm now. The first two weren’t too bad, because I wasn’t in my current position yet. The next four were a nightmare. I mentioned the weeping. And the exhaustion. And the weeping. How about the weeping? SO MUCH WEEPING. And the time I fell asleep in the shower. While weeping. And the yelling and the irrational expectations and the work heaped upon work heaped upon work. I dread these four months every year. Every year they’re a little worse. Every year they’re a little less tolerable.
Until this year.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was bad. These past four months have been insane, and I’ve gotten far less sleep than any human should be operating on, and tempers got short, and my coworkers got snappy, and even though I’ve been running as fast as I can, I’ve been horrible at keeping up with things. Some of my friends have been woefully ignored. One of my blogs has been woefully ignored. I haven’t been responding to emails in a timely fashion. I messed up a couple of major things over at the theater because my head was NOT in the game. (No worries. They were fixable.) My house is a disaster zone. I haven’t been seeing nearly enough live theater. Dumbcat is not getting cuddled as much as an adorable cat like Dumbcat should be and is getting very yowly and needy as a result of that.
However: I didn’t cry. Not once. Not at work, not at home. (Well, over WORK, anyway. I cried PLENTY over things that mattered. Television. Things that people did for me that were unexpectedly kind. Things that made me laugh to tears. Oh, plenty of tears. Only on my own terms, thank you very much.) I only snapped a couple times at my coworkers, and please believe me when I tell you those couple of times, they TOTALLY deserved it. I mean, I’m not a saint, let’s be honest. I didn’t lose my shit. And – AND – here’s the best part. I laughed. I LAUGHED. More than I was upset, I laughed. Maybe at stupid shit, but I laughed. And I had a smile on my face for most of those four months. A smile that CONFUSED and BEFUDDLED my coworkers. Because it was all mine, and I had no right to be happy when they were so miserable, did I? I did, though. I had a reason.
I had this.
I had my blog to go home to at night, and I could let off steam there. I had you all commenting to respond to. I could check my stats and see that more and more people were (for some reason – yay!) reading what I had to say every day. I had two other blogs to write for. I had my Twitter friends cheering me on daily, even when (DAMMIT) work took Twitter away (or Twitter just disappeared, who knows what exactly happened there other than THERE IS NO TWITTER EFF.) I had my friends sending me emails of encouragement, making me laugh, telling me I could do it, telling me how much I was missed. I had people. So many people. Who cared how I was doing.
The internet got me through tax season, and it got me through tax season SMILING.
I have a support system I didn’t have at this time last year. That support system rallied around me without even knowing they were doing something amazing. It reminded me of Adam Sandler’s line in Punch-Drunk Love: “I have so much strength in me you have no idea. I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine.” You, all of you, blogging, all of this – that is the love in my life. Knowing all of you and being able to write this have this made me so, so strong. It gave me something to look forward to; it gave me something that was all mine to have to come home to every night.
So I’m being squishy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve never been a person with much in my life, and never with this much at once. I feel so lucky. I thank you all for being there and I thank you all for being such amazing, wonderful, funny, intelligent, beautiful people.
I promise you’ll see more of me online now that things have slowed down. I probably won’t have Twitter back at work anytime soon – or ever – but now that it’s quieter, I can be more involved here and there (and possibly sneak my phone out more often and get on Twitter, shh, don’t say a word.) More writing. MORE WRITING DAMMIT. For ALL the blogs. Finishing up some major and super-awesome-shiny-funny-mega-posts that I have on the back burner. Plus, the fruition of one major top-secret project, plus a few little secrety-style projects I’ve been working on all slyly over the past few months. More commenting on more blogs. More paying attention to what’s happening around me. More being a better friend to those of you I’ve been AWOL toward. I promise, I promise, I promise. No more walking around like a horse with blinders on because one more thing on my teeter-totter was going to break the camel’s back. HOW DO YOU LIKE MY MIXED METAPHOR SO AWESOME RIGHT? Oh, also, MORE ALL CAPS GOODNESS.
Also, I’m going to cuddle the hell out of my poor cat. That poor silly dumb boy. He’s so sad and lonely.
OK. End squish. But just, thank you. Some of you, so, so mega-thank you that I can’t even express. You know who you are. I’ve told you privately how thankful I am for you. But just to reiterate: you’re the best friends a person could ever wish for, seriously. I am so lucky and I don’t want to think too hard about why, all of a sudden, this is the case? But I am. And thank you. Thank you, thank you. I owe you. I love you all to itty bitty pieces.
Two little things and then I’m off because I have a kabillion things to do before bed tonight.
ONE. Dad told me a story that he said was “for your internet people” and how could I not share?
Dad: So the last night we’re in Florida, we have to leave the condo. So we have to go stay in a hotel.
Me: ZOMG MAGIC FINGERS MAGIC FINGERS.
Just a tip? Don't ever do a search for "magic fingers." OH MY EYES MY EYES.
Dad: This is not 1963. I told you, they don’t have those anymore.
Me: I know. Dammit. I am so sad I never got to stay in a place with Magic Fingers.
Dad: I did once. It was the WORST.
Me: WHAT? You stayed in a room with MAGIC FINGERS?
Dad: I never told you this?
Dad: One year, your uncle, Mr. Helper Mule, and I were hunting. On the way home, we stayed at a fleabag motel. It had Magic Fingers.
Me: ZOMG. Z. O. M. G.
Dad: Wait, I’m not done. So we’re all really cheap so we got one room with two double beds. Well, your uncle and I couldn’t sleep with Mr. Helper Mule. He’s not related to us. So he got one bed to himself. And your uncle and I were going to sleep together, but with like a barricade of pillows and luggage between us.
Me: That seems restful.
Dad: Yes. So Mr. Helper Mule flopped on his bed. It immediately broke. That place was so cheap.
Me: Why are you staying somewhere so gross? You’re going to get scabies.
Dad: I don’t think that’s how you get scabies.
Me: It might be, you don’t know. WHEN DO THE MAGIC FINGERS HAPPEN.
Dad: Oh, now. Anyway, so your uncle got on the only working bed. And he said, “Look! Magic Fingers! I’ve always wanted to use Magic Fingers!” and he put a quarter in the machine. And that bed was VIBRATING. ALL OVER. Out of CONTROL. It was not at all relaxing.
Me: Aw. This ruins the idea of Magic Fingers for me.
Dad: Oh, just wait. It gets worse. So then, after a few minutes, we realized: Magic Fingers was BROKEN. It wouldn’t shut OFF. It went on for EVER. So we had one broken bed, and one that was jumping all over like a bull in a barroom.
Me: This is an awesome visual. What did you do?
Dad: We eventually realized you could unplug it. And Mr. Helper Mule slept on his mattress on the floor. No one slept much that night.
Me: Thank you for curing me of my ridiculous obsession with Magic Fingers.
Dad: You’re welcome? I think?
Me: That was a quote from Moulin Rouge. My internet people would have gotten that, I think.
Dad: I hated that movie, because you tricked me into watching it and it was a musical. But I loved it, because of Nicole Kidman’s costumes.
Dad used to like Nicole Kidman, before she became scary bony looking. I'm in agreement. She used to be smoking hot, didn't she? I miss that.
Me: Nice. You should be a movie reviewer.
SECOND, guess who I got to sort of kind of talk to on the phone tonight? THE NEPHEW!
He was staying with my mom tonight, and I could hear him talking to her in the background. Because he is LOUD. And BUBBLY. I swear, that kid is totally related to me. It’s the best.
He told many stories. One was called “That T. Rex that bit my toe that time, I hit him with my bulldozer truck until he stopped doing that” and one was called “I’m scared of the Ghost Ball” (I don’t know what that means either) and one was called “I am STARVING I want a cereal bar” (my mom said he’d eaten about ten minutes ago) and one was called “don’t say I have a big belly! I have a LITTLE BELLY!” and one was called “a boy in my daycare hit me, but I told the woman who runs daycare, and she told him to stop, and he did.” SO MANY STORIES. I love him more than the whole wide world.
At one point, my mom told him not to run, or he would fall, and he said, “OK! Time to go!” and she said, “Where are we going?” and he said, “NO! TIME TO ROLL!” and then laughed and laughed. Then he was pulling stickers off the tricycle he got for Christmas (I put those on, and they were totally crooked, so I was cool with that – they were embarrassing, but I was SO DAMN TIRED at that point at Christmas) and when my mom said, “What are you doing?” he said, “I wanted to do that to it,” all seriously. Like his intent was in question. And then, at the end of the phone call, I told my mom to tell him I loved him, and she did, and he said, “I DON’T LOVE YOU!” and I pretended to cry and she said, “Oh, The Grandson, you made Aunt Amy cry!” and he said, “No! I love her!” and then she said, “Now she feels better!” and he said, “Because I love her, that’s why.” AW THE NEPHEW! I love YOU. Seriously, you could put that kid’s photo after the word “joy” in the dictionary, with no words at all other than that, and everyone would immediately know what you were talking about. He is joy. Complete and total joy.
OK. Off to bed. Thank you, and love your faces. EVEN YOU DING DONG JOE. Even you.
Thank you for being my people. You’re the world’s best people that ever peopled in the history of people. And you’re all mine. I’m not giving you back. Not ever ever.
I have been an insomniac since I was about 13. That’s almost 25 years of very, very poor sleep. In case anyone’s counting. Is anyone counting? OH WAIT I AM. Because I have all the time for it, you see. ALL THE TIME. Because I CAN’T EFFING SLEEP.
I come by it naturally. Every single person on my dad’s mom’s side of the family, going back to…wherever they go back to (I don’t know where, we’re apparently in some sort of ancestry witness protection, because whenever I ask, people just say, “CANADA” and then get shifty-eyes, and when I say, “Well, there must have been something BEFORE Canada, or are we Native Canadian people, or what, exactly?” they clam up and start talking about the weather or snowmobiling or hunting or something. They’re shady, those upstaters. This is QUITE A MYSTERY.)
My dad can’t sleep. His mom couldn’t sleep. None of her siblings could sleep. Her dad couldn’t sleep. I can only assume one of HIS parents couldn’t sleep, and there we go, back to the wilds of Canada or wherever my ancestors are from. I’m going to pretend Italy. Let’s pretend Italy, ok? I’d like to be pretend-Italian. It would explain my love of carbs and insistence on talking with my hands. OOH OR MAYBE ATLANTIS. Yep. That would totally explain all the secrecy. I’m going to start telling people my ancestors are the last of the people from the lost city of Atlantis. This is going to be GREAT.
My main problem is, I can’t turn off my brain. You read my blog. See all this crap? This is not just how I write. THIS IS HOW I THINK. My brain is going a million miles an hour and it’s all Ricochet Rabbit bing-bing-binging around in there. If there were a way to get that all to just STOP, to go to static like the TV used to sign off at the end of the day? That would be great. But brains aren’t like television sets from the 70s. They DON’T EVER STOP WORKING. It’s not even nightmares. It’s that I can’t get my brain to turn off long enough to get to sleep in the first place. I’d WELCOME the nightmares. At least that means I’m SLEEPING.
I have sleeping pills. Well, here’s the odd thing. I went through a million sleeping pills, and none of them worked. First, they tried to do herbal and did the melatonin thing. That worked for a little while, but then I had to keep upping the dose until I was taking about ten of those things a night and they weren’t having much of an effect and when I told the doctor that she was all, “Um…yeah, that probably isn’t a good idea, let’s stop that.” Then she said to try over-the-counter medication, but not to bother with something fancy, just get Benedryl. That did nothing other than make me fall asleep for about an hour, then I’d be awake, and very, very dry. Because it’s for allergies. So it dries you all up. So mostly I was all dried up for a week or two. Not working. Then some herbal calcium supplement, which again, worked for a week or so, then my body was all, “WE’RE HIP TO THIS JIVE” and right back to staring at the ceiling at 3am.
Then she tried precription sleeping pills, but the first couple did nothing at all. NOTHING. It was like taking sugar pills. Which they might have been, I don’t know. I might have been in a whole medical test situation that I didn’t know about.
Then she got frustrated and said, “Here, try these” and wrote me a prescription for something else. When I asked what it was (probably between yawning) she said “Well, that’s a funny story. It was originally marketed as an antidepressant. But people who were taking it as such remained depressed, and then some of them started killing themselves? So doctors knew it wasn’t actually a very good antidepressant and probably just about the worst, actually, so they don’t really prescribe it as that anymore. But a side effect of it is, it makes you VERY DROWSY. So now we use it as a last-ditch effort for people who can’t sleep.” When I asked her if she really thought it best she called that a “funny” story she thought about it and said, “No, probably not.”
Yes, I realize I’m taking pills that failed in their original goal. That’s ok. Everyone deserves a second chance, even pharmaceuticals.
I’ve been taking it for almost ten years now. Up until recently, it’s worked fairly well. FAIRLY well.
Here’s a normal person’s night of sleep:
Gets ready for bed
Gets into bed
Wakes up feeling, for the most part, refreshed
Here’s MY night of “sleep”:
Gets close to bedtime; remember to take your pill so you’ll get sleepy
Wait for an hour for the pill to get you sleepy enough to want to attempt to sleep
Get into bed
Lie there for anywhere from half an hour to an hour tossing and turning, kicking Dumbcat out because he is stepping on you with sharp feet and refuses to JUST STOP IT, thinking about EVERY BAD THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU EVER plus ALL THE THINGS WEIGHING ON YOUR MIND plus ALL THE PEOPLE YOU FORCE YOURSELF TO NEVER THINK ABOUT DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS
Fall asleep (most of the time)
Wake up 3-5 times a night, randomly, and repeat the whole process
Wake up in the morning CRANKY AS HELL and WANTING TO PUNCH A KINDERGARTENER IN THE FACE AREA
(From this, I think you can see why me ever getting married or sharing my bed with anyone but Dumbcat would be a very, very, VERY bad idea. Also, I don’t like anyone touching me when I’m trying to sleep? Because it’s like work, and that’s distracting. I mean, sure, fine, let’s have some sex, that’s nice, that’s good, but then why don’t you go sleep elsewhere because there’s no WAY I’d get to sleep with someone touching and breathing and being all up in my space when I wanted to toss and turn and huff and puff and look at the clock and go “ARGH!” and such.)
At this point, I’ve gotten used to it. There’s no point in NOT getting used to it. It’s not like it’s going to get any better. I know I’m always exhausted; I’ve been that way for the majority of my life. It does make me sad when people say they’re looking forward to bed, though. The only times in my life I’ve slept without a problem are when I’m sick, when I’m depressed, or when I’m not supposed to (in class, when someone’s talking to me, in movie theaters – pretty much when I’m bored and should be paying attention to something.)
The only, only, ONLY good thing is that sometimes I come up with kickass ideas when I’m in bed unable to sleep and it’s 3am. And not all of them are harebrained schemes! I know, right? I know you’re probably wondering, why don’t I get out of bed and do something? I am ETERNALLY OPTIMISTIC. I keep hoping if I stay there, I’ll fall asleep – and even a little sleep is better than none. If I get up, I know I’ll never get back to bed, and then I have no one but myself to blame when I feel like shit the next day.
So anyway, here is last night. Ready? Last night was a BLAST.
The new thing is: panic attacks. Does anyone have those? They are a TREAT.
My fight or flight is ALL EFFED UP, you guys.
They’re LIKE a heart attack, only my doctor assures me they’re not. So, that’s nice. You can assure your BRAIN that you’re not having one. HOWEVER. Your heart is beating a mile a minute; your chest hurts; your arm hurts; your neck hurts; and sometimes, SOMETIMES, your limbs twitch uncontrollably and if you’re half-asleep when they hit, YOU SHOUT. Yep. They are the prettiest things in the WORLD, panic attacks are. They were fun when I had roommates, who often thought I was being murdered in the middle of the night, not just panicking over things that weren’t real.
I haven’t had one in a while. I’ve got a lot on my mind. Work stuff. Personal stuff. I’m on stuff-overload. Last night, Panic Attack Time! Wahoo!
So I went to bed EARLY. Well, for me. Because Mondays at work kick my ass and I wanted to face it with ALL THE INTREPIDNESS. Also, I had gotten less and less sleep over the last week. It went from 6 to 5 to 4 hours of sleep over the week. I wanted to get ALL the sleep. So I was just curled up for about fifteen minutes when PANIC ATTACK. The worst one EVER.
“I’m fairly sure I’m dying right now,” my brain said.
“Don’t be absurd, it’s a panic attack,” my brain replied. “You KNOW these can’t kill you.”
“But has my chest ever hurt THIS much? Or my ARM? Also, I bet the morgue is FULL of people who ignored these VERY SIGNS and then their cat ate their face because they are Forever Alone. I think I should call 911.”
“The doctor TOLD you these are panic attacks. You KNOW they are. Do you really want to be the asshole who went to the hospital for a panic attack? Also, your copay is $100. Kiss your laptop fund goodbye, sis.”
So this went on for three hours.
Then I decided, because I was SO TIRED and also WEEPY, that it was the BED’S fault. So I went to sleep on the couch.
Dumbcat was on the couch. He was VERY EXCITED it was playtime.
“Meow? Meow? MEOW?”
“No Dumbcat not playtime let’s sleep so tired” I garbled at him and flopped on the couch.
More panic attacks, but this time with the added “over twenty-pound cat walking to and fro on me because he thought I was a bridge and this was super-fun-playtime and he was KING OF THE MOUNTAIN and I WAS THE MOUNTAIN” accouterment.
Eventually, I guess I fell asleep. I opened my eyes and was SO EXCITED. Had I conquered it? Surely I had! The BED was the culprit! That damn bed. Was it time to get up? Was it time for work?
Yeah. Twenty minutes had passed. It wasn’t even light out yet.
I went through “panic attack panic attack PANIC ATTACK sleep for twenty minutes” a few more times, then decided I needed some aspirin because the guy in the Bayer commercial told me at the first sign of a heart attack to take some. And since I wasn’t going to the hospital for what might or might not be a panic attack, I was going to take some aspirin to stop the heart attack panic attack so at least when they did the autopsy they’d know I was paying attention to the Bayer commercials. So I got out the aspirin bottle but it has a childproof cap. You know. Because of all my children. NO not the soap opera. So I got it open in a feat of strength that was heretofore unknown in my household only to spill half the bottle on the bathroom floor. Then I couldn’t decide – could aspirin kill cats? Or was that ibuprofen? Did I care enough about Dumbcat and his middle-of-the-night foraging to clean up all these aspirin?
I did. I got on my hands and knees and cleaned them all up on the off chance it would save my cat’s life. YOU OWE ME DUMBCAT.
Then I realized I could have just shut the bathroom door until the next morning and just started BAWLING because I was SO EFFING TIRED SERIOUSLY.
Then I somehow ended up back in my bed. I think I’d forgotten my bed was conspiring to keep me from ever sleeping again? I’m not sure. But in a strange turn of events that I can’t quite explain, I fell asleep with my HEAD near the FOOT of the bed and my feet on the pillow. With no pillow. Or sheets.
At this point in the night it was 5am. I get up at 6:20. So, all in all, I got an hour and twenty minutes of uninterrupted sleep, and two or three 20-minute catnaps, while being walked on by a cat. A VERY DUMB CAT.
Added up: a little over two hours of sleep.
And Mondays are HELL at work during tax season.
So, I was a zombie today. I ran into a wall; I answered questions with the wrong answers (and, not just KIND OF the wrong answers – I was asked, “What’d you do this weekend?” and I said, “Thanks, I got it at Rite Aid,” and when they said, “What?” I said, “The movie was good.” Those kind of conversations happened more than once today), I started crying when a very nice coworker told me it was ok if I left some work for the next day (not because he was giving me permission – I was going to leave it anyway – but because he was BEING SO NICE), I got a call from Adam to Christine, and called Christine, and said, “I have Christine on the line for you, Adam” to her, which was classy and not at all word salad.
My dad is very “WHAT WILL WE DO TO FIX THIS PROBLEM” when I tell him things, so his first thing was, “well, it’s the blogging’s fault, quit the blogging” and I was all, “um, no, can I quit work? I’d sleep like a baby then” and he said I could not. Dammit. My mom said warm milk. WHO DOES THAT. Ugh. I only like very cold milk. THAT’S WHY YOU KEEP IT IN A FRIDGE.
I’ve TRIED all the normal fixes. I know, people love to give insomnia advice. It’s very nice, it is. But when it’s been happening for so long, and when the nights are so damn long and dark and seem endless and all you can think of is how bad the next day will be because your brain will be mush – all the advice in the world can’t fix that. Andreas wrote a very helpful post about how to combat sleeplessness not too long ago, and I loved it – but I’ve tried all the things. None of them work once my head hits the pillow and my brain starts being a hamster on a wheel.
I’m thinking lobotomy, right? Because that would turn off ALL THE THOUGHTS. Good idea? We like that? Yes? Wait, what, we don’t? Ugh, dammit, fine.
Wish me all the best. That bed’s giving me a look I don’t like. A very, “It’s you and me, buckaroo, and only one of us is winning this one,” look. I think it underestimates how very much I like to win. Also, how bone-tired I am. Dumbcat, you’re staying in the living room tonight. Sorry, buddy. Your feet are too sharp and I don’t feel like playing King of the Mountain tonight.
(UPDATE: This was written Monday night, right before bed. I SLEPT LIKE A CHAMP. Didn’t wake up ONCE. Fell asleep the minute my head hit the pillow. Woke up and Dumbcat was sleeping on my face and even THAT didn’t wake me up. BED. I totally conquered you. WIN! WIN!)