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Category Archives: fears

He was different, he wasn’t cool like me

The news has been very, very depressing lately. I KNOW, it’s ALWAYS depressing. But it’s more depressing than usual. Am I the only one that’s noticed this? I can’t be, right?

Even this pug wearing clothing is super-depressed.

OK, first, this whole thing about the bus monitor in Rochester that was bullied by middle school kids has me insane. INSANE. I tried to watch the video and I absolutely could not do it. I watched approximately a minute and a half and had to turn it off. Yes, yes. I know. The world stepped right up and donated her a ton and a half of money, because if there’s one thing people are good at, it’s throwing money at something that makes them sad to make themselves feel less sad. (Sorry. That’s rude. I’m sure people have the best of intentions.) So far, as of the writing of this post, the fundraiser to send her on a vacation has raised about $668,000. That’s a hell of a vacation. I’m not judging, and it’s not sour grapes, but there are a lot of people saying she “deserves” this money. Really? There are a lot of us who were bullied that much or more by children. Other teachers, even, according to my friend who teaches junior high. Do we also deserve that kind of payout? I don’t think anyone in the world deserves anything. I know, that’s kind of insanely conservative, coming from me, right? I’m a big fat enigma, what can I say. Is it nice that she’s gotten all these donations? Sure, it’s nice. Is it DESERVED? Debatable.

Whew! NOW my conscience is appeased!

That’s not the point. The point is, middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL. Those children were, what, 12-14 years old? What the HELL are we teaching our young adults that they think it’s ok to verbally harass a senior citizen to the point of tears? Did you watch this? Did you all watch this? I think everyone’s watched this, right? I’d link to it but I don’t want to. I just don’t even want to. You know how I feel about bullying, you know that. I know how cruel children are to each other, of course I know that, but when did children stop having even a little bit of respect for an adult in authority? None at all? Really? I mean, sure, we were all kinds of eye-rolly at adults when we were children, sure we were, but we didn’t taunt adults to their faces until they cried. Is it the mob mentality? Like, these children weren’t really all that bad, but as a group they all just got meaner and meaner and meaner and spurred each other on? Or are they? Are children this bad now? My teacher-friend says they are. I don’t want to think they are. I can’t think that, I just can’t. Not without my head exploding.

See? THIS is how I want to imagine junior high kids. All shiny-happy-people. DAMMIT LET ME HAVE THIS.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. First, we didn’t have bus monitors when I was a kid. I asked my parents, and they said this is a thing now. Well, good. The buses were a NIGHTMARE when I was a kid. Just complete and utter chaos. Like, Lord of the Flies but the island was a moving motor vehicle. People were beaten, having sex in the back seats, things were thrown at each other, out of the windows, at the busdriver – and our bus was worse, because it had kindergarten through senior year on it, so you can’t tell me those little five-year-olds were safe with senior year hooligans around them. So, yeah, a bus monitor is a good idea. But apparently not in this case. What was HAPPENING on this bus? This shit kept happening? The busdriver didn’t stop it, or stop the bus? Did this woman report these kids? It’s obvious she wasn’t able to do her job as bus monitor. So were all the other kids she was supposed to be protecting unsafe, because she wasn’t even able to protect herself? I am kind of flummoxed by this entire situation. This couldn’t have been a one-time incident, right?

Look at this shit. This is what happens on the bus, don’t think otherwise. Buses are UTTER CHAOS. On WHEELS.

And listen, I was not an angel-child by any means. No no no. I was often quite cruel. Mostly because I was dealing with a lot of personal shit and I lashed out inappropriately. I don’t think it’s called PTSD when you’re currently experiencing the trauma. Current-traumatic stress disorder? I don’t know. Anyway, I’m just saying, whatever the reason, I wasn’t always nice. Far from it. I was often mean and sarcastic and bitter. Middle school kids are terrible. Just terrible. All those hormones? It’s lunacy.

SO MANY EMOTIONZZZ!!!!

The whole thing makes me nervous and upset. Do I think the kids deserve punishment? Hell yes. Everyone, no matter how old they are, needs to understand there are consequences for their actions, and that you can’t treat your fellow man in such a way. These kids grew up in a culture where anti-bullying was taught as part of the curriculum. According to the Greece School District Website, they teach using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.  (I have my doubts that these programs work, really, but they have to be better than not having a program at all, right?) It’s not like these kids don’t know what bullying is. Were they not aware that bullying an adult is the same thing as bullying a peer? Did they just not care? I know they’re minors, but I’d love to hear the kids’ side of this. What led them to do this? Were there thought processes involved, or was it just something that seemed fun at the time (like most things we do when we’re hormone-addled teens?)

I’m thinking about this too much, aren’t I? I do that with things like this. They upset me more than they should. Andreas wrote a very compelling post about compassion in the human race recently, but I don’t think it’s compassion that’s fueling my cyclical obsessive thoughts about this. It’s childhood trauma, and my need to know why. Why did this happen? What led to this happening? How can we stop it from happening again? Can we stop it from happening again?

And then, THEN, political shit has turned the country into lunatics. There is SO MUCH SHOUTING RIGHT NOW.

So, so much. And hating. And the Republicans are at war with the Democrats. WE HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. We can’t be friends. Because the Democrats are a bunch of dirty damn hippies who want the government to give them free…well…everything and also hate Merka and complain a lot and hate God and want us all to be vegetarians and also smoke all the legal weed, and the Republicans hate women and poor people and people of color and illegal immigrants and love guns a lot. So of course we can’t get along because we’re like cats and dogs or maybe oil and water and THERE IS SO MUCH SHOUTING. We seem to forget we’re all just people, and when we finish work, we go home, and we all worry about bills and our loved ones and we like to laugh and we sometimes cry and wear shoes, and we sleep, and we are sometimes loud and sometimes quiet and we’re all a little nuts. Nope. We’re not humans. We are DEMOCRATS or REPUBLICANS. Or, I suppose we can be something else, like Socialists or Green Party members or Independents or whatever, but no one takes those parties seriously. Probably because they aren’t shouty enough.

Listen, I love election season.

YIPPEE!

LOVE. I love that it gets all exciting, and that there are debates, and people get on television with charts and graphs and you try to guess who’s going to carry which states, and best of ALL you get to VOTE, which, listen, I love so much, I’ve mentioned that before, my insane love of all things voting-related. I love when the vice-presidential candidate(s) are announced. I love when these SCANDALOUS stories come out like “ZOMG BIRTH CERTIFICATE!?!1?!?” or “Romney was a total bully in high school” or “I can see Russia from my HOUSE” or whatever. Love. It all makes me very excited. I love how our political system works, even though it’s a little confusing even though I’ve totally studied and researched it and I’m quite intelligent. I love that we get a say in it. I love that there are PEOPLE whose JOB it is to decide what COLOR TIE a candidate should wear to best come across as compassionate or diplomatic or intelligent. I love it. All of it.

Listen, Merka. You are SUCKING THE JOY OUT OF MY ELECTION SEASON WITH THE SHOUTERY.

I don’t remember us hating each other this much four years ago. I really don’t. We all started hating each other this much since Obama became president? I’m confused by this. He really doesn’t seem to be doing that bad of a job. I mean, were you all asleep during Dubya’s presidency? The mess Obama stepped into when he entered the White House – I mean, I think if it was me, I would have just put my head down in the Oval Office and wept for like a month. It’s like everyone forgot the Dubya years. I didn’t. I didn’t forget them at all. At least now I don’t have to apologize for the president when speaking to people who aren’t American. I did that a lot during the Dubya years. There was a lot of “yeah, I KNOW, it’s so EMBARRASSING, what can you DO” coming from me for 8 years. A LOT. I haven’t had to say that once in the past four years. Mostly because I’m not embarrassed of Obama. He doesn’t make embarrassing gaffes or stand under big old “MISSON ACCOMPLISHED” signs when the mission wasn’t even accomplished or stare off into space for seven minutes while reading My Pet Goat while his country is under terrorist attack.

This just makes me sad.

Obama’s intelligent. Have you heard the guy talk? He’s intelligent, and he’s personable, and he’s got a sense of humor that’s more New Yorker than frathouse shenanigans. He doesn’t give his staff members nicknames like “Boner” and “Hillbilly Frank.” Is that the problem? Do people resent him because they think he’s smarter than they are? Don’t we WANT a President that’s smarter than we are? I know I sure as hell do. I want the person with his (or her, dammit, her, HER BEFORE I DIE PLEASE) finger on the button to be smarter than I am, and not think kegstands and/or red Solo cups are a good way to spend a Friday night WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR FIFTIES.

Do you WANT someone like this running your country? I mean, maybe you do. I don’t know your life. But I’m going to hope not.

We’re talking politics. Sorry. SORRY. I know, I try not to do that here.

All I’m saying is, can we stop with the shoutery and the hating? Please? I know. It’s a lot easier to hate someone than it is to put yourself in their shoes for a few minutes and think, huh, if you put aside the politics, we’re just all people. Or if you stop bullying for a minute and look, that person is being injured by what I’m doing, and how would I like it if someone did that to me? Or if (and the kids who did this in Rochester are getting some of this now) people I love saw what I was doing, would they be proud of me right now? What if someone was doing this to my mom? My sister? My grandmother? Would I allow this to continue?

If we all just try to realize that every single person in the world is just that – a person – and trying to do their best, even when they’re being an INSUFFERABLE ASSHOLE – maybe we could just be a little nicer. And then I wouldn’t have to avoid watching the news or clicking on links or talking to my dad about anything but the weather. I need more happy “look, this guy rescued a dog for no reason other than he was a nice man” and less “another kid killed himself because he was bullied into thinking he was worthless” stories. Can we work on that? Any chance? Thanks so much, so appreciated.

This entire photoset is worth seeing. It’ll lighten your day. I almost promise it. Click. What can it hurt?

You know, we really are capable of such amazing things. Why are we wasting our voices and energy on shouting and tearing down when we could be singing and building up?

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Oh, just wear a turtleneck. You’ll be FINE.

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?”

Gah! NODULES!

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?” 

and

“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!


Who wants to learn some new talents today? Everyone? Awesome, this’ll be perfect, then.

I think we need to learn some new things today.

It’s Monday, we’re all “blah blah blah BACK TO EFFING WORK,” and I don’t know about you, but that’s cranky-town. And in order to get us all out of our cranky moods and also out of our ruts, let’s learn some new things!

Now, I’d love to teach you a new thing, but the things I know aren’t all that interesting and aren’t going to cheer us up all much. I could teach you how to do theater stuff, but honestly, how helpful is that going to be for most of you? It’s not like you just stumble into a theater. Or, well, I guess you might. But I can’t imagine how likely it is. Or, I could tell you how to extricate a very stupid fat cat from an afghan he’s gotten himself tangled in without him freaking out and ripping you to ribbons with his razor-sharp claws. But, do you think you’d have a use for this awesome information? Probably not, unless you run across Dumbcat in an afghan emergency. Which happen on a regular basis. I know. It’s worrisome.

So then I thought, where better to learn new things that will appeal to a BROAD SPECTRUM of people than the interwebs? So let’s check out what wikiHow has to offer us today. Because, as it has shown us in the past, wikiHow is VERY VERY SMART. And gives EXCELLENT ADVICE.

First: we are going to learn how to deal with something VERY VERY IMPORTANT. How to deal with gross people on the bus.

HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOUUUUU? You are on the bus and the person sitting next to you starts PICKING their NOSE? What? No? That’s never happened to you? Yeah, me either, but apparently it happened to the person who wrote this on wikiHow. And how do you know it WON’T happen to you someday? You don’t, is how. And listen, this exact thing might not have happened to me, but once I was on the tube in London and the man sitting next to me had really hardcore porn inside his newspaper and you could see it, reflected in the window behind him? And also his lap was rustling suggestively, which meant either a., there was a squirrel in his pants, or b., he was pleasuring himself on public transportation? But when my friend and I realized what he was doing, we (being drunk at the time) got the giggles so badly we started laughing so hard we cried so then he was not able to finish his business and sat there in a sad stony silence for the rest of the ride? What does that story have to do with nose-picking? Nothing, it just makes me laugh.

So apparently, here is what you are supposed to do if you have to sit next to a nose-picker. Probably you could use these rules if you have to sit next to a masturbator, I suppose. Or a mouth-breather. I don’t care, do what you want. I don’t know your life.

First: try to tune out the nose-picker. Play with your phone, if you want. My thought is, maybe you could get an app for your phone that flashed things on the screen like “Why so gross, icky?” and then when he looked at your phone (as people always do) he would see that, and think, “Maybe I should stop being so nose-picky?”

Then, always sit on the aisle and not inside. Apparently because it’s grosser to be squished against the window by someone with booger-fingers.

Next, ask them to stop. Now THERE’S a fun convo. “Sir! I notice you are nose-picking/riding along with your hands down your trousers in a lewd manner/breathing heavily through your mouth like a monster from the Black Lagoon. Could you cut that shit right out? It is HARSHING my BUS-BUZZ, yo.” That should work like a charm. Do that. Do that all day long.

If that doesn’t work, start chatting with them. Chat them right up! As it might distract them from the nose-pickery. Here are some topics I’ve come up with for you, in case you need them: the global market; “better dead than red” – does it still hold true today?; are you a tarantula or iguana person?; how ’bout them Sox. (No need to specify which Sox. There are a lot of Sox. They’re sure to like one of them.)

You can also move seats, but only if it’s SRS BSNS, you guys. Otherwise, suffer it out with nose-picky. No, I don’t know why, either. wikiHow didn’t specify.

Also, CAUTION CAUTION, when talking to the gross person, do not TELL them they are gross. It might offend them. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE DON’T OFFEND THE NOSE-PICKER. He or she might cry. Creating more boogers. It’s the CIRCLE of PHLEGM.

OK, now that you know how to do this, what do you want to learn next? What’s that? You think your life is a dark and dreary place and you want to learn how to be more creative? BAM. wikiHow can HELP. And who can’t use a little more creativity in their lives? I’d like to be more creative. I’m SOME creative but I’d like to WIN creativity, who wouldn’t?

This is going to be us. The MOST creative. Whoo!

OK, let’s get to it. This is going to be awesome.

  1. Rearrange your house. Um. I don’t think this is an auspicious start. My house doesn’t take well to rearranging. Because it’s the size of a storage locker where you’d keep your dead body collection. So there are only so many places you can put things, really. This isn’t conducive to creativity. Mostly this would just make me feel poor and sweaty. Wait, poor, sweaty people…artists…same. Hmm. Might be something to this after all. Moving on.
  2. Go for a long walk and pick up twigs, rocks, scraps of paper, etc. OK, so go garbage picking. That’ll be nice. Al Gore will like that I’m cleaning up the planet. Good.
  3. Sit down in front of the television with your garbage and paint them, write about them, glue them to paper, etc. OK, first, the television’s going to distract me from my new awesome creativity. FAIL. Second, why am I gluing garbage to paper? What am I going to do with my garbage-collage? The only one of these that worked so far was the poor and sweaty thing, and that was almost by accident.
  4. Doodle all the time. Yeah. My boss will LOVE that when I’m supposed to be working on spreadsheets.
  5. Wear something different, like a scarf or orange nail polish. Well, I have orange nail polish. I have ALL THE COLORS of nail polish. But orange makes me look weird, so can I wear blue? I like blue. Or green. Also, scarves make me look affected, and I always worry I’m going to end up like Isadora Duncan. Unless it’s cold. Then I wear scarves like a boss.
  6. Read and write reviews of the books. “The” books? What books? What’s with the weird out-of-place “the”? And, I already do this. I work on a blog where that is what we DO. Among other awesome things. ALL the things. So, I win this one.
  7. Keep a diary. I write a blog, close enough, I think.
  8. Go on a hike for inspiration. Why are you OBSESSED with me WALKING? Also, I don’t think a hike would inspire me. I think it would make me need a nap.
  9. Sing and dance. Sometimes I do this. It scares the cat.
  10. Play dress up. With WHAT? It’s not like I have a random dress-up trunk just sitting around waiting for me. This is not daycare.
  11. Leave friendly inspirational notes around your town or workplace. Saying what? “Please stop treating your administrative staff like garbage, also you smell like flowers today, gorgeous?” No.
  12. Watch musicals and plays. YES I WILL THANKS.
  13. Write poetry. DO IT ALL THE TIME CHUMLEY.
  14. Blog. WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER.
  15. Garden. Where, in the parking lot? Can’t. Thanks for reminding me, though.
  16. Make a movie. Try claymation or animation. Oh, I can’t imagine that would end well. Clay would be a mess and I can’t draw, even if you gave me something to trace. Bad, bad idea.
  17. Play an instrument.I tried once. I failed. I don’t think I have one of those brains. What about a triangle? I think I could play a triangle like a winner.

    I’m pretty sure I’ll be so good on this I could go on a tour. A triangle TOUR!

  18. Bake a cake. Well, ok. That doesn’t seem especially creative to me, though. More like work, really. But if you tell me I have to, I suppose to can. Who wants cake? I sure as hell can’t eat it.
  19. Take pictures. Meh, I’ve tried. I’m not overly good at that. Mostly things are blurry or too-far-away.

OK, this wasn’t very helpful. Sorry, all. Useless. We’re not winning creativity at all. I’m so embarrassed. One more, then? Sure.

HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR FEAR OF CLOWNS. Oh, this is going to be helpful. Who likes clowns? No one. Who is afraid of clowns? Everyone. ESPECIALLY ME.

  1. Make a list of why you are afraid of clowns. OK, fine. They are scary. They want to eat your face. They hide their killer-faces behind makeup. One time at the circus a clown made me come up on stage and sang “I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill” to me and I was only twelve and he was totally leering at me the whole time and it was the WORST. Also, Stephen King’s It. The book and the movie.
  2. Understand that clowns are just humans dressed up in silly costumes. Sure, except when they’re serial killers dressed up in silly costumes, or maybe demons.
  3. Look at photos of people dressed as clowns, then visit the circus and try to laugh at the clowns instead of being afraid.WHOA NELLY. When did we go from making clown-lists and imagining that clowns weren’t killers in makeup to HANGING OUT with clowns? There’s no in-between step? This is total immersion clown therapy. I’m not at all in favor of this, nor am I ready. BAD NEWS WIKIHOW.

    SO MANY EFFING CLOWNS MAKE IT STOP.

  4. Remember, it’s ok not to like clowns, but you shouldn’t fear them. Well, that’s all well and good, but I’m going to laugh like a moron when a clown eats you with its clown-fangs and claws you with its razor-sharp clown-talons.

There are also some important tips, like “Remember, killer clowns in movies are just meant to scare you; if a movie were about killer telephones, it would be just as scary” (WTF NO IT WOULDN’T) and “if you don’t overcome this you’ll never be able to go to the amusement park with your friends and your quality of life will not be as high as it should be” (MELODRAMATIC MUCH?!?!?) and also, “if after this article you still suffer from coulrophobia, you need professional help.” Can you even imagine going to a therapist for fear of clowns? They would laugh and laugh. I think I’ll be ok. I’ll just avoid clowns. Thanks, though.

Are you so helped and have you learned so much? Great, good, wonderful. So glad I could be helpful today. Best of luck to you! Have fun with your newfound talents! This has been like going to college, only so much less expensive!


You have nothing in your hands; any power you have comes to you from far beyond. Everything is fixed, and you can’t change it.

I should probably write something about Easter today. But honestly, I didn’t even remember it was Easter until about mid-week, when you guys were all, “What, the cable guy’s going to come to your house on Easter?” because I don’t do Easter. I don’t go anywhere for Easter, I don’t celebrate Easter. Easter is happy, but only because it’s a Sunday and I love Sundays because I get to sleep in a little and have some extra cuddle-time with Dumbcat.

(ALSO, I kind of have a beef with Easter because when I worked at the shelter, the day after Easter was “people would turn in chicks and bunnies they’d bought foolishly for their kids” day. IT MADE ME SO EFFING STABBY. If anyone you know buys chicks or bunnies for their children for Easter and they DON’T live on a farm and have no means of taking care of such a pet? PUNCH THEM IN THE THROAT AREA.)

PUNCH YOU IN THE ESOPHAGUS. Animals are NOT TOYS.

I don’t go home for Easter, because a., it’d only be for one day, and that’s a long trip for one day, and b., it’s an uber-religious holiday in my parents’ household, and it just upsets them that I refuse to attend church with them. And why would you want to upset your parents on bunny-day? You wouldn’t.

Secret story, though – I kind of miss the Catholic church over Holy Week. Don’t tell my parents, it’ll just get their hopes up I’m going back, and I’m absolutely not. But this week, more so than any other, I miss it.

The rest of the year in church is a little blah. No offense, church. But there isn’t much story to the readings. This week, it’s all about story. You get Good Friday with the entire crucifixion, you get Easter Sunday with the resurrection. Plus on Good Friday, you get to act. The congregation gets to say things like “crucify him! Crucify him!” at certain points, and I always liked that, even though you had to say it in a boring boring monotone and couldn’t put any energy behind your words and that seemed like a total waste of a good acting opportunity to me but then everyone would have stared at you. Also, sometimes you start thinking about people like Jesus’s mom and it makes you very, very sad, but the readings don’t really concentrate on that. I think they should. There should be more readings concentrating on the fact that Mary had to deal with the fact that her SON was CRUCIFIED in FRONT of her.  Also more stories about Thomas, my favorite apostle, because I like the doubting. I do a lot of that. He’s the most realistic.

But there’s also a lot of up-and-down and kneeling and standing and that makes you almost pass out. No one likes that. Also, Good Friday mass is seventy million years long.

It's very hot and there's a lot of up-and-down and a person gets woozy. You can't blame that person. YOU CAN'T. STOP BLAMING.

(SIDE NOTE! At the answering service yesterday, an elderly woman called one of the churches we answer for, and asked when Easter masses were on Sunday. So I told her. Then she said, “and how long do those run?” THEY ARE NOT MOVIES. I said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, there’s really no way to know that, I’d say anywhere between an hour and two hours?” and she was all “SIGH SIGH SIGH” and said, “Thank you, I GUESS” and hung up. Well, I’m sorry MASS for one of the two holiest days of the YEAR in Catholicism doesn’t come with INTERMISSION and a RUN TIME. Bring a juice box and some goldfish crackers, that’s what The Nephew does. Oh, and some Matchbox cars, in case you get bored.)

So I’m kind of unqualified to talk about Easter, since I’m not celebrating. But I do have an Easter story. And it’s also a theater story. And we all like stories, right? And I’m qualified to tell theater stories. Even better: it’s the story of THE VERY FIRST TIME I ACTED. Are you all so excited? Yeah, wait and see.

So when I was in fifth grade or thereabouts, my favorite priest had just arrived at my church. I’ve mentioned him before. I just adored this man. You think I’m excited about life? This guy brought joy wherever he went. He walked in a room, and the whole room lit up. He was magical.

He decided that we were going to put on a passion play for Easter. A passion play, for those of you not brought up in the iron fist of Catholicism, is the story of Jesus’s crucifixion. It can start at any point – the Last Supper, right at the crucifixion, wherever. He wanted to tie in some of Jesus Christ Superstar, because he was awesomesauce. (He didn’t have us sing, or anything. We just played the music over the sound system. He was adorable, but not insane. A bunch of elementary school kids singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” might have caused a riot.) Yes, I realize the idea of elementary and a few junior-high kids putting on a play about the torture and death of a religious figure seems insane. It probably was. I think this is a thing, though. The internet seems to think this is a thing that happens, sometimes. And I’ve seen other passion plays in other places, since then.

(SIDE NOTE: I’m obsessed with both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. Also Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I love religious musicals. Like, more than what’s healthy. Jesus Christ Superstar especially. It always makes me cry. Especially the relationship between Jesus and Judas, and Pilate’s eventual realization that he’s just a pawn in a master plan, and that he’s condemning an innocent man to death. “Trial before Pilate” is one of the most moving scenes in musical theater for me almost ever. I watched a production years ago where, when Pilate says, at the end of the song, he washes his hands of Jesus’s self-destruction, he washed his hands in a clear glass bowl of water. As he did, the water turned to blood, and Jesus just closed his eyes and bowed his head, and Pilate’s face as he looked at his hands was a masterpiece. Such an affecting moment, probably for the cost of a Koolaid packet.)

So he got the churchschool kids together and handed out parts. Now, this is going to SHOCK and AWE some of you, but wee Amy was QUIET. So, so quiet. Didn’t say a word. Quiet and shy and meek as a little mouse and only wanted to read and read and daydream and wonder and read some more. I don’t know what happened to that kid, either. Maybe I ate her.

This priest decided, early on, that I needed to come out of my shell. So he gave bigger parts (apostles, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, etc.) to the older kids who talked a lot. Then the younger kids got smaller parts – soldiers, etc. I was a soldier. A MAN soldier. Which was funny, because I got to wear a BEARD. Stuck on with SPIRIT GUM. It was itchy and looked like a face-toupee made of dead roadkill.

I can't even describe the hilarity a Google search for "children's religious costumes" just resulted in. This beard is nice compared to the beard I wore. Also, look at this kid's FACE! Ha!

But the excited-about-life-priest, who saw something in me wanting to come out, I guess, said, “Wee baby Amy who will someday tell all her personal shit to the internet and also fall in love with theater, you are going to play the Centurion.”

“Um…what’s…”

“You get LINES,” he said.

I was PETRIFIED.

Now, it wasn’t LINES. It was ONE LINE. One. Just one line. “Truly this man was the son of God,” to be more clear. But it might as well have been the Mark Antony “friends, Romans, countrymen” speech, because I HAD TO SAY IT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

We rehearsed for what seemed like years but what probably was only a month or two. And every time I got up in front of everyone to say my line (oh, the line is said right as Jesus dies on the cross – the Centurion, one of the Roman soldiers says it, and it’s kind of a big deal, because the Roman soldiers are all mocking him, up until this point, you know? And then you have this one believer who dares say this huge thing in front of everyone) my whole stomach was in knots but the priest would be sitting there, right in the front row, with a huge grin on his face, and it seemed like it would be ok.

It got to the point where I could say it loud enough to be heard. And I was EXCITED. I was going to ACT! In FRONT of people! We had a cross that the kid playing Jesus could get up on, we had costumes, we had music, we had props – it was a total spectacle.

The night of the show arrived. I put on my scratchy robe and took up my wooden sword we had spray-painted silver and one of the moms stuck on my scratchy fake-fur beard and we tucked my ponytail down the pack of my shirt and I was totally the Centurion. This was GREAT.

Until I got out on stage (ok, fine, it wasn’t STAGE, it was the front of the church) and realized that my parents, who I’d known would be there, hadn’t told me that my ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY had come. Cousins. Grandmother. Aunts. Uncles. All sitting WHERE I COULD SEE THEM. Looking expectantly at me.

The church was PACKED. The church had never had PEOPLE in it before. Only the priest! And a few moms! HOLY HELL WHAT HAD I DONE.

I didn’t have to say my line until the end. I just kept my head down and soldiered on. Heh. Pun most definitely intended.

Then it was Centurion time. HOW DID THIS COME UP SO FAST.

I stood in my place in front of the crucified Jesus-kid. All of the other kids looked at me, waiting for me to say my line. The music ended. It was time.

And…

“mumblemumblesonofmumble” I said. And ran off the stage.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! My VERY AUSPICIOUS DEBUT AS A FANCY ACTRESS PERSON!

So I stood “backstage” (the hallway outside the church) kind of shaking and crying and SO EFFING EMBARRASSED and the priest came out and said, “Amy! You did GREAT!”

“I was too quiet, I screwed it up,” I said.

He laughed. “You got out there in front of everyone and talked. I couldn’t be more proud of you. Time for curtain call, superstar.”

He led me back to all of the kids and no one said a word about me being a total weirdo and when I bowed, my people cheered, and when I saw them afterward, not a single one of them even NOTICED I’d been a total embarrassment to the THEE-AY-TAH. The only negative feedback I got was from my older male cousin, who told me, “That beard looks like a dead squirrel.”

(In retrospect, I think the whole thing was very, very bad, and something as minor as me mumbling my one line wasn’t even on their radar. And they probably thought the Centurion was SUPPOSED to run off stage. He probably was told to by the Holy Ghost or something.)

I told my dad this story the other night and he said, “I don’t even remember that. You were in a church play? Was I there?”

Apparently this didn’t even register, to my dad. WHEW.

Years later, when I told the priest I’d started acting, he laughed, his big, warm-as-a-bubble-bath laugh, and said, “I saw this coming, Centurion. Knew you had it in you. Don’t forget us when your name’s in lights, ok?”

One of the best men I’ve ever known, sincerely. I mentioned this a while ago, but he passed away a few years back. I miss him. A lot. The world is a smaller, quieter, and less-joyful place without him in it.

(Dear Father: I am no longer afraid of talking in front of people. Well, I can’t say I LOVE it, but I pretend to be a brave person, and I can do it just fine. And also, I very seldom run off the stage in fear anymore. And there hasn’t been an incident of someone not being able to hear anything I’ve said in a VERY long time. You’ll be pleased to note all of these things. I turned out just fine. Thanks for the nudge. Love, Amy.)

Happy Easter, all you marshmallow Peeps! May your chocolate be non-melty and may you find all of your hidden eggs and may your jellybeans be yummy and all that jazz and also jazz hands.

And remember, if you biff your line and run offstage in a panic? Sometimes, NO ONE EVEN NOTICES.

(Also, happy birthday to my grandmother, who tells the best stories and also gets cussy and crotchety, and also says things like, “Well, love will go wherever it’s sent, even up a pig’s ass.” I LOVE YOU NANNY.)


Hands up! Hand over your wallet, cell phone, and – oh, yeah, your Facebook information!

So I apparently have to apologize to my dad. Well, HALF-apologize. Let’s not get crazy. I don’t just hand out apologies like saltwater taffy around here.

You have to be PRETTY special to be getting either an apology or a delicious chewy candy from ME, kiddos.

We had a conversation the other night and I was all, NO NO NO and he was all YES YES YES and, well, he was half-right. Dammit. In my defense, it was just cuckoo-bananas enough that anyone would have had the same reaction as I did.

Dad: Well, I hope you’re happy. Did you hear what your government is doing now?
(SIDE NOTE: the current government is mine. I OWN IT. Because I’m a dirty hippie liberal.)
Me: Hard to say. What’s the latest?
Dad: You are required to give your Facebook password to potential employers in order to get a job.
Me: WHAT? That can’t possibly be true.
Dad: IT IS TRUE. It was on the news.
Me: On the news? Or on Fox News?
Dad: I…LISTEN. You go into a job interview nowadays, they say, “You give me your Facebook password right now.” If you say no, they make you leave.
Me: MAKE you leave? What, like give you the bum’s rush? That can’t possibly be a thing. That’s like asking for your bank password. Or your email password.
Dad: It’s a tough economy. People have to give that information or they don’t get hired.
Me: Do you mean they’re asking for your Facebook USERNAME? Like, they want to see what you’re posting? I can see that, I guess. People post all kinds of nonsense and then don’t think to lock that down when they start a job search.
Dad: NO. Your PASSWORD. So they can see EVERYTHING.
Me: I can’t believe this is true. I’m going to research this.
Dad: Well, when you find out I’m telling you the truth, you’re going to call me up and say, “Dad, I am so sorry I called you a liar and broke your heart, as you are the person who fed and clothed me for eighteen years and you really deserve better than being called a liar by your only beloved daughter.”
Me: Yeah. Don’t hold your breath for THAT call, bub.

So I went online the minute we got off the phone and I found THIS. So at first I was all SHIT I’m totally going to have to make that call, I hate when he’s right about something. But then I read it and realized I’d only have to make HALF an apology. Because YES, it is happening. But Dad totally made it sound like it’s America’s new national policy. And also there are security guards to escort you off the premises if you don’t comply.

So apparently, 95% of employers search for you online before hiring you. Fine. I can see that. That’s understandable. I know a lot of people searching for jobs. They lock down their Twitter accounts, they make their blogs private, they make their Facebook accounts only accessible to friends. I mean, the internet has a long memory, so most likely the potential employer will find SOMETHING objectionable about you. I mean, I did a search for my blog the other day and you should have SEEN the pictures that popped up. I really choose some random photos for my posts, I can’t even describe. I mean, I laughed. A potential employer might not.

But ALSO apparently, some employers are getting all knicker-twisty when your Facebook profile is set to private, so they’ve been ASKING POTENTIAL HIREES FOR THEIR USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS. What the holy HELL?

I can tell you right now, I would laugh like a moron if someone asked me for a password at a job interview. I’d think I was being punk’d. I would look around for the hidden cameras.

Here, I’ll write you a little story. We like little stories, right?

JOB INTERVIEW STORY STARRING YOUR FAVORITE UNRULY-HAIRED BLOGGER

HR Rep: Well, that about concludes our interview. Just a few more questions, and I think we’re all set.
Me: Excellent.
HR Rep: Do you have proficiency in word processing software?
Me: I most certainly do. I think I tested 60 words per minute last time I took a typing test, and I’ve used pretty much every word processing software there is. If I haven’t used it, I can pick it up quickly enough.
HR Rep: Wonderful. And you have reception desk training?
Me: Yes, I’ve worked the reception desk at my past few jobs. I’ve gotten excellent feedback for my ability to handle a multi-line phone system.
HR Rep: Great. And here’s a pad and paper, please write down your Facebook username and password?
Me: Guhhhh?
HR Rep: Oh, you probably also need a pen. Here you go.
Me: I’m sorry. I think I must have mis-heard you. My Facebook PASSWORD?
HR Rep: Yes. Standard procedure.
Me: It’s standard procedure to ask for my password to a personal site? Where I keep personal information? About my family and friends?
HR Rep: Yes. We did a search, and you’ve set your Facebook profile to private. It’s only available to people you’re friends with.
Me: Yeeeessss…
HR Rep: So, in order to read it, we’re going to need that username and password. So just jot those down right there.
Me: I’m being punk’d. Right? Is Kutcher even still doing that shit? I thought he was too busy being Douchebag Jesus on Tiger Blood’s old sitcom.

He can walk on water, multiply the fishes and loaves, go see a totally indie band you've never even heard of and give you gonorrhea. All in a day's work for Douchebag Jesus!

HR Rep: I don’t…what?
Me: Where are the cameras? Is there one in this phone? Or in your coffee cup? I hate hidden camera shows. They always make the person they’re filming look like such an asshole. Remember the one where they made Justin Timberlake cry like a sad toddler who dropped his ice cream cone because they pretended to be the IRS taking all his guitars and he called his mom all, “MOM THEY ARE TAKING MY STUUUFFFFF???” I WILL NOT SIGN A WAIVER. YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.

"Mom? The Government is taking all my guitars!"

HR Rep: I assure you, this is not a “punk’ing.” This is what we do now. To research candidates.
Me: To research candidates, you look at something they’ve set to private so no one can see it but the people they WANT to see it, and you don’t see that as a gross invasion of privacy at all.
HR Rep: Well! There is no need to take THAT tone.
Me: Yeah. I’m going to go now.

I know. I KNOW. It’s a tough economy. But I don’t want to work for a company that thinks it’s ok to ask such a question IN A JOB INTERVIEW. That’s an invasion of privacy. It’s why I set my profile to private. I didn’t set my profile to private FOR the job interview. I mean, not that THEY know that. But it’s been private since I joined. Because I keep my FAMILY there. No one needs to know my family. That’s no one’s business. I’d fight a horde of rabid raccoons with my bare hands for my family, I’m not dealing with internet predators, too. My Twitter’s public, go stalk that. Hell, use a little Google-fu and find my damn blog. Want to know all about me? HERE I AM NAKED, BABY.* (*no actual nakedness will occur, Ding Dong Joe.)

Ironically, I barely write anything on Facebook. I’m not even all that active there. Because I don’t like or trust it that much, and also, ironically enough, the people I know in real life don’t seem to give a shit what I say or do, and the people on Twitter seem to actually care. Which either says a lot about me, or about them. I’m going to assume them, because otherwise I look like an asshole, and no one likes that, now do they? I like Twitter better. I like some things about Facebook. Nephew photos. Notification of upcoming productions in the area. Advertising for my theater. Things of that nature. It’s a good tool, mostly for networking. But have I met FRIENDS on Facebook? Nope. Because a., I already know the people I’m friending, and b., I keep that shit locked DOWN. It is none of anyone’s BUSINESS. THERE ARE PHOTOS OF THE NEPHEW ON THERE. On Twitter, though? Have I met friends there? Yes. Has it enriched my life more than almost anything I currently am involved with? Yes. Do I love it more than most things (but obviously not pudding or Dumbcat?) Yes.

Here’s the scoop, as I see it. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T CARE. I’m telling you anyway. That’s how I roll, jellybeans.

According to that article up there, there are bills being considered in some states that would ban employers from discriminating against employees who refuse access to their social media. And some of these people who’ve been asked are pursuing legal action against the potential employers. Well, that’s all well and good, isn’t it?

But how are you going to prove that’s WHY they didn’t hire you? I mean, maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Probably you refusing the request tipped the scales. Probably it did, let’s be frank. But they can just say, “A better candidate came along!” and it’s such an employer’s market right now, the person they hired is probably comparable to, or better, than you, anyway. It’s a he-said-she-said situation.

Also, do you WANT to work for a company that’s this up in your business? Really? I’d want to stay far away from something like this. You just know they have keystroke tracking software, and they block social networking sites, and when they have the company picnic it’s totally not an open bar so you can only have one or two drinks before that shit starts to get pricey.

Listen, here’s the bottom line, whether or not your potential employer is ganking your Facebook password or not. (SIDE NOTE: Don’t give it to them. Seriously? Don’t. Don’t encourage that kind of behavior. No job is worth that. That is your private information. You don’t have to give it to them. There are other jobs that won’t ask. Interview for one of those. I’m utterly furious that any job thinks this is an acceptable thing to ask a potential employee. They are playing on our fear of unemployment and the job market being down and this shit has got to STOP.)

The internet lives forever. Therefore:

DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO OWN.

This means: no emo updates. No bullying. No tearing down your employer for making you work late without being a little jokey about it even though really you’d like to set their shiny new BMW on fire with lighter fluid. No overtly douchecanoe political shit. No flame wars. No trolling.

Think about what you write. If someone were to confront you with it: would you be embarrassed? Could you explain why you wrote it? Was it a joke? Watch your tone, because we’re TYPING, not TALKING FACE TO FACE. There is no CONTEXT. We have no FACIAL CUES to work from. Sarcasm doesn’t always come off well with type, unless you know the person well. Like, my friends? They know that anything I send them is to be read with a sarcastic mental voice. That’s why I love them and would share my Lunchables with them any time they asked. ANY DAMN TIME.

Listen, I screw around on here. A lot. But I also own that. I’m not embarrassed by it. I’m not embarrassed by my Twitter feed or my Facebook or any of my social media. Because I POLICE THE HELL out of them. I’m cautious and I work at it. YOU CAN BE, TOO. It’s not hard. Think about the person in your life you least want to embarrass. Is it a friend? A parent? A child? Now think of them when you’re writing something on the internet. Would they be embarrassed by what you just wrote? I mean, a little, maybe, sure, like, if you’re thinking of your MeeMaw back in Kansas who doesn’t approve of you talking to men, or something, that’s one thing. I mean, would what you’re doing make them say, “Not MY Jimmy/Alice/Jenny/Frisco Pete! He/She would NEVER write something like that!” Yes? Then you know as well as I do it’s a bad idea to w type it somewhere everyone can see it. EFFING ERASE IT AND TRY AGAIN. Don’t cry foul when someone sees it and that shit gets spread around six ways to Sunday. It’s your own damn fault, Nimble Fingers McCracken.

This got ranty. Listen. Don’t give potential employers a reason not to hire you. Just stop being asshats online. It is not a difficult thing to do. And, if you DO have an interview, and the interviewer is all, “Listen, I see that you write this blog, and…um…what’s a douchecanoe?” Own it, you know? What the hell else are you going to do at that point? “A DOUCHECANOE, good sir, is an awesome internet term. As you can see, my ability to dominate social media would be quite the asset to your firm.” BAM. KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK.

I have all the faith that you can do this. Well, MOST of you. Ding Dong Joe and Pervy Pete are total lost causes. They’re never getting hired again. It’s a good thing they run their own business. (It’s a strip mall out by the sewage treatment plant. The stores include a paint-and-bedazzle-your-own sweatshirt shop, a kiosk that sells off-name-brand perfume, and a Chick-fil-A.)

Anyway, I have to go apologize to Dad now and tell him that he is the smartest dad in all the land except probably it’s not an American requirement that people give this information and there are no security guards who strong-arm you if you don’t. Oh, he’s going to LOVE that he was right about something. SO SO MUCH.


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