Monday, September 28, 2009

Foot Down

I had a breakdown in the parking lot of Target on Friday. My head hurt. My friends needed lunchtime cellphone support. My dad called because he needed extra help over the weekend getting to and from an extra dialysis appointment. My mom on the phone preaching to me about how I should be calling the local assisted living place to see if they could take dad for a while. Did I mention my head hurt?

Did I mention that dad needed to go to dialysis at the EXACT time that I had scheduled a massage and facial for myself?

Its the little things, really, that tip you over the edge of sanity and make you look like a blubbering idiot in a parking lot. Just this one thing. I had done for myself. Made time. For _myself_. Needed relaxation. Needed something to help the headache go away. But, oh no. No, no, no, no. Other people's needs interfered. Again. With me getting back a little sanity.

Its hard to feel sorry for yourself when your father needs life saving medical treatment and all you need is aromatherapy and steam treatment. But I managed to do it. Oh. So. Sorry. For. Myself. It wasn't the massage. Its that it is so very difficult to meet my own needs these days because other's needs are more important. Friends in crises. Grandma in hospital. Dad in serious health decline. Me, still needing to go to work and class and act like a functioning human being. With a headache.

So, I put my foot down. Thirty-seven parking lot phone calls later, I had arranged for my mom to take dad to dialysis, and for brother (yes, I have a brother. Don't think I've ever mentioned that before) to pick him up. And for me to keep my massage appointment.

And oh, thank god. I needed that intensive pampering. I even managed not to snap at the woman who was trying to sell me chip proof nail polish for special occasions. She doesn't know that all my special occasions involve wearing a helmet. Deep breath. Smile.

My massage person did wonderful things for my neck and shoulders. Apparently, my neck was a knotty mess; she pushed and pressed and put heat on it for such a long time. Aaaaaaaah. I felt great afterwards and I had no headache for the rest of the day. It came back a bit on Sunday, then a bit more today, but Saturday was gloriously relaxing and headache free.

The massage made me realize that a lot of my headache problems likely lie with stress. I don't feel stressed. Overwhelmed? Yes. Stressed? No. But apparently, I am. And its exhibiting in head pain. And neck knots. And probably unfettered bitchiness towards people who don't deserve it.

I guess I need to set a new goal for myself: Find a new way to deal with stress. Cuz drinking, bitching and blogging don't seem to be cutting it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Headthrob

I'm so frustrated. And sad. And pissed off. I'm feeling right sorry for myself right now, so I just have to whine and get it out.

I've had a headache for a month and a half. I'm not exaggerating, or lying. I can remember one day since the second week in August that I haven't had a least a small pounding in my head. Once or twice a week, its enough to send me searching through the medicine cabinet to see if there are any migraine pills left - and then to bed.

Today, I was supposed to go to an after work happy hour, followed by a special local foods dinner with Prof at fancy wine bar. Instead, I left work at 4, popped a pill and went to bed. Prof was so supportive, but it really just made it worse. He wants to help, but there's nothing he can do. Seems like there isn't anything anyone can do.

I saw the headache doctor on Friday. She's actually a nurse practitioner - which means that she spent time with me. An hour. When was the last time you got to talk to a medical professional for an hour (unless you are sleeping with them? And even then, you are lucky to get their undivided attention for that long). She had no magic answers though. And the un-magic answers she had sucked. Get more sleep. Cut the caffeine. Take one of a zillion different meds.

I walked out of there with 2 new migraine pills to try (I've taken them all since, and its been less than a week); and a prescription for a blood pressure med. I had low blood pressure to begin with, so lowering it even more worries me a bit, but I'm desperate. It will take a week or two to see if it has any effect. And if it doesn't, then we'll try another med. And another med. And another.

I had an MRI today. It sucked. They put my face in a cage, and I sat in a tube for 45 minutes. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Beep, beep, beep. Thud, thud, thud. Needle. More thud. More beep. I'm divided on whether I want it to show something. If they find something, they can treat it. But, if they find something, it could be something scary. I don't need that.

And on an unrelated note, on Tuesday I had a flu shot. Yesterday, I had a mammogram and a breast ultrasound. Oh yes. Its been one hell of a week. Thank god it is almost over.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who you gonna call?

I have finally perfected the art of making thai curry at home. I vaguely remember that there was a nasty tasting meal once, a long long time ago, and I gave up the idea of ever making anything remotely thai at home. But I found these beautiful little purple and white striped eggplants at the farmers market and they were screaming for some curry. So, a can of coconut milk, some brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of red curry paste, basil from the garden those eggplants, some tofu, 90 minutes and a really messed up kitchen later.... Viola. Red curry perfection.

So, I've made it umpteen times in the past 3 weeks, and forced it on the Prof at least twice. He raved about it the first time, but was a bit less enthusiastic the second time. Maybe he was just being nice?

At any rate, over curry, we were talking about friends. We both have a lot of them. Really close friends. Work friends you see every day and know more about your life than your real friends. Close friends who live far away. Far away friends we never talk to anymore. Friends we do certain things with, but would never call when you are in tears and need to be comforted. It was at that point that Prof asked me:

"Well, whose the first person you call when you are upset?"

I pause. So the inside of my brain could say "Oh, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. Its you, of course, you dumb ass. But I don't want to tell you that. Jeezus. Really? Are you going to make me admit how important you are to me? That makes me vulnerable. I can't lie, can I? Crap. I'm going to have to admit that I have feelings. This blows."

(its amazing how quickly the brain processes this information. I only paused for 2 seconds).

So, I have to tell him. "Well, it used to be S, or T, or Kiwi... But I guess now I'd probably call you first."

Honestly, he looked a little smug. He knew what the answer was, but he wanted to hear me say it. That jerk. It was a little victory for him. He knows he's important to me, but we don't really talk about it. We hint at it. He knows it scares the crap out of me. And, I think it might scare him a little bit too. You know, thinking back on it, I don't think I asked him the same question. I was too shell shocked by my truthful answer to ask him who his person was, so he weaseled out of that one. Prof - 1. Susan - 0.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No. 4

Life has a funny way of helping you see clearly every once in a while.

I got a birthday email from BB. A week late. It said something to the effect of "Realized I missed your birthday. Sorry I missed a chance to point out that you are older than me again." To which I replied "Amazing how you turned your mistake into a zing on me. I know what you really meant though, and I accept your apology and well-wishes." He sent me a response telling me about his new job. I looked him up at the new hospital and google mapped his new office.

He looks like shit, and no wonder, because his new office is in the middle of a god-forsaken stretch of highway with not a tree, or shrub, or happy thought anywhere nearby. Thank you, google street view, for that priceless opportunity to stalk. And gloat.

So, he's in my mind again. And I think about what life might have been like had we stayed together (crap) and what had gone down last year and the whole thing. Its been a while since I've wasted much thought on him. Seeing his hospital mug shot though, brought it all back up.
Then I felt guilty for having even responded. And for having him in my mind.

So, the next day, I am sitting innocently at my desk at work shuffling paper from one side of the desk to the other, which seems to be what I do best, when I hear an unfamiliar voice ask where my office is. I think "Shit. Its lunchtime, man! What does this lady want from me? I don't have time for this (these piles don't move themselves!)"

And into my office walks a pudgy woman with a bad perm and mom jeans. With flowers in her hand.

Flowers for me. From Prof. For our 4-monthiversary.

I was speechless. No, really. I was. I had no words. Then the first words I spoke were "holy fuck." And by that, I meant "I am very lucky to have such a wonderful boyfriend". It just came out wrong. I've never gotten flowers at work before - I didn't know how to act. The card simply said "Happy 4-Months". The co-workers were simply jealous.

I suspect that it is quite rare to have an email from an ex followed up so closely by flowers from the current. It really gave me a chance to reflect on the really good thing I have now, and how very different and shitty things were last year at this time. It almost made me cry.

Wonder what he's going to get me for our 5-month?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pet-Smarts

"Would you like to donate a dollar to homeless pets today?"

I guess I'm a cold heartless bitch, because the answer is "no" every single time I go into PetSmart to buy Arlo's special food for aging and decrepit cats.

I hate seeing animals suffer just as much as the next person. I'd have way more than two cats if I thought it wouldn't interfere with my sex life (the two is bad enough) and you can bet that they would all come from broken homes. But do I have to feel guilty about not donating to the cause it every single damn time I buy that tiny little bag of food for Arlo? Its bad enough that I have to walk by that glass enclosure with all the sad little pound kitties waiting for good, stable homes.

The thing is, I'm not a cold heartless bitch, but that teenager behind the PetSmart counter doesn't know it. And that nasty red "no" button on the ATM swipey machine doesn't know it either. I give several hundred dollars a year to the local animal shelter, and several hundred more to various other causes involving old people, poor people, hungry people, and those kiddies I don't even like (money to the local boys and girls clubs keep them off the street, which keeps them out of my front lawn). Every year, I decide how much I can afford to give, who I can give it to and I sign myself up for monthly paycheck deductions.

I'm doing my part, so why do I feel so damn guilty when I press that red "no" button? Why are you doing this to me, PetSmart?! If I send you my paycheck stub, can you give me a special speed pass keytag that will make that question go away? Question only the truly guilty, and let me go free.

You too, grocery store, and your pesky March of Dimes campaign.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Boyfriend Birthday Vacuuming Revelation

Deep thoughts happen when I plug my Kenmore upright into the wall and start sucking river dirt and cat hair out of my ancient carpet. Like tonight. I realized that despite myself, I am repeating patterns.

Yeah, yeah. Stop pretending to be surprised. Or even interested.

2002 was the last time I was in a relationship when my birthday rolled around. Sure, there have been boys that I have been dating or stringing along or sleeping with right around my birthday time, but I wasn't in a relationship with any of these chaps. They weren't expected to send me flowers, or buy me presents or throw a surprise party for me. They were just there. And I avoided them on my birthday to avoid them feeling like that had to do something special.

On that last birthday with boyfriend, I fully admit that I acted like a total ass. PRex and I were on our way out after living together for nearly three years. I was exerting my independence, so I chose to fly across the country to spend my birthday with a college roommate, hiking and exploring western Washington State. PRex was not invited. And not pleased. My present from him that year? A hose. A well-deserved (and sort of ironic since he was the one who actually got hosed) present. He moved out two months later.

This year, Prof tried to nail me down on birthday plans nearly a month in advance. I dodged the question for a while and finally told him that I thought I was going to be camping and kayaking. After all, it was labor day weekend. There was a river release. It had been on my calendar for months. It didn't even really occur to me to change that plan and include him (he stubbornly insists that he doesn't want to participate in any activity that requires a helmet), until about a week before, when I realized that it was stupid to leave town and not spend some time with the bf.

So, I gave him Saturday, but still opted for a day trip to the river on Sunday, my actual birthday day. I tried to make sure he didn't take it personally. More than anything, I wanted to spend my birthday paddling, and its damn hard to make plans for anything else since a paddling day requires that I leave my house at 6am and get back about 14 hours later, completely exhausted and usually sporting a pretty decent headache.

We had a great day on Saturday. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. We slept late. Picked apples at a local farm. Ate apples. Ate lunch. Relaxed. Ate dinner. He gave me presents and lots of birthday attention. Then I left to prep for the kayak trip.

It wasn't until about 8pm when I was on my way home from kayaking the next day that I thought "what the hell are you doing? Seriously? You are going to go home and sleep alone, on your birthday? Dumbass." So I called him and informed him that it was my birthday, and I was coming over. I passed out on him at about 10pm, after I downed a facon-BLT and I had one birthday beer. Out. Dead. I tell you man, I am no good after a day on the river.

I'm really, really glad I was able to spend even those two awake hours with him on my actual birthday. So why did I try so freaking hard to exclude him from it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

34

Yesterday, I turned 34.

I mean, the day before, I was 33 and 364 days old, so 33 and 365 days really isn't that much older. But it sounds a lot older. And it puts me square into my mid-thirties. Mid-thirties.

Most women have a life schedule and it invariably contains some variation of this theme: "I want to be married and have kids by the time I'm 35." If I was a traditional, family wanting kind of person, I'd be sick right now. I'd only have a year to find the one, convince him to put a ring on my finger, buy a fluffy white dress, find a really ugly shiny dress for my best friends to wear (payback man, payback) and get down to the business of baby making. And maybe start thinking about buying a lawn tractor, and one of those cross-over mini-van things.

But I'm not a family wanting, baby-making type. I still pause a bit when I say "34" though. 34 means to me that I truly, really am not a family wanting, baby-making type. If I was, it would have turned on by now. I would have held one of the millions of babies born this summer in my circle of friends, and swooned and wanted one more than anything. Instead, when I held a baby, what I wanted to do more than anything was give it back to their mommy before it barfed on me.

There is a small part of me that that thought that someday, I would be normal - the baby gene would suddenly turn on and I would have the same desire to get married and have kids that all my friends have had. I would start thinking babies were cute. I'd want a car that had a back seat that was easily accessible in case I needed to get a baby seat back there. I'd want to learn how to knit.

The gene has never turned on.

I really am likely to have a non-traditional life. What will that mean for me? On the plus side, it costs somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 per year to raise a kid, not including college. Money I'm sure I could scare up if there was a hungry, screaming, naked child demanding to be fed and clothed - but right now, that money goes to grad school and kayak gear and expensive organic produce that rots in the fridge before I eat it. And I like it that way.

On the down side, who will be my emergency contact when my mom is too old to be reliably expected to show up at the hospital? Who will take care of me when I'm old and frail? Who will pull the plug when its time? (ok, that one probably won't be an issue...) Its going to take some planning and thinking. But I think I'll put that off until I'm at least 40.

Yikes. There's something I don't want to think about.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Feelings, Technically Correct

I looked at him today and I thought to myself "he makes me really happy. I should tell him."

This is a huge breakthrough for me. I think telling people how you feel is silly. I mean, if he didn't make me happy, I wouldn't be spending days on end with him and smiling all the time. I figure he knows we've got a good thing going, so do I really need to be redundant and say it?

And yes, I know the answer to that question is a resounding "yes." People like to hear you say mushy romantic things. I know this, but expressing how I feel makes me vulnerable. And you all know how much I hate that.

I stopped myself before I said anything. He doesn't make me happy. I make myself happy. He contributes to it sometimes, but I'm in control of whether I'm happy or not. So I thought, "well, I'll tell him that being with him makes me happy." But that's not true either; because I'm happy when I'm with him, but I'm also happy when I'm not.

So, I ended up gazing into his eyes and saying the following totally unromantic thing:

"I was going to tell you that you make me happy; but that's not technically correct. Then I was going to tell you that being with you makes me happy, but that's not really technically correct either. So, I guess I'm not telling you anything."

I think he knew what I meant. Though I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gray's Anatomy Lesson

I really thought that there would be a time when I could watch a doctor show and not get this weird vaguely sad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

That time hasn't quite come.

I actually got to sit and watch a Grey's Anatomy re-run tonight. Course, it was new to me because I ditched my TiVo and haven't been home on a thursday night since February (well, if I was home, I was doing other things, and if I wasn't doing anything productive, football was on. For the express purpose of reminding me why television blows).

Watching those skinny little actors run around in their scrubs and have their little life/hospital issues still brings back memories for me of how difficult it was to be on the other end of a relationship with a resident. And watching it still makes me just a little sad. Its been over six months; yet those sad feelings still came back -- even though I did everything I was supposed to do to shake them.

Don't freak out. I'm not pining away for him. Or talking to him. Or thinking about him (unless I'm watching tv, of course). It just strikes me as a bit weird that he can still interfere with a good night of mindless tv.

Meeting in the ladies room

At work, when there is an issue, we can usually resolve it fairly straightforwardly and easily. I send an email briefly explaining the issue that needs to be discussed, set up a meeting, draft an agenda, facilitate the conversation, keep the conversation on time and on-track, make agreements, send out meeting minutes so douchebags are held to task, and then move on. To the next issue, and the next...

Of course, it doesn't always work that way. Like, when there are real personality conflicts. Or when there are long-standing turf battles. Or anytime my boss gets involved. But generally, if there is a resolvable problem and no turf issues, that's how it goes.

So why the hell don't we do that in relationships?

Relationship conversations are THE WORST. And I have avoided them my entire life and in every relationship I have ever had for that reason. When there is an issue, it always stews and festers before anything happens. And then, one person breaks and catches the other person off guard. Off-guard person isn't ready for the meeting. They hadn't pulled out their file and looked at their notes. They gotta wing it, when what they really wanted to do was chill, drink a beer and touch your boobies.

And because there isn't an agenda or a facilitator, the conversation goes over here and over there, and back over here, then you re-discuss something you already talked about thirty minutes ago, then you go back over there, then you bring up something from three years ago, then you come back here... Before you know it, its taken you three hours to get to the root of the problem and figure out what to do about it: "I will try harder to wipe my toothpaste spit out of the sink". WTF? Three hours for that?! We should have agendas! And timelines! And meeting minutes, with action items "You said, in August 2009, that you would start shaving your big toe. Now do it!"

How can you possibly make progress without that kind of technique?

A couple weeks ago, we had our first relationship conversation. I wasn't ready for it. He wasn't ready for it. But, I had festered for four or five days, so I was ripe and ready to go when the subject came up. It was a fine conversation really. We laid the problems out. I told him how I felt. He told me how he felt and why. We agreed to not be douchebags and to talk about things when they bothered us (not 5 days later). It was one of the most grown up and honest conversations I have ever had with a boyfriend. I was quite proud. The issue was tiny, but, its always been difficult for me to be honest about even the tiny things, so, maybe there is hope for me after all.

Or maybe not, because as soon as we were done the conversation, I started thinking... "we are going to have to do this all the time. Oh god. I don't want to have to do this all the time. There has got to be a better way." Hence, relationship staff meetings. With an agreed upon agenda, and time limits for discussions and follow-up action items. And a parking lot for new issues we can't deal with.

And wine. Lots and lots of wine. Or maybe whiskey.

It will never happen, of course. But wouldn't it be nice sometimes if you could run your personal life like you run the office?