Author Archives: rachel

About rachel

I am a professional mama and amateur knitter from New Jersey who eats way too much chocolate and doesn't exercise enough. I frequently have the urge to shave my head and have been known to go to the grocery store in my pajamas.

First Steps

First of all, welcome to my long-suffering, oft-neglected blog. Longtime readers know that this is not the place for seriousness or clean language so if you’re new to the blog and new to ME, buckle up, kids.

NB: Some of you call him Rick. I call him Freddie. It’s a long story but he also answers to What’s-His-Name and Captain. Hope this clears up any confusion!

Today was a busy day. I am getting used to the drive up to the hospital. The GPS says it will take exactly 30 minutes but I can do it in 20 if I’m careful. ETA is always just a suggestion, and hey – stay out of the left lane.

When I got in to the ICU, Freddie was awake and greeted me by name and sounded almost cheerful! He was shocked to find out that today is Tuesday, but that’s normal for his situation. .I figured they had him jacked up on drugs again, but no – he’s improving quite a bit. Enough so that they decided to move him out of the ICU and into a regular room! Hurrah!

But before that, he had to have his left hand x-rayed. He hasn’t been able to make a fist and at first we thought that was just because they were pumping him full of fluids and he was suffering from Extreme Sausage Hands. Apparently not! So x-rays were taken (I assured the tech that he wasn’t pregnant) and we’ll find out tomorrow, I guess. I’m assuming whatever it is isn’t that bad or they would have added a splint or whatever to his impressive bandage load. But we’ll hear about that tomorrow, I suppose.

The neurologist came in and did the whole thing with the flashlight in the eyes and reflex hammers and most of it is good news. His reflexes are good and all that jazz, but he’s not going to pass a field sobriety test anytime soon. The bump on his head was pretty severe and his eyes are not working together at the moment so he’s seeing double and is very sensitive to light.

I was pleased that he ate some ice cream for breakfast (LUCKY!) but a little annoyed because it’s Haagen-Dasz and that shit is delicious and I was eyeing that for myself. Still, it was good that he ate something because he hasn’t had any food to speak of since Saturday afternoon.

While he was being transported to his new room, I stopped in at Starbucks because WHATEVER SHUT UP I’M NOT AN ADDICT and I needed to be out of the way anyhow. It’s a very nice Starbucks but for whatever reason they had their music turned up pretty loud so I think it might also double as a venue for raves in the late hours of the evening. Visitation ends at 8PM so I can’t know for sure.

The new room is on the neurological floor, which is nice. He has a roommate, which kind of sucks because Roomie had Fox News on allllllll day (thankfully at a volume I couldn’t discern with all the other damn noise in that joint) and was apparently v. popular, because his phone rang off the hook and he answered EVERY CALL.

Now, some of you know that one of Freddie’s internet nicknames is SHOUTY MAN. He’s a beloved character around here because HE SHOUTS INTO THE PHONE ALL THE TIME despite the fact that it is 20-goddamn-20 and technology is so awesome now that you can speak in a normal voice and the person on the other end of the line can hear you. We’ve come a long way from tin cans and string, but TRY TELLING THAT TO SHOUTY MAN. Turns out, there are more of them. Hundreds, maybe. Thousands, probably. So Roomie is HOSPITAL SHOUTY MAN and holy god dude, now we all know that he has psoriasis and blood clots and is taking antibiotics and steroids and heparin and they won’t let him leave even though he feels JUST FINE, MICHAEL, and he doesn’t like the nurse assistant person and oh, he’s not racist but he doesn’t just doesn’t trust Black people. HOSPITAL SHOUTY MAN IS KIND OF A DICK, YOU GUYS.

And he snores like a congested sea lion, so he’s got that going for him, too.

Anyhooooooo, the lunch tray came and went (I took that chocolate pudding, since I haven’t really eaten since Saturday EITHER), and the Jewish chaplain person came in and chatted with us which was nice. The speech therapist came in and did her thing and that was interesting to me because I had considered that as a career before my 2nd nervous breakdown and the discovery that I am actually quite deaf. [Shrug] Whaddaya gonna do? Nowadays I spend my time driving food around to people and judging them SUPER HARD for ordering Taco Bell and doing the Mom thing and facilitating virtual high school and going to the hospital to hang out with our intrepid hero while he gets bits of him stuck back on. It’s not a career and the pay is shit but at least I’m my own boss!

That’s a lie, I am 100% beholden to other people. It’s fine.

At one point the physical therapist came in but Freddie was sleeping and refused to wake up to talk to her. I think he was faking sleep and was just totally over having people do stuff to him, but then again, he did try to get up earlier, thinking he was just going to waltz over to the bathroom all by hisownself. OH NO YOU DON’T, BUDDY. Sit your ass down. That’s tomorrow’s project! Because the sooner we can get him on his feet, the sooner we can maybe bring him home and I can do my whole Kathy Bates routine on him.

Oh wait, I’m not supposed to say that part out loud. IT WILL BE FINE, I DON’T EVEN HAVE AN AXE.

Overall, he is showing great improvement. His short-term memory is still iffy, but he does know where he is and why he’s there. I will answer any of his direct questions about the crash but I’m not going to volunteer any information. There are things he just doesn’t need to know right now. He is understandably very upset and frustrated and sad and mad and angry and annoyed and bewildered and anxious and all of those things you feel when you don’t know what the future is going to hold. This is the longest he’s been separated from his beloved phone since that time I plopped it into a glass of water because he answered a work call while we were having our First Wedding Anniversary Dinner. I am the Keeper of the Phone now and I HAVE ALL THE POWER!! He is fretting a bit about work but I have been in touch with his bosses and they have assured me that all of his TPS reports will be taken care of and he won’t have to meet with The Bobs. His only job is to heal and rest and get better and stop looking like someone attacked his face with a cheese grater.

Like that guy in the Tom Hanks pirate movie, this is me: “Look at me. Look at me. I’m your boss now.”

Tomorrow will be more of the same. Doctors and nurses will come in and ask questions and do stuff. I will continue to tell them that I can’t hear them unless they take off their masks and they will be appalled and I will shrug because HELLO I AM CUTE DEAF LADY and we’ll figure it all out and he will sit there and ask me what happened (again) and I will tell him (again) and maybe I’ll read to him or something if he’s up for it. I will continue to pass along some of the absolutely atrocious jokes some of you have been making and he’ll laugh and then he’ll forget them so I can tell all the jokes again because recycling is good for you.

I have been so overwhelmed with all the love and good wishes and offers to help and good vibes and prayers and hippie voodoo and charged crystals and everything positive that people have been sending and thinking. We really do appreciate all of it, truly. Thank you all so much.

Stay tuned, there’s going to be lots more.

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The Long Road

Deep breaths.

Freddie looked much better yesterday. The swelling is going down and the blood (there was so much blood) has stopped welling up. Things are turning red and black and purple in anticipation of further healing when things turn green and yellow and brown. Homeboy is a one-man Pride parade float.

He is starting to retain information a bit better, so he knows where he is and kind of how he got there. He’s starting to FEEL EVERYTHING which is not a pleasant sensation, and they took him off the super-high-powered opiates so all he gets now is Big Tylenol for the pain. This is a good thing, overall, because the last thing we need to get out of this is an addict, meaning I will have to figure out where to score. Oh wait – Jill starts high school today, I can probably just ask her. I’ve heard rumors about that place. This is the suburbs, after all.

Freddie wasn’t interested in eating when I was there with him which is understandable given the pain he’s in. Maybe today will be better on that front. He did say he wanted to stand up but we all chuckled at him and said “how about trying to sit up first?” So we did that and it didn’t go well. Again, maybe today will be better. The last thing we need is for him to walk around with his ass hanging out of the hospital gown and maybe take a fall and land on the other side of his face. Oooh, but maybe I could request the “Jude Law” package from the surgeon. Let me check on that.

My hope is that today we will get some news about a timeframe for surgery. If they can do it sooner rather than later, that would be best for EVERYONE, but it depends on his condition. They told me yesterday that there is a possibility that he might be able to come home sometime this week and then go back for surgery later, but I’m not sure I want the responsibility of caring for a dude with half a liquid face, especially when he is not very good at being taken care of. This is a Man Cold writ large.

But we’ll do whatever the doctors think is appropriate. I suppose once he can get up and walk around and do bathroom stuff unassisted, he’ll be closer to coming home and then we’ll see. I know he’ll be more comfortable here, surrounded by all his stuff and his dogs and without things beeping all fucking day.

The concussion is something that concerns me and I’m not going to go down an internet rabbit hole reading about it because I don’t want to know any more than I already know right now. He has a pretty severe headache and is sensitive to light, which is why we moved him to a room with a slightly smaller window yesterday. Hospital rooms (the surgical ICU, at least) don’t have window blinds? Seems odd to me but also makes sense. He’s a bit close to the part of the building where the helicopters land, which is noisy but there isn’t anything we can do about that. One landed while I was there and I said “hey, your ride’s here!” and he didn’t get it because he just doesn’t remember yet. My hope is that he won’t remember the crash or the immediate aftermath because I will and that’s already too much.

I hope the long-term effects of this are minimal. I think they will be, once we get all his pieces stuck back together. He’ll probably need some physical therapy after having been laid up for awhile, and he will definitely need speech therapy once his jaw is reattached to the rest of his head. I wonder if I can slip the speech therapist a fiver and get them to make him NOT SHOUT ON THE PHONE. We’d miss Shouty Man, but… we wouldn’t miss Shouty Man, you know? That’s how loud he is.

But… we’ll see. That’s all I really have right now. I know he’s in the best possible place and he has good doctors and nurses taking care of him but so much of this is “well, we’ll see.” So we wait.

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Labor Day Weekend, 2020

Friends, on Saturday, Freddie was involved in a pretty serious bike crash. He hit a bad patch of road and went over the handlebars and slid about 30 feet on his face. He was unconscious and bleeding when we got to him literally seconds later, so we called 911. He was airlifted to Morristown Medical Center Saturday evening.

A bike crash is never a good thing, and this was less good than most. His injuries are primarily on and in his head. The helmet took the brunt of the impact and did its job admirably, but he does have a concussion and has fractured his face in at least three places. We have been waiting for the swelling to subside to see if and how much surgery will be necessary, but the doctors have said to me that everything looks good (the bones are all in the right area, just not actually attached the way they should be). His neck and back are all fine and he didn’t break any arms or legs. From the neck down, he just has some road rash here and there.

It happened very fast. One instant we were all riding and the next… we weren’t. I will have to keep talking to Jillian to find out exactly what she saw because she was right behind him on the road. She has been truly amazing – she got off her bike and moved out of the way and let us get on with what needed to be done. I was behind Jill and I managed to get off my bike (it’s never graceful and I usually just fall over) and get to Freddie. We were with our friends MK and John, who are the exact people I would have called first anyway. John is an experience mountain biking coach who has been trained in bike crash first aid (handy!). I am a Girl Scout but I am also Freddie’s wife so most of my first aid training went right out the window and once I realized I wasn’t going to be able to help, I dialed 911 and gave my phone to John. Then I went into the driveway of the house we landed in front of and promptly started to lose all my shit.

A car came down the road and stopped to help. Turns out it was an RN from New York who just happened to be passing by. Someone said something about how she was going out for coffee and changed her mind and turned down that road on a whim just to see where it went? It’s fuzzy, maybe that’s not exactly right but that’s what I remember being told. I’m not religious and I don’t really believe in much other than the idea that the universe has a perverse sense of humor, but this lady was put in that place at that time for a reason. She wouldn’t tell any of us anything more than her first name (Jen) but that information might be in the police report and if it is, I’m going to send her a stupid-big gift basket. Or open an Edible Arrangements location on her front lawn because I am so grateful to her for being put there by whatever inexplicable force guides us all.

The owners of the house we landed in front of were also absolutely spectacular humans. They came out with gloves and masks and towels and didn’t mind at all that five bicycles were parked in their landscaping. We’ll be sending them a big thank-you as well.

After I had a little freak-out, I managed to pull it together and check on Jill (she was fine, she pulled her headphones out of her bag and stuck her face in her phone because she’s a teenager and that’s what they do) and through sheer force of will, I guess, I kept going. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug, too.

It’s funny, the things you focus on in these kinds of situations. I needed the keys to my truck and we dug through the backpack Freddie was wearing but they weren’t there, so they must have been in the pocket of his shorts. Everyone was like “you’ll get them later, it’s fine” and I remember thinking “no, it’s NOT FINE, that’s literally the only set of keys I have for this truck.” Sure, it would have been fine but can you imagine if they’d been lost? I would have had to figure out how to get a new set of keys somehow. The number of small errands that would make up that large errand… nooooo thank youuuuuu that was not a thing I wanted to have to think about having to do, so dammit, I needed those keys (we did get them). At one point, one of the cops (or fireman guys or EMTs) was like “does he wear glasses?” Me: “yes, do you have them?”

He handed me a single lens. Okay then! Turns out glasses aren’t going to be part of Freddie’s life for awhile anyway.

So they loaded him into the ambulance and explained that they were going to helicopter him to Morristown. Mary Kay was going to handle getting Jill home to check on the dogs and see what she wanted and needed to do. Since the house key was also on the truck key, I asked Jill if she knew where the spare house key was hidden and she does. But that location had recently been rearranged and cleaned up as part of one of our Coronavirus projects so it was possible that the key went elsewhere. I had to make sure Jill could get in so we discussed how to go in through the window if need be. Luckily, she didn’t need to do that.

John and I went to the hospital to wait. We got there only a few minutes after the helicopter did, so we had to waaaaait and wait some more. A nurse came and took us from the ER waiting room to the Trauma Unit waiting room and we waited SOME MORE. Finally he was stabilized enough that we could see him but he was a MESS and totally out of it and 100% did not know anything about anything. They had him intubated and sedated and restrained (he gets very punchy in situations like this, it’s the weirdest thing). But he was alive and that was really all I was concerned about at the time. I gave them all the insurance information and all that jazz and signed all the things and when they got ready to move him to a room in the ICU, we were able to leave.

I had John take me back to my truck and then I drove home. I honestly could have left it there and dealt with it later but the way I’m made, I like to not have things to worry about so it was just easier for me to go get it and drive it home. Got home, checked on Jillian (she’s fine – she’s surprisingly unflappable sometimes) and paced around the house for about three hours (adrenaline hangover) and then I finally fell into bed around 2AM.

Yesterday I was able to visit. When I got there in the morning, he was still intubated and sedated and restrained but they had done CT scans on him and were waiting for the results of those so we could make a plan. Over the course of the day, various nurses and doctors stopped in to explain what was happening and they gradually took him off the fentanyl (likely the cause of him being so combative) and worked on getting him off the ventilator. I left briefly in the afternoon to come home and check on Jill and put pants on (hospitals are FREEZING) and by the time I got back, he was off the vent and starting to be more aware. Eventually we were able to talk a little bit and I was able to tell him where he was and why but because of the concussion, his short-term memory is flickering so we had that same conversation about 4 different times. The nurses have assured me that this isn’t out of the ordinary and we’ll keep an eye on it.

I’m exhausted. I keep going with caffeine and carbs and a lot of REALLY terrible jokes. Just… truly offensive things that make me laugh about this situation. Because if I stop making jokes, then you know it’s very serious and we can’t be having that. So we laugh.

I have at least 6 different group texts going right now with various friends and family members, which is one of the major reasons for this post. I can post updates here instead of sending 13 texts a minute.  I am heading up to the hospital in a little bit and I will post updates when I have them. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers and we’ll all get through it together. We have everything we need, for now. Jillian is well taken care of and as long as our supply of Trader Joe’s mac & cheese holds out, she’ll be fine. I am holding it together but I am keeping a list on my phone of things I am planning to do when this is all over and I have the time and space to have a breakdown. It’s going to be AMAZING, unless I just never find the time to do it. Then I will just… keep on keepin’ on, I guess.

The staff at Morristown has been outstanding. The people whose house we crashed in front of were outstanding. Nurse Jen was amazing. The first responders were amazing. The cops who laughed at my wholly inappropriate jokes were amazing. Our friends… there are no words to describe our friends. We take “ride or die” VERY SERIOUSLY in this house, apparently.


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It’s Been A Minute

2020 has been a trip, to be sure. I had tons of things I had planned to do this year that just never happened. Eventually I will get around to collecting my Covid-related posts from Facebook and dumping them here, but not today.

This past weekend, What’s-His-Name and I drove out to Cedar Point with The Teenager to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Seemed appropriate, since the past twenty years have been quite the rollercoaster.

I’ve wanted to go back to Cedar Point for years now, but it hasn’t been in the plans because of one thing or another. Schedules don’t line up, or we have other plans, or we just don’t think of it when deciding on vacations. This year, we decided to do it, even with the pandemic, and it was fine. We stayed in the hotel on the Point and everything was clean and sanitized and people were wearing masks and doing distancing and all that jazz.

It was weird, going back there after so long. Twenty-six years ago, I spent the summer living and working at the park, and I was interested to see how much had changed. Turns out – LOTS of things had changed. All the old dorm buildings that we lived in were gone. Some rides were gone. Coasters were either taken down and replaced with something else or revamped into something new. It didn’t look the same at all, and I think I’m glad about that. My memories of “my” Cedar Point aren’t affected by the “new” Cedar Point where I spent the weekend.

I read somewhere that if someplace is truly “home” to you, you can see the layers. You can look at a building and you remember what used to be there and what was there before that and before that. That’s Cedar Point, for me. I grew up going there a bunch of times each summer, and then spent that summer working there – I could see the layers as we walked around, and it was a little bittersweet.

Midway Games (my section) was mostly closed due to the pandemic. That was a bummer, because I wanted to show The Teenager the games where I had worked and tell her the little secrets to winning them (hint: you usually can’t unless you’re very lucky. The only exceptions are things like the ones where you throw darts at a balloon or something. Everything else is not rigged, exactly, but definitely set up in favor of the house). She asked all weekend to hear stories of my time there and I told her as many could be decently told to a 14-year-old. Some stories will have to wait until she’s older.

We had a good time. We had to stand in line after line, but you always do, right? The weather was perfect, and the rides we did manage to get on were exactly what we wanted. The Raptor was still amazing after all these years (but showing its age, definitely). The GateKeeper (new in 2013) was outstanding, and I finally got to ride Millennium Force, which I have waited 20 years to do. I also rode the Gemini with The Teenager, and it was nice to do that because that’s the first “big coaster” I ever rode and it’s still awesome.

If this pandemic ever ends, we are planning to go back and not take 20 years to do it.

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This Day

I get up early. I didn’t used to, due to decades of insomnia, anxiety (both diagnosed and un-diagnoed), and some light drug use. Once I had a baby, though, I learned how to fall asleep. STAYING asleep is a whole ‘nother thing but once I put down my Kindle, turn out my light, roll over to my side and arrange my covers so they’re covering my ear but not my whole head (routine is important), I am OUT.

But I’m 44 now. I wake up in the night, every night, at least twice. The first time because I have to pee (I drink a lot of water) and the second time because I’m sweating my balls off. So I get up, change into dry jammies, and turn the air-conditioning down as far as I dare, what with the shivering husband in the bed next to me. How I can be on fire and he is frozen is a tale for hormones to tell, I guess.

So I get up early, around 5:45 most days. I come downstairs, let the dogs out, get Jill’s breakfast together, and go into her room to unwrap the sleepy burrito that is my daughter. I scratch her back and pat her bum and sing songs to her until she gets fed up with me and swings her long legs out of bed.

While I’m waiting for her to finish her boot-up sequence, I usually get on the computer and check out my internet landscape. Did I inadvertently start a Facebook fight? Did a celebrity die? How are the friends doing? I click around and absorb whatever news I can stand until it’s time to shove Jill out the door to the bus or head to the gym.

The only thing I do differently on THIS day is visit a certain website. I used to check this one every couple of days – it was filled with sharp, funny writing (and equally sharp, funny comments), baseball groaning, advice, and musings on pop culture. It had been ages since I checked in over there, and the author of that site had been drifting away from it for years, anyway.  When I clicked over this morning, I was surprised to see that the post from this day last year was still in the “newest post” position. Had it been that long?

It has been that long. My various internet communities have grown and changed and shrank and changed over the years, this one as well as many others. I clicked back out and got my day started, knowing I’d probably check again every hour or so until this year’s post appeared, as it eventually did.

She always posts on this day (or the day after). There are twenty of them now. Will there be twenty more? I don’t know. I like to hope so, in the way that I hope Don will someday surface on this, his birthday. Happy Birthday, Don.

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It’s Mine, I Own It

From what I understand, there is a lot of talk in various disability-advocacy groups to change the way people talk about disabilities and disabled people in general. I’m 100% sure I just broke all of their rules with that last sentence, and I DON’T CARE.

I am disabled. I have severe, nearing on profound hearing loss. Unless you have my attention and I can see your mouth moving, I can’t hear you. Sometimes not even then.

It’s fucking embarrassing, actually. It really is. Not being able to hear is the most bullshit ‘invisible’ disability I can think of. Because people can’t see it (unless they really look closely at my ears), they assume it’s not there, or that I’m exaggerating.

I am fucking NOT.

I’ve worn hearing aids since I was 30, and I’d been losing my hearing since well before that. The only reason I got hearing aids in the first place was because I was about to have a baby and thought it would be a good idea to be able to hear it. Otherwise, I probably would have continued to put it off until I had thoroughly irritated everyone by saying “what?”

[Speaking of saying “what?” let me just say that if I happen to mention to you that I am hearing-impaired and you respond with “what?” in an attempt to make a joke, you’d better pray to the old gods and the new that you get me on a good day or I will fucking eviscerate you. Would you limp around the room in a jokey way if someone told you they had a club foot? No, you fucking would not. So don’t come at me with the world’s shittiest non-joke and think I’m going to let you get away with it. I might, but you don’t know for sure, do you?]

So I got hearing aids. I fucking hate them. Like, I really, truly, fucking HATE and RESENT them. I really cannot put it into words, but the day will come when the rest of my age cohort catches up with me and you all have to get them too and THEN WE’LL SEE.

Mine are pink. Because if I have to wear them, then they’re going to be as awesome as I can make them and the company who makes mine doesn’t offer them in purple or sparkles or ones that light up. So pink it is.

Anyway, I call them ‘hearing aids.’ Some of the language surrounding them wants people to call them ‘hearing instruments’ but fuck that. Adding syllables to the term doesn’t make it any better. Hearing aids. Learn it, live it, know it.

I also consider myself ‘hearing-impaired.’ I was recently lectured by someone who took offense to that term. I asked her if she was ‘hearing-impaired’ herself and she said oh no, but that the “community” “prefers” other terms such as ‘hard-of-hearing’ or some shit. Apparently, “impaired” implies damage of some sort and she went on in this vein for awhile but I got bored and tuned her out because what the actual fuck, lady? It’s *my* disability and I will call it whatever the fuck I want. I occasionally refer to myself as a Cute Deaf Lady and hooo boy some of the people don’t like that.

Fuck that. I have to live with it. I can talk about it however I like. It’s mine, I own it.

Also, “community?” What the shit? It’s not like a bunch of people with hearing aids get together and have potlucks and shit. Can you imagine trying to have a conversation at a party like that?

No, I wasn’t born this way. I don’t know what caused it, so we haven’t figured out if it’s fixable. I don’t know if it’s hereditary but I BET IT IS because I come from a long line of VERY LOUD PEOPLE. That probably is a side effect from the giant families both of my parents hail from, where you have to be loud to be heard. So there are probably a few in my family tree who could have been hearing-impaired at a young age, but who the hell knows. We are loud people.

It’s embarrassing, being relatively young and having this kind of impairment. Having a conversation with someone in a loud restaurant is 100% impossible. I usually have Freddie along as my ‘translator’ and he knows when a waiter or bartender is talking to me and I’m not getting it, it’s his job to help out. He does a reasonably good job at this. But when I’m out with other people, I have to concentrate VERY hard and IT FUCKING SUCKS. Lucky for me, my friends know this and most of them get it and I don’t feel weird about asking them to repeat what folks are saying, but sometimes I just want to be able to go out and do normal shit without having to navigate around these fucked-up earholes.

The funniest part of this whole situation is that hearing aids are FUCKING EXPENSIVE and my insurance company (most insurance companies, in fact) don’t classify them as “medically necessary.” That is fucking laughable and 100% bullshit and if you ever wonder why I’m so fucking PISSED OFF about this, THAT IS WHY. The set of hearing aids I’m currently wearing set me back about $6500. And, six years ago when I got them, they were top of the damn line, state of the damn art. They were also obsolete three years ago because the technology moves so quickly. I sent them in just before they stopped product support on this model for a refurbishment in order to squeeze a little more life out of them. I go to my doctor in two weeks to discuss a new set because my current ones have reached the end of the line.

But what about…? But have you tried…? I heard that you could do…
Yes, yes, yes – I know. I’ve tried it. I even went so far as to try acupuncture, which is a thing in which I heartily DO NOT BELIEVE. It didn’t do anything. I’ve tried everything my doctor and I can think of and lots of other things besides. This is just how it is.

And I will talk about it any way I want.

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When Things Pile Up

The piles are starting to get big again.

This is usually a sign that I need to change something.

I had a good couple of weeks, where I was starting to get rid of unnecessary stuff and make a stab at getting rid of some of this clutter, but the piles are starting to get big again.

Today I’m going to focus on cancelling things like magazines that don’t ever get read, memberships to things that I’m not using, and stuff like that.

But there are paid bills that need to be shredded or filed – at least I have figured out how to keep THAT in order. There are notices from Hebrew school that need to be put on the calendar. There is a bat mitzvah that is coming up VERY fast and still have REALLY MAJOR things that need to be done for it.

The piles are getting big again.

I need to clean out my closet because there is laundry that can’t be put away. There are tons of things in that closet that I don’t wear and I don’t know why I’m holding on to them. See also: bookshelves. They’re an unorganized, dusty mess. See also: craft room. I’m pretty close to just chucking all the yarn I have and starting over with organization in there. We’ll see if I’m brave enough to do it. I might.

The piles are getting big again.

The dogs are overdue for their yearly vet visit and I feel bad about that but I can’t make the appointments for them. I did make a dentist appointment for Jill and I feel good about that but it looks like that is the full extent of me being on the phone today, trying to decide when and where I can fit these things into my life.

There’s a metaphor that people use sometimes when appearances are deceiving and it very much applies to me right now – I’m a duck. I’m swimming along and it looks pretty calm and easy but under the surface, I am paddling like mad to keep going.

I got into an argument the other day with a man (always a man) who claimed that being a stay-home parent “isn’t a real job.” Well, no shit it’s not a “real” job. Nobody would do all of this for free. Most people wouldn’t do it for money, either. It might not be a job but it’s work. It’s physical labor (hauling laundry up and down stairs, bending and stretching to put dishes away, walking dogs). It’s emotional labor (knowing which family members need to go to which places on which days and making sure they get there, knowing what we’re running low in in the fridge, knowing not only that the water filter in the fridge needs to be replaced, but also knowing which one it is, etc). I often wonder what sorts of world problems the moms could solve if we didn’t have to have so much of this bullshit domestic trivial lodged in our skulls. We’d have colonized Mars by now.

99% of the emotional labor in my domestic sphere is just NOTICING things. I’ve noticed that we have wasps living in our porch light fixture. That is so awesome. I am calling an exterminator or similar to deal with it because I’m not fucking dealing with it and while What’s-His-Name is many things, he is not a noticer. He would never notice and if he did, he’d just shrug. Thus, I call pest control.

I’m currently running an experiment to see if I can get someone to put a new roll of TP on the thing in the bathroom. It’s been empty for two days, so I suspect people are using the other bathrooms but once the TP runs out in those… well, we’ll see what happens then.

What’s-His-Name and I had a very illuminating discussion the other day. I wasn’t feeling super-great after the gym because I feel like I’m hitting this “NOPE” barrier and I can’t seem to push myself through it. I definitely hit that wall this morning but I’m trying to be OK with it. He was asking me why I don’t or can’t push past that “don’t wanna” point and I don’t know why that is. It could only be beneficial to me, so why not just do it? I’m working on that.

But the piles are getting big again.

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Abortion is, as ever, a hot political topic. Never moreso than right now, when the state of Alabama has outlawed ALL abortion for ANY reason. No exceptions in the case of rape or incest. It's disgusting. 

So there is a lot of talk right now about abortions, and who has had them and what that all MEANS. 

Here's what it means: it means that a woman found herself in a position where she was pregnant and didn't want to be. Maybe it wasn't the right time for her. Maybe she had other medical issues that made pregnancy a bad idea. Maybe it was rape. Maybe it was incest. Maybe it was an ectopic pregnancy or other medical issue that meant not getting an abortion would result in the woman's death. 

The WHY is not important. Women should be able to access medical services for ANY reason whatsoever. 

So here's my story. 1994. It was not a good time in my life – I was battling an undiagnosed mental illness (at least one, likely three), exacerbated by the stress of trying to go to college with no money and no family support and no idea what it was that I was doing.  It was what I like to call the first of the Bad Decision Years. 

Trying to continue in college like a normal person was a Bad Decision. The boyfriend I was with was a Bad Decision. I'm pretty sure my hair was the result of a Bad Decision. Lots and lots of Bad Decisions happening.

But, because I'm not a stupid person, I was, and remain, a huge fan of birth control. AIDS was still very much in the collective consciousness so you could get free condoms pretty much everywhere. I was on the pill.

AND I ENDED UP PREGNANT.  It was the worst day of my life, actually. I thought there was no way I could be, because we put up SO many barriers to it. But I was at dinner at my boyfriend's house and had to excuse myself to go throw up because I hadn't been feeling that great for the past couple of days.

His dad asked him "is she pregnant?" Us: "nooooooooooo not possible!"

I mean, I couldn't be! I was doing all the right things!

But the nausea wouldn't go away, so a few days later, I bought a test and peed on it.



I never once considered staying pregnant. Not even for a second. My very first thought was about where and how I could get an abortion because I was 19 years old. I didn't have a drivers' license. I still lived at home. I could barely take care of myself, much less a baby. There was no fucking way on earth I was about to have a kid. It was abortion or suicide, frankly. 

I did not, could not tell my parents. Our relationship was not great at the time, and my belief in them as a source of support was non-existent. Maybe they would have stepped up, maybe not. Maybe they would have thrown me out of the house, maybe not. The fact that I didn't know for sure and couldn't trust what their reaction might be speaks volumes about what it was like between us. Maybe it would have been okay. I didn't know if it would be and wasn't about to take the chance that it wouldn't be, so I didn't say anything.  

That's when things get a little hazy. I do not remember who found the clinic, only that it was in Cleveland. The big city! And this was WAY before GPS and Google Maps, so we really had to figure out how to get there using a paper map and some hastily-scribbled directions.

I do not remember what day it was, only that it was in early September. I don't remember if there were protesters outside. I do remember having to go up there the day before due to that fucking "waiting period" where the asshole white men who wrote that particular law thought women might magically change their minds overnight.

Maybe some of them do, but I will tell you this: once a woman makes a choice to have an abortion, she is strong enough that she isn't likely to be swayed overnight. Making the decision to do it is the hard part. The rest is biology.

I remember asking my best friend to come with us. I know that she was a bit more religious than I have ever been, and I know it had to be hard for her to do this with me and support me the way she did. I remember thanking her at the time, but I don't know if I ever apologized for putting her through that. I never asked. I should. 

I don't remember where the money came from to pay for it, but I do know that it cost $250. That was for the "twilight sleep" version, which meant I wouldn't be put under full anesthesia. More of a, well, "twililght" situation. I was awake-ish. To be put under fully was more money and we just didn't have that.

I remember the doctor being very kind, explaining what he was about to do and I remember two nurses in the room, one who assisted the doctor and one who just held my hand.

I wasn't upset or emotional about it. I never was. It was the right thing to do for myriad reasons and if I had the chance over again, I would do it again. 

I remember the recovery room – there were about 10 recliners, each one with a woman in it, each one with a small table next to it with snacks and juice. We all had heated blankets on our laps. I'm sure we all had the same different reasons for being there. I don't remember any of their faces. The lights were dim.

I don't remember the ride home.

I have regrets about that period of my life, but getting that abortion isn't one of them. It's not something I think about all the time, but it does come up occasionally. The word that comes up most often when I think about what life might be like now had I chosen differently is "stuck." I would have been stuck. Or dead, let's be honest, but most definitely "stuck." I can't even think about it and say "maybe it would have been all right. Maybe we could have made a go of it." I am certain that it would have been a disaster for everyone involved, starting with me. I wouldn't be here now, either literally or figuratively.

I have tried to remember more of that experience, but it's just not there. I'm not a trained psychologist but I have been in therapy long enough to get to know myself very well and I wouldn't say that those memories are blocked out or faded due to trauma. It was 25 years ago, first of all, and it was a thing that happened to me over a couple of days in what was a very tumultuous year.  There are lots of things, both good and bad, from that year that I just don't remember. 

But I don't regret it. Not at all, not for a single second. I have many regrets about other things from that time period, but that is not one of them.

Statistically, 1 in 4 women in the USA have had or will have an abortion. So if you think you don't know any woman who has or you don't know any woman who would, you're wrong. 

You know me.  

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I've been cleaning out the cabinets and fridge and freezer this week. It's been interesting – I haven't really had to go to the grocery store at all in the past two weeks, and we haven't ordered out any more than we normally would.

Some of the meals I've presented to the family have not been great. They have been hodge-podge situations with beans and strange grains I bought for some other recipe that I never got around to making. The people are eating it anyway, because what choice do they have?

Yesterday, I found some $$$ filet mignon in the freezer and fed that to the people. It was YEARS OLD but thanks to the magic of vacuum sealing, all four pieces were in perfect condition.  Today I'm making fajitas with ANOTHER leftover steak (we are fancy here sometimes), some chicken, and some andouille sausage I found while poking around the freezer. Should be fun! The family might hate it! I don't care!

This has been FOOD BLOG. 

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Ugh. Fine. Whatever

I'm in Facebook Jail for the time being. This is what happens when you respond to someone threatening to come to your house and rape you with "go die in a fire." Rape threats are apparently fine, but telling someone to set themselves on fire goes against Facebook's "Community Standards" and you get yourself put in time-out for three days.

Ultimately, this will be a good thing. I use Facebook far too much and can find hundreds of more productive things to do with my time, starting with dusting off the ol' blog. Hi blog! Nobody reads this blog anymore and that's probably a good thing. I don't know that I'll ever be able to get back to the level of candor I wrote with in 2002-2003, but THAT is probably a good thing, too. Times have changed.

What is this blog even FOR, anyway? I certainly don't know. If nothing else, it serves as a place for me to talk about myself and the things that happen to and around me. For instance, I could give you a list of the things that are currently percolating:

1. A squirrel landed on my windshield the other day, causing a question-mark-shaped crack that extends all the way to the bottom. I spent my morning getting quotes on how much it will cost to replace it. Weirdly, two fairly-local companies came in around $250 while Well-Known Nationwide Company was almost double that. Interesting. So do I go with the well-known company or do I take my chances with the local guy? I haven't decided yet but I'm probably going to save myself some money and trust the local dude. Time will tell.

2. In honor of The Cure getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I've been listening to them A LOT over the past week or so. They're one of those bands that, if you get it, you get it. And if you don't, you never will.  The Disintegration album is about as perfect a piece of art as anything. The Wish album reminds me of the first time I saw them in concert which was, I think, the first time I had a non-drug out-of-body experience. I'm half-convinced that all the live music experiences I've had since then have been a futile attempt to ascend to that level again. Like heroin, I guess – they say that nothing compares to that first hit and every subsequent try is just a losing battle at getting back to that point. Live music is my heroin.

3. I bought carrot cake macaroons for Passover. I have no idea what they're like. They might be amazing. They will probably be terrible. I haven't tried them yet, because I'm reluctant to find out for sure. Schrodinger's dessert strikes again!

4. I'm only a little annoyed at how relaxed my daughter's school is about her alternative hair colors. She started the year with bright magenta hair and is currently rolling with a splotchy experimental teal. That kind of thing got us hauled into the principal's office back in the day, but now they just sort of ignore it. How times have changed. 

5. My own hair needs some attention. After about 6 years of just ignoring it, I think it's time for some kind of drastic change. But I'm undecided as to what that should be. Maybe it's not my hair, maybe it's my surroundings? I could frame some of the art in our "to-be-framed" pile and stick it up on the walls and maybe that will do the trick. Or I could shave my head. Possibly both things.

6. I need to get up on a ladder and shave the ceiling fans. Between our jackass long-hair cat and the two dogs (one of which is an short-haired Shepherd/Husky mix who paradoxically has SO MUCH HAIR), the hair is just suspended in the air during Shedding Season. Judging by the tumbleweeds I'm seeing today, Shedding Season is upon us and that means I need to start chasing the pets around with a brush.

So when my Facebook Jail time is over, will I fall back into my bad habits? Probably. But maybe not! Watch this space. 

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