Still too early to tell, technically, but I’m hopeful.

The surgery itself went well. The doctor had to put in a few more screws on one side because my bones are old and brittle. Old bones means it will also take me longer to heal, but that’s to be expected. In what ways does your body not work against you as you get older? Presently it is 4:23 a.m., and I am writing this blog post because it will distract me from the searing pain that cannot be alleviated by narcotics. It’s not always like this. Just during the night, when I’m trying to sleep. During the day, pain comes and goes. Discomfort, on the other hand, is always with me. It’s not debilitating, just demoralizing. Like, now that it’s been a week and I’m allowed to bend at the waist and am not constantly on narcotics, there’s no particular reason why I can’t do the laundry and the dishes and other household chores, except that I don’t feel like it. I don’t know all the “medical” crap that’s going on, but there’s some temporary nerve damage that will take some time to repair. Probably more time because my nerves are old and frayed. Ha ha. That might be a joke, or it might be totally accurate. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. What I do know is that my entire lower jaw feels like it’s asleep. I can’t feel my lower lip, which actually presents a few daily challenges. Perhaps you can imagine what those are.

That’s uncomfortable. And there’s intermittent pain of varying degrees. It’s unpleasant, but manageable. Until I try to go to sleep, at which point it is extremely distracting. If I’m lucky, I manage to fall asleep before the horrible searing pain starts in. Well, the horrible searing pain wakes me up, but at least I’ve slept a little first. It’s very similar to the pain of an ear infection. Heck, it could be an ear infection for all I know. I really can’t tell. But it’s the horrible searing ear-infection pain plus the horrible dull ache of a jaw that’s been broken and put back together and was exercised too much during the day by doing things like talking, swallowing, opening and closing in order to brush teeth and spit out toothpaste, etc. Nothing touches it. It lasts for a couple, three hours, and then it eventually goes away and all that’s left is my sweet Percocet haze. That’s when I go to sleep. Until then, I just watch Law & Order: SVU and play Spider Solitaire to distract me from the pain. Unfortunately, I can’t read through the pain. Think of all the reading I could get done by not sleeping. But alas.

In other news, I have lost the will to eat. This was what I expected. I didn’t expect to be quite so demoralized by it. I don’t want to eat. I am not tempted to eat anything I ought not because the thought of using my jaw to do anything makes me want to cry. But I didn’t quite realize how not eating would make my life seem so empty. I’m not hungry. Not at all. I have to make myself eat things I don’t want to be eating. But without food, my existence really is quite barren. It’s funny. I’ve joked about these things in the past, but it turns out to be actually true. I would cry, but that would take away the one immediate benefit this surgery has given me: I can breathe much easier now. That’s to be expected, I guess, when you increase your airway by a centimeter. But it’s really quite remarkable. I never realized how compromised my airway was before because that was all I knew. For 44 years I was merely breathing, but now I am BREATHING.

This is why I paid someone to break my jaw and put it back together. Among other things, but those are to be fully realized in the future. For now it’s mainly breathing.

I see the doctor again tomorrow. The swelling has gone down considerably in the last week. I went from looking like Jabba the Hutt to looking like Marlon Brando in the Godfather, but as of now I basically look like Fat Batman. So no, the cosmetic benefits, if there are any, have not yet been realized. But we shall see, gentle readers. We shall see.

Now my pain has gone away and I’m going to fall asleep, if I can possibly ignore whatever stupid bird is chirping outside my window.

One week from today I have my jaw surgery. I’ve been planning this surgery for so long that I forget it isn’t common knowledge among everyone I know that I’m getting it, and I will make some casual reference to having surgery June 10 and people be like WHAT SURGERY!! and when I explain, they all look and/or sound horrified, like they can’t believe I’m about to do something so grotesque. I have always said that I’m looking forward to it being done, not to doing it, but the closer I get to actually doing it, the more nervous I am. And it doesn’t help that everyone around me is horrified at the prospect and it’s not even their jaw in question.

I’ve never had surgery before. I’ve never been under general anesthesia. Now that I’m about to have surgery, I am starting to be scared. Well, last week I was starting. This week I am pretty firmly in the Scared category. Who knows what kind of basket case I’ll be next week. It’s not like I think I’m going to die. Usually I have to be under water before I start considering death as a possibility. Good thing the surgery isn’t going to be performed at sea, I guess. I’m mostly worried that I’m going to have the surgery and regret it later. What if it’s a Monkey’s Paw surgery? It’s supposed to correct my bite and relieve my TMJ symptoms, but what if it doesn’t help? What if it feels weird? What if I look weird? What if my lower jaw randomly comes unhinged at some point in the future? I admit that last one is a long shot. I’m just throwing fears out there. I already know it’s going to hurt like a melon farmer for about a week, but what if it hurts longer? How many weeks before I can chew again? I know what the doctor told me, but I always take what doctors say in terms of recovery and multiply it by at least one and a half. (My orthodontist said I’d be in braces for about two years. That was four years and four months ago, so you see why I have trust issues.) When am I really going to be able to chew again? What if I break my newly-rearranged jaw the first time I eat steak? Worse, what if I break it eating a protein bar, before I’m able to eat steak? What if I have to re-learn how to chew? My lower jaw has never been properly aligned with my upper jaw—how am I supposed to know how that works?

People are surprised to learn that my lower jaw needs to move forward about a centimeter because I don’t have a weak chin. My profile looks normal. Not that people with weak chins—is there a more scientific, PC term for that? I feel like there must be, but as I get older, I’m losing more and more of my words and I have less and less patience for Googling—have abnormal profiles. But if you look at me from the side, you can’t tell that my lower jaw is a centimeter behind where it should be. Which makes me wonder how it will look when it is where it should be. I move my jaw to line up my lower teeth with my upper teeth—which does NOT feel remotely normal, by the way—and I can’t really see a difference, so hopefully I will not end up looking like Jay Leno or something. My dears, I have enough problems.

I am feeling very unattractive as of late, for reasons having nothing to do with my jaw. It has mostly to do with age. I have not aged well. I saw my before pictures at the orthodontist yesterday—that was only four years ago, and I looked so much younger. Not young, not by a long shot, but so much younger. Now I look old, and the frown lines I’ve had since I was five have all gotten more pronounced. I’ve never had a super-great face, but for a long time I did think it looked okay. I would say even at 35-36 it was looking all right. Now I look in the mirror and think, “Who is that hag?” RHETORICAL QUESTION BECAUSE I KNOW. Part of me is holding out hope that somehow, miraculously, I might look better after my surgery. I mean, the insurance company is treating it like the dental equivalent of a boob job, so I feel like I should get some cosmetic benefit. But I don’t imagine I will. Maybe getting rid of the braces will help. I’ve been told that will eventually happen someday too, hopefully before I turn 50.

It is hard to look at Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair and not feel like that bitch needs to keep her makeover to herself.

The problem with not being young is that whatever you can do to make yourself look better takes a lot more effort than you have the energy for. And probably professional help. I would probably have to go back to school to learn how to be pretty at this point. I’m only focusing on my outward appearance because my soul is empty, just so you know.

But enough of those superficialities. Let’s talk about how the orthodontist has ruined my last week of eating normally for who-knows-how-long by putting new hooks on my braces. I presume they are there for surgery-related purposes. Isn’t it funny how un-curious I was when they were doing this to me at the office yesterday, and it’s only now I can’t eat without feeling like I’ve got razor wire in my mouth that I wonder what the crap this is for? This is why I haven’t made more of my life, you know. A profound lack of curiosity when it matters most. But I digress. Tomorrow I have to see the oral surgeon for a records and x-rays or whatever appointment. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me then. Hopefully nothing horrible. I’m sort of counting on the horrible stuff not starting until next Wednesday. Who wants to take me out for lunch?

Two days after my surgery, school lets out for the summer. Whee! This is where having a mother-in-law who lives half a mile away comes in handy. In case you were wondering, this summer is scheduled to suck. THROUGH A STRAW, FOR ABOUT SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS.

So we are now five months into our No Housekeepers experiment, and I have to say that it is looking less promising than initial data suggested. The bathrooms are starting to get a film. I had to buy a new vacuum cleaner because the Kenmore died RIGHT AFTER I bought new bags for it. Yes, that’s how old our vacuum was—it actually used bags. Now I have a Shark Rocket or something, and I admit, it’s pretty awesome. For a vacuum, I mean. I reckon it can’t help being awesome compared to a fifteen-year-old Kenmore. It makes me feel really old, getting excited about how easily it maneuvers around and under my furniture. I’m like George H.W. Bush marveling at the supermarket scanner. What won’t they think of next. So yes, the floors still look great, because I’m doing them. Actually, they look better because I’m doing them. The stuff the kids are doing, on the other hand, is not quite up to snuff. It’s not cutting the mustard, if you prefer a different outdated phrase. And now that I don’t have complete strangers coming into my home fortnightly to judge me, I’ve sort of let some other things go. Like, I don’t really care if the coffee table gets cleared off because as soon as I clear it off, everyone dumps more crap on it, so screw it. No one ever visits us anyway.

Well, I’d like to think I’ll talk to you gentle readers again before my surgery, but considering this is my first post in about a month, I advise against holding your breath. Who knows when we shall meet again? But I promise you that if I end up with a freakshow jaw, I will blog about it. Never you fear. My friends, adieu.

Because I’ve got nothing better to do with my time, and it’s about time I faced it.

Today I woke up especially tired. I thought I would lie down for a nap as soon as the last kid left for school, but by then I was distracted by some other stuff, i.e. the internet, and then I thought, “You know, maybe I’m not that tired after all, maybe I should just stay up. That would be better for me.” But then around 10:50 a.m. I realized that I just wasn’t going to make it if I didn’t lie down and have a nap. But I didn’t want to sleep the rest of the school day away, so I set the kitchen timer for 40 minutes because shorter naps are supposed to be better for you anyway. Then I lay down on the couch, and it felt good to lie down, i.e. it felt much better than standing up or sitting down and certainly better than moving, but I couldn’t get to sleep. I think my feet were too cold. I hadn’t put on socks this morning. When I realized that my feet were freezing, I should have gotten up and just put on some socks, but it felt so good to be lying down instead of standing up and moving that I just continued lying there and thinking, “I’m curled up under a blanket. Eventually my feet have to warm up.” But no, actually, they don’t. And they didn’t. But eventually I got comfortable enough, even with cold feet, that even though I was not asleep, I was definitely very relaxed, and that was a super-good feeling.

It was around this time that the kitchen timer went off, and I thought to myself, “It feels too good to be lying down to get up and turn off that timer. I’m just going to keep lying here until I feel like getting up.” I would not have been able to tell myself this if my kitchen timer were the type that just keeps beeping until you turn it off. It beeps three long beeps, and then it shuts up for, like, a minute, and then it beeps three long beeps again, and it just keeps doing that until you turn it off. It really is just as annoying as it sounds, but when you’re super comfortable on the couch and don’t want to stand up, you talk yourself into thinking it’s not that annoying. And it was a little less annoying about 10-15 minutes later, when I finally thought to pull the blanket over my head. (Between my good ear being stuffed up next to the pillow and my bad ear being bad, this was more effective than it ought to have been.) But eventually it did get to be too much. The good news is that by the time I got off the couch and turned off the timer, it was not quite noon. That was a full half hour earlier than I expected it to be.

If I hadn’t insisted on 25 minutes of intermittent high-pitched beeping, I might actually have fallen asleep and taken an actual nap, but despite having not actually slept, I did feel much better than I did prior to lying down, so I considered the exercise a success. I use the word exercise loosely, of course. Perhaps if I had tried exercising instead of sleeping, I would have felt even better, and also like I had accomplished something. But then I wouldn’t have this scintillating story to tell my loyal blog readers.

What happened next? Well, I’ll give you a hint: it involved dishes, a dishwasher, a peanut butter sandwich, and an episode of Law & Order:SVU. I started binge-watching SVU (again–these things are cyclical) on the Netflix a couple weeks ago when my husband was either out of town or away from home most nights (doing what, you might ask? you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but okay, he joined an Andean folk rock band and they’ve been rehearsing a lot–see, I told you you wouldn’t believe me), and I got kind of addicted to it, to the point where I sometimes watch it during the day while folding laundry during the day while the kids are in school. I almost never watched television while the kids are in school. It seems like such a waste of time; in point of fact, it is a waste of time. This is why I can never manage to watch my Netflix DVDs because when else am I going to watch a DVD except while the kids are in school? This is why it is a waste of money for me to still get Netflix DVDs, but I can’t bring myself to quit because I really do want to watch Howard’s End, eventually.

I know a lot of people don’t like SVU because they just get sick of all the rape. But there isn’t actually that much rape on SVU. It’s probably more kidnapping than anything else. Sometimes the kidnapping does get tiresome. I don’t think of myself as a person who enjoys television shows about rape. I’m actually super-uncomfortable with seeing rape in my entertainment selections, but I do love me some Law & Order (it began while I was in college, but it became really serious once Sam Waterston joined the cast of the original series, and I fancied myself in love with Sam Waterston for many years until just recently when I realized he was older than my dad–by like, a lot–and why that bothered me so much, I can’t be sure, but I haven’t felt the same about him since), and I love the cast of SVU. I like Richard Belzer better on SVU than I ever liked him on Homicide, and I loved Homicide (mostly because of Andre Braugher, a little bit because of Kyle Secor, I admit it, I’m not above that). Richard Belzer has done some surprisingly nuanced work on SVU. But what I really love is Ice-T. Ice-T is awesome on that show. (Tangentially related aside: I also love this guy talking about Ice-T on SVU.) But I enjoy the whole cast, even without Christopher Meloni. So enough justifying my Law & Order obsession. I shouldn’t love Law & Order as much as I do, since it tends to glorify abuses of government power, but screw it, not everything has to be political. AT LEAST I KNOW IT’S A FANTASY. Okay. Why did I mention SVU? Because I was watching SVU–and eating popcorn, if you must know–and this particular episode actually made me cry. It was the one where Patricia Arquette plays an aging hooker (an aged hooker, really) and Mariska Hargitay is trying to get her off the streets FINALLY. It was surprisingly touching. That, or I am becoming emotionally unstable, which I will also buy.

It wasn’t even an Ice-T-centric episode.

But back to my emotional stability or lack thereof. I saw my psychiatrist on April Fool’s Day (no joke here, that’s just how I remembered the appointment and why I continue to remember it long after I kept it), and it was because I needed new prescriptions because we changed insurance in January and it’s a long story–I hadn’t seen her in a long time because I haven’t really needed to talk about anything. Since my PMS was magically cured (with SuperGyno science), I pretty much walk around like a regular human being, albeit a heavily drugged one. So I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk with her about except that I needed new prescriptions, but I ended up talking about how I’m having a midlife crisis.

I used to talk about midlife crises very cavalierly. When I was a teenager, I thought I could write a memoir and call it I Was a Teenage Midlife Crisis because I was always having an existential crisis of some kind, and also I didn’t particularly expect to live past the age of 30. (This was mostly a result of my Cold War-era Mormonism. It took the Berlin Wall coming down and a major rearrangement of my personal theology to undo such fatalism. Although I still haven’t quite worked my brain around the idea that I might live to have grandchildren. I know I’ve told you this before, but maybe some of you are just now joining the program, or maybe you were absent that day.) I know all teenagers have existential crises all the time, but mine were much more serious because they started in grade school and also, I was just a piece of work. Anyway. Oh, yeah–I used to throw that term “midlife crisis” around like it was nothing, but I have finally reached a stage of life where I might technically actually be having a midlife crisis. I am almost (very close!) 44, and the fall of communism notwithstanding, I think a life expectancy of 88 is more than optimistic. I could technically be having an end-of-life crisis, for all I know. In eight and a half years, I will have lived longer than my mother did. I’m not really hyper-aware of my own mortality, I’m just saying ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

Regardless of how long I have left to live, the fact remains that I have lived for (almost! very close!) 44 years, and I have nothing to show for it, aside from this beautiful family. But looks aren’t everything. Certainly, as a teenager, especially one who didn’t expect to live past 30, I expected a lot more out of my adult self. I am certainly not where I thought I would be at this point of the game. I am not remotely close. I am pretty much a failure, and I don’t say that in some dramatic way like you have to talk me off a ledge–I’m having a crisis, but thanks to modern medicine, it is a very calm crisis. It doesn’t make it less depressing, just less…urgent, shall we say. I mean, whatever. I’ll still be here with the same problems tomorrow. Back to my story, if I were a dude, I’d be buying a sports car or having an affair. I guess. Since I’m not a dude, and it’s pretty clear that I will never realize my dreams at the rate I’m going, i.e. not at all, I am trying to switch dreams midstream–only I’m out of dream ideas. I thought about becoming an accountant, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I wouldn’t be as good at it as I thought I would. Maybe I just can’t face the possibility that I might suck as much at being an accountant as I have at being a writer. That’s possible. I’m really good at avoiding things. If it were a career, I’d be at the top of my field.

There’s no end to the list of things I’d rather do than clean my house. I am so desperate to avoid doing it that I will even dust off ye olde blog and pretend I have something worth writing about. What can I tell you? I went to the doctor this morning for my annual physical. I got my lowest scores ever on the depression/anxiety scales, but that’s mainly because they don’t give any points for “I don’t want to die, really, but man, am I bored.” But anyway, congratulations to me. I also got a Pap smear, which I’m sure you were dying to know, but don’t worry, the new guidelines say you won’t have to hear about it again for another three years. I narrowly avoided a lecture on the importance of breast self-exams, and the doctor gave me some advice on staying continent in my golden years. All in all, a resounding success.

I had to get some blood drawn, so I went downstairs to the lab, and there was this lady in the chair across from me who was giving her birth date to the phlebotomist, and I happened to overhear that she was born in 1988. And I said to myself, “Hm. She definitely does not look like a teenager.” And then I said to myself, “Well, of course not. There are grown-ass men and women walking around out there who were born in the ’90s, for gosh sake.” And then I said to myself, “YOUR OWN DAUGHTER WAS BORN IN THE NINETIES!” Imagine the camera slowly zooming in on me as this realization hits. Would it be more or less effective with music? I will leave that to your judgment. Suffice it to say, I was rattled. Sure, my son has been calling me “Grandma” for the last couple years, but I didn’t realize it was LITERALLY POSSIBLE. This was not unlike that moment I was thinking to myself, “That Marcus Mariota sure is handsome,” immediately followed by “AND YOUNG ENOUGH TO BE YOUR SON. STOP! REVERSE COURSE NOW!”

::Shudder::

So then I went to the grocery store and managed to decide what to make for dinner tonight, sort of. WAIT, I forgot to tell you that also at the doctor, I found out that I am officially one pound over the weight I promised myself would be the absolute most I would ever allow myself to weigh while not pregnant. I am not pregnant and do not plan ever to be so again; therefore, this must mean that I am supposed to lose weight now. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like it. It’s a problem! So much a problem that I completely forgot to mention it when I was describing the resounding success that was my annual physical. So scratch that “resounding success” part and write in “mostly a success but partially a crashing failure because there is no way I’m going to lose ten pounds any time soon.”

Except that I might lose ten pounds when I have my jaw surgery in June. I did schedule my jaw surgery. It is officially happening. Maybe afterward I can finally get my braces off, and won’t that be lovely. I had this little conversation with the doctor. Doctor: “Most people do lose weight when they have braces because it’s such a pain in the neck to eat.” Me: “Not enough of one.” Unfortunately! But when I have nothing but protein smoothies to sustain me, I imagine I will finally lose the will to load up on calories. The goal, in the meantime, is to avoid gaining ten more pounds between now and June. While I was at the grocery store, I was hungry because I’d been fasting for the labs, and I still had another stop to make before going home, so I got a slice of $2 pizza and a diet Shasta from the vending machine. (The pizza was not from the vending machine but from a legit fresh-pizza-seller.) Pizza and diet cola–Breakfast of Champions and Other People Who Will Never Lose Ten Pounds without Having Their Jaws Wired Shut.

Then I went to Target to pick up a prescription, and I figured as long as I was there, why not drop another $75-100 on toilet paper, Band-Aids, and underwear? There was some other stuff in there too, but I forget what. Oh, I bought a new sports bra for Princess Zurg, who has been complaining that her medium-support model is not up to the rigorous bouncing that her Taekwondo class involves. So I selected a high-support sports bra, something I have never required for myself despite years of engaging in highly bouncy activities such as tap dancing and clogging, which is just as well since, I noticed, they only sell them in C, D, and DD sizes. I can only hope this one is up to the job.

While I was at it, I bought more underwear for my teenage son, and I was reminded how terribly uncomfortable it is to look for the right brand and size when you’re surrounded by walls of crotch shots. Compounding the problem is the fact that Mister Bubby and Elvis wear the same size in everything, so there needs to be a way of telling their underpants apart. For years I got MB white and Elvis colors/patterns, but then MB got bored of white underpants (I guess) or they don’t sell the style he likes in white, so I have to get him colorful underwear that isn’t the same as Elvis’s colorful underwear, but it can’t be too colorful or he’ll feel like an idiot. He won’t look like an idiot because no one will see his underwear–except I guess maybe some boys in the locker room if he has P.E., except do boys ever notice other boys’ underwear? If they did, would they admit it? Maybe, if it were really colorful and they claim they couldn’t help themselves.

Anyway, I was trying to find some sedate navy, perhaps a green, but all they had were black/grey or a “fashion pack” (!) (who knew?) that included purple, red, and camouflage. Seriously, camouflage? Is that ever going to stop being a thing? And that’s when I was thinking I’d had enough of the wall-o’-groins for one day, and I also thought to myself, “Are there any men who actually buy their own underwear, and if so, do they ever think, ‘All right, camo!’ These will be really fashionable!'”

I’m not saying camouflage underwear isn’t fashionable. I just wonder what men think about it. Probably nothing. They probably don’t even notice what’s on their underwear, unless it’s too colorful. So why camouflage? Who decided that was a good pattern for men’s underwear?

I don’t know. What else can I tell you? I got an e-mail from Marco Rubio, wanting to know if he could count on me. That was the subject line. “Can I count on you, Mad?” And I was like, dude, I don’t know how I’m going to feel about you a month from now, let alone November 2016. But it turned out he just wanted money. Pft. No, you can’t count on me. Please. Except that considering who else is running so far, maybe I should consider letting him think he can count on me. I like to encourage people who aren’t Rand Paul, no offense to him.

But it’s really too early for me to consider committing to anyone, even on a…what’s the word…a trial basis. I don’t even want to think about the next presidential election. It seems like we just had one. And I just don’t care that much anymore. Wake me up when they finally take my Social Security away.

UPDATE: Since I published yesterday’s post, at least one of my questions has been answered. The reason we know about the Christian pizza parlor and its conscientious objection to gay weddings is because the reporter who did the story went into Memories Pizza parlor and asked the owners what they would do if they were asked to cater a gay wedding. This diminishes my scorn for the pizza parlor owners considerably, given that they didn’t deliberately set out to make spectacles of themselves. One can still argue that if you want to stay in business these days, the answer to the question “Would you ever cater a gay wedding?” should either be “Sure, why not?” or “No comment.” (Though I must say, that last one is not without its risks.) So I think these folks are mostly guilty of being a) too invested in where their pizza ends up and b) too naive to realize that refusing to cater a gay wedding is akin to throwing homosexuals into concentration camps and they should be prepared to suffer the social consequences. In this case, the consequences look like they are out of the pizza business for the time being, and maybe for good. Well. I hope everyone’s happy.

Personally, I’m disgusted. As I wrote at length yesterday, I think the restaurant owners’ position is kind of ridiculous. This is not to say their religious belief–that gay marriage is wrong–is ridiculous (no comment), just that their application of said belief is ridiculous, given that they’re not being asked to officiate or put their stamp of approval on anything. That is not a commentary on whether or not their refusal to cater gay weddings should be legal. I could give you my opinion on that, but it would undermine my position that this whole issue is too stupid to argue about. What disgusts me is that somebody thought a single business’s position on catering gay weddings was a newsworthy subject. What was this reporter trying to accomplish, aside from stirring up trouble? NOTHING HAD HAPPENED YET. Nobody had asked this pizza parlor to cater their gay wedding and nobody had been discriminated against, legally or otherwise. What was the “news” in this story? There was no news, just a fantasy.

I can’t imagine that there wasn’t a less destructive way to fill three minutes on this station’s news program. Really, what did they think would happen once this story aired? Again, it is hard to believe someone could be so naive in this day and age. Badly done, ABC 57! Badly done!

For the last several days I’ve been seeing stuff in my Facebook news feed about the Indiana religious-freedom law that discriminates against gay people or whatever, and I’m afraid I haven’t actually been reading anything about it because I just don’t care. It’s really hard for me to get agitated about this stuff one way or the other. All I can think is, “Why is it so important to you not to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple?” and “Why is it so important to you that a gay-hating bigot bake your wedding cake?” Yeah, I know, freedom of conscience blah blah equal protection blah. I understand the legal issues involved. I don’t understand the emotions. But my conscience has been slowly choking on its own apathy for the last four to sixteen years, so who cares what I don’t understand? It’s not like I’m going to stop anyone else from carrying.

But sometimes things get so stupid that I go from confused to angry. Like this story about the pizza restaurant that refuses to cater a gay wedding. Some Christian pizza parlor-owners in Indiana are happy about the new, horrible law that will protect them from having to provide pizzas for a gay wedding because they can’t in good conscience do that. Yes, I did start out confused. Three things:

1) Why do I know about this? Who asked for these Christian pizza-parlor-owners’ opinion on the law? Did they hold a press conference or something?

2) Do people often turn to local pizza parlors for their wedding catering needs? Is this a gay thing or an Indiana thing?

3) Who cares? WHO CARES?

This is one of the weirdest stories I’ve ever read. And people are getting all upset over it on the Facebook and the Twitter because bigotry and hate and whatnot, and it makes my head hurt to think of how anyone, gay or straight, could spare the energy to care about this. I can almost see how a religious baker might feel like baking a wedding cake for a gay couple could amount to endorsing the marriage. Almost. Not really. Not quite, because dude, do you really endorse the marriage of every other couple you bake a wedding cake for? Do you know that every couple who comes to you for a wedding cake isn’t brother and sister or secret bigamists? How do you feel about a marriage between a man and a woman who was born a man but had gender reassignment along the way? Is that kosher, and if so or if not, how do you know those people are not committing a chromosomal-ly gay marriage? Yes, I understand the legal issue and religious freedom, blah blah–I don’t care. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about you being a freaking baker, who bakes cakes. You don’t officiate anything. Sometimes a cake is just a cake. Actually, I think cake is always just cake. Yes, that is my position on the issue. It’s also my position, but more so, on pizza. Why on earth would you think to inform the public that you will not be providing pizza for gay weddings? WHO ORDERS PIZZA FOR THEIR WEDDING? HOW IS A PIZZA AN ENDORSEMENT OF A WEDDING?

The owners of the pizza place say they’d be happy to serve a gay couple who walked into their restaurant to eat a pizza, so obviously it’s not anti-gay bigotry that motivates them. This is what I don’t get, maybe because I’ve never worked in the pizza business, but do pizza parlors often work closely with wedding planners and send people over to the wedding venue to personally serve pizza to the guests, perhaps people in uniform with the logo of the pizza parlor on it so everyone knows that Gay-Loving Pizza provided this feast? Is that how we get to where pizza supports gay marriage? Because when I’ve wanted lots of pizza for an event, I’ve always called the store and arranged to pick it up or have it delivered without specifying what event I needed the pizza for. Do most people feel compelled to give their reasons for needing pizza on a particular day? Or do these pizza people make it a point to ask where their pizza is going to make sure no one eats it in celebration of something they don’t approve of?

On the flip side, if you’re getting gay-married, why do you care if these people won’t provide pizza for your wedding? Were you in fact planning on ordering pizza for your gay wedding? Why is your reaction not “whatever, dude, like I really want to eat your lousy pizza at my wedding”? I mean, true, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to type a lousy Yelp review decrying their bigotry, but why did they make this announcement in the first place if not for attention, and here you are giving it to them. How many gay-hating pizza-lovers would know to patronize this pizza parlor if not for all the flack they’re getting for not supporting gay marriage? I think that’s a weird demographic to go after, but I wasn’t a business major. I don’t know. I just see these people as not being a particular threat to the republic, even if they are weirdos. Not that disapproving of gay marriage makes them “weirdos.” They’re probably perfectly normal-seeming, except that most normal people don’t go around announcing that they’re limiting their business to everything that’s not a gay wedding. I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND.

In short, I’m sick of the headlines about how horrible Indiana is and how horrible liberals are for not supporting religious freedom because NOW IT’S PIZZA WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. Is there no longer even a small corner of the world where we can sit peacefully and not think our way of life is being threatened because we don’t agree on politics?

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

NOTHING. Knowing the future NEVER ENDS WELL. And I can’t imagine what else I would want to know about myself and/or my life that I don’t already know. I mean, I am myself. I’m living my life. I know a little too much about myself and my life, if you ask me. Maybe I should look into a crystal ball and forget a few things.

Now, a Magic 8 Ball that would tell me what I should do with my kids–that might be useful. But I think that’s not the same topic.

What do you kids think?

You may or may not remember that I let the housekeepers go in January, and since then the children and I have been cleaning the house. You may or may not be wondering how that’s working out. Well, I don’t imagine that you had remembered or wondered until I mentioned it just now, but in case you are wondering right now, I’m about to tell you: It’s working out pretty well, actually. It is much less stressful not having to get the house ready to accept professional cleaners on a fortnightly basis. Who knows, I may have saved myself from an eventual heart attack or an aneurysm or something just by vacuuming my own floors.

Talking of which–the vacuuming, not the heart attack–I will now take your vacuum recommendations. I have a perfectly serviceable vacuum that we’ve owned maybe 12-15 years. It’s a Kenmore. It’s got kind of a Frankenstein thing going on with the power cord and it no longer has any of its attachments, but it still works. I’m not desperate for a new vacuum, but every time I vacuum the house I am reminded that I could very well do with a different kind of vacuum–say, one that is lighter, more maneuverable, and yet still works. I already have one that is heavy, awkward, and works, so I don’t need recommendations for any like that. I’m just looking to make the vacuum experience a little less labor intensive. You know, since I’m being such a martyr, vacuuming my own floors and all.

Feature that would be a bonus but isn’t entirely necessary: I don’t have to drive to freaking Sears every time I need a replacement bag. (Freaking Sears is at the mall in freaking Tigard. You may recall that I don’t like driving there–not because there’s anything wrong with freaking Tigard except for its geographical position relative to mine. I’ve got a Target and a Macy’s and many fine restaurants within three miles of my house. I feel like I shouldn’t have to drive to freaking Tigard for anything. I’m just that entitled.)

On a completely different note, I just got off the phone with the Red Cross, and it’s a good thing I did because I thought I had already signed up to give blood in March and apparently I had not, or if I did, it didn’t take. So now I am signed up to give blood for real, and at a more convenient location at that. What serendipity! That reminds me, I should take my iron supplement. Anyway, they asked me if I could bring a friend. I said that unfortunately I couldn’t think of any acquaintances off the top of my head who weren’t afraid of needles. Well, at least I didn’t tell them I didn’t have any friends!

So in case you aren’t afraid of needles and aren’t pregnant or otherwise deferred, consider giving blood because the Red Cross lost a lot of donations during the recent snowstorms. Of course, the Red Cross seems to experience perpetual shortage. That’s what they’re always telling me, anyway.

*********************************************

Let’s take a time out so I can talk about Downton Abbey. ATTENTION! SPOILER ALERT! I AM ABOUT TO SPOIL ALL OF DOWNTON ABBEY FOR YOU IF YOU DON’T SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEXT SECTION IMMEDIATELY! UNLESS YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN DOWNTON ABBEY IN WHICH CASE YOU SHOULD PROBABLY SCROLL DOWN IMMEDIATELY ANYWAY! I DON’T WANT TO WASTE YOUR TIME! I didn’t think I would continue watching Downton Abbey after Dan Stevens left the show (and in such a horrific fashion), but for some reason I have continued, although now I am doing so without my husband impeding my enjoyment of it. He gave up on it partway through Series 4, and I probably should have also, but for some reason I can’t help myself. The best I can say for watching the show now is that it enhances the enjoyment of reading the recaps on Go Fug Yourself. That may be all I can say for it. But here’s the thing I really want to talk about:

Seriously, what the crap is Julian Fellowes doing with the Bateses? Isn’t one wrongful murder conviction enough for one family? It seems to me that one wrongful murder conviction is unfortunate, but two wrongful murder convictions could be described as carelessness. (If one were Oscar Wilde, anyway.) And don’t get me started on that first murder conviction, that only came about because the prosecution somehow knew the content of private conversations held between Lord Grantham and his valet. Did Scotland Yard have some weird surveillance program going on in the wake of World War I? How exactly did that work? I can’t tell you how many times I yelled at the screen during Series 2, “HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT? HOW CAN THEY POSSIBLY KNOW THAT??” At least this time there’s an eye witness, even if he’s unreliable. Frankly, at this point I was kind of hoping that Bates really did kill Mr. Green, and not only him but the former Mrs. Bates as well. THAT IS HOW SICK I AM OF BATESES IN PRISON.

ALSO: They dragged out the Mary-Gillingham-Charles Blake potential-love-triangle all through Series 3 without a single freaking thing happening, until the Christmas special, when one of them says the game is afoot or something, giving the impression that the potential-love-triangle might become actual-love-triangle in Series 4, but we get to Series 4 and find out that Mary’s already decided she’s choosing Gillingham and it’s like Charles Blake was never actually interested anyway–seriously, Mary, this is why you ruined your evening gown hydrating pigs with this guy in the mud all night and made scrambled eggs for him in the morning? You, Lady Mary, actually knew how to scramble eggs and actually scrambled them after a night of muddy pig-saving and it was all just for isolated giggles in Series 3? And then she decides she doesn’t want Gillingham after all and Charles Blake helps her break up with them and then moves to Poland so Matthew Goode can come on the show and be Mary’s new love interest? Is this not exactly the same as putting a gun in Act I and not having it go off in Act III? WHY ARE YOU WASTING MY TIME THIS WAY, JULIAN FELLOWES? I WAS JUST STARTING TO LIKE CHARLES BLAKE ESPECIALLY SINCE HE CUT HIS HAIR.

ALSO: I am bored of Daisy bettering herself. Just better yourself and move on, Daisy.

ALSO: Not nearly enough Evil Butler.

ALSO: If this is really the end of Isobel’s relationship with Lord Merton, I’m just going to have to punch Julian Fellowes in the face for making me almost care what happened.

ALSO: I’m bored of Mary taking cheap shots at Edith all the time. Once in a while, sure. Edith is a sad sack and a Debbie Downer, but at this point in time, it’s like continually reminding us that Dan Quayle can’t spell potato. I get that Mary is supposed to be a total bitch, pardon my French, but shouldn’t bitches also have more interesting things to say than “I hate my younger sister whose life is so much worse than mine is”? You’re a grown woman! WHAT WOULD MATTHEW THINK?

******************

OKAY, NO MORE DOWNTON ABBEY, IT’S SAFE TO READ AGAIN.

But here’s a harmless segue–Hugh Bonneville, aka Lord Grantham, is nothing but delightful in the Paddington movie. I had no interest whatsoever seeing Paddington until it started getting rave reviews and Mister Bubby started wanting to see Paddington, in no small part, I’m sure, because he has fond memories of his Paddington baby blanket that he slept with until maybe six months ago. (I’m kidding. Maybe it was a year ago.) So I ended up taking him and Elvis to see it, since no one else would–not even my mother-in-law, who sees every movie out there that isn’t rated R and buys the Blu-Ray as soon as it goes on sale. Well! We all loved it. Believe me, this was unexpected. I am not usually a fan of this sort of movie. But it was very funny, and did you notice that I took my teenage boys to see it? That is not a thing I would have predicted in a million years, but there you go.

Here’s something completely unrelated that I also feel like ranting about: Politics aside, I can think of few things I find more obnoxious than National Review Online’s new site design. Yes, I know–now it has a design to match its content. R D 2R, Obama eats dogs and Dick Cheney shoots his friends for sport, blah blah–can we get back to what I was talking about? Almost all conservative commentary magazines have dreadful web sites–there are actually very few good web sites, but many manage to be inoffensive. Unfortunately, NRO is no longer one of those.

You know, when I worked at the newspaper, one of my less desirable responsibilities was to field complaints, and I can’t tell you how many phone calls I got from old people complaining about the crossword puzzle. First it was too hard, then it was too easy, then it was too hard again, and why did you change it in the first place, blah blah, and I was like, dude, it’s just a crossword puzzle, and I swore right then and there that I would never, ever be that old person who complains about things changing. Every time Facebook changes something, everyone turns into old people complaining about the crossword, and it’s way more annoying than whatever annoying thing Facebook has forced upon us. So a few weeks ago I’m reading Jonah Goldberg’s newsletter and he warns everyone that a new site design is coming and certainly some are going to be displeased blah blah but change is inevitable so don’t-be-old-people-complaining-about-the-crossword, essentially, was what he was saying, and I thought, “Sure, Jonah, I can do that. (Not be an old crossword-complaining biddy, that is.) No problem.”

But then the new design appeared and holy crap, I have never wanted to get on a phone and complain about something ever before in my life, but if I did, this would be the thing I’d complain about. It’s not just that it’s moved to a whole-bunch-of-boxes-in-no-particular-order-one-can-discern format, which is not a format I care for but which I can tolerate since so many people seem to like how it looks. No, it’s the fact that you scroll over a box and it MOVES AND CHANGES COLOR AND I DON’T WANT A LIGHT SHOW, I JUST WANT TO FIND WHERE YOU’RE HIDING JAY NORDLINGER, FOR THE LOVE! I’ll give them this: So far nothing is sparkling or flashing. One can only pray it stays that way.

And yes, I’ll be sure to switch over to ThinkProgress and the Daily Kos right away. Thanks for the suggestions.

Well, now I have to make myself some lunch. This was a really pointless point, but that’s pretty much how they all are these days. DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT THE CROSSWORD, JETHRO.

 

 

 

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

There are many qualities and abilities I would like to have, so it’s hard to choose just one. When I think about how I wish I were different, though, I usually wish that I were less lazy. Or, alternatively, more organized. My life is very messy, and I don’t enjoy it. I don’t mean my life is messy as in “my life is a mess, it’s just one nightmare after another,” but my life is literally messy. My house is messy, my car is messy, my work space is messy, my calendar is messy–everything that could possibly be messy is messy. I can’t tell you that I personally don’t look somewhat slovenly most of the time. There was more of an excuse for it when my children were younger. Now I think it’s just habit.

Yes, laziness seems to be at the core of all my problems. But is it laziness or pessimism? Because half of the time my attitude isn’t just “I don’t feel like doing that” but “why should I bother?” I’d say I’m a really bad example for my children, except that I still work about a hundred times harder than they do, so it’s probably more accurate to say I was a bad genetic influence on them.

So what is the opposite of laziness? Hardworkingness? I don’t think that’s a word in English, though it might be one in German. (Probably.) What is the quality that I lack? Initiative? Gumption? Perseverance? Diligence? Or is it optimism? Do I lack the belief that I can make a difference in my own life? I’m 43, closing rapidly in on 44, and I think I have spent most of the last 18 years building a case for my own incompetence. I mentioned in my last blog post that people used to compliment me on my organization and efficiency. No one who knows me now would accuse me of having either of those qualities. Was I actually more organized and efficient back in the day, or was I just better at faking it? After all, no one ever saw all the stuff I never got done.

So I think if I had to choose one quality, I would choose to be more optimistic. I wish it were as simple as just choosing. I never have been optimistic, as a personality trait. I have experienced brief periods of optimism. Some have lasted as long as a few months (but I can’t say I’ve had one of those since the mid-1990s). But generally, I’m just pessimistic. I always have been. My parents, who knew me best as a child, would tell you this. I really can’t help it. I’ve tried to. (See “brief periods of optimism” above.) But ultimately, it’s just not in my nature.

Of course, if it suddenly were in my nature, I’d probably become a completely different person. This might astonish and possibly frighten the people closest to me, but I can’t imagine any of them would complain, since it would probably make me a better person. Of course, if I were an optimist, that would mean my husband and I would both be optimists, and possibly the whole balance of our marriage would be thrown off. But that’s the pessimist in me speaking.

Anyway, it’s not possible to wake up one morning and suddenly be improved. Even optimists know that.

Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

I don’t know how fast you all read. Well, probably you read at varying speeds, since there are more than one of you. I took a reading speed test online, and it said I read about 450 words per minute. I don’t know how accurate this is. I tried to read carefully because I was reading for comprehension as well as speed. I don’t know if I would have had a comparable level of comprehension at a higher speed, and I don’t know if I would have gotten much farther if I hadn’t had mouse and paging-down issues. It doesn’t matter. I decided it would be more useful to look up how fast the average person reads, which is supposedly 250-300 words per minute. I think my gentle readers are above average, so let’s say you read 350-400 words per minute. Then let’s say that you don’t feel like reading very quickly today because if you only read 300 words per minute, I only have to write 1,200 words for today’s entry.

OR–you can set a timer for four minutes and see how far you get.

I was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1971. I moved around a lot as a child because my dad was in and out of school, in and out of the army (he was drafted, but served stateside), and in and out of jobs. And also, we were in and out of houses. I went to four different elementary schools, but only one middle school and one high school, although though my parents didn’t settle in one place until I was about 16. I stopped trying to make friends around age 11, which is interesting, because that’s when I finally stopped switching schools and having to leave people. I socialized with people at school and at church, but I didn’t really have actual friends–like the kind you would have over to your house–again until I was 16. It didn’t have anything to do with my parents buying a house and me feeling like it was safe to put down roots. (Actually, my new home didn’t feel very permanent, as it was a condo and there were seven of us. I got the feeling my parents were trying to squeeze us out.) It just sort of happened, like most friendships do. I’ve not had a lot of experience with friendships that were deliberately cultivated. In my observation, that sort of thing almost never works out.

As I said, there were seven of us. I was the second of five children–four girls and one baby brother. I was five years younger than my older sister and ten years older than my brother; my two younger sisters were pretty close together in age, so I was closer to them. At least we played together the most. I shared a room with each of my siblings at one point–even my brother, when he was a baby. (Not recommended, by the way, putting the baby in with a ten-year-old–he woke me up a lot, and any hope my parents had of letting him cry it out was dashed when I started crying along with him. Poor Mom.) I have fond memories of sharing a room with bythelbs–we laughed a lot. We used to get in trouble for being too loud at night, when everyone else was trying to sleep. I remember one night, Mom had already been in to warn us once or twice, and I didn’t want to get in trouble again, but bythelbs was making me laugh so hard that I couldn’t think of the words we need to be quiet or Mom will come, so I slapped her across the face. That stopped the laughter right quick. (I bet foo4luv is grateful our stint as roommates was less raucous.)

I got an inter-district transfer to finish high school where I started it. I’m not sure if I would have wanted to, had I known that the school district my new home was in only required two years of PE, whereas my high school required three. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t know this, as I did make very good friends my junior and senior years; I stayed in touch with all of them long after high school, but not much in the last ten years. I do still talk to one of them on the phone semi-annually. I used to be a great correspondent. Ironically, this went out the window when we got internet in our home. Sad, but true.

I was a good student, and I graduated somewhere in the top 20 (you know, the part that wasn’t the top 10), but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and the thought of going to school four more years depressed me, so I decided to take a year off and see what happened. I got a temporary secretarial job at a hospital in the instrumentation department. I pretty much hated it. That’s when I decided I should probably go to college after all. I wanted to establish some independence, though, so after my temp job ended, I moved several hundred miles away to live on my own in Portland. It was about 20% fun and 80% lonely and scary. I also had difficulty finding work. I finally got a job at one of those scandalous savings and loans, but after a couple months I was let go and couldn’t find anything else, so I decided to go back home until college started that fall.

I enrolled in a small Baptist college in Virginia because they gave me a scholarship. My family was still in Southern California. One of my professors told me I’d gotten it backwards; I should have grown up in this crappy Virginia town and gone to college in California. I don’t regret my decision, though. I had a great college experience. I was the only Mormon in the place, and that’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been special. I majored in English, which was dumb, but at least I did well. Initially I planned to be a teacher, but that plan didn’t survive the first semester. When it was time to graduate, I still didn’t have a plan, although I toyed with entering a library science program. I ended up going home to California and getting another crappy temp job.

Several crappy temp jobs, actually, but at some point I decided I should get my MFA in creative writing, so I applied to graduate schools, and I got into one back east (although I can’t remember which one) and two in California. I was leaning toward one in Fresno, but at this point I had made a lot of good friends through church, and I was reluctant to pick up and leave again, so I decided to attend one that was closer to home. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to get the classes I needed, so after spending one semester earning 3 credits and facing another semester when I could enroll in 0 credits, I decided it was time to change plans again. When one of my friends asked me to get an apartment with her, I said sure, decided that an MFA was impractical anyway and maybe it was time I became a teacher after all. I got into a certification program at a local college and lasted about two weeks before realizing that there was a reason I’d decided against teaching the first time. That’s when I got a temp job as an editorial assistant at the newspaper.

The temp job turned into a permanent job. My department produced the lifestyle section for three area newspapers; my job was about half administrative and half writing. This was when I finally learned how to talk on the phone, although I never learned to like it. In those days people were very impressed with my organization and efficiency. I was still young and childless then. I met my husband through friends at church, and six months after our first date, we were married. He had just finished his sophomore year of college. A couple months after the wedding, I discovered I was pregnant. In those days doctors were less clear about the effect anti-depressants had on birth control pills. I forgot to mention that I’d been on anti-depressants since my sophomore year of college. So I had Princess Zurg and quit my job, and thus my husband became Sugar Daddy. He worked two jobs while finishing his senior year. I didn’t see much of him until we moved to Oregon and he started graduate school. We lived on his stipend. (It wasn’t pretty.)

We lived in Eugene, Oregon, for nine months, and then SD got a paid internship at the Big Satan, so we moved to Portland for nine months, during which time I had Mister Bubby. The paid internship was a blessing because I didn’t want to say anything, but we were kind of starving. When it was over, we moved back to Eugene and settled in for the long haul, except a year later SD was offered another paid internship in Portland, this time for four months. After that, we came back to Eugene (again) and I had the most miserable pregnancy of my life starring Elvis. This was around the time Princess Zurg was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Shortly after Elvis was born, SD finished his dissertation, got his Ph.D. and was offered a permanent position at the Big Satan, so we moved up to Portland again.

And I’m at 1,500 words and eleven years ago. Suffice it to say, we bought a house six months later, and that’s when we got the internet and I started this blog, so if you want to know the rest of the story, you can consult the archives. Thank you, and goodnight.

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