So last night I couldn’t sleep–again. I think I may have drifted off somewhere between 4 and 4:30 a.m. Yes, the Valium is supposed to help with this, but sometimes even Valium isn’t the answer. Whatever. That’s where things begin. I get up around 6:40 a.m. and start making lunches. Sugar Daddy drops PZ off at her friend’s house so they can walk to school together again, and then he goes to work. Since I have a mammogram appointment scheduled for 9 a.m. and I know my only opportunity to shower will be between the time Elvis’s bus arrives circa 8 a.m. and when Mister Bubby’s bus arrives at 8:26 a.m., I am trying to be efficient and I make a sandwich for the still-sleeping Girlfriend without asking her first what kind of sandwich she wants–because she’s asleep. Silly me, I think I’m being considerate. When she wakes up and sees me making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, she runs out to the living room and flings herself on the couch and sobs because, I eventually ascertain, she actually would have preferred cheese. Well, fair enough. There’s still time to make a cheese sandwich and feed three people breakfast and find everyone’s backpack and shoes and make sure they brush their teeth. So I do all these things, and circa 7:40 I put Girlfriend in the car, leaving Elvis explicit instructions to not freak out while I’m gone because I will certainly be back in time for his bus. I have a somewhat…strenuous back-and-forth with GF in the car about whether or not she is feeling grown-up enough to walk into school without me so I can just drop her off at the curb instead of trying to park the car someplace and walk in with her and probably miss Elvis’s bus even though I promised him I wouldn’t. Eventually we are both convinced that she is that grown-up and I drop her off at the curb with plenty of time to spare.

As I’m pulling out of the drop-off line, circa 7:50, my cell phone rings. I notice it’s a school district prefix, and against my better judgment in every sense of the situation, I answer it (even though I’m probably technically breaking a state law). It’s someone from the high school informing me that PZ has had an incident involving another student and will be suspended for the rest of the day. At this time I should remind you that high school starts at 7:40 a.m. It’s 7:50 a.m. This is when things start to get awesome.

School Guy asks me if I can come down to the school right now. I say, “Absolutely not,” because absolutely, I cannot. I cannot come to the school now. I cannot come to the school at all this morning. My husband is usually in the factory in the morning and incommunicado, so I don’t know what I can do except possibly send her grandmother. I promise to send somebody as soon as possible, whenever that is. I get home, where Elvis is starting to freak out a little because it is very close to 8:00 and the bus has not come yet. I leave a message on SD’s voice mail even though I know he will not listen to it. A bus drives by but doesn’t stop. Elvis freaks out a little more. I call my mother-in-law and start to explain my predicament when a call comes in from SD and I still don’t know how to do call waiting on this cell phone so I hang up with my MIL and talk to SD, who hasn’t listened to my voice mail, and I explain the situation to him. Elvis is disturbed because it is certainly after 8:00 now. I need to finish making MB’s lunch. I’m about to call my MIL again to continue explaining the predicament when SD calls back and says he can pick PZ up after all, which is a much better idea, so great. I find potatoes in MB’s backpack. This confuses me, but I let it go and call my MIL back to tell her never mind. Elvis gets on the bus. I find relevant paperwork for MB. I take the quickest shower of my life and escort MB to the bus stop because even though he’s a big boy middle-schooler, he still wants his mom sometimes, and that’s okay.

It would be more okay, of course, if I weren’t absolutely livid about the fact that my daughter lasted all of ten minutes on her second day of school. Because seriously, what the hell, PZ? It’s a good thing that I have to go get another mammogram because I cannot be trusted to speak in a patient and non-shrill manner with school personnel who want to spend oodles of time telling me in explicit detail exactly what my daughter did wrong and how wrong it was and why they have to send her home, even though technically this information could be relayed sufficiently in approximately two minutes. Never mind that. I cannot be trusted to be in the same room with my fourteen-year-old, who has picked a really inconvenient day to be psychotic.

I had a mammogram in August, before vacation, but I have to do follow-up imaging. I’m not worried about it. I fully expect to get cancer someday–it seems to be what women in my maternal ancestral line do–but not for another ten years or so. Still, I have irrational anxiety. I like things to be finished and settled. I don’t like uncertainty. It makes me uncomfortable. So even though I’m not worried, I am still kind of a nervous wreck and it doesn’t help that my daughter is being sent home ten minutes into the school day and I have no idea what the crap her problem is or what I can do about it. I start crying in the car, which is bad because I don’t want to walk into the breast imaging center obviously upset and have people think I’m upset about getting a mammogram when there’s no need to be. Also, when strangers cry in front of you, it is awkward, and I really don’t want to make other people feel awkward. Also, there is no Kleenex in the car. There are some antiseptic wipes, but I don’t use them.

I pull it together. I have a mammogram. The technician takes one image, then switches out one paddle for a different paddle, one that looks like a little tray. Then she messes with my breast and decides she needs a different paddle, one that looks like a tiny tray. I have no comment, but I reckon I’m amused. Anyway. Several images later I go to the waiting room. I read Good Housekeeping because I have no desire to read Sunset or the AARP magazine. I learn about the appropriate way to apply sunscreen. Plus, a helpful travel tip. (Buy an extra glasses case to house jewelry or the ear buds for your iPod.) Another technician comes to see me, says we need more images. I go do more images. I come back to the waiting room. Someone has abandoned a People magazine, which I grab because it is slightly less boring than tips on cleaning your venetian blind cords, but not by much. Apparently Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting a divorce. Casey Anthony has reconciled with her mother and brother, but not her father. I didn’t follow the Casey Anthony trial at all, so this has little emotional impact on me.

Another technician comes to see me and tells me we need an ultrasound. Meanwhile, another woman has stolen my People. Fair enough. I pick up the Elle. Elle is even more boring than Good Housekeeping. It is excruciatingly uninteresting. Someone abandons an Us. I learn that Justin Bieber has a snarky side that is not at all attractive. I’m disappointed. The ultrasound technician comes out. I discover that yes, Virginia, there are men who work as breast-imaging technicians. Not that I’m scandalized. I’ve been around the block, you know, I’ve just never had a breast-imaging technician of the male variety before. I’m 41 years old. Anyway, he seems like a nice guy. Very personable. Which is good, since the last thing I need is some surly dude touching my breast.

Breast ultrasounds take longer than I would have expected. My arm falls asleep. I wonder how long it would take if I had any actual breasts to speak of. I become very well-acquainted with the ceiling. I think it would be a good service if they put reading material up there, but maybe some patients would not find that relaxing. The technician leaves, I make a mental list of all the things I need to buy at the grocery store, try not to think about my daughter or compare myself to my own mother. I try to wake my arm back up. It doesn’t want to. The technician comes back with the radiologist, and they both have another look-see together. Finally the radiologist tells me that I probably have benign fibroid cysts like the one I had biopsied two years ago, but I should get another mammogram in six months to make sure they aren’t missing anything. But she doesn’t think they’re missing anything. I guess that’s as finished and settled as things get.

Now it’s 11:30. I’m hungry because I skipped breakfast, and I really, really need to pee. I call SD to get a PZ debriefing. PZ will be out of school today and tomorrow. Tomorrow we will have a meeting with the full IEP team (wowzers!) and try to figure out what the crap we’re doing. I get the lowdown on what went down with the other student this morning. I’m not going to get into it now. Possibly not ever. I’ve been the parent of a wayward child for a long time, and I thought I had lost my ability to be embarrassed by my children’s behavior, years ago. But I am positively mortified by what PZ has done. Mortified and totally confused and twelve stages beyond at-wit’s-end. I get off the phone and start sobbing again, partially out of relief over not needing another biopsy but also because I am failing. Nothing that matters is any better than it was this morning, and I still have to do the grocery shopping. And I neglected to grab some Kleenex on my way out of the hospital.

The antiseptic wipes still seem like a bad idea.