Craving Doctors’ Attention

Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are two different types of drivers in the world: those who speed, God bless ’em, and those who drive like they’re on their way to the proctologist. Like they really don’t want to get where they’re going.

Not me though. I love going to the proctologist! Any specialist will do: dentist, dermatologist, gynecologist. For the duration of that 15-minute appointment the doctor is obligated — under oath — to care about me and my well-being. The fact that this is a paid transaction makes it no less special.

Sign me up for a colonoscopy. Get on up in there, Doc! As long as their attention is on me, and only me, I love it. Can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet attention. Even if the spotlight is pointed at my rear end, at least I’m in the spotlight. No matter how painful or inconvenient a procedure may be, I am speeding to that appointment. Because I can’t wait to get me some of that good one-on-one attention.

The pandemic was really hard for me.

What do you mean, I can’t leave the house?! I’ll get COVID?! Oh, COVID won’t do at all. Then you have to quarantine, in your bedroom, alone. I can’t be socially isolated…from doctors.

I had a miscarriage three weeks into an unplanned pregnancy and couldn’t go to the doctor. It was in the spring of 2020, and unless you’d been shot, nobody was going to the emergency room. I had a perfectly valid reason to see a doctor, and I missed out on the opportunity.

I underwent a hysterectomy last year. Best six weeks of my life! I was in the surgery center for most of the day, then home on short term disability. I was constantly receiving flowers and family members were waiting on me hand and foot. Then, I got to go back for an in-person checkup, plus a telehealth checkup after that. Best six weeks of my life. I highly recommend it!

Though, I don’t recommend what preceded it. I had a condition known as “pelvic organ prolapse” where my reproductive organs were falling out of the birth canal. It was like a Tetris game gone wrong. All the blocks had been put in the wrong places, and with nowhere else to stack anything, it was Game Over!

That’s what you get after pushing out a 9-lb baby that has nooo interest in being born. My daughter ripped the ceiling down with her, left claw marks along the sides of my uterus. She was like a cat when you bring it to the clinic in a carrier. It’s all claws and big black eyes in there.

When you’re preparing to give birth, people take joy in saying: “Ooh, you’re gonna poop on the table!” Yeah? And guess what — somebody is gonna get paid to wipe my ass! And not grimace or complain while doing it! That’s some top-notch service right there.

I’ve heard many people complain that they don’t like “the smell” of a hospital. That’s the smell of success, man! If I’m in the hospital, that means I’ve hit the big time. There will be teams of doctors and nurses attending to me. (I have to be conscious though — that’s the only way I can enjoy it.)

But eventually, you run out of reasons to see the doctor. It’s such a shame.

I’m listed as an organ donor on my driver’s license. I’d like to donate a kidney now, just for the weight loss. Sadly, when they harvest my usable parts I won’t be alive to enjoy the attention.

People take joy in saying, “Ooh, you’re gonna soil yourself when you die!” Yes. But unfortunately, I won’t be there to enjoy it.

And my funeral — oh, I’m so disappointed I won’t be there to enjoy my funeral. Death won’t do at all. Then you’re six feet underground, alone, socially isolated for all eternity.

For now, I’ll just keep avoiding apples, because I don’t want to keep the doctor away.

OKStupid

The dating app for settling

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“You’ve searched for the best! Now try the rest!”

When you’re ready to settle down, you have to settle. Because all the best ones are already taken already.

It’s finally time to accept a date with that guy who is shirtless in his profile photo, standing by the weight set at a gym, smoking a cigar, pointing at his bros, and holding a fish he caught.

Don’t be discouraged by the algorithm’s estimate of there being only a 5% relevant match between you and New Beau — the bare minimum based on the fact that you’re both human. Over time you’ll learn to accept each other’s flaws. 

His profile may say things like, “I don’t date no fat chicks,” or “what’s your bank account number?” You may get the impression that he cares more about hanging out at a sports bar with his bros than spending quality time with a significant other. You may find his casual wardrobe lacking. You may feel like smacking that smug, carefree half grin off his face. 

But look at the bright side — you’ll have a date to your cousin’s wedding. Someone to open jars for you and smash house spiders into oblivion. New Beau can hold your hair back while you vomit into the toilet after binge drinking. (Oh, who are we kidding — you’ll be holding his hair back while he’s vomiting.)

We stand behind our guarantee that someone is better than no one. So, give us a try! You may be pleasantly surprised. At the very least, it’ll give your fingers something to do as you swipe left when you don’t have anything better going on.

The Lowdown on NYC

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I am the type of New Yorker real New Yorkers love to hate: I was a transplant to begin with, and as soon as the pandemic got too hot, I bounced. Then I did the worst thing imaginable: bought a house in NJ. Living across the river is sacrilege to the most devoted New Yorkers.

But while I may live in the suburbs now, it’s not like I’m driving around in a minivan with soccer balls in the trunk and heroine hidden in the glove compartment.

A few months after relocating to Hell’s Kitchen from Seattle back in 2016, I was approached by a monk in a saffron robe as I walked the High Line. He headed straight for me and my big, goofy smile. He took my hand in his. I felt honored that a monk wanted to interact with me.

Then he deftly slipped a beaded bracelet onto my wrist and asked for a “donation.” I had only a single dollar on me, which I forked over. It was humiliating having so little cash on me and to have been hornswoggled by a monk. The ploy certainly hadn’t been worth his efforts that time around.

I watched as the monk moved on, pulled a smart phone from a pocket in his robe, and started checking his updates. Unless he had the Dalai Lama on speed dial, I’m pretty sure a monk shouldn’t have that kind of technology.

Over the next few months, I became aware that Manhattan is crawling with monks handing out bracelets…to tourists. I couldn’t believe I’d been taken in, when I was supposed to at least be pretending to have street smarts.

My husband always tells me, “Be cool, Angie; be cool.”

But “not playing it cool” is my middle name!

I refused to take the subway by myself for the first twelve months for fear of getting lost (despite knowing the city is on a grid).

Whenever I’m in the city I like to play a game: guess the source of that water trickling along the curb. Guess that odor. Guess whether that excrement on the sidewalk was left by a human or a dog. What was the nature of that mystery water that just dripped onto my head? Did it qualify as sexual harassment when that homeless man called me a ‘natural beauty’ or was it just the nicest compliment I’ve ever received? Why does this street wreak of marijuana when there’s no one around?

A New Yorker will happily give you directions. They’ll also call you an asshole for slowing them down on the subway staircase because you chose to carry your massive suitcase instead of taking the urine-permeated elevator that’s probably out of order anyway. They’re also willing to scold you for any other action that may be inconveniencing them.

New York is a weird place to be pregnant.

In the first trimester of pregnancy, women become sensitive to odors. Not a good time to be living in a city renowned for its stench and filth.

My husband would come to bed after a shower, and I would recoil from the smell of his hair.

“What? It’s unscented shampoo,” he’d say.

“I beg to differ!” I’d say, as I smushed my face into my pillow to block out all smells.

If the odor of unscented shampoo didn’t sit well with me, how was I going to make it through my day in a city of 8 million people that has all the smells?

I recall riding in a Lyft — which itself wreaked of air freshener — and opening the window to stick my head out so that I didn’t get too carsick. We passed piles of garbage on the sidewalk — hot garbage — cigarette smoking pedestrians, dogs whizzing on every surface, you name it. I probably turned 10 shades of green before reaching my destination. When you get out of a car or off a bus, you have to watch where you put your feet because there’s often a trickle of garbage water rushing by at the edge of the curb. You never know where it came from, and you don’t want to. The worst is when shops blast the sidewalk out front with bleach water, so your nose is assaulted with the pungent odor of bleach and urine at the same time.

It felt like the whole city was out to prank me.

By the end of the pregnancy, after gaining twenty-five pounds, I could barely get myself out of an underground train station any longer. There are always 50 stairs to climb, and each time I was like, “This is it; this is the staircase that does me in.” I felt ready to have a heart attack by the time I reached the last step. If my husband was with me, he’d plaster both his hands on my rearend to push me up the stairs, which was both necessary and humiliating.

After my daughter arrived, I suffered post-partum depression for a year. I was in crisis for several months. I used to walk down the streets of NYC with tears streaming down my face. Even when I was on the way to my favorite coffee shop! Nobody looked twice. New Yorkers have seen twenty weirder things on their commute to work than a crying pedestrian, and another twenty on their way home.

But no trial was harder than trying to breathe in a city that’s got carts selling nuts on one corner and hot dogs on another, human and/or dog excrement on the sidewalk, and piles of both bagged and loose garbage as far as the eye can see. Anyone who has ever been to NYC knows that Marilyn Monroe would never have danced over a grate with hot, stinky subway station air blasting up through it — they used a fan to create that effect.

You need a fan there. Better yet, a gas mask.

Hello depression, my old friend

Photo courtesy of the author

Have you ever met someone who has never been depressed? They tell you they don’t know what that feels like.

That doesn’t make sense to me.

Didn’t you have a childhood? Didn’t you go to school? Don’t you have a family?!

You’re telling me you’ve never been depressed? I don’t even know how to work with that. That’s just bragging, in my opinion.

Depression is my dearest friend. We go way back. S/he’s always there for me, in good times and bad; always got my back. I can count on s/him to be there when times are tough. Even now that I’m on anti-depressants, s/he’s still standing over in the corner waving.

Nowadays, it seems like everybody is on anti-depressants. If the majority of humanity is depressed, maybe that’s just our natural state? Maybe cavemen and women were depressed. (In fact, I’d bet on it!) Perhaps we’re all meant to be drifting around sluggishly, not feeling motivated to invade other parts of the world. We should just all be in it together instead of trying to fight it, you know? Embrace that dear, loyal friend.

If you don’t have depression, what have you got?

P.S. – Is it weird that I’m writing this from Hawaii?

On the Pole/Off the Pole

Source: Colin Knowles via Wikimedia Commons

You know how it’s every parent’s worst nightmare that their daughter will hit the pole? Well, not my parents; they weren’t of an opinion one way or the other. But someone’s parents feared that potential outcome.

I couldn’t personally dance with a stripper pole. With my germaphobia? That piece of metal is the same as any surface on a subway train. How can you put your hands on that right after Trixie’s vulva gave it a good scrubbing?

Plus, I’ve got a whole host of other conditions that would keep me from this profession, like plantar fasciitis, spinal disc herniation, and lack of stamina, not to mention I’m a prude and the only tips that would interest me are chocolate bars. 

While I do love chocolate, the unsanitary combination of foodstuffs and hanky panky has never held any appeal for me. With all that hair and bodily secretions added into the mix…That’s a hard pass.

All of this is to say, it’s lucky for my parents that the pole isn’t calling my name no matter how lacking my childhood was. Thank God for neuroses, amirite?

Herding Cats Has Got Nothing on Herding Toddlers

Source: Wikimedia Commons

We’re all familiar with the phrase “herding cats,” oft used in the business world to describe a difficult group to manage.

As the parent of a toddler, I submit we change this phrase to “herding toddlers.” Even a single toddler is nigh impossible to manage.

I’ll solve your cat problem right now: simply walk in front of the group of cats holding a stinky fish. They’ll immediately fall into line and follow wherever you go. Easy peasy.

Anyone who has tried to get a toddler dressed, convince them to eat, keep them on a schedule, get them to sleep, or care about your priorities knows how tedious, infuriating, and thankless it is.

Why do I have to tell my daughter 50 times per meal to “keep eating”? Why doesn’t she just want to eat, godammit? How about when it’s 40 degrees outside and she insists on wearing a princess dress, then complains about how cold she is? She also wants to wear her least sensible footwear to the playground and then can’t get good footing on the jungle gym because of those flimsy Mary Janes. She conveniently forgets the daily bedtime routine we follow to help her wind down and get ready to sleep. Etc, etc, etc.

I must apologize for my rant. At breakfast this morning as I pleaded with my daughter to just eat her meal for the love of God, I thought ‘I’m going to have to be carted away to the mental asylum.’ And you know what? I can’t wait! 

This is the very definition of insanity, people — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. To raise a child is to have insanity become your norm.

There’s no fish stinky enough to pull these toddlers into line. What worked yesterday won’t work today. And you can’t make bribes be your MO forever, because you’ll raise a child with unrealistic expectations, and worse, someone who no one else will find lovable.

I’d accept the challenge of herding cats over toddlers any day. And if anyone out there has found the magic bullet to motivate toddlers into compliance, please — enlighten me!

More $s for More Zs

In support of the power nap

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I wish the power nap — or better yet, the afternoon siesta — was part of the American culture. I know some tech companies have nap pods onsite, but the concept of napping really isn’t celebrated in this country. It’s a shame.

Capped at thirty minutes, the power nap isn’t quite sufficient for me. It may work for some. I read that you should drink espresso or coffee immediately prior to a thirty-minute nap, after which you are guaranteed to rise feeling more energetic than if you hadn’t taken the caffeine. Unfortunately, since caffeine doesn’t work on me, I can’t confirm whether this approach works. 

I prefer the siesta, which provides for 1–2 hours of relaxing. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee the business world embracing a two-hour daily nap. 

While there is some data to back up the case for naps boosting productivity, I can’t personally vouch for whether it does. I do know that me being sleepy certainly doesn’t help.

If I ever find myself in a position of having to take on a second job, it’ll be as a live advertisement for a mattress store. I once saw a young man wearing a twin sized mattress dancing on the corner of a shopping plaza. He wasn’t crazy — he was working to bring customers into the nearby store. It was fantastic. That appeals to me because I could just lay down for a nap whenever I want. And still be advertising the store!

If I’m being honest, the life of a sloth or a koala really appeals to me. Any of those creatures that subsist on a diet of leaves and therefore lack the energy to be awake for more than 2–3 hours a day. 

My body’s internal clock is broken. Always has been. Circadian rhythms don’t apply to me. I’m most productive from 10 PM — 1 AM, which basically leaves me with comedy as the only viable career option. But my job — which pays the bills — is a typical 9–5 sort of thing. Time may be relative…but it’s also fixed when you work a day job. I just wish those jazzy circadian rhythms would put me to sleep on time.

Rising Like a Phoenix

But sleepy as a sloth

Source: Wikimedia Commons

When I was 18, the thought of turning 40 was the worst thing I could imagine. But then I reached 40, and now even that is in my rearview mirror. So, while it doesn’t feel cool to be in my 40s, there’s only one alternative: the grave. Guess I’ll take this then!

Don’t you hate it when you’re filling out a demographics form and you realize that you’ve jumped into the next age bracket? 45–54?! C’mon! Couldn’t they break it down into two-year options? 45–47 I don’t feel so bad about. But 45–54?! Fifty is so old! But it still beats the alternative.

Here are the two benefits I’ve discovered to being over the hill: I’ve got a few more bucks and I’m all out of Fs. No more Fs to give. I spent all of those in my 20s and 30s, and I gotta say, it feels good to be in the red.

If a friend asks me to go to a dance club, I’m like, “No. Sorry, not sorry.” If my husband asks me to go see a band play? That’s a hard pass. I am so over standing for hours in a hot, crowded room that wreaks of sweat and hot dog farts while my ear drums take a beating. I finally feel confident stating what I want and do not want, and if anyone has a problem with it, oh well!

I feel like I’m turning into the person I was always meant to be. Especially after reading an inspirational quote that I really took to heart: “Do something every day that scares you.”

Hence, my midlife crisis is less of a crisis and more a series of dares. Starting a new job and trying standup comedy are at the top of the list. Next up: fight a bear!

Unfortunately, one of my goals just isn’t possible for another 10 years. Why do I have to wait until I’m 55 to move into an assisted living facility? I want assisted living now! They should be cool with able-bodied middle agers taking up residency in their apartment complex. I don’t want to wait until I’m so old and frail I can’t enjoy having my life be assisted.

Let the young and fit carry my groceries upstairs, cook me dinner, and feed me. I’ll delegate everything I possibly can. I’m not too proud to accept help. 

I’ve been self-sufficient since I was 16 years old. I’ve been working since I was a teenager. I’m tired! In my case, 45 is the new 60…

From Luddite to Tech Wizard

In five short years

Photo courtesy of the author

No one would have foreseen me going into the tech field, least of all me. This was not a straight path.

In high school I signed up for “Keyboarding” because I wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Turns out, it was a touch-typing class. I was like, “Guys, the typewriter is going the way of the dinosaur. No one needs to know how to type!”

Not only was I oblivious to computers becoming a thing, but I was also slow to learn the technology. Especially since I’m not into porn, and cats arrived on the scene much later.

I recall asking my husband what an external hard drive was. He said, “It’s a hard drive…that’s external. What’s not to understand?”

I answered his question with a question: “What’s a hard drive?”

~~~

When I was in ninth grade, I told my father I wanted to be a nun when I grew up. I wasn’t interested in getting entangled in marriage or reproduction or the world at all. I just wanted to be married to the Lord. You know, a typical fourteen-year-old’s fantasy.

“You’d have to be Catholic,” my father said.

Aw, man! There’s always a catch. I’m not any type of Christian, so it wouldn’t even be a relevant stretch for me to become a Catholic nun.

Why can’t there be a generic convent? One that’s not connected with any particular religion. 

“We celebrate all Gods here! Or none of them! You’re welcome even if you’re an atheist who just feels like wearing a nun’s habit and working in a garden or scrubbing floors all day.”

~~~

I learned my way around a computer little by little. Typed a few school papers, started blogging in 2006, took a class on Web design. But I was never the early adopter; I remained at the back of the pack. I think I was the last person in America to get a cell phone that didn’t have physical buttons for each letter of the alphabet.

I just love how they’re called smart phones, but we use them for the dumbest stuff.

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. Swipe, swipe. Dr. Google: “What does gonorrhea look like…not because I have it, I’m just curious.” We’re melting our brains watching videos on TikTok, playing mindless games, pretending to text while we’re waiting for our friend to show up.

~~~

All of this is to say, I didn’t plan to go into the tech field. I’ll point to my English degree to back up that statement. Why am I telling you about this? Because you can’t be what you can’t see (said Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund).

Ironically, my only reference for the tech world was Office Space, which I saw in the theater in 1999, long before I knew what a hard drive was. Then I found myself working for a motherboard manufacturer — in an administrative function — without fully comprehending at first what role this particular piece of plastic and metal played inside a computer.

AND THAT’S HOW I BECAME A TECH WIZARD. I’LL TELL YOU MORE ABOUT IT AS SOON AS I CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF CAPS.

Creepy Crawlies

Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you live in the burbs, you live with bugs.

When I resided on the 48th floor of an apartment building in Manhattan, I saw nary a bug. Not so much as a spider hiding out in the corner. If I had ever actually seen a ladybug, I would have thrown it a miniature parade, for it would have been a hero making it up that high up in a such a densely populated city. The odds of its survival are something like .000000001%. [This is, of course, not taking into consideration the cockroach, which has a ratio of 125:1 human throughout the five boroughs.]

But in a house, it’s a different matter altogether. There is a Boschian nightmare of bugs swarming and storming my front door each night. I made the mistake of gazing out the window for too long one evening. All manner of insectum disgustum were gathered along the archway.

For a second, it appeared to be a super fun bug party. But then I got savvy to the particular movements of each bug, walking on their freakish stick legs at a New York City pace. I know that purposeful gait. They weren’t partying. Each bug was out to eat the next sized down bug. I didn’t stay to watch the carnage. I can’t bear how insects eat each other alive, gripping their writhing prey, using pincers to rip off chunks of exoskeleton and gooey thorax insides.

The circle of life is Hell, people!

Another unrelated idiosyncrasy to life in the suburbs is that the town dictates what you can and can’t put into the garbage. Your own garbage. For instance, you’re not allowed to dispose of leaf litter or broken branches in your garbage can. You’re supposed to pile it at the curb and live with this eyesore for a month until a specialized truck comes to pick it up.

But this is just going to attract more bugs. Piles of rotting plant matter are a haven for creepy crawlies.

To secretly dispose of your yard waste, I recommend layering it inside your garbage bag like a common serial killer. First, put your bathroom trash at the bottom, then a bit of yard waste, then your kitchen trash, then some more yard waste, and top it all off with dirty diapers or anything else disgusting enough to hide your clever workaround. You don’t want the town snitch snitching on you.

The circle of life is Hell, people!