Thursday, November 25, 2010

silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone

I'd like to take credit for the title of this post, but I stole it from G.B. Stern.  Thanks, Gladys, for letting me borrow your words.

But in the spirit of being useful and because I complain way too much, it seems like an appropriate moment to proclaim some thankfulness.  Lots of my facebook friends have been doing daily thankfulness statuses for the whole month.  I didn't, not because I'm ungrateful but because I'm lazy.  I did quite by accident mention something for which I was thankful on Monday morning, so I've followed up with that the past couple of days. Let's start there, shall we?  Please pardon the third person pronouns.  It's facebook's fault.

Ellen is thankful  . . .

" . . .for her Monday mornings which ease her back into work mode as gently as possible."  I don't have to go to work until 11 on Mondays because it's my late night.  I love that schedule of getting to sleep a bit late or having time to get some other things done in the mornings.  Plus it gets my late night out of the way early in the week, so it's not hanging over my head.  Of course, I'm usually so grouchy about having to go back to work, I don't fully appreciate these benefits, but this week I did.  

" . . . that the zombies in her dream weren't too aggressive."  Okay, that one's just silly, but when I woke up from a rather unsettling dream Tuesday morning and hopped right on the internet as is my custom, the lingering creepiness of the dream was soon overshadowed by the relief that it hadn't been grosser or more horrifying.  

" . . . that she gets to spend a few nights away from the yippy dog next door."  Poor yippy dog next door.  How I hate her.  Apparently Mr. Next Door rescued her from some terrible treatment, and he had her for months before she could make sound.  I felt all sorts of sadness for her when she was an abused dog who couldn't bark.  Such a tragic little figure, she was.  And then her comfort and confidence grew, and she was healed enough to bark. every. morning.of. my. life.  Now I feel all sorts of sadness for myself.  But I'll be spending the next four nights at Shane's, so her yippiness will be someone else's Thanksgiving blessing.

And now for some previously unpublished thoughts on gratitude:

I'm thankful . . .

 . . . for a ten day free preview of the HBO channels going on now.  I've filled our DVR with movies, watched a couple on demand, and have done a bit of work to catch up on all the past year or more of not watching movies.  For the holiday weekend, we are actually getting a free preview of the top tier package which includes access to all the premium channels, but the DVR is full, and I'll be a bit too busy basking in the warm bosom of my family to worry about it.  

 . . . for the interwebs.  I will proclaim, with no concern for how lame it makes me, that the internet makes my life better in countless ways.  And since my infrequent and often unreadable posts come to you via internet, imaginary readers, I'm sure you join me in my gratitude.

 . . . for my four-year-old Bible class.  My little children are precious and funny and even the ones who don't listen and make me work up a sweat are so sweet and charming.  I could tell you loads of stories that seem hilarious and special to me but would probably just bore you and go nowhere.  But trust me that the dozen and a half or so preschoolers who hang out with me on Sundays are the best part of most of my weeks.

 . . . for pajama pants.  I'm thankful for the rest of my clothes too, most of the time, but I'm always overwhelmed with gratitude when I can put on my pajama pants.

 . . . for Peeps and Meeps and Weeps.  Friends so precious and dear that miles and years cannot ease the hold they have on my heart.

 . . . for cell-phone alarm clock capabilities that allow me to never have to wake up to a blaring alarm again.  Nothing ruins a morning like a startlingly loud honking noise.  "Linus and Lucy" is ever so much nicer.

. . .  for chocolate-covered pretzels.  How they complete my life.
 . . . for her.  And him.
Seriously.  Don't they look like the sweetest, best parents anywhere ever?  They so are.

  . . . and for her (and her again) and her and her and her and her
. . . and for him and him and him (and him again even with that face) and her
. . . and for him and him and him and her and him and him and him
  . . . and for him and her and her and her and him and her (and for the her inside that striped sweater that we wouldn't meet for another five months) and him and her and him and her and him.
. . . for traditions that hold on even when they become crowded and noisy and logistically unsound.  And for the love and understanding that allow those traditions to be reevaluated and adapted into ever more good times.  For last times and first times.  For nostalgia and anticipation.  For family and every special thing that the word evokes.

 . . . for you, dear readers.  For being here and reading this and making all my Google Analytics dreams come true.

Love & stuff,

Friday, November 19, 2010

soulmates #3

It's been common knowledge around these parts for a while now that I've found my soulmate, but it has been a while since I shared one of the many reasons that FHDM and I belong together.  Let's fix that today, shall we?

Over at FHDM's blog, he averages 50-100 comments on most of his posts. It's a good thing I'm not competitive or the fact that his blog is slightly more popular than mine might derail us before we ever get started.  Lucky for both of us, my humility and lack of conceit and months of therapy have helped me come to terms with the fact that a best-selling author is going to get more blog traffic than a nobody from nowhere like me.

Anyway, early last week, FHDM wrote a post that garnered more than his usual amount of response.  In the post, titled "To Kill a Blog," FHDM explores the idea of no longer writing for the blog so that he can focus his talents on his books.  I, along with four hundred sixty-nine other fans, had something to say about that.  I only read a sampling of the comments, but most everyone was supportive in one way or another.  Two days later, FHDM posted a clarification, explaining that he hadn't meant to alarm anyone and was not going to immediately kill the blog.  He was just thinking out loud and trying to gain some perspective on what effects blogging was having on his other work. 

It reminded me, dear friends, of a post I did several months back in which I explored the unexpected challenges that had arisen in my blogging life.  The responses, though fewer in number than FHDM's, were of a similar nature.  Everyone loved me.  Everyone wanted me to be happy.  I shouldn't keep blogging if it made me miserable, but I should keep blogging because everyone loved me and my words so much.  Really good, affirming, encouraging remarks that made me feel completely guilty because I had never intended for anyone to think I was standing on a ledge about to hurl my blog to the unforgiving concrete below.  I didn't post a clarification exactly, but I did add a comment assuring the faithful that they were indeed stuck with me for a bit longer. 

It struck me, imaginary readers, how fortunate FHDM and I are to have this in common.  Well, perhaps it's not fortunate that we both seem to have been unclear enough in our original similarly-themed posts that we stirred up a misunderstanding.  But I felt blessed and humbled indeed that people cared enough to be concerned, and it seemed to me that FHDM experienced a similar blessing.  How encouraging to experience an outpouring of affection, an affirmation that the words that we're sending out here on the interweb are being received and enjoyed and occasionally treasured. 

Sometimes when I think about my future with FHDM, I wonder if the lack of commonality in our pasts will be a problem for us, so these moments of shared experience are important.  We are soulmates, after all.  I wonder how much longer I have to wait before he realizes that too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

finer than frog hair

The Southern sayin' backstory:
I know the overriding characteristic of my writing here is sophistication, so this may come as a surprise to friends of the blog, but I come from a rural background.  I grew up living eight miles outside of a town of roughly 1700 people.  We had one county school, and I graduated in a class of about fifty-two.  Not only is my hometown as podunk as they come, I come from an ancestry that is a mixture of Kentucky hill people and Tennessee dirt farmers.  Because education has been a fairly high priority in my family for two or three generations now, I can largely pass for a mostly normal, non-hick person.  Most of the time I'm even allowed to forget about this ridiculously country accent I have.  But every so often, I find myself in a situation that can only be summed up in the dialect of my youth; some quaint, down home saying comes out of my mouth, and I embrace my true self.  Today was one of those days:

I don't want to turn this site into a cataloging of my dental adventures, but I felt called to update friends of the blog about what's going on in my mouth today.  In addition, last week, thanks to the most harrowing dental experience of my life, I instructed my faithful readers on a quaint sayin' from my rural past, so I thought I could do the same today.

I'm finer than frog hair.

I know you may be thinking to yourself right now that frogs don't have hair, and of course, you're right about that.  I'm only speculating here, but I believe the idea behind this expression is that since frog hair is so fine as to be nonexistent, it is quite fine indeed.  I've also heard "finer than frog hair split four ways," which takes this concept of ultra-fineness and intensifies it.  But I'm not that fine.

I believe I mentioned that I had one more cavity to fill before my dental saga could end, and I went to get that done this morning.  All week I'd been rehearsing a little speech for my dentist about walking out with the job half-finished if he hurt me again, but I ended up not using it.  The assistant who took me back today was not the same girl as last week, so when she asked me how I was doing and I said I was scared, I got to fill her in on how badly things went last week.  She acted properly horrified, which got her on my good side and then she cemented her place in my heart by suggesting that I might want to try the laughing gas.  She offered it to me, free of charge, and after a few deep breaths, I was already much more relaxed.  By the time Dr. Lee came in to give me my shots, I felt right on the edge of falling asleep, but I could still open my eyes and talk to him normally without feeling groggy at all.  He had planned a different plan of attack in the numbing department already, and whatever he did worked great.  I should have asked about what he did differently, but I was so relaxed, I really didn't care.  He did say that he definitely had my numbing procedure figured out for next time, though we both agreed we don't want to have a next time anytime soon.

My one regret is that no one said anything funny while I was on the gas--I really wanted to see if I would laugh more than usual.  I did feel like my default facial expression was a smile instead of my usual furrowed brow, droopy-mouthed frown.

When I called my moma (because of course I called my moma) and described how much better the world was with nitrous oxide, she suggested I might check on the pricing by the tankful.  She thinks my coworkers might want to chip in for a Christmas present.  And that would be fine with me--finer than frog hair, in fact.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

trying to have a come apart

I know the overriding characteristic of my writing here is sophistication, so this may come as a surprise to friends of the blog, but I come from a rural background.  I grew up living eight miles outside of a town of roughly 1700 people.  We had one county school, and I graduated in a class of about fifty-two.  Not only is my hometown as podunk as they come, I come from an ancestry that is a mixture of Kentucky hill people and Tennessee dirt farmers.  Because education has been a fairly high priority in my family for two or three generations now, I can largely pass for a mostly normal, non-hick person.  Most of the time I'm even allowed to forget about this ridiculously country accent I have.  But every so often, I find myself in a situation that can only be summed up in the dialect of my youth; some quaint, down home saying comes out of my mouth, and I embrace my true self.  Yesterday was one of those days:

I'm trying to have a come apart.

My moma says this, and I have no idea where she learned it, but it basically means that someone is losing it or falling all to pieces.  Typically when she says it, she means that the person is overreacting to whatever particular circumstances are causing the "come apart."  It's the sort of behavior that Jess would describe as being dramatic.  One who is "trying to have a come apart" is upset or frustrated or tired or sick or feeling put upon and wants everyone to know about it and feel sorry.  There is nothing shy or retiring or unassuming about trying to have a come apart.  In short, I was made for trying to have a come apart.

But yesterday's come apart was so big that it was in my head all day.  I've been completely aware through the whole ordeal that I'm overreacting, but that seemed to have absolutely no bearing on the come apart.  And now I want to relive the whole mess so you all can sympathize with me, imaginary readers.  It's just the sort of thing we come-aparters like to do.  Bear with me in my attention-starved, persecuted existence.

You know those people who have managed to make it to adulthood with no major dental work:  they get their check-ups every six months, have never had a cavity, never wore braces, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound?  Well, I'm not one of those people.  The six to eight teeth you can see when I smile are the best I've got and worth at least half of what my long-suffering moma paid my orthodontist, but the rest of my mouth is big ol' mess.  My bottom teeth stayed straight until I lost my second set of retainers at about the same time my lower wisdom teeth began pushing diagonally through my gums.  I've got fillings galore, and one crown that replaced a cracked tooth.  I've never had a root canal, but I suspect it's just a matter of time.  So going to the dentist to have two small cavities filled as I did first thing Monday morning is barely a blip on my radar.  A couple of weeks ago, I had to go to the dentist to get a filling replaced because I had an old one that just fell out.  They discovered these two new cavities then and a third on the other side that we'll deal with next week.  (Apparently I hadn't been to the dentist in nearly three years.  Oops).  When I was there for that, he had to drill just a tiny bit to smooth things out where he was going to put the new filling.  He gave me the shot, which is always a little unpleasant and left me to go numb for a few minutes.  When he came back to drill, I wasn't deadened enough, but by the time I could communicate that, he was done with the drilling.

So fast forward to today when he gives me one shot on top and one on bottom that makes my eyes water like a faucet.  He goes away for a few minutes, and comes back to start drilling.  Again, I can feel what's going on, and it's not pleasant.  He stops pretty quickly this time and remembers that he's had to give me extra shots before and gives me another shot up top and another in the bottom for good measure.  Then he starts back to drilling immediately without giving them any time to take affect.  I'm no expert, so maybe that's not necessary for everyone, but I think it would have helped because I could still feel it.  By the time I get him stopped the second time, he's done drilling on top.  So I take a deep breath and get myself under control while he does the filling up top.

Then he starts drilling on the bottom, and surprise!  I can feel it too.  So he gives me shot #3 on the bottom (#5 overall).  I try to toughen up a little, but by this point my whole body is clenched, and once he starts drilling, the ongoing pain causes me to start sobbing, not crying.  The fact that I've got tears streaming down my face and I'm snubbing like a newborn doesn't get him to stop all at once, but when I start kicking my feet against the chair, he finally realizes that I'm serious.  I can't guarantee that I didn't reflexively bite him during this part either.  We had to stop for a minute while I mopped myself up with a tissue, and that's when I actually apologize for falling apart.  I was so embarrassed by myself.  So then he assures me that we're almost done, gives me shot #4 on the bottom and starts right back to drilling.  It was better at that point, but I could still feel way more than I think I should have.  Luckily, we were almost finished with drilling by that point, and I was able to keep my breathing under control though I continued to cry mostly silently until he was almost finished putting in the filling.  And of course, with six doses of numbing medicine in me, I had serious stroke victim face going on for several hours after.

Of course, as soon as I left I called my moma because I'm a giant baby--and because she too is no stranger to needing time for dental numbing shots to take effect.  When I'm trying to explain to her what happened, the horror of it comes back on me, and I cry like the giant baby I am in the Kroger parking lot (where I'd gone to buy ponytail holders because I left the house without one, and there was no way I was going to make it until eight p.m. with my hair just hanging around being annoying).  So I let Kroger soothe me until I realized that it was making me hungry, and I was afraid if I ate anything I'd bit my tongue off and not feel it because of how numb I finally was.  So after an errand at the bank, I went to work.  I gave Lisa only the very briefest summation of my dental trauma (you're jealous that she got the short version, aren't ya?) and went to my desk to start work and take my mind off the whole ordeal.

And that's when I had my third meltdown of the day.  I had an email waiting on me where a person in another department chastised me for something that I still maintain wasn't wrong, and she copied the email to my entire department, my two most immediate supervisors and two other unrelated departments, in effect scolding me in front of a couple dozen colleagues and blowing a very minor joke out of proportion.  Now on a normal day this might have been worthy of a couple minutes stewing and complaining about the misunderstanding to my lovely supportive coworkers who were all mad on my behalf, but if you'll recall, I'm trying to have a come apart.  So I was completely mortified.  I'm still embarrassed when I think about it these many hours later.  And thanks to the remaining built-up dental tension, I called a work friend, cussed at him a little for the stupidity of the whole mess, and had my third crying jag.

The remainder of the day was tear-free, but it was still touch and go at a few odd moments along the way.  For those keeping score, my mouth started aching as soon as feeling started coming back, and it's still store on Tuesday morning as I put the finishing touches on my completely self-indulgent rant.

But that, my friends, is what's known as trying to have a come apart.  While I don't wish a similar situation on you, I hope you get the chance to use it in a sentence one day soon.