Moving

On Saturday, Boyfriend and I loaded all of my living room and dining room furniture into his parents’ ancient minivan. “All” isn’t really that much, just the things I have acquired since I moved out on my own 2.5 years ago as well as a couple things I got in the divorce: an uncomfortable futon/chaise/couch hybrid and jute rug from World Market, a $20 coffee table from IKEA, two rigid rattan chairs Ex-Husband and I got for super sale at a chi-chi furniture store here in Dallas, a rickety pub table I’ve sat at almost every day for the last six years.

I donated it all to a thrift store benefiting a local women’s shelter. I won’t need it in Austin, there’s no room for it in Boyfriend’s house, and none of it was really comfortable or expensive, anyway. I keep buying temporary furniture, thinking that one day eventually I’ll be rich enough to invest in something I’ll want to keep, but I never am, I never do.

On Sunday morning, Rufus woke me up at 6:30. He’s been doing this ever since the days got longer a few months ago. I’ve discovered the reason he is so happy to greet the sun every morning, and that reason is food. He can’t wait to eat every morning, and he slaps his paws around on the bed until I can’t ignore the racket anymore and get up to feed him. I know this goes against every dog training manual there is, but this is the solution that enables me to get the most sleep, and Rufus doesn’t let this small amount of power go to his head, so it mostly works for us.

As the routine goes, I fill his bowl, Rufus nudges my arm with his nose to say “thank you,” and I go back to bed. After he finishes eating, he jumps back into bed with me to notify me with a burp that he’s fully satisfied and then leaves to go sleep on the living room futon/chaise/couch hybrid, where he stays until he hears my alarm. I love to listen to him walk down the hallway,  pick up his pace gradually until he’s running, and then leap onto the couch. It’s not a very tall couch at all, and he could easily hop up there without a running start. But he chooses to run anyway. I suspect it’s one of the small pleasures in his dog life.

But on Sunday I listened to the walk turn into the run and, in place of the usual climax, his tags clanging into each other as he leaps, I heard silence. He had watched us load up the furniture, gradually clearing the room, but the doggie capacity for memory is rather small. Either that, or the doggie capacity for denial is very large.

I lay in bed, Boyfriend sleeping beside me, wondering what was going through my sweet dog’s head as he stood there taking in the newly bare living room. After a full minute, I heard him walk back down the hallway. He appeared at my bedside, resting his chin on the edge of my bed, which he never does, and I knew, through that eerie ESP dog owners develop with their pets, exactly what he was trying to communicate to me: “WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

The top of his head is so soft right now. It’s been so hot this year he’s not only shedding; he’s molting. Growing an entirely new, darker, sleeker, coat. It looks really terrible, his fur mottled and dappled, and I imagine it’s been a source of embarrassment for him these last several weeks. But the new coat has come in fully on his head, which I stroked as I told him I’m not really sure what’s happening, but it’s both terrifying and exciting, and we’re both just going to have to be okay with that.

Posted in D is for Dog, L is for Life | 6 Comments

Unemployment

On Monday morning around 11, I got a call on my office phone. When I answered, I heard the VP of my company on the other line. “Hey, Spring, could you come down to the front conference room?”

With those words, I knew exactly what was going on. I’ve seen layoffs unfold before. I’d never been the one being laid off, however. I was always the person wondering where a certain coworker had run off to and not realizing what was happening until we were called into the survivor’s meeting. This time I wouldn’t be a survivor.

As I made the walk through the office for what I knew would be one of my last times, the walls seemed to tilt. I entered the conference room and saw the VP with a woman I’d never seen before and a red (WHY did they choose red?) folder with my name on it sitting on the table in front of them. The VP shut the door behind me and said, “So, this isn’t fun.”

At first I thought, “I’m handling this so well. I don’t even think I’ll cry.” And then I immediately began to cry. The HR woman told me about my severance package and that I was absolutely not being fired, the company was undergoing some drastic changes and they had to eliminate my position along with several others. I think that was supposed to be comforting, but it wasn’t.

I cried and cried and she handed me a tissue. After a while, she said someone would be arriving with the stuff from my desk. “ALL of my stuff?” I asked. She asked if there was a lot of it, and I said no, but thought to myself that that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that it was the office where I’d spent 40 hours a week for the last ten months, and someone else was going to disassemble it? Someone else was going to take down the pictures that I had gently pinned to my bulletin board, the manifestos and quotes I’d taped to the wall by my monitor? Someone else was going to remove Phil the philodendron from his spot in the corner of my L-shaped desk? No. I wanted to do those things. On the walk back through the office, though, carrying my sad box with Phil’s tentacles poking out the sides, tears streaming down my face, I realized why most people are okay with other people doing this part for them.

I called Boyfriend as I was pulling out of the parking lot for the last time. He was at work, so he couldn’t talk for long, but he was encouraging and soothed my tears away. Actually, he was so excited that I would be free to move to Austin, he could barely hide his enthusiasm. I stopped crying after talking to him for just a minute. His enthusiasm was contagious.

I made the 25-minute drive home in silence. I will never again drive that commute I know so very well. Once I exited the highway, I texted my mom, “I just got laid off.” She texted back, “call me.” She said she knows it’s scary, but she also knows I’ll land on my feet. I said I know. And believed her. And myself.

The really weird thing is that I’d kind of been hoping for it. I’ve been trying to move to Austin for over a year now. Boyfriend and I have been conducting our relationship 210 miles apart since two Januarys ago. I’d drive to Austin on Friday night, we’d spend the weekend being social with his friends, and then I’d drive back to Dallas on Sunday night. He would drive down the following Friday, we would spend the entire weekend in bed, and then he’d drive back to Austin on Sunday night. We took to calling Dallas our “vacation home,” since our weekends here alone together are so rejuvenating and peaceful. But those 210 miles have been especially difficult lately with the awareness that the distance is keeping our relationship from deepening in important ways (we haven’t even had our first fight). Not to mention the fact that gas prices have skyrocketed, and the $300 a month I’d budgeted for gas wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

When I was recruited for this position last May, it was with the understanding that after a year I would move to Austin and work remotely from there. And then the company had a merger, and my proposal to move to Austin was rejected, and I was told the two were related. People began leaving. I knew something was up.

My attitude was overwhelmingly positive. I wasn’t upset. I filed for unemployment and began networking, putting the word out to former supervisors and coworkers that I am actively looking for anything at all. Sarahthe made me dinner, and we got blitzed on margaritas. I said it was a blessing. Not even in disguise. Just a big, fat, plain blessing that was also a little scary but mostly all blessingy. I finally get to move to Austin.

Day 1

Today it’s mostly scary. Reality hit. I don’t know when I’ll find another job. I don’t know what I’m going to do if it takes longer than the 26 weeks it will take me to hit the maximum unemployment benefits for one year. I don’t know if I can afford to pay Cobra $315 a month for health insurance, but I’ve got certain things going on health-wise that put a private plan, with those infamous preexisting condition clauses, out of the question.

But there are blessings still too. I won’t have to worry about paying rent: I’m very lucky that I have a place to stay for free until I find a job. When I told Boyfriend that I was laid off, we didn’t even talk about whether or not I would move in with him; it was understood. He’s got a me-sized space in his bed that he’s been offering free of charge for several months now. I finally took him up on it. I gave my landlord 30 days’ notice.

I spent the morning applying for every job I could find, and then I spent the afternoon outside reading a book titled, no joke, What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here? 44 Insider Secrets that Will Get You Hired by Cynthia Shapiro.

According to Shapiro, I have been doing absolutely everything wrong in my job hunt, from my resume to my interviews to my very own BRAND. I guess that’s why none of the FIVE (!) interviews I had last week panned out. Also, not only have I been doing everything wrong, but now I was unemployed, and, according to her, this meant I would never find a job, ever, in a million years.

And then I started to cry. I’d blown a couple incredible jobs. I sent Sarahthe, who lent me the book, a text: “This book says I’m never going to get a job and am also a dumbass.” She replied, “You aren’t a dumbass and you will get a job. You have gotten jobs before! With that style! No stressing!” She’s an expert at the pep talks.

So I stopped crying, and then I rewrote my resume according to Shapiro’s suggested formula: a one-sentence summary centered under my (centered) name describing my skills and experience (in the third person, but with no nouns); job titles centered down the middle and bolded; and achievements listed under job titles, not duties (duties are implied in the job titles).

Then another reality hit. One day, not very far from now, Rufus and I will leave Dallas and won’t be coming back to our vacation home. Ever. We will technically be homeless. And that thought? Scares and saddens me more than just about anything else.

Day 2

I woke naturally at 7:45 and sprang out of bed. That was weird. Usually I drag myself out of bed, but now I’m springing. Either I’ve got a fire lit under my butt or I’m more eager to face a day that involves going to the dentist and laying out with a dear friend by her pool instead of going to work for eight hours. Maybe both.

However, I put on the same dress that I wore Monday, so maybe the concept of motivation here is a bit relative.

I went to the dentist (no cavities!) and was shocked afterwards to find that it was only 9:45. I thought about what I would be doing if I were at work. I would still be settling in to begin my day, catching up on e-mails, going through my blog feed, eating my Kashi oatmeal. I couldn’t believe it was only 9:45. I felt liked I’d lived a million years already.

It was stormy weather, of all days (we’ve been in a drought for over a year now), so it was too chilly to lay out. We soaked in the hot tub instead. And got coffee. And an indulgent lunch at an Italian restaurant. And talked and talked and talked. We decided that I would spend most of my days with her until I moved to Austin, a plan that pleases me to no end. It also pleases me to have a plan.

By the time she was cooking me dinner, I was so relaxed that I was almost falling asleep. When you haven’t been relaxed in a while, it’s difficult to distinguish it from feeling sleepy, I realized.

I ate and left to attend a happy hour for a former coworker from a past job who was laid off a week before me. We spent the evening asking our former boss for job-hunting advice, which he happily dished out and we gobbled right up.

When I got home, I took the first steps toward deleting my Twitter account and making a new one that new employers won’t be able to find via google search. I’m a brand, and having tidbits such as “Jesus Christ, Dallas court system, could you suck any harder?” ranking under a search for my name, well. It’s not ideal. So I’m taking charge.

People keep saying “It will work out.” But what if it doesn’t?

Day 3

Today I awoke to an e-mail. They want to hire me back as a freelancer with a contract that lasts through the end of the year. I can work remotely from Austin. I’ll be making the same amount as before. So, basically, my proposal to work remotely was accepted, just in the most roundabout way possible. And with no benefits.

Also: I’m no longer unemployed!

And now I’m leaving for Austin for a very, very long weekend, a new life in which I essentially have everything I wanted sprawling out before me.

Posted in F is for Fear, J is for Job | 12 Comments

Office Bathrooms

The office bathroom is a curious place to me. It’s an extremely private place, which means it’s excellent for getting to know your coworkers better than you really want. There are several different types of bathroom personas, and when one works for a company 40+ hours every week, one gets to know pretty quickly which coworkers are which.

1. The Chatter: the person who will talk to you while you’re both peeing
2. The Bashful Bladder: the person who occupies a stall and then waits for you to exit the bathroom before performing any sort of bodily function
3. The Diffuser: the person you happen to see in the bathroom all the time who always makes uncomfortable jokes about being “on the same schedule”
4. The Germaphobe: the person who uses those paper toilet seat covers
5. The Reason You Open The Bathroom Door With A Paper Towel: the person who doesn’t wash her hands (or worse, only runs her hands under water for a few seconds) (I can say “her” here without being exclusionary because I have yet to venture into a men’s bathroom.)
6. The Down-To-Businesser: the person who ignores you completely
7. The John Cage: the person who always flushes the toilet before using it

After almost a year at this job, I know exactly which coworkers are which. I also know the intricacies of the physical plant as well as any other facet of my job. Below are my findings.

Fig. 1.

Figure 1 is a rough blueprint of our bathroom at work (drawn by me, who has zero spatial reasoning, so bear with me, here).

Stall A: Everyone’s preferred stall due to proximity to the door. Because of this, the toilet seat has become loose in recent weeks. When you sit down on this trick seat, it slides off to either side of the bowl, adding an element of surprise to even the most routine bodily function. However, this is also the preferred stall of the office bulimic, so one must avoid this stall after lunch at all costs, unless one is fond of being smacked in the face with the scent of one’s coworker’s stomach acid as well as occasional choice remains on the toilet seat.

Stall B: Second most preferred stall because of proximity to first stall and also lack of coworker’s stomach acid/remains. This stall is ALWAYS occupied.

Stall C: The stall no one cares about, which means it is probably the preferred stall of savvy Germaphobes (see above).

Stall D: The handicap stall. This is the stall farthest away from the door, which makes this the choice stall for doing dirty deeds. Accordingly, the toilet in this stall is always clogged and disgusting. Also: a worse kind of smell than Stall A. Avoid.

The main stall conundrum I deal with is when I enter the bathroom and Stall B is occupied, leaving me with the choice of either Stall A or Stall C. Neither of these is acceptable, as everyone knows that bathroom etiquette demands a buffer stall between bathroom goers. Which leaves Stall D, right? However, since I could probably be categorized as more of an anxious bathroom type who also has an extremely sensitive gag reflex, I don’t want to risk a clogged toilet and/or other unsightly things that might be lurking in Stall D, so I usually make a rash decision and head right for Stall A due to proximity. Therefore, I often end up having to squat while holding my breath and peeing all at the same time, which any girl who has frequented a bar before will know is no small feat. The obvious correct choice is Stall C, but I have yet to make the correct decision in this situation.

Sink 1: The sink everyone uses due to its proximity to the paper towel holder, and is, therefore, always out of soap.

Sink 2: The sink I use when I remember that Sink 1 is out of soap. Otherwise, I start the water at Sink 1 and reach over and steal the soap at Sink 2.

Sink 3: I have never seen anyone use this sink in my year at this company.

A common sink conundrum I face is whether to reach over and steal the soap at Sink 2 when Sink 2 is occupied. My choices are to either a. stand there stupidly with my hands under running water until coworker finishes or b. ask coworker for permission to steal soap, which is awkward, since it gives the coworker the opportunity to say “no,” and then what would I do? Also, it implies ownership of the soap, and no one really wants to take ownership of such a thing. Awkward possibilities aside, I usually opt for b., as it gives me the opportunity to smile at coworkers, which is a good thing, since I want them to like me.

Readers of this blog are also acquainted with the mirror in the bathroom, as it is where I took the picture of my reddish hair in the previous post. It is my studio for all of my self-picture-taking needs during the workday, bad lighting that makes me look like I have deep shadows under my eyes notwithstanding.


I have yet to be caught taking pictures of myself in the bathroom at work, but I know that I’m living on borrowed time here. It took me a while to get the right picture of my hair last week, and I heard a coworker’s footsteps just in time to lower the phone and pretend I was just hanging out in the bathroom texting. Which is bad, but not nearly as bad as taking pictures of myself in the bathroom.

In all, the bathroom at work is weird, and I’ve spent way too much time on this post and now must do actual work. The end.

Posted in J is for Job, T is for Trivial | 6 Comments

Remedial Living: At-Home Haircolor

Sometimes I do things that are so breathtakingly dumb that I feel compelled to put myself out there as a lesson to everyone. Therefore, I decided to start a new blog series called Remedial Living.

Ladies and gentlemen, do as I say, not as I do.

When you purchase a semi-permanent at-home haircolor kit and it comes with a “color refresher sachet” for use two weeks after the initial coloring,

When you’ve reached your perfectly ideal shade of dark blonde/lightest brown several weeks after coloring your hair with the aforementioned kit but still apparently cannot just sit back and enjoy it for, like, A DAY OR TWO, because eventually it will wash out and your hair will be light blonde again even though RIGHT NOW IT’S PERFECT,

When the instructions for this thing read,
1. Shampoo as usual.
2. Put on gloves.
3. Apply this entire color refresher sachet and distribute evenly through the hair.
4. Leave on for five minutes.
5. Rinse thoroughly and style as usual.

When it seriously calls itself a COLOR REFRESHER SACHET, for Christ’s sake,

When it’s not a sachet at all but just another cheap foil packet with a “tear here” at the top,

When you open the “sachet” and bright red goo spills out everywhere, immediately staining your shower walls on contact,

When you squirt the bright red goo into the palms of your hands and rub them together, immediately staining them too, because OF COURSE you don’t have gloves (who keeps the gloves from dyeing their hair several weeks ago not only on hand but IN THEIR SHOWER?),

When you don’t have a mirror in your shower (who has several-weeks-old gloves AND a fog-free mirror in their shower?) and therefore really have no earthly idea if you’re distributing anything evenly or not,

When you usually have a hard time simply rinsing ANYTHING completely from your hair and your boyfriend regularly tells you that you still have a sudsy patch just above your forehead after you get out of the shower,

When the thing looks like THIS,

For the love of God, DON’T apply it to your head.

Unless you want to end up with palms that look like you need an intervention for your spray tan addiction and accidentally red hair for the next, oh, 4-6 weeks.

Posted in L is for Life, T is for Trivial | 1 Comment

Facebook

Being away from Facebook for the span of Lent has been ridiculously easy. So easy that I almost feel like I cheated. The whole idea of Lent is that we’re supposed to give up something that we’ll miss! It’s supposed to be a sacrifice so that on the blessed day of the Lord’s resurrection, we are joyous and ecstatic and relieved!

To my great surprise, giving up Facebook was not at all a sacrifice.

There were a few moments of panic on that first day, of course. I was in the habit of getting ready for the day and then crawling back into bed with my French press coffee and my netbook to catch up on the things I’d missed on Facebook over the last eight hours while I was sleeping. That first day, I logged on to Twitter, I logged on to gmail, I caught up on blogs, and then I was done within about five minutes. I didn’t have anything else to do on the internet. So I fired off a few confused tweets about being on the internet and not knowing what to do on the internet.

And then I just closed my netbook and drank my coffee. I wish I could say I listened to my own thoughts, but I actually just listened to NPR’s Morning Edition, which was blaring throughout my entire apartment like it does every morning.

On the third day, I accidentally pulled up Facebook when I got to work and moved to log in when I remembered and quickly exed out before things could go any further.

After that, I never really looked back.

The plan was to use all the time I was wasting on Facebook for other, (supposedly) more meaningful things, like writing blog posts or e-mails, or reading, or sitting with my own thoughts. But that really hasn’t happened; I’ve just transferred my internet-wasting time, really, from Facebook to Salon and Slate. I still had Twitter as a medium for my compulsive oversharing, thank God. Now THAT would’ve been a sacrifice. But maybe without my trusty microblog, I would’ve done more actual blogging. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wasted a good idea on 140 characters instead of taking the time to flesh it out and craft it into a good blog post.

I have felt a Facebook-sized hole in my life, however, at times. Which is to say that these last fortyish days have made me realize exactly what I was using Facebook for.

1. Fact-checking information on friends. I was e-mailing with a friend from college and trying to tell him about a mutual friend of ours who lives in a city he’s interested in relocating to, but I could not remember her last name, and without Facebook to look it up with, I simply had to ‘fess up and tell him that I couldn’t remember it. The really odd thing is that I could’ve checked gmail for it, as she’s on my contacts list there too. Or my phone, as it still had my contacts from Facebook on there. For some reason, Facebook has become my go-to source for contact information, and without it, honestly, I felt a little legless when it came to these things.

2. Keeping up with important events in friends’ lives. I have a good friend who’s about to have her first baby, and without Facebook, I felt as though I wouldn’t have any clue when the blessed event arrived. One day I finally broke down and asked her how I would know, and she promised that she would send a mass text when he’s here, and that I would be included in it.

3. Managing contacts on my phone. My old phone automatically drew my contacts from my Facebook, and when I deactivated my site, it still drew the contacts but asked me every single day to re-enter my Facebook password (which I could not do, since my account was deactivated), so that was kind of annoying. Then my phone broke, and I got a new one, and I have yet to add any of my Facebook contacts to this phone, except for the ones that were also listed on my gmail (and gmail and Facebook famously don’t communicate well with each other). It will be a relief to sign in to Facebook with my new phone and see all of my friends’ familiar faces fill my contacts list. Even though, let’s be honest, I actually communicate with only about 5% of them. I had gotten used to having the ability to communicate with pretty much anyone I’ve ever met in my life at any given minute, and not having that ability was a bit bewildering.

4. Piddling away minutes. The times I felt the lack of Facebook the keenest was when I was waiting for something: waiting in line at the store, waiting for my prescription from the pharmacy, waiting for the doctor. There really isn’t a better way to pass that kind of throw-away time. Instead of burying my head in my phone, I looked up and looked around, and I wish I could say that I found the secrets of the universe there, but mostly I was just amazed at how many of us constantly have our heads buried in our phones.

5. Stalking Boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Yep. I said it. Not in a crazy way (I promise), but in your typical sad, jealous, low-self-esteem way. I was paying regular visits to her page to compare myself to her (read: to feel inferior to her). I’m happy to report that I didn’t miss her or her infuriatingly pretty face at all, so this is one thing I won’t be using Facebook for anymore after I return. Hopefully.

6. Saying too many things. One of the main reasons I gave up Facebook for Lent was that it simply made me feel crappy when I spent too much time there. A study was done about this recently, about how using Facebook makes some of us sad. I was definitely one of those people, for all the reasons the article lists, and for others, too. I felt left out a lot when I saw pictures of my high school and college friends all hanging out together, and also inferior (see stalking ex-girlfriend above), but I also felt icky about the things I was saying to other people on Facebook. Not necessarily anything in particular, and I wasn’t necessarily saying snarky things (though some of them definitely verged on it). I was just saying too much to too many people, spreading myself too thin. When you say that much to that many people, you’re bound to make a fool of yourself or offend someone or both eventually. I’m one of those people who overanalyzes all of my contact with people, agonizing over if what I said could’ve been misconstrued, or if I had been unintentionally rude, or if something came out the wrong way, or if I was insensitive. Saying less, y’all, is the best way to save yourself from this agony.

7. Promoting this here blog. I have my blog set up to automatically post new entries to my Facebook feed, and a massive amount of people were clicking through to read my new entries. Seeing my pathetic stats on that first post-Facebook post was upsetting, to say the least, and probably contributed to my utter lack of blogging these last several weeks. A lot of people assured me that they had subscribed to my blog feed and were still reading, even if I couldn’t tell through my stats. But it was still disheartening. My own mother didn’t know how to access my blog while I was away from Facebook until I explained it to her last week.

It was a weird time, really. I felt cut off, sometimes in a bad way, but usually in a good way. Before I gave up Facebook for Lent, I had a no-Facebooking-on-weekends policy so that I could be truly present and enjoy my time with Boyfriend. After I gave up Facebook, every day allowed this sort of presence, and I loved it. I basked in it.

It also allowed me to remember how we communicated with each other before Facebook. Best Friend took to texting me her Facebook status updates, which enabled us to have personal conversations about them rather than those insufferable “likes” or throw-away comments. After the first week, my mother actually told me that it was a mistake for me to give up Facebook. She missed being able to keep up with my life on a daily basis (and apparently doesn’t understand Twitter). But then our weekly phone conversations became more meaningful and covered more ground and allowed us to delve deeper into some of the things going on in our lives.

There were funny moments, too, when I realized I wasn’t the only person who forgot how things worked before Facebook. Last week a friend told me she wanted to get a tattoo, and yesterday I asked her if she ended up getting it. She said yes, but she was so sad that I can’t see the picture of it she posted on Facebook! I had to gently remind her that she could e-mail it to me, to which she replied, “Yes I can! Yay!” Like it was a revelation.

This particular friend of mine is Hindu. She asked, “This passover thing, is that when you can get on Facebook again?”

Close. Lent is officially over on Easter morning, which means I “can” log on to Facebook again this Sunday. But just because I can doesn’t mean I will.

Posted in G is for God | 2 Comments

Job Hunting

The thing about searching for writing jobs when you’re a professional writer/editor type is that sometimes you need to show that you can, you know, actually write, and so you ill-advisedly distribute links to your blog in cover letters. You think, hey! I blog! Blogging’s even part of the job description, and I can blog, and here is my blog as proof that I can blog! Ta-da!

And then a day or so later, reality sets in that this is your personal blog, and because you really, really want this job, you begin the agonizing process of analyzing every single entry as a reflection of you and your fitness for the job that you really, really want.

You realize you said “shit” in the most recent entry.

And “asshat” in the entry before that.

Jesus, lately you’ve been obsessed with cancer, and no one wants to hire someone who apparently may have cancer, even though you don’t actually have cancer that you know of but you’re just very, very afraid of having cancer, so you write a lot of blog posts about cancer, and you don’t really know why, either; it’s weird to you too.

And then it’s pretty much all over. The entries fly by in your mind like endless rows of filing cabinets, like in that one metaphorical story about heaven, even though, let’s be honest, you haven’t written that much. But you have cussed some, which, you don’t know, could be a sin just as damning according to this new company as it is in that heaven metaphor that was made up by Baptists probably.

You’ve displayed your ignorance at times. You’ve written about life as you experience it, which is embarrassing at times. You haven’t been especially professional, because this isn’t a professional blog! It’s a personal blog! What were you thinking, merging those two selves!

In a panic, you write a post about your panic, which makes everything very meta and what are you even talking about anymore? Infinity?

But this is the truth. You don’t have two selves. You have one self. If this company decides to hire your one self, this company knows what it’s getting. You’re neurotic at times. But the other side of that coin is that you immerse yourself in the work that you do, which is why you craved Pizza Hut for the three years straight that you worked at the ad agency (the word “melty” is ridiculous and yet so effective) and is why there have been so many goddamn entries about cancer lately. You don’t have cancer. You’re pretty sure you don’t. You wrote that last sentence because you can be superstitious. You’ve made mistakes and learned from them, and you’ve written about it. And sometimes you want to be someone else, someone who’s more professional and together and hireable and never makes mistakes and isn’t neurotic and has an incredible blog already so chock full of insight and wit and genius that when she includes the link to it on her cover letter, she doesn’t have to write a meta blog post about it in a panic.

Here’s the kicker. That girl has two selves. She just does. No one can be that girl all the time. And you’d rather just be your one you. Your one you who is either right for the job or isn’t but who at least doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of a whole other self or merging two selves at the end of the day, because isn’t one enough already?

You hope. You are enough. Already.

Posted in B is for Blog, J is for Job | 2 Comments

Cancer

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I wanted to let y’all know that I’m alive. Gloriously alive.

For those of you who don’t follow my Twitter feed on this here blog, I’m a biomedical editor for a continuing medical education company that specializes in oncology, which, in layman’s terms, means I read about cancer all day. More specifically, I read about the types of cancer that need the most research, as current treatments are too toxic or too ineffective, or–I shit you not–doctors have no clue how to handle treatment for them. Did you guys know that there are types of cancer that doctors really don’t know how to treat? Like, there are treatments, they just don’t know about them? FYI, if you come down with thyroid cancer (and I hope you never, ever do), QUESTION the dose of radioactive iodine your doctor wants to give you. Just do it. Trust me.

So, yeah. I basically read about the most terrifying aspects of the most terrifying disease of our time ALL DAY LONG. This has some obvious repercussions for a girl like me who’s struggled with hypochondria her whole life. In short, my hypochondria has become carcinophobia, an actual term for people who are cripplingly afraid of getting cancer.

It’s perfectly normal to be afraid of cancer; it’s a horrific disease. I suppose the difference is when that fear is something you deal with every single day in a very real, conscious way, rather than lurking around in your subconscious where it belongs.

For example, the other day Boyfriend and I were discussing my finances. I thought that I should put the bulk of the money I’ve saved toward paying off my car, but he suggested that I put some of it toward paying off my car and some of it in a 401(k). To this, I replied,”Let’s make sure I don’t have cancer first before I start saving for retirement.”

Look. I know this is ridiculous. That’s what makes it a phobia, right?

So, in the past year that I’ve been at this job, I’ve become convinced that I had:
1. Ocular melanoma (cancer of the eye)
2. Cervical cancer
3. Some weird cancer that presents in the form of a mysterious leg mass
4. Breast cancer

With the ocular cancer, I’d been feeling a weird bump on my eyeball, so I went to the eye doctor. They dilated my pupils and looked all around in there, felt the bump, and then called in the on-staff surgical oncologist for a consult, who said that I could either get an eye biopsy, which would be incredibly painful, or get a different job reading comic books. In short, I was probably fine. He thought the bump might be my lachrymal gland, but he wasn’t really sure. (I still worry about it.)

The cervical cancer one crept up on me, and I documented it well already.

The weird leg mass is the most recent one in the saga. It appeared a while ago. Maybe a year, maybe several years, who can keep track of time anymore? It’s never really bothered me until recently, when it became painful–it felt like a lot of pressure was building up there, and I became worried that it could be a blood clot, since I’m on birth control, and that can be one of the more severe side effects.

Here’s a picture of my leg from my vantage point (yes, I realize this angle makes my calf look HUGE). You can see the weird mass thing just above my ankle, where that shadowy crease is.

I went to the doctor just so she could rule out that it was a blood clot, and she did. However, she also seemed somewhat alarmed by it and recommended that I get an MRI pronto. I balked because of the cost. I have insurance, but it pays only 80%, which meant I would be responsible for about $400.

“Do I really need it?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied, with wide eyes.

“But it’s not like it could be anything life-threatening or…”

“Yes, it could be. It could be a tumor, and our next step would be a biopsy.”

Well, shit. 2011 has officially become the year of the biopsy, the scariest word in the English language.

“Call your parents!” she said, underestimating my age.

“No, no, I can afford it. It’s just, you know. A son of a bitch.” Meaning I would have to spend the bulk of my tax return on a shitty shit medical test that at best would be a huge waste of money, and at worst would reveal something I really don’t want to know anyway. But I guess I would need to know it, whether or not I wanted to.

Again, shit.

On Monday I went in for the test. The doctor had requested no contrast to save me some money, and the radiologist told me their policy was to use contrast (meaning, they inject a dye that’s visible on the imaging into my bloodstream) on any and all masses, so they can more clearly see what’s going on. Then there was also a hubbub over the fact that I marked that I could be pregnant on the form. I told them I was on birth control, took it faithfully every day, but even then there’s a .01% chance that I could get pregnant, which is why I marked it. A technicality, really. I said every single woman on birth control should check that box. They said the form accounted for that chance, even though it didn’t say that. How was I supposed to know that?

I was sent home to take a pregnancy test and return the next day to mark definitively that I am not pregnant on the form. I’m not. But now at least I knew for sure before exposing a potential fetus to the intense, humming magnetic field, right?

I returned on Tuesday, did the MRI, no big deal, and waited for an agonizing two days to get the results. My doctor called back yesterday morning while I was getting ready for work, so I missed the call. She left a message.

“The MRI’s fine. Just some swelling. No tumor. It’s fine. Ice it. It’s fine.”

I think she said “it’s fine” so much because she’s catching on to my carcinophobia. Either that, or she feels bad for scaring me with her worst-case scenarios. The fact that my leg is swollen for no apparent reason at all is concerning, but hooray! No tumor!

Next up is breast cancer. I found a lump in my boob last week and haven’t really told anyone except for Sarahthe, who has done an excellent job of fielding my daily questions of “should I go to the doctor and get this checked out?” The good thing is that, ironically, due to my job, I know my odds here are good. It doesn’t quite fit the profile of a tumor, and I’m still pretty young for breast cancer yet. And so, for now, I wait to see what this thing does. Hopefully it’ll just disintegrate and take with it the last remaining of my legitimate cancer fears.

Until, of course, I have to return to the lady doctor for a repeat pap smear in July.

I was afraid to write this post because, although my fears are ridiculous, I don’t want to make light of cancer at all. Every single time another cancer-free, tumor-free diagnosis is delivered, I am incredibly grateful that I’m alive and healthy. And I’m also aware of the many who aren’t, like Nathan and Elisa Bond, a couple with a young daughter who both were diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer within the same week. I usually don’t do this sort of thing on my blog, but if you guys feel like it, send some love or some money or both their direction: http://friendsofnathanandelisa.blogspot.com/.

Posted in A is for Aging, F is for Fear, H is for Health | 3 Comments