Bet you always thought it was more of an edict than a dialogue.
This made me wistful, briefly, for the stacks and boxes of old and odd things people used to donate to the medical library.
More than anything, I am thankful today for enough. Having enough, being enough, doing enough.
I don’t want to have it all. I want to have enough of the things that matter– food, shelter, love, life — and I am richly blessed to have enough of all of these. Certainly more than I deserve.
I don’t want to be all things to all people. I want to be me, and be enough to enough people, and I am. Amazing when a birthright feels like such a privilege.
I don’t want to get so busy trying to do it all that I don’t enjoy the experience of being alive. I do enough things to stay busy, and sometimes to even be helpful. I also planted roses last month that I am happy to stop and smell.
(omg this nerd plants metaphors in her yard, call the HOA!)
My aspirations may be too modest. But there have been times in my life where I felt like an empty sucking hole of want disguised as need, and that’s about as miserable as it gets. There’s no life in a black hole like that, and no identity. Only need.
Enough is enough.
I am thankful for learning to recognize that I have enough and to let it fill me up and slosh around and spill over.
Instead of: Sitting nearly naked in a freezing cold room
I’d like to see: A warm chest of blankets and Frette robes
Instead of: Little plastic cups to fill up with a urine sample
I’d like to see: Little plastic cups to fill up with frozen yogurt
Instead of: Hard plastic chairs that say, “Don’t make yourself at home. And sit up straight while I”m talking to you!”
I’d like to see: Big leather recliners that say, “Jeeves will be ’round to take your cocktail order in just a few.”
Instead of: Butcher paper on the exam tables. What am I, a piece of meat?
I’d like to see: Silk. Or velvet. Or cashmere.
Instead of: Jars of cotton swabs and tongue depressors
I’d like to see: Jars of Twizzlers and gluten-free pretzel rods
Instead of: Art on the walls that looks like it was stolen from the motel down by the interstate
I’d like to see: Sunshine and trees through a window, or a poster from The Oatmeal
Instead of: No place to recharge devices during your wait
I’d like to see: iPhone and iPad charging cables
Instead of: Old irrelevant magazines
I’d like to see: A transparent and up-to-date list of all prices for services and treatments
What would you change about your doctors’ offices?
There is a whole pack of cliches that get lobbed at you when you get sick. Most are intended to empathize, support, or inspire, like:
I’m so sorry.
Let us know if there’s anything we can do.
Everything’s going to be okay.
Thank you, thank you, and I hope so.
Some though, no matter how well-intentioned they might be, really rubbed me the wrong way:
It’s always darkest before the dawn.
But anyone who’s died in their sleep can tell you, sometimes it’s just dark, and the dawn never comes.
You’re such a trooper.
Does this look like a kiddy scout camp-out to you?
God never closes a door without opening a window.
Good! Go stand in front of that window so I can push your smug self out of it.
I do not believe that god has anything to do with whether I get sick, get well, or get down tonight. (And I recognize, of course, that your belief system may vary.) But could god be a general contractor and nobody ever told me?
I came across this passage during the first year of my illness, when my brain and body were finding new ways to surprise and fail me on a daily basis:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Clive, you suave devil, when you put it that way, I’m intrigued.
I had expected to have decades before I had to contend with the “normal” declines and disappointments of aging. I had no framework for thinking of my adult body as a thing in flux. But things were hurting abominably and not making any sense now, and this quotation gave me a new perspective — a peaceful one — from which to consider my experiences.
I loved the gentle reminder that change can be for the better and that destruction of (at the very least) the status quo is necessary to make room for creation. My suddenly uncertain prognosis might, just maybe, not have to be all doom and gloom in every imaginable way. The Unknown didn’t automatically have to be The Unbearable.
Maybe this experience of crumbling myelin and faulty nerve signaling could in some way be leading toward something better. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that naturally you’d have to give up the flower garden to make room for the swimming pool. But wouldn’t you rather float in the sun than prune roses?
In a shift that I liked to think Anne Lamott would pat me on the back for, I began to consider it a gift to get to become someone else — a new me, a learning me, a remodeled me. Because honestly, my old me wasn’t such a hot property most of the time. Maybe I could walk better, but I was impatient and fearful and lazy. I lacked perspective. I — well, I could go on and on.
I’m still impatient and fearful and lazy, of course, and my perspective needs regular filter changes. But Lewis’s metaphor sticks with me and reminds me to stay open to the possibility that I don’t know all the possibilities.
Note: This is my first attempt at writing a purposefully longer post (1,000+ words).
I was so excited to see Shots, the NPR Health blog, post about toilet posture yesterday.
On the one hand, I’m interested in hearing the expert professionals’ learned viewpoints and advice, as I’ve been conditioned by fear mongering women’s magazines to wonder, “Have I maybe been doing this wrong for most of my life? What irreversible damage have I unknowingly done to myself and my loved ones? What can you sell me to make me temporarily feel better? TELL ME!”
On the other hand, I’m endlessly amused by the number of synonyms for poop and toilet that the professional author will be forced to churn out.
Luckily, “churn out” was not one of the synonyms used in this piece.
I can’t remember how it started, but I did some research on poop stools a few months ago. (Yes, I recognize that “poop stool” sounds redundant, but I never saw a more compelling alternative, so that’s what I call it.)
I’m generally into personal health experimentation, and while I don’t suffer from any of the conditions mentioned in the squat-or-sit piece, I was curious about how squatting might shed new light something I’ve been doing the Unthinking Standard American Way my whole life.
Also, after finding this quotation on a message board,
I don’t want just a basic boring plastic stool though… I’d like more of a ladder,
I felt like the gauntlet had been thrown down. The gloves were off. The experiment was begun.
Ready-made Poop Stools
The Squatty Potty came up first in my searches as one of the few options available in the US.
It comes in a couple of different heights and materials, but was still a little pricey (read: astronomically out of range) for an experiment that might last a week or two. I was also disappointed that they had passed up the opportunity to use the motto “We Want To Be Number 1 For Your Number 2!”
Nature’s Platform was bigger but also stronger and foldable. That’s a plus, since everyone might not be ready to correct their anorectal angle when visiting my facilities, but it was well over $100 and back-ordered indefinitely.
There’s also the Welles Step. Its simple appearance disguised a piece of technology so advanced that it could provide the “precise geometric angle necessary for complete bowel evacuation with the application of the laws of anatomy and physics.” Their motto should be “The Einstein of Evacuation” or “No Poop Left Behind.”
What else was out there? Not much in the US. There were several international options, but they were all costly, and by the time you added in shipping, were WAY too expensive.
The Lillipad looked cool, and for the budget-conscious, they were kind enough to sell you plans to build your own serviceable but much-less-svelte platform. But I’m neither a woodworker or a millionaire, so out of luck. As looks go, though, this was the best designed of the bunch.
Then there was the Sandun-Evaco Toilet Convertor, which claimed to be “Only Patented, Foldable, Factory-Built Stainless Steel Toilet Converter in The World Today,” and I believe them.
The ladder-style looked good for balance and stability. The advertised “loading capacity” of 120 kg, however, did not make me feel particularly feminine, or even human.
Since I was working without a doctor’s prescription or a generous grant, my mind turned to consider the possibilities. What might be repurposed? What would provide enough stability that I would not tip over and be found dead and semi-nude in the bathroom? I’m not nearly famous enough for that yet.
It’s possible, of course, to build a stool or platform out of wood or PVC pipe, but I didn’t want to make the investment. I also did not completely trust my construction skills enough to avoid accidents (of any kind).
I considered modding out a commode chair. I see them all the time at the thrifts, and they are designed to hold adult body weight. (The catcher basin slides out so you can place them over a regular potty.) They’re generally lightweight and non-slip. Easy to clean (god forbid).
So when I saw one at Goodwill a few days later, I climbed on to see how well it might work. Luckily, the employees did not call the police, because I am a regular at that store, and this time, I remembered to keep my pants on.
The $8 price tag was totally reasonable, but not being a deluxe imperial drop arm like the model in the picture, the arm rests got in the way, and I couldn’t quite get over the sickroom look of the thing.
And that’s when I saw it. An unassuming wooden box, strong yet lightweight, with nonslip feet and a handsome maple stain. It looked like it used to hold trays or tiny drawers, but they’d been removed, leaving just the case.
I grabbed the measuring tape out of my purse and checked the dimensions. At 10 inches high, it’s an inch taller (and better!) than the tallest available Squatty Potty, but still lower than a 15-inch-tall toilet — perfect for beginners. And at 18.5 inches across, there was enough room for a stable stance, but not so much that it would interfere with the general traffic flow of my minuscule bath.
Price tag? $3.53. Permission to proceed!
But the icing on the cake – the cherry on top — was the engraved name plate/provenance of the piece:
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA, indeed, with a side of Franklin Mint kitsch? I couldn’t get it in my buggy fast enough.
Results (don’t worry, no more photos)
Well, it’s…different. But I can’t say it has radically changed anything.
Maybe the process, which never took very long to begin with, goes a little faster?
Maybe my anorectal angle has been precisely and geometrically improved to be more compliant with the laws of anatomy and physics?
Definitely I enjoy contemplating THE GENIUS OF AMERICA in those quiet moments alone, and so leave the bathroom smiling more often than the dark and humorless days before the poop stool.
And if that alone is not enough reason to call the experiment a success, I don’t know what would be. Seriously – are they any actual metrics for this kind of thing?
Have you ever tried a poop stool? If not, why not?
Or perhaps another band in my autism spectrum?
I had to run to the grocery store yesterday before dinner because I’d forgotten the guacamole.
The mission: grocery run at 5pm for 4 measly items (guacamole, red cabbage, heavy cream, eggs). Get there, get in, and get out. A counterclockwise perimeter sweep should do it.
The mindset: Licensed to kill. A Navy SEAL extraction team would not have been more focused or grimly determined than I.
The mission leader: I’d been working in the house all day, so I was wearing the same tank top and shorts I’d worn the day(s?) before. I had a film of dried sweat, grime, and grass clippings all over from working in the house and yard and being Really Fucking Domestic. I no longer own a hairbrush. I have never worn makeup. I do not dress up to run errands.
Are you getting the picture?
I’d managed to get to the store and collect 75% of the needed items in very good time. I started to relax a bit and opened a carton of eggs to check for cracks when I heard, “Is your hair naturally that red, or do you color it?”
I glanced up and saw that I was being addressed by a smiling, older African-American gentleman no taller than myself.
“I wish this was my natural color! ha!”
Glad that little pleasantry was over, I closed the egg carton and turned to put it in my basket. But it wasn’t over yet. The little man continued, “Because you don’t see it too often! Whenever I see a lady with red hair and ask her if it’s natural, she says ‘no.’ How often do you have to redo it?”
I should have known at this point, but no. I was hooked. “Well, natural red hair is a recessive trait, you know, so you have to have inherited a copy of the mutated gene from both parents to have red hair.”
It was his turn to say, “Huh?”
“It’s kind of rare,” I summarized.
“Oh, yeah. Ha. Hey, that’s a pretty tattoo you got there.”
Am I getting…hit on?
If he just wanted to talk-talk, he’d say something topical and neutral about eggs or the weather, right?
How is this supposed to work?
I had only seconds to decide. If I sprinted for the door, I could get myself out fast, but I’d have to leave the basket. Sacrificing the groceries would mean the mission had been a failure. I was torn.
Little Man’s rheumy eyes were trying to twinkle. “It reminds me of those flowers…the, uh…what are they called…”
He faltered, but I was so frozen I couldn’t even think of the type of flower it actually is. You know, the one that was important enough to permanently add to my body. I had a glimmer of understanding into how my mom could forget my sister’s and my name with shocking regularity.
Oh, jesus, he’s still trying to figure it out and I’m standing here like I’m having an absence seizure in the dairy aisle. Closure. We need closure so I can get the hell out of here.
I took a stab. “Zinnias? No, they’re not that tall. Something in the mum family? But taller?”
“No…uh…they…sunflowers! It reminds me of sunflowers!”
“Great! Thanks! You have a good day, now! Bye!”
I grabbed the grocery basket and hightailed it to the self-checkout.
On the ride home, I debriefed myself on the experience. I now have questions I would like to ask the universe and/or my therapist, because this is not the first time something similar has happened.
Why can’t I figure out what’s going on in time to react appropriately? And what’s appropriately?
Why do women never hit on me?
Would I know what was happening if they did?
Does hitting on people ever actually work?
It’s an absolute mystery to me. I feel like the whole hitting-on situation must have been explained one day in middle school when I was out with the flu or a spell of pathological self-consciousness. Being 30-something and still not understanding it doesn’t help, but being married does (a little).
So, a word of advice: if any of you would ever like to indicate an interest in my person, it would probably be best to just spell it out on a gluten-free cake or a $20 bill. Otherwise, I can’t guarantee that I will ever figure out what’s going on.
Maybe I should eat an amazing steak dinner and watch a few hours of The Venture Bros. every night. Or was it the ice cream sundae for dessert?
In any case, last night I was yawning by midnight-thirty and in bed before 1am. After a brief phone check-in with the farflung wife, I assumed the Rip Van Winkel position and didn’t wake up until after noon today.
NOON, people. 12:16 PM.
For a fraction of a second, I was disappointed that I’d missed the chance to catch up on my photo challenge. I’m a few days behind and needed to capture something for “Morning,” the next prompt. My superego started to grumble,
“Now you’re going to be anotherday behind…what was the point of…never finish anything…fart snort fail…”
But then my smart brain was all Mr. Scrooge on Christmas Morning,
“Look at that sunshine! Feel that breeze! My neck doesn’t hurt! A whole day — nay, a whole life – of possibility and promise is stretching out before us like God’s own red carpet! Walk it!”
And now I’m eating bagged asian broccoli slaw straight out of the mixing bowl and reclining on the couch with my keyboard on my lap, using the tv as the world’s most giantest computer screen, to draft this.
Today, I don’t have to walk or feed anybody.
Today, I don’t have to be anywhere, at any particular time, for any reason.
Today, anything I choose to do in service of my self, my home, or my community will come from a place of simple benediction.
Intermittent pet-free bachelorette-hood agrees with me.
From reading Cosmo (purely anthropological), though, I think the average bachelorette-hood involves a lot more blowjobs and angst. So by their standards, I am probably not doing this right.
By their standards, zero blowjobs and zero angst mean I am dead.
On any other day, that might also go to explain my bloat and pallor and torpor.
But today, it’s just GOOD.
To my dear friends who are facing another month of buying tampons instead of diapers, I offer this list of 21 pertinent potables:
Menstrual cramp Martini
Lay on the couch and sob Daiquiri
Maybe we should just adopt a White Russian baby
The Old Fashioned way isn’t working
Please, no more Sex on the Beach
Only one Pinkie line
Rum and More Rum
PMS (Pre-Menstrual Shots)
Longfaced Iced Tea
Empty Belly Bellini
Ugly Cry Caipirinha
Why Me Mimosa
Gin and Bear It
Haven’t Showered Sazerac
Tequila Sunrise to Sunset
Mai Tai’m of the Month
Tom Collins and his wife are having a baby – why cant we?
Dark and Stormy
and anything with bitters