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It is unique to you

I’ve attended three medical appointments in the past four days, because I’m a responsible adult who crams all her healthcare into the last two months of the year and schedules whatever she can outside of work hours (i.e., observed holidays, Saturdays, 5pm).

First: I was warned by the dentist about enamel erosion. Turns out there are a million things that can cause good enamel to go bad, and I’m consuming most of them (except for soda). I was lucky to leave with a prescription for a high-fluoride toothpaste and purple Listerine (Total Care), and all my teeth.

Second: I had blood work done at the behest of my new GP, who had no memory of telling me to schedule the appointment and no idea what I was doing in his office only a month after my previous checkup. He seemed so confused, and a little irritated, as if I had purposely wasted his time in order to have somebody stab me in the arm at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday.

Third: an update from my uterus! I had my annual GYNO exam yesterday, plus an endometrial biopsy, which was less fun than it sounds (i.e., a long thin plastic rod is inserted in the uterus to suction out tissue for testing). If anyone* ever offers you this procedure, be aware that it causes “immediate cramping.” You’ll be advised of this in advance but you won’t believe it. How could such a thing be possible? But it’s true. It’s not childbirth or anything but let me grab one of your kidneys from the inside and squeeze and see how much you like it.

*By anyone I mean a trusted licensed professional, not some yahoo in a bowling alley.

Thank you & good night. Please floss.

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Tell me on a Sunday please

I woke up early this morning and sat on the sofa and dialed up WQXR while I read the paper, and halfway through this article on Terrence McNally and his art collection, I suddenly missed New York very palpably. I could feel it in my bones. I moved at the worst time of year, during the ugly season, and I went back twice over the summer, which plucked at no heartstrings, but I always knew autumn would be hard. There’s a reason people write songs. So this morning I closed my eyes and for a few minutes I let myself miss the streets and the sidewalks and the Saturday brunches and SarahB and Sally and Potato Killer and walking home through the park and running down to the coffee shop and riding the bus up Central Park West at twilight, the hush and the quiet and the great gorgeous romantic brilliant grownup beauty of it.

I read once that a certain strain of Capricorn is bound to be dissatisfied with their lives no matter what and thus run the risk of growing sad and angry and bitter, and I wonder sometimes if I’m that kind of Capricorn. If I’m that kind of person (it can’t only be Capricorns). But what kind of person doesn’t long for things? What would life be without yearning? Every time I say I miss New York a friend will ask “Are you going to move back?” and the answer is no, I will never move back, but my heart will never leave it.

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What you can do about it

I walked to my polling place (a church) before work. In Manhattan I voted at a public school down the block; now I vote at a church across the street, both approximately the same distance from my apartment. You never get as far away from yourself in life as you think you will. I’m constantly surprised by this. Turn any corner and there’s your dumb old self, following you around.

There were more poll workers than voters, but it was also 7:30 in the morning. I couldn’t gauge the vibe: it was me and a lot of elderly, which was also the scene in NY. Apparently most people vote early these days, by mail, but I missed that memo. I like the chore of showing up, the faces, the snatches of conversation. People striking this minor chord for the future before getting on with their day. The lady who helped shove the ballot into the machine was waylaid by a chatty customer in front of me, and we both waited patiently for this woman to say her piece and move on. She wanted to have a conversation. She was out to be heard.

Anyway, no sign of the apocalypse in the outer suburbs of Chicago on this windy, rainy morning. We perform this one American duty and then we sit and wait.

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How it's going so far, pt II

Six months later and here we are. Still kicking, as it were. A midwesterner reborn.

The ants did not return. I still sleep with a fan on in my bedroom to mask the quiet. If someone breaks in to murder me, I guess I’d rather not know about it. Why ruin the surprise. I don’t worry about home invasions much, or bodily harm, although I have a wildly overactive imagination and refuse to watch scary movies. I live in a safe neighborhood in a safe suburb and I am as careful as I know how to be. I don’t go around looking for trouble but I also don’t look for new idiot things to worry about. New York City taught me that.

Additional things I refuse to worry about include tornadoes, terrorists, migrant caravans, and spiders. It’s a spidery environment here and I let them be; maybe I have them to thank for the ant extraction. I try not to run down the stairs. I try not to trip in the bathtub or choke on embarrassing foodstuffs that would get me written up in the local paper. I focus my fears on small, relatively manageable foes and thus far have emerged victorious. Pick the fights you can win, etc. Take naps. Drink beer. Go to the dentist. Go to the gynecologist. Take another nap.

My apartment finally feels like home. I hate the sink in the kitchen, and the stupid glass stovetop. What a miserable invention. It’s impossible to clean and easy to scratch. I love my kitchen and the view from my kitchen and I love my enormous TVs. I love my sofas. I love my washer and dryer. I read a blog post on accepting who you are (FYI a homebody), and another one on valuing goods over experiences, and I felt understood in a profound way. I’m old enough to admit it: my home means more to me than travel or adventure. I have no intention of withdrawing from the world but sometimes I think yes, this is fine, right here. Just seal me in. (To be clear, I value the people I love over things. I’m not a psychopath.)

I switched the DVR from Hart to Hart to Designing Women and Coach, and I’m still tunneling through old YouTube clips of General Hospital. General Hospital held me up during these months, I’ll admit that, too; do not underestimate the power of things that remind you who you were and who in some ways you will always be. Who you were is not as bad as you think, unless you were an asshole. Or a psychopath. In which case you’ve got some other problems.

I don’t talk much about work on this blog, but the job is okay. The trouble there is that I was very comfortable where I was, and this is not that, not yet. Maybe someday. But it matters less than it used to, which is probably for the best. I’m adjusting to a different pace and a different landscape. I have my routines and my routes and my shortcuts, my grocery stores and movie theaters and my library. My friends and my family. I know what matters to me, and I like where I am.

So. Here I am.

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Girls Weekend

It’s important to appreciate and celebrate the people who stick around for whole lifetimes. I’ve known these girls (they will always be my girls) since grade school, from band practice to study hall to lunch tables to football games to parades and dances and slumber parties. I know their faces as well I know my own, and they are more precious to me than I can say.

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Check up

I’ve forgotten how to blog, I think. Or how to think, I blog. Heh. Classic blog humor. What else is there to think about lately but the disastrous state of this sad republic, only nobody—NOBODY—especially me—wants to come here to moan over that. I’ve reached my limit on exactly what and how much of this toxic stew I can ingest before it all starts leaching through my bones. Enough already. That world is banging on the lid of my brain box 24/7 and I will not invite it to live here. Not here on this stupid blog. Not here, in this weary head. I will fight the fight where and however I can, but no more shouting into the wind. Enough.

I drove myself to the emergency room a couple of months ago, on a Thursday night, just as the sun was setting, the week before I started my new job. I’d been feeling something strange in my chest for a couple of days and ignoring it, as I generally do, because I am a raging hypochondriac who self-treats through denial. (Every headache is a stroke, every muscle pain is cancer. That type of hypochondriac. The fun kind. But the best part is, someday at least one of those things will probably be true!)

This time, however, I figured I shouldn’t wait until my first day on the job to see if I was having a heart attack, so I finally shamed myself into action. It was a strange experience, and to be honest the smallest and the loneliest I have ever felt in my life, being wheeled down the long corridor of a quiet and almost-empty hospital wing, being tended to—being cared for—by kindly and competent strangers. I felt very sorry for myself, but in the end it was nothing, of course. Vitals were good, blood was good (“good blood” is not a medical diagnosis!), and there was no sign of anything but

Stress

sTress

stRess

strEss

streSs

stresS

STRESSSSSSS

I’ve been experiencing some stress, I guess. That is not easy for me, a sweeper of things under rugs, to admit. It’s been a harder year than I knew, and I could no longer ignore it. That shit was leaching through my bones.

I read this piece by Heather Havrilesky this morning (she of “Ask Polly” at The Cut), where she offered some sage advice way back in 2016 to a fellow sufferer (2016! what universe was that? are we not all of us fellow sufferers by now?) on how to survive in a world gone mad:

Keeping a calm space for yourself, where you remember what matters, where you believe in the goodness of people, is fundamental. Our survival depends on it, more than ever. We have to reach out to each other and believe in each other. We have to believe that we can make our way through this shit storm, and fix what’s broken.

We don’t owe it to the world to wallow in the darkness, to stay depressed, to mourn indefinitely. We owe it to the world to believe in this day, and to believe in the future.

Anyway, it’s perfectly true that this insane country is a crap heap piled on top of a rat’s nest that’s boiling inside the mouth of a gargoyle, etc., etc., ad infinitum. I can’t change that, and I forgive myself for it. This life—my life, your life—is bigger than that. It has to be.

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3 things for today

1. I tried keeping my robe on a hook on the bedroom door but every time I passed it I thought it was Slender Man.

2. During my elective short-term "time off," I've embraced only sloth and soap operas. I tried feeling bad about this but eventually gave up: it wasn't worth the effort of caring who was watching me, since I don't believe in omniscient deities (except Stephen Sondheim) and don't think non-stop activity is the key to a good life. Also nobody was watching me (except Slender Man).

I spend most of the day lying on the porch reading magazines and trashy novels, and sometimes I move inside to the sofa to take a nap. Sometimes I go to Target and walk around. Sometimes I go to a movie. At night I watch reruns of General Hospital and Hart to Hart. People who keep asking me what I do during the day: this is it.

I very much subscribe to the theory that you find what you need when you need it, and in this year of constant change and dramatic, occasionally painful life upheaval, I indeed found what I needed: familiarity, comfort, and home. My summer has essentially been a rewind of 1982, minus my mother yelling at me to go outside and play.

3. This opener by Dwight Garner, in a review of Donald Hall's final book:

Donald Hall, who died on June 23 at 89, was not a particularly nimble poet. His verse had a homely, bucolic, beans-on-the-woodstove quality. He was more cabbage than tulip. To borrow an analogy from baseball, a sport he loved, he was the sort of batter who got on base thanks to walks, bunts, bloopers into right field and a good deal of hustle. He was a plugger.

In a single paragraph, why I love both Donald Hall and Dwight Garner.

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