April 2013 archive

The Bandaid Rant

band-aid-300x183I’m a big believer in the fact that we baby our kids waaaay too much. It’s why God gave me a boy first…I never could have handled a girl. I would be all sweet and dainty with her and I hate that shit.
Abe licks concrete. He doesn’t notice when he’s bleeding. Last night he walked into the living room from the back yard and threw dog poop at me. That’s not an exaggeration of that story. It is exactly what happened.
So when he falls down I’m all, “Walk it off, son.”
And when he falls down, he gets a “boo-boo.” I started noticing other kids with boo-boos lately. They all get bandaids. I couldn’t figure out why Abe never asked for bandaids until a girlfriend asked me for a bandaid for her little girl. She wanted a pink one. Or one with Hello Kitty. And you know what? I don’t buy those, so I was a total let down to her kid. All I had was normal bandaids. Abe doesn’t even know what colorful bandaids are, and for that I got the mom-guilt and worried that he might be totally missing out because I never bought Dora the Explorer bandaids.

AND THEN I REALIZED WE’RE TALKING ABOUT BANDAIDS.

You know what bandaids were when I was a kid? Pieces of brown plastic. They weren’t some flexible plastic or, better, fabric bandaids. They were just plastic with adhesive on one side. That sticky part wasn’t just a nice, Hey I’m going to stick to your skin to cover your wound until you’re ready to take me off, kind of sticky. Bandaids stayed on my body through showers and the swimming pools until someone in my family decided to RIP it from my body, taking a decent amount of skin with it. Removing the bandaid was worse than the initial offending boo-boo. There were no “antibiotic” bandaids. My mom squirted the antibiotic directly onto my boo-boo and then slapped the bandaid over top it, so if it stung I had no way to scratch or blow on it. And the color of the bandaid, a weird not-found-in-nature brown wasn’t near the skin color of anyone I knew. It’s not like it blended in so no one would notice my boo-boo. Essentially, bandaids were brown duct tape with a small, scratchy, bathroom paper towel. 

Bandaids were a status symbol when I was a kid. Those things meant that shit went down, and you wore them for WEEKS to remind every kid in the neighborhood that you didn’t just fall off that bike. You were PUSHED. If it was a big boo-boo, Your blood seeped through so everyone could see this was an injury, not some, “I fell so my mom arbitrarily tossed an Elmo bandaid in the general region of the pain despite my never having broken the skin.” Kids stopped and asked. “Hey, what happened to your knee?” And a lot of times the answer was so horrifying, you couldn’t even tell them except to say, “I was in the woods…”

Now we have every Tom, Dick, and Harry starring in their own selfies on bandaids everywhere. Barbie has a bandaid. The Cat in the Hat has a bandaid. SPONGEBOB SQUARE PANTS HAS A BANDAID. And kids everywhere NEED bandaids now because it no longer serves any real purpose. It’s just like a sticker, only one that showcases their weakness and constant need for external validation.

So you know what? I buy the plastic, cheap, sorry-ass bandaids for 99 cents and when Abe says he has a boo-boo, I look to see whether or not there is enough blood to make it to his sock and ruin one of the few pairs with both socks still in our possession before I run for a bandaid. Otherwise, I just wipe the blood off with a leaf and we all move on.

Yes, and…

keep_calm_and_say_yes__by_pikachu1452-d5bpojsThere’s a rule in the theatre that they teach you in your very first acting class (or at least they should if they’re worth their salt).
I called it, “Never say ‘no’.”
Others call it, “Yes, and…”
The rule is there to remind you that no matter what is happening on stage, you say, “Yes.” If someone runs into a scene shouting, “A fire! A fire! Do you see the fire?!” and you say, “No. There’s no fire,” the communication, the interaction, the scene is completely dead with no where to go. Even the finest of actors can’t fully recover from someone simply cutting off the momentum of a conversation. Sure, they can fire back with, “Well, obviously you can’t see the fire because you’re blind!” But no one in the audience buys it, and even if they try to suspend their disbelief, they don’t really care anymore what happens in the scene. “No,” is a very powerful word.

Lessons I learned in school, specifically earning my theatre degree, all seemed very limited to the stage at the time I was learning them. Boy I hope I get discovered and taken straight to Broadway because I can’t use any of this crap for any other career. And when I was unemployed and searching for a job, I lamented all the degrees that were doing me no good and the debt I’d accumulated looming over my every purchase. It was about that time that my now business partner said to me, “Your degrees are in your DNA now. Whatever you do, you’re using them.” I brushed that off, despite it’s nagging true-ness, and continued searching for the job that satisfied whatever preconceived idea I had about what my degrees should give to me.

Well, damnit if he wasn’t right.

When I got right down to it, I was using all the lessons and information I learned earning my degrees everyday in weird and crazy ways that I only noticed after he brought it to my attention. The lesson I learned that I apply to my life as a mom lately is the, “Yes, and…” rule. It is possible to tell my son, “No,” at least 30 times a day:
No, don’t touch that.
No, you can’t run here.
No, stop eating that.
No, we’re not watching Dora again. Ever.

My son can do so little for himself, by himself, that he has to ask me for things all day long. He has to ask questions all day and make comments all day in an effort to learn. And recently, after a very typical day with a two-year-old, I started counting the No’s I gave in response.
There were a lot. A LOT. And I hated it. I hated saying, “No,” to my son all day, even when it truly was something that for safety’s sake he simply could not do. While I thought about that, I remembered, “Never say ‘no’.” I tinkered around in my brain with how to use my improvisational skills to get around using that word all day long.
So, I started small. I was driving Abe to school and I turned left. He shouted, “Mommy! I want to go that way!” and he pointed in a direction opposite the school. I bit the, “No” off the end of my tongue and replaced it with, “Yes.”
“Yes,  Abe. Yes, and we can go that way. When I pick you up from school this afternoon, we will go that way! We can go that way!”
Silence. (For those of you with toddlers who ask questions or make demands, you know silence is almost shocking.)

“Mommy! I want a popsicle!”
“Nn…Yes. Yes, and you can have a popsicle as soon as you take three, big bites of your dinner. Ready to count?”
“Yes! Yes, mommy! Ooooone, twoooo….”

“Mommy! I want to wear socks.”
I was working when he asked me. Two choices: Say, “No, not right now,” or lose my train of thought and go get him socks. Option three? “Yes, and you can go choose a pair of socks or you can wait a minute for mommy to finish working.”
Guess what? He got them himself.

It’s a pretty simple rule, and I like simple. Very little thought has to go in to this idea other than to replace all the No’s with some Yeses. It’s a muscle I have to stretch and use in order to gain strength in the area of Yes, but it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. If I want my kid to grow up to say, “Yes” to life, I have to say, “Yes” to him.

No Pants

abephoto (2)Because my best friend has cancer and my cousin got married and my mom had knee-replacement surgery, I thought it would be a good time to start potty-training Abe.

Aren’t I cute?

Truth be told, I put it in the calendar 6 months ago that this is when we’d start, not knowing half of what life had planned for me, and I couldn’t let a day go by without checking off my list. We’ve decided to do the pantless version of potty training. Whenever Abe is at home, he wears no pants. This, I assumed, would be the greatest treat of his life seeing as how getting diapers and pants on the dude is like putting a necklace on a ceiling fan. When he got home from school Friday afternoon, I took his pants off and reminded him of where all the pottys were. He agreed and promptly climbed onto the dining room chair and peed on it. Like, a full bladder of pee. On my dining room chair.

“Oh, I put towels and plastic all over everything for a month,” my friend texted when I sent her the horror.
Things that would have been useful to me yesterday…

After that, the rest of Friday was a breeze. He peed in the potty 3 times and even stood up frantically, announcing, “Oh no! Potty!” and made it all the way to my bathroom to go #2. So, needless to say, I felt pretty confident that potty-training was over and he got it within 5 hours.

The next morning he pooped next to his train table.

“Abe? Where do we poop?”
“Next to the trains.”
“No, that’s where you went but it’s the wrong place. Where do we poop?”
“By the train table, mommy.”
Sigh.

Soon after the pooping by the train table incident, Abe decided he preferred pants. He asked me every 15 minutes if he could please have pants and a diaper. Had I know that leaving him pantless for 24 hours would have cured his hatred of both pants and diapers, I would have done this a year ago. I gave him socks and a long-sleeved shirt because I started having mom-guilt that maybe he was cold. He made it to the potty several more times throughout the weekend before pooping the largest poop of his little life all over himself and our shag rug, probably because he’d held it in for a day and a half. It was the most disgusting experience I’ve had thus far as a mother.
Oh, and we had friends over for dinner.

“How’s the potty-training going?” my friend asked a few days later.
“I abandoned it. I couldn’t do it all at once.”
“Thank God,” she said. “If you didn’t stop, I was going to kill you.”

So, I got some validation that it was time to let go of my plan to have the perfectly potty-trained little boy and I got the diapers back out. And maybe we’ll try again next month. Maybe we won’t. But either way, we’re getting a new rug.

 

There is Where We Keep The…

This is the first of a new series called, “This is Where We Keep The…” It will document life with a 2-year-old and where we keep certain things based on his preference.

 

This is where we keep the oven mit.

photo (1)

The Little Voice

Ok y’all. Diggin’ deep.

White FlagThese past weeks have been awful. Plain old awful. There is no end to the challenges I’m being given. A mother with a major surgery and I as her full-time care nurse. A two-year-old child (enough said). A beautiful friend with cancer who I can’t spend enough time with. A job, a marriage, a house. Oh, and adopting a child. I worry about doing all of it, dropping one of the balls. What if I forget to deliver a pain pill? What if I forget to defrost the chicken? What if I can’t finish the blog I started writing? And the adorable old adage, “God doesn’t give you anymore than you can handle,” can bite me. White flag. I surrender. Stop the madness.

So yesterday, I surrendered. I surrendered to laundry. To unknowns. To dirty floors and not enough groceries. My mom’s physical therapy and making her meals. Doing the laundry sucks even when I’m surrendering.

While I surrendered, I listened. I paid attention to my thoughts and anything else flying around up there. And boy there were a lot of them. I had brain reminders, stickie notes, to do lists, poster boards, phone calls, text messages, grocery lists…a lot of information and things to remember, and no one else in my life with a pen and pad of paper, it seemed.

I sat down, folding laundry (again), and I turned on an interview with Eckhart Tolle. He said that if something during the interview resonated with me, it was because it was my consciousness hearing a message I was ready to hear. Wasn’t that nice of him? So, I listened on and off. And here’s the one thing I heard that made me stop folding socks (perfectly) and listen: “You know that little voice in your head? You’re are not that voice. You are the one who is aware of it.”

Holy. Shitballs. Ma.

All these things I’ve been worrying about, panicking even?! They’re not real. They’re little thoughts I decide belong in my head and then I worry about them all day long. How dumb! That voice isn’t even me! It’s the voice I made up to sound like me so I’d have someone to talk to. (Or, as Eckhart calls it, it’s my ego.) I’m not in charge of all these things I tell myself I’m in charge of. Other people can bear the burden with me and that doesn’t make me any less of a woman or friend or daughter or wife because THAT’S JUST WHAT THE STUPID VOICE IN MY HEAD WAS SAYING. IT’S NOT EVEN MY REAL VOICE.

So suddenly, people started stepping up to help me. One friend brought me wine and chocolate. Another sent me encouraging words. Another didn’t even know anything was going on with me but called because she felt like I needed some love. My sister-in-law bought me a case of gluten-free cider beer. A friend texted me a bunch of suggestions for orthopedic healing I could share with my mom. And tonight, another friend is kidnapping me for mani/pedis and drinks. Surrender to what IS, and the universe delivers what you need.

 

 

You Do Not Have Children, A Rant

no-childrenI can now knowingly and with a good deal of embarrassment look back to my child-less days and recall all the times I decided I knew things that the parents themselves didn’t know. I would say things like, “Just let him cry,” and, “Don’t give him a choice,” or, “If you’d just do timeout he’ll stop doing that.” I assumed that whiney children came from inept parents and that screamy 2-year-olds were the result of an overindulgent infancy. I figured that any household containing more than 5 toys also contained parents who didn’t know when to say, “No,” and that ANYONE who couldn’t figure out how to  vacuum at least once a week didn’t deserve floors. I found parents who didn’t return the shopping carts to the shopping cart bins in the parking lots to be selfish, and those who drove MiniVans because it was, “So much easier,” to be lazy. I judged moms who didn’t do their hair and dads who wore socks with flip flops. I wrote off parents that didn’t call me back or return text messages within an hour. And if I saw one more 5-year-old eating chicken nuggets when the rest of the family was eating a regular, healthy meal, I was going to report them to DCFS and happily retire to my quiet, childless abode.

So, as a parent of a two-and-a half-year old who was once not a parent like you (and you know who you are), let me tell you something – Shut up.

You do not have children so you don’t get to feel flustered when you come over and there’s no place to set your purse. Move something. Or, better yet, clean something.
You do not have children so there is no room in my life for your comments about chocolate/dirt/I’m-not-totally-sure-what-that-milky-substance is on my child’s face. If it bothers you, wipe it.
You do not have children so you do not get to tell me to just go to bed earlier when I say I’m tired.
You do not have children so you don’t get to sigh dramatically when I can’t meet you for drinks in 3 hours.
You do not have children so you do NOT get to roll your eyes when I panic that he cannot find his NECESSARY-FOR-LIVING Blue Blanket.
You do not have children so you can’t judge what my child is eating because he’s EATING it and that’s all I effing care about.

I could go on. And I will.

You do not have children so you don’t get to flippantly look at me when I tell you I haven’t been to the new, fancy, hipster restaurant in town and say, “Will you just let me take care of him while you go?” (BECAUSE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE ROBOT WATER IS, DO YOU?)
You do not have children so you don’t get to suggest that it’s time to move him to a Big Boy bed because otherwise he’ll want to sleep in a crib “forever.” “Forever” includes “16” which is when he’ll be sneaking out of the house, so I’m pretty sure he’ll figure his way out of the crib before that.
You do not get to make a face when my child screams loud enough to pierce your eardrums, repeats the same four words over and over again for 27-35 minutes, or when I’m changing my child’s poopy diaper. Unless you’ve lived in my house and experienced any of the aforementioned scenarios for at least 6 months, you don’t have enough points to make a face.

And last but not least, you do not have kids so you never get to utter with sarcasm, “Oh, I don’t have kids so I must not know what I’m talking about.” Someday, when and if you are blessed with children, you will eat those words in the form of infant pee, poop, or vomit directly in your mouth. Nor do you get to say to me, “Oh, you’re using your child as an excuse.” Let me clear up that little misnomer. My child is my excuse, yes. For one, bringing him to your fancy dinner party would result in hollandaise sauce on your nice curtains and my anxiety level reaching the ceiling  breaking through it, and traveling so high in the sky that no amount of Xanax can bring it down without ongoing talk-therapy and some kind of spiritual awakening. Not to mention, if I use my kid as an excuse even when I know showing up would be bearable or even fun, I’m allowed to. I earned that right when I pushed a child out of my body and stayed up with it for 6 straight months.

If you do not have kids, find some friends who do have kids and offer to play with them while the parents fold some laundry or clean a dish. Agree with the child that purple is yellow and continue coloring the same circle on the paper 700 times while singing, “Wheels on the Bus,” so that the parents can go to the bathroom. Laugh when the child pretends to tickle your finger nails so the parents can eat lunch. And if you catch yourself judging or suggesting things to the parents, stop and apologize and compliment them on what a great job they’re doing. Because we might forget to feed our kids lunch, but we will NEVER forget the day you told us not to let our kid stand up in the shopping cart the SECOND you get pregnant.

What do you Want?

The other day I was standing in the kitchen, confused, having completely forgotten why I walked in in the first place, and my mom asked, “What do you need?”

Hm. What. What do I need…

I thought for a moment before I came to my senses.

“The salt,” I replied. “I need to find the salt.”

What do I need? The question stuck. I’ve been so used up, so exhausted for so many weeks that I’ve lost my ability, my will to take care of myself. I have no idea what will make me happy or make me feel good because I can’t even spare a moment to think about myself. So as the question floated around my mind, I decided to spend the next two mornings writing in my journal, as I do every morning, asking myself the question, “What do I need?”

At first, of course, the answer was, “Nothing. I need nothing else to survive. I have a lovely life and a wonderful home and family. Other people have real needs. I’m fine.” So, at the risk of cutting my writing time very short, I rephrased my question. “What do I need to be happy?”

I started a list: I need laughter. I need to cook. I need to write. I need to see my son smile and kiss his belly everyday.36287261d9d5d68859856a5e81e19904 I need to share joy and happiness. I need help, support, strong friends who know what to do. I need to ask for help.

Then I kept going, changing my list from What do I Need? to What do I Want?

I want to work in the garden. I want to take more naps. I want to spend more time studying the authors I love. I want to go to a tanning salon. I want to get a manicure and a pedicure. I want a personal trainer to come to my house and make me work out four days a week. I want space in my day to think and space around me to move. I want to dye my hair crazy colors and get more tattoos. And I want to move to Austin, TX.

I stepped back and took a look at the Need List and the Want List.
Why are they so different? Why can’t I have both? What is it that stands in the way of me and my dreams, really?

Me. I do.

I’m the only one who tells me I can’t laugh, or cook, or write, or get more tattoos. I can do all of that. Of course, tons of crap happens in a day that interrupts me. A crying 2-year-old, a puking Boxer, a husband who, “Can’t find the…” But I can tell everyone I am going to a tanning salon on Saturday, I can tell them that Tuesday nights are my nights to write, I can take the time to kiss my baby’s belly and reach out to a friend who might need me. All the things I want, I can make happen. I just can’t wait around for someone else to make them all happen.

What’s your Need List? Your Want List? Take one piece of that list at a time and think about how you’re involved in making it happen. And in the areas where you’re not involved, go ask for what you need/want. Don’t be afraid. Don’t feel guilty. Ask for it!

If a friend asked you for help, would you deliver? I’ll bet you would. You might be surprised who actually wants to help you.

Running

0415-Boston-Marathon-kenya-defending-champ_full_600Just hold it together, Cohen. Hold it together.

I repeated that over and over again for about 15 minutes. I was standing in an empty hospital room, had been for a little over 2 hours, waiting for my mother to be rolled in after surgery. The small TV hanging near the window showed me the same atrocities over and over again. The sound was coming from the remote control attached to the wall, not really loud enough to hear. And I guess I didn’t want to hear it anyway.

Three hours prior, after setting up shop in the family waiting area of the same hospital where Abe arrived, I heard, “Salem?” I hadn’t even gotten a chance to work yet before they called my name. It had only been an hour since I watched them roll her in to surgery, and my first thought was, Oh shit. Something went wrong.

A frumpy woman came around the corner repeating, “Salem?” until I shouted, “Me! That’s me!” She discouraged me from gathering up my things but something told me leaving a MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and my mother’s living will in a crowded waiting room didn’t seem like a really freaking good idea. Frustrated, she walked away as I shoved everything into my purse and grabbed all three bags beneath the table. I awkwardly ran back to the front desk and Frump pointed me towards a short, portly guy near the back door. He waved me on and passed me through to a small “consultation room.” These are the room where they tell you your loved ones have died. At least, that’s the only way I’ve ever experienced them.

“Is she ok?” I asked.

The guy had no idea who my mom was or what her surgery was. It wasn’t his job. All he said was, “The doctor will be in very soon.”

I waited for 15 minutes. I flipped through an entire Jacksonville Magazine and half of some sporty magazine, holding my breath every time I heard someone walk by, until finally the doctor appeared.

“Great. She did great. Everything went well.”

“Oh, thank God! When can I see her?”

“You can just go to her room and wait for her there. Here’s her room number. It should only be an hour.”

I got directions from a woman in the hallway and ran to my mom’s room about 15 minutes later. Only 45 minutes to wait. So, I figured I’d turn on the TV and watch a Dr. Phil. Right about the time I sat down in the chair, my phone beeped with a news flash. “Multiple deaths reported in Boston Marathon explosions.”

What?

I flipped through the channels until I found a news station. And then I watched. I watched for 45 minutes until I thought my mom would be coming in. I watched for another hour, waiting and watching. I wandered up to the nurse’s station to ask where my mom was, and they told me it would be another half an hour, so I wandered back. And I watched. I watched for almost an hour and a half. And by the time I heard a bed rolling down the hall long enough to assume it was coming to this room, I put my hand on my hip, took a deep breath, and repeated it. Keep it together, Cohen. Keep it together.

I don’t know how anybody keeps it together on a day like yesterday, or today. Or tomorrow. I don’t know how we manage to stop replaying the images in our heads. I don’t know how I stop seeing the blood, or the people lying on the ground. I don’t know how to stop imagining I was there, or Abe was there, or our family was there celebrating a great American pastime. I don’t know how after cancer, a surgery, and an attack on our country that I can even continue to function for more than a few minutes at a time before fighting back tears. Never mind tragedies and horrors unseen and unspoken that happen everyday; when a country is rocked, the energy rushes through us all like a tidal wave and we all feel it. We all feel like we’re there, or want to be there. And nothing feels safe or good or normal.

I guess what I’m saying is, there is no positive spin I can put on anything today. It makes me feel sorry, sad, like a failure when I can’t do that, but I have to push those feelings of guilt away so they don’t compound the issue. I’ve been trying to outrun the pain and tragedy and fear of the past few weeks. I’ve been running for a long time. My chest is heavy and my brain is full of things I can’t unsee and I can only pray that when the fog clears, I’m able to remember the good.

 

Little Changes and Twisty Paths

small-changesNothing makes me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing more than a thoughtful, unexpected email from my 10th grade Chemistry teacher. So, when I got a message from him this morning, telling me he reads my blog and then sharing his own thoughts with me, I had to sit on it all day to digest the fact that my Chemistry teacher thinks I’m old enough to talk to like a grown-up. See? The 30s are weird.

He told me about his own writing, and about the little things that changed the course of his life.

 

His life.

I love hearing about other people’s lives. Their families. How different real family and real life is from what we assume it is all supposed to look like. I won’t share the intimate details of my Chemistry teacher’s life, but let’s just say it didn’t start with a perfect marriage out of college that ended in 2.5 children, 5.7 grandchildren, and a casual, low-key retirement in a Cadillac. For one thing, he rides a bicycle everywhere.

Yesterday in the dentist office, before she accused me of getting a nose job, the dental hygienist started telling me tiny pieces of her life. She mentioned her son and his wife were trying to get pregnant. She mentioned she just celebrated her 25th anniversary with her husband. Then, she mentioned her first husband left her when her son was a year old. She told me she remarried and couldn’t have more kids. She told me she had to leave her husband of 15 years for over a year when her son turned 19 and told her that he hated his step-father and wanted nothing to do with him. She told me they reunited and have never been closer. And how she lost her father, her husband’s mother, and her sister all in one month last year.

Imagine how confused she was in her 30s.

So after hearing about her life and remembering that everyone’s life goes through crazy twists and turns, and then getting this message from my Chemistry teacher about the little things that can completely reschedule a life, I decided to realistically map out what led me to where I am now, maybe in an effort to figure out what I’m doing…

If my dad hadn’t of died when I was 7, I never would have moved to Florida. I never would have gone to college in Florida and met my husband. I moved in with my college’s technical director after I graduated and one night, agreed to go grab a bite to eat with his parents after watching the shuttle take off. During that dinner, his dad offered me a job directing my own children’s theatre in Iowa. Without that job, I never would have ventured out on my own without an “I can’t” button to find out what’s possible. If my friend hadn’t of gotten married while I lived in Iowa and randomly, accidentally invited me to the wedding, I never would have reunited with my husband to subsequently move to LA. Without LA, I never would have learned what it meant to dream beyond limitations of money. I wouldn’t have gone back to school and, again, pushed myself to the limit of what’s possible. Having gone non-stop for 4 years, I wanted to slow down, which is why I agreed to move back to Florida when my husband suggested it. Without moving back, I never would have started a blog to keep in touch with old friends. I never would have sat at the dinner table with my sister-in-law while she was pregnant and hear her tell me I should hurry up and have a baby. Without those words, I never would have tried having a child yet. I wouldn’t haven’t known that I couldn’t get pregnant and I wouldn’t have had access to the incredible and affordable doctors who got me pregnant. I never would have had my Abe. I never would have taken a job working from home for a small, start-up writing company as an admin person that turned into my full-time, amazing job. My life would be completely different.

What’s your weird, twisted life story so far? What little things led you there? How is your story different from everyone else’s but, in a way, would make everyone else feel more normal about their own lives? If you feel like sharing it so we can all look around and say, “Oh. It’s wasn’t just me,” send me your stories and I’ll post them anonymously.

I Did Not Have a Nose Job

Pinocchio_nose_growsI had to go get a set of x-rays at the dentist’s office today. Apparently you have to get a full set of x-rays every 3 years when you’re a grown up, and they take about 20 pictures from 10 different angles. Do you know this? I didn’t. And I just had it done 3 years ago.

Anyway, I laid on the light blue “leather” dentist chair while the hygienist swung the giant camera all around my head, rushing out of the room every time she snapped a picture to ensure the deadly x-rays didn’t poison her. As soon as she’d taken the 20th picture, she sat down next to me with the tiny silver hook and the teensy mirror and told me she’d put my x-rays up before “we polished.” This, of course, meant nothing to me, so I just tried to take a nap.

After she felt she’d scratched enough of my teeth with the tiny hook, she stood up and retrieved the x-ray pictures from the other room. “Everything look okay?” I asked as she walked back in with all the little pictures.

“Everything looks normal so far!” she responded.

“Great.”

“Oh, neat. You can see the wire here,” she casually mentioned.

“The wire? What wire?” I asked, assuming there was some kind of wire in the camera or in the large piece of metal she put in my mouth in order to take the x-ray.

“This one.” She pointed to what looked like a little stitch, tied in a knot, in my face. “See it?”

“Yeah. I see it. What is it?”

“It’s a wire. Or something. Whatever surgery you had there.”

Crash cut to my brain scanning my memories for a facial surgery.
Nope. No surgeries found.

“I haven’t had a surgery on my face.” I stared at the x-ray and I couldn’t argue that something was planted in the front of my face on the x-ray picture.

“Well, I mean, it’s there. It’s a wire or something from a nasal surgery,” she said, continuing to arrange the pictures and write things down.

“But I haven’t had a nasal surgery.” I propped myself up on my elbows and focused my eyes in on the picture. It looked like a tiny nail, a little knotted nail there in my face, just floating there.

“Oh. Ok. Well, it’s there from whatever surgery you had there in that area of your face,” she said, obviously suggesting that I’d had a surgery I wasn’t being honest about.

“Like, my nose? That part of my face? I haven’t had a surgery there,” I continued.

“Yeah. Ok. Well, it doesn’t matter. No big deal,” she said as though I was the fourth person to lie to her about a nose job that day.

“No, I mean, wait. I haven’t had surgery on my face. Have I?” Re-scan: Are there any surgeries I had on my face? Can I think of anything? Surely I would remember a surgery on my face. I mean, I’ve been really tired for a few years, so maybe I’m just not thinking of it in the right way or maybe I blocked it out or maybe it happened while I was sleeping…How do I have a wire in my face and not know why it’s there? I have to convince this woman that I didn’t have a nose job! Is there like a lie-detector here or something? LAUGHING GAS. Doesn’t that make you say honest stuff? (Literally, these are the things my brain was thinking.)

“I’m not sure what surgery you had but it’s there. It doesn’t matter,” she continued making notes, undoubtedly about the fact that I was lying about a nose job.

“Yes it does! It does matter! I didn’t have surgery! I didn’t have a nose job!” I shouted. She chuckled. “Look at my last set of x-rays. Do you have them? Look at them. Is there metal on those?”

She opened up and file and after just a few seconds said, “Hm. No. It’s not on there. So, it happened in the past 3 years since your last set of x-rays.”

“What happened?”

“Your nasal surgery.”

“I HAVEN’T HAD A NASAL SURGERY!”

“Ok, well, the doctor will take a look at it and let us know what it is.”

“When? When will the doctor look?”

“Tomorrow when he’s in.”

“Is there anything we can do today? I don’t really want to sleep on this. I mean, something is in my face! What’s in my face?!” I started getting hot. There is a weird, foreign, metal object twisted in my face and this woman thinks I had a nose job done by a nail-wielding monkey. The hygienist sighed.

“Sure. Let me asked Barb.”

Barb is the receptionist. Yep. We’re calling in Barb to take a look at my x-rays.

“Hey Barb, what does that look like to you?”

“It looks like a wire from a surgery,” Barb replied without missing a beat.

“WAIT! This is freaking me out! I did not have a surgery! No surgeries on my nose. I didn’t have a nose job. I SWEAR TO GOD I DID NOT HAVE A NOSE JOB.”

It was quiet in the room for a moment while my eyes darted back and forth between the two women, intent on convincing them (and myself) that I did not have a nose job. Until…

“Oh. You have a nose ring. That’s just your nose ring showing up on the x-ray,” Barb casually informed me before chuckling and walking out of the exam room.

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?? I’ve spent 15 minutes panicked that 1) I’d completely forgotten about a nose job I had sometime in the past three years and, 2) There was a piece of metal in my face I didn’t even know about…only to find out that I was looking at an x-ray of my NOSE RING?!

And that’s what happened today. This is real life.

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