It’s Not a Tumor

Alternate Title: Why Ed Shouldn’t Go to Sleep Before I Do Since I’ll Just End Up Cruising WebMD

A short list of things I Googled/decided I had after a leg cramp didn’t go away:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Gout
  • Avian Bone Syndrome
  • I’d like a really tasteful memorial but also there should be an open bar
  • Well, at least I’m not going to die in a changing room trapped in a too-tight dress. Or chained to a wall in a sex dungeon.

The more logical reason(s):

  • Tweaked something doing a lunge
  • Got up from the floor kind of weird while holding my friend’s newborn
  • Dehydration
  • Am old
  • OK, Christen, go to sleep now

But seriously, I CAN FEEL THE CLOT MOVING TO MY LUNGS.

37 Is the New 17

Like most nightmares, mine started with a trip to the mall.

Well, not the mall, exactly, but while shopping.  For the first time since adolescence, I feel really, for lack of a better term, self-conscious about what to wear.  I don’t mean what to wear for an interview or black-tie party (not that I’ve ever attended a black-tie event.  I’m not married to Bruce Wayne) but on a daily basis.  And it’s fucking annoying because I’m 37 years-old and have the means to buy nice things but I wander around stores unsure of myself and wondering if I’m too old to be in a certain store or if I’m required to shop at Talbot’s and look like Emily Gilmore and this is truly the dumbest thing to think about all the time and yet I cannot stop.  Maybe it’s not having a super strict work dress code for work so the lines are blurred between Business Christen and Weekend Christen so I can pretty much wear the same thing on a Tuesday and a Saturday?  Kind of like when I was a kid.  Maybe it’s working and making friends with people who are younger?  We go shopping and they suggest things for me and while my initial reaction is usually “Yeah, that looks good” I panic that I’m going to look like one of those women who is desperately fighting her age and clinging to youth and that is most definitely not a good look.

An additional issue: in the last eight months or so I’ve put on a fair amount of weight.  The combo of longer work days, happy hours with new fabulous coworkers, the abundance of food and snacks in the office, socializing which generally revolves around food (and wanting to explore new restaurants), AND not finding a new running group has resulted in a slow but steady creep.  I have started a new, sustainable workout routine and have been making better choices about food and portion control, but it’s going to take time to get back into a fair amount of my clothes.  In the meantime, buying new clothes has become a necessary chore because I can’t come to work in yoga pants. So I’m shopping in the middle of an identity (midlife?) crisis and not exactly psyched about it, or the body I’m dressing.  What could possibly go wrong?

So, yes: I am basically reliving my adolescence, only I can stay out as late as I want and buy my own booze.  Yay?

On Carpe-ing the Hell Out of the Diem

One of the things I love most about Ed is that he cares and likes to make things special.  He isn’t afraid to be spontaneous, but he likes to put some time and effort into researching things a little so we don’t, say, drive around a strange town aimlessly and have to eat at a Chili’s on Valentine’s Day and risk explosive diarrhea from the questionable nachos because someone is just too fucking cool to look into places or HEAVEN FORBID make a reservation like some square because you fancy yourself an artist who likes to layer irony over every interpersonal interaction or some shit.  Not that that’s ever happened to me with a previous boyfriend.  (It totally happened with a previous boyfriend.)

Anyway.  Ed: he cares.  I care!  It works well, actually.  Except when it means we are paralyzed with some idea of perfection that keeps us from actually doing things.

We’ve been in our new place for almost six months and have been purging and rearranging and organizing and decorating and generally trying to make it a comfortable home that we can open up to friends.  We have a good social circle here, and have continued to make new friends, too.  I mentioned something to Ed about wanting to have a few people over for dinner soon.

“But we don’t have any artwork for over the couch.”

“So? Is that necessary for dinner or drinks?”

“No, but I just want everything to look nice.  And be perfect.”

And here’s the problem: we do this a lot.  While it may seem like I’m calling Ed out, I fully acknowledge that I’m guilty of this.  Waiting until everything is perfect before doing something is innocuous enough – we’re talking about a dinner party here – but when I look around me I’ve been seeing the result of that thinking, that lifestyle, and it scares me.  We currently have three out of our six parents dealing with health issues, all to varying degrees of severity, but all serious enough that day-to-day quality of life is compromised.  And out of that three, two have operated from a “someday, at some point, after I accomplish XYZ” mentality and someday is here and now they can’t travel, garden, swim in the pool.  So why in the hell are we putting off a damn dinner party until we have artwork on the wall?

My dad is among the three who isn’t doing so hot right now; he’s at home and healing slowly. He is on bed rest primarily, which is maddening and frustrating and scary at times but we’re staying positive. Obviously, he isn’t able to participate in much, and while he’s hardly ready to tag out I see that he doesn’t seem to have many regrets. After his accident, he continued to ski, learned about sailing, and started SCUBA diving. Not to mention that whole had another kid thing. He hasn’t let age and circumstance stop him from doing what he enjoys and living life. We don’t always agree and our relationship can be complicated (isn’t that always the way with two stubborn people?) but damn it if I don’t admire that about him.

It’s quite a leap here, I know that.  Not to mention weirdly morbid to tell your spouse, “We should have people over because one day we’re gonna be old and our friends will be dead and we’ll regret the cookouts we DIDN’T have!” but seriously: life is short, we don’t tend to get healthier and more energetic with age generally, and there’s always going to be something that would make everything perfect, if not just a little bit better.

So who wants to come over for dinner?

I Assure You This Thing Is Still On

Warning: Writing About Writing Ahead

Hey Interwebs. I really miss writing here.  At one point I thought about trying to monetize this site, but my attempts at coming up with some sort of brand always fell flat and felt really forced. Ever since I abandoned that notion and decided to keep this up simply as a little outlet for whatever I feel like sharing, it became fun again.  Lately I’ve been wanting to post more; I open up a blank document and…stare at it for a few minutes, then close it down out of frustration.  Basically, I think we’re dealing with some good old fashioned writer’s block.  Ah yes, that fucking bitch.  As a writing instructor once told me: the best way to work through that is to work through that. Write SOMETHING.  Anything!  So you’re getting a cop-out-brain-dump-list and here’s hoping it opens up whatever is blocked.

  • My dad is in a skilled nursing/rehab facility after a week-long stay in the hospital for issues similar to what we were dealing with exactly two years ago.  While he’s a little closer to home, the level of care is somewhat concerning and it’s taking every bit of self-restraint for Judy and I to resist recreating the “GIVE HER THE MEDICINE” scene from Terms of Endearment when it’s clear the staff has no hustle.  Once again I’m so glad we moved down here because a.) a weeknight visit is not out of the realm of possibility and b.) my new manager has agreed that once he’s home but still requiring some care I can work from his house during the day once a week.  I am so grateful so this I could cry.
  • Both my brother and I have turned another year older.  He celebrated with a party at one of those trampoline places charmingly decorated with signs warning you that if you leave a quadriplegic YOU SIGNED A WAIVER, SUCKER while children you don’t know somehow manage to sneeze at you.  I celebrated by drinking all the wine in the tri-county area. The DeFazio kids know how to party is what I’m saying.
  • My left contact has been making me crazy today, like it wasn’t situated correctly. Upon further inspection it appears it has either rolled back into my eye socket OR I never put it in because THERE IS NOTHING THERE RIGHT NOW. I’m in hell.
  • I am continuing to enjoy the crap out of my job and being back in the Bay Area.  Every now and then I forget that yes, the traffic is awful and I find myself running late to an appointment even when I think I’ve left plenty of time but luckily shrugging and saying, “101 blows” garners instant forgiveness and understanding.  Also, there’s a Round Table Pizza two blocks from my office and all my pants are tight.  You do the math.
  • Right after my birthday I just sort of decided to… avoid Facebook. And lo, it is glorious. I hesitate to say anything about it at all since it’s such a non-announcement and “I don’t even have a Facebook account” is the new “I don’t even own a television” isn’t it?  A pretty good case of FOMO keeps me from deleting my account altogether and I love the birthday reminders, but if you recently announced something huge in your life and I failed to acknowledge it I’m not being a dick (this time), I’m just oblivious.

Since I sat down to write this the rain has started up (yay!), I’ve ditched my contacts for glasses (double-yay!), and some Round Table pizza made its way into my facehole (fuck yeah!).  Let’s do this team!

Keep an Eye Out for the Other Horsemen

My dad now has texting capabilities, thanks to the wondrous world of voice-activated texting.  I love my father deeply but if he keeps sending me messages referring to them as “hashtag texts” I will change my number or throw my phone down a flight of stairs.  Whichever is easier.

The best parts of this are that 1.) I imagine that he’s screaming the texts into the phone since he tends to do that when using technology and 2.) He’s not wearing his reading glasses so he has no idea that I’ve texted him back.  He has sent me two separate texts telling me I’m the first person he has contacted supports my evidence of that second theory.  Also: he has identified himself in each message, like I don’t have him in my phone AND HE HASN’T HAD THE SAME NUMBER FOR OVER FIFTEEN YEARS.

I also suggested he send Ed a text because why bother being married if you can’t drag your spouse into your family’s crazy?

No one better tell him about Twitter.

Take Your Vitamins

While on a walk at the Stanford Dish yesterday:

Me: “I think I needed some fresh air and Vitamin D today.”

Ed: “After this, I’m going to want some Vitamin B, if you know what I mean.”

Me, in not-an-inside-voice: “Do you mean boner?”

Ed: “What?  NO!  I meant BEER you weirdo!”

Me: “Sorry!  But you gotta admit that was a good one.”

Ed, high-fiving me: “That was a solid assumption.”

Second Shift

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces. – Bridget Jones” I nodded so hard I thought I’d give myself whiplash.

Maybe “fall spectacularly to pieces” is a bit dramatic in my case, but hear me out.

During my years of being somewhat underemployed in both a financial sense and as far as time and energy required to do my job, I threw myself into our home and family. And I enjoyed it! It only seemed fair that if Ed was bearing the brunt of the financial burden, the least I could do was make sure that everything under the roof he was keeping over our heads was in order. I worked four days a week with zero expectation of overtime, which left me with one whole weekday to run errands, make calls, be home to deal with repairmen, and so on. It made sense: I wasn’t the primary breadwinner, my job wasn’t deadline-oriented, and I had a little extra time to burn. Someone needs a ride to the airport? I’m on it! Forgot to get a birthday card? I’ll pick one up and make sure there’s postage on it. Need someone to brainstorm Christmas gift ideas and browse stores? That’s where I’m a Viking! And again: I did these things willingly. I’m confident that if the roles were reversed and I had the more demanding job, Ed would have done the same. My contribution was largely simply making life easier for Ed, and by extension, our families.

The accepted narrative within our families was largely that Ed – poor, sainted Ed – was saddled with this loser of a wife who didn’t have much of a career and certainly wasn’t adding children to the mix so of course she should be happy to pick up the dry cleaning! She should be happy that anyone wants her at all!

But now, I have a job that I not only love (seriously, it’s a revelation to walk into work without a sense of dread) but that requires more of my time and energy. Add in a slightly longer commute and my available hours to get stuff done is shortened dramatically. And while my earning power isn’t quite equal to Ed’s, it’s leaps and bounds better and we’re working similar hours. In fact, he’s had to wait for me on more than one occasion as I race to meet a deadline or talk with my VP. As cheesy as this sounds, I feel like it’s finally MY time career-wise. And I’d like to be afforded the space to grow and make my goals happen.

AND YET.

It’s entirely possible that I’m not being direct enough about what I need, but it also feels pretty damn obvious that if one area of my life is ramping up, another is going to need to take a backseat. And when I am direct about that need, I’d like the courtesy of the same understanding that I’ve afforded everyone around me for years. Which is: OK, I’ve got your back. You do you.

So while everything isn’t falling spectacularly to pieces necessarily, it feels like I’m failing in one area of my life where I’ve always felt like I had my shit together. It’s hard to celebrate my new success when the reaction I get is that I’m selfish or neglectful. But then I remind myself that I’m not asking for any more than I received before; I’m just asking people to maybe handle their own lives so I can focus on mine for a minute.