I spent last Thursday-Sunday in Chico to help my mom out after her shoulder surgery. The procedure itself went very well and her surgeon (who’s really cute so I’m glad I wore a dress and touched up my lip gloss) is happy about how she’s healing and said it went better than he expected. As much as I’d prefer to visit my parents under less-stressful circumstances, it was nice to get some alone time with them. I mean, I love that Ed gets along well with them and he’s clearly the son-in-law of their dreams, but there was something comforting about being our little three-person comedy troupe like when I was a kid. It didn’t take long for us to slip into old inside jokes and dated pop culture references. And my mom was in rare form, offering up some choice quotes.
- “You look like a Mexican wrestler.” – Upon seeing me in a Tony Moly sheet mask
- “Look, I’m a known entity so fuck you if you don’t like me.” – In response to peer feedback at work
- Dave: “What if use some Grecian formula?” Mom: “What if I Grecian divorce you?”
- “Is he/she a millenial? I fucking hate millenials.” – In response to me telling a story about anyone remotely annoying
- “Are you wearing sunscreen every day? You’re starting to look wrinkled.” – First thing in the goddamn morning, thanks
I really don’t have a point here other than documenting this for any future competency hearings and also to let you all know where I get this sunny disposition from.
This morning I had blood drawn as part of some tests my new doctor ordered just to get a baseline on my health and make sure all systems are functioning. The orders on the labs for today called for an Ovarian Assessment Report, which makes it sound like we’re trying to figure out if they qualify for AP Calculus or something. I have been endlessly amused by this and sure hope they’re good enough to get into a state school.
To add insult to injury (the injury being the fact that I had a NEEDLE in my arm and got a lecture from the phlebotomist that I shouldn’t be afraid of my own blood which is NOT HELPFUL and also I’m 38 so let go of the hope that you’re going to change me, OK?) I couldn’t get the bandage off my arm and had to enlist a very nice coworker to rip it off so now the entire office heard me scream and then burst into hysterical, embarrassed laughter. It’s only Wednesday but I feel like I’ve really given it my all this week in terms of behaving like a toddler.
This week I’m playing a super fun game of “Mentally Ill or Just PMSing?” which means someone needs to take away my ability to make any grown up decisions.
The other night while watching Wheel of Fortune (what? shut up) I screamed, “OH WELL AREN’T YOU SO FUCKING SPECIAL” at a contestant who was talking about mountain climbing so clearly I’m crushing it at this life stuff. I’m also considering selling my ticket to see Beyoncé next Monday (QUEEN BEY) because I feel too old to go out and I don’t fit in with the people I’m going to the concert with (all lovely, all basically 17 years old) but also…Beyoncé. So, I’m trying to put a pin in the temptation to turn lemonade into lemons over here.
My mom was in town for work and stayed with us last night, but it puts this pressure on me to leave the office so I can let her in and, you know, spend time with her. Which I love! But it’s harder to do that now that my job isn’t a strictly 8-5 gig where I can pack up and leave everything behind and can absolutely predict my schedule at all times. I want to spend time with her but also? I kind of need the space during the week to be able to keep growing this career and be perceived as a valued member of the team, not someone who clocks out at 5. It’s like the Cat’s in the Cradle over here and I feel awful.
My newest pet peeve is when I ask about a deadline for a project and I’m told, “Whenever you get to it” or “No rush” so I let projects that do have deadlines take precedence and then someone randomly asks, “Hey, is that done yet? I was hoping to have it today/tomorrow/three days ago.” Just…give me a fucking deadline. You’re not doing anyone favors by trying to be “hey whatever man” when you know you need it by a certain day.
In slightly less unhinged news, I’m starting from zero and on day two of running again. It’s slow but it’s something. I think tomorrow I’m going to suck it up and start the Couch to 5k program just to make sure I don’t injure myself and maintain a sustainable schedule. It’s a little discouraging starting from scratch, but not being able to fit into half my clothes is more frustrating so here we go.
Ed and I have been together just over seven years now, married for five and a half of those. I KNOW. We are surrounded by young colleagues who are getting engaged left and right and it’s really lovely to see how excited they are and sit back and know I will never, ever have to plan another wedding again. Amen.
Anyway, these bright-eyed youngsters sort of look up to us as a couple who is Doing It Right. (High-five, Ed!) And while this is really sweet and flattering I don’t really know what to say when they ask me for my tips and advice for a happy marriage. I mean, first of all, five years isn’t that long and I know we haven’t faced a lot of the rough stuff life is going to throw our way. Although a friend did point out to me we have dealt with a fair amount of bullshit and upheaval in a relatively short time and we haven’t let that kick our asses too hard so maybe we’re on to something? But I still feel weird speaking with any sort of certainty or authority when asked for advice. Do these people not understand what an incurable dork I am? And that I think it’s hilarious to yell “scrotum” when my niece is on the phone with her boyfriend? Pretty sure literally anybody else on the planet is more qualified to give advice on such a major life decision.
The first thing people usually ask is if I like being married, which I do, and they’re always shocked to learn that before meeting Ed I had very little interest in it. Like organized religion or neck tattoos, it seemed to suit other people fine but it wasn’t my jam. My usual answer is, “I like being married to Ed” because for me it’s more about the other person and the quality of our relationship than the institution as a goal in itself. So yeah, I’m a fan, but only under very specific circumstances.
One of Ed’c coworkers asked me during a happy hour outing, quite sincerely and practically ready to take notes, for my advice my advice on a successful marriage. I made some joke about keeping the wine cabinet stocked but then I thought about it for a minute and realized that all my knowledge was based on how Ed and I operate, our values, our personalities. So I told him to ignore advice from other people because if I followed someone else’s plan for a happy relationship my head would spin from all the conflicting bits of wisdom thrown my way over time. He seemed relieved by that, and I hope it gave him some comfort to know you don’t have to have some sort of perfect plan in order to be OK, and it’s probably not super healthy to try to model your relationship after anyone else. There are lots of happily married people out there, but I wouldn’t necessarily be happy with any of them.
So my genius advice was “don’t listen to other people” and now I’m basically relationship Oprah. Where’s my money?
The title of my autobiography.
Dear 18 Year-Old Christen,
First of all, good job with the sunscreen. KEEP IT UP. You won’t regret that and all the girls who showed up to prom tan look like handbags now.
I feel like I need to quickly assure you that your life is going to be great. It looks almost completely different than what you’re imagining right now (some of your timelines and expectations are, to be blunt, fucking bonkers) but it’s really the best and you are happier than you thought you would be. You go through some wild stuff to get to this point, but it’s worth it.
I don’t want to give too much away, but please, please listen to your instincts when it comes to…pretty much everything. People are going to tell you you’re doing a lot of things “wrong” and it’s tempting to listen to them. But your path and your life are different from anyone else’s. Don’t settle and don’t talk yourself into doing what everyone thinks would be best. They may seem like they have it all figured out, and although they mean well, they have their own shit to figure out and are putting their neuroses on you. You’re doing just great and every mistake you make leads to this life you’re living right now.
You could stand to drink more water, though. Maybe work on that a little.
38 Year-Old Christen
PS You’re going to wake up this morning with a zit. DUDE I KNOW.