Is it me, or do people often lack self awareness when they make casually inaccurate statements as if they were fact? Things I’ve heard in the past month:
“You took less than 2,000 steps today? You have to take at least 4,000 steps a day basically just to be alive you can’t do that?!” Not only am I alive after taking only 1,500 steps for several days in a row, but I happen to know people doing a lot worse (including me) that are somehow still alive.
“You haven’t been to the gym in 7 days? That’s not good you need to get back there.”. Do people understand the definition of “need”? I want to get back there. I should get back there, but trust me I don’t “need” to get back there. I also wish that my life was so easy that not going to the gym was a call to action. Amirite?
Sally Steps-A-Lot can suck it.
Here is a story of things that have happened to me, and near me, that influence my perception of happiness and contentment (starting after age 18, before age 18 is off limits).
Buyer Beware: If you’re in the mood for a feel good story, don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.
I was asked early last year “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?”. I believe it’s the bad things that happen that give us perspective on the good things. People often describe me as calm or confident. Really it’s just that I don’t go into crisis mode over lost steps or skipped gym days. Side note: Is it better to be shielded from suffering and lose real perspective or better to suffer and have it? I often worry that my children will not have perspective due to lack of suffering… but I still keep them from suffering as goal #1. #BetterOffNaive
Near me… When I was in my early 20’s a close friend, S, had a sweet baby girl. She was the first of my close friends to have a child. I’m not really a “kid person”, but I cared very much about S, and her daughter was beautiful and brought joy to the lives of her parents. About 4 months after she was born, Brittany developed an infection. Infections happen right? I had no parenting experience at this time, although I did have a lot of experience caring for children. I had never heard of a child being hospitalized due to an infection. She was in Boston, arguably one of the best places to be if you are sick. The best doctors, the best care. Get some antibiotics and move on.
S called me about 2 days in saying her husband had to work and asked if I would come with her to her daily hospital visit. Of course! We drove to the hospital, laughing, chatting about how lucky she was to have a new Toyota Camry, me being jealous of her Toyota Camry while also being happy that I didn’t have a child, especially a sick child, to deal with. I could go home, eat pizza, drink wine and pass out… no kids!
We walked into the nicu (neonatal intensive care unit) and I see Brittany in a tall, plastic box. It catches me off guard a bit but I’ve seen this on TV and, so far, I’m ok. We get an update from the doctor, the antibiotics are not working but they are hopeful. We spend a few hours speaking to other mothers, I begin to realize that pregnancy and childbirth do not always end with a healthy baby. My life perception shifts.
The doctor waves S over, I start walking and the doctor asks me to give them some privacy. S says no, I can hear whatever she has to say it’s ok. They ask if her husband is here. She smiles and says no. I begin to realize we are about to hear bad news.
I stand up next to Brittany. The doctor tells us that her infection has spread to her blood stream. Her fever is at 106 and climbing. “When can your husband get here. She doesn’t have much time”. I look at S, she asks where the payphones are. I turn to the doctor then I turn to Brittany. Then I realize that I’m about to watch my friends’ daughter die. I reach out for S’s hand, I miss.
I wake up on the floor of the nicu. I have at least one broken finger and am completely disoriented. S is crouching down to help me up. She is concerned for my well being. She’s such a good mom and caregiver that she’s worried about ME right now. She hugs me. The doctor suggests I eat something. I admit that all I’ve had so far that day was a pack of orange Tic Tacs. I need a cigarette. S wants to get french fries. We go to the cafeteria. She keeps asking if I’m ok. I say yes and we eat fries. This continues for some time. We are both in shock but we don’t know that that is. We are 22 and 24. We are babies ourselves.
We finish the fries and we remember what’s actually happening. We find a phone booth and call her husband. He leaves work and starts driving to us. He doesn’t make it in time. I learned at 24 that funeral homes make coffins the size of a forearm for babies that die. I learned that pregnancy and childbirth don’t always lead to families. I learned that a 22 year old woman can turn from a happy, fun loving person, to an unrecognizable shell of a person.
How may steps did you take today? Who fucking cares.
To me… When I was 18 I took a bus from my college to spend the weekend with a guy I was dating in high school. It only took about 2 hours for him to completely annoy the shit out of me. I realized what I already knew, he was a dick. He was not a productive member of society and never would be. I missed my prior boyfriend who was kind and understanding. I decided to leave but I didn’t have a lot of resources.
I told him I was ready to leave, he said no problem he would get his mother to bring me to the bus station and go back to school. As he walked out of the room he grabbed the phone off the wall, walked out the door of the finished basement and locked the door. At first I didn’t realize what this meant. My mother is reading this right now saying What the FUCK IS THIS STORY. Don’t worry I’m ok.
After 2 days (no details, trust me you don’t want them) I convinced him that I needed to call school. Instead, I called my cousin Marjie. I had just a few seconds on this supervised call before I would be caught. I told her quickly what street I was on, what the mailbox looked like (it was some weird artsy animal thing) and that I was in the basement. About 15 minutes later I see Marjie’s blue sports car on the lawn, outside the sliding glass door of the basement. #BadAss Some people say Marjie is a bit much. The fact that she is a bit much is my favorite thing about her.
She comes up to the door with her acid wash jeans and mile-high, teased blonde hair, and tells the dick to open the door, or she’s driving through it. He doesn’t listen. She starts walking to her car. He panics, opens the door and I leave. I look back at him and he says “No one leaves me”. Marjie says “She does”. We leave. She drives me to the bus, I go back to school. In case you’re wondering how dick’s life turned out… not so good. Reason number 2072387 I’m not on Facebook. When I was, he sent me friend requests several times. Trust me dick, you don’t want me as your “Friend”.
You skipped the gym for 7 days? Yea… get over it.
This isn’t a real picture of Marjie, But I’ll be damned this looks just like her. Bad Ass People Unite.
I don’t see a lot of daylight in the winter, so I probably have a bit of seasonal depression. I promise to make my next few blogs a bit less dark and dramatic. #PinkySwear Spring is coming even if the groundhog is an asshole liar! 😉
To me… I was once electrocuted by a phone booth. I was on a main street in a wealthy community. I was 15 years old on a break from working in a bakery and as a cashier at a small store. The funny part is that I was more upset about peeing myself (I had a long, light brown hippie skirt on) than I was about actually being electrocuted. Only me. I yelled at the EMT trying to help me. Wait this was before age 18…. ok so one slipped through so be it. #NeJaimes
When I was 20 I was stabbed by the ex-girlfriend of a guy I was casually dating. She snuck into his apartment while we were sleeping, woke us up, and stabbed me. In the head. It was a flesh wound, I was fine. I actually convinced her to give me the knife, my first true successful negotiation. I think about it in work situations when someone asks me about my negotiation skills. I think well, I was stabbed by a crazy woman once, in the head, who snuck into my room at night and then I convinced her to give me the knife before she stabbed me again, so I’m pretty sure any sort of insurance related negotiations are going to be no fucking problem… like at all. #BringItMF
Near me… some time ago I received a group email from my friend James. She told a group of us that while she was 4 months pregnant with her son, she had cancer. Specifically a small cell form of lymphoma. My first response was to contact my friend who is a doctor at the hospital where James was being treated. Please set me straight so I don’t spiral. Her response was that the baby was unlikely to survive, and James was even less likely to survive, but she would speak to the doctor. This was not helpful.
I responded to James asking how I could help. She said she was fine. I asked James’ husband what I could do, not much but wait and see what we need. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. I’m a doer not a waiter. But I waited. Luckily, it turned out that my doctor friend was very wrong.
James ended up not needing me as much as I thought she would, or at least that’s what my side of the story looked like. James is ok. Her son is ok. I sent her a gift. I visited her son. I smiled and took pictures. I sometimes feel guilty that I didn’t do more. On the other hand I feel embarrassed that I spent so many nights having panic attacks or worrying about what was happening without telling anyone, or telling James. Would it have made her feel better or worse? My world view is generally “stay strong”. So I chose that. To James, I thought about you every day then and I think about you every day now. You are one of my favorite people. You should know this even if I don’t always act the way you need me to. Side Note: I should have trusted my instincts and invited myself to your wedding dress fitting. #SeparatedAtBirth
The same person who asked what the worst thing is that has every happened to me also asked me what the best thing is that ever happened to me. I immediately answered, “That’s easy: Being born in a first world country”. If that’s not me, I don’t know what is..haha.
Other best things (not in any particular order and not a complete list):
- Bub winning her first singing competition at age 12 ($1,000!)
- Gia talking in full sentences when she was only 1 #WTF
- Graduating from undergrad, then grad school.
- Bub coming into my room one night when she was 5. I was crying and she came in to comfort me. When you realize that your kids are good people, life is good.
- Healthy baby Maximus
- Meeting Dirk Benedict (the only time I was ever speechless)
- Listening to Not-Tom-Brady and the kids laugh upstairs while I’m working downtairs
- Finding our home last year.
- Watching my daughters, almost 6 years apart, laying on the couch hugging because they love each other.
- Being able to afford fried chicken and rice krispie treats whenever I want them.
What have we learned? Steps matter, but they don’t. Know your audience. Know the difference between “need” and “want”. Don’t be a dick.
Do we do our children a disservice by protecting them from suffering or is that our purpose? Even if we do, would we be capable of imposing suffering on them to change this consequence? … Deep thoughts…