Hi. I’m almost 40, and I don’t know what I want to do with my life.
Well, the rest of my life. *Shudder*. That makes it even worse.
Those adorable blogs with witty hipsterish people making money waxing on and on about the mundaneness of their pitiful lives? I did that. A fucking dozen years ago. I should have had better timing.
Those people in the well-fitted suits with the gleaming hair and remarks that slide easily off their tongues, that cut like fresh razor blades? It’s too late to do that. You can’t start doing that at 40.
Those academic professors, their noses in books and their eccentricities on display for all to admire, and mock too, but mostly admire? I didn’t do that. I kind of wish I did, but I didn’t. And like the suits, it’s too late for that, too.
That’s what sucks about not having figured your shit out when you’re 40…it’s too late to start so many things. Even the whole “another year will go by whether you do this or noo-ooot” thing aside. There’s just not an extra decade to spend paying your dues in there any more. There’s. Just. Not.
Those authors in their awesome clothes, smart and funny and sweet and self-effacing? I want to be one of them, I think. But I’m not. Yet. And I’m having trouble figuring out how to get there. And it doesn’t actually pay, probably. Maybe later if I’m lucky. But that’s not exactly helping now, is it?
I get it. It’s all right there, all dripping in obviousness like obviousness is mayonnaise and you didn’t actually want mayonnaise on whatever you ordered. I have to keep plugging away at that last one, or find something else, or maybe both of those things together.
But mostly I have to keep plugging away. Not get lost in my other random “projects”–like keeping myself sane or planning family vacations or selecting the best summer camps or finding a private school we can afford to send our son to.
I guess I can’t really stop doing those things, though. So now I have to do them both. Them all. Everything.
I wish that felt less overwhelming than it does. But…right now it doesn’t. (But if I have VSG surgery, maybe I will magically no longer be overwhelmed with shit? Right? HAHAHAHAHA)
So, tomorrow is the day.
Well, not the day. Nothing like that. I guess. But tomorrow is the day I have my first appointment with an actual, honest-to-god bariatric surgeon at an actual, honest-to-god bariatric health center. Or, “center for weight management and weight loss surgery”, as it were. So I still have to finish filling out my Initial Patient Assessment. I shall call it my “patient ass” for short.
Most of what I need to fill out is pretty straightforward. Are you fat? Do you have severe health problems? Are you prepared? Do you like to eat too much shitty food? Do you have comorbidities that will make it easier for us to get your surgery approved through your insurance?
The stuff that I’m stumbling over (well, not exactly stumbling because it’s not that I’m afraid to fill it out, it’s more that there’s a lot of it to fill out) is the personal weight history area. First, there’s a spot for some of your life events and what you weighed for them. Of course, there’s only one there for marriage. What if you had a starter marriage, like me? What if you started to get fat in high school when you got freedom to buy food and love and support and then you kept getting fatter until the relationship you were in then ended in divorce and then you got thin again and kept being thin for a good several years until you got into another relationship and started getting fat again?
(Why do I get fat in relationships? Or at least, in some relationships??)
Anyway. There’s not a space for that. Maybe the other parts are the important parts. Or they just ask you to fill in the gaps yourself.
The other part that is hard is the “dietary history” section. And by “dietary history”, they don’t really mean “dietary history” but dieting history. As in, your personal history with self-deprivation in an effort to be thinner, to take up less space. And there’s this lengthy list of different diet programs and a spot for you to indicate “when” you tried them, for how long, whether or not a doc supervised it, how much you lost, and how much you regained.
The problem is, there’s just one slot for each diet. I guess they assume that people with weight problems were smart enough to decide that something didn’t work and to never try it again. What’s funny is that that never, ever occurred to me until I got this chart with each diet only listed once. Then it was suddenly like, DUDE! You mean I could only have done Weight Watchers ONCE?!I I could have tried something different?!? WHOA.
Maybe that would have been the way to go.
But I didn’t, although I’ve tried different diets on their list. I mostly kept either doing my own thing, or doing it with Weight Watchers. And I guess that’s sort of the definition of insanity, right?
So anyway, I’m planning to make up a little excel-type spreadsheet and list the information separately. Like a good little anal-retentive weight loss patient.
I’ve been watching more YouTube videos of sleevers lately (look at me with the lingo!), and I have to say, the videos are much better somehow than the message board I’d been haunting. People seem far more real, far less crazy, and far happier with their results. Of course, a big part of it is actually seeing them and hearing them talk, and being able to SEE what they look like after the weight loss. But it’s more than that, too. They eat like almost-regular people, they go on vacations, they live and exist! They don’t just sit around posting on a message board! Which maybe, if I’m being honest, is partly what I was afraid of. That and dying. Or living a totally miserable life post-surgery.
So the videos have been not only reassuring, but encouraging. There’s this refrain of “This is awesome, this changed my life for the better, do this!” that’s pretty contagious. And honestly? I think I’m starting to lead towards the doing of “this”. That is, the having of the surgery. Which is big and weird and scary but also exciting. And I don’t want to be sick or have excess skin or die or any of that, but I also DO want to be able to RUN and walk all day and feel comfortable in my body again. I want, like one of the video diarists said, for who I am inside to match who I am outside. And it doesn’t, now.
What about the changing? Everyone talks about the profound ways in which you change, how you lose some friends, get some new friends. I’m hoping that that’s true only to a certain extent. I mean, I’d like to think that as I’ve grown and matured, that I’ve done a better job of surrounding myself with people who are real and supportive than maybe I did in the past. I guess we shall see, one way or the other.
So, I’m off to make a spreadsheet. I guess. Eeep.
So. I made an appointment.
I should qualify that. I made An Appointment.
That thing where the words start to look like they aren’t real words at all, can’t possibly be real words, as they swim and spill into each other and stop making sense on the page and instead look like a jumble of some sort of alphabet soup.
But anyway, I made an appointment. At the local hospital’s Weight Loss and Weight Loss Surgery Center. I bit the bullet, as it were. And I’m not really sure yet which bullet I’ve bitten. My doctor did suggest them, although she suggested their Nonsurgical Weight Loss center. But I got an email from them because I took their online seminar. (I had just missed the in-person one by a few days.)
So they’ve got a nonsurgical weight loss center. My doc said they’ll write you prescriptions (oh HELL no) and have you work with a nutritionist and a personal trainer and all sorts of stuff. Except I strongly don’t know about that. I mean, it’s not like I am this clueless person who doesn’t know how to eat, or doesn’t understand that chicken fingers are not a healthy choice. Hell, it’s not like I even eat chicken fingers. And it’s not like I’ve never lost weight before. I have. It just apparently (seeing as how I’m way up here at this weight again) just never STAYED off.
But I also am not exactly saying that it’s all a waste of time, just cut me open and take out or rearrange parts of me. Yikes!
I’m not sure what I’m saying. I guess I’m saying that it’s time for a change, and I’m taking a more definitive step TOWARDS that change. And what happens next, I’m not sure about. Hopefully whatever it is will be good and not lead to me 1) gaining more weight, 2) dying from a PE, 3) dying from ANYTHING, 4) remaining fat, 5) not being able to eat normal food, 6) dumping, 7) any other awful side effects, 8) being generally miserable.
I loathe general misery, don’t you?
And now I’m falling asleep at the laptop screen. Sheesh. I think being afraid of having sleep apnea is hella worse than actually having it.
I made a quiet observation today. It’s probably not earth-shattering, but it was interesting to me because I hadn’t ever exactly acknowledged it before. In all my years of being a Self-proclaimed Strident Feminist, I had somehow glossed over this particular angle. And it’s this: Men in cars are aggressive to women in cars.
Sounds simple, even obvious. Doesn’t it? But after an aggressive move by a Man In A Car (I’ll call it a MIAC just for simplicity’s sake) yesterday and then another today, I was sort of primed to note them. And then I thought about it, the aggressiveness of MIACs. And I wondered–is their aggression unequally directed at women, rather than other men? Or at least, at assumed women (both of the situations I’m thinking of involved men in a Typical Manly Vehicle–a jeep and a truck–and me in the minivan).
So here’s what happened. Yesterday, I was driving home by way of a road near my home. It’s a two-way street, one that has cars parked on both sides. It’s a slow-moving sort of street because of the parked cars and because there’s not too much room between stop signs. So yesterday, when I got to the stretch of road where cars are usually parked, a jeep (wrangler) was coming the other way. No biggie–there’s plenty of room for his jeep and my minivan between the parked cars. Except as we passed each other, he hung his hand out the window and flicked me off.
Usually that kind of thing would piss me off. But yesterday, I somehow didn’t let it. I even watched him in my rearview mirror as he pulled into his driveway (ostensibly, on the same street!) and didn’t give in to the gentle temptation to follow and confront him. Who cares? It was a stupid thing to get angry over.
But I thought about it a bit more as I turned down my road, how this unwarranted aggression is part of driving around. And I wondered if women get more of it than men do. I mean, in this particular case we were fairly equidistant from the “middle” of the parked car area–it’s not like he was halfway through and then I gunned it to meet him in the middle. But for some reason, his assumption is that I should pull over and demure to him, Mister Manly Driver Guy in his Frat Boy Vehicle. (Nevermind that there’s room for both of us in any case.) Would he have flicked off another man, driving in a big SUV? Or a sports car? Or a crappy old lowrider Acura?
Cut to today. As I was leaving the dermatologist’s office, I was navigating the winding, low-ceilinged parking garage when I accidentally drove behind a guy in a truck who was just staring to back up. Now, this was my bad. Totally. But it wasn’t intentional or even that I wasn’t paying enough attention–it was just a matter of the angle of the drive and the tightness of the parking garage. But he flapped his arm at me in an aggressive “WHAT THE FUCK?!” move.
Not a big deal out of context, I guess. I mean, I’m not exactly going to be shitting my pants over it and feeling scarred. But his attitude, to me, speaks volumes about gender and control. His assumption that I was either a stupid woman driver or a selfish bitch is part of that. And neither was true–and I even shrugged in the apologetic way you utilize in these situations. “Sorry! Totally my bad!”
But it still happens. And now that I’m seeing it, I’ll probably always see it. Men and their “get out of my way, small stupid woman! I want something!!” attitudes are everywhere, including in cars.
I have an appointment with my doc today. Nothing too exciting, just my annual physical. You know, that thing that I strongly believe everyone should have? That. I had actually forgotten about it entirely until a reminder letter arrived in the mail (seriously…a reminder letter?! What is this, 1967?).
So it’s in a few hours. Of course, in the last few days I’ve been eating more-or-less healthfully and avoiding things that are too high in fat or salt (well, except maybe for the pizza I made last night…but it was pizza I made, so I’m assuming it was better than delivery pizza). Sort of like how you floss right before going to the dentist. As if you can undo all the damage your neglect has done by being especially virtuous in the days leading up to your appointment.
Actually, I don’t even know if she’ll be running any labs for me today. I suspect not, since I had her do my lipid panel last year because I was all crazy with the anxiety. And it was good, so probably no impetus to run it again. But still, cover all the bases just in case. Don’t want anything to be too high.
But here’s the thing–my weight. My past appointments when I’ve talked about it with her, she’s been relatively supportive of me and my eschewing of diets, saying things like “Your weight hasn’t gone up.”. And now…(drumroll, please)…it has. Fuck.
It’s gone up and someone is going to weigh me and write my weight down and then it will be real, even more real than it is right now with me stressing over it every waking moment. It will be, like, super-real. Or something.
The thing is, it’s silly for me to stress about it. The appointment being now is actually great. GREAT. Right? Because now I can broach the subject of weight loss surgery with her. And my weight being up is a pretty natural lead-in. Right? So that’s good. But…I don’t feel good about it. I feel heart-poundy and nervous. Which is silly. I guess maybe I feel like talking to her about it is a sort of point of no return. But it’s not, obviously. I don’t have to have surgery if I don’t want to. And if she doesn’t support the sugary and I do want it, that’s Ok, too. It could probably still get approved without her.
I guess part of it is just saying it out loud, with a medical professional. “Hi, I’m fat. I feel out of control and miserable with the fatness. I’m thinking I’ll just go ahead and have them cut out part of my stomach. Cool?”
Part of it is probably also that I was looking at a site last night sponsored by Realize (the makers of the awful gastric band that no one gets anymore because it’s so awful) and it had statistics. The statistics were mostly good–but the mortality in the first month statistic scared the shit out of me. It was over 5%. Is that right? Could I maybe be misunderstanding?! Because that seems really high. “Hey, this surgery could make you skinny(er). If you’re not one of the 5 percent that die in the first month because of it!” It feels like playing a game of Russian Roulette to me…and I guess if I’m being honest, in a way it always has. Gambling with my life.
Vinnie would probably say something about how there are increased risks with being obese, too. But the thing is, most of those are In The Future to me. You know, they’re things that could kill me younger, but probably not for at least 20 or 25 years. Whereas surgery could potentially kill me…soonish?
Terrifying. But again, maybe I misunderstood the statistics. Because it does seem really high. And of course it incorporates everyone, including people who have the surgery who are 400lbs or unhealthy or with dangerous co-morbitities. Right?
I’m really not sure why I’m so keyed up about this appointment. It feels big and scary and like a turning point. And it is, but maybe it’s in a good way. I’m acknowledging that I am unhappy with my weight and want to change it. And that’s true! And it’s the first step towards ACTUALLY changing it.
Also, ironically, I have to make enchiladas for someone who recently had a baby today. “Here you go! Something relatively unhealthy! ENJOY!!!!”
It’s going to be Ok, right? I mean, sheesh, it’s just a silly doctor’s appointment. With my PCP. That’s ALL.
Bryce is being stifled at school. I know this. It isn’t even a question of whether it’s happening. The question has become how badly it’s happening, how much it’s going to affect him in the long run, how long we can allow it to happen before we step in and do something drastic.
He comes home with papers with nearly everything correct, a red slash here and there but mostly the red check marks that his old-timey-shoulda-been-a-nun teacher uses to indicate correctness. He scoffs at it all, how ridiculous it is that he had to do it. He refuses to read the books that are sent home with him–unless it’s to Juniper, because she is little enough to appreciate how babyish and easy they are. And, with the sickening feeling that’s been present since the dawn of time when a teacher first didn’t like a student, I feel annoyed and resentful. Why isn’t she handling this? Can’t she see how creative and amazing he is? Why is she putting red “wrong” slashes through the extra things he writes on his tests because he has extra time after finishing them? Why isn’t she giving him creative tasks? Why do they have assigned seats at lunch? Why why why???
And now, his behavior at home has finally reached a tipping point. A “we aren’t able to deal with this any longer” kind of tipping point. A “we are in need of some sort of intervention” tipping point. The screaming, you have no idea about the screaming. How much of it there is, how long it can go on, how easy it is to incur it. It’s gotten worse, like a thing he’s holding back all day that has no choice but to erupt violently at night. And he says, sadly, “I don’t want to go to my school any more. My school isn’t a good fit for me.” So sad…to have that realization at age 7.
We think he’s bored and frustrated. We think he needs a different school experience. We think he’s better suited to a school that really nurtures his creativity, his kindness and curiosity, and doesn’t tell him he needs to sit down and shut up and be patient while the rest of the class catches up with him. And there are so many schools like that around here!
The problem? They come with a steep price tag.
There is one school I think would be a particularly good fit for him–a school aimed at more advanced or “gifted” students (he’d have to have an intelligence test administered to qualify at all) that allows them to be creative and participate in self-directed learning. It also costs about half of what most private schools around here cost.
The problem? It’s still $14,000 a year. And we have two children. And we can’t very well tell Juniper to go screw if she ends up needing/wanting a better school experience.
Can we afford it? Probably. At least, for just Bryce. And there’s a not-small part of me that is so enamored with all of it–the idea of being part of a non-trashy, intelligent school COMMUNITY where Bryce wouldn’t be expected to shrink to fit the mold cast for him any longer. Would his behavior improve? Would he thrive? It’s totally worth it!
But $14,000 a year. We aren’t even properly saving for retirement. Or college.
I could go back to work! (I kind of want to. But I kind of don’t want to. And I don’t want to do that ‘just’ to send him to private school. But would it be worth it? Shouldn’t I do it anyway?)
We could swing it! (But it would be tighter…maybe fewer “non-school” experiences, fewer vacations, fewer fun things, more belt-tightening. I hate belt-tightening.)
What about other schools? (I should check them out. But the parochial thing gives me pause…)
I’m just at a weird loss right now. I’m not sure which way to lean. I’ve begun the process of having him tested for a “disability” through school (essentially, something I’m doing because it opens the dialog and gets him free testing), which made me feel like I was violating him somehow. “Hey, kid, I know that you’re probably just advanced and insulted, but how ’bout you hang out and let people make sure you’re not mentally challenged? Or don’t have ADHD or a brain injury or something? Cool?” Ugh. But it’s a first step, at least. Maybe we’ll luck out and be able to get some results this school year (although the Sp. Ed. dept. seems to doubt it…). Maybe we’ll have to spring for an intelligence test elsewhere and use that to open a dialog. Maybe a dialog is beside the point. I just don’t know. I’m barking up all these trees at once, not sure which one the cat is in, or if I even would be able to chase it if it were in some of them.
Also, I’m making funny metaphors. So there’s that.
I’m a lax-ish parent. Not in the care way (well, I hope not, anyhow), but in the behavior way. Just this morning, my son told me to shut up more than once. Here’s the thing: he was in a full-fledged fit of HANGER (hunger + anger) and it’s not worth fighting him on it, on any of it until he actually consumes some calories. Here’s the other thing: I don’t actually care if he says “shut up” to me. Really, I just don’t. It doesn’t really bother me. I mean, I am a grown-up, and I therefore realize that him telling me to shut up doesn’t mean in any way, shape, or form that I will actually need to shut up, so it means about as much to me as if he said “Sprout wings and fly around the earth 46 times while wearing a loincloth!”.
But I know I’m supposed to “not allow him to speak to me that way”. So I feel a little guilty and like a shit parent when I do. Which is stupid, because I actually have the right to parent however I choose. Maybe it’s left over from being brought up in such a restricted, miserably southern and uninformed area? I’m not sure.
Also, I don’t care if he curses. Just as long as he doesn’t do it at me. We do actually punish him for that. You can say, “FUCK!” when you drop a glass and it breaks. You cannot say “FUCK YOU!” to someone. Not that my kid actually says fuck, but you get the gist.
It’s a balancing act of sorts, parenting is for me. I find myself having to check myself to discover, really understand, a lot of my knee-jerk parenting reactions. Is it something that there is a good reason for my children to adhere to, or am I just being a control freak? I try very hard to stick only to the first one. You see, children are actual human beings who have the right to a certain degree of autonomy, I believe. So if my kids want to stand up while eating, or eat with elbows on the table, or sleep in clothes instead of pajamas, I try not to let it bug me. Or, I allow it to bug me a bit, but I try not to react and tell them not to do it.
Most people aren’t like me. I get that. Well, I get that they’re not. I don’t really get why. I mean, is demonstrating your control over someone younger and more helpless than you really so crucial to parents? Ooooh, I’m so impressed. Someone you could literally beat to death easily does your bidding. Oooooh! Ok, maybe that’s going too far. But…I don’t know. So much of what people “expect” from children seems to fall into the category of Stupid Human Tricks. “Yes Ma’am”. Sitting with knees under the table. Not eating unless a parent says it’s Ok. Keeping your room clean (as in, sparkling clean, not safely clean-enough). Stupid shit like that.
I think I mostly adhere to the Partner Standard, honestly. I expect my kids to treat me the way I treat my partner, or how I would treat a friend. Would I tell a friend how to sit? No. Would I say “yes sir” to my husband? That’s a FUCK NO. I wouldn’t actually say “yes sir” to ANYONE unless I was being ironic. Would I tell my husband to shut up if I was angry with him? Probably, yep. In fact I’m pretty sure I have. Would I hit my husband or friend? Nope, that’s why that action gets a time-out or worse.
Interesting, working that all out. It sounds like I mostly just treat my children as human beings with their own rights and agendas. Which is how they kind of should be treated, right? So why does it feel so…controversial to me to not give a smack-down for saying “shut up”?