It’s grey and rainy and my back hurts and I need a shower and I have some Adult Problems with Only Expensive and/or Scary Solutions, so my brain has been looking for a dopamine fix even harder than usual today. ADHD does, after all, generally come with a built-in sidekick of dopamine deficiency. For me that deficiency gets kicked into high gear when I feel like I’m struggling with something or feel uncomfortable in some way. I have been both struggling AND uncomfortable lately, so that explains a lot.
Here are some places I haven’t managed to find any dopamine today:
– in my coffee cup (neither tea nor coffee)
– in half a chocolate bar
– in a bowl of cereal
– in a burrito
– in a handful of trail mix
– in Medieval Dynasty (a video game I’ve been playing lately)
– on social media (which is weird bc social media is basically engineered to reward people with dopamine pellets but it’s not working on me at the moment)
– in work (that’s one of the things stressing me out so no surprise there)
– in conversations with real human beings (although I’ve been talking to my non-preferred humans (ie: coworkers) rather than actual friends so that’s probably the issue)
I think movement is going to be my best bet for getting some kind of go-juice into my brain today, but it’s hard to muster up much enthusiasm for that when my body hurts. The idea of hurting myself even further via exercise gone wrong also makes me very anxious, which further saps the juice reserves.
What I really need is to just suck it up, break the seal, and do some of the Adult Things so that they’re not hanging over my head anymore. It sounds so simple to someone without ADHD, I know…but trust me, breaking that seal is a real challenge sometimes.
Last night I had a dream that I was on a rock in the middle of a huge body of water.
Not an island, but just literally a bare rock. Big enough to stand up and walk around a little bit…probably like 10ft by 8ft, tops.
There were other similar rocks around in the water, and I had this deep understanding that I really needed to get off my particular rock and on to the other ones if I wanted to live. But the other rocks were all just far enough away from mine that I’d have to get into the water and swim to between them, and the water was so, so dark and murky, and seemed incredibly deep (swimming in deep water has been a life-long fear of mine, even in clear water where I can see the bottom).
I kept thinking I could see sharks and other scary things zooming around under the water out of the corner of my eye. The water felt very very unsafe to get into even though I understood that, if I didn’t get in and get to the next rock, I’d eventually die there on my rock.
I’d love to be able to say that I mustered up the courage and jumped into the water, got to the next rock and the next, and on to better things…but I didn’t. I just sat there being petrified until the dream changed to something else.
And I’m not sure anyone could come up with a more accurate-feeling metaphor for my life, to be honest.
The pandemic has taken so much from so many people. Loved ones, jobs, homes, schooling, friends lost to disagreements over public health policies that have no damned business being politicized and yet continue to be. So, so much. And I have been so incredibly lucky: my job immediately and smoothly transitioned to fully remote and my employer has no interest in forcing anyone back into the office, and my husband’s job takes swift and proactive measures to keep everyone as safe as possible. Hubs and I were able to get vaccinations relatively quickly and easily. Neither of us had bad side effects from the vaccination. Neither of us has caught the virus so far (although that’s not fully luck as we are very, very careful). My folks got fully vaccinated and are conducting themselves relatively responsibly despite their having quaffed their fair share of the right’s thoroughly tainted Kool-Aid. Almost all of our friends and extended family have been pro-vaccine, pro-mask, pro-safety, pro-the-greater-good.
I have very, very little to complain about.
And it’s not that I’m complaining, exactly. It’s more of a…reality check? A personal “coming to Jesus” thing, but in slow motion, and without actually involving Jesus because I’m not Christian?
Basically what I’m trying to get at is that the pandemic has been showing me a lot of things that I should be grateful for, but it’s also been shining a big-ass spotlight on some themes in my life that I had not been previously picking up on. And that’s something to be grateful for, too…the opportunity to do better for myself. And having these realizations while I’m still relatively young means I’ve theoretically got time to work on things.
But I’m on that rock, you see. And the next rock is just over there, but there’s so much deep, dark water in between. And every time I turn my head I’m pretty sure I see a shark…
A few weeks ago…ok, probably a month ago? I’m bad with how time works. My brain reads hours as minutes and weeks as days more often than not.
Let me start over.
A month or so ago, I’m pulling out of my driveway when my neighbor flags me down. Our individual driveways merge into one small road that goes out to the main road, so we see each others’ comings and goings fairly regularly. I roll down my car window and smile.
“Hi there! What’s up?”
“Did’ya know your tail lights are out?” His voice is gravelly from years of heavy smoking. He’s got about four visible teeth in his mouth, presumably due to the same.
“Oh no, are they?” I had no idea. I’m never in back of the car when it’s running, let alone braking.
“Both of ’em. The one in your back window is working, but it’s small. Better get those fixed before you get hit,” he says sternly.
“You bet. Thanks for the heads-up,” I say. We pull away and continue along down the drive.
Of course I instantly forget about the tail lights.
A week or so later, he flags me down again, this time headed into our driveway.
“Tail lights still out,” he mutters. His rheumy blue eyes betray that he’s more disappointed than he sounds. And he sounds pretty disappointed.
“I know it, I meant to stop in at AutoZone and get them fixed but I’ve been busy, and then I forgot, and…you know how it goes. But it’s on the list, I promise.”
He nods and waves me along. As we pull up to park, I say to my husband, “You watch. One of these days he’s going to get sick of my shit, come fix those tail lights, and not even tell us”. We chuckle and don’t think much more of it.
This afternoon I’m sitting here working and my cell phone rings. It comes up with the neighbor’s name so I answer it.
“Hello. Your keys in your car?”
“Uhh, no. Why?”
“I was gonna come over and fix those tail lights.”
“Oh, I’ve got an appointment at the garage next week, I was going to have them do it then.”
“Not safe to drive around without ’em. I’ve got the bulbs and the tools. I’ll come do it for you real quick.” And then he hangs up.
Well. No sense arguing, I guess.
He’s maybe 15 years older than me, but he looks much older. Decades of heavy drink and smoke will do that to a body. He recently had part of his pancreas and stomach removed, spent six weeks in hospital, and was out mowing the lawn in ten-minute bursts within a week of coming home. Once he was feeling better and moving around more easily, he started in on trimming back the limbs along the shared part of the driveway because he wants to have it widened and re-graveled this fall. His flower garden is extensive and immaculate. The man truly doesn’t know how to be idle.
While he’s here fixing my tail lights, he notices that my tires were really worn down. I say I was kind of putting off replacing them because I’ll need to buy snow tires soon enough anyway and I don’t really want the expense of buying two sets at once. He leans down, brushes the dirt off the sidewall of a tire and reads out the size.
“195/65 R15. I think I have a set of used ones in that size at the shop.”
“Oh! That would be great, I’d be happy to buy them off you.”
“Used. They wouldn’t cost you anything. You couldn’t run them a whole season, you’d still have to buy a new set come spring. But they’d get you through inspection and last you ’til you get your snows put on.”
“Ok, well…let me know, I guess. My inspection appointment is Thursday.”
He nods slowly, then starts walking down the driveway, back toward his house.
“Hey, what do I owe you?”
He turns his head halfway back over his shoulder as he continues walking.
“Nothin’. It was just a couple lightbulbs. See ya.”
So I guess the moral of the story is, if you’re forgetful and not good at car maintenance, get yourself a mechanic neighbor with a lack of boundaries and a generous heart.
There’s a route I drive twice a day, pretty much every weekday. I drove it regularly many years ago, then I switched jobs and didn’t have to drive it for like ten years. Then my husband switched jobs and we had to drive it occasionally but usually went a different route. THEN we bought a house south of the towns he and I work in and we started driving the route literally every day. Then the pandemic hit and I started working from home but my husband is still learning to drive so he doesn’t take the car by himself, so I am still driving (or riding, if he’s driving) this route twice a day, pretty much every weekday.
It just occurred to me right now as I type that this information would probably be stalking GOLD if someone were motivated to hunt me down. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not going to become an issue. If I somehow end up getting famous and stalk-worthy at some point, I’m going to need one of the six of you that actually read my posts to remind me to come take this one down, ok? Ok.
So, on this route that I drive twice a day, pretty much every weekday, there’s several traffic lights. One stops at a highway off/on ramp, one stops at the entrance to a local high school, one stops near a bunch of sprawling manufacturing type buildings, and one stops at a cross-street that comes down from between the high school and a big medical clinic. That street passes in between two financial institutions on its way to the intersection. Those two financial institutions are where our story takes place. Sort of. Mostly it takes place in my head, but…you know.
One of the financial institutions is a credit union. The other is a small branch of a big regional bank. Both these places have big light-up signs with digital read-outs that flash back and forth between the time and the temperature. As an aside, why is this a service that banks specifically feel is important to provide? You never see a gas station or a McDonalds or a chiropractor’s sign flashing up the time and temperature in 2-foot-tall digital characters. Why have financial institutions taken up that mantle? Was it some sort of package deal that came along with the mini calendars banks give out every winter? Was the sales pitch to early bankers something like “here’s the thing: you give them a calendar to take home so they know what day it is, but if they wanna know the time or what the temperature is, they’re gonna have to come to…you guessed it! YOUR BANK!” These are fully rhetorical questions, by the way. I very much do not want you to email me the history of American banking. I know that of the six of you reading, at least three are unrelenting pedants, so I just want to make sure I’m very clear on that.
Get to the fucking point, Shelby. Jesus.
So these banks are right across from each other, separated by just a narrow two-lane side street. They both have the digital signs. The clocks on both digital signs are always the same.
But the temperature is not.
And it’s not just a degree or two of difference. You know, something you could attribute to maybe a passing breeze or a rogue shadow. No. The temperatures are a full SIX DEGREES different. And it’s not just an occasional thing. The one on the south side of the street is always six degrees colder than the one on the north side. I have driven by these banks, on average, 500 times a year (twice a day X 5 days a week X 50 weeks per year to account for vacations and whatever), for at least the last two years. That’s at least 1000 trips past these signs just in the last two years. Do I notice them every single time we drive through there? No. But every time I DO notice them, which is at least several times a week, they are ALWAYS six degrees apart.
And it bothers me. Clearly.
Now, rationally I know that it’s probably just due to difference in the sensitivity and/or location of the sensors. I have a rough grasp of science and I can accept that. What I have a harder time accepting is that likely the people who work in both of those buildings simply don’t care about this difference. They have probably noticed and just accepted the fact that one thermometer, less than 50 yards away from another, is reading a FULL SIX DEGREES different. I bet it doesn’t make their teeth itchy. They may, in fact…not even notice! I am mystified by this.
Instead of letting it gnaw at me that the temperatures are six degrees different for no good reason other than human ambivalence and/or possible electronic malfunction, I’ve made a decision: I am choosing to believe that the six degree difference is due in fact to a small furry rodent that has found its way into the space that holds the temperature sensor, and made itself a lovely cozy home there. Maybe it’s a clever red squirrel with bright eyes and a nice big cache of acorns. Maybe it’s a whole big family of tiny voles who each raise the temperature near the sensor just part of one single degree because they’re so wee. Maybe a possum squeezed its trash-smelling, tick-eating, screaming-at-their-own-ass heart of gold in next to the sensor for a long winter’s nap. Who knows.
All I’m saying is, this is how I’m coping with it. Things feel a little easier to handle if you can come up with a reason for them. Which is how we ended up with religion, of course, and look how THAT turned out. Hey, maybe my calling in life is to start a possum cult. Our central rituals could be going around to local banks to calibrate the thermometers on their digital signs, and screaming at our own asses because we exist.
Have you ever been cleaning out your closet (or, let’s say, putting away giant piles of laundry that may have accumulated on the guest room bed ) and found a zip up hoodie that you hadn’t seen in maybe years and you can’t imagine why the hoodie got taken out of regular rotation because it’s not stained up or damaged in any way and is a totally acceptable color and seems really comfy so you run it through the wash and start wearing it again only to discover halfway through the second wearing that this is actually the zip up hoodie that refuses to stay zipped because the zipper is weirdly heavy in relation to the fabric of the hoodie and so the zipper keeps just working its way down every time you move and it all sort of starts coming back to you why you banished the zip up hoodie to the back of the closet (or the bottom of the laundry pile) to begin with?
This is not a metaphor. I am currently wearing that hoodie. This is the third time I’ve put it on since I washed it and I now know FULL WELL what it is capable of, but it has weaseled its way back into the rotation and now it will take an act of Congress (or the acquisition of more new clothing, which is similarly expensive and time consuming) for it to be banished back to the dark depths of the closet from whence it came.
That’s basically all that has happened in the two months since I last posted. That and homework for this business law class I’m taking, because what I definitely needed in my life was more reasons to sit in front of a laptop staring at a blank page and hating myself for being unable to just…start. I mean, hating is a harsh term, I guess. It’s more like a loathing. Loathing is a step down from hating, right? The internet says they’re synonyms but I’ve decided that’s fake news.
– They are trying to compete with my dog for the coveted title of Yappiest Yapface of 2019.
– Their apartment is filled with spiders and they react to spiders the same way I do: yelling until someone comes and rescues
me the spider.
– They believe that he who prays loudest gets the most attention from Imaginary Sky Daddy.
– They’re actually a bunch of Siamese cats inhabiting human bodies, and it’s always ten minutes past feeding time.
– They were brought up in a cave behind a giant, roaring waterfall and had to yell everything just to be heard. The habit stuck.
– They have Fatal Ear Freezing Syndrome and have to wear ear protection at all times to keep from dying of the dreaded Freeze-Ear.
– They’re professional yodelers. Really bad ones.
– Their family hobby is acting out that popular meme of the Orange County Choppers guys yelling at each other.
– They all have terrible spatial awareness and keep stubbing their toes on every corner and piece of furniture they come near.
– Their carpet is full of tacks.
– They’re from Massachusetts and they’re also drunk a lot (not that people from Massachusetts are any more predisposed to getting drunk than anyone from anywhere else in New England (there’s not much to do here). But, in my experience, many people from Massachusetts DO seem predisposed to high levels of…personal loudness. NOT ALL, but many).
(Disclaimer: this post is mildly gross. Proceed at your own risk.)
Bodies are disgusting.
I mean, sure, they’re amazing and magical and whatever, but they also do some truly disgusting stuff…usually in the name of keeping us alive.
For instance: did you know that your tonsils can produce stones? Yep! When shit (well, presumably not actual shit, otherwise you’ve probably got bigger issues to contend with), builds up in your throat, bits of it often get stuck to / in your tonsils. The upside is that this keeps the shit (or whatever) from making it down your throat into your lungs! The downside is, your tonsils gotta do something with that stuff. Sometimes you just cough it out. Sometimes you swallow something that dislodges the junk and sends it down into your stomach to be blasted by digestion.
But, sometimes whatever is back there can’t be dislodged and it starts collecting more junk. You know, because being a gross little chunk of crap in someone’s throat is…lonely? Anyway, point being, the crap builds up in one of the little pockets or wrinkles on your tonsil, calcifies, and then you have yourself a tonsil stone. Or a tonsillolith, if you’re fancy.
Tonsilloliths are very common and lots of people have them without ever even knowing because the stones are situated back / down far enough that they’re not visible. So don’t judge. You may well have tonsil rocks you’ve never met.
I’ve always had stupidly big tonsils. Like, the kind of tonsils where every doctor who has ever looked down my throat has said something along the lines of “geez, those are monstrous, how do you even breathe?”. To which I have given up trying to reply snarkily and instead say some version of “I know. What do I have to do to get them taken out?”. The answer is usually that if I want insurance to cover it, I have to wait until it’s ‘medically necessary’ to have them removed. Which of course is doctor-ese for ‘they have to make you super sick’. And to their credit (the tonsils, not the doctors), they really haven’t done so yet….so I guess I’m stuck with them.
Anyway. Back to the stone.
I had a cold last week, which came with all the typical grossness. I also suffer from year-round allergies, so I have kind of a constant background level of cacky junk traveling between my sinuses and throat. There’s been no shortage of mank hanging around my tonsils the last week or so. So the other day when I looked down my throat with the flashlight (normal people do that on a regular basis, right? RIIIIIGHT.), I wasn’t especially shocked to see a little white spot on my left tonsil. I’ve had them before, usually right in that same spot. In the past I’ve been able to dislodge them with a little bit of semi-aggressive salt water gargling. In one VERY memorable case, I actually reached back with my toothbrush and managed to knock a stone loose with the bristles…but then my gag reflex took over and I booted up my breakfast. So nobody REALLY won that round.
I should note here: the stone in question doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, it’s still new enough that it probably hasn’t even calcified into stone form. It’s probably just a little pocket filled with grody smeg back there. A pocket of grody smeg that I happen to be able to see every single time I open my mouth in front of a mirror. It’s not like this is a matter of urgency, to get this junk off of my tonsil. It would be highly improbably that this spot morphed into something that made me ill in any way. It is literally just grossing me out every time I (far too frequently) see it and so I want it gone.
I want it gone so much, in fact, that while I was in the bathroom at work looking at it earlier, I decided to take action.
Did I go warm up some water, dump some salt in it, and have a nice soothing gargle?
Did I give myself a pep-talk about how some bodily functions really are best saved to be dealt with at home?
What I did was grab a handful of paper towels from the dispenser, twist them around my index finger, and reach back to try and manually scrape my tonsil with them.
As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, this move was unwise in several ways.
The first was that I made a total rookie mistake and didn’t wet the paper towel first, so it kind of stuck a bit when it made contact with my tonsil. The second was that, in my fervor, I forgot how strong my gag reflex is (it’s dry-heave-when-I-try-to-brush-my-tongue strong, for the record). The combination of these two very stupid things did NOT result in vomit, thankfully…but what it DID result in was a loud and somewhat confused choking, squawking animal noise issuing forth from my rightfully angry throat as I tried to fight said gag reflex long enough to knock the stone loose.
Several seconds later, when the stars in my vision had finally cleared and my tongue had returned to its normal position rather than trying to forcibly remove itself from my body, I shone my cell phone flashlight into my mouth to survey my work.
The stone hadn’t even budged.
I’ve learned my lesson at this point, I swear. I’m not going to try to mess with it any more until I get home and can have a good long gargle.
But I’ll be perfectly honest with you here, friends. There’s a drawer full of leftover take-out chopsticks in the break room that are going to be calling my name all afternoon.
Saturday while I was grocery shopping, I dropped a squash. And that’s not even a euphemism for anything crude, I promise. I literally dropped a squash. It was a small delicata squash, almost round whereas normally they’re elongated. The little bastard rolled like three feet and ended up under the floral display just at the end of the produce cooler.
Or so I thought.
I definitely SAW it roll under there. Not wanting to be the asshole who just drops / knocks over / fucks up things at the grocery store and then doesn’t at least attempt to right the situation (which, if my local small-town grocery store is any barometer, there are a LOT of those assholes around. Would it kill you to bend over and pick up the box of cereal your obnoxious child just knocked off the shelf in the midst of his tantrum about how he can’t have Rainbow Sucrose Nuggets for breakfast, Janet?), I went over to where the squash had last been spotted and bent down.
I looked back toward my cart and all along the bottom skirting of the produce cooler for three feet in either direction.
I bent way down and peered under the edge of the floral display to see if it had rolled under some flange or something down there.
Inky blackness. No squash.
At that point I started to feel like people were looking at me funny due to my muttering about the squash having disappeared. I told myself I’d done my best to retrieve it and there was nothing more I could do without creating an actual scene, and I moved on.
Over at Potato Onion Island (I call it that because it’s an island in the middle of the produce area where all the potatoes live in peace and harmony with their onion compatriots), I grabbed the two white onions I needed. Into the cart they went with no drama. Onions save all their drama for when you get them home and cut them, after all. I started inspecting the red skinned potatoes because I needed some of those as well. Normally I eschew the plastic bags available in the produce department because the idea of sea turtles inhaling plastic bags in the ocean and turtle-moaning things like ‘was this bag to segregate your three potatoes from the other items in your shopping bag really fucking necessary, two-legger?’ tends to keep me up at night…but for whatever reason, I hadn’t had a suffering sea turtle nightmare lately and ended up grabbing a produce bag for my potatoes. Sorry, sea turtles. I suck.
So, I grabbed a plastic bag and started putting potatoes in it. One potato, two potato, three potato, THUNK. A potato bounced off my sneaker. I looked down at the bag just as the side of it let go completely, spilling the other potatoes down onto my foot as well. Somewhere a sea turtle turtle-moaned in victory at that, I’m sure. Also, I don’t know why sea turtles do nothing but moan in my head. Maybe it’s because they always look vaguely upset. Plus, if you think about it, they’ve got plenty to moan about.
I grabbed a new bag, checked it for holes, then stooped down to pick up the run-away potatoes. One potato, two potato, three potato…
Where was the fourth potato? I definitely had put four in the original bag. I looked around my cart, my feet.
I bent way down and inspected the very roots of Potato Onion Island.
I was starting to worry that perhaps I had actually died and this supermarket was my personal version of hell, an eternity of caving to the weight of society’s opinion of me while I crawled under various shelving units and displays, searching for dropped produce that never showed up. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then I used my toe to flip up the edge of the rug in front of Potato Onion Island, just in case.
In that moment, I decided two things:
1. If I couldn’t see the dropped produce, nobody else could either, so I probably looked weirder flailing around looking for it than just walking away like nothing had happened, and
2. This couldn’t actually be Grocery Store Hell because there were no screaming babies within earshot, and no old ladies that smelled strongly of lilac (and vaguely of poop) getting in my way every time I tried to move my cart.
And with that, I wheeled off to the deli with nary another backward glance.
I do still feel pretty bad about the sea turtles though.