38 is Great!
(Originally published February 17, 2006)
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there just are not words to describe just how much I love my Black Berry.
I bought my Black Berry last year as a birthday gift to myself, and I have enjoyed it so much over the past year that sometimes it causes me to spontaneously burst out into verse:
“I think that I shall never see/a poem as lovely as my Black Berry.”
“Oh Black Berry, Oh Black Berry, how lovely is thy keypad.”
My Black Berry is like a tiny, tangible talisman of love. Whenever I hear it vibrating away as it receives some email I think, “Hooray! Someone wants to talk to me!
Of course to hear my husband describe it, my Black Berry love is less adoration and more addiction, but what does he know? Sure I like to have it near me at all times so as to instantly be able to access my emails, even to the point of keeping it right here on my desk with me as I work on my computer. And yeah, so maybe I did ask my husband to drive me down the mountain on which my in-laws’ house is located on Christmas Day so as to be able to receive a signal, despite the fact that they have wireless Internet connection at their house and I could technically do whatever I wanted or needed to do on my laptop. And yes, perhaps there have been times when I’ve awoken in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and have been seized with the uncontrollable urge to check my email despite the fact that I don’t actually know anyone who emails me important information at 3 am.
And don’t even get me started on Instant Messaging and Text Messaging! (Oops! Please excuse me for a moment while I wipe the drool off of my computer screen.)
But anyway, the point of all of this is that now I can stay in constant communication with all the people I like without actually having to speak with them on the phone. Because, and this has been a deep, dark secret of mine for a LONG time, I am a “phonophobiac”. Yes, that’s right. I am afraid of calling people on the phone.
For a long time I was even terrified of having to place my fast food order into those speaker boxes they have in the drive-through line. But I was soon cured of that because, let’s face it, what doesnâ€˜t an order of McDonald’s French fries cure?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “What?!”, don’t worry. You’re not alone. I’ve only met one other person who understands this fear of mine. Everyone else just looks at me as if I’ve just said something like, “You know, I’ve found that having to breathe in and out on a regular basis is really just too much for me to deal with.”
I recently tried to explain this to my family, but they just gave me The Look. You know, the one that says, “I hear the words you’re saying, but they’re…just…not…making…any…sense.” (Incidentally, this is a look that I am VERY familiar with, as I frequently see this same expression on the faces of my tutoring students.)
“So,” ventured my dad slowly, struggling to understand what I was saying, “is it getting any better?”
“No,” I sighed, rolling my eyes so hard that I temporarily severed important connections to my brain, “the whole point is that I finally realize that I don’t have to get better. It is OK for me to be this way. I am finally coming out as a phonophobiac!”
“So, you’re embracing it,” offered my brother, who is himself a Professional in The Art Of Being Unreachable By Phone.
And all was well for the next hour or so, until I heard my mother calling up the stairs for me to pick up the phone so I could talk to not one, not two, but THREE people on the phone ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
So you’d better believe that the gods of irony are going to be hearing from me about this, just as soon as I figure out how to reach them electronically. Um, does anyone know how to IM the Universe?
So I know you’re showing up tomorrow and I’m glad about that, in that I’m glad that there’s more life for all of us to live. I feel like I’m just kinda getting the hang of things here in my ’30s, and I’d hate to have to stop just when things are starting to get really good. But there’s a whole lot of crap that people have started tossing onto this whole New Year thing, and I just wanted to let you know that I’m skipping all of that.
For one thing, I am just so unbelievably tired. Exhausted does not even begin to describe it. This fibromyalgia shit is totally kicking my ass.
And so I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to “Make 2010 The Best Year Of Your Life!” Whatever that even means. I’m just grateful to have a year, since there were so many times during this past year that I didn’t know if I’d even make it to 2010. Plus, who even made the rule that says that this is the only “acceptable” desire to have for a New Year, anyway? As if just wanting to have a good year means that you’re somehow lazy or “settling for less.” Says who? NOT ME. So, yeah, I’m rejecting that one.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of rejecting things, can we just stop for a minute and talk about this whole “get all your old STUFF cleared out, cleaned up, resolved, reconciled, and tied up in a pretty little bow before the clock strikes midnight” situation?
Because first of all, if you happen to have serious OCD issues like I do, then all that does is to launch off an ENORMOUS rocket of anxiety-fueled compulsive behavior, which means that even if I were able to rip out my entire house and break it down to the very foundations, it STILL wouldn’t be enough for me to think that I was ready to start off the new year “with a clean slate”. Because there’s never any end, with that as your guideline. Except maybe for dying, which, no thanks. Or maybe somehow rewinding your whole entire life and starting it all over again. And, NO WAY am I ever living through puberty and high school EVER! AGAIN!
Second of all, when is anything in life ever really “completed” and able to be stored neatly away in tidy little rows of white banker’s boxes? And also, what’s up with this whole time limit thing anyway? Things take as long as they take. Because believe me, if anyone could’ve found a way to make things happen on their schedule, it would have been me.
And finally, who was it that tricked us into believing that we have to contort our lives to fit around someone else’s randomly declared external structure? Or go along with what someone else has said that this day is “supposed” to mean? As it so happens, January 1st is neither the beginning nor the end of anything according to my own personal calendar. It’s just a day. It’s in the middle somewhere, after one handful of days, and before another one. It doesn’t mean anything special for me. And that is okay.
So on that note, the house is gonna be just as messy tomorrow as it has been today. Including the cat barf I just now discovered on the living room rug. And I’m pretty sure you’re just fine with that. I’ve heard a bunch of people say that however things are for you at 12:01 am New Year’s Day is how the rest of your year will be. And I say, bullshit. I am the one who gets to decide how my year is going to be. And whether or not all of my underwear is neatly folded and put away by midnight has nothing to do with it.
Also, I will not be “taking the bull by the horns”, “making a fresh start”, “visioning”, “setting goals,” “getting dressed all the way down to my lace-up shoes”, “shining my sink”,”eating [fill-in-the-blank] for good luck”, “moving for my good health”, or “taking action on my dreams”. I will however be scavenging for new applications for my iTouch, buying new digital books for Amazon, and drinking as many sodas as are left in my refrigerator.
So, 2010, as long as you’re good with all of that, then please make yourself at home.
I know that there has been a lot of change around here lately, so I thought that I, Cranky Fibro Girl, should take some time to reflect on where I stand on the various issues that confront me on a daily basis.
1. I do not believe in peanut butter as a dessert.
2. I do not believe in morning times that begin with a number that is less than 7.
3. I do not believe in bumper stickers.
4. I do not believe in gas station meat.
5. I do believe that wearing a goatee transforms you into the “evil” version of yourself.
6. I do believe that there is almost nothing that McDonald’s french fries cannot heal to some degree.
7. I do believe that my husband pretty much walks on water.
8. I do believe that my couch has magical healing powers.
9. I do believe that crocs and minivans are the gateways to hell.
10. I do believe that there is no such thing as “too many books”. I also believe that there is no such thing as “enough books”.
So as most of you know I’ve been writing this blog for the past 4 1/2 years, and I’ve had a blast doing it.
I had a ton of ideas for where this site was going, and all kinds of plans for how I wanted things to be. But then I got sick-REALLY SICK-at the end of 2007, and suddenly my life was blasted apart into a billion pieces.
I feel like I’ve spent these past two years just kind of flailing around, bashing into walls and people and the remnants of my old dreams, just trying to regain some sort of stability. And occasionally I could. But most of the time I really had no idea what I was doing.
And I know that all of this showed up in my blog because suddenly-literally, overnight-I was no longer the person who started that blog. I wasn’t just a cute entertainer telling funny stories and making people laugh. Now I was a person with a chronic illness, living with chronic pain, unable to do anything but just be sick and in pain. All the things I was able to do before-work, run our household, go out with friends, travel any farther than the couch in our living room, write, much less write humorously-they were suddenly gone. And so I had to figure out how to be that person, when I DID NOT WANT to be that person.
So I know that starting then, this blog no longer delivered what it had in the past. And I’m sorry for that. It was SO frustrating for me, as I’m sure it was for you guys. You came here expecting “Entertaining Stories From Everyday Life”, but I know that it eventually morphed into, “Hey, you know what? Chronic illness isn’t funny. &$@! ” So I really appreciate all of you who stuck around anyway. And I also appreciate everyone who came here and then decided that this just wasn’t their thing.
And I’m also sorry for the fact that, because I’d never gone through this before, I wasn’t able to let you all know that there was a change coming. I know that I started this blog with the inner rules that I would not be mean or controversial or argumentative, and that I wouldn’t use what some people might call, “inappropriate language.” And then overnight they were all swept away, with no warning that these things were coming. And so I want to apologize for that as well.
So given all of these things, I’ve decided to make a change here. I’m not going to be blogging as “Using My Powers For Good” anymore, because I am not that person anymore, the person who started this blog all those years ago. I need to do something different, something where I feel comfortable bringing all of my different parts, and something that lets people know ahead of time what they will be getting into if they visit my site.
So I am very excited to announce that, as of tomorrow, I will be blogging as Cranky Fibro Girl, although my web address will still be jennyryan.com. You don’t have to change anything on your end. If you type jennyryan.com into a web browser you will still end up here. If you’ve bookmarked this site somehow or added it to a blogroll, clicking on that link will still bring you here. “Here” will just be a little different starting tomorrow.
As you might imagine, Cranky Fibro Girl has an edge (or five) to her personality, and she lets you know that right up front. So there will be crankiness and irritability. There will be mocking and sarcasm. There will be funny. There will be sad. There will be swearing and frustration and anger. There will be the entire experience of someone living with chronic pain and illness. There will be all of the things that make up this “me” that I am right now.
So if you want to stick around, yay! And if you decide that this is not for you, that’s cool-thank you so much for coming with me this far. And thank you all for all the ways you’ve been part of this community. Funny stories aren’t that funny without people to enjoy them, and you’ve given me such a gift by enjoying mine.
Today I am 37.
1. Re-shingle the roof, single-handedly, or as part of a team.
2. Suddenly realize that golf is actually a rich, complex, multi-layered test of both skill and artistry .
3. Run anywhere, not even towards a soda fountain filled to the brim with the ice cold elixir of life, Regular Coke.
4. Attempt to explain to anyone between the ages of 14 and 18 why verbs are so foundational to both the written and spoken language.
5. Humor anyone who implores me to, “Say something in Spanish!”
6. Heal myself of fibromyalgia using only the power of my mind.
7.Cease to be afraid of snakes, either real or imaginary.
8.Receive a download of all the government’s secrets, thereby becoming the Human Intersect.
9.Finally unlock the secret to successfully baking desserts that include Cocoa powder as one of their main ingredients.
10. No longer need to be reassured that, upon stepping foot outside after dark, bats will not swoop down upon me in order to nest in my hair.
(Inspired by this post.)
The past couple of weeks have been sort of rough, healthwise, and that, coupled with it now being the summer (Important Side Note To All Southerners: It is the heat AND the humidity, BOTH. Please stop lying about how the heat is inconsequential in my inability to breathe once I set foot outside), means that I really haven’t been feeling all that funny lately.
However, posting about our trip to Spain made me think that, because it occurred many years before this blog was even a twinkle in my eye, I could probably mine that time for a few funny stories. And as it turned out, I was right.
When my husband and I began planning our trip, we decided to do so along the lines suggested by Rick Steves, whose PBS show we regularly watched. Rick, (as we came to call him), suggested that we just pack up our bags and head on over to Europe with simply a hotel reservation for the first night, and one for the last night, and that we then just kind of make the rest up as we went along. This kind of plan works great if you are like my husband, always calm and laid-back, always believing that things are going to work out just fine, and complete with your own highly-honed internal sense of direction.
HOWEVER: if you have, as I did, an as-yet-undiagnosed-yet-EXTREMELY-crippling anxiety disorder, this plan was pretty much the equivalent of agreeing to spend a lot of money to go and fall off the edge of the earth into the never-ending abyss of hell. Because the human mind is just incapable of dealing with all of the possible things that need to be worried about when you leave the safety and security of your home and JAUNT OFF TO EUROPE FOR TEN DAYS WITH NO PLAN.
But the worst thing that tormented me about this upcoming trip was the fact that Spanish and I had a deep, dark, and-to my mind, at least-very shameful secret, which was this: I had somehow managed to earn a Master’s Degree in Spanish without ever having stepped foot in a Spanish-speaking country. So ever since I received said degree I had been on my guard, waiting for my university and advisory committee to “find me out”, recognize their egregious error, track me down, and yank my diploma right out of my hands. Because clearly, never before, in the history of fakers, impostors, and shams, had there been a more horrible faker than me.
My husband, unfortunately, was unaware that he was living with such a flagrant impostor, and so was therefore counting on me to handle all of the communication responsibilities related to this trip.
And so, because I was so far along the path of this long con (I was currently teaching Spanish at a local community college, if you can even believe my cheek), it was too late for me to repent and therefore be absolved of this burdensome task of speaking to other people in the language in which I held a graduate degree. And so, HELLO, OVERWHELMING PSYCHIC BURDEN BEFORE WE EVEN LEFT HOME.
Because, what if what I had learned in school was not actually Spanish? Or, what if they didn’t actually speak Spanish in Spain, and I had been lied to all these years? What if I had earned two degrees in something that wasn’t even real? What if, the second I opened my mouth in Spain, with the effrontery of trying to pass off my imaginary language as Spanish, I so offended the Spanish people that I was executed on the spot?
So I’m sure you can imagine the level of freaking-out I had already reached by the time my husband informed me that, on the following morning, I was going to have to call Spain and set up our first hotel reservation. And then on top of that, lucky dog that I am, here was where my two worst nightmares were going to meet: my fear of talking on the phone; and the moment of truth where it would be revealed that, despite my alleged mastery of the subject, I could not actually speak a word of “real” Spanish.
Happily, the rest of the story is pretty anti-climactic; the phone call easily went through to Spain, it turned out that I actually was learning Spanish all those years (shocking, I know) so the hotel clerk was able to understand me with no problems at all, and I”m sure I was able to take a nap to make up for the eight hours I spent not sleeping the night before, while I rehearsed my script for the phone call over and over and over again.
But looking back, and realizing that this pattern is how I reacted to, conservatively speaking, every single thing that ever happened to me, I guess it’s not a surprise that now, in my thirties, my exhausted body has collapsed into fibromyalgia, most likely accompanied by chronic fatigue. Because I guess there are only so many thousands of times that you can whip your adrenals into preparing for a full-on crisis that actually turns out to be no big deal before they give you the finger, pop open a beer, and refuse to get off of the sofa ever again. (A moment that could possibly occur around the 4th day after you turn 35, in case you’re interested in any kind of “ballpark” figure.)
So I’m off to rest (which apparently is the next area in which I’m having to earn a Master’s Degree), and meanwhile,
AdiÃ³s, amigos. Espero que tengan un buen DÃa de Independencia.
So this morning my husband volunteered to go to the grocery store for us, and as I was going over the list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, I noticed that I had written down “spiral notebook”. I am starting a new project, and I always like to celebrate these beginnings with the purchase of a brand-new notebook.
“Oh,” I thought. “Since I’m not going to the store with him, I’ll need to find a notebook so that I can show him which size I want him to buy me.”
And then I realized that, if I already have one around here to use as an example, then maybe I don’t actually need a new one.
So then I did a little searching, and here is what I came up with, WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO LEAVE MY CHAIR.
The first step is admitting that you have a problem, right?
My Friend: “So I’ve decided I want to go back to school to become a psychiatrist. I just want to have every available tool at my disposal in order to be able to help alleviate human suffering.”
Me: “Yeah, I help people feel better through being a smart-ass. There’s much less training involved.”