Gallbladder Ousting: Rest, Relaxation, and Little Surprises

I had my troublesome gallbladder out a week ago. Six tests, all the standard ones they issue when symptoms rise, came back negative. I saw a surgeon at the urging of my Gastroenterologist and he scheduled me to have it out, simple as that. When asked if it was needed and what if it’s not the solution, he simply replied that removal is the next step and if it didn’t work, there were many more invasive procedures he could try, but was pretty confident this would do the trick.

I woke at 5 am the day of surgery and took a shower, the last one I’d be able to take until the following evening. I donned the most comfy bra I own plus stretchy pants and an over-sized t-shirt with the neck cut away, slip-on shoes, undies I’d be ok with people seeing, and I was ready to go (the clothes mattered because I knew Dylan would have to dress me later and buttons are mean). We pulled into the valet area while it was still dark outside and handed over the car. Checking in, they asked if we wanted to fork over the $758 deductible for the procedure or be billed (ha ha), wristbanded, and then we took a seat. I was fetched and ushered to the prep room where they took my blood pressure and temperature by running this wacky metal ball wand across my forehead, and asked me to pee in a cup (pregnancy test). My funny and delightful male nurse had further instructions for when I returned with regards to the clothing policy.

“Everything off”, he said. Everything? I asked. Yep. Even undies? Yep. I made a face and nodded ok then went to the bathroom to pee in the cup. I pondered being as God made me under a loose gown and didn’t like it.

When I returned, he held out a little white package and said I seemed uncomfortable with the “no undies” thing so he brought me some. Hospital undies?! Nice. I wiped myself down with the big, thick anti-bacterial wipes supplied to me and put the socks, gown, and undies on. The underwear, by the way, are boxer brief-styled gauze, basically. Very stretchy, mostly see-through, and almost non-existent. I got a little sad thinking about the circumstances in which someone would find themselves in need of them in regular hospital dealings. Once done and my clothes tucked into a provided bag, I cracked the curtain back open and waited. My nurse came in and set me up in the bed. I asked why the gown was open to the back if the surgery was happening in the front and he said that basically, it’s much easier for them to lift the whole gown off of me than anything else. I flashed on the previous idea of not having any underwear on and probably blushed. Oh, lord.

Pretty soon, a cavalcade of doctors, residents, anesthesiologists, nurses, and medical students came through. They reminded me not to eat right away, clear liquids only, and that my abdomen would be filled with CO2 so the tubes could get through easier, and when that gas starts to move around during recovery, it will be uncomfortable in the neck and shoulders, mainly. Weird. Forms signed, they all asked the same questions at least four times (name, procedure, birthdate), before my surgeon finally arrived. Dylan was there during all of it and waited with me for about 45 minutes until they were ready to wheel me into the operating room. The surgeon gave us a quick rundown of what to expect, pretty basic stuff, the nurses pumped me full of something potent and then… well, I remember nothing.

Next thing I know, I’m being gently shook awake and told to breathe, and there’s a beeping to my left. I became very aware of three things: My throat felt like it had been implanted with shards of glass, my lips felt like sandpaper, and the tops of my shoulders were KILLING me (the gas). Then I noticed how slowly I was breathing and as soon as I became aware of that, the beeping would begin again. Dylan came to sit next to me and the very first thing I asked him for was lip balm, at which moment he said he knew I was perfectly fine and still me (I have some on or near me, usually more than one tube, at all times). I asked why my throat hurt so badly, with not much of a voice to do so, and the nurse told me they intubated during surgery. I asked why, my only exposure to intubation coming from ER when it meant someone was dying. Standard procedure with the kind of anesthetic I’d had, they said. I asked for water but was told not yet. Ugh.

My surgeon came in to check his patient and let us know it all went very well. They in fact did find stones, so it wasn’t all a big waste, which all the tests and spending for them had seemed like so far. He also said that my gallbladder was on the opposite side of the liver than is typical, and in 500 surgeries had never seen anything like it. I was still too drugged up to make a joke about being a medical study and getting paid for it. He showed me photos that I don’t recall. Fortunately, he was able to get to it laparoscopically and they didn’t have to cut me open, that’s huge. That takes a six hour outpatient surgery to a two-day stay/six week recovery nightmare. I can’t wait to ask him more about the placement when I see him again because it’s all very fuzzy. He shook Dylan’s hand, I gave him a high-as-a-kite, “Thanks, doc” and with a squeeze of my foot, off he went.

A little while later, they propped me up and moved me to a recliner chair. Still very dazed but coming around, they brought me some vanilla ice cream and graham crackers (a terrible idea for someone whose throat feels like the Mojave), and I sipped some glorious water as best I could. Eventually, it was time to get dressed and prepare for my exit. They left Dylan and me alone so he could help me, which he had to because I had all the coordination of a newborn giraffe. Hilarious. Hospital undies vanquished and preferred ones back on, they got me into a wheelchair and took me to the curb to wait for the car. By now it was after noon, texts to family sent and updates given. Being right down the street from my pharmacy at Costco, we decided to just go and get my drug prescriptions filled.

They don’t have regular wheelchairs at Costco, by the way, just motorized carts. I was in a bad mood already and Costco on a Friday afternoon never helps. No one gets out of the way, in fact they seem to intentionally cut in front especially when samples are present, and feeling this might be the case, I left my hospital bracelet on and IV bandage affixed as a warning and silent horn. It didn’t really matter except for a few pity looks from random patrons, not helped by my pathetic frown. Drugs gathered, home we went. My shoulders were still very sore but once I got to bed, I laid down and tried to relax enough to forget about them. It didn’t work, really. I had an ice pack on them for two more days.

That was seven days ago, and now here I am, relatively much better. The four incisions are super glued shut, though the glue is more like rubber cement and it’s starting to peel. The bruising has subsided and the itching is less. I still can’t lift more than 10 pounds for a while, but I haven’t taken any pain meds for a day and a half and I’m sleeping better. I tried to go for a walk two nights ago and was surprised to find that after only about two blocks, I was winded. I slowed my pace down and relaxed extra when I got home. Dylan waited on me hand and foot, because that’s the kind of man he is.

I’ll spare you the details of what happens to a body when it’s drugged up and opioided out for hours and hours, if you’ve ever been on pain killers then you know exactly what happens. I am ready to get back to a normal routine in more ways than one. I worked at home all week and Monday will go back to the office. It was wonderful to have this time to relax, I think going back would have probably set me back a little bit in terms of healing, I can’t imagine people who try to go right back to living life only a few days later.

My follow up appointment is in 10 days, I presume to check the wound sites and make sure they’re doing alright, and to answer questions or concerns. I hope I get to see the pictures of my weird parts again. This weekend I will tackle fried chicken: the reason this operation happened in the first place. KFC, I am coming for you!

Just a Little Something for the Pain

I’ll spare you the long story (you can read it here, if you really want to), but about a year ago I woke up in the middle of the night with my stomach in total agony. Not my guts, not my intestines or colon, but my stomach: that little fist-sized guy who normally rests comfortably behind the arch of your southernmost ribs. It was fried chicken, come to realize, and it was likely my gallbladder, said a few doctors.

A year ago, one stuck a tube down my throat and into my stomach, looked around and found nothing of major note. The next doctor took some blood and scheduled me for an ultrasound and in the meantime, the blood work came back negative. Dylan and I traveled to see some friends in Ohio and while there, I ate a thing that brought on another attack at 1 am (this makes like, six? Seven in a year?) and after some meds and time, the pain didn’t go away. I went to the ER and after the nine hours spent waiting and not sleeping, found that their ultrasound, CT, urine, and blood work also came back negative.

Can you give me something for the pain for when this happens again, doc? No. No prescribing scheduled class drugs out of the ER, too many drug seekers. But I’m not a drug seeker, I said. You have all my pee and blood, you can see there’s nothing in there. Doctor shrugs.

So after the doc in the ER tried to tell me it was a UTI and kidney stones, and then gave me an antibiotic as well as a scrip for extra high dose ibuprofen (NSAIDs are big no-nos when stomachs are causing problems for people), they sent me on my way. I filled neither prescription, even I without a degree in medicine, knew they were wrong.

Today I met with a Gastroenterologist. She too agreed that it sounded exactly like gallbladder and I fit all the parameters to make that fit. But true, the prior tests all came back without proof and there was only one more test left to do. If that is negative too, then the real head scratching begins and I meet with a surgeon anyway. They’re going to inject me with radioactivity and watch it run through my gallbladder to see if and where it gets hung up since one test did say it was distended (which usually happens with stones, but they didn’t see stones). If it does, in any way, that friggin’ organ of annoyance is coming out. Until then, if it decides to freak out and hurt me again, what can I do?

She offered a low dose pain med, one that I know works since I have this weird genetic thing that renders a lot of pain meds useless but for the one we discussed. I checked out with the receptionist and waited for the paper scrip to come. The medical assistant came around the corner sheepishly… the doctor isn’t comfortable writing a scrip for that drug until he sees you experience that pain. I said, but it happens at 2 or 3 am. How will that ever work out? She agreed, said she wished it was different, and walked away. ARG. The doctor that handed that denial down btw, has never met me.

I got home and emailed my doctor to let him know that I’d gone to the appointment and another test was upcoming. I let him know that they too, would not write a pain script and asked him what I should do. I ended by asking him if I should see a pain specialist (which both goes over his head and absolves him, but what pain specialist is going to help me with all these negative tests?) and now I wait to hear. I just want to tell them, give me five pills! I’ll break them in half! This happens rarely enough that will last me for months, come on you guys.

As we know, this all comes from the rampant abuse of opioids, the over-prescribing of them, and the proliferation of pills instead of weed or any other option. If I liked weed, if it worked for me, I’d just go that route. Lord knows it’s infinitely easier to come by than pain pills are, clearly. So thanks, scared doctors, the DEA, dealers, and junkies. I’ll think of you all when it’s 2:30 am and I can barely stand life.

Death in the Age of Facebook

My friend Adam died yesterday. He was living in Florida, on a boat (sometimes, I think), and filled my feed with smiling pictures of good times with friends and his nieces and nephews all hugging their uncle Adam. He was a frequent poster and lover of life.

I hadn’t seen Adam in at least five years, maybe more. He was a huge guy with crazy, long curly hair and a big beard. He resembled Hacksaw Jim Duggan but was the biggest walking bearhug you’d ever know. He got up early and worked hard, so hard that he often dozed off while sitting at a loud bar, prompting many a bartender to cut him off without realizing he was just on his 22nd hour of activity. He moved from Chicago to Florida to be near friends and family, and we were all happy for him when he went.

Adam seemed to have lots of friends but struggled with the ladies, I think it’s fair to say. He messaged me a few times to get the female perspective in his life. It was a frequent situation for him, feeling like he was getting the shaft from friends and women. Amidst all the goofy photos and cute moments, I think he was a little sad too. But who isn’t, right?

Today, I saw a relative of his tag him in a post. I read further and realized what it said: Adam was gone. What followed that post was an almost instantaneous collection of about 75 comments expressing sadness, shock, sympathy, and buried within, only a few who dared to ask what happened. A question that as of now, two hours after the initial message, hasn’t yet been answered.

Mutual friends are posting photos of him and writing notes about their sadness, a few others comment and ask why, still no answer. When enough time goes by without one a cause, a picture will  being to form which will lead many to guess. Eventually, I found myself tweeting the following while expressing the same wish to Dylan:

“A request to my pals: When I die, please don’t put it on Facebook until it’s been like, a month.”

I get that we now have a cultural means and need to share information the second we have it. I know there will always people who just cannot resist the urge to comment on a cliffhanger or spoiler minutes after it airs. Birthdays, engagements, first days at school, first poops, it’s all out there for the world to see and if you don’t have Facebook, you run a very real chance of missing out on such news. But then, when tragedy strikes, people turn to the same outlet as everyone else does for joy and then paradoxically, completely hold back details. As natural as it is to want to share news immediately, it’s just as natural to want answers when that news doesn’t make sense.

Not everything is up for public consumption nor should it be, but if you choose to put something as immense and impactful as a death notice on Facebook (as tacky as that can be) I can’t help but feel like it should be targeted or at least be prepared to answer inevitable questions. Does that sound entitled or disrespectful? I don’t mean it to, certainly. Facebook didn’t exist when my dad passed or I’m sure I’d have posted something about it there too. I’d like to think I’d have waited a while, and his passing from cancer wasn’t sudden news to have to break to people, but it is still a very personal thing to allow 400 friends and 500 of their friends, to take part in. Sudden death, I can only imagine, is such a shock that I’m sure things are said publicly without having time to process a second of any of it.

Adam’s friends have made at least 10 posts so far, and counting. One friend has expressed sorrow in every one of them, I myself haven’t contributed any words. I sent a message to his sister who made the initial announcement, but I’m leaving it at that.

I remember about 10 years ago or so, a friend died in a drunk driving wreck on Christmas eve. My best friend texted to tell me it had happened and at the time, I was so irate that she chose to tell me in text that I barely responded to her. Today? I immediately texted a different friend when I read about Adam. Times change, electronic billboards and broadcasts are the norm, but I’m just not there yet.

A Sudden Clarity

Have you ever known that you need to do something? Not like, pee or throw up, but kind of. It’s the thing that I know is what what my whole design career this far leads to: User Experience Design, aka UX. It combines human motivations, psychology, research, strategy, efficiency, design, and functionality all into one position. Sure, it pays ridiculously well and there aren’t a ton of us out there so we’re in demand but aside from that, I know in my heart that this is what my next step needs to be.

I spent this week at an Internet Retailer convention here in Chicago, per my employer’s instructions. From Tuesday through Friday, I sat in breakout sessions and took notes, trying hard to glean knowledge from those in better positions than I, who spoke about the highs and lows of running a business that exists in some large and small ways, online. Mine doesn’t, not really. My company is of the, shall we say, “old school” where it makes far more sense to spend a lot of money on the printing and mailing of 1,100 physical newsletters than it does to upgrade a website that has not changed much since – no exaggeration here – 1999. Spinning globes as bullet points, teeeeeeeeeeeny tiny text boxes in a sea of background color, two pages that say the same thing, it’s brutal and frankly, I almost never refer to it. So when they told me they wanted to send me to a convention where I should surely pick up knowledge to move the company forward (ostensibly), I was excited. I’d only been to conventions that had to do with the food service industry and even then, as a booze moocher and voyeur. And hey, paid to be out of the office in a classroom setting!

By Wednesday, I had hoofed through the exhibit hall at a desperate pace, deftly avoiding “HI PENNY! CAN I TALK TO YOU FOR A MINUTE?!” coming at me from left, right, and dead center. I didn’t need to speak to online payment processing companies, we don’t really do that. I said, “no thanks” to multiple ecommerce websites and packaging supply reps. Even in speaking to an email marketing company, it felt futile since I knew it was a company my boss wasn’t interested in. I am though, especially for my beer group emails, so it was exactly the only serious exhibitor conversation I had in two days’ worth of wandering the booths. What was I doing there? I wasn’t entirely sure.

Then Thursday came and my pre-selected classes had mostly the same theme, which was a happy accident in my favor. With a general theme of, “Is your website working?”, those sessions focused on something that has become a big deal for me: UX/UI, or, User Experience Design.

When I started at my company in February, my boss let me know that he was in the process of building a website and app meant to be used by a subset of our employees. He knew what it wanted to do, but had no idea how it should look. After much miscommunication on methodology, I chose the colors, designed the logo, built buttons and modals, and do lots of aesthetic upkeep. We tackled many questions, the software engineer and I. Did this element work? No, we already said this over here, and it will confuse people to click this button twice, etc. The SE and I poured over details and he made changes based on my suggestions. I was swimming deep in a UX sea that I didn’t even know existed. Turned out, I’d been doing it for years and now, a deep passion develops.

As time went on at the office, I learned how much I truly didn’t (and don’t) know about building functional apps and websites, which is a lot…it could fill a room. HTML and Javascript are still mysteries to me, though getting clearer. The attempt to communicate to code-builders by someone who has only ever done print was comical, and probably very common. So I attended a free info session about learning front end web design skills in a General Assembly class, basically to know what is possible in a build. I can’t very well tell the SE to do a thing if I can’t articulate what should be done using his own language. The class at GA is over three grand, a tough sell to the bosses. Online classes are ok, but I don’t learn well that way since I get very distracted with an open computer in front of me and can’t ask questions as they rise.

I brought the class results back to my boss who asked if he could try to find me something cheaper. I said ok and listed my time/day preferences. He sounded supportive, and a week passed. A while later, he mentioned our company’s busy season was approaching and that it would likely be put off to fall. Disappointed but understanding, I went to my desk and continued to do some of the work I was hired for as a Marketing Manager. As the days went by, I realized that the majority of my work, as it happened, had very little to do with that title. My time is spent about 75% doing graphic design, 5% marketing, and 20% administrative (other peoples’ admin duties, she said bitterly). The marketing plan that I researched, poured over, built and stressed about presenting is, sadly, lining birdcages and will likely never see the light of day again.

I am not a marketing manager, not in any real way. I don’t have business cards, I don’t have a budget. What I have is an empty title and don’t do much with it. UX is calling me and it’s where I need to be, but without the support of my company and the space to transition, I will effectively be parked in a holding position indefinitely. My boss wants to see me make the move, he’s said he needs someone in that position and would like it to be me, but I’ve also seen his hands tied or completely lopped off by the upper management, who don’t understand the needs to modernize and upgrade technology the way he does. It’s entirely possible that my wagon is tethered to someone who is also on hold, I don’t know.

I’m not ready to leave this job yet. that’s not my intention anyway, nor is it time for an ultimatum. However, now that I know this is what I am meant to do, everything else feels like it’s either taking me further away from it, or is time-killing and not moving me forward. I am impatient by nature, but this is a different animal. Graphic design is my first love, I have no qualms about doing it at work. The rub is all the other stuff. Updating social media seems fruitless, few refer to it. Admin jobs that are not my department even more so. Itchy feet are borne of this kind of misuse, I’ve been here before and know it can happen. My intention is to go to his office on Monday and tell him of my time at the convention and this intense revelation about a new path, and my intention to pursue it. Reading between the lines, he may realize it’s best to get behind me on it as soon as possible. If there is no urgency to move me into that position, then I may have to ready my resume, not something I entirely want to do. I keep going back to that moment in When Harry Met Sally, where *spoiler* Harry finally realizes he wants to be with Sally and says,

“…when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life
with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

But in the meantime, I’ve joined UX groups and meetups, looked into UX and design conventions later in the year, and am single-minded in hot pursuit. I’m coming for you, future. Ready or not.

Choices, Doll

 

Remember this song? I recall the first time I saw the video and really listened to the lyrics, I thought the disco birth control pill pack was cheeky-genius. Then I forgot about it for like, 10 years.

Recently at my new job, I sussed out the office and consulted with the boss about earphones. As the new guy, it can be a hard line between being shy or just straight up unfriendly. He gave me the green light though, so I plugged in and fired up Spotify. Every day, just to keep it interesting, I hit “Browse” and then select one of their playlists, which change daily. A few days ago, Simple Kind of Life popped up in the list. I smiled at the remembrance of the BC pill light, and then I began to listen to the words again. They ring differently to me now, now that I’m married to a man who always envisioned himself with children of his own, who I’m sure never thought he’d marry a lady six years older than he, who is in the danger zone of childbearing years.

We’ve talked about it a handful of times, the risks, the rewards, the sacrifices, and then we move onto different topics, but in our more private moments, feel a lot more about it than we’ve probably said.

The song came on and I listened. The video, which I can’t watch at work because it’s a blocked website, I vaguely recall as full of motherhood/single girl choice imagery. The wiki about it is intense, especially the bottom section. The director, Sophie Muller, was amazing in the 90s when it came to videos which involved women singers and feminine subject matter; she had laser focus and was scary poignant. But the lyrics that got me, the one that made me tear up at my desk, were these, sung as the bridge of the song:

Now all those simple things
Are simply too complicated for my life
How’d I get so faithful to my freedom?
A selfish kind of life
When all I ever wanted was the simple things
A simple kind of life

It’s true that most of humanity isn’t comfortable with a woman choosing not to have children. When people hear of such a decision, their first impulse is to remind her that she’s not too old and that many women have children well into their 40s and sometimes even 50s. What about adoption? You’ll regret not having them. Who will take care of you when you’re old?

There are many retorts to these items and I’ve probably mentioned most of them to various “interested” parties. The only answer anyone is ever really satisfied with though, is that she’s changed her mind and will go out right now and get pregnant then be the best possible mother ever, indeed beyond criticism or reproach. Because women are nothing if not kind to each other about how we raise our children…

I spoke with someone about this topic, not something I ever do, and they suggested that the sadness felt on both sides of the marriage isn’t so much what’s missing and will be missing but rather, the mourning of an idea. I have friends who are close to 40, some who belligerently want children regardless if they’re with the right partners they think will help raise them, and some who militantly do not want kids. I am far more confident in the second group, at least they are honest about their situations and lives. I think in a lot of ways, I belong to that batch. I never saw myself with children and by the time I found the right man, it was too late to safely have a few (because I wouldn’t want just one).

Dylan and I have so many plans to live in different countries, to travel, to work random jobs, and to experience as much of the globe as we can, together. We know kids barely factor into that let alone factor easily. It’s a choice we’re making, to pursue an adventure of the restless sort. That kind of life feeds us, it’s what we desire maybe more than anything, and we talk about those plans constantly in “when” terms, not “if”. It is the right thing for both of us, we know this beyond a doubt. A selfish kind of life? Maybe… maybe.

Honey, Have You Seen My Wallet?

It was 8:42 am as I laid in bed, engrossed in a New York Times article about being single. The lights were off but the husband was stirring. I resigned myself to not fall back asleep after he left for the day, as I had done more often than not. I had to train myself to be awake earlier than I’d been since October for you see, I start a new job next week that requires I be on site at 8 am. I haven’t willingly seen 8 am… ok, maybe I have never willingly seen it, but I’ve not seen 8 am for free in several months. Unemployment does a lot of things to a body but in my case, its main attack is on my waistline and clock. I am a night owl by nature, but having nowhere to be and nothing to do, I soon found myself awake until 1 or 2 in the morning and asleep until easily 10, sometimes 11 or later, every day. I function better at those hours, I think they are my natural sleep cycle, social criticism notwithstanding.

This morning however, by the time Dylan got up to ready himself for the day, I’d already been awake for an hour. It was that crucial moment of decision-making: Do I try to get another bit of sleep or do I power through and begin training myself for early mornings? I erred on the side of adulthood and reached for my phone. Apartment hunting, light reading, annoying social media, then the New York Times. Soon, Dylan was up and moving. I heard his shoes snatched from their spot on the floor, the clink of his messenger bag clasp, then a perturbed, “hmm.”

Shuffle shuffle clink thud tap. Pause. “Honey, have you seen my wallet?”

I sleepily looked up. “No…where are your pants?” He pointed and said he’d already looked. I asked if he looked in his jacket pocket. It should be noted, I knew where his wallet was. At least, I had a good idea. We live in a studio apartment, there is literally no way to lose things unless they are stuffed into random purses, pockets, or have fallen behind a piece of furniture. His wallet was most likely on the bureau that houses our TV and linens. I waited. He said, “ah!” and held it up. I nodded and laid back down. He kissed me goodbye, ruffled sleepy Fred’s ears, and left. I resentfully threw the blanket off of me and got up to put some hot water on for coffee.

The New York Times article I was reading was about owning your singleness when you’re unattached, but how even in the quietest moments of even the most fabulous single person, loneliness can sometimes take over. I remember that feeling very well from my own single days, indeed. I recall a very particular moment at my local salon (best cheap and fast eyebrow wax in the city) when I laid down on the appropriated massage table, the sweet Mexican stylist leaned over me and gently brushed the hair away from her work surface. Suddenly, a wave came over me that wanted to ask her to do it again. I realized that I hadn’t been touched by another person in an intimate, sweet way in so long that I hungered for it and didn’t even know it. I will never forget the feeling of that sweep of her hand, it was motherly and kind, even if it was just part of her job. It was so lovely in that moment in fact, that I do not recall the hot wax and ripping hair that quickly followed. Just the sensation of a light but intentional touch.

I don’t remember where I was in life, why I was so alone, but I have very little doubt that it was mostly due to decisions of my own making. It took me a long time to realize that the majority of situations in which I find myself are – shock of all shocks – my own damn fault. Remaining single was, in some way, a sort of penance for the bad choices that lead up to single status in the first place. For the most part, I loved it. Total freedom, no critique, no obligation, go anywhere and do anything. Except for the most part, what I found I did more often than not, was drink a little too much or often, and wonder why I wasn’t invited to hang out with friends who I knew were all together without me (these are not mutually inclusive, but it was the hint of a well of loneliness I hadn’t fully known). It was when I began to scowl at loving couples on the CTA that I knew I was hitting a critical point.

So why is it now then, after settling down and living happily with a man I love, that I find myself missing a bit of that lonesome feeling? Maybe there was dignity in it, somehow. These days, I find myself saying, “we” much more than “I” in casual conversation about goods and plans, and I wonder if it’s as annoying to others as it sometimes is to me. I love being married, I wouldn’t trade it for a single hot second, but there is a certain amount of nostalgia for the do-whatever of those days. It’s impossible not to become a “we” since most decisions are made in tandem now, in spite of the deep need to somehow remain independent. But something kind of wonderful happens in the union, too. When I’m having a stir crazy day and feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin from being cooped up, he takes me for a beer or three (possibly the most effective pacifier). He does the dishes a few days in a row. He walks the dog an additional shift so I can stay inside and warm. And in exchange, I vacuum, gather the laundry together before we have to go do it, make sure the bills are paid on time, and what the calendar has coming. We work around each other well, and if he needs a hug or I need my hair brushed out of my face, we’re on it. We’re figuring it out, there is no room or need for loneliness now. In short, I know where his wallet is.

Lollygaggers!

I’ve come to a harsh realization: I am a slacker.

I am lazy, I nap whenever possible, and if I had my druthers I wouldn’t work manual labor (or much other kind) for the rest of my days.

There, I said it.

Now, this is not to say that I have no purpose in life. No, no, not true. Nor am I some kind of bacchanalian hedonist who only enjoys the good things. My pleasures, my purposes, are simple. Not paychecks or moving up a corporate ladder, these are not my dreams. I crave amazing foods, new places to explore, new experiences and conversations, new environments and people to talk to which also means sadness upon leaving, disappointment when something doesn’t shake out quite right, and the inevitable happy upswing when they do. These desires do not lend themselves well to a structured, habitual, 8-5 environment and if I’m honest, I always knew this about myself even from a very young age. Those job placements we take from time to time confirmed it; all the jobs I seemed to fit were not standard hour gigs: Teachers, scientists, lawyers, psychologists… those were the career suggestions they gave me. Not stockbroker or even homemaker (though in my more honest, domestic moments, I admit that I love keeping house when I have a house of my own to keep), but rather, positions that did not require a clock-punch. In fact, some of my most despised positions have been policed by clock-watchers, but I’ve said all that before.

So now that I’m back on the job hunt, I’ve felt a bit aimless about it. The idea of another 8-5 M-F thing was rubbing me the wrong way as I applied to one employer after another. Graphic design didn’t feel like the right move, even though it’s all I’ve known for a while. Social media marketing is still in its infancy and is hard to break into without a marketing degree (as useless as that is, anyway) and is largely still falling into the category of “sales”, which is unfair in some respects and grossly inaccurate in others. Regardless, I submitted some resumes to the food service industry because I’m comfortable there, it’s a language I speak fluently and an environment I find myself missing quite a bit from time to time. I can’t exactly wait tables or bartend anymore thanks to the herniated disc of ’14, but one surefire way to get back in, is administrative work through the front office. I keep trying, I keep waiting. While technically this would fall into the Regular Joe working hours thing, it would also allow for evenings, weekends, and special events tweeting, Instagramming, and marketing. These things appeal to me… at least, I say that now.

Two nights ago, we were having raclette with some friends of ours (it’s like horizontal fondue) and got to talking about Dylan’s school schedule and post-school prospects, and my job search  – which I might add, is probably one of the most boring conversations a person can have – when the wife of the couple mentioned transcription work. She had a friend who was a new mom and looking to stay occupied while making some money at home, and she started doing professional transcription for medical, industrial, scholastic, whatever. Basically, as best I understand it, the transcriber listens to dictated recordings someone makes and then types it all out, ergo, transcript. It requires fast WPM (86+ last test I took, thank you), a firm grasp of the English language, and good copywriting skills. Helllooooo!

I started to think: maybe the reason I’m feeling so restless about my prospects is because we’re hoping to move to warmer climes in a year or less if we can swing it. I don’t want to seek and start a dream job then quit if that’s to be the case, I really just need to make a paycheck to put towards that move. I do hate a daily commute, even if it’s wonderful for my book intake, and depending on Dylan’s prospects, he may need the car anyway, not to mention the money we’d save on public transit costs for one of us. Perhaps working from home is the best way to go, here. I loved that about freelancing, and it’s something I hope to be able to do no matter what I wind up with in the future. God willing, there’s a home office in it for me one day. So today I take several tests for several transcription placement websites, then I wait.

I have an interview in a few weeks for a marketing level II position, I need to do some research to see what I can bring to that party. Glassdoor tells me that the employer is good to work for and provides great benefits and pay, so that’s encouraging, but that they centralize all decisions and therefore it takes a long time to hire/fire/get anything done (they set the interview up for 30 days from initial conversation about a month after I applied, for example). That is a con, admittedly. Still, it’s good to have options and there is something to be said for leaving the house.

If the working-from-home thing becomes my particular normal, I would have to commit to a routine of not staying in pajamas until 3, and ideally not have to clear last night’s dishes off the table prior to going to work. I would need a designated space, which in a studio apartment is freaking impossible. These are speedbumps. Coffee shops aren’t options, too much ambient noise, and it’s an awful lot of typing so the library is a dicey prospect as well. Plus, it would have to start after Dylan is out of the house at work because the absent-minded throat-clearing and the talking to the dog… love ’em both but that can’t fly when I’m quite literally hanging on every word of the stranger on the other end of the earphones. These are speedbumps but not unworkable. There are even hourly rental office spaces nearby, though those may not be cost-effective in the longer run.

So there you have it. The slacker’s not-so-slacker version of a job search. If you have the ability to hoist out of bed every morning and post up at a desk for eight hours, God speed. We need people like you, you make the world go around at least in part, but not everyone is stitched from that fabric and that is ok. I’m grasping that and trying not to feel badly about it since the traditional world would say otherwise, along with better eating, more movement, and a general face towards a freaking exciting future. 2016… show me what you got!