Positively pregnant

Thursday, February 6, 2014

10:00 am

I’m sitting at my desk at work, counting and re-counting the days.  It should have happened by now. Actually, I should have started like around the 1st. It’s the 6th.

12:30 pm

Leila is home sick, so I stop in at lunch to check on her before going on to the next campus to teach my afternoon class. She’s fine.

I’m not.

I’m nervous.

I remember that there’s a pregnancy test under the cabinet in the bathroom.  I grab it, stuff it into my purse and head out the door. I call Charles as I’m driving, but he doesn’t answer. Good. It’s probably nothing anyway.

2:30 pm

Charles calls me back, but I’m in class and can’t answer the phone. I text him back to tell him that I’ll call him later. He responds “just text it to me”. So I do.

Me: “I’m late.”

Him: “Holy ****”

I rush to reassure him that it’s probably nothing, and I should have just waited until after I took a test. I tell him that I’ll take one later today.

4:15 pm

In the staff bathroom at work, I pull the test out of my purse, unwrap it, and do my thing.  Then I wait a few seconds.  My heart is pounding. Pretty quickly, a blue cross appears in the first circle, and a straight blue line in the 2nd.

Wait. What does that mean?!?

I don’t have the box or the directions, and I can’t remember if the cross just means the test works and the single line means NOT pregnant. Or is that a plus sign? Plus for pregnant?

I rush out of the bathroom and flip open my laptop to look up the test results for that particular brand online.  My eyes lock on the picture on the screen. The blue cross means yes.

Oh. My. God.

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How to make the world suck less

It smells like pee in here.  Pee and hopelessness.

I sat clutching my call number, scanning the room for the source of the sour smell.

I turned to my husband, nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Do you smell that?”

“What?”

“It smells like pee.”

“Oh, is that what that is? Maybe some kid couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom and went in the chair. “

This chair? Gross.

There’s nothing pleasant about sitting in these kinds of offices. The IRS, DMV, SSA, DHS, USPS, traffic court.  All the same.  Ambivalent, if not outright disgruntled, employees. Long lines. Unnecessary restrictions. I mean, why can’t you read in traffic court? No reading? Seriously?

They must be afraid that we’ll learn something.  Knowledge is power. And this, my friends, is why it is regulated by those determined to keep it for themselves.

I’d had to come to the IRS office to get a copy of my 2012 tax return transcript to send to the student loan company. They were trying to charge me $1500 a month to pay back my grad school loan.  Fifteen hundred dollars!  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This experience offered its first sign of insult in the form of, well, a sign.  One-hour limits on free parking (at an office that averages a wait-time of 2.5 hours).  In fact, the IRS employs a whole person to sit on a scooter, hiding out in the paid parking garage, to monitor the visitors, presumably to note when your one-hour limit is up so that he can scoot over and slap a ticket on your windshield.  Want to avoid a ticket? Then you have to come out of the office every hour and move your car to another spot. Hopefully, your call number won’t come up while you’re outside, and the numbers aren’t called in order, so…

Upon entering the office, you have to go through security: three surly guards, a conveyor belt, and a walk-through metal detector.

My husband and I had been directed over to a long line in a narrow hallway to await permission to enter the actual waiting room, where we’d have to stand in another line to get a call number, sit down and wait some more.

“Hey! Hey!  Don’t sign the sign-in sheet! DON’T sign it”

I leaned out of line.  The security guard was essentially shouting at a woman who, instead of being clairvoyant enough to know that the sign-in sheet is for other guests of the building, not for those going to the IRS office, had stopped to sign-in.

Really, was all that necessary?  How was she supposed to know?  Why not a simple, “Excuse me ma’am. If you’re going to the IRS office, you don’t have to sign this”?

Moments later, I heard the same guard rudely inform another entering family that they could not bring in more than 3 electronic items.  “You gon’ have to take that back to your car.”

You’d think they were paying her to be an asshole.  If she had been polite, maybe coming to the IRS office wouldn’t suck so much.

I realized that this is what makes going to places like this so unpleasant. It’s not the place.  It’s the people.

People aren’t nice.

Maybe it’s because they think it would take too much to do it.  Maybe it’s because some are actually assholes.  There’s not much one can do about the latter.  Thank god & the universe for karma.

In response to the first possible reason, I offer you Exhibit A.

Benefit-Cost Chart

*cost-benefit ratio for “giving away money” is circumstantially dependent (i.e. giving a crackhead $5 may result in a BCR <1, while paying off the hitman who is targeting your family has a significantly higher BCR…at least on TV.)

Conclusion:  Being kind is an ideal investment.  Low cost. High potential return.

I want to live like my default setting is kindness and courtesy instead of cruelty or complaint.

In an effort to be kind, here are four things I’m going to do. On purpose.

  1. Smile at someone who looks serious, sad, worried or angry
  2. Pause and sincerely thank people with service jobs (servers, cashiers, receptionists, tellers… anybody who does stuff for me).
  3. Compliment a stranger (nothing creepy)
  4. Surprise somebody with something thoughtful

It’s tempting to say that one person can’t make a difference in a world full of stupid people.

Stop waiting on the world to change. You are the world. Change yourself.

Are you gonna try it? What are some other easy ways to show kindness?  Post below.

It’s a gas

I’m inordinately paranoid about going to the dentist.  Afraid that the drill will slip out of my dentist’s hands and accidentally bore out my eyeball, or that I will have to have a root canal.  And it happened.  The root canal, not the eyeball thing, which totally could happen. I’ve seen a lot of medical tv shows.

Actually, it was 2 root canals and a deep filling.  In spite of brushing and occasional flossing, I always get cavities.  Lots of them.  I’m told that it’s genetic.  I refuse to believe that it’s because of the occasional (okay… rare) flossing. Flossing is gross, but so is putting your dentures in a glass by the sink. So there’s that.

Did I mention how much I hate going to the dentist?

What follows are my thoughts from the chair. *********************************************************************************************************************************************

The “you’re gonna feel a little pinch” thing is an understatement.  Why don’t they just go ahead tell you the truth?

I’m about to stab your gums with a needle now. Then I’m going to twist it a little and pump some really nasty venom in it.  It won’t start working for a while.  But it won’t wear off before you need to be seen in public either. Ready?

A good 3 minutes after I can no longer feel the entire right side of my face, the dentist returns.  He asks me questions about my job as he fires up the drill.  The sound.  The smell of burning tooth dust. My entire body seizes up. I can’t with that drill. I just can’t.  That’s when he offers me nitrous.

Laughing gas? I’ve never had it before. Why not.

A minute or two later, the hygienist is putting a little plastic mask over my nose.

I concentrate on controlling my breathing.  I don’t want to breath too deeply or too often because I don’t want the hygenist thinking I’m some kind of druggie or something. If I keep taking huge drags of gas, she’ll judge me. Don’t judge me!

I try to hold my breath for a few seconds, only succeeding in making myself gasp in even MORE gas, which made me twitch a little.  “Ha, you can’t even do drugs right. Amateur.” She said…in her mind.  But her mouth said, “You okay?” Great.  She feels sorry for me now.  Don’t feel sorry for me!

The gas tells me that the hygienist is evil, but not to even worry about it.

She keeps aiming the water sprayer at the back of my throat, which I’m certain is intentional.  The suction tube dangles limp in her latex-gloved hand until the dentist barks “Suction” through his SARS mask.  Water begins pooling in the back of my mouth.  I imagine a tiny Indiana Jones dangling from my uvula, panicking about the rising water.  Indy!  Use your whip! Use your whip!

I gag.  The hygienist takes this as a sign that I’ve had enough gas.  She is wrong.

I have not had enough, but she turns it down anyway.  I take a couple of deep breaths and hold it, trying to increase the buzz.  I’ve seen people on tv do this while smoking weed.  [<–another example of the importance of carefully placed modifiers. Grammar ninja out]. profiles_Ninja_me_5934_528387

I’m gonna ask them to give Leila nitrous when she comes, too.  She’s such a panicky child.  It’ll make a her feel all calm and stuff.  This must be what being high feels like.  Yeah.

Wait.

I don’t want her to feel high.  She might like it and start doing drugs with boys in abandoned buildings.  It’s a slippery slope.  It starts at a dentist’s office and ends with prostitution.  I don’t want her to be a prostitute.  My eyes begin to water at the thought.  The dentist sees that I am clearly in pain and gestures for the hygenist to check the tank and turn the gas back up.

Yes!

I lie there thinking up new cupcake flavors for the remainder of the procedure. Amaretto anise. Ha! What if that was somebody’s name? Rum & coke. Something with celery? Can you put kale in a cupcake? Hipsters love that shit.

Then the accounts lady brings me the updated treatment plan.  “One side done. We’ll do the left side when you come back. Just a couple more fillings and crowns.”  I ask her how much it’ll cost.  She says something about $1,400.  Vibe. Killed.

That was over a year ago.

Today, I found myself thinking about how much easier it would be to endure the craziness of working at a high school, or going to my mom’s house, or finding a parking spot at HEB on Sunday if I had my own private supply of laughing gas.  It sure would be easier to put up with people.  On the other hand, it would be considerably harder for me to get anything done. I already have self-diagnosed, selective ADD, and I procrastinate like crazy (par exemple… it took me 13 months to finish writing this).

Hey, what can I say? My life is stressful.  Some of the stress is legitimate. Some fabricated.  I just need to learn how to manage it without drugs, of course.

Philosopher and psychologist, William James, said…

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

This week, when I inevitably find myself stressing about something, like paying back my grad school loans, or what pants to wear, I’ll just think about this:

At least I’m not in prison like Piper Chapman.  I bet they don’t even let inmates have laughing gas.