Saturday, June 28, 2008

Am I an Idiot?

I got a lot of stuff that's wrong with me. Allergies. Nearsightedness. Gingivitis. Chronic Prepatellar Bursitis. Insomnia. Anxiety Disorder. IBS. Lactose Intolerance. This week chalked another one onto the list. I think I may be gluten intolerant too.

I started researching on Wednesday. After reading up on it, I went for a run. The list of symptoms circled through my head.

That damn weird metal taste!

Dry skin? Is that why I'm itchy all the time?

Poor tooth enamel! I did think it odd that I've been drinking coffee since the age of fourteen, but I didn't get stains until last year.

Fatigue? Hell yes. I drink 5 cups of green tea every morning. (Having cut the coffee 'cos of the tooth stains).

Back pain? Hmmm... birthday blog?

IBS. Lactose Intolerance. Decreased appetite. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Depression. Don't get me started.

All the while I'm thinking this, I'm chugging up this hill I've chugged up a million times over the past year, feeling like I'm going to die.

POOR MUSCLE TONE AND INABILITY TO LOSE WEIGHT.

Oh. My. God. I stopped in my tracks.

Is that why I've been working out six days a week for the last three years, and barely shaved off five pounds?

So I decided to go gluten-free, just to see what would happen.

Now I know what you are thinking: Shouldn't you go to a doctor, Anney?

Wake up, people. This is America. I don't have health insurance.

For the past three years, I've self-diagnosed myself as a lot of things. Mostly all of these ailments could be fixed through diet. So I played with my diet. Then last year I went to a doctor, who certified that I had done good homework, that I was right with my assessments.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think I am fit to stand in for a doc. Lest I end up like Sylvia Plath's father, who mistakenly diagnosed his diabetes as cancer, and died of a gangrenous leg. I do plan to go to the doctor again. Once I finish my book. Once I get a job. Once I get insurance. Somehow. Somewhere. Someday.

I keep thinking though... Neither the doctor or I was able to correctly diagnose me, as I still have problems. It makes me wonder - is self-diagnosing valuable? Can we poor bastards use it to put off a costly visit, at least for a while? Or is it terribly dangerous and am I an idiot?

I'm going to have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

30

My birthday reminded me of a pasta commercial. You know-Mom goes to market, cooks in the kitchen, presents food to family, who chatter and laugh around the table. Only for my birthday, it wasn't my mom cooking; it was me.

It's ironic. My lack of mommification definitely ruled as my biggest worry throughout my 29th year. While I'm not in any rush to get married or procreate, nor am I sure I want to, I still feel like I haven't grown up all the way. I haven't gone through any of the typical stages that denounces one an adult.

I mean, a month ago, I moved back in with my parents.

But it doesn't feel like I moved back in with my parents. Everyone works all the time. Everyone has his or her own agenda. Everyone's getting along. It's like we're... dare I say it... friends...?

Two minutes into my birthday dinner, we were cracking up laughing.

Moira's boyfriend became a cop last week. She thread her fingers into a gun and waved it around the table, telling us: "David's getting his weapons qualification! Then he has to take his gun with him EVERYWHERE."

"So he's going to have to bring his gun here?" I squeaked.

Matthew pretended to be Dave, sitting down at dinner and accidentally setting off his gun. "Oh no! Elmo!" he said.

Dad erupted with a barking laugh. He hates our cat, Elmo.

"I knew there was something I liked about that boy!" he roared.

Moira's eyes filled with tears and she cried, "Kitty!"

Which only made us laugh harder.

On our plates was a healthy version of our typical birthday menu. Vegan pizza. Vegan cake. No refined sugar. It went over surprisingly well.

Originally my mother said that she wasn't eating the pizza, freaked out by soy cheese. But she did and with a full mouth, garbled, "This is amazing!"

My dad remarked on how it left him satiated, but not uncomfortably so.

"I think you're onto something here," he said.

And that was the best present-to know that I'm slowly winning them over to healthier eating. Ha!

Next came the cake, or as Matthew called it, "colon cleanser." Can you imagine a cake without eggs? I couldn't. But it worked. Even if the icing was a little runny.

Everyone ate it and got chocolate everywhere. Unlike when we were kids, Mom didn't shriek about our clothes and the tablecloth, and Dad didn't growl about the furniture or the rug. The didn't have to. Us kids know the drill by now. Dab the stain with ice and water. No big deal.

As we stacked the plates and took them to the kitchen, I realized that I HAVE grown up, because WE have all grown up as a family. We've grown together, becoming more like a family, instead of separating like so many do. We've grown in a way that makes us get along better.

Mom's more sarcastic. Dad's less so. Matthew's happy. Cat saves her temper tantrums for a day that's not someone's birthday. Moira talks. I listen.

Together, we are a group of adults who enjoy each other's company. We ARE friends.

Realizing that made me feel thirty.

That, and waking up the next day to discover I'd thrown my back out from all that cooking.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ugly Naked Girl

One of the problems with moving back home is that you bump into your past all the time. It's never the people you'd like to see again. It's the ones you'd like to forget.

Last Wednesday, my BFF of twenty years, Plak, gave birth to her first daughter. I went to the hospital, and rocked my soon-to-be goddaughter in a rocking chair, while talking to Plak and her husband. Rain and thunder beat against the dark windows. All of us felt quite serene and amazed at the miracle of life.

Then Plak's mom, Miss Jen, came in.

"Anney, Mike Shaw is looking for you."

"What? Why?"

"He wants to apologize. He wants to take you out to coffee."

"Oh God." I rolled my eyes.

This guy, Mike Shaw (not his real name), is a nurse with Miss Jen at the hospital. Fifteen years ago, he and I were sophomores, flirting in the halls of our Catholic high school.

One weekend, we'd gotten together at his house while his parents were out. I'd sat on his bed, trying not to talk about my ex-boyfriend, who was also his best friend, and the whole reason I was there. Call it revenge. Call it a rebound. I just wanted to get the pains in my heart to stop.

But as we leaned in, drawing our faces closer together, I felt the air punch out of my stomach. You know how faces look different up close? That was Mike Shaw. From a kissing distance, he looked creepy, almost alien-like, with dripping desperate eyes and a tiny pointy chin. I pulled back. I couldn't do it.

He said it was okay.

Rejection is never okay to a fifteen year old boy. Next week in school, he told everyone that we'd almost hooked up-but that the sight of me sans clothing made him physically unable to take it "further." Not only did he lie about what happened, he also painted this portrait of me as an ugly naked girl, when I hadn't even taken my clothes off.

Now, fifteen years later, after the military, college, nursing school, Mike Shaw wants to apologize, officially.

Miss Jen said, "I think he's really changed. He's grown up."

I'm not so sure.

Supposedly, we grow up, get jobs, husbands, wives, kids, and we realize what's important. The old petty drama doesn't matter anymore. By asking me to coffee, Mike Shaw implies that it DOES still matter, that there IS a need for an apology. The slate is still dirty; the childish rumors and adolescent rejections stay with us. In that way, I see him as growing down.

Why would I take time out of my day, so he can get this off his chest, and feel better about the past? If consensus gives words their true definitions, then Mike wants the absolution that I'll never have. He goes down in high school history as a funny guy; I'm the ugly naked girl.

I'm not bitter. I just don't want to go to coffee and rehash all of that again.

So for the next two days, I came to visit my BFF and the baby, I moved through the hospital hallways, as stealth as a member of the A-Team. I took the stairs. Down the corridors, I crept, ducking behind nurse's stations and in doorways.

Not until I reached Plak's room, sat down in the rocking chair with my goddaughter, did I feel safe. I looked down into her big ponderous eyes and felt cradled by the clear, clean promise of the future.