CJDaily's Blog

August 29, 2009

I deserve some extra nice karma for my restraint…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 5:49 pm

For those of you who were aware that I took the summer off to find a new job, you will be relieved to know I am now currently employed and my new job starts on Monday.  I will not be mentioning WHERE I work, however, or regaling you with any hilarious stories about my new-found employment, because 1. The corporation let me know that is against their policy, and 2. I once blogged about my old job on this site and a spot of bother erupted over it, which concluded in me deleting that post.  So you’ll have to be contented with me simply saying that I am excited about this new job, which pays me a larger starting sum than the salary I was making after 5 years at my old job, and also is providing benefits and daycare for Belle.  So, yay. 

On a different note, I was at the grocery store yesterday, going about my business as normal.  I had just checked out and paid and was walking towards the exit door, beside which is stationed one of those Red Box things, from which you can rent dvds for a dollar.  And my eyes drifted towards it, and towards the girl standing in front of it.  And it was like one of those moments in a movie where everything slows down, and the person in focus is the only thing clear, and you can hear a chorus of violins playing a high shrieking note that says “Danger!  Evil!”  The person in focus is usually wearing a hockey mask or holding a chainsaw or somebody’s boyfriend’s severed head, but the person in my view did not look at all threatening UNLESS YOU WENT TO MIDDLE SCHOOL WITH HER.

My dear God, I thought as I nearly came to a screeching halt.  It’s HER.  The girl that made my life a living hell from third to sixth grade.  I won’t mention her name but she was a BULLY.  There’s no other word for it.  This girl lived in my neighborhood, was in my class, was part of my Girl Scout Troop, and for some reason unbeknownst to me to this day, SHE DIDN’T LIKE ME.  Me!  Quiet, nerdy, full of painful anxieties and habits far beyond my age (like curling up under a desk to read Gone With the Wind during fifth grade free period, instead of playing hangman on the chalkboard with all the other girls.)  I wasn’t a threat, but I was, apparently, a target.  She made fun of me every day on the bus, picking on my hair, (kind of frizzy), or my clothes (not cool clothes), or the book I would bury my nose in to try and block out her screechy voice.

“Little Women?”  Her voice was always louder than everyone else’s, probably because she knew she had an audience–all the other kids who were relieved she wasn’t picking on them and would eagerly laugh at anything she said.  “Are you reading about turning into a woman?  Does it tell you when you get your period?”  The other girls would giggle nervously, as though any of them had gotten their period yet.  But periods are both funny and gross to girls in middle school, and her even saying the word out loud was a testament to her daring, her pugnaciousness. 

I would refuse to look up from my book, trying hard to squeeze myself into the corner of my seat.  She’d find something else to pick on.  “Aren’t those the jeans you were wearing yesterday?  Are they from Walmart?  Tell us where you shop, Christina!”  I’d look up at her and find nothing to say, and look back down at my book with cheeks burning.  Later at night, I would inevitable stand in front of my bathroom mirror, thinking of scathing retorts and witty comebacks to throw at her.  I’d practice my look of disdain, and compose full monologues reviling her, monologues I could never seem to remember when she was around. 

The funny thing about looking back now is realizing that this girl had nothing going for her.  Her only nice attribute was her long blond hair, that fell almost to her butt.  It was pretty hair.  Her face, however, was broad and thick, with small, beady eyes set too closely together.  Her nose, fittingly, was piggy and upturned, with narrow nostrils like someone had put a clothespin on it when she was born.  She had the making of a double chin, and the stocky build of a future field hockey player.  I guess her clothes were cool, probably from The Limited and GAP and other places my mother wouldn’t have dreamed of taking me.  But I could never get past her face.

Oh, how I dreamed of saying something really nasty to her!  I had recurring dreams that she would say something mean to me in class, and in those dreams I’d slap her in the face, then take a pair of scissors and with one swift cut, chop off all her cornsilk hair.  “Now there’s NOTHING nice about you,” my dream self would say as I left her weeping in devastation.  But in person that was likely to get me a in-school suspension, not to mention I’d rather use those scissors to remove my own arm rather than do anything at school to get in trouble.  I was a nerd, but too shy to say anything smart in class, a goody-goody who wasn’t cool enough to fit in with the other goody-goodies.  So I’d let her keep insulting me, and steadfastly keep my nose in the book of the day. 

So here she was, standing in front of me in the grocery store, over fifteen years later.  That same fear that used to sweep over me when I saw her in the halls or on the bus came flooding back to me.  But suddenly that fear was overtaken by a much stronger feeling.   A VERY ANGRY FEELING.  That old urge to walk up to her and slap her crept up behind me and grabbed my shoulders, but this time I wasn’t dreaming. I was wide awake. 

What are you waiting for? my urge whispered.  Go pop her in the nose!

Um, I can’t just go PUNCH somebody!  I reasoned with him hastily.  For starters, we’re in public.  I could go to jail.  I don’t purposely DO things to get in trouble!  Remember?

But she made your life hell!  he argued, and he had a point.  But no matter how heinous somebody was to you in middle school, I don’t think a judge would be that lenient.  Besides, we’re grown-ups now, right?  I’m a twenty-seven year old woman, and a mom on top of that, and here I am shopping for groceries like grownups do, and all of a sudden I’m back in sixth grade, remembering how I used to not go into the bathroom if I knew she was in there.  I would hold it for a whole hour, just so I could pee in peace, and not have to listen to her joke to her friends about how maybe I was in there masturbating–another topic that is both hilarious and taboo to nine year olds. 

And I realised I was getting angrier by the minute just standing there.  I wanted to walk over, to smile a really bitchy smile and see if she recognized me.  Cause honey, I may have had frizzy hair and awful uneven bangs that my mom used to cut for me, and thick glasses, and a shiny forehead and un-cool clothes that yes, were probably from Walmart, but now?  NOW?  Bitch, I look GOOD!  I bought myself a straightener and learned how to use a blow-dryer and my glasses, I have it on good authority from many men, are SEXY!  And I don’t wear clothes from Walmart anymore, but if I DO?  IF I DO?  WHO CARES?  I am WAY hotter than you!

I wanted to march right over there and say, “Hi.  You might not remember me but I saw your potato head and your pig face from way over there and I know you.  You’re a bitch, and a bully, and how dare you pick on a little girl who never did a thing to you!  You made my life hell and I can only hope that karma has come back and bitten you in your fat ass cause you have an ugly face and an ugly soul, and you are NOT A NICE PERSON.” 

But did I do that?  Can you guess what I did?  Did I follow my urge and give the Bully the verbal spanking that she deserved way back when? 

Of course not.  I slowed down, and yes, I swear that all of this passed through my mind as I was walking by the Red Box, and I was probably outright staring at her, but I collected myself, and I took the high road.  I just… walked away.  

Who knows why she was so nasty to me?  She probably knew she was ugly and masked her insecurity with anger and spite.  I’m sure she’d be gobsmacked if she ever knew how badly her words hurt me.  I mentioned all this to Jesse, and he regarded me with astonishment.  “You remember that stuff?” he asked.  “It was so long ago!”  Of course it was.  That’s the point.  If somebody said that stuff to me today, I’m secure enough to laugh it off, or counter back with something clever.  But back then I was painfully shy and anxious and desperate just to blend in, and this girl picked me apart daily, like a vulture exposing my tender flesh to the rest of the circling beasts.  Those were vulnerable years, and I bet everyone who was ever a nerd or an outsider can point to one person in their past and say, “That guy.  THAT guy used to make me miserable and I’d gladly run him over in my car today.” 

One year when I was a camp counselor for a group of third graders, one of them was a girl named Claire.  Claire reminded me of myself at that age in every way possible–the hair, the awkward shyness, the hesitant but hopeful smile.  I went out of my way to be nice to Claire that summer.  I made sure she knew just how special she was, because I wanted her to know that who you are matters so much more than the clothes you’re wearing or who you hang out with.  Everything changes, except who YOU are on the inside.  “Never be afraid to speak up for yourself,” I wanted to tell her.  “You need to love yourself and tell everybody who disagrees to suck it.”  But since I didn’t think I could really say that and have it come off as not crazy, I just made sure to complement the things she did well.  I made sure she knew her big green eyes, (behind her thick glasses) were beautiful.  And I gave her a hug every day.

I will do the same thing with Annabelle, when she is old enough to understand.  For starters, I’ll probably let her dress a little cooler than my mom dressed me.  Also, I won’t cut her bangs the day before school starts with dull kitchen scissors.  But most importantly, I will tell her you need to be nice to everyone, whether you’re a nerd or a cheerleader, because if you’re not, someday someone might come up to you in the grocery store and punch you in the face.

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August 27, 2009

I think his name was Abdul… all I know is that he saved me.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:37 pm

I’ve been in a big fight with Paypal for the last few months.  I don’t shop on Ebay all the time, but I’ll go through little spurts of finding things online, and then maybe stop for a year or five.  So the deal was, when I’d originally signed up for my Paypal account it was so long ago that I forgot the email address and password to log on.  Nothing I typed in helped, no combination of old email accounts and passwords unlocked anything.  And I’ve used the same user-names and the same passwords, or variations of those passwords, for a long time now, so it was frustrating in the utmost to keep getting a big fat DENIED when trying to log on. 

Thinking, “No big deal, I’ll just create a new account,” I ran into my second problem.  I only have ONE credit card.  Just one.  So obviously I’d used it when setting up my original Paypal account.  When I entered all my new information, plus this credit card number, it told me that credit card was already in use in a Paypal account and could NOT be used again.  And I was all frothing at the mouth like, “Yes!  I know that, thanks!”

Selecting the “I forgot my password” option did not help–as it needed my email to send it to me.  The email account I obviously could not recall, as it was rejecting all the old ones I offered it.  So I had to do the unthinkable.  I had to ask my sweet and loving boyfriend if I could use his Paypal account.

Being the gem that he is, he told me lovingly that his money was mine and I could use his account whenever I pleased.  Now, some women out there might be thinking “SCORE!” but before you get too excited, let me point out that this is not like being handed Daddy’s credit card.  When you purchase something on Paypal, it immediately SENDS YOU AN EMAIL.  An email to THE CARDHOLDER. 

In other words, it sends your boyfriend a notification of everything you buy, at what time, and for how much. 

OBVIOUSLY NOT A GOOD THING. 

(Not that I shop a lot.  Ahem…)

Anyway, I had to resolve this, and quickly.  I used Jesse’s account once or twice, always making sure to let him know beforehand so he didn’t call his bank in a panic.  But now with him saving every penny to buy a house, my days of potentially unrestricted spending are at a standstill.  So tonight I did the unthinkable.  I CALLED Paypal.

(This story will now be told in the first person, as I constantly switch over to it without even thinking about it.)

I actually brave the customer service help-line.  A line that is answered by an aggressively perky recorded voice who demands that I type all sorts of things into my phone so she can “identify” me.  And since I’ve mentioned that I don’t KNOW the information associated with my account anymore, I’m sure we all know how that went down. 

“I’m sorry,” her voice echoes mechanically for the third time, “I was unable to identify you.  Please enter the phone number you have associated with your account.”

I give up and press zero, hoping for a human.  Undeterred, she starts a new line of questioning.  “If you would like to purchase something/add a bank account/reset your password/accept a payment/beat your head against the wall, please press the following numbers.”  Since there is no number option for “Please just help me with my complicated problem!” I jab zero again.

She sounds decidedly chiller now that I am refusing all of her pre-recorded aid.  “If you would like to speak to a customer service representative, please hold.”  Yes! I think in triumph, just before she adds smugly, “You call will be taken in the order it is received.  Your estimated time on hold will be ten minutes.”  I think I hear her call me a clueless bitch just before the elevator music clicks on, but I don’t even care.  I am going to talk to a human about my problem that is too specific to be numerically punched into my phone.

I pick up a book and start reading, with one hand holding the phone up to my ear.  The tinny music is backed by someone (a male recorded voice, maybe the emotionally abused husband of the evil recorded lady) advising me of the awesomeness of using Paypal, and also how my problem could probably be solved by hanging up and going to their website to fix it myself.  I’m not even joking. 

This guy, who sounds kind, but sad, like his marriage to Evil Recorded Lady is falling apart but dammit he loves her anyway, this guy is telling me that after all my hard work getting past his wife’s recorded clutches, just to hang up and go to the website.  “Nobody’s really here to help you,” is the defeated  subtext of what he’s saying.  He sighs and lights a cigarette, staring off into the distance.  “Only you can help yourself.”

I refuse to let his attitude bring me down.  It’s been five minutes and I’m still going strong.  I tune out his melancholy and keep reading, studiously not looking at the clock.  What do I care how long I sit here with the phone to my ear?  I’ve got nothing but time, man, nothing but time.

Then, magically, I hear it.  The music stops, there is a brief pause, and then a fuzzy, far away sounding voice with an accent straight out of Slumdog Millionaire says,”Mzzzah muzzzag Paypal, mmmzurkah?”

“Um, huh?  Hello?” I gasp breathlessly.  I sneak a look at the clock, triumphant that I held on for almost twenty minutes, refusing to hang up on my dream of an account of my own.

“Hello thank you for calling Paypal, how are you today?”

“Um, I’m fine thanks.” I stammer.  “How are you?”

He hesitates.  I guess nobody ever reciprocates on that one.  Or maybe nobody ever makes it past fifteen minutes of the elevator music and Defeated Recording Guy’s depressed anthem. 

“I am very fine, thank you very much,” he says.  “Can I have the phone number associated with your account?”

“But I don’t know what it is!” I burst out, and then start spilling my guts to this guy who is sitting in a call station somewhere, probably Dubai.  I confess I have no clue what my phone number, email or password is, only the credit card number and could he PLEASE help me cancel the old account and let me open a new one, or he will be dooming me to a life of shopping under my boyfriend’s watchful eye.

At first he seems a little confused.  But for someone whose primary language may not even be English, he does a great job of reassuring me that he is going to do everything in his power to help me out.  I give him everything I DO know about the account, which is precious little, and he does a commendable job of not reaching through the phone and smacking me when I answer all of his questions with “Well it COULD be this email address… but it could be this one too… oh and that password had “cupcake” added to the end of it, but only when I used it on Ebay… or on Tuesdays…”

Finally, we have victory,  He deletes my old account, which belonged to an email I didn’t even remember having, and a password I didn’t even bother inquiring about.  He sounds like he is sweating profusely, and is a little apprehensive when asking, “Have I helped you with all of your Paypal needs for today?”  I’m sure he’s expecting me to say something like, “Well no, I need you to find one more account but all I remember about it was that the card I used was lavender, and it was raining the day I signed up…”  I assure him that he has been most helpful and I am forever in his debt. 

I also tell him if he should run into Evil Recorded Lady by the water cooler, to tell her I said to suck it!  I win!

August 26, 2009

If I say I’m not getting my hopes up, maybe it will be true…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 5:51 pm

Jesse is in the market to buy a house.  He wants my opinion on these houses he’s looking at because, well, chances are good (he assures me) that I’ll be living there too at some point.  (Like maybe after he asks me an important question, cough cough…).

So this weekend we got into the car around noon on Saturday and spent the following six hours looking at houses.  Jesse had been combing the online listings of houses for the past month or so, and had 3 folders of houses for me to peruse.  One folder had houses he loved, one had houses that might be ok, and the third had houses that were ugly or small but were in the right location or at a good price.  So I went through them all and made a pile I thought we should look at.  Then he made a pile of his own, then we put them all together, mapped out each one from closest to farthest, and set out on our adventure.  We stopped only once that day, to have lunch and give poor Belle a chance to stretch her antsy little legs. 

At some houses we stopped and lingered, some were having open houses so we went in and looked around.  Some we pulled up to and immediately said “No!” and kept driving.  Jesse’s biggest concern for a house is that it’s within a half an hour drive to work, and my biggest qualification is that it have two bathrooms.  He thinks I’m crazy, having grown up with one bathroom and not knowing the sheer joy of not having to wait outside the door while someone takes their sweet time and you contemplate peeing in the garden.  I told him that no matter how long people are married, everyone deserves a chance to poop in peace and private.  Not that I poop.  But if I were going to, you know, I’m sure I’d want to know that no one will waltz in to brush their teeth mid-defecation.  And won’t it be nice for guests to have their own toilet?  He says it’s not important, but I am holding firm. 

Anyway, it was nearing five o’clock and we were down to the last house.  I pulled the printed pages out of the folder and passed them to him so he could see the address and he looked down and frowned. 

“Did you put this one in the pile?”

I looked at the picture of the house more closely, and shrugged.  “Maybe?  I don’t know.  I thought this was one of yours.”

He shook his head, but turned the car in the right direction.  “Well, let’s go check it out since we’re nearby.”

We drive up a winding gravel road that we can only assume is a back road of some sort, and it puts us on a long paved road called Riverview Drive.  We are pretty sure there’s a river following the road, but the trees and foliage are so dense that we can’t tell.  The road comes upon a more open space, with forest on one side, and an open field on the other. 

“There it is.”  Jesse points up ahead, and through the trees we see a tall, plain brick house.  We pull up into the gravel driveway and park.  With the engine turned off, it is suddenly very quiet.  It looks as though no one lives here, but we can’t be certain.  We roll down the windows and just take it in.  I can hear a cricket chirping, IT IS THAT QUIET.  No cars, no dogs barking, no music or lawnmowers.

“This looks nicer than it does in the picture,” Jesse notes, and I agree.  Even Belle is quiet, looking out the window from her carseat with interest.  It’s a tall brick house, (two and a half floors, the printed listing tell us) with white painted posts on the porch.  We get out of the car and start walking slowly around the house.  I can see Jesse mentally noting improvements we could make.  He cups his hands around the glass in the side door and looks in.

“Wow.”

“What?”  I hurry over and peek in beside him.  In an old house like this I’m expecting to see holes in the floor and moss in the corners so I am nothing short of shocked when I see a totally new kitchen, with nice maple cabinets and a clean white tiled floor. 

“Huh.”  I am beyond pleased and Jesse is too.  We hurry around to the front, noting the size of the porch with pleasure, making comments about how we could add a railing, put rocking chairs here, a swing there.  The front door is new, the windows look sound.  We can’t see anything past the closed lace curtains and we are itching to see more of the inside.  We keep exploring, roaming the large grass lawn (2/3 acre, says our paper) and are stunned to find an actual gurgling stream on the property line.  One the other side of the stream is a fence, and a very large hill that looks like a cow pasture, or maybe a horse farm.  Across the street on the other side of the house, maybe a quarter of a mile away, is another house; our only neighbor. 

We get back in the car, looking at each other with trepidation.  We are both afraid to admit out loud how much we like this house, for fear we’ll jinx it. 

“Oh man,” I sigh out loud.

“Yeah,” he agrees.  “Should we call Fran?”  His boss at the restaurant is also a realtor.

“Oh yeah,” I assure him.  “Like now.”

As we pull out of the driveway Jesse confesses, “I really thought this house was going to be a waste of time.  I figured we’d just come see it for the heck of it.” 

We laugh at the irony of it all—neither of us is sure who put that house in the pile, and it is the farthest away of all—an exact half an hour from Bethlehem.  But the price is low, and the taxes are half what we’d been looking at on other houses.   Twenty-four hours later we are back in the car with Fran, headed back out to this farmhouse built in 1856.  When Fran lets us in we admire the new kitchen, the new carpets, the fresh paint.  The stairs are steep and narrow, like most old houses, but it adds to the character.  We could always knock them out and put in new ones, with the money we’d save by buying a house this cheap.  The “half  floor” turns out to be the attic, which could be finished and made into another bedroom or playroom.

The fireplace alone makes our jaws drop—it comes up to my chin, and both Jesse and I could sit comfortably in it.  Of course, fireplaces were pretty big during The Civil War, and we could roast a whole pig in this one.  To finish it all off, it’s even in a great school district, despite its remote location.  Maybe we’re nuts for loving this tiny, antique house but it has charm, is a good price, has laughably low taxes, and can be added onto if need be. 

SO… we’re going to put in an offer.

August 21, 2009

Sailing, sailing, over the ocean, er, river blue…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:24 pm

My dad, sister, Belle and I all went out on our boat today.  It was unbelievably hot, but with the wind going it was pretty nice.  Belle loved it, as she loves all water sports, but doesn’t understand why she can’t just get up and roam around while we’re going 50 mph down the Delaware in a vehicle with no roof.  She’d sit on my lap for a while until she wanted to go sit with Gigi, and we’d slow down for the trade-off, and then speed back up once she was settled.  Then after ten minutes she’d decide she wanted her Grampy and turn around to try and go to him, so we’d slow down again and get her situated.  And ten minutes later, well, you can guess the drill…

I feel bad because even though I slathered her in waterproof, spf 50 sunscreen, I seem to have missed a spot on her face.  The spot around her entire right eye, to be exact.  She looks kind of like a Dalmatian puppy with a red, instead of black, patch over her eye.  It’s just that it’s SO HARD to put sunscreen on the kid, let alone trying to get it close enough to her eyes that her skin doesn’t burn, but not so close that I’m rubbing it on her retinas!  I’m usually pretty good at it, I mean, we spent a whole week down the shore and not one day did she get burnt.  But today I failed, and now my child looks like I either punched her in the eye, or deliberately left a circle of her face un-screened.

Of course, I only applied half my own sunscreen too, since I was more worried about her, as usual.  Gigi offered to put some on my back, so that part of me was safe, and when I was done applying Belles’ I simply wiped all the excess that was on my hands onto my face, and rubbed it in ’til it was gone.  So my face is not burned, either.  But my arms, and the top of my legs are a nice pink color, the type of which you see on a salmon, or perhaps industrial grade highlighter.  So at least I’m worse off than Annabelle, who I may be calling Patch until her burn fades. 

At least it’s not as bad as our second day of vacation, when Jesse headed down to the beach a half an hour before us so he could surf.  I applied my own sunscreen like I usually do, but he always gets my back for me.  So I did the best I could, and set off for the beach.  I suppose I meant to ask him to spot check me when he got out of the water, but when do I ever remember anything five seconds after the fact?  Fast forward to later that night, I had a strangely shaped burn across my back that looked somewhat like a legless Brontasaurus.  You could clearly see where the extent of my stretching ability ended.  Jesse spent the whole rest of the vacation smirking in suppressed hilarity every time he walked behind me, and I spent the rest of it laying on my stomach, trying to even out the burn. 

The true irony of this situation is that when it peeled, I COULDN’T EVEN REACH IT!  And we all know how I feel about peeling a sunburn.  Call me crazy (or just let Jesse do it for you) but peeling a burn is right up there with reading a great novel, or perhaps making out with Brad Pitt.  Brad Pitt of this year though, the scruffy, starting-to-look-his-age Brad.  The Brad of Legends of the Fall is the be-all end-all of his long career of hotness and definitely trumps a peeling sunburn.  In fact it trumps having Cat Deely’s legs or getting a book deal or winning the Nobel Prize or anything else I may ever dream about. 

Ahem… but I digress.  Where was I?  Sunburn?  Oh!  Before I forget, let me just mention that today and yesterday were record breaking days for the amount of people reading this thing.  Of course, I’ve noticed that when I put an alert on Facebook that I’ve posted a new blog, I see the number of readers increase dramatically for that day.  I don’t always post an alert, but I did want everyone to read about my awesome nurses, and when I dropped off the cookies I made sure to leave, along with the thank you note, a copy of yesterday’s post.  For all I know, some of them may have logged onto this page to read it, so if you nurses are reading it, Hi!  You rock!  Hope the cookies were ok.  For everyone else who reads my ramblings, if I haven’t said it yet, thank you.  It totally makes my day when somebody tells me they’ve enjoyed something I wrote.  I may never get to be a published author, but it’s sharing my thoughts and feelings and experiences with people that matters to me most, so as long as ya’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing…

August 20, 2009

Hug a nurse today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 2:02 pm

I bought two packs of chocolate chip cookie dough on Monday.  And I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “Woah, WOAH THERE Fat Girl, are you about to tell us you’ve already housed two packs of cookie dough by yourself?”  And the answer is no, I did not, although 3 years ago when I lived by myself in Manayunk I would have considered that perfectly normal.  In fact all I had in my fridge in that apartment was cookie dough and wine.  Oh and my bread, because if I didn’t keep it safe the mice would eat it.  And the only other things I had to eat in the whole apartment were frozen waffles and peanut butter, which may explain why I weighed 110 pounds. 

Sigh… the good old days. 

In any event, I bought the cookie dough because of a plan that I had almost two years ago.  22 months ago, in fact, the day after my daughter was born.  I had her at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees and I’m telling you right now if you’re going to go into labor in South Jersey, GO TO THIS HOSPITAL!  My nurses were the most awesome people I could have possibly had coaching me through the hell that was my labor and the following delirious three days.  I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to rent a room right there on the Labor and Delivery floor of the maternity ward and just have these awesome people guide me through the next year of being a new mom. 

My labor nurse, in particular, was phenomenal.  Her name was Alison.  She was kind, and no-nonsense, and told me exactly when I was pushing with my face and to knock it off or I’d start bursting blood vessels.  And since I had friends who’d had that happen to them, or told me about other women who’d wound up looking like red-eyed vampires after their children were born, I was pretty thankful that Alison was on top of that.  She reassured me that my child was not going to be born weighing 30 pounds, and that no, I was not going to die, and that yes, every baby comes out eventually. 

And when Belle (my darling daughter with her bowling ball head) got stuck and they had to bring in a doctor to stick a suction cup on her head and pull her out of me, they were totally reassuring and competent and sensitive to my needs and desires.  I guess some women have very strict birth plans that they adhere to and get upset if say, they need an emergency C-Section, or don’t want drugs of any kind and have to be given Pitocin, but me?  I was all GET THIS BABY OUT, I DON’T CARE HOW YOU DO IT!  My birth plan was, “Don’t die.”  Given today’s medical advances and procedures, I figured it was a pretty safe bet that I could stick to that plan. 

And then after Belle was born and I was all, “Somebody help me, my boobs have turned into weapons,” they had a nurse available at all times to answer any questions, and give pointers and reassurance.  And those blessed women somehow got Belle to sleep for 3 hours at a time in the nursery, so that I could get some sleep too. 

Leaving the hospital felt like leaving a beautiful island resort to go defend yourself in the slums.  Naked.  In a snowstorm.  I had no clue what to do next, but I had a huge amount of literature provided to me, covering every topic from “Does your baby have colic?” to “Do you have Post-Partum Depression?”  (Answers: YES, and NO, but I sure would like a Zoloft anyway, thanks!)  Again, my plan was “Don’t die,” only this time it applied to Annabelle. 

The second day we were home, I was changing a diaper and suddenly noticed traces of pink on it.  Pink like blood.  BLOOD.  IN MY BABY’S DIAPER.  Suddenly “Don’t die,” didn’t seem so achievable. 

OH SWEET JESUS, HER KIDNEYS ARE FAILING.  SHE IS GOING TO DIE.

It may sound like an overreaction, but I assure you it was not.  If you’ve never had your own infant, whom you’ve only known for 5 days but for whom you would rob a bank, kill someone in cold blood, or even watch Rock of Love for, if, God forbid, it was necessary, then you just won’t understand the terror that coursed through my body.  I was immediately covered in cold sweat, my whole body trembling.  And my first reaction?

I NEED MY NURSES!  I MUST CALL MY NURSES!

With shaking hands I riffled through all the literature the hospital had given me until I found the main phone number.  As soon as someone picked up I practically screamed into the phone, “Get me the maternity ward!” 

“Are you in labor?” a concerned voice asked.

“No! No!  I just need the nurses!  Please connect me to the nurses on the maternity ward!” I shriek back.

A brief pause.  “Oh-kay,” the person said, obviously wondering if they should connect me to the psych ward instead.  But the phone rang as it connected and somebody answered, “Maternity.”

“Thank God,” I almost sob, “Can I please talk to one of the nurses who takes care of the babies on the L & D floor?”

I think the answer I recieved what, “Uh, what?”

I started babbling.  “I just got discharged yesterday my name is Christina my baby’s name is Annabelle she’s only 5 days old and I was just changing her diaper and there’s a little bit of blood in it and I don’t know what to do can someone please help me are her kidneys failing?” 

And that voice, that angelic voice on the other end said, “Ok Christina, take a deep breath.”  I did so, and she continued.  “Ok, now is this your first baby?”

Since she didn’t sound panicked I started to calm down.  “Um, yes,” I laughed slightly hysterically.  “Can you tell?”

She told me to explain exactly what was wrong one more time, slowly.  I did, and she began telling me all about the hormones a baby absorbs when passing through its mother’s vaginal canal.  Enough hormones to make a baby girl have a tiny pretend period, or to swell a baby boy’s testicles. 

“So this is totally normal?” I beg one last time.  “She’s not dying?”

The very kind, very patient woman on the phone assured me everything was fine, and also suggested I breathe deeply for a little while and maybe get some sleep.  And to this day I thank God that I had such great nurses that my first reaction was to call them when I thought my daughter was in trouble.

I’ve had friends give birth elsewhere and complain that no one paid attention to them, or answered their questions.  I know of two people whose babies (I can hardly type it without cringing) got POKED IN THE HEAD with the hook the doctors use to break your water.  I know of some people who were miserable in the hospital and felt totally desolate and alone once they were home.  But Virtua even sent a nurse to my house 3 days after Belle and I were discharged, to check on our health and answer any questions we had.  I felt like we mattered.  I felt like we had people on our side, and as a single mom that meant everything to me. 

So the cookie dough?  I bought it for my nurses.  Today Belle and I took it out of the fridge and baked it.  No matter that now she’s almost two, and is big enough to help me put it on the trays.  I’m sure they’ll understand that motherhood is overwhelming, and sometimes things fall by the wayside, but one thing you should never forget to do is thank someone for being there for you. 

So today when she gets up from her nap we’re going to go to Virtua Hospital, back to the place where she was born, to give cookies to the nurses there.  Maybe Alison isn’t there anymore.  I’m sure none of them will recognize or remember me.  But a thank-you is better late than never, and these women deserve to have their hard work appreciated. 

Thank you.

August 18, 2009

A bug-bite by any other word would itch just as badly…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 11:04 am

One upside to my unemployment is the ability to drop everything (or nothing) and go to the beach.  Belle loves the beach like Joan Rivers loves plastic surgery.  She’s addicted—just can’t get enough!  As soon as we park the car and get her in the stroller to unpack all the beach stuff we haul around, she starts hollering “Wah!” and pointing in the direction of the beach.  She will yell this the whole way up the street, leaning forward in her stroller, straining at the belt, pointing ahead like a carved figure on a ship.  And then when we reach the sand and she gets her first glimpse of blue, the volume and excitment will increase exponentially.

“Wah!  Wah!”  It’s hard to write out exactly how she sounds when she says it.  Maybe it’s more like “Wah-uh” but you have to make the second syllable two octaves lower than the first.  If you’ve ever heard my child speak, or just babble at you, you know she has a baby Demi Moore voice, very low and husky. 

So when we get on the beach it’s all we can do to keep her from running straight into the ocean.  She loves the water.  LOVES IT.  All she wants to do is jump through the waves, and demands that we take her farther and farther out.  Doesn’t matter that she can’t swim–she tries to get in as far as she can, loving when the waves practically suck her out to sea.  It all makes me very nervous, and enforces my thought that maybe leashes on children aren’t quite so reprehensible after all.  It’s a good thing Jesse’s enthusiasm for the water matches hers.  I’m more of a sandcastle building, sit at the water’s edge kind of gal. 

Although lately the water has been so warm it’s practically like bath-water, and I’m much more of a fan of getting wet if I’m not freezing my buns off.  Yesterday we convinced her to sit down in the sand and let the waves wash up onto her lap.  If you’ve ever done this particular activity you’ll know that when you stand up, you’ll have accumulated so much sand in your bikini bottom that it very well may fall down, or at least look like you have a giant boulder in your bottom.  However, I thought it was well worth the chafing just to get her to sit still for ten minutes.  Ten whole minutes!  It was like heaven, sitting there on the sand, letting the water wash over our legs. 

My favorite thing to do is watch the tiny little clams burrow under the sand as the water washes back out.  It never gets old; I’m constantly fascinated by them.  We dug a hole for Belle on our vacation last week and poured water into it so she could watch them.  Of course, there was that one moment where I looked out at the ocean to enjoy the view and when I turned around she had a guilty look on her face and a suspicious sand goatee.  I stuck my hand under her mouth and she spat out a nice collection of thoroughly traumatized clams. 

Speaking of our vacation, it was really nice.  I’d say it was great except for one small detail.   Remember a few posts ago I wrote about how I got completely dominated by the mosquitoes in my backyard while trying to blow up Belle’s pool?  Well, my legs were pretty itchy when we arrived, but I was determined not to complain.  I was sure they’d start to heal once I spent some time in the salt water, and I didn’t want to be a downer on Jesse’s only vacation of the year.  My worthy resolve may have worked out too, if after the first night I hadn’t suddenly noticed my itchy bites seemed to have doubled overnight.  I assumed I’d been bitten a few more times when we arrived at the shore, maybe when unloading the car.  It was muggy and we were by the bay, so I resigned myself once more to not say anything.

EXCEPT… the next day I had even MORE bites.  And Jesse, darling Jesse, ever so casually mentioned that when he was changing Belle’s diaper that morning he’d seen a flea.  A flea.

A FLEA!

My calm and stoic resolve instantly transformed into white-knuckled terror.  FLEAS!  More tiny, biting, nearly invisible bloodsuckers?  IN THE HOUSE?  Jesse had already noted with amusement that I looked like I had chickenpox, due to the red welts all over my body.  I was covering my feet with Benedryl lotion nightly as it was, and trying not to claw my legs off in the process.  And now I was literally SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY? 

Jesse had been bitten up too, in the two days we’d been there, but he was convinced that all of his bites were from being in the backyard while using the grill.  He tried to assure me that all of my new bites were from being outside, and I tried not to smack him upside the head for suggesting such a thing when I KNEW that these?  These little tiny red bites all over my toes?  The ones that looked substantially different than my mosquito bites?  Oh no, they couldn’t POSSIBLY BE FLEA BITES!  Not when we’d suddenly been finding them all over the house, and banned one of the couches from being ok to go near, since you were providing a human buffet by simply sitting on it.  But Jesse was SURE it wasn’t the fleas, simply the bugs outside the house–the very outside I so thoroughly avoided, as I was too scared to face the mosquitoes. 

By day three my legs looked like they belonged on an 18th century survivor of the Pox, and I was flinching at every dust speck, thinking it was a bloodsucking insect.  Jesse finally took pity on me and went out to buy a flea bomb, which we set off just before we left for the beach.  Six hours later it was safe to return, and we did, cautious but optimistic.  It seemed to have done the trick, and we didn’t see any more fleas for the duration of the week, but the damage had been done.  Every night we sat on the couch, slathering Benedryl, Calamine, and some plant tree oil stuff on our legs and feet, all to no avail.  The only relief to be had was when we stood in the ocean, letting the salt water soothe our wounds.  Our not-flea-bite wounds.  Even though we googled flea bites and they were described as small, red, often clustered and located on the feet and lower legs, which itched more if they were scratched.  Even though they looked nothing like the mosquito bites, they OBVIOUSLY WERE NOT FLEA BITES IF JESSE SAID THEY WEREN’T. 

So aside from the fleas that didn’t bite and the bites that magically appeared on my legs due to outdoor bugs that somehow bit me while I was safely indoors, WE HAD A GREAT VACATION.

 

(love you Jesse!)

August 13, 2009

Victory never slept so sweet.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 7:21 pm

I would like to announce, after three sleep-deprived weeks of barely holding onto my sanity, that we are officially BINKY FREE!  That’s right, my child can now go to bed without her chew toy, and without clinging to me like I’m trying to place her in a crocodile infested river.  AND she’s stopped waking up in the middle of the night to scream like Lord Voldemort has just apparated next to her crib.  VICTORY IS MINE!

It wasn’t easy, obviously, and there were many times where the crying Just. Wouldn’t. Stop. and I was desperate to just pull out the last remaining binky and jam it into her mouth.  Or perhaps just leave a fifth of bourbon in the crib and see if that didn’t soothe her.  I was so uncertain that I was going to win this war that I did keep a spare binky in the drawer next to my bed.  It was my lifeline, my life preserver, the quiet reassurance that if I did start hallucinating, there was always this one little chewed up binky left to stop the pain. 

It was the state of this binky that convinced me she really needed to be weaned.  She wasn’t just sucking it to be soothed anymore.  She was chewing it.  No, no, wait, that sounds a little mild for what she was doing.  She was EATING it.  Really.  The tip of the rubber was missing.  Gone.  There was a hole that I could stick my thumb into and shove it all the way inside the binky.  She had turned into a goat, willing to chew on anything.  She was using it to teethe, not to soothe, and it was time to cut her off before she started pooping out recycled rubber items. 

So I did.  It was not fun.  At least once I stood outside her door with the bink in hand, willing myself not to go in there and just give in.  What helped was my mom, pleading with me to give it to her.  That’s right.  My mom was all, “The poor baby!  Who cares if she has a bink or not?”  And that snapped my backbone right into righteous mode and gave me the oomph I needed to stick to my guns!  Nothing like defying your mother to make you stick out your point, even at the ripe age of 27!  And then I got to be all smug when it finally worked.  True I was missing chunks of hair from ripping it out in frustration, and my eyes were lined with premature wrinkles from stress and had bags the size of carry-on luggage underneath them from not sleeping.  And I may have been swaying deliriously and hiccuping like a crazy person who’d had one too many medicinal glasses of rum, but dammit, I WON!  And then I passed out on the carpet in a puddle of my own drool.

August 11, 2009

Nobody said anything about not crying over spilled snacks…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:22 pm

So we are in the kitchen after dinner and Belle is walking around with a tube of Puffs that she has helped herself to from the pantry.  (For those of you not familiar with the snacks in the kids food aisle, Puffs are delicious little puffed grain star shapes flavored like various fruits.  Babies and toddlers go nuts for them.  Remember the inevitable picture from your childhood where youare sitting in your highchair/on the carpet/in the backyard and your fists are stuffed with Cheerios, and they are spilled all around you and down your shirt and you are as happy as Lindsay Lohan at an all out coke-binge?  Well Puffs are this generations Cheerios.)

And yes we did just have dinner, and you’d think Belle would be full, but food that she pilfers out of the pantry is always more tasty than anything I might have offered, and since she mostly fingerpainted with her rice and veggies I was just glad she was eating.  I keep the healthy stuff down low so if she gets into it I’m not too concerned.  I keep the chocolate, rosemary and olive oil triscuits, and street drugs on the higher shelves. 

As she’s snacking, sticking her tiny arm into the long tube of puffed goodness to attain each star-shaped morsel, she wanders by me and I get a whiff and realise it is THAT TIME after dinner.  So I make the executive decision to let her bring the Puffs along upstairs, without the lid.    It’s only half full, I reason to myself, what could go wrong?

(You’re laughing at me already, aren’t you?) 

So we go to the changing table, and she is laying down while I go onto operation mode on this super-stinker.  And do you know what happens next?  You do, don’t you?  That’s right–she dumps them.  While laying down she decides to peer inside the Puffs, which means upending the tube.  Suddenly Puffs are raining down on the changing table and she is so startled she jerks the tube, flinging them everywhere.  I cry out in surprise, but cannot reach out and take the tube away because I am elbow deep in wipees and poo.  Miraculously none of them fall into the mess, and I am changing this diaper at record speed now, trying to get my hands free to take the tube away because she has not learned yet, and is looking to see where all of these treats are spilling from and is dumping the last of them on her face. 

So I get her all cleaned up and in a new diaper and deposit her on the floor while confiscating the Puffs tube.  Puffs are all over the changing table and now I am faced with a dilemma–do I throw them out or put them back in the tube?  On one hand, Puffs are expensive, and I am currently not getting any paychecks.  On the other hand, it’s the changing table, where I change her poopy diapers.  Not that I ever smear poop on the table; I can’t ever recall a time when the table met real feces.  But STILL.  Some people I know (cough, my sister, cough cough) would spray every last Puff down with sanitizer, then run them through the dishwasher, then throw them all out.  In a hermetically sealed bag. 

But I am not quite so obsessive about germs, so I make a compromise.  Using my left hand (the hand that didn’t touch the diaper or wipes) I scoop all the Puffs from the south end where her little rumpus rests and toss them into the diaper genie.  The others that rested on the north end, the “waist-up” end, I put back in the tube. 

Feeling satisfied with my decision, I put the tube down on the ottoman next to Belle and turn aside to grab her sippy cup.  As I am turning around to offer it to her, I hear a slow motion rattling noise… a familiar sound I have heard only just moment before.  The sound of Puffs emptying onto the floor, all over the carpet.  Belle looks up at me guiltily as I utter a frustrated “Augh!  No!” and drop to my knees to retrieve each one. 

It is only halfway through scooping them all back into the tube (again) that I realise I am using my right hand, the hand I have not yet washed after changing Princess Poo.  I let out an even more exasperated wail and sit back on my haunches, totally defeated.

Belle looks at me in sympathy, then down at the Puff covered rug, and back up at me.  Reaching out her arms across the debris, she says, “Hug?”

I hug my penitent child, wondering how I’m ever going to be able to stay mad if she steals my car and goes out for a joyride with her tattooed boyfriend who smokes the reefer, if she continues to be this cute.  Somehow I don’t think downgrading her to Cheerios will really last as an appropriate punishment.  But for NOW, missy?  You are cut off from the expensive snacks!  Nothing but boring whole grain o’s for you!  I will use the extra money I save to buy myself some common sense that will tell me to ALWAYS LEAVE THE LID ON.

August 10, 2009

Turns out I’m not that highly evolved after all…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 11:10 am

There are two kinds of people in this world.  The kind who would never dream of peeling a sunburn (their own or anyone else’s), picking a scab, or pulling out a loose tooth.  The other kind of person will pursue these macabre pleasures with a sort of religious devotion. 

It’s easy to tell these people apart.  To do so, show them your painful, peeling, blistery sunburn.  If they cringe and go, “Ew!  How awful!” they are the first type of person–a “non-picker,” if you will.  But if you show them your dreadful sunburn and their eyes light up with delight, much like a vampire seeing a pulsing artery, they are type two–a “picker.” Pickers will happily peel your sunburn for hours, delighting in detaching large sheets of skin from your body.  They revel in the “shhh-shing” sound of that skin peeling away.  They will show you a big piece of dead skin they have just scraped away with the same pride with which a big game hunter might display a large carcass.  Your whimpers of pain or irritated protests will go virtually unnoticed as a picker will follow you across the kitchen, exclaiming delightedly as your dead skin wicks away from your back while they employ their fingernails or any handy kitchen implement to get the best peel going. 

“Shh, shh, just hold still a minute!  This is a big one!” a picker will crow, pinning you against the counter.  Your discomfort comes second to their religious pursuit.  No matter if they are in the supermarket, on the beach, or in the privacy of their own home, the picker will inexorably be drawn to scratch, to pick, to flake away each and every scrap of dead skin until none remains.

And just say a picker has a small child, one whose scalp gets unfortunately sunburned at the beach.  While the picker feels bad for their precious babys’ red scalp, a day or two later when it presents itself as a flaky, peeling mess, a picker will be faced with a moral dilemma.  Do you let the whole thing resolve itself, ignoring the peeling flakes just begging to be picked out of the child’s hair?  Or do you pin them down, head bent over theirs like a primordial gorilla, carefully extracting each flake of skin like you are looking for lice?   

DO YOU EVEN HAVE TO ASK?!  Excuse me while I go tackle my child!

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