I thought this AM how lovely it would be to compare notes with @SB700 on the occasion of his birthday about all the ways in which middle age does and does not stink, but he might be having so much fun as the scourge of New York City’s political class that he’s feeling young again.
(I’d blame middle age for my tendency to go on and on about my digestion and medications, but nah. I’ve been loving that sweet spot where TMI meets self-absorption. Insurance finally deigned to pay for my celebrex, and I discovered the saving power of dramamine for staving off sudden vertiginous, queasy hot flashes. Once my stomach lining recovers from three weeks of Advil, I should be doing much better.)
(Hot flashes, unlike the wussy little bursts of inner warmth I used to call “hot flashes,” are all-consuming and horrible. I am never, ever going off of hormone replacement therapy now that I’ve experienced a real hot flash. I hope they go away for good once the cymbalta finally leaves my system.)
Thesis: the speed with which time passes as one ages is inversely proportionate to the frequency of occasions on which one looks back and feels that one has become a different self. I’m periodically surprised when something happens to remind me that I am fundamentally the same self I was at 16. This week the something has been nailing down the arrangements to attend my first of two 25th high school reunions. The breakdown of my mind-to-mouth filter has me more in touch with my inner adolescent. I have more I want to say on that topic, but I am ready to sleep and gird up for McGyver-style attempt to create escape tunnel for squirrels to get them out of the patch of kitchen wall where they’re trapped and back into the yard where they belong.
The cable modem died yesterday. In the course of installing the successor device and connecting the PS3 in the basement to our new wifi network, I heard a weird mewling noise. I assumed at first that it was our ancient and vocal cat hiding under the sofa, but upon examination it proved to be EEEK SOMETHING WITH FUR THAT WASN’T MY CAT, STRUGGLING UNDER MY COUCH EEEEEEEEK and I fled the basement in terror. Dino Spouse checked it out and announced that it was a baby squirrel stuck to a glue trap* under our couch. He and Infidel managed to get it into a box and out the backdoor, and by a few minutes later some other squirrel dragged it – trap and all – out of the box and into the bushes. Once I recovered my senses enough to process that the creature was in fact a baby squirrel stuck in a glue trap and not the embodiment of one of my recurring nightmares sent to punish me for my sins,** I sprayed it with cooking oil to help it get loose from the trap. We subsequently saw said other squirrel trying to either snack out on the cooking oil or loosen the squirrel before just dragging the squirrel and trap out of sight.
Infidel was clearly annoyed that his father and I didn’t put the trapped squirrel out of its misery. His confidence was also shaken by my uncharacteristic squeal-y terror. Quoth the boy: “Now I understand what parents mean when they say ‘I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.’”
Dino Spouse and I had been talking about moving our sleeping quarters into the basement to give the Dino Teens their own bedrooms upstairs. The squirrel has convinced us to get a second cat, one with hunting instincts (unlike the aforementioned ancient and vocal cat) who will be able to keep our quarters vermin-free. This prompted Mouse to compose a little song:
Sorta saved a baby squirrel -
Gonna get another cat -
For me! For me!
* I hate glue traps. What if we hadn’t noticed that critter until it was dead? What a horrible way to die! I was awake this morning at 1 AM still visualizing baby $%#@! squirrel slowly starving to death as Other Squirrel mentioned above looked on helplessly. At least a snap trap kills things instantly most of the time and makes a startling racket. If we don’t follow through on the cat (there is still that matter of convincing Dino Spouse that it’s worth it to pay the AWLA adoption fee and get a neutered cat who won’t pee on our furniture and has had shots), I may buy some rat traps and put those down (after I figure out where my landlord hid all the glue traps in our basement, that is).
** I have a reoccurring nightmare of finding an abandoned pet in a residence where I used to live and realizing that I’ve forgotten to care for it. It’s an awful, guilty, anxious dream. Usually the residence is a hybrid of all my overseas apartments from the 1990s. I last had the dream a couple of nights ago. (Just to add to the fun, it was a double feature with one where someone had kidnapped or otherwise hidden my mother and I woke up screaming “Mommy!” I think Dino Spouse actually prefers the dreams where I start kicking and punching him in my sleep to the ones where I let loose with blood-curdling screams in the wee hours. It’s not easy being Dino Spouse.)
<BEGIN PAID ADVERTISEMENT> Muppet Lab Pharmaceuticals wants you to know that best anti-depressant in the world may be the beginning of the K-12 academic year. Kate Dino writes: “Just having my kids back in a routine that doesn’t conflict with my
work wage-earning schedule makes me 100% less filled with rage against the machine!” Ask your Ontologist if work-life balance is appropriate for you! <END PAID ADVERTISEMENT>
<SPOILER ALERT> I’m going to ramble on able my physical health and meds like the boring-est middle-aged cat lady you ever met. I have nothing interesting to report here otherwise. Save yourself and click away now if you find this sort of thing boring and/or risible. <END SPOILER ALERT>
I am now two weeks into Cymbalta withdrawal. The prescription did find its way out of my doctor’s office some time Tuesday morning, but I’ve decided to detox completely and see what my new, unmedicated* psychological baseline is. After all, I’ve been on antidepressants continuously for the past 15 years – who the heck knows what is going on in there at this point? Plus – much as I dislike the brain zaps, irritability, and sudden disappearance of my brain-to-speech filter** – I really like some of the physical and mental changes I’m seeing in myself without the medication. Only time will tell whether this is merely the happy glow of my groove returning to its previously interrupted program or the ramp-up of a long-overdue manic episode.
The itching started yesterday, though, and I have to tell you: I am not wild about the random skin-itching. You’d think I was detoxing from heroin, for cryin’ out loud.
* Unmedicated is a relative term, of course. Pain management will continue to be a big deal for my personal comfort and psychological well-being on account of my degenerated discs and flat feet as compounded by middle age and physical bulk. My dose of Cymbalta was so high because it was part of my pain management regimen, even though I started on it as an antidepressant (in place of Prozac) about six years ago. (I didn’t set out to rediscover my unmedicated physical pain baseline, but the good people at Blue Cross Blue Shield are thoughtfully nudging me in that direction by not letting the pharmacy refill my $%#@! Celebrex until my doctor fills out some form confirming that, yes, he knows they don’t like him prescribing a drug they don’t like. Fun fact: did you know that women are underdiagnosed for ADHD because instead of wriggling around classrooms or punching people we quietly forget to do things like call the doctor’s office and ask him to please contact the insurance company about authorizing the Celebrex refill? I am so asking my shrink for another crack at ADD meds, assuming I ever remember to call the shrink once my self-imposed baseline period is over …
** Yes, thanks, I do so have a brain-to-speech filter. Or I did. It may not have been a finely calibrated instrument, but heavens I miss it. This week I asked colleagues to overtly signal me when I should speak in meetings and throw out a “you’re starting to babble like an idiot” code word to shut me up as needed.
We interrupt your holiday weekend to bring you this breaking news bulletin from the Muppet Labs Network: refilling pain and psych meds once the prescribed refills run out can be a lengthy process, especially if you take unusually high doses of meds that FDA and insurers dislike. Waiting to initiate this process until the meds run out may result in medication gaps. In related news, seeing doctor at 3:30 PM on Friday of holiday weekend may not result in immediate prescription fill by pharmacy.
Experts report that abruptly discontinuing use of Cymbalta may result in extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like brain fog and mood swings. Experts also report that discontinuing use of Celebrex may result in abrupt return of arthritis symptoms.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
My will to self-expression has been weak lately. I can’t decide if this stems from a general sense of well-being or paralysis in the face of competing demands. Both could be true. To summarize what’s been noteworthy in the past several weeks:
- This summer has been infinitely less ghastly than last summer in terms of kids’ general level of ambient boredom. Mouse bouncing between day camp engagements and grandparents has worked out pretty well. Though I want to rant about the general inhumanity of day camp as an institution.
- First of all, everything about why summer break sucks in this Matthew Yglesias article is absolutely true. A big reason that this summer has been less awful for my kids than last summer is that we had enough money to pay for day camps. Okay, and I started planning in February instead of June this year. But mostly money.
- Second of all, day camps that don’t offer extended day programs – which is shockingly many of them – might as well just post WE DON’T WANT YOUR KIND HERE on their promotional materials as far as I’m concerned, as a Salary Mom. At least during the school year my youngest can walk home or catch a bus after school to get home on her own.
- Farm class and obsession remain in full effect. I have to present my business plan to the class advisers at the end of the month. This means I need to develop one. I am way more nerve-wracked about this than I expected to be.
- I’ve continued on my trajectory of weight gain to the point that I’ve been scavenging plus-sized clothes from second-hand stores and even (through the carefully timed intercession of Dino Spouse – coinciding with her need for a new computer – and perhaps the power of schadenfreude) getting some of my old fat clothes back from Babushka.
Well, hell. Everyone knows by know that George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Travvon Martin. More than a day later, media personages are still dishing up all kinds of legal analysis of the verdict in the Zimmerman trail and prognostication about what to expect in the wake of his acquittal.
I wasn’t in the courtroom so I can’t claim any special insight into what happened in the last moments of Travvon Martin’s life. All I have is the certainty that my white sons are generally safer out there on the streets of America than black boys of their age and class and for no reason other than their white skin. It’s not fair, and it’s because of racism.
So following up on my initial post about this topic, which was inspired by Toure’s Time Magazine post, “How To Talk To Young Black Boys About Travvon Martin,” here are my thoughts about how to talk to young white boys about the Zimmerman acquittal.
1. Please don’t start explaining the concepts of “acquittal” or trial by jury to other people unless they have specifically requested your legal opinion. You should assume that your interlocutors are starting from the same level of general knowledge and intelligence as you are unless they are small children. If you find yourself wanting to explain the rule of law to black people of your own age, stop for a second and consider the reasons why they might be frustrated by the verdict other than lack of familiarity with American criminal court procedure.
2. Remember that “legal” and “fair” are not synonyms. The fact that Zimmerman has been found not guilty in this specific case does not mean that what happened is fair. The law has been and still can be used to justify and perpetuate racial discrimination. Think about why you believe that law is the source of justice – and remember that laws are only as fair as the people applying them.
3. This is not the time to bring up black-on-black crime. Most violent crimes are perpetrated against members of the criminal’s own race. Consider what exactly it is that motivates you to raise the topic in a discussion about the Zimmerman case.
4. Lots of (white) people will tell you that Travvon Martin wasn’t shot for being black in the wrong place at the wrong time but for
seeming threatening to beating up a (white-ish) dude with a vigilante complex and a gun who was following him against the instructions of law enforcement. Lots of (white) people will tell you that racism isn’t a problem in this day and age, too. Take a second and ask why it is that, if we’re all equally endowed by our creator with innate intelligence and moral sense, such a radical cleavage persists between white people and black people in how we perceive racism in our society? Only God knows what is in each human heart, but it is good sense to assume that the objects of historical discrimination are better to able to recognize discrimination when they see it than you are.