In Which I Get High for My Family’s Sake

As a younger woman, I got high a lot, and for almost purely recreational reasons. I was a party chick in the late 90s. I went to raves, and like totally felt the music. I went to music festivals that involved tents and people selling glass handicrafts. I wore cowrie shells and hemp and the most disgustingly filthy Birkenstock sandals you’ve ever seen. I stank of patchouli, incense, ocean water, and, well, stink. My toes were always dirty, and there were crystals woven into my hair on multicolored strands of embroidery thread. I made sneering comments about “nine-to-fivers,” and I swore I would never fall victim to the “Babylonian rat race,” whatever the fuck that was. I was, in short, the archetype of a pot smoker, to people who don’t smoke pot.

These days, I still smoke pot, and yes, sometimes for recreational reasons (although it does also keep me functional on migraine days better than anything I’ve ever been prescribed by a doctor), but things are different now. Let me break it down for you: I am a highly educated professional woman who does important work really goddamned well. I am a loving partner, a good friend, and a rescuer of dogs. I have a work ethic and a social conscience and all of that other good shit that makes people contributing members of society.

I also have a father and a phone phobia. A father who I love unconditionally and admittedly perhaps worshipfully. I’m a Daddy’s Girl like nobody’s business; my father is a damn superhero and he can kick your dad’s ass. But…he calls me a lot. Like, a lot lot. And that’s where the phone phobia comes in, because frequently when he calls I just. Can’t. Do. The phone thing. And I feel guilty about that. I do. He’s my daddy and I love him and I want to be there for him like he has always, 100% of my entire life, been there for me.

He’s doing something heroic and somewhat dangerous right now, working in disaster relief in the aftermath of a catastrophe that I won’t name for reasons of anonymity (sad that there are enough of those that you won’t be sure which one I mean, but that’s another blog post for another day). It’s hard on him; I can hear it in his voice when he calls. And he calls all the time. Three or four times a day, my phone rings, and I weigh the anxiety against the need to be there for my father.

Yesterday, something really scary happened to my father, in the course of his heroics. He called me when it started, told me he loved me. You know. That phone call. The one where the subtext is, “I am not 100% sure that I’ll get another chance to say this to you, so just in case…” The one that says “Shit is maybe going pretty wrong around here.” I was a high-strung, crisis mode mess, which for me entails drinking copious quantities of tea, googling the thing that is happening obsessively, and messaging terse little updates to the people who love me.

He called again an hour or so later to let me know that  the danger was past, he was safe and well, he was alive. I was a mess again, but this time in that “I can stop being terrified now, so now I’mma feel all the feelings I was refusing to feel for the last hour all at once” kind of way. When I got done blubbering, I kicked back like a motherfucker.

Several hours into my kicked-back-ness, when I was very pleasantly buzzed and playing a little Assassin’s Creed III, Dad called back. And I panicked a little. What if he knows? What if he can tell? What if he’s disappointed in me? Then I remembered that I am a grown ass woman with a house and a car and a job and a husband, and I calmed the fuck down and answered the goddamned phone.

Do this. If you’re a person like me who dreads the phone but has parents who irrationally demand to speak to you on it, get a little bit high. Not “giggling at the refrigerator” high, or even “let’s order three pizzas, a bag of tacos, and some crab rangoons” high (maybe those are just me). Just…chilling out high. And then talk to your folks.

My dad needed to decompress. He needed someone to listen to him talk, first about the disaster that almost happened to him, then about the people he’s working with, and then about…stuff. Stuff like the best boss he ever had back in the 60s, or professional athletes in various eras. Stuff like how much he depends on me and my mother when he’s out in the field doing these crazy heroic things that no sane man in his late 60s would do. Stuff like anything he could think of that wasn’t the scary situation he’d been in earlier that day. And I listened.

Ordinarily, my goal for phone conversations is to keep them short. I really, honestly, get anxious and even panicky when I spend too long on the phone. The result of this, I suspect, is that it really fucking sucks to talk to me on the phone. I cut people off, invent minor household crises, and at a last resort have been known to say “What? Are you there? Hello?” and hang up. I know, I’m a dick, and I’m trying to work on that.

Last night though, I was present with my father in a way that I haven’t been able to be in years. I didn’t just listen to his stories as penance for having been an outlandishly wild teenager (see paragraph 1), or out of some sense of duty or guilt. I listened to them. And you know what? They’re pretty fucking good stories. My dad is an interesting guy.

More important than my enjoyment of the conversation, though, was the good it did my father. He loves me, and it astonishes me and makes me proud as hell that I’m a person he calls when he needs advice, or someone to bounce ideas off of, or just to hear a sane and supportive voice. And too often, I brush him off. I send him to voicemail, or I let the phone ring while my teeth grit in panic so he might assume that I am busy and not ignoring him, or I answer and say “Hi Dad, what’s up?” in the brusque no-time-for-this voice I generally reserve for students with particularly ridiculous excuses.

Not last night though. Last night I committed a crime, and it was the best decision I could have made.

This is the part of an essay where I’d tell my students to consider adding a “call to action.” I guess I could point out that marijuana laws are foolish and antiquated (they are), or that you should write or call your representatives encouraging them to rethink those laws (you should, and they should). But mostly, I’m just happy my daddy is OK, and that I got to have a meaningful conversation with him at a time when he really needed it. So in light of that, get high and call your parents. Or just get high. Or just call your parents. Or whatever. Peace.


Explaining it to the Kids

I’m in general pretty tired of people trying to decide how other people should dress, eat, fuck, look, or behave. But seriously, I am so tired of people saying “I don’t want to have to explain that to my kids.” Just today, I saw that line get trotted out in regards to a picture of a woman wearing a dress a few sizes too small, which we, the people of the internet, were invited to laugh at (that’s a whole other rant). Last week, I heard someone use it as a reason why gay people shouldn’t get married. Every time it’s said, it’s like the parent expects it to be some kind of conversational tactical nuke, like we’ll hear it and suddenly realize the error of our ways. Ooooh, your kids, that changes everything. Every time I hear that pointless-ass statement, my eyes roll back so far and so hard they might just stick like my mother always said they would.
First of all, FUCK YOUR KIDS. They’re not my responsibility, they’re yours. That’s why they’re your kids. I don’t have to live my life in a way that accommodates anyone’s kids, because I don’t have kids. You have to decide if your kids get to be around me, while I live my life as I see fit. I’mma do me; you do you. Does that mean I swear like a sailor, engage in sex acts, or use illicit drugs around kids? Nope. But it also doesn’t mean that I should be worrying about what some random ass stranger might have to hypothetically explain to his hypothetical kids if they happen to catch a glance of me living my life. I’m childfree specifically so I don’t have to worry about the emotional and mental upkeep of children.
And secondly, when did explaining the things that happen in the world become not the job of parents? Isn’t that what y’all do? I mean, the kid sees things and you explain them, so it knows how to navigate them when you’re not there to guide it. That’s part of the job, right? Preparing the child to live on earth? So if it’s a thing that happens on earth, and you don’t want to explain it to your kids, that’s a parenting fail. You are a shitty parent if there are things you won’t explain about the world to your child, even if it’s just with a “because they want to” or an “I don’t know why; people are strange sometimes.” 
But again, it’s not the world’s job to make sure everything you have to explain to your kid is simple. That’s not how the world works. The people who live here are complex, they’re all different from each other, and they’re frequently mystifying. Being a parent, as I understand it from my parents and the other exemplary parents I know, should be about helping children decode that mystification. If you want an easy job, be a PR person or something; if you want to be a parent, be a godsdamned parent. But don’t expect me to change the way I live my life to make your job easier.

Chantix Day Three

My alarm was set. I know my alarm was set. It’s always set; I have no reason to suspect that my alarm did not go off at 6:30 am, this being a Wednesday. I’m looking at my phone right now to confirm. I’ve looked at it four times since I woke naturally at 8:10 am. It’s set. It was set. It might also be worth knowing that while typing the second sentence of this paragraph, I had to first type “Monday,” and then backspace and type “Tuesday,” before I could remember what the name of the third day of the week was.

None of this is the end of the world, today. Today, my classes were canceled so my students would have time to get to the library (I know, they won’t, but this way I can fairly expect them to have had time.). So today, I can cruise into my office around eleven with no problem. Thursday, it won’t be a problem, because I don’t teach on Thursdays. But Friday, when my first class starts at 9 am, this could be a problem.

The aphasia, that’s maybe more of a problem. For a person who makes her living using words, it really fucking sucks when they just bug out on you. I used the phrase “bug out” here, by the way, because it was hard to remember the word “disappear.” Then I decided I liked it better that way and kept it.

And now I’m wondering if my decision to list every day of the week in this post is a manifestation (wasn’t sure I’d remember that word, but there it was in my brain. Go brain.) of my OCD, writ large by these pills. I dunno. Not sure it matters, either.

Last night’s dreams were crazy, but they started fading almost immediately when I woke up, and now I’m left with a vague memory of being on my way somewhere (home?) from somewhere else (work? I’m just guessing here) and having to pass through a mostly abandoned ruined mansion to get there. I say “mostly” because there were other people on their way to and from wherever they were going/had been. One of those people, a pleasant-faced young woman with curly brown hair that I wanted to, but didn’t, pull gently between thumb and forefinger to watch it go sproing as it fell back into place, warned me not to go down the hallway that was painted a cheerful pink. “She’s in there, and you don’t want to run into her,” were this pretty mental construct’s parting words to me, delivered in a casual, “see ya ’round” tone of voice.

I tried to avoid the pink hallway. I really did. But every turn I took led me to walls painted this awful, happy, terrifying, cheery pink. So eventually I said fuck it, I gotta get home, and went with it.

I ended up in a room with pink walls and no doors. Yes, no doors. I have no idea how I got in there. There were big flowers painted on the walls, in a darker pink than the walls. They were those scrawly, looping flowers little girls draw. I heard a woman laughing. The laughing got closer. The woman with the curly hair swooped into the room through a dirty dark pink door (yes, a door) and beelined my way, giggling. “I warned yoooooooouuuuuuuu…” she said, through her laughter.

I woke up this morning and smoked a cigarette. It made me cough and tasted like death. I put it out half smoked.

Chantix Day Two

Last night I dreamed that I drank the coldest, cleanest, most delicious glass of grapefruit juice in the world. I could taste it sharp and bitter, making my tongue curl up like squirting lemon juice on a fresh oyster. I could feel the cold of the sweating glass against my fingertips. I could smell the dish soap that the glass had been washed with; it was the same dish soap my mother used when I was small. The grapefruit juice came from my uncle, who had a job delivering fresh-squeezed juice at an orchard in Cocoa, Florida. He wasn’t in the dream, but the juice was. It had been squeezed just an hour or two ago, and it was delicious.

Then I was a small girl; I knew this because I could see my hands. I was in my big-girl bed, the thing my crib converted into when I became too old for a baby bed. The sheets my granny embroidered were pulled up to my chin, and they were crisp and starchy on my soft baby skin. They smelled like Tide and sunshine, because they had been washed at my maternal grandmother’s house and she didn’t have a drier; she just hung them up to dry in the Florida sun. My mother sang me a lullaby – my lullaby, the one she always sang, changing the words so they weren’t ominous threats about babies falling out of trees but instead a plea: close your eyes, go to sleep, little [Name Redacted]. I could feel the walls of my childhood room around me, the nappy fur of Radar, my teddy bear, against my cheek. I felt completely protected, loved, safe. I closed my eyes. I went to sleep.

I was a grown up again, and there was a new door in my house. I didn’t question that, nor did I question the fact that the door, a door I’d never noticed before ever, in all the unknowable time I’d lived there, was cracked ever so slightly. I went through the door to find my husband. He was there, and I knew this like I knew that I lived in this house that was nothing like my house in the waking world but was my house nonetheless. The room that the door led to was small. I walked across the carpeted floor for hours. Just as I finally reached the center of the tiny room, the lights went out. I looked down at my feet, spotlit from an unseen light source, and realized the floor wasn’t carpeted at all. It was covered in a fine white powder; the powder was made of thousands of teeth.

I woke up in my bed. This was real life, and I knew it because I could smell the musky funk of my two small dogs, who insist on jumping up on the bed at every opportunity, on my thick brown fluffy blanket. I was glad to be awake; those dreams had been intense, and I needed a break. I stretched lazily, enjoyed the sensation of being awake in my bed with no reason to get up. I watched the light from a car outside make its way across my bedroom wall. I listened to the chirp of crickets, and watched as sudden light spilled out from under my closet door. There is no light in my closet.

The door creaked open. I watched, knowing that I was about to see something so awful that I’d wonder later how I’d kept it under wraps this long, how my brain had hidden such a monstrosity from me all these years. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to handle this revelation, but there was no way to prevent it. The word “inexorable” slipped through my consciousness.

I woke up in the kitchen, in a cold sweat, rummaging in the fridge for grapefruit juice. When I couldn’t find any, I went out on the back deck and smoked a cigarette, pinching myself occasionally and wondering if I would feel it in a dream.

Chantix Day One

Today I took my first dose of Chantix. I’ve spent the majority of the morning analyzing my every response to every stimulus, wondering if this is the beginning of “hostile mood swings,” or “agressive behavior” or God save us, “suicidal ideation.”

I know why I have to do this. It’s important. I need to quit smoking. It’s ridiculous to continue with this disgusting and poisonous habit. If you lived next to a radium mine, and one day your hair, teeth, and fingernails started falling out, and you went to the doctor, and he said “It looks like radiation poisoning, and it’ll kill you,” you’d fucking move. Right? Of course you would, or you’d deserve what you got.

And that’s the whole point. I know damn good and well cigarettes are killing me; if I don’t quit, I deserve what I get. I can feel the effects of the damn things all day, every day. I can’t laugh uproariously without tapering off into a cough. I sound like Winston Churchill with the croup every morning (until I get a few smokes in me, at which point I’m right as rain). Going up a staircase makes me lightheaded. I’m starving my brain of oxygen, and my brain is how I make my living.

But. The thing about Chantix, the thing everyone knows, is that it gives you “really crazy dreams.” And that’s what really scares me, friends.

Tonight I’m going to bed. And I dream a lot. Weird dreams. Dreams where I’m having sex with strangers at gunpoint and fucking loving every second of it. Dreams where I accidentally never met my husband and I love the man I’m married to but I just…can’t…find the missing part of myself. Dreams where I discover a second floor to our house that I never knew was there, and I go up there, and a grinning man in red-stained long underwear and long, shiny black-latex gloves proudly offers me double-handful of my husband’s teeth.

So yeah, that’s me NOT on Chantix. It’s gonna be a long night, brothers and sisters.

Why My Liver Is Acting Out

I survived something huge. I came to terms with that. I made my peace with my mortality, in theory at least. And then…pow. The surgeon who saved my life, in my follow-up appointment, mentioned that he’d noticed an abnormality in my liver, and just by the way have you had any pain *here* and have you been taking birth control pills? Ouch. Yes. And yes, but only for the last 18 years…

So we did a CT scan. And I waited to hear that it was nothing, because fuck’s sake, how could it be something after everything I just went through? Ha.

I have “several masses” in my liver. That’s pretty much the sum total of what I know right now. I also deduce believe hope that they’re not cancer, because I saw the word “hemangioma” written on the CT order on the technician’s little clipboard. And I googled that, and it helped me sleep last night. A little.

Some treatments of hemangioma of the liver seem totally doable. Laproscopic surger? Bitch please. I am a pro at that shit. Arterial ligation? Bring it. But then I find out that when there are too many of them, sometimes radiation is involved. And sometimes so is transplantation. Jesus fuck. Transplantation. Of my liver. And I think, is “several” enough to make those things happen? How many is several? Who the FUCK was that nurse’s English teacher, and WHY did he or she not forbid the use of the word “several?”

I don’t know why this has happened, because apparently medical science has yet to figure out what causes hemangiomas (and because I don’t have concrete proof that these ARE hemangiomas). I have some theories though. One is that my liver misses my gallbladder and is acting out like a grotesque and veiny toddler. Or maybe it’s survivor guilt. Maybe my liver feels overwhelmed with the injustice of having survived, unscathed, the debilitating infection that took out my gallbladder and almost killed my kidneys, and is developing hemangiomas (or whatever the fuck they are) to assuage its guilt. Then again, maybe my liver figures that with that attention whore of a gallbladder no longer around demanding everyone’s time and energy, it can now take center stage and make ducklips at the camera for awhile.

Whatever it is, it can fucking stop it at any time. I have had enough of this foolishness.

I Am Witness’ Poison Gallbladder

I had emergency surgery on Tuesday that resulted in the removal of my gallbladder due to stones and a massive infection that threatened to shut down my kidneys and possibly end my life. Today, Saturday, I am doing much better. So much better, in fact, that I’ve been able to think about what’s happened and try to get some perspective on it. What follows is a first attempt at doing that. I’m writing it for my own mental well being. I’m posting it not to be “that person” who has to one up everyone else when the conversation turns to medical issues (I really fucking hate that person), but to try to share my experience in hopes that it could be of use to someone else.

I feel human today. I’m a little amazed, honestly. With the exception of the obvious incision pain (which is really pretty minor compared to yesterday and the day before), I actually feel far better than I did before the gall bladder attack. A little weak, a little shaky, but alive. Happy to be so. And conscious of how close I came to being…well…not alive.

This week I learned that I’ve been dangerously, life-threateningly sick for a very long time, and no one had any idea, least of all me. I had chalked up my lack of energy and general malaise to laziness, aging, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits, and I let other people convince me that if I wasn’t overweight, I’d feel better. So I tried to lose weight, and I failed every time, only to return to the conclusion that I was lazy, aging, and making stupid decisions. This morning, I feel for the first time in a long time like I could maybe do something physical when I’m healed up, and I’m a little angry at all those people.

It turns out I didn’t feel bad because I’m overweight; I was overweight because I was dying. Since the surgery alone, just from getting all the infected matter out of my body, I’ve lost weight visibly. My face is thinner. My neck looks longer. My stomach is flatter. Even my hipbones are more prominent. Yesterday I looked at my chin in the mirror and smiled for the first time since I was maybe 12. That’s not the result of a 4 day fast; I’ve fasted before, more strictly and for longer, in a desperate effort to finally get my weight to a range others consider normal. It’s the result of taking poisons out of my body that were growing there for reasons that as far as science knows are completely unrelated to my eating or exercise habits.

For a long time, people have said things to me like, “how does a girl eat all these veggies and still stay chubby?” I’ve always faked a smile and just answered, “I don’t know.” And I didn’t. I’m the girl at the farmer’s market. The girl who worries about the chemicals in the food supply. The girl who can do 40,000 delicious things with squash. The girl who doesn’t really like candy, who cuts the fat off her steak, and doesn’t eat the chicken skin. I won’t make any claims for myself as a health food guru, but I think about it. I avoid fast food for the most part, and I try to be mindful. I ENJOY V8, for gods’ sake.

And still I felt awful. And still I had this disgusting blimpy belly, this fat squirrel face that made me want to cry every time I saw a picture of myself. And people assumed I lied. They assumed I was sneaking away in the night to consume Ben and Jerry’s and Dollar Doubles. They assumed, and they assumed, and they assumed. And I assumed that on some level they were right. Clearly I wasn’t doing enough. And every time I DID eat Ben and Jerry’s or the occasional Dollar Double, I felt incredibly guilty. And regardless of what I ate, I got closer to dying every day.

The day after my surgery, my stomach was flat. It still is. I’ll show you if you like, as long as you’re willing to overlook the adhesive gunk still clinging to my skin around the slowly healing incisions (hey, you scrub an incision and tell me how that feels). If I didn’t respect the weak stomachs of the good people of the internet, I’d show you what they took out of me. It wasn’t fat. It was awful. It quite literally haunts my nightmares. My hands are shaking as I write about it. That bad 1980s horror movie prop was inside of me. And all the free-range chicken and freshly-steamed broccoli, all the sit ups and ellipticals in the world, couldn’t kill it.

My point isn’t that eating well and exercising are useless. They’re not. Of course they’re not. I’ve always intuitively understood that; it was the source of a lot of guilt for me when I couldn’t seem to make those things work for me. I look forward to a life where I’m not too exhausted to cook a healthy meal more often than not, where I can go for a walk with good friends and enjoy it, or maybe even one day run without being chased by an assailant. I remember taking pleasure in physical activity, and I want that back. So I’m not trying to claim that diet and exercise aren’t important. I’m not really sure what my point is yet; my faith teaches me that there’s a lesson here, though, so I’m looking for it in the best way I know how: writing about it.

Today I’m thinking, maybe my point will turn out to be that it’s not any of your business what I weigh, no matter how much you care. That you were hurting me so badly by telling me that what I was doing wasn’t enough, I needed to change everything about my life to be thinner thinner thinner, when all along  the thing I really needed to change was invisible and untouchable by your prescriptions of diet and exercise. That you made me feel worthless, useless, sexually repulsive, and generally disgusting. And all along I was dying. That the people who told me “we love you and we think you’re beautiful,” weren’t facilitating a fat girl’s bad habits; they were keeping her sane in a culture that told her this was all her fault.

Today, I feel vindicated. And I feel hopeful. I feel like maybe tomorrow, I’ll be able to feel strong. And after that, everything else will follow.

It’s cute, if you don’t think about it…

So this picture has been kind of wandering around the internet for a few weeks, basically begging us to get all gooshy about the institution of marriage. And it’s cute, in a way. If you’re prepared to not ask too many questions or give the matter a whole lot of thought. Hands up if you think I’m prepared to do those things. No one? Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Here’s the thing about this picture. It’s making an awful lot of claims and judgments, some of which are bullshit. In the interest of fairness, let’s talk about what’s not bullshit first: little old couples are adorable, and when two people have been together for 65 years, it gives us a warm fuzzy. It also has to be admitted that culturally, the statement about fixing things rather than tossing them seems also to be true; we could take a lesson from our forebears on that one. OK. Fair enough.

But when we combine those two things…

Here’s what else this graphic, which incidentally pisses me off a little more every time I look at it,  is telling us.

  1. Divorce happens because people are lazy. The virtuous old married folks in this picture weren’t always happy, but dammit, they didn’t just throw away their marriage. They got off their asses and fixed it. So if you’re divorced, according to this graphic, it’s because you’re a lazy asshole. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
  2. All marriages always can and should be fixed rather than ended. Gosh guys, marriage is important! It’s your responsibility as a married person to always always always fix it. Even if he’s beating you. Even if she’s cheating. Or vice versa. Or whatever. Even if you both know, in your heart of hearts, that your joy lies elsewhere and getting married in the first place was a mistake. You should fix it. Because old people would. And not because they were culturally trapped in unhappy marriages, either. Nope. Nuh-uh. They fixed them because they wanted to.
  3. What we thought about marriage 65 years ago should still be what we think today. Lemme grab my calculator: 65 years ago it was 1947. In 1947, women had been voting for not quite 30 years, and the Civil Rights movement was in its infancy. We were not the same people we are today, and people who advocate a return to 1947 should maybe think a little bit about what kind of situation led us to the massive cultural changes 1947-folks didn’t even see coming. Maybe it’s not that we’re all too lazy to commit to marriage; maybe it’s that when you liberate folks just a little, they do what’s best for themselves and their loved ones. Maybe. Except…
  4. People 65 years ago never got divorced ever. Bullshit. Of course they did. My own grandparents were divorced. It happened then, and now, because…well…it happens. People make mistakes. They marry the wrong person, or they marry the right person and then do the wrong thing, or…things just break. And sometimes they can’t be fixed. Sometimes it’s not worth fixing them. That’s just humanity.

Full disclosure: My parents have been married for 46 years, and I think it’s dandy. They were great parents (and still are), and they are great at being married. I don’t delude myself into thinking that every second of those 46 years was blissfully happy; hell, even my own 5-year-old marriage occasionally needs some TLC to function. But there is a difference between maintenance and rebuilding, and any mechanic (including my husband) can tell you that sometimes, you have to stop throwing your energies into an unfixable system and call it a day.

I think I object to this graphic so strongly because it’s so black-and-white. Like there’s one answer, and that answer is obvious to any right-thinking human being. Marriage doesn’t work like that. Nothing involving human beings does. The answer for your marriage might not be the answer for mine, and that’s A-OK. Every time I see this graphic, I think of all the great people I know who happen to be divorced, and I seethe. I think about how unhappy they’d be if they were still married, and I realize that I love them too much to repost such smug bullshit.

What do you see in this graphic? Let me know in the comments.

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Facebook Foolishness

There are few better opportunities to see folk behaving foolishly than facebook. Does anyone even remember what we did before? Oh yeah, MySpace. Where we were also foolish, just with a music player and terrible sparkly GIFs. I guess this is better. I guess. Anyway, let’s get started.

Aunt Tilly is out of the hospital thanks to the power of prayer! God is good!

Right, because God took a break from whatever else He’s doing, just to heal your random aunt. And he did this, I might add, instead of preventing famine and disease. Goooooo God! Just once, I’d like to see this instead:

Aunt Tilly is out of the hospital thanks to the power of modern medicine! Science is good!

Or then there’s this…

You know the happiest day of my life
I swear the happiest day of my life
Is the day that I die

OK, fine. It’s a song lyric, and I get that. I’ve posted song lyrics that hit me as exceptional too, from time to time. And while I personally don’t like Good Charlotte (who perform the song that the above lyrics come from), I won’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to like whatever crappy ass song they damn well please. The problem with this status update is context. Invariably, someone won’t get that this was a song lyric and will comment something like, “OMG wut’s rong?” This goes on for hours; people who aren’t down with what the hip kids are like, totally digging start posting well meaning encouragement and fearful declarations of support. Right up until the original poster says “OMGosh you guys, it’s a song lyric! I’m fine! ROFL.” But it’s too late. Aunt Tilly is now convinced that you’re going to slit your wrists. And she’s put your name on her church’s prayer bulletin. God is good.

I am so tired of your passive aggressive bullshit. If you have a problem with me, say so. You know who you are.

Do I even need to say anything? When some random-ass person I talked to once at a party and never again posts shit like this, I always daydream about responding to it in full on aggressive-aggressive mode. Like, “Yeah? You think you can call me out like that, bitch? Come over here and say it to my face, I’ll fuck you right the fuck up.” Then maybe I’ll start posting suicidally depressed song lyrics, see if I can’t get me some of that sweet sweet sympathy.

Student Foolery

I take teaching pretty godsdamned seriously. Sure, I complain about it sometimes. I don’t love hearing excuses. I don’t love planning. I don’t love grading, although I do love reading student drafts. Go figure. But one thing I really, honestly, and uncomplicatedly fucking love is being in class.

Which is why it completely mystifies me when “skip days” happen. I’m not talking about those lame high school constructions like “Senior Skip Day” when all the seniors show what iconoclastic individuals they are by agreeing in advance to miss the same day of school so they can all drink the same kind of beer in the same barn in the same field (Is my NWMO showing with that last sentence?). I’m talking about a day when, for no reason I can discern, 20 students out of a class of 24 decide independently that nothing I could possibly have to say today could be of as much value as whatever it is that they do instead.

I got up early this morning to create an exercise that would really help my students to internalize the concepts they’ll need to complete the paper that is due Monday. It seemed to really work in my 10 o’clock; only one student was absent from that section, and she texted me ahead of time to explain her car was a nonstarter this morning. OK, fine. It happens. Class was a success. I actually tweeted “My students are fraking awesome! #happyteacher” at approximately 10:43. One of my students actually retweeted it.

The next part of this story might qualify as irony. I say might, because even after an MA in English, I still consider irony to be slippery shit. Anyway.

My second section meets at 12 o’clock. The two students who always show up, the ones who sit in the front and answer questions, were in place by five till. Two other students filtered in as I made small talk and waited for the rest of the class.

Who never…fucking…showed up.

It wouldn’t bother me quite so much if I didn’t know from experience that “skip days” are always followed by evenings in which I answer 20 emails asking “what we did in class today.” I’m always tempted to tell them “I gave everyone who showed up an A for the semester, too bad you weren’t there.”

OK, full disclosure: I’m not the greatest teacher who ever lived. Of course I’m not. But I like to think I’m a pretty damned good teacher. I am passionate about what I teach (writing), and I honestly care about my students’ successes, both in and out of the classroom. And it really fucking pisses me off when they repay that by deciding en masse that literally anything in the universe is more important than whatever shit I have to tell them.

Even if it is a sunny Friday.