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My cousin died.
I wish I didn’t have to write that sentence.
In my heart, I knew it was coming. I sometimes thought about how I would react when I got the phone call. In my head, though, I didn’t think it would be so soon. She had had such a fantastic winter! She was feeling great, had good quality of life, was able to go up to Vermont to their ski lodge and ski with her family multiple times. She drove around town in the mini cooper her husband surprised her with for Christmas. Then a few weeks ago, she started getting terrible headaches. She had a brain scan and it showed that the cancer had spread to her brain. Intensive radiation was prescribed, but she didn’t tolerate it very well. Her brain swelled and she was rushed to the ER the day of the Boston marathon, to one of the hospitals where the bombing victims had been taken. She had a shunt installed to relieve the pressure on her brain.
It all went rapidly downhill from there. She died at home on May 1.
We drove up to Boston on Friday. The service was on Saturday. We drove home on Sunday. It was so hard, so sad, but so good that we were there. My aunt and uncle needed family around them, and I’m grateful we were able to support them.
I reacted to the phone call from my dad by moaning and then sobbing for an hour. I cried through the funeral, and in the days since then I still find myself tearing up. I’ve tried eating, drinking, and sleeping through my feelings. None of that has worked, so now I’m going to try writing about them.
I’m sad. I don’t normally have strong feelings. I joke that I am a robot, incapable of feeling human emotion. I cried when my son was born but I think that was mostly because I was so exhausted and strung out that I was grateful it was over finally. I didn’t cry when my Grandma died: she was 97 and died in her sleep. Not exactly a tragedy. I was mostly judgy and annoyed at my grandmother-in-law’s funeral when her children and grandchildren made a spectacle of themselves with the loud weeping. A woman in her 80s dying of congestive heart failure, surrounded by her children and grandchildren is not a tragedy. The competitive mourning seemed obnoxious, to me. That probably makes me a jerk.
I never really cried when my dad was sick 8 years ago. It was scary but not surprising. He hadn’t exactly taken care of himself, and a series of strokes and a very early stage cancer diagnosis seemed like the logical result of that. And either way, he came through it all and is fine now.
But this. A young, healthy, vibrant, kind, loving, intelligent woman dying in her early 40s after 18 months of illness, leaving a husband, parents, and young daughter behind, it just isn’t fair. This isn’t how it was supposed to go. I can think of a whole long list of people who deserve far more to die than she did, and they are all still alive and kicking.
So I’m pretty sad about it. If I let my mind wander to her husband, her daughter, her parents, her brother, I will start crying again. When she was first diagnosed, someone on twitter asked me why I cared so much, she’s just a cousin. (I am no longer following that gem of a person for a variety of reasons, that being one of them.) Perhaps she is just a cousin. Sure, there’s a list of people I care about a lot more than her. She’s probably not even in my top 10 most important people in my life, and I would be substantially more devastated if anything happened to them. But she’s still my FAMILY, and my family is awfully small. She’s still someone I have looked up to, admired, and emulated since I was small. Even if we didn’t see each other more than once a year, being in her company was a pleasure. And more importantly, her family is my family, and I love them too. I am hurting over her loss, but they are badly, deeply hurting, shaken to their very cores. The devastation this has wrought for her parents and brother is so much worse than what I’m feeling, and that makes me hurt even more for them. Because they are my family, and I love them. I hurt because they hurt.
Just a cousin? No. It’s a lot more than that. You don’t get to tell someone else how to feel.
I’m also angry at God. I have spent the last 18 months praying for a cure. Every day, multiple times per day, in spare moments, I asked for a cure for her. I begged to have this taken from her. I feel like my prayers have been ignored, but I was raised in the church believing that God answers all prayers. I held out hope for a miracle.
It didn’t come. She’s dead. So where do I go from here? If you don’t believe in God, you are likely smirking and saying, “That’s because there is no God. See? I told you so.” If that’s what you believe, kindly keep it to yourself.
I know that God answered my prayers, even if he didn’t give me the outcome I so desperately prayed for. But I’m angry, furious, devastated that this one thing that I have wanted more than anything, in my entire existence, was not granted.
Where do I go from here? I don’t know. I don’t know how to begin wrestling with this.
And for my final Feeling: I’m petrified. Until now, I have lived in a sheltered world where bad things happened to Other People, not me. Not my family. We were lucky, somehow immune to misfortune and tragedy. For a long time, I’ve quietly harbored a fear that it was possible to be Too Lucky, that it was only a matter of time before things started evening out.
Diane lived a blessed, charmed, lucky life. She was beautiful and brilliant. Everything she did was successful. She met and married a good man. They worked hard and earned an incredible amount of money, lived in a beautiful, gigantic house in one of the most expensive towns in Massachusetts. They had a beautiful little girl. She literally had everything that anyone could want out of life.
And then, she got cancer and it was too late. And now she’s dead. It seems like a punishment, and leveling of the playing field. She had so much, and then she went through 18 months of hell, and now she’s dead.
Our family has had it too good, we’ve been too lucky, and now we lost her.
I’m certainly not anywhere near as wealthy as she was, but I am very lucky. I have a wonderful husband, a nice home, a beautiful little boy. I am working towards a PhD in a promising field. I have everything I want and more.
How long until my playing field is leveled too? Is her death the first step in this? How much more will I have to lose to pay back everything I’ve been given?
Maybe it’s crazy to think that way. Life is random, we are given blessings and tragedies at random, not as rewards or punishments.
But today, that’s how it feels. I hurt. I am angry. And I’m scared out of my mind.
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Last May, I got pregnant.
On June 11, 2012, I got a positive pregnancy test. Kevin and I jumped around our astonishingly small bathroom for a bit, and then I proceeded to call my mother and stun her into silence. After a few moments she managed to squeak out The Sentence That Will Haunt Her For The Rest Of Her Life:
“How did THIS happen?!”
Mom! You had a kid! I thought you were aware of the specifics!
Anyway, I then went on to have the world’s most uneventful pregnancy. No morning sickness, lots of naps. I become uncomfortable and whiny towards the end, ready for it to be over and done with, because there was no longer room for both me AND the baby in the same place. All in all, I would say that I did pregnancy pretty well. I patted myself firmly on the back and said, “Self, you are GOOD at this whole procreation thing!”
But this isn’t the story of my pregnancy. Mostly because that story would be boring.
No, this is the story of my labor and delivery, a story that is most definitely NOT boring.
I was due February 17, 2013. A Sunday. I did not go into labor that day. Nor the next day. Nor the day after that! I went into labor on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. It was an uneventful day, at first. I worked on knitting a hat for the baby, to go along with the baby sweater I had started and finished that weekend, a project I had HOPED would send me into labor. I drove to the South Side (and parked! AND WALKED A FEW BLOCKS!) and attended a meeting that, when it was scheduled, elicited chortles and “No way Katrina will be able to attend THEN!” out of my colleagues.
And then I showed up, all round and cranky, which elicited gasps from my colleagues. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!”
“I HAVE NO IDEA.”
I sat through the meeting, grumpily. The young, male pharmacy students in attendance eyed my belly nervously. They got even more nervous when I said I was 3 days overdue. I could practically hear them wishing, “Oh please don’t go into labor here!”
I walked back to my car, drove home. Started contracting in the car, which wasn’t unusual. I had been contracting pretty much every afternoon into the evening for about 10 days. They would even set up a pattern. One night they were so regular and fairly intense that I called the midwives. And then they promptly stopped, and I went to bed. So much for that!
I didn’t think much of these contractions, as a result. I situated myself back on the couch, put on some trash TV, and proceeded to continue knitting the little baby cap, ignoring the contractions. Kevin came home. We decided we were going to run out to Lowe’s and look at…. well I have no idea what we were going to look for at Lowe’s, to be honest. Apparently it wasn’t important. But first! We were going to go to Steak’n'Shake for dinner, because damnit I wanted a milkshake.
The contractions picked up in the car ride. Enough that I had to stop talking. But still, meh, whatever. I was never going to have this baby, I was going to be the first documented case of perpetual pregnancy. Got to Steak’n'Shake, ordered. Had to breathe through some contractions. Started timing them. Well, I’ll be damned. They were between 90 seconds and 2 minutes apart. Psh, MILKSHAKE.
We made an executive decision not to go to Lowe’s, though.
I ordered a milkshake, and a contraction hit so hard that I decided to make it a to go milkshake.
Kevin started suggesting that maybe we should consider calling the midwives? I think it was the groaning during the contractions that gave him this idea.
Eh. Okay, but I was sure they would stop the moment I called.
Long story short: I didn’t finish my milkshake because it became too difficult to suck it up the straw and contract at the same time. So I put it in the fridge? Because I was certain, CERTAIN! that we would be sent home. And I guess, it would happen quickly enough that my milkshake wouldn’t melt in the fridge? I don’t know. Clearly the contractions had gone to my brain, because I stopped thinking clearly.
Minor interjection: Kevin spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy concerned that my water would break, all dramatic like, in an inconvenient place. Like, at a restaurant. Or in the grocery store. Or in the car, all over the upholstery. He would point out places that it would be acceptable for my water to break, like in Costco. Concrete floors! Easy clean up!
We went to the hospital, and by then I was huffing and puffing and holy cow did it hurt. I suppose at some point it dawned on me that I was in labor but I’m not sure when, exactly. Not in the car, because I made Kevin leave his hospital bag in the car (but not mine…?) because I didn’t want us to look ridiculous walking into the hospital. By now, it was after 8 PM. We had called our parents to give them the heads up. We had to argue my mother out of jumping right into the car and driving 4.5 hours across the state in the middle of the night.
We got to triage. I was sent into the bathroom to give a urine sample. Did you know it’s awkward and difficult to do a clean catch when you’re 40+ weeks pregnant and contracting hard every 90 seconds? Me either! And then I came out of the bathroom, and the nurse told me to change into a hospital gown. I took my shoes off. And then I took my pants off.
And then my water broke.
Not quite in the dramatic fashion that Kevin was fearing, but in a definite “Um, did I just pee myself?” sort of way. All I’m saying is, I’m such a wonderful wife that I waited for the absolute MOST convenient time for my water to break: in the hospital, in the triage room, AFTER I removed my pants.
The water breakage was confirmed by the midwife, which earned me a ticket to a labor delivery room. They took some blood to test things, specifically do a platelet count for the epidural I knew I wanted (this will be important shortly), and then I was wheeled off.
At this point, I allowed Kevin to go back to the car and get HIS bag. Aren’t I nice? I thought so too.
We got to the labor delivery room after 9. They hooked me up to various monitors. Kevin was just about bouncing off the wall with excitement. I was excited too, when I wasn’t groaning my way through a contraction. They kept coming and coming, harder and harder. I was about 4 cm dilated at that point, and the nurse said that as soon as they got my platelet count back, anesthesia would come in and administer the epidural. Woo! Okay! Just a little bit longer, I told myself. You can do this for a little bit! Huff, puff.
We waited. I contracted. We waited some more. An hour passed, still no platelet count, still no epidural. Another hour, and then the nurse started getting annoyed, and disappeared for a while. The midwife had me on a birthing ball, leaning over the bed, doing midwifey things. Kevin was squeezing my hips together with every contraction, which made them slightly more bearable. The nurse came back. Small problem! My blood work was stuck in the pneumatic tubes! That’s why the platelet count hadn’t come back! And they had to figure out how to fish it out, or take more blood!
HUFF. PUFF. WHAT. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
It was at this point that I made some sort of joke about the internet being a series of tubes because it was the only thing I could think to say.
We waited some more to see if they could get the blood out. The nurse then took more blood and walked it up to the lab herself. When she returned she got a phone call from them saying, “success! we got the blood out of the tubes!” GREAT. THANKS.
I didn’t get the epidural until 1:15 AM, about 4 hours later than I would have preferred. Oh, the sweet, sweet relief of the epidural. To the ladies out there who manage to get through labor with no pain relief, I am simultaneously impressed and think you’re crazy. There is no way, NO WAY, I could have done that without an epidural, of that I am certain. Particularly with how it ended up going later. (insert dramatic, foreboding music here.)
They positioned Kevin directly in front of me while inserting the epidural. He held my hand. I was so thrilled to be finally getting it that it didn’t freak me out that they were inserting a needle into my spine. It turns out, it bothered Kevin! When they were done, he stood up, and promptly got lightheaded and tipped over onto the bed. The nurses grabbed him and threw him onto the little bench and made him put his feet over his head. All was well, but boy was he embarrassed. (He gave me permission to tell this particular part of the story!)
We turned off the lights. Kevin tucked himself in on the small bench they provide for the baby daddies. I rolled over and tried to sleep, but of course I was too wound up on adrenaline to fall asleep. And the blood pressure cuff doing its thing every half hour didn’t help matters much. So I didn’t sleep, and this also will matter later. (insert more dramatic foreboding music here.)
At 7am, it was time for the midwife’s shift to end and a new midwife to come on. They did hand off in the room, inspected my undercarriage, declared me 7 cm! and what a roomy pelvis I had! Not much longer to go!
Kevin’s mother stopped by to say hello, then went to our house to let the pups out. My parents had hit the road. Everything was looking good for the baby to be here, maybe early afternoon! Woo! I even twittered a bit! Doop de doo!
By 11:30 AM, I was 10 cm dilated, 100% effaced. The midwife said that when I started feeling the urge to push, to let her know, and we could start any time. No rush. Also, would I be okay with a medical student who is on her OB rotation attend the birth? She really wanted to catch a baby, and I should be done by the time her clinical hours finished. Sure, I said! Why not!
Around noon, I started feeling more of the contractions than I wanted. So I started pushing the little epidural button more. That was a bit concerning.
A little before 1 PM, I started feeling the urge to push.
The midwife, the nurse, the med student, and Kevin crowded around, I Assumed The Position, and started pushing. Great job! Such a strong push! This baby will be out in NO TIME!
Push. Push. Push. Push.
Fast forward 2 hours. I was exhausted. I couldn’t push any more, and the baby wasn’t making the turn around my pelvis. The epidural had pretty much completely worn off, but it didn’t hurt when I was pushing, which made it somewhat more bearable, even though pushing was really hard. But because it had worn off, I couldn’t take a breather and get my energy back because the contractions were extremely painful. I was becoming frantic.
The anesthesiologist came in and gave me an extra jolt of something via the epidural, I think Fentanyl, that basically made me go completely numb. Couldn’t feel anything. No pain, no pressure, couldn’t even move my legs. It was a very bizarre feeling, but also a good one, because I could get a little rest. Turned off the lights, and I passed out completely for about 2 hours.
In 2 hours, they woke me up. The fentanyl wore off, and I could feel all the contractions again. Time to start pushing again. And so I did. I pushed. I pushed. I pushed some more. The med student had to leave because her clinical hours were done, and I had not yet produced a baby. Oddly, I felt guilty because she had asked to be in my room specifically because it was assumed I would have had the baby before she had to leave, and she didn’t get to catch a baby!
It was at this point that I asked the midwife, “How much longer do you think?” and she paused, and then said, “Do you want me to be honest?” and then I started crying.
By this time, it was dawning on every one that this was taking too long, and I was even more exhausted. I was falling asleep between contractions. The OB on call was brought in. He and midwife each inspected what was going on up there. The OB was a giant. Very tall, very large, VERY VERY LARGE HANDS. Which he put in their entirety up into the birth canal. I was sort of stunned that they fit.
It was determined that the baby was not positioned correctly. He had spent the majority of my pregnancy with his torso/back on the left side of my abdomen, his butt in my ribs, and feet in my liver. He had his head turned the wrong way so every push was shoving him sideways into my pelvic bone, instead of going under it (and out! through the ROOMY PELVIS! Remember how I have a roomy pelvis?!) The Large Handed OB repeatedly tried to turn his head, and every time he would get it positioned correctly, I would push, and his head would shift back into the original position. Don’t forget, the epidural had worn off, so I could feel all of this.
Another hour or so of turning his head, pushing, turning his head, pushing, more pushing, and the midwife and OB delicately broached the subject of What To Do Now. The baby wasn’t moving anywhere, although he was still handling labor very well. His heart rate was perfect. I could have kept pushing indefinitely, and the baby would have been fine.
But I was not fine. My first response when they Delicately Broached This Subject was, “But I really really don’t want a c section!” while crying. His response was, “well…”
I was not fine. I couldn’t push any more. I had been awake since about 8AM the previous morning, so about 34 hours. I had been in labor for about 26 hours. I had pushed for 4 hours. I had never been so exhausted, so entirely drained, or in as much pain in my entire life. My epidural hadn’t worked for 6 hours, other than the 2 hour fentanyl break I got. I couldn’t do it any more. As much as I didn’t want a c section, I couldn’t do it anymore.
I cried. A lot. Kevin went out to tell my parents and his mom and sister all of whom had been waiting for a long time. I didn’t want to see any of them. I was in an exhausted haze, and a puddle of self pity and disappointment and pain. While I waited for them to prep the OR and prep me for surgery, I cried a lot.
They moved me into the OR, and gave me more of the fentanyl in the epidural, and that was the last I felt the contractions. The midwife held my hand while they got the drape in place and hooked me up to more fluids. For the record, by now this was my 3rd midwife. That’s how long I had been in labor. She came on duty shortly before the decision was made that I needed a c section. Kevin got into his scrubs, and took her place holding my hand. I was scared and he was scared.
They started the surgery. The whole thing felt like it only took about 20 minutes to me, but in reality it was over 3 hours from start to finish. At some point, my blood pressure dropped very badly and I started dry heaving. They gave me a bunch of shots, and I was in and out of it. Kevin was pretty freaked out when my blood pressure literally disappeared from the monitor for a bit. From this point on, I felt entirely detached from the entire experience.
I didn’t feel any pain, but I did feel all the tugging and pulling that they warn you about. We didn’t know what Lee was in advance, because I really wanted the surprise, the wonderful moment of hearing “It’s a…!” I got that moment, but like I said, I was pretty detached. They pulled him out, and the Very Very Large OB said, “It’s a little guy!” We heard him cry. Kevin cried, I cried. We have a son! But I felt like it was happening to someone else, not to me. I was working very hard at staying awake, because of all the drugs, all the exhaustion, all the blood pressure dropping. They cleaned him up, wrapped him up, and brought him over to us. The midwife took pictures of him when he was first out, right after he was born, when he was being weighed, etc. They held him next to my head and I kissed him. He was born at 7:35 PM, roughly 27 hours after I went into labor on the way home from the meeting in the South Side.
I don’t really remember much after that. I finally gave in to falling asleep. Or maybe it was passing out. I don’t really know. Kevin held the baby next to me while they were working on me. At some point, it was determined that they needed to scope my bladder. They had to wait for the scope to be brought down, and then no one knew how to use it. That freaked Kevin out. All of this I am relaying from him, I wasn’t even aware it happened. That delayed things. Finally they scoped it, decided everything was okay, and moved on. Kevin was asked to leave. They took the baby back from him and sent him outside to hang out with our families. He told them it was a boy. They cried, he cried.
It was about an hour that he waited in the hallway for me, worrying. Eventually he sent the midwife back in, and by then I was pretty much stitched up and ready to go. It was about 10:30 PM.
My parents came in and saw the baby, then his mom and sister. Every one hugged and kissed, while I tried to stay awake. They finally gave me the baby and I tried to nurse him. He latched but wasn’t particularly interested. I was unbelievably thirsty, but they wouldn’t give me anything but ice chips yet. I downed those and snuck water from Kevin’s water bottle. We snoozed. The nurse kept coming in and pushing on my uterus and I came very close to punching her in the face.
Finally, I was allowed to go up to a post partum room. We got there about 1:30 AM. The wonderful nurse there got me snacks and made me a strange but delicious drink of cranberry juice and ginger ale. Nothing has ever tasted so good. We sent the baby to the nursery for the night, and I passed out harder than I ever have.
It was hard. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. 27 hours of labor, 4 hours of pushing, an epidural that stopped working, a baby that got stuck despite my roomy pelvis, and finally, a c section, which was something I very much wanted to avoid.
I was disappointed. In myself, in the whole experience. I wanted the “Real” birth experience. I wanted it to be easier. I wanted to feel more present, not like it was happening to someone else. I wanted to not feel like I had failed, like I had let myself and everyone else down. What if I hadn’t wimped out and gotten the epidural? Maybe I wouldn’t have had the c section. Maybe I should have done something, anything different.
Who knows if that would be true? It happened the way it happened. I am still disappointed. The recovery was very hard, perhaps even harder than the labor and delivery. C section recoveries are hard enough, let alone a c section after that long labor and pushing.
But, in the end, it was all worth it.
His name is Lee. He was born at 8 lbs, 10 oz, and 22 inches. We love him.
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You don’t have to like me.
You don’t have to agree with me.
You don’t have to approve of what I do.
You don’t have to approve of what organizations I belong to.
You can have serious qualms about me in general.
You don’t have to be friends with me. That is your choice, just like it is my choice to do all of the above, and to be friends with you.
But, if you like me, and consider yourself friends with me, I ask this:
Please respect me enough to be kind to me.
I don’t care what you do or don’t do.
I don’t care what you do or don’t believe.
I don’t care what you think about my faith, or me in general.
I would like the same from you in return.
Don’t attack me, an individual person who has done NOTHING to you, for the sins of other people or my faith.
When you do that, you are no better than those you are judging.
And worse, you are hurting a person you claim to be friends with. I hope that isn’t your goal.
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When he’s too much of an ass to deserve the name “jagoff”.
I’ve complained about my neighbor, affectionately named “Jackass Neighbor” on twitter, regularly. But I think it’s time to blog about him. Previously, he didn’t seem to deserve getting bitch about too much, because he was a serious step up from the previous people who lived there. He rents a unit in the duplex next door. It’s owned by the people who live in the upstairs unit, and they are very nice people. They rent the downstairs and it covers the owner’s racecar expenses.
The previous renters were a mixed bag of people, and we weren’t totally sure who actually lived there. Two women, one young and one middle aged, were always around, and an assortment of small children. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of men were around all the time. I suspect the women were acting as a warehouse for the men to store drugs in. I once watched one of the men get arrested in front of my house at 2AM, and saw the cops pull very large bags of white powder from his backpack. They also used to send their small child (maybe 4 years old?) into my fenced in yard to play. It’s fenced in for a reason; we have a dog. She’s a very friendly dog, and good with kids, but I have no idea what she would do if a kid came into her yard unannounced. Furthermore: MY YARD NOT YOURS.
So, when Gary and Gerry moved in, it seemed like things were improving. They are employed, they don’t seem to be operating an illegal drug operation out of the place, they don’t send their small children into my yard. They are middle aged men who I don’t think are romantically involved, but who knows what they do? Gary spends a lot of time hollering at Gerry. Gary is Jackass Neighbor.
Despite being a significant improvement over the previous tenants, Gary has his own bag of asshole tendencies. He is a shouter, first of all. He can’t talk to anyone without hollering at them. He likes to sit on his front porch and
talk yell on the phone. He yells at his roommate. He yells, a lot.
He owns 2 cars. I’ve never seen Gerry drive so I don’t think he can. Gary has a very large pickup truck, and a minivan. There is enough room in front of the duplex to fit the owner’s cobalt and Gary’s truck. Gary considers that spot to be divinely bestowed upon him. Twice, we have had guests who made the poor decision to park in his spot, and they returned to their cars to find a nasty gram under the windshield wiper. Even better, he sits at the window and waits for the person to return to their car so he can pounce on them. Because a nasty gram just isn’t enough! He has to YELL at them too! The best part is how he starts both the note and his tirade with, “I know I don’t own the street” and then proceeds to argue that it’s his spot and no one should ever park there ever.
I once watched him do this to the mailman! That was my favorite. The mailman is, I’m sure, used to dealing with jackasses, and pointedly ignored him. He got into his truck, ate his lunch at a leisurely pace even though I’ve never seen him eat lunch on our block before. I’m sure he did it just to infuriate Jackass. As soon as he drove away, Jackass ran out of his house and moved the car into the spot as fast as his little feet could carry him.
He likes to park his van in front of my house. One of these days I’m going to leave a nasty gram on his windshield about it. I just have to get the nerve.
See? Not jagoff. Straight up JACKASS.
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“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” -John Kuebler
That bit of advice is often given to children or young people. I remember my third grade teacher, a scary nun, repeating it. I guess it’s meant to keep kids from hanging out with the bad kids, the ones who are obviously going to end up on drugs and/or in prison.
Worthy advice, worthy goal.
I don’t think that advice matters less in adulthood. Sure we’re “in” our futures. Hopefully we’re not addicted to drugs or in prison. At least not yet. There’s still time!
But it still matters who we hang out with. It matters who we choose to spend our limited time with. It matters who our friends are. We might not be on the playground anymore, and we might not ever become addicted to drugs. But that doesn’t mean that the friends we have don’t influence us.
If you’re trying to save money or spend less, staying with a crowd of people that eats out every night, buys the latest toys, and always has the nicest cars is probably going to make that goal harder.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, having smoker friends is going to make that harder.
If you’re trying to to improve your marriage and your relationship with your husband, talking to friends who cheat on their husbands is going to make that harder.
If you’re trying to lose weight, going out to eat with friends who aren’t dieting is going to make that harder.
If you’re trying to find God, talking to friends who dislike religion is going to make that harder.
If you’re trying to be nicer to yourself and to others, being with people who constantly critique, pick on, and judge other people directly to them is going to make that harder.
If you’re trying to not gossip, associating with gossips is going to make that harder.
I find it hard to make friends. I’m shy, I’m anxious about being liked, and awkward.
But I’ve never had a problem with ending a friendship that was bringing me down, or turning me into a person I didn’t like. And that’s not going to change. It hurts when it happens to me, but I have to respect that person’s decision.
I want my friends to love me, to support me, and also to encourage me to be a better person.
As a result, I can look at the friends I’ve made and kept over the years, and I’m grateful for the decisions I’ve made in choosing them, particularly my girl friends. We’ve grown up to be smart, kind, funny, successful, strong women. As an adult, I’ve met more of the same.
And you know what? I am blessed. I don’t have to be friends with everyone. I don’t WANT to be friends with everyone. And if you don’t want to be friends with me, well I guess we can consider that self-selection.
How do you feel about your friendships as an adult? Do you have any regrets?
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Grabbed this from Linda
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Went on a week long beach vacation with my inlaws. Officially became an animal hoarder. Plotted the progress of my garden. Finished my coursework for good (FOR REALS THIS TIME, I SWEAR I MEAN IT). Got a 2nd dog. Cleaned out a hoarder’s house.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t make resolutions. I prefer to keep my expectations low.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin’s wife produced a baby boy. But if they live in Kansas City, can I say that they’re close to me?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not to me, but my husband’s grandmother and her brother died within 2 weeks of each other.
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Less stress. More focus. Maybe a pregnancy, if I have the nerve.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The weekend of our anniversary spent in West Virginia. The day shortly after that I found out my cousin has stage 4 lung cancer.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Developing, proposing, conducting, and finishing my master’s thesis.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Every time I snapped at my husband or felt like I was less than worthy.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A cold here and there, but nothing dramatic.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
All the flowers in my garden.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, savings. This is the first year that we have both had discretionary income and didn’t have anything big to pay for, like a house or an engagement ring or a wedding. Figuring out what to do with it and what’s coming next was a big task.
13. What did you get really excited about?
14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
“The Dog Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine. Not that I had dog days, but I’ve spent a lot of time rocking out to this in my cubicle or my kitchen whenever I need a serious kick in the ass.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Both. Happy with what I’m doing and how my life is going, sadder about the hard stuff I can’t control. Cancer, death, developmental delays.
– thinner or fatter? The same.
– richer or poorer? Incrementally better off.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Going fun places with my husband and dogs. For people who don’t have kids or any serious responsibilities, I have no idea how our weekends get as packed full as they do.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Screwing around on the internet. Biting my nails. Feeling like crap for no good reason.
18. How did you spend Christmas?
With my inlaws. Better than last year. This time with less crying during church, but still feeling sad about the food I was missing at home.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Big Bang Theory. How I Met Your Mother. Walking Dead. Two Broke Girls.
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
The Help. The Muppets.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My husband made a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and put 25 candles on it. My twin nephews spat on it while helping me blow out the candles.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being able to decide what comes next. I hate the unknown.
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
26. What kept you sane?
Delicious red wine and cubicle dance parties.
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
The scariest things are almost always the things you need to do the most. Just dive in.