Monday, March 30, 2009

Carmex and Cigarettes

Ever since I was a teenager, I have had two addictions that I cannot shake: smoking and lip balm.  Okay, so lip balm isn't so horrible; I mean, I know I won't be checking in to Betty Ford because of my lippy obsession, but I really do have a thing for lip balm.  I guess it actually started before my teen years.  I can remember being quite small and getting really excited whenever I got a cherry Chapstick or a Lipsmackers, which I suppose were my gateway drugs, so to speak.


But I really got strung out in junior high, when I got into band.  Dry and cracking lips are no joke when you're a musician who plays any type of wind/horn instrument, and everyone seemed to be using the same thing at the time: Blistex medicated ointment, the white salve in the squeeze tube.  The bandroom always had a special smell: a blend of sweaty teenagers, spit, and the menthol/minty tang of Blistex.


I used Blistex all through junior and high school, and always felt great on it.  Then I went to college, and was introduced to a new lip high: Carmex.  Oh, the joy of removing that yellow lid from the little white jar, and getting a whiff of that rich saffron balm!  The ecstasy of dipping in a finger, smoothing it over your lips, and feeling the rush of the tingles that let you know you were alive.


But then I hit the time in college when a lot of people get a little crunchy, and I was no exception.  My neo-hippy phase demanded its own lippy, which turned out to be Burt's Beeswax lip balm.  There are four things that will forever more remind me of my sophomore year in college: the swish of a broomstick skirt around my ankles, the musky-dirt scent of patchouli, the soundtrack of "Hair", and the creamy feel of Burt's Beeswax on my lips.


I'm not really sure when it happened, but at some point after sophomore year I became completely indiscriminate about my lip balm.  Before that time I had been staunchly loyal to whatever lippy was my chosen, but no more.  Instead, I became all about quantity, needing to know I had it available at any given moment, at any location.  There would be a lip balm in the car, one in whatever jacket or coat I was wearing, and one or two in my purse.  If I were wearing jeans, there'd be a little something stuck in my pocket; if I had a backpack, you'd better believe there was a little jar in there somewhere.  And let's not forget the one on my desk, and the other one in the bedroom.


I am not even carrying a purse right now, but I have 3 lip products within reach: a Mary Kay "Apple Berry" lipstick; a tube of Kiss My Face "Cranberry Spice" lip gloss; and my newest crack, Cherry Carmex in a tube.  To be fair, the lipstick and gloss don't really count, since my addiction is for really balm, but you get the idea.  And I can't believe I've just written almost a whole page about my lip balm addiction.




In a way, I guess my nicotine addiction went hand-in-hand with the lip balm, seeing as cigarette filters seem to suck all the moisture out of your lips.  And when you smoke over a pack a day, that's a lot of dry lips to cure.  Since I (mostly) quit smoking, I only use about a fourth as much lip balm as I used to, even though I still buy it as often because I can't help myself.  Of course, now I have the excuse that I'm buying it for my goddaughter Chava, who is already hooked on the stuff at not quite four years old.


Yes, you read it right: I said I've mostly quit smoking.  I had quit the day I found out I was pregnant, and was then completely smoke-free for 13 months.  Not a single cigarette, not even a drag, for thirteen months.  Then one night at a bar, back in December, I decided I really wanted one and bummed off a friend.  It was about 80% disgusting, but that other 20%...  Oh, that 20% led me to smoking another one in January, two in February, and now four in March.


So now I'm at a crucial point: do I go along with "I'm okay as long as it's only a couple on the weekend", or do I try to go back to none at all?  I think I might be able to keep it to the weekend, but a small part of me is afraid that it will continue to slowly escalate until I'm a full-time smoker again, which I don't really want.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

And now for something completely different

On a lighter note, I decided to finally change my playlist. You know, that annoying thing down at the bottom of the page that scares you when music suddenly starts up. I've had the same one up for over a year now, and that's really just pathetic. Or apathetic, as the case may be. Anyway, it's a very small selection of stuff I listened to back in school days, so it's got me feeling happily nostalgic for a change.

I need a vacation, how about you?

Do you know that overwhelmed feeling you get when a job is just so huge, and you don't know where to start?  That's the way I've been feeling about blogging.  So much has happened that, when I think about writing, I just feel swamped, like there's no possible way I could get it all down… so I don't write and get even further behind.


I've decided not to even try to give a blow-by-blow account of the last couple of months.  Instead, here's a TV-style montage of the high(low)lights:


Feb 10: Mom had her other knee done (knee replacement) despite my disapproval and misgivings. You may remember that she had a "cardiac event" when she had the first knee done six months ago, so needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to another nail-biting surgery.  Not to mention, on the purely selfish side, I wasn't ready to do that level of care-giving again.  Thankfully, other than an episode of chest pain the day after surgery (that turned out to be nothing at all), everything has been going well with her recovery from surgery.


In other (crappy) news, though, she has been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease.  This is on a scale of 1 to 5, where level 5 is the full-out deal with dialysis.  This is on top of a degenerative spinal condition, bad knees, hypertension, and diabetes on a short and obese person who refuses to make any lifestyle or dietary changes to help her conditions.  I am pretty much resigned to the fact that her health is going to deteriorate much faster than it needs to, just because she's stubborn.




Feb 25: Mom has a post-surgical check up.  Her knee is doing fine, and her coumadin dosing is good.  Of course, there has to be something wrong.  Her blood pressure was stupid low, like 90/60.  They checked it again about an hour later, and it had dropped to 75/50.  They gave her a chance to hydrate and eat to see if it would rise; if it didn't, they weren't going to let her leave the hospital.  Luckily, though, it turned out that her post-surgical lack of appetite and painkillers seemed to be the culprits, and her blood pressure improved.  It was quite scary though, at the time.


Feb 26: I was mugged at gunpoint at 7:20 am, as I was walking to my car to go to work.  I don't think I even have to describe how shook up I have been.  This is the second time I've been mugged at gunpoint, once at night a few years ago, and now in broad daylight.  Any remaining vestige of "innocence" has been shattered: there is no safety anytime; bad shit happens all the time, whether it's day or night.




I don't have a specific date—because I honestly can't remember—but I realized that my cycles have never truly normalized since my miscarriage last January.  I'm sure my weight gain and PCOS aren't helping, but it's been frustrating to go back to having mega-cycles of 60+ days.


I have just about decided to stop trying to conceive.  My head and body are both not in great places, and TTC just isn't what I need to be focusing on right now.  I even let my membership to you-know-where expire a couple of months ago, for the first time since I joined a million years ago, if that tells you anything.  I had even put down the thermometer, until I realized that with my cycles all wonky, charting was the only hope I had of having an idea of when I might expect to start my uncontrollable bleeding again.  So I went back to half-hearted charting so I can at least semi-predict my periods.


I don't know; I'm all messed up.  There have been some isolated moments of happiness, but they have been few and far between.  Another reason I've been hesitant to blog is because if I'd been writing how I truly felt for the last year, my friends would have me on a suicide watch.  Not that I would, but the deep depression would be so obvious that people might THINK I would.


I don't know "me" anymore.  I don't feel comfortable with my friends anymore, or in social situations.  I feel like I don't know what to say, how to act, what to feel, even with my closest and dearest.  Imagine the social awkwardness of adolescence, but paired with the knowledge of an adult of how much life can suck you dry and spit out the husk, and it comes close to how I feel with people now.


I find myself just wanting to be alone and at home more and more, but I force myself to socialize with my friends.  And then I realize how sad it is, that I have to "force" myself to be with the people I love.  But I know that if I do, 90% of the time I enjoy myself, and it's worth it.  Have I mentioned how screwed in the head I am?  I know that it's a mix of trying to find "me" post-M, and the whole "there was a gun in my face and holy shit I could have died," and that it will pass, but right now I can't deny that I am fucked up.




And that's enough.  We go forward from here.