Vincible

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Earlier this year, I was involved in a car accident. When I say it, my mind goes into a completely horrifying warp, near-death experience kind-of-place. Which is sort of the case regardless of the actual outcome when you have watched that Mystery of Natalie Wood documentary too many times and spent too much time contemplating, “How DO I think I’m going to die?”

Spoiler: Probably not like this. But I’m not ruling it out. Source: thelostboyscrypt.tumblr.com

Truly, it could have been much, much worse than it was, and I’m very grateful it wasn’t. For example, when medical professionals have asked me about my bath room habits, they’ve had to specify, “Has this accident made you incontinent?” and I’ve thankfully been able to say, “No.” The first week after it happened, my body was still absorbing the shock, so I kind of felt like I had taken a fork and shoved it into an electric outlet. When it occurred, I was also a week into some weird cold/flu that I’d avoided going to the doctor for or staying home, so when I went to urgent care after it happened, they informed me that I was running a fever, and I should be lying down regardless. When I went back to work, none of my co-workers were aware I’d been in a motor vehicle collision since our entire office was suffering from mild to extreme cases of the plague, and they all greeted me with, “We’re so happy you’re not dead!” to which I replied, “Me too. You have no idea.” From now on, these two gifs will represent my only forms of transportation: laughing, animated horses and skateboarding and…birds? Just kidding, I’m terrible at skateboarding.

Source: giphy.com via tumblr.com

Source: giphy.com via cheeseburger.com

One of the outcomes was that I had to go back to physical therapy. This was scary for me, because when I was told I had to go to physical therapy a year or so earlier for a work-related injury, I became oddly convinced that at some point I would have to return to PT since I have ongoing health conditions that aren’t just going to disappear. This made me super depressed and nervous about going in the first place. The primary reason I eventually went was that my pseudo-step dad told me that I could either go now and avoid surgery or have to have surgery and be forced to go to PT to help myself recover AFTER. Pop culture also played a role, because I had to make it sound awesome, so I began to channel Charles “Professor X” of X-Men Xavier and John Locke from Lost.

The cool thing about PT is that the process forces you to take an active role in your own well-being, and if you are sort of a control freak like me, it’s nicer than just sitting around being anxious. Going back a second time also brings about that whole hindsight 20/20 factor, where you begin to realize both your limitations and also your strengths. You have to spend each week assessing your body on your own time so you can go back to “class” with questions. I’m a query-based learner, so it’s imperative for me to know which muscles I’m stretching, brain-storming/pictures/examples that I can use to remember how I’m supposed to be moving in order to do the stretches when I’m not accompanied by a professional, and where I’m supposed to be in the whole “healing” process (it’s in quotations, because sometimes it’s not as straight-forward and continuous as I hope it will be).

Yesterday, my instructor was all, “Okay, we’re going to use the equipment in here today!” and to avoid physically shuddering and looking weak, I was like, “All right, let’s do this!” I decided to accept the challenge. First we started with leg-based strengthening, and I was mentally, self-congratulating. See? I can do ALL the stuff. I am a bad ass, rock star.

Source: nitratediva.tumblr.com

Dean distracted me with talking while I tried not to boast too hard that I do all this stuff, and aren’t I cool? As if to prove the opposite, he was like, “Okay, now let’s work on your upper body.”

Okay, it wasn’t quite this bad initially, but I just found the infomercial section of giphy.com, and this is the best interpretation I could find of trying to get control over my back pain. Source: http://www.gifbay.com

That’s when I remembered I was not Popeye, even if I DO try to eat spinach (but not out of a can because that’s disgusting, you guys). I started to feel it while I was doing it, and the discomfort became more obvious in the minutes to hours afterwards.

Here’s where my mistake came in. Dean told me to trust my body and not overexert it. I said, “Should I do any more stretching when I get home tonight?” He said, “No.”

Stupidly, I went home and did aerobic exercise for another 20 minutes.

Because people are always telling you you can out-think your problems and it’s mind-over-matter, but when my instructor tells me not to do something, I don’t say, “What if I just exercised a little more and didn’t stretch?” Because I really, really want to be infallible.

Also, I’ve been:

A) Rewarding myself with tv for exercising. Consequently, doing the thing I love without the thing I don’t love felt lazy, like I was cheating, and…

B) I’ve been using exercise to dismantle the bomb that is my paralyzing anxiety. Because it quells it into silence. While I don’t love the action-based part of it, I like the result.

Source: (Emily Deschanel, Bones) giphy.com via tumblr.com

Except now I am sitting at home in pain losing money by not working which is significantly less intelligent than just listening to the advice of the wise.

Adults are always saying that teenagers “think they are superheroes,” and are untouchable, but I for one definitely fall prey to that kind of idiotic thinking now more than I ever did when I was young. Because as an adult, you are expected to have “all this shit figured out,” do everything all the time, and never, ever show weakness either emotionally or physically.

It’s hard to explain why I do this without using these amazing Friends quotations that are supposed to represent different astrological signs. Although PERSONALLY, I would swap Cancer and Virgo’s, and come up with different ones for Taurus, Leo, and Capricorn. The most accurate ones are Aries, Libra, Scorpio, and Aquarius (except for my friend JR who is always the exception to that sign). I will rework this later. Check out Libra’s.

Not sure if this is from fuckyafriends tumblr or fuckyachandlerbing tumblr. So I'll source both.

Not sure if this is from fuckyafriends tumblr or fuckyachandlerbing tumblr. So I’ll source both.

I’m aware that some of you don’t believe in astrology, and that’s fine. But “I couldn’t say no twice,” completely describes why I’m trying to no longer be a part of customer service, and also why I actively seek to never, ever, EVER be anyone’s boss. “I guess I’m going to Yemen.” But not really, because my back hurts.

Even if you AREN’T

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Thanks, Buzzfeed. [From “27 Pictures that are just too real,” although apparently it was from Reddit before that. This picture gets around!]

This kid is the truth police, it is a bunch of b.s. that you can’t tell people how you’re actually feeling unless you’re Elliott Reed from Scrubs and are just blurting out your emotions and even then it’s frowned upon.

While one of my friends and I were agreeing about this, I remembered that I actually have a special scale of how I actually measure how I’m feeling. And because this is not the 1950’s, you don’t need to send away for a decoder ring. I’ll just tell you what it is.

“Good!”

My vow is to use more Paul Rudd gifs, because they are the BEST not unlike Paul Rudd. [http://donotcryout.tumblr.com/post/45942825756]

I’m doing awesome, actually, or I want you to believe I’m feeling awesome. It could also be that I had too much coffee, am about to have too much coffee, am drunk, or have something important to tell you so I’m rushing through this preliminary part of our conversation so we can talk about other things. Either way, I don’t want to overdo it with an “awesome,” so I’m using this classic as an exclamation.

“I’m doing well.”

I’m always surprised how many Naco Libre gifs I find without even trying. [reddit.com]

I remembered that this is the correct way to answer this question. You’re an adult, and I’m five, but I’d like to stay up later if that’s at all possible. You could also be my English teacher, and I’m showing you I definitely remember all those English lessons, even if this is the only one.

“I’m…okay.”

Finding a gif that embodies me when I say that is REALLY hard you guys. It’s not exactly confused OR surprised OR relaxed…etc. The closest I got was Arrested Development, which is now a feeling. It’s like amused, confused, and a little bit cute.

giphy.com

Reddit.com

Clearly, I’ve been saying good too often. It’s also possible that I remembered that line from my mini-movie, and if that’s the case I’m chuckling.

Then again, maybe I’m not actually okay, but I want you to think I’m okay so I said okay. I may not even know or I’m just not ready to talk about what’s behind it. I know this though: it pairs well with Buster’s juice box…or Lucille Bluth’s.

“I’m hanging in there.”

Is this not like the saddest fucking SpongeBob you’ve ever seen? Also, why is this an interactive painting? [http://fuckyeahreactiongifs.tumblr.com/post/29099478252]

If you hear me say this, then I’m sad and A) Don’t want to talk about it, B) Want to talk about it, but don’t want to start crying or C) Self-conscious about my level of being sad, possibly because we’re at a funeral (both A and B could also be at a funeral, I just know that I’ve used this once at a funeral that I wasn’t *that* sad about)

“I’m all right.”

Reddit.com via giphy.com

I’m totally thinking about something more interesting than answering this question, and/or I’ve been using good too much again, and/or I’m better than hanging in there but not quite good enough to be “good!”

“Same shit, different day.”

You’ve time traveled or someone’s talking for me. Mayhaps an alien (or ten) who has taken over my body, because I don’t remember the last time I actually used this. Possibly when working a job I thought was UBER shitty.

…that actually was more complicated than simple. Whatever, finish your cereal so you can get that decoder ring you’ve been waiting for (or that rub on tattoo).

Batman, from here to eternity

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My co-worker, Mo, and I are on our second round of doing this research and data compilation project. Today not only marked our second (and third) week of everyone in the office having some kind of mutant cold virus, but also the second week of doing this project.

Coincidence? I think not.

We also ran out of Emergen-C today, so my co-workers and I were barely hanging on by a thread. Fortunately, I got the last one. This is good, because yesterday, the nurse at my doctor’s office told me (while I was there for something routine) that I was running a 100 degree fever.

That being said, today was pretty interesting.

My co-workers and I have been comforting each other in order to save our sanity throughout this minor plague and this hair pulling project. Particularly Mo and I, who got stuck finishing an entire project after everyone left to do other work.

Even though our supervisors frown on chatter during these projects, they value employee retention. And there’s no retention without the occasional morale boost and stress reducing act of venting.

Me at the beginning of the work day

Me: I’m going to ask them to change my name in the database to Batman, because it’s faster for the auto-prompt than using my actual name.

Tracy: If you get to be Batman, I get to be Thor.

Me: YESSS! For productivity!

Tracy: For productivity.

Me: I hate this. I have to look up all these different routes which are NOT shorter. Help me choose between these two crappy options.

Mo: I just Googled this address which claims to be 13 miles, and it is actually 555 miles. Roughly an 8-hour trip.

Me: See, this is why the robots can’t win when the massive uprising eventually happens.

(Later)

Me: Did you find something to replace the insane route?

Mo: Yeaaah, that was actually my fault. I guess I put in the wrong zip code.

Me: So it was taking you to a completely different state.

Mo: At least.

Me: Great, the robots ARE going to win.

Me (to Tracy): I admire you so much. I worked on the same project all day. It was fine in the morning, because I’m still running a fever so I was drugged up on cold medicine. So work was pretty fun, despite being sick. But the afternoon just made me feel generally ill and irritable. I actually have been mis-hearing you on the phone pronounce your name as Trixie.

Tracy: Yeah, it doesn’t really matter what my name is when I call.

So now I’m not sure if Tracy IS saying a different name or is just assuring me that my ears are fine. I took a mini-Ibuprofen induced nap on that last break after she said those words.

Time to watch tv and drift off to sleep.

It’s a Questionable Life

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Parker asked me what movie I wanted to watch, and while I was getting ready to make a decision about that, I started thinking about It’s a Wonderful Life. I thought about how George’s life actually does kind of suck, even if he’s a nice person. I thought about how sometimes I am a little like George, but not regular George, the Life-Sucks-Tonight George. I am mostly not like George at all, I decided, I am like Uncle Billy. Except I don’t work at a bank.

Then I thought about how George totally could’ve gotten out of the responsibility of inheriting the bank if he was 1) born second or 2) more like Uncle Billy.

[giphy.com]

In fact, if George were like Uncle Billy, and not just pretending (which George would never even think to do), no one would even give him a bank so one of his problems would be solved.* Then I started asking myself, why DO they let Uncle Billy work at the bank? There’s no way that he only lost one envelope of money the entire time he worked there. He’s a massive liability.

I know why George would let him work there: George is nice, George’s dad already had Uncle Billy on staff, and George probably isn’t wily enough to get rid of him (just like he’s not wily enough to patent his plastics idea so Sam steals his idea and gives him nothing–really, George should have ALL of Sam’s money and not just Sam’s old girlfriend**). But even then, couldn’t they have worked out a retirement plan or something? Like even paying Billy to not be there would be better than Uncle Billy being there.

What if that’s why people go to Potter at all? Because Uncle Billy still works at George’s bank. Maybe that’s why people go to Potter’s bank at all. Maybe people even switched to Potter’s bank.

Anyway, so I’m sure George’s bank will get much better after Billy retires. Also after George can push the bank off on his own kids. Unless they’re all like Uncle Billy too. Then that town is pretty screwed.

*If you finished reading this before you got to the asterisk, you’ll know that what I pretty much figured out that the logic from this movie doesn’t work, because if I was in It’s a Wonderful Life, they would STILL give me a bank, because Billy works at one in it.

**Which brings up another good point…in the angel’s fake, alternative universe, Mary is an old maid. Is this because of Sam’s laugh? Because Mary totally is not single. I don’t care what Clarence showed him, I think Clarence is just too nice to make up a universe where Mary is boning Sam Wainwright. Sure, sure, kill off the brother, but don’t let Mary leave town and be rich. That will definitely send George back to jumping. Who knows? Maybe Clarence’s universe is lies…could that be possible?

Definitely, Maybe

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Lately, my back has been acting up. I mean, I’m no Professor X from X-Men or anything, but it’s been super unpleasant.

I can’t do this, if that’s what you’re wondering, but it’s more exciting than a gif of what I’m actually doing (giphy.com, Polar Express)

I feel like my body chooses some moments to be more annoying than others, the Pip of Midsummer’s Night Dream. “Things aren’t great…let’s make them considerably more interesting and dangerous!” This type of shenanginry (no Spellcheck, it’s totes a word. you know NOTHING) goes on until it reaches a breaking point, which is where I’m at today.

This is how my talks with my body go. [Back to the Future II on giphy.com]

I received a confusing letter about my healthcare. It took over 60 days to receive anything from them, and when I got it, the message was something like “You PROBABLY have healthcare, but I can’t tell you definitively the kind you have. I am just a letter!” I don’t know it took 60 days to get something that says, “We could’ve done lots of work, but we think you’ll enjoy interrupting your life to stay on hold.”

Which is what I’m doing right now. My back hurt too badly to go to work today, so I’m on the phone to find out whether I have health insurance, and if so what kind. The auto message estimated 28 minutes, but who’s to say?

In the meantime, I am racing the phone to see if I can find an answer online prior to this. Wish me luck!

Update: Just had an informative and helpful discussion with someone in client services. This is what I needed. *Deep breath*

[The Grinch, giphy.com]

Being a Woman as explained by Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane from Reefer Madness

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I’ve seen pictures on the internet about how a monthly cycle is supposed to go. And I disagree. So here’s my version with as little explanation and as many pictures from Reefer Madness as I can of Kristen Bell. Because I like her. Trying to gloss over the icky parts, so dudes will read this and laugh. Sure, they have the pain of a kick in the crotch, but that pain is ours for several days each month and then again during pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. So ladies, feel free to relate, and dudes feel the joy of Schadenfreude while reading this. [I wish the chronology was correct, but it’s not, so deal.]

It’s the beginning of the month. And you. Feel. Awesome.

KristenBellRM1

You’re just doing your own thing. Dancing, working, you are in the zone! Nothing can stop you! But you don’t have time for anything extra. No tongue, Jimmy Harper. Just some good ol’ fashioned romance and 4H club.

Reefermadnessdancing

But then something changes. You get a twinge of a cramp. What is that? A period? I haven’t had one in awhile. Maybe it’s a baby. Oh, I do NOT need a baby right now! *cue anxiety*

JimmyHarper-RM

False alarm. Discomfort subsides. And everything is soooo fine that you just break into song.

Everything is going to be OKAY!

Reefermadness-toutlecine

But then you start to feel run down. Very tired. For no apparent reason. Maybe you even get sick. There’s sufficient pajama time going on.

lyricsmania.com

You start to get suspicious again. But then you get some energy back. Nothing out of the ordinary is going on. You’re fine. Resume wearing normal clothes.

giphy.com

Then your body’s chemistry begins to change. You begin to feel funny. I know when this is happening, because I become more matronly towards babies and children. Oh body, I think you tricked me!

cannabisculture.com

And then for about 2-3 days, you turn into this…

KristenBell-hot

Menfolk are really excited, or very, very scared. Or both.

But the boost in hormone action ends up making you irritable, and after a few days of this, you go from zero to annoyed in less than a second. Okay, I can’t find any pictures of where Jimmy Harper punches Ralph and tries to fight him. So just assume that this picture is here.

[Your imagination!!]

But being mad is exhausting, and it makes your mind depressed. So…major sadness. One time during this phase, I saw a movie which normal people might shed some tears towards the end. But I cried every 10-15 minutes for the entirety of the film. Then I woke up in the middle of the night after a bad dream, and I cried again for about 20 minutes. No one can make it better. You just have to let it out. (I know this picture isn’t of Mary Lane, but I can’t find anywhere in the film where she cries.)

Flixster.com

Flixster.com

Suddenly, it’s gone. The sadness lifts. Unfortunately, your dark cloud has turned a different kind of dark cloud…that of pain. The blood. The feeling of dying. Hold me. Tell me a story of good times past. Of all the great times we’ll have…if…if I make it.

MaryLaneshot

The odds are not looking good. Your lady parts have turned against you, and they are kicking your ass from the inside out. This is what the apocalypse feels like. You know war. You feel it deep in your loins. Ouch.

MaryLaneRM2

Finally, after days of battling with the devil…the storm lifts. You either got passed over like the doors marked with blood at the end of the plague, or you legit died and now you’re in heaven. Either way, you’re feeling good again. No more period. No more weird emotions. Not for at least another week.

So this is pretty much how it goes. Bye period! See you again next month accompanied by all the usual, unwanted guests.

(Pictures obtained from tumblr.com, moviemusereviews, fanpop.com, toutlecine.com, and Flixster. I did put what sources every individual photo came from originally, but then the pictures didn’t actually show up. So now they all get lumped at the end.)

I’m not really a kitchen person…

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Last week, I set out rolls, because I thought it would be a tasty precursor to Thanksgiving. Parker asked if I was going to make them “the fast way.” I said yes, and left them on the counter.

Parker (a few minutes later): Uh, what are you doing?

Me: Pre-heating the oven. To make rolls.

Parker: That’s not the fast way to make them. They’ll rise at this rate in approximately 4 hours.

I don’t know what I THOUGHT I heard him say, because I was doing other things, but I put them in a bowl of water to thaw (NO) and then put them in the oven for an hour and a half. Then I took them out, emptied the water, put them back in and baked them.

When Parker took them out, he was like, “Something’s wrong with the rolls. They didn’t bake all the way.”

“I put them in boiling water like you said and pre-heated them in the oven.”

“You what? No. Why would you put them in boiling water?”

Me: I don’t know! I thought you said to do that.

Parker: I never said that. I said to put a bowl of boiling water below them so they’ll rise and not lose moisture. Then you bake them after that.

Me: I thought the directions you gave me were weird, but to be fair, putting boiling water on a rack below regular frozen rolls sounds just as crazy. Baking and cooking in general make absolutely no sense to me.

Most of them were still pretty tasty. They were still better than the rolls my grandma had for Thanksgiving.

Tonight, I ran the dishwasher. I put more soap in the dishwasher than necessary, because the top rack has been getting less clean than the bottom one even though we ran a rinse cycle through the dishwasher.

When Parker went in the kitchen a minute ago, he said, casually. “Uh, I don’t know what’s wrong with the dishwasher, but it’s overflowing.”

“WHAT!?” I immediately freaked out.

Parker: Yeah, there are suds everywhere.

Me: Why would–oh, never mind, that was me.

Parker: What was you?

Me: I put extra dish soap in the dishwasher.

Parker: Which soap?

(I point to the liquid soap for washing pots and pans.)

Parker: You can’t use that. It gets too sudsy. There are too many bubbles, and then the dishwasher overflows.

Me: Well, I didn’t KNOW that. They say don’t do it, but they don’t say why. I’ve done it before, and I felt like the dishes got cleaner. But I didn’t use as much before. Did I break it?

Parker: No, you didn’t break it. There were just a lot of suds. It should be fine. Just don’t do that again.

I am definitely one of those people that you have to explain the reason why you cannot do something. Because if you just tell me not to do it, I’ll assume that it’s an arbitrary rule that actually carries no meaning and weight. And then you end up with half baked rolls (yes, I should have been listening) and an overflowing dishwasher.

Game of Thrones wish list chapters

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I started re-reading Game of Thrones, and while most characters I have missed terribly, there are also some that I have not missed. While reading their chapters, I’ve been reminded how weary some of them can be (Catelyn Stark, don’t pretend I’m not talking about you). While talking about how I wished one of the minor characters had some talk time in the book, I came up with a list.

George RR Martin will likely never read this, but if he DOES and at some point they re-release the past books with ADDITIONAL chapters, I thought I’d add some people I’d like to hear more about.

*Warning: Minimal, but possible spoilers*

People’s whose GoT POVs I wish I could hear (or would’ve liked to hear):

Renly Baratheon
Dolorous Ed
Ramsey Snow
Tywin Lannister
Theon’s sister (I’m curious, because her viewpoint would be from living in a whole different place than we get insight)
Arya Stark’s wolf, Nymeria (where the fuck is Nymeria, anyway?)
The Red Woman
Littlefinger
Robin Arryn (‘cuz what random things would he come up with?)
Jon Snow’s mom (why not? They could even hide her identity and just tell us where she WAS unless she’s already been introduced, moving on)
Maester Aemon (coolest old dude ever)
Stannis (he’s SO unlikeable that I want to believe there’s a genuinely interesting reason behind why, even if there isn’t)
Jory (Thanks to a blog commenter for pointing this out!)

People whose GoT POVs I would not care to hear:
Rob Stark (who cares? Sorry Rob Stark fans)
Rob Stark’s wife
Rob Stark’s dead offspring (sorry, I was on a roll, and this just seemed like the natural progression)
Rickon
Hodor (ONLY because Hodor’s hodoring would be out of control)
Roose Bolton (it would be like the boring version of a mix between Tywin Lannister and Ramsey)
Maester Pycelle (we get just the right amount of his tangents..maybe a little too much)
Lysa Arryn (I thought about it, and she’s TOO cray cray…it would be like reading Catelyn’s stuff if she was legitimately insane…also, does anyone else feel like she MIGHT have the version of parental Munchhausens?)
Craster (We’d probably have to hear about all of the Craster sex)
The Hound (too one-sided)
The Mountain (too evil)
Jeyne Poole
Barristan Selmy (I think he might be in here…)
Jorah Mormont (no one cares, Friend Zone)

“And miles to go before I sleep”

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Source: Giphy.com

My husband and I went to the beach earlier this year to celebrate several different anniversaries, and I picked up a mug boasting a coffee on it called Insomnia. Every morning after a particularly rough night of wrestling with my circadian rhythm and insufficient amount of REM, I drink coffee out of the mug. It’s significant for a couple of reasons.

The first is to signal to the universe my surrender, to say that I know there are some things I have no control over. In admitting this, I remember that I cannot fault myself if I am not to blame. It’s an action along the lines of the Serenity Prayer where we ask “to accept the things [we] cannot change, the courage to change the things [we] can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I can’t make myself fall asleep. All I can do is spend my time wisely until sleep comes and practice healthy sleep when possible.

The second is to wipe the slate clean. Some facilities keep track of how many days have passed since an accident, and when I drink from the cup, I am trying ritualistically to wipe the slate clean. Does it work? I hope so, but I never follow up the next day by yelling “YOU PROMISED!” at it as it glistens in the dishwasher. I may be ridiculous, but I’m not that extreme. Also, I’m forgetful.

As evidenced by my 7:15am crying in the car. (Source: giphy.com)

It’s been a long, hard week with lots of concepts to grasp, many lessons to learn, and much cold weather to battle. Upon regaining consciousness, I was only able to get out of bed this morning by saying, “Rise and shine campers, and don’t forget your booties, because it’s cold out there today.” My husband laughed and said, “I have been thinking of that movie all week.”

Thanks Harold Ramis and Groundhog Day. You made getting up this morning possible.

Insomnia does win for the least useful (or tie for first) part of my life. Got about 3 hours of sleep last night. I’m that kind of exhausted tonight where sitting up is too tiring, but my body STILL can’t manage to pass out. Several of my old friends used to say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” but that is because their bodies are able to fully participate in the entirety of the sleep cycle.

Okay, now I’m going to lie down and pretend that this is easy.

“A rose by any other name…”

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The day after my husband and I got married, he told me he thought his mom and dad would like it if I called them Mom and Dad.

I know a lot of people who call their spouse’s parents Mom and Dad, and in general, it is something I find endearing. It always warms my heart when I hear step-parents say “these are my children” without differentiating at all.

Parker and I have been married for four years, and I love his parents. They are extremely generous and caring individuals whose love knows no bounds. In some ways, they treat me better than some of my own family treats me. I know this sounds like slander, but family can be a precarious and tricky thing, so I’m not going to specify which family members I’m indicating. It’s more than one of them.

I am very lucky to have them as in-laws, but I still struggle with this every time I have to refer to one of them by name.

Here’s a little history as to why:

Growing up, all my grandparents were divorced and remarried. Regardless of how you feel about divorced families, this is fantastic news for grandchildren if it’s done correctly. It means that you get more people to love you, more presents, and more events to go to around the holidays.

My maternal grandmother baby-sat me frequently. When I was about three years old, we went to my paternal grandfather’s house. Since “we’re going to Grandma and Grandpa’s” was ambiguous, when we showed up, I just EXPECTED everybody to be there. It still makes sense in my head.

“Where’s Grandma?” I asked, looking around for my maternal grandmother.

“I’m right here, Sweetie,” my paternal step-grandmother said.

I frowned and looked at my mom. “No,” I said a little quieter. “Where’s my REAL grandma?”

Source: giphy via televisionwithoutpity.tumblr.com

To this day, I feel incredibly bad for hurting my grandmother’s feelings, but it was a lesson to everyone to be more explanatory. From that point forward, my mom began to explain titles to me so I’d know my relationship to everyone. Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Aunt were all followed by the person’s actual name. While my cousins called my dad by his first name, this always felt weird to me. They didn’t call their parents by their first name.

The other complicating factor was that in elementary school, we had room moms*, and my teacher had a speech about how all grown ups should be addressed as “Mr. or Mrs.” So-and-So.

When my mom arrived though, she changed the rules slightly.

“The Weird Button’s father and I are divorced, so please don’t refer to me as Mrs. Button. That is not my name. My last name is long and hard to pronounce. Please call me by my first name. Now I understand that your teacher wants you to refer to adults as Mr. or Mrs. This is out of respect. However, I have heard people call each other Mr. or Mrs. without respect in their voices. Please use my first name, but when you address me, please do so with respect. It is important, regardless of whoever’s name, that you speak to them with respect in mind.”

Fellow room moms followed suit.

By the time I got to high school, I’d learned that you should ask most people how they want to be addressed. At one point, I had a crush on one of my classmates and met his mother for the first time.

“It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you!” I gushed. Big fan of your work, I wanted to add. “Would you prefer that I call you by your first name or–”

She visibly straightened her posture. “It’s Mrs. ____,” she said.

“Oh,” I said, thrown off. “Well it’s nice to meet you, Mrs. _____.” Then I slunk away, silently added to myself, Guess I won’t be marrying YOUR son.

Source: Giphy.com

However, when I had a crush on a different classmate, his mother told me, “Oh Sweetie, you can just call me by my first name.”

These two interactions became the two groups mothers would fall into. I always preferred mothers of the latter. Women who loved their sons but wouldn’t make their son’s girlfriends work to unprecedented heights to obtain approval. Occasionally some still did, but it was still always a relief that it was not related to her preferred title.

Then after years of insisting they were “Mister, Missus, Ms., or Miss,” my college professors completely changed the rules, and some of them allowed us to call them by their first name. It still unnerves me when I wear a name tag, and a customer says “Okay, Weird Button” or “Thank you, Weird Button,” when we’ve just met. Of course, I realize that I am guilty of this as well.

For some, there is a rule of familiarity. You graduate to certain names by your closeness and length of time known. One of my preferred names to refer to my bosses as is “Boss,” but only the ones I’ve worked with awhile for whom I feel are more work family than merely business overlord. When I used to work in a clinic, my favorite thing to say was, “Well, you’re the doc, Doc,” followed by “What’s up, Doc?”

I have also never wanted to refer to anyone new by a title that could easily be taken away by law or falling out of favor. Once you are promoted to a certain title, it’s distressing to think that a demotion could remove it. As if the circumstance itself wouldn’t be hard enough.

So while I adore my mother and father-in-law, I’m still getting used to calling adults, college professors, and bosses by their first names. I hope they know how much they mean to me regardless of title.

*I say Room Moms, because I don’t remember anybody’s dad volunteering. My maternal grandmother that I mentioned earlier was also a Room Mom.

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