Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"NaNaNaNaNa NaNaNaNa...LEADER!"

As it turns out, I'm a trendsetter. Now, I'm very much aware that anyone who has seen me at church in my worn-out Target shoes, or worse, walking through Wal-mart in workout pants coupled with Mary Jane Crocs (yikes!) probably would disagree with that. They would be glaringly correct, as at least in regards to all things fashion, I'm not exactly leading the way. Nor am I cutting edge unless the "edge" is slightly mismatched, poorly-fitting clothes for women who rarely leave the house and refuse to go update their wardrobe "until the baby weight is gone--pass the Ben and Jerry's please." My idea of an accessory is hanging the handle of Sam's sippy cup on my jeans pocket so I can leave the diaper bag in the car while we stop at a store. Let's just say that although it would be most unwelcome and beyond mortifying, it would not be at all surprising if the duo from "What Not to Wear" sprang up on me and tried to cure me of my apathy to all things fashion. What would surprise me is how they would manage to get secret footage of me--they probably have a better shot of filming Bigfoot than catching me out of the house and/or car. By the way, this isn't a cry for help, and no amount of money on a gift card would induce me to parade myself around on TV and get yelled at by "fashion experts," so please, don't even think about it.
So I am not a trendsetter in that sense. Nor am I particularly cool in regards to music, movies, or television shows. My guilty pleasure is watching reruns of "The Nanny" late on Nick and Nite, and I was inordinately thrilled to find a channel on our satelitte had brought back my favorite show from when I was a kid, which I actually DVR and watch every single weekday. I'd tell you what it is, but it would make me even less cool than I am now, and that is saying a lot, because I just admitted to watching "The Nanny," and anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I know way too much about "Saved by the Bell."
Where I am an apparent trendsetter is the blogosphere. Despite the fact that I joined WAY late in the universal blogging game and haven't garnered a huge following or anything, I was the first on my husband's side of the family to start a blog, and now my family is getting in on the act as well (over a year later, we're not fast movers). In fact, the title of this post is a tribute to my brother's new blog, which relates Simpsons quotes to his life experiences. (If anyone is interested, my quote is from the episode where they after several failed brainwashing techniques the Movementarians get Homer to join their cult simply by substituting the word "leader" into the Batman theme song. As a leader, I found it appropriate.) You can check out his blog, "The Quotin'ist Blog You Know" here. If you want proof that I come from a whole herd of "smart mouths" you can check out my Dad's blog "My View From the Cheap Seats" here.
You might end up deciding that we put the fun in dysfunctional, but our quirkiness is what I love about us. No matter what you think of the other blogs, just remember that I was the first. Oh, did I mention that we're really competitive, and I'm the oldest? Can't help but claim my turf!

One more thing, for the record: My dad has a really good eye for fashion, and would be completely embarrassed by my workout pant/Mary Jane combo. I'm embarrassed too, frankly, but that doesn't seem to stop me. I just wanted to place blame where it lies--yes, I was raised better than that, the shame is all mine.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Relax, It's Not Brain Surgery!

I haven't really posted lately, because as I mentioned in my last post, I've had quite a bit on my mind--literally! My doctor was concerned about the fact that my headaches included dizziness, and ordered some additional tests "just to make sure there's no aneurysm." Sidebar: add "aneurysm" to the list of words I don't want tossed around when they're concerning me. Anyway, the doctor told me they wouldn't call if all the results were normal, so when I got a call the morning after an MRI that the doctor wanted to see me as soon as possible, but was out of the office for a week, it resulted in a week of freaking out about the state of my brain. Needless to say, I was very concerned...after all, if they were looking for an aneurysm and had something in the results that made them need to see me immediately...well, I was concerned. My only comfort was the fact that if they were willing to make an appointment a week out, as opposed to "hey, go straight to a hospital!"--whatever it was obviously wasn't going to kill me in the near future, or at least the next seven days. Small comfort when you're talking about brains, really.

It turns out that the news was actually fairly good. The tests showed the reason I've been getting dizzy, but found it is not dangerous, progressive, or related to any other symptoms. In fact, it has to do with the way the blood vessels in my brain have been wired since birth, and the extra energy required to work through the pain is why I get dizzy with the headaches (and by the way, also explains why I got dizzy a lot when I was pregnant). Most likely, I do have ordinary migraines that are completely treatable with preventative medication. What a relief!

During this very stressful time, I have been extremely blessed by the support of my family and few people I had told about what was happening. Those that knew went out of their way to be supportive, and to say incredibly nice things to and about me. I really appreciate it, more than you will ever know. Facing a mysterious future makes everyone feel more open, and I know that I too, was a kinder, gentler, me. I wanted to make sure those I love knew how much I love them. I'm hoping this past week will teach me a more lasting lesson than a trite platitude would, but since it's human nature to forget, I figure I'll make hay while the sun shines.

The words I have to share with my family I'm not going to be sending out on the blog, but I've been thinking about something else I've taken totally for granted my whole life. It's about time I gave a tribute to one thing I was truly afraid to lose even part of: my brain.

To my brain:

Thanks, buddy, for being with me through the long haul.
I know I don't deserve your devotion--I'm sorry gave you a big bump on that Payless shoe rack when I was three and messed with you a little bit. If it helps, I still have a scar on my forehead.
You have always been there for me though.
Your hard work is the reason I loved school (well, until college), and was able to figure out "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" every day at 4:00.
Thank you for the endless library of Simpsons Quotes, and song lyrics. It's truly a treasure trove of useless junk in there, and that's part of what I love about you. I've always got a handy factoid when I need one. I owe that to you, brain.
You gave me a love of literature. You gave me the ability to find comfort for teenage loneliness in "Jane Eyre," and the adult maturity to roll my eyes at Bella Swan's headstrong cheesiness...uh, repeatedly.
You memorized the State Capitols, and promptly forgot all the states smaller than Colorado.
You learned some calculus, the parts of a cell, and helped me get an awesome score on Ben Stein's Trivia game on the ipod.
You gathered just enough Organic Chemistry to squeak by, and promptly dumped it out the day after the final. Thank you for both of those, but mostly, for getting it out of there (probably to make room for more Simpsons quotes).
You have at least a million stored memories--funny ones, sad ones, poignant ones, angry ones, happy ones--and every single one is priceless to me. Thank you for holding on to my past.
When my heart tries to run away without you, you always step in. You have saved me from stupid decisions countless times.
You're vital to me, Brain. I'm not naive (or skinny) enough to think I'm going to make a life for myself based on my looks or athletic ability--I know you are my only moneymaker. I'm so glad you're sticking around to be taken for granted again. Don't tell my heart or liver, but you're my favorite organ. Thanks for everything.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Know What Your Problem Is?

Lately, I have had a ton on my mind. That probably explains the quasi-permanent migraine I've been sporting for nearly 2 months now--which was so bad it even drove me to find a doctor and seek treatment--a huge deal for those that know me and my desire to avoid doctors if I can help it. The past few weeks, however, a lot of stressful things in all aspects of my life came to a head. I've been very discouraged and angry the past few days about how everything is seeming to come down at once. I felt sad, downright crushed, as some of my hopes turned out to be disillusions.
The other day, I was discussing my frustrations and anger with my dad and he offered this insight.
"Hey, Carly, do you know what your problem is?" For the record, I am always (wisely) wary of any conversation that starts with that statement. It tends to mean I'm about to find out the problem lies not with the other people I'm blaming and places it squarely on my shoulders, which is my least favorite place for a problem to be.
The only answer in my head was, "People suck?" (As I said, it'd been a rough couple days on multiple fronts and I wasn't exactly feeling all up with people)
"No, you take issue with injustice, and always have. But you're real problem is that you persistently believe that people will change and do the right thing given the right information. Usually, however, people are who they are, they don't change. That's why when people do change, it's so remarkable, because most of the time, people keep doing what they're doing even if it doesn't work for them or anyone else."

Interesting, if depressing thought. At least in regards to me, however, it is certainly true--I keep thinking that when people are behaving horribly, rudely, or stupidly, it must be because they don't know better. If someone would just teach them, they'd be nice, smart, and pleasant. If they could see how nice a person was they wouldn't hate them anymore, or if they could see that they were hurting their family members they would stop a specific behavior. Despite a thousand instances to the contrary, I just keep thinking that "someday they'll learn," which not only means other people don't change, but that I seem to be incapable of changing my mindset that someday they will! My dad added his thoughts as explanation as to why I'm so often crushed and disappointed. I see something happen that should have taught a lesson I'd been hoping for, but the lesson doesn't do anything to inspire change, and I feel depressed and discouraged.

One thing is for sure, my dad does have my number--I've always been stymied and disheartened by a lack of change. For example, with all the groups trying to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa, why are the numbers still skyrocketing? With all the research out there about why teens raising babies is a recipe for disaster, and all the options to prevent pregnancy in the first place, and tons of groups and options to assist families if prevention falls through, why are instances of teen pregnancy and young single mothers so high in one of the most developed countries in the world? Further, with instances of infertility and unwanted pregnancy simultaneously rising, why are adoptions to put the two together actually dropping? I understand the pull of addiction can be too strong for many smokers, but with all the research in our faces every day on the dangers of smoking, why do new smokers light up and start the habit every day? If "awareness" is truly the answer touted by social groups and governments, why hasn't it answered anything yet? I ask myself this on a regular basis. So, yes, my dad was right about a few things, especially in regards to my own personal peeves.

Whether he was right about people being unable to change is really another discussion for another day. Right now, I'm inclined to agree with him, but at happier times, I know I could find examples that would prove that people can be better than expected, and they don't always fall short. I'm not laying this conversation out as my new outlook on life or anything, because there wasn't a lot to really inspire hope and happiness, but I'm mentioning it because the whole concept made me laugh.
I couldn't help it. I laughed right into the phone and said "Dad. So what you're telling me is that despite all the times you've called me grizzled, harsh, and crotchety, and told me I'm the youngest and girliest grumpy old man you've ever known, my real problem this whole time has been that I'm just too darn optimistic?!"
"Yeah, I guess."

Oh, the irony!

So if you see me in the next little while, and I look angry enough to kick someone, just think to yourself--"ahh, her optimism is killing her again! She should really be less hopeful." Then try not to laugh, I dare you.