Mixed Bag of Stories

I am writing to you LIVE from the Super Bowl! Which is to say, the Super Bowl is on TV and I am on the couch typing quietly. Tony went to Target to buy a pillow. This is how we celebrate the sport in our home. There was a time in my life (high school) when major sporting events were an integral part of my social life; not going somewhere “to watch the game” meant you missed out on something important and cool and possibly life-altering, so you definitely had to be there if you wanted any of your friends to remember you exist. And now I don’t care. It’s freeing.

I thought perhaps I should give a quick recap of this past week. It was between that and writing 2000 words about The Waves by Virginia Woolf, so suffice it to say, you’re welcome. (But on a very real note, The Waves is like, getting into my bones and into my dreams and sometimes I really zone out and think about my life and about people who have died and what it means to grow old and what it means to have friends that you’re growing old with and apart from and I’m like, wait, why am I thinking about any of this? And then I remember, oh yeah, I read The Waves.)

On Monday I had a doctor’s appointment. I made it to have my IUD checked and to ensure it’s still in the right place, and to also have a follow-up conversation about a cyst on my ovary. The last time I was there, while having said IUD clamped into my body, my doctor said, “Oh yeah, you should have surgery to take care of this cyst.” She wasn’t that nonchalant about it, but her overall demeanor is actually kind of nonchalant, so I guess it was hard to get a read on how much stress I should put into the concept of surgery. WELL you’ll be happy to know that I chose to go with an all-or-nothing approach, being full-on stressed the fuck out about it for the last month and a half. I should mention that I had it tested back in December and those results were all normal, which is great and it negates a different kind of stress, but then I was still bummed about having grown this thing inside me and then needing to get it cut out. I went into this appointment having already visualized the surgery, already cramming it into my life sometime between now and getting married, already imagining the pain and the recovery and the 24-hour-in-advance fast, and also strangely, already looking forward to all the TV I would watch in my bed. So imagine my surprise when my doctor, studying my uterus on the ultrasound monitor said, “Oh wow! Your cyst is gone.”

Let me quickly paint you a picture. My doctor has these space-age chairs that flip you over so that your body is at a 45 degree angle, the head at the bottom, and your feet in stirrups at the top. It ingeniously combines whimsy and sheer terror. It’s designed this way so that she can stay standing while remaining level with my pelvis. I was upside down when I heard her say “Your cyst is gone,” so I had to awkwardly adjust my body and my weight in order to make eye contact with her and say, “Huh?” And she pointed onscreen to the ovary that was formerly with cyst, and said again, “Your cyst, it’s gone.” And again I said, “Huh?” This was an amazing core exercise, by the way, all that leaning up with my abs and trying to make eye contact with a human who was between my legs. She proceeded to explain what had happened to my cyst (it popped; “like a zit!” I offered enthusiastically and she said, “You got it! Just like a zit.”) and why it was okay that this particular kind of cyst popped (“I bet that’s why you were in so much pain after your IUD went in,” she said, “it was your cyst bursting!” and I said “I bet that’s exactly why!”) and then she gave me the medical term for my cyst, which I have since forgotten, and then I asked her three more times in three different ways if the cyst was really gone and if everything was really okay and she was like, “Yes, please look with me at your ultrasound,” and I adjusted my body again into another terrible position and was like, “Yes, I see what you’re saying now.” This whole appointment took about 4 minutes.

After my appointment, the one in which I learned I did not have to have surgery, Tony took me to lunch where I ordered a tuna melt with a side salad, and our waitress gave me a real hard time about getting a salad. I don’t know how this mini-anecdote fits into the theme of the larger anecdote, but you should also know that she gave me a big wink when she brought extra dressing that I didn’t ask for.

Another cool thing that happened this week is that I saw Jason Schwartzman in public. I will not bore you with all the ways I am a big-time nerdy fan of his, and I won’t even share the photo I have from years ago of the two of us together, but just know that he is a big deal for me. I have also paid money on two other occasions to see him in person, but this time it was for free! Nearly any time I leave our apartment, I walk up to the closest major street and turn right. Come to think of it, I have never not turned right in the 4 months I’ve lived in Los Angeles.”You’re nuts!” you’re saying to yourself, and I agree! What might possess one to change their routine? I am not typically a person who puts any stock into astrology or signs or houses or retrogrades (I don’t even know what these words mean, contextually speaking) but I can’t help but think that the Super Blue Blood Moon was somehow a factor. Because that’s what day it was! So I took a left and had decided to buy dinner at a grocery store where I never shop, to hang out at a coffee shop I’ve never been, and to just generally be in a new part of my neighborhood. I also wanted to read my book (The Waves; it was written by Virginia Woolf in 1931. Have I mentioned this? That I read this book and now I dream about it because it crept into the folds of my brain and implanted itself?) and the weather here is always perfect, so I landed on an outdoor patio with a delicious iced tea, staring straight into the main entrance of the Scientology Celebrity Center across the street. As you can now see, the set-up is already inherently strange. And then from my right came a voice I know so well, chatting with a friend, enjoying his afternoon: it was one Jason Schwartzman. My brother later asked if I “shrieked or froze” and I said that I went deep inside myself to a place of total zen. Which is true! I did great. Tony said he was incredibly proud of me for being so cool and not staring and then he asked if I was going to cry and I said “Yes” and my eyes welled up with tears. Then some minutes later my new best friend, Jason, walked by again with grocery bags from the very store I had planned to go to and yes, a tiny squeal left my body. I don’t think he heard. (I also ask you to not share this story with him, because it’s a little lame. I mean, it’s mostly endearing and charming, but then it’s lame again.) After we finished our teas and did our planned grocery shopping, Tony and I walked home in the dusk, pausing at the end of our street to stare up into the hills. It looked like something was on fire, the way the hillside was all lit up in orange. Then we realized it was just that big ass super moon, making weird (but great) things happen all over town.

We also went to Malibu this week and a man on a surfboard in the ocean exclaimed, “I LOVE Malibu!” Then he said, “But I HATE cardio.” Again, how does this mini-anecdote relate to the larger post? I don’t know, but I love that I was there to witness it.


Like Abdomen Pain for Chocolate

Greetings from my couch! Here I lie supine, heating pad on my abdomen, Motrin bottle at arm’s length, realizing I have used the word “supine” for the first time in my life and finding it sort of freeing. It must be IUD placement week, baby! That’s right, as of this past Monday I am the proud owner of a cute new uterus piercing, one that my doctor and friends described as, “Oh, it hurts.” The pain has been manageable and mostly comes in waves, but today has been a little on the bad side, so here we are. I can best sum up this experience in three stages: 1) The time I spent looking at a puppy Instagram account immediately before the IUD procedure 2)  The time during the IUD procedure when I cursed at my doctor a lot and she said “I told you this would hurt!” and I said “I know—but then it did.” 3) And the time after the IUD procedure when I laid in bed, having decided to start The Crown on Netflix, thinking the pilot was pretty good so far, then hitting that scene where King George sings Christmas carols with the village children and he’s wearing the paper crown and I cried SO hard that I had to stop and take a nap. WOW, a case of the Mondays indeed! I am relieved for it to be over though, as this has been a nagging to-do since before I even got to Los Angeles. The to-do even more nagging, of course, in that it was time-sensitive (running out of pills!), health-sensitive (my blood pressure!), and insurance sensitive (hey, quitting a job rids you of your insurance coverage, did you know that?). This is all to say, I do expect you to be very impressed with my ability to figure all this out, create an action plan, and then see the plan through, even though the plan was painful.

What comes after dinner? In a perfect world, more dinner!

Aside from that, this week has also welcomed a new tradition in our home, one that I hope grows into an infamous and hilarious legend far into our twilight years. It’s the chocolate drawer! That’s a drawer for all your chocolate. The concept was first introduced to me in an interview with Kumail Nanjiani in which he said he keeps a drawer filled with chocolate in his kitchen. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I don’t know why I became so transfixed with the idea, especially as I don’t have a sweet tooth (What comes after dinner? In a perfect world, more dinner! In college I used to eat a bowl of cereal for dessert, which I thought was a very moderate take on the contemporary dessert concept, though you must bear in mind that this was usually after a dinner of french fries and mayonnaise. One time my friend Casey made me a salad, which still remains one of the kindest and most condescending things anyone has ever done for me.). But to me, the chocolate drawer seemed like the most harmless indulgence, a nice collection of not-expensive things that’s always there if you need a morsel of something sweet. I talked for weeks about the chocolate drawer like it was an expensive car or a house in the hills, wistfully looking into the future and declaring that some day, I would deserve to have a drawer filled with chocolate bars. Finally, in a moment of weakness (or perhaps great bravery) I selected the first bar for my collection: dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt. It was under 2 dollars. And since that day, the drawer has grown into 6 bars of varying styles and flavors, and we have more or less behaved ourselves, though my unofficial mantra has become “Don’t forget—the point of the chocolate drawer is to have chocolate—” and then Tony says, “in the drawer,” before grumbling a little and wrapping up the rest of the bar in foil. I also want to add that if you any issues, objections, or general annoyances with this frivolous story about all the chocolate I own, then I implore you to recall that I’m in pain! I have no job! Let me have something! Thank you.

Dramatization of me eating my first salad in college (courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK)

Aside from the aforementioned topics (my uterus, chocolate) I can honestly say that all sights are set on getting to Ohio for Christmas. That isn’t necessarily commentary on getting out of Los Angeles; rather, my brain and my body just know that it’s time to travel and go do Christmas. It makes even less sense this year, seeing as I will be on a break from nothing and I will not have really earned it. But it’s hard to ignore that big blocked off amount of time in your head, the same amount of time that you’ve observed every year of your life. Also, and if I may rail for a few lines, airfare was outrageous. OUT. rage. ous. Searching for tickets, even months ago, was panic inducing. It seemed hopeless. Members of our Chicago/LA Facebook group are arranging CAR POOLS back to the midwest because it’s so expensive to fly. Please keep in mind that I am a person who had to work up weeks of courage to purchase a bar of chocolate, for fear it was not a necessary enough purchase. Then the plane tickets!!!! I will not divulge what we ended up paying but know that a) I ended up finding a decent-enough deal that kind of hurts but is not impossible and b) I cobbled together this deal by taking a red eye AND talking my brother into picking us up in Columbus, which is not at all where I should be landing, based on where my family lives. But do you see what I mean? This year is not merely rolling my hungover self up to O’Hare and being on a cheap flight for 45 minutes. The stakes are higher! The prices are higher!  But the good news is I now have a longer fight in which to make up a story about what I’m doing in Los Angeles.

In conclusion, we’re almost there, everybody. You’ve all earned your chocolate drawers this year, even if it might not feel like it.

(Oh, and “Cat Person” is a work of fiction. Please. Repeat that to yourself over and over again, ask yourself if you would have the same emotional reaction to a similar piece of fiction written by a man, then remind yourself again that it’s fiction. Then, go read other works of fiction. Fiction is the one where it’s not a think piece on Thought Catalog or Uplift or Manipulate or wherever else you find your opinions on the internet.)