First, the request: after all of that 4H talk, I had to add the links to my Big Ol’ List. Which meant that I ended up adding various kid-oriented organizations. Which reminded me, again, about Girls on the Run. The closest local group is still too far, based out of Glens Falls. So. . . could someone organize a local Girls on the Run group for the Capital District, please? Because, you know, I keep hearing about it, and the whole idea of promoting self-esteem and leadership and healthy lifestyle choices among pre-adolescent girls just sings to me. I would very much like to participate with my daughters, but I also can’t run anything. Or, you know, I can run, literally (now! yay me!), but I can’t manage or direct anything. Because, among other things, I am spending all this time writing a freakin’ blog. But I could help! And, you know. . . promote! So will somebody please get on this? I know that there are lovely women who run and read this blog and have daughters. . . so, you know, think about it, okay?
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As you know, I’ve recently been in an old-photo frenzy, and when I came across one picture, it made me think of a funny story. And so I thought, for a change of pace, that I would tell you a story completely unrelated to motherhood & family. Or, well, tangentially related to non-motherhood and the beginnings of a family in the form of nauseating coupledom. Oh, my gosh, literally nauseating! Well, now I’ve completely gotten ahead of myself. So, let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? (this is where, if I were a tv show instead of a blog, the screen would sort of shimmer and there’d be that “time passes” harp music. . . .)
W and I had been pals for a bit more than a year in college, and then we became a couple, and then we were in love (if I had the technical prowess, I would draw little hearts and flowers around the phrase “in love”, but you’ll just have to imagine them). And then, we had three months (minus one weekend visit) of that stupid summer vacation, approximately 1,090 miles apart. So, it was with great anticipation that I awaited the trip back to college in late August. Alas, another item scheduled for late August was the (gala) removal of my wisdom teeth. We’d planned it for then so that I was done with my summer job and still had a few days to recover before my flight out west.
The actual wisdom-teeth-extraction process was not too bad. I had copious drugs and I don’t have any particular dental hang-ups. Indeed, I’d even spent a summer working as a “spit sucker” in a dentist’s office (this was borne entirely of desperation, not any sort of interest in it as a career). From that experience, I’d gleaned that in spite of the bad rep of root canals and wisdom teeth, the only truly horrifying dental treatment was for gum disease, which involved burning away the rotting flesh. You’re getting the urge to floss right this second, aren’t you? Yeah, I knew it. Don’t worry: it will pass!
Anyway, things went quite well until a day or two later, when I felt a slight twinge in one of the gaping holes in my jaw. The dentist who examined it dismissed my concerns: it looked good to him! Well, he was wrong. I had a dry socket. This was painful. Really, it was excruciating. Having endured natural childbirth (before drugging up for #2), I’d have to say that they’re both up there on the pain hierarchy, although perhaps a dry socket is like a snake that keeps biting a single location, while childbirth is more like a python rhythmically squeezing your entire torso. Either way: not excellent. And then the dentist who’d pronounced me okey-dokey was off on some vacation, and the back-up guy that my mother was able to contact actually had us come to his home, where he had set up an old rejected dentist’s chair in his basement so that he could give his family check-ups in between, you know, games of ping-pong or whatever. In this 70s-era torture chamber, we learned that, if properly motivated, I was able to shriek with two hairy-yet-gloved hands inside my mouth. I received a prescription for antibiotics as well as my own supply of gauze and anesthetic goo so that I could function through a couple of days of travel.
Once we’d left the torture chamber, I felt great. The goo tasted a little nasty, but there’s nothing like the abrupt end to excruciating pain to make you appreciate the joys of normal life. Plus, I’d be seeing W in mere days–yippee! But before I left, we were having a family gathering. With four sisters and a brother with an age range spread over decades, just getting the nuclear family in one place is an occasion. So we were all feeling quite festive as we were enjoying the sunshine on the back deck, shucking some corn.
My big sisters and my mom and I were chatting about the recent dental horrors, when my just-older-than-me sister, J, heard the word “antibiotic” and decided to impart some unnecessary big-sisterly wisdom. Because she knew that I was on the Pill. Honestly, I don’t know why she knew that I was on the Pill, except that probably, she’d tried to remind me to be responsible, and I’d snapped back that I had it covered. So, I saw her react to “antibiotic” and I knew what was going to happen, but I was powerless to stop it in those few slow-motion moments. I fixed her with what I considered to be a very communicative look while continuing to shuck like a method actor committed to a task (which I know about because my friend Sudi talked me into taking drama with her in high school).
“Antibiotics,” J said significantly, still completely unaware of the eyeball-daggers flying at her, “You know about antibiotics, Katie, don’t you?” “Yes, J, I know about antibiotics,” I hissed between clenched teeth. “What?” asked my similarly oblivious mother. “What about antibiotics?” “And the Pill,” smartypants J answers. “Antibiotics screw up the Pill.” At which point I jumped in: “Mom, I’m on the pill. I didn’t tell you because I figured you probably don’t really want to know. . .” I said, all in a rush, while savagely shredding at my corn husks. J appeared bewildered that everyone doesn’t tell their mother all about their sex lives, and Mom answered mildly, “Well, better safe than sorry.” We all continued shucking corn with more attentiveness than ever before.
So I arrived in Iowa for college, and W picked me up at the airport and immediately whisked me off to a romantic destination–yep, the Iowa State Fair. Alright, take a look at the picture. I know: we look like we are about 14. Please notice the pink tie-dyed t-shirt I’m wearing. W made it for me over the summer. On the back, he puff-painted one of Shakespeare’s love sonnets. Take a moment with that, will you? Imagine my then-20-year-old boyfriend hunched over the t-shirt for what must have been hours as he struggled to maintain even pressure on the puff-paint bottle with his pink Rit-dyed hands. I mean, really. How. Cute. Is. He. (Sigh. . . .)
He sent it to me sometime over the summer, and my sisters insisted that I had to wear it to meet him, and I did so against my better judgment. When he realized that I was wearing it at the airport, he looked mildly appalled. I think that it was always intended to be a sort of museum piece. Luckily, I don’t think we ran into any guy-friends at the fair.
We wandered there for quite a while. We had to see the butter cow, of course, and the baby piglets, and eat some food on a stick. And every few steps we were kissing. You, know, a lot. It had been a long time. Or, as it turns out, I was just kissing him. Because after several hours of intermittent kissing, W broke down and told me what he’d been trying to hide all day: the dry socket anesthetic goo was making him ill, and while in theory he would enjoy kissing me, in practice, he feared that if he had to do it one more time, he might actually throw up. Poor thing! I was impressed that he’d held out for as long as he had. Luckily, I also enjoy being kissed on the neck.