~Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sometimes life just all around sucks, and this is one of those times

I've been so emo over the past month that I would even venture to admit that I am depressed. Circumstantially depressed.

Six weeks ago Scott decided to leave his job at the bike shop. He wanted a career, something that had the potential for growth, and he was right in that he wouldn't find it at the bike shop. He said he wanted to get back into the restaurant industry where he was a chef. It's crappy hours, but it's a lot more money.

So he called his old contacts and found a position at a local pizza joint. Excited, he took me there for dinner while he hashed out the details with the owner. I was stunned when I stepped foot in the place. It was a shit hole with three tables and a two-man staff. The owner would take the orders and the one pothead in the kitchen made the pizza. It was a Mickey Mouse operation; there was no room for promotion. He'd be leaving one dead-end job for another.

My woman's intuition was sounding off a giant alarm. Which was worse- the devil we knew at the bike shop, or the devil we didn't know at the pizza place? At least his position at the bike shop was stable.

I cut up a nasty, greasy bite with a fork and knife and frowned at it before easing it in my mouth. "You don't like the place," Scott guessed.

He's right, I hated it. I hated that I was sitting by the door and it was cold out and I was shivering from the draft. I hated the size of the place, I hated the location, and I hated that the food was terrible. I hated that my boyfriend would be no better than that pothead in the back.

But I hate telling people what to do because it makes me so blindingly enraged when people try to do it to me. Who am I to tell this person that's not my husband what he should do for a living? What right do I have a say in someone else's day job? Regardless of whatever I think, he should be happy with his work and I know he's not at the bike shop.

I chose my words carefully. "Where do you see yourself going with this job? I mean the only other person who works here is the owner and it's not like you're going to get promoted to that."

"No, I'd have to leave. This is just to get my foot in the door to the restaurant world. Get my name back out there."

I breathed a sigh of relief and let my fears go.

Scott lasted exactly four shifts.

It was totally his fault. He has no concept of pecking order in the workplace. He has issues with authority and doesn't know how to check his ego. And when he asked the owner how she was planning on succeeding at the restaurant with her current practices, he received a text message that expressly told him not to come back.

Gah, I was right about that place.

Now Scott was out of work and going back to the bike shop was not a solution. My paycheck was going to have to carry us both. And just so we're clear, I do not make enough to support two adults in the city. I make about 10 grand short of living comfortably by myself. Before Scott moved in I was on a strict budget of Ramen Noodles and eating spaghetti for four days straight.

Scott says it's stressful being out of work, but even when he doesn't contribute anything to the household, the lights still stay on. I mean, that has to be nice. I say it's much more stressful figuring out how to pay each bill on time and watching your bank account dwindle down to $150 by the sixth of the month while working a salaried job that doesn't pay overtime. I come home from work every day and ask him if he found work. When he says no, I sit on the edge of the bed and cry. "I'm just so stressed," I'd whimper.

"You're stressed? At least you have a job and money coming in!" he'd retort.

He doesn't get it.

This is all going on the same time as my health problems, which frankly might be related. I'm so stressed, I'm probably making myself sick.

And the car problems. I need a new car desperately as my SUV is becoming increasingly unreliable and not helping out the financial situation with its trendy 12 miles to the gallon and increasing gas prices. The check engine light comes on for a week and then goes off for a week, and I need to trade it in before that check light goes on permanently. I'm all ready by checking my credit and saving a down payment, but I can't incur another bill until I know Scott is going to be financially stable. I've lied to him about how much I have saved up for that car. I need that car, and I can't let his unemployment take that away from me.

I'm not going to be that girl who supports her loser boyfriend. When his phone gets shut off from not paying the bill, it's going to stay off. If his bikes go into collections, we're just going to have to pull them into the apartment to not get repo'ed. I'm paying my bills and the house bills. I can't afford to pay his debts as well.

I've become obsessed with keeping the apartment spotless. It's the one thing I feel I have control of in life right now. I typically opt for the "lived in" look, but for some reason I get so angry when I come home from work and see dishes in the sink. I huff and drop my bag and immediately clean while shooting Scott the stink eye.

"I was going to do them, but I only got home an hour ago," he'd offer.

"Well, you leave the house after I do and you get home before I do. It would be nice if you could do these things," I'd say.

"I just got home!"

"No, I just got home! You walked in the door and I still had to work for a half hour. You were on the couch while I battled traffic!"

This isn't me. The old me wouldn't even notice those dishes until Thursday. I changed the rules on Scott and then scolded him when he didn't magically know.

Thankfully, the only saving grace in all of this is that Scott and I aren't fighting when it seems like we have so many things to fight about. We're so close to rock bottom that we're leaning on each other and supporting each other. I certainly haven't painted him in an accurate light today. He isn't sitting at home watching TV and eating Cheetos while I slave away. He goes out every day and looks for work. We wrote his résumé together. He was there for me 1,000% when I had my biopsy, counting his quarters to scrape enough money together to buy me a box of Popsicles to soothe my throat. He called all of my family and gave them the updates when I didn't feel like talking. He rubs my back while I sob about the stress.

It's just a lot of stress right now.

~Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Confession

"Are you sure you want to tell your dad we're living together on Easter Sunday?" Scott chewed on the end of cigarette anxiously.

I changed lanes and drove away from the city. "Yes, he can't make a big scene in front of a large family gathering," I reassured him. Funny how he was gunning for me to tell my family all along, and when I finally decided to bite the bullet, he's wavering. Besides, I accidentally told my sister-in-law the previous day and I know my brother and her would sell me out to my father in a New York minute. It wasn't a choice anymore; it was a race to beat my brother to my father's house. I punched the gas from the outside lane.


I decided to test the waters with my step-mother first. Scott had just admitted to setting my vacuum cleaner on fire because he didn't know that with the Femme Fatale's Arctic fur, the bag needs to be emptied after each use. There's no way a guy would ever use a vacuum cleaner in an apartment that wasn't his, dog-hair problem or not. "Scott moved in last month," I spoke quietly.

My step-mother paused as if to add, Oh really? and then calmly and simply said, "I know."


"You were acting the same way your sister was acting when she did it."

"I told her that she shouldn't tell her dad today. It's a holiday," confessed Scott.

"No, today's the best day." My step-mother turned around and gestured to the twenty-odd family members huddled around the outdoor fireplace, "Too many people for him to get really angry."

As soon as I told my step-mother, it was official: everyone in my family knew about Scott and I living together with the exception of my father. I watched him cross the yard and refresh someone's drink. He grabbed a piece of ham off the platter and ate it. He had no idea and everyone else knew. I felt horrible for excluding him and he didn't deserve it; I'm not out to portray my father as the fool.

So when we were alone in the kitchen together a few minutes later, I opened my mouth.

"Scott moved in."


"To my apartment," I answered as flatly as he asked.

"Is his name on the lease?"


"I'm not happy about this. Not happy at all," he said, still unemotional.

"I know."

"I know this is what the young kids are doing these days, but I don't agree with it. I didn't agree with it when your sister did it."

"I remember."

"I'm a parent, it's my job to be judgmental."


"Why did he move in."

And this is where I should have gushed about how happy he makes me, and how we were together all the time, so much so that we really were wasting money on two rents. How serious our relationship is and that it hurts me when my father calls to talk about vacation plans and purposely excludes Scott from the conversation. But I was afraid because I angered my father, "To save money. The city is so expensive."

"Well if you wanted to save money, you should have gotten a female roommate."

I shrugged. After a couple of minutes of silence, I slid off the barstool and backed out of the kitchen. I backed out of the house.

"How did it go?" my step-sister asked.

"Not good. He's mad," I said quietly. Scott's eyebrows jumped to his hairline in both surprise and fear.

"Just give him time. He'll cool down," consoled my step-mother.

It took him a year and a wedding for him to calm down over my step-sister's live-in boyfriend. We left shortly thereafter, and to be honest, I'm still a little afraid of what may happen.


What I don't understand is that my mother—who thinks that appearances are everything: do everything perfectly, or else what would the neighbors think—is okay with Scott living with me more than my absentee, laid-back, beer-drinking father. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't my mother scream and cry that her friend, my elementary school principal, could find out that I'm living in sin? Shouldn't my father go with the flow?

Scott and my mother think that he's being protective of his daughter, that he doesn't want to see me taken advantage of and hurt. But my father has never shown the slightest interest one way or another towards someone I've brought home. He just didn't care. And when I did show up broken hearted, he'd leave my step-mother to it and never ask. So why does he all of a sudden care? We've become closer in the past few years, but still this is a surprise for me. Why, at the approach of my 27th birthday, does he all of a sudden have an opinion on how to live my life?

~Monday, March 24, 2008


I'm a big fan of numbers. I find no solace in my friend Mel soothingly telling me that I'll find someone to share my life with, that she just knows it. I can't trust her faith over my own, but I can believe statistics. Statistics are more concrete than Mel's faith, and they tell me that 90% of Americans will marry in their lifetimes should they choose. 90% is a comforting statistic.

Much similar to when I ended up on Plan B some months ago after a broken condom. Plan B has a 90% chance of preventing pregnancy. And sure enough, even though I rarely feel like I belong with the majority, I fell into the 90% category.

The thyroid biopsy had a 90% return rate: 75% chance it came out benign and like a 7% chance of malignancy. Throw in human error and there was a 10% chance that it could be inconclusive. I felt fine, knowing that I was going to find out what was going on diagnostically one way or the other. After all, 90 is a big number.

But the doctor came back with "inconclusive" and "atypical cells." He can't rule out cancer, and wants to schedule me for another biopsy. Another one. And because of my virtually nonexistent health insurance, I'm out of money after writing a rather large check for the first one. Not the mention that once ruled inconclusive, the statistic goes up: 50% chance of the second test being inconclusive as well.

They can't tell me if I have cancer or not. Ah, I was going somewhere with this, but I can't remember after laying it out there like that. They don't know, and that's the bare bones truth of it all.

~Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 18, 2008

Scott has just completed his first 24 hours without any alcohol since I met him. I'm so proud of him.

~Monday, March 17, 2008


Female Coworker: Did you do anything for St. Patrick’s Day this weekend?

Male Coworker:
No, not really. It’s just not a big holiday for me.

It is for me. I’m Irish.

So what did you do?

Nothing. I had to babysit my brother.

How old is your brother?


So why did he need a babysitter?

Because he gets wasted and acts like a retard.

~Thursday, March 13, 2008


The nurse walked into the waiting room.

"Sarah Hck...hck...chk," she stuttered.

Scott corrected her and I gave her the warm, forgiving smile that I reserve for strangers who attempt my last name. That's okay. I forgive you. You tried.

"Thanks for waiting for so long, if you just follow me back here-" the nurse continued. Scott stood up and gathered my purse, book, and jacket for me so I wouldn't have to carry them.

"Well, can I come with her?" he asked.

The nurse looked sideways at me, "Do you need him to?"

"No!" I chirped. I flashed him a quick, broad smile so he'd believe me. I didn't want Scott with me. I was the one with the hospital band tied around my wrist; I needed to do this alone. I didn't want the nurse to think I was weak. I didn't want Scott to see what they were going to do to me. I had to be strong.

I blocked Scott from the exit door, "I'll be right back!" I waived and disappeared with the nurse. I wish that I hugged him and kissed him before I went away, but I had to be strong. I guess I was more nervous than I originally thought. A lot more nervous.

I followed her through the halls of radiology. "So were you in a different department?" she asked, making conversation.

"Yes, they originally sent us to nuclear." I tripped over my own words. All of a sudden I'd forgotten how to say nuclear and I didn't want to pronounce it the way Bush does, so I ended up slurring the end of my sentence. A lot more nervous, I thought again.

One opened-butt gown later and the nurse spread the jelly on my neck and the ultrasound began. I reminded her that the pain was on my left side, and she told me she needed to see what the right side looks like as well.

"So, um, lumps in your neck, are they normal—I mean common?" I asked.

The nurse widened her eyes and shook her head no. Okay then. Not common. So imagine my surprise when the ultrasound screen showed five of them on the right side of my neck, and that wasn't even the side that hurt. She saved each screen and measured each lump. I quit asking questions, deciding that maybe ignorance was really bliss in this circumstance.

The nurse adjusted her pressure when she moved to the left side of my throat. Bob quickly appeared and took up the entire ultrasound screen. I'm familiar with Bob. He's the giant lump that made my breathing shallow, eating difficult, and yawning painful. He's the lump that I've had since January and is visible to the naked eye. Stupid Bob the tumor.

Once again, the nurse froze the screen and captured Bob. She said he's about the size of a ping pong ball and, according to the screen, he's got some brothers and sisters behind him on the left side as well.

The doctor arrived and everyone suited up: hair nets, surgical masks, et al. "The good news is that the lump-"



"She named her lump," explained the nurse. "Bob."

She laughed. "Okay! Well then. The good news is that Bob is so big we won't have to do a lot of digging with the needles. We can go in and get our samples and get out."

There was a pinch and then fire filled my neck as she injected the local anesthetic. The biopsy began. To my left was the doctor with the scary, tissue-collecting needles and to my right was the ultrasound machine that showed the needle plunging into my neck, towards Bob. I chose to close my eyes for the procedure.

I could feel the needle and the poking and prodding, it just didn't hurt. I was okay with that. Her promises were going swimmingly until she took the needle and shook it furiously while it was still in my neck. "Just need a good sample!" she chirped as I involuntarily groaned, realizing that I had been holding my breath the entire time.

"You're doing really well," the nurse offered. "Do you want to hold my hand?"

Lying on the bed, I couldn't even remember where my hands were. I flexed my right hand and discovered it was in my left hand. I was holding my own hand. My only goal for the biopsy was to not cry, so I accepted the nurse's hand. One hand on the ultrasound and the other comforting me; I was grateful for her.

The doctor plunged the needle in my throat and swished it around two more times and then the procedure was over. A Band-Aid, a pack of ice, and the nurse showed me the way back to my boyfriend. "He was really worried about you, you know," she said. "He was very anxious, so you better get back to him."

Despite the absence of drugs, I was dizzy and reeling over the whole ordeal. I couldn't walk, only shuffle unsteadily back to the ultrasound waiting room. Scott took my arm and guided me as I teetered down the hallway, towards the car to go home.

"What'd they say?"

"They said I get a free blow job pass."

"No, when will you know?"

"A week."

And so we wait.


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