Ministry of Grievances II

I woke up this morning feeling markedly aggrieved, and so I think it is time, once again, for us to present our Grievances to the Ministry.

As usual (yes, I know it was only one other time, DON’T MAKE ME ADD YOU TO MY LIST OF GRIEVANCES), anyone leaving a comment to the effect of “well at least you have [thing person is complaining about], etc., will be summarily shot. Harsh, but fair.

#1. I have been struggling with terrible Manuscript Wrist. This was a problem while I was writing my book, but has not been this bad since, and I am guessing that my cortisol issues (cortisol being an anti-inflammatory) are making it worse. By the end of the day I am in torment. I also have Raynaud’s, which the Manuscript Wrist causes to act up, and come afternoon my right hand is so cold that I would not need ice to make a perfectly chilled martini, but could simply swish my fingers around in the gin.
Things I have tried:
-Special beanbag thing placed under my wrist while I use the mouse
-Using “page down” button instead of scrolling
-Taking breaks to rest afflicted area/curse heavens
-Tempering my customary forcefulness w/r/to clicks and keystrokes
-Running right fingers under hot water or holding warm beverage
-Awareness of the existence of “ergonomics”

#2. I assume there is not just one person who designs the armholes of women’s sleeveless shirts and dresses, which concerns me, because that means some flaw in their collective training must be responsible for the fact that the armholes of almost every sleeveless shirt and dress I own are…well, they’re wrong. There is no other way to put it, really. They are just WRONG. The dress I am wearing today is the only one I can wear sans cardigan without showing VAST expanses of Side Bra, and do you know what size this dress is? An extra small. It is obviously one of Old Navy’s weird sizing aberrations, because I am not—by any definition except one that includes other species, or things like rock formations and architecture—“extra small.” Apparently, though, my armholes are. I am also of the (apparently minority) opinion that the size of an armhole should correspond to the size of its garment. Normally my shells and dresses are a medium, or an eight or a ten, because that is the amount of fabric I require to comfortably cover the relevant parts of my body. The armholes are then big enough to put my head through. This cannot possibly be correct.
True, I sometimes buy things a bit larger than I would otherwise because I need room in the chest to accommodate my large, er, lungs. But if a thing fits perfectly in every area except one, and the one area that does not fit is not an area that corresponds to an unusually sized body part, something is amiss. I have seen the arms of other people who wear my size and none of us need a space the size of THE RINGS OF SATURN to put them through. Obviously this batch of armhole designers will have to be fired and we’ll start fresh with a new one.

#3. Simone has surgery tomorrow to put tubes in her ears. If you are thinking “didn’t she have surgery to put tubes in her ears a long time ago?” you are correct! She did! The tubes did their job and fell out and if I were Marie Kondo I would have held them tenderly and thanked them for their service before discarding them, and that was supposed to be the end of that. That was not the end of that. Instead Simone went and gathered up a bunch of new fluid in her ears and can’t hear properly and so her ENT is doing the same thing all over again and I feel like the tubes aren’t working and they should just have her put a straw in each ear every night and lean to one side and then another in order to keep the fluid from building up but no one asked me so surgery it is.

#4. When you work with thousands of people, there are lots of bathrooms. Big bathrooms, with many stalls, and usually multiple bathrooms on every floor. When you work for a company with 85 employees, or at least for MY 85-employee company, the situation is different. We are on two floors, and have two sets of bathrooms. The women’s bathroom on my floor has two stalls, a sink, and is the size of the interior of your average compact car. For most people this is not a problem. Unfortunately, my bladder will not work if someone is waiting for a stall. Often it balks at even a person in the stall next door. I have tried reasoning with it, but to no avail, probably because you can’t reason with organs. And as this is such a small company, everyone who uses the bathroom is someone I know. Everyone sees when I WALK to the bathroom, and if someone then comes in, they know how long I have been there, and if I leave without doing anything it seems odd, like I was GOING to shoot heroin, but now that there is no privacy I’ve decided against it. I can’t just wait out the other person, because then they will wonder what on earth I am up to—or, more likely, will assume things about my bowels. I do not want anyone I work with even knowing I HAVE bowels! And, for the record, I don’t do anything with my bowels at work. I think you know me well enough to understand that anything other than pee is out of the question entirely. I have an Emergency Plan for bowels that includes leaving the office, going out into the skyway, and using an out-of-the-way bathroom there, where I am surrounded only by strangers. Luckily I haven’t had to deploy my Emergency Plan, and obviously it isn’t really appropriate for a once-an-hour-type situation, which is about how often I pee—that’s why it is called an EMERGENCY Plan. Anyhow, my grievance is that my bladder is about as crackerjack a piece of equipment as the rest of me, and people are going to think I am some sort of crazy person, which fine, maybe I am, but THAT IS BETWEEN ME AND MY TEAM OF HIGHLY-TRAINED PHYSICIANS.

#5. Bathrooms aside, the chief flaw of my new job as compared to my old one is that my friend Becky does not work here. I do not have many actual, corporeal friends. I keep meaning to make them, but it turns out that I am terrible at it. My one success in this area has been Becky, who is a credit to humanity and one of my very favorite people of all time. When we both worked for my previous employer, we’d catch up during the day by chatting on intracompany IM, and though we worked on different floors, we usually managed to meet to get lunch from the cafeteria to eat at our desks. Every once in a while we’d have time to eat lunch together, or we’d go on a walk or meet up to forage for snacks. Now we do not have intracompany IM. We are on our own for lunch and snack foraging. We email, and text sometimes, and we try to get together for our traditional monthly Quality Summit (an occasion on which we meet at a restaurant for drinks and appetizers and to discuss The Way Things Ought To Be, about which we have many opinions—it is sort of an in-person Ministry of Grievances, now that I think about it). This is all well and good, the email and the texting, but obviously inferior to the previous setup, and for some reason no one has put me in charge here yet so I cannot hire Becky away to work with me.


I have more grievances, but I seem to have run on quite a lot with each of my first five, so I am cutting myself off before I run out of time to post this.

(Not Enough Posting Time: Grievance #6.)

Evening Alexa is Mostly Concerned with Snacks.

I was entirely overwhelmed by the lovely welcome I received upon my return. I’d had a sinking feeling said return would be greeted by silence as I tapped weakly at my electronic microphone, and instead you splendid people shocked and delighted me with kindness and alarming information about Mary Wollstonecraft. I shall respond to questions from the comments, but let me tell you about my new job first, because wondering about it is probably keeping you all up nights.

So, my new job! I have one! I went from working for a massive multinational corporation at its 6,000-person headquarters to working for a company with fewer than 100 employees total. Most of these employees worked for said corporation at one point or another: several years ago my former employer divested its law school/academic business, and like the arm of a starfish, or maybe it is a snake or sea creature—what is that thing that makes a whole new self from a severed limb? The point is, the limb struck out on its own and now I work there, editing casebooks and such, beautiful heavy books written by learned and sometimes adorable legal scholars. It is perfect for me, and quite novel to be working on authored and mostly non-statutory material. If there is a spelling error it can usually be fixed, rather than left with a dry footnote until the legislature gets around to correcting itself.

As I also mentioned, my office is downtown, and the location means I no longer have to drive to work. There is a bus stop one block away from my apartment. I walk there in the morning and then a fleet ten minutes later am deposited two blocks from my building. I have always said that if there was one thing that could lure me away from the Twin Cities it would be public transportation—I do not care for driving—so this is very exciting for me. The people on my bus in the morning (the 6:22) are always the same, and because my ride is too short even to read, I am in the midst of creating involved backstories for them. I love my morning bus ride, and it always gives me a pleasant, diffuse sense of closeness with my fellow citizens.

I feel close to my fellow citizens on my afternoon bus as well, but come afternoon this closeness no longer seems something to celebrate, because that particular bunch of fellow citizens smells terrible. I try to be tolerant and expansive, because my bus passes the city’s largest homeless shelter and not everyone has access to washing facilities and I am very lucky! So lucky and grateful! AND YET. I am not my best or kindest self in the afternoon, because I am tired, and crabby, and have been working for many hours and usually have dreadful Manuscript Wrist and am oppressively aware that people in my house are going to be expecting me to have some sort of Plan About Dinner, and then to carry out this Plan, and so instead of equanimity I feel only despair. How has my life come to this, that I am sitting on a bus, oppressed by the unwashed, on my way home to an unwashed house and another set of unwashed persons all of which will remain thus unless I wash them myself with energy I do not have?

Morning Bus Alexa thinks about how hard people work and how everyone is doing their best and how nice it is to be a part of the human family. Afternoon Bus Alexa wonders how she can be expected to bear up under the weight of the human condition, all of us struggling in vain toward largely unattainable goals. Why is life so terrible? she wonders, and why must it also smell so bad?

But then I am home. The children are returned from their various keepers, and they cheer me right up, and my afternoon cortisol dose kicks in, and the need for that Plan About Dinner means I am too busy to contemplate existence anymore, thank heavens.

What are you all reading? I just read the new Kate Atkinson, and have now moved on to a memoir of sorts—a heartbreaking tale of one woman’s lifelong struggle with mental illness called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

*Nonchalantly Slides into View*

I’ve thought, many times over the past mumble months, that I might be done here, but it appears that I am not. I don’t feel the need to belabor the point—which is really saying something, as belaboring is usually my favorite thing to do with points—but I will say that mostly it was a function of my brain being consumed by things I didn’t wish to write about publicly, and then that and inertia.

Simone turned seven in February, and because I suspect I am approaching the end of my arbitrary age-related comfort zone as regards posting pictures of her, I didn’t want to miss the chance to do the traditional “child through the ages” birthday post, especially because this seems to be the year she went all Gregor Samsa from little kid to KID kid. Amusingly (to me), when I returned for said birthday post, I discovered that the site was basically broken—comments weren’t appearing, plug-ins weren’t loading, sprockets wouldn’t turn. I decided not to bother after all because probably it was A Sign. Luckily, I eventually remembered that I do not believe in Signs, but I had to disable various things and switch to another theme, which is why it looks different.

Certainly there is no need for me to give you a detailed recap of my time away, but there were two rather spectacularly disruptive events worth mentioning:

First, I was laid off last fall. This was very unexpected and extremely unpleasant. It was also the development most responsible for my long absence here, because I spent most of my time in the ensuing months going on job interviews—which is horribly like dating, an activity I never enjoyed and which my marital status is supposed to have protected me from having to repeat—and fretting about money. Alas, no matter how desperately preoccupied I was with these topics, I have been knocking around long enough to know that 1) posting about one’s job search on a public Website is ill-advised and 2) the Internet is unusually judgmental, even for the Internet, about money, and I was too fragile and prickly on the subject to brave it.

(I got a new job at last and started about three weeks ago and I love it and I get to work downtown in a tall building like a sophisticated career lady and I will tell you all about it next time.)

The second development is that I was sick—a plot twist that seemed foolish to broadcast in the middle of a job search. It wasn’t a new sickness, rather a flare up of something I had trouble with in the fall of 2013 that was generally referred to by me as “part of my autoimmune whatever,” but in the course of investigating this whatever (because my work-supplied insurance was about to run out, and so I figured I ought to) some labs that had been borderline the year before were suddenly not borderline, and to make a simultaneously dramatic and tedious story short I spent most of February back and forth to the Mayo Clinic before finally being diagnosed with a broken pituitary. Because the diagnosis came at the end of a truly spectacular run of bad luck, I amused myself quite a bit for a while by saying “AT LEAST I HAVE MY HEALTH!” and laughing like a deranged person.

What I do have, now, is a shiny new medical alert bracelet. If I am in an accident or have a serious trauma, I need an injection of cortisol sharpish, or I will—well, there is really no nice way to say this—shuffle off this mortal so-and-so. The nice people at Mayo insisted that the bracelet should say “I NEED CORTISOL” because, and I quote: “If you are in the backwoods of Arkansas, the first responders might not know what ‘Adrenal Insufficiency’ means.”
I thought this was unspeakably rude. Frankly, I was offended on behalf of the good people of the state of Arkansas! I am sure their emergency personnel are excellent! I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, you see.

(However, am I willing to die for my desire to think the best of my fellow man?
Apparently I am not.)

There is still a lot that is unknown about my condition (we don’t know why my pituitary is broken, for instance), but I am finished with all the initial testing and treatment planning and first post-treatment follow-up and now I don’t have to do a thing except take my pills and wear my bracelet and carry my emergency injection with me at all times, and I don’t go back to Mayo for a whole year.

You will probably hear more about My Struggle (for which I offer my sincerest apologies in advance), but for now I will just tell you that I almost wasn’t diagnosed at all because I figured everyone was just as tired and overwhelmed as I was, the difference being that I was a big, lazy baby about it. That turned out not to be the case; instead I have a disease that has probably been making things more difficult for me for a long while, and much misery could have been avoided if only I were not significantly less inclined to extend to myself the kindness and assumption of basic good I am so eager to grant, say, the brave EMTs of rural Arkansas.

Anyhow, here I am. Is anyone still out there?