Vaccines! Argh! Blarbble-blarbble-blarbble!

I’m just kidding, this post is really just an update on the joys of the 12-month Well Child Visit. Oh, good grief. Get me two large, strapping heavyweight college wrestling champs, one genteel nurse, and two caffeinated parents trying to grab hands and arms and legs and feet and keep them all glued down for long enough for a few shots to go in. I felt so bad for the poor little guy – I mean, Russ is pretty easy going compared to a lot of babies, albeit on louder side, even in his best of moods (what can I say, he gets his volume from me). And he tried to be a good sport about it, but shots just aren’t anybody’s favorite. I can’t think of too many people who wake up in the morning and say “YES! Needles! Awesome!” Not even some of the freakier ones.

Anyhow, the biggest worry going into today’s 12-month checkup for Russ was what they’d say when they saw that pacifier shoved straight in his mouth, and the financial butt-kicking we’d get from the cost of the shots he was scheduled for. See, we have the fabulous, dedicated, wonderful United Healthcare. Did you sense the bitterness? If not, let me phrase it some other way: I despise United Healthcare. I especially despise their smarmy, self back-patting commercials touting how awesome they are, when in fact, they’re kind of crappy. They cover many adult vaccines, yet they do not cover most (if any) childhood vaccines. Not even the basic ones. They refuse to fax paperwork to my doctors’ offices, which becomes a real pain in the butt for me AND the doctors we use. They took getting things shored up when we all went to the same plan a few weeks before Russ was born (literally, I was on the phone “chewing someone’s ass,” as my dear dad would say, on the way into the hospital). But all that would be a bit easier to swallow if their customer service were marginally better, but they always just seem to send you running in circles. I’m pretty sure United Healthcare, Waste Management, and Charter Communications all hire from the same pool of people, because I’ve had nothing but bad experiences (of the same nature) with them all.

And you guys know me – I’m clearly so adept at hiding my feelings, right?

Anyhow, today we got a really nice break in the face of more UHC ineptitude. Turns out there have been some changes made to the SC state vaccine program, and now – if your deductible is sky-high like ours is – you can get vaccines done through the state program instead of through private insurance. So, whereas our total today should have been something like $850-900, not a shot covered by UHC (“But it counts towards your deductible…” – so not comforting), we left today having to pay a total administrative fee of only $52. As much as I grumble about some things that go on in this state, it really saved our butts today. So…good job, South Carolina! Thank you!

Vaccines are one of those things that have become a supremely polarizing topic. Moms are a tough group to hang with, and I’m sort of surprised (after, ya know…BEING one for a year now) that I still don’t feel like I fit in to the group that well.

Someone is always going to disagree with what you’re doing, and you end up feeling like that’s their way of saying that you’re a terrible mom. Someone always thinks they know better than you. And I’d be lying if I said that isn’t annoying to me sometimes. But when it comes to the topic of vaccines (especially the basic ones that most all kids need for public school attendance), I’ve done my research and I’ve talked with Russ’s doctors, and I feel like he is far better off with them than without them. But I know not all parents feel that way. There’s nerve-wracking information/statistics on both sides of that debate, unfortunately. Everyone has to follow their heart.

I Guess I Just Don’t Like Michele Bachmann.

Disclaimer: This blog post is mostly tongue-in-cheek. Please don’t send Anthrax to my house for this. I mean…unless you’re sending like, the band Anthrax. That would be pretty cool.

Michele Bachmann frightens me. And her eyes absolutely terrify me. And I think that Newsweek cover of her made her look like one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but in a skirtsuit (which I think is a tool of the Devil himself anyway, so…whatevs). The point is, the woman gives me the creeps in a way that the weird guy that used to work at the Santino’s Pizza in Aynor never could have.

But most of all, the batcrapcrazy, “Oh no she…did she just say that?” things that fall out of Michele Bachmann’s mouth probably scare the daylights out of me the most.

And before you start sending me concerned messages because “Not everything Bachmann says is batcrapcrazy,” save your breath. You’re right. Not everything she says is batcrapcrazy. I’m sure she says simple, normal things too, like “I enjoy broccoli, but only with cheese on it,” or “My hair doesn’t respond well to Prell.” Those things make sense, yes. But the large majority of the political rhetoric she puts out there for our consumption is, indeed, batcrapcrazy. So I have a right to make fun of it.

Now, hear me out.

I am not a Democrat, nor am I a Republican. I’m more what you would call an “UghhhhhhIwannaNapitarian.” In late high school and early college, I considered myself much more conservative than I do now (basically, staunch Republican) – as in, I would never have voted for a Democrat, based solely upon labels alone. This is both a sad and embarrassing part of my past. I have many other sad and embarrassing parts of my past as well, of course. These include but are not limited to: two no-longer-meaningful tattoos; a satin corset “top” that is floating around on shelves at a Goodwill store somewhere (remember when those were just all the rage for going out, circa 2004?); and the scar between my eyes where my kid brother hit me with a small garden shovel when we were 5 and 2, respectively. I am “winning,” no doubt.

But I realized at the demise of this sad and embarrassing part of my past/ideology that I could no longer see everything in my life in simple black-or-white terms (and no, that’s not hinting at race – it’s figur’tive, people). While everyone kicked and screamed about “No grey area! There is no grey area in ______ (insert issue of the moment)!” I began to realize that in fact, the whole darn thing is grey and we’re all grey and geez, the only black-and-white issue is what’s right versus what’s wrong. And no, not right as in “leaning right.” Like, RIGHT. And WRONG. The crap your mama taught ya.

Shortly thereafter, I realized that the Republican party had gone completely whackadoodle-bananas-berserk, because that was the year they let good Mr.John McCain pick Sarah Palin as his running mate, a move which I believe killed his chances in ’08. I thought it quite sad, since John McCain is a man I truly admire and respect. And here he was, dragging along this beauty queen-gone-politico, this rogue (Drinking game continuation from Tina Fey’s SNL skit? Okay, go). It killed his chances, and I don’t believe he was an all-bad guy. He wasn’t all-good, either, but certainly not terrible. He just had a terrible running mate who completely slaughtered his campaign. I felt the same way at the time about Barack Obama, which is why I probably should’ve just gone for a pedicure on Election Day ’08, or done a write-in vote for Captain America or Trent Reznor or someone with slightly more substance than either crappy choice.

To me, the ’08 election was like someone asking me to choose between a moldy poo sandwich and a ripped-off toenail. But I did my civic duty, cast my ballot, and left feeling not the least bit better for it. Not to mention, elementary schools smell like pee. Constantly. Pee and No. 2 pencils.

Now, who did I vote for, you might ask? Well, I’m going to tell you, because I don’t think it’s fair for me to sit here and spew my politivitriol without being up front on that one thing.

In 2008, I had planned to vote for John McCain as the least crappy of two undesirable choices, until he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. His health problems and age figured prominently for those of us who disliked his VP choice enough to change their vote. So, begrudgingly, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. In 2012, I have decided that I will not be voting for him again.

If this information causes you to suddenly and deeply despise me, than you might be a small-minded person.

I will also take this opportunity to divulge a few more votes that I made that I later regretted on some level, whether minor or major. I will divulge this information 1) because I don’t really care what you think of my voting record, I’m not running for president, and 2) because I believe it stands as solid proof that I swing both ways. Politically!! Get your mind out of the gutter…

In 2000, I was not old enough to vote, but I was a little superstitious about electing a previous president’s kid and therefore supported John McCain (who didn’t get the GOP nomination, of course…because my team never wins).

In 2004, my first time voting in a presidential election, I voted for George W. Bush for a second term. At that point, I felt like he was doing a “good enough” job, especially considering everything that had taken place in his first term. I guess he’d also grown on me, and maybe I wondered if the SNL episodes would be nearly as funny with Kerry as president.

By late 2006 or early 2007, I felt that my ’04 vote may have been a bit of a mistake, but it really didn’t matter then because it was in the past, and because I live in South Carolina. In South Carolina, it really doesn’t matter if you vote for Charlie Sheen here, because the guy with the (R) behind his name is the one who is going to win. Accept it, own it, etc. – that’s part of living in SC.

Finally, In 2010 (and on principle alone), I hauled my 5 week old baby and stil-somewhat sore rear end down to County Square to absentee vote, where I cast a ballot for the guy who was not Nikki Haley, and whose name escapes me at the moment. Viggo? Vince? Vance? Who cares? My only real goal in this prime example of spiteful voting was to cancel out just one vote for Nikki Haley, who I believe is comprised of equal parts marshmallow fluff (evil), bad puns (doubly evil), and evil (also evil).

I no longer feel exactly that way. Probably because I have now seen much greater evil than the powder puff of political harmlessness that is Nikki Haley.

I would now welcome Nikki Haley into my home for sweet tea and banana pudding. In fact, I would happily host a ladies’ luncheon for just me, Nikki, Sarah Palin, and perhaps a few of the girls who were the most hateful to me in grade school, if it meant it might spare the world of the terror which I so deeply fear awaits us if people don’t wake up and get serious about the next election. Sarah Palin seems like a warm blanket to me now. I practically long for Sarah Palin – and those of you who know me know that I can’t stand the sound of her voice. It is like shoving a pencil wrapped in sand paper into my ear canal, I can’t stand it so bad. But I would gladly listen to the woman singing Ke$ha songs repeatedly, if it meant that I – and this country – would be safe from Michele Bachmann.

And since a lot of people choose to believe that Bachmann’s politics are somehow better than (or equal to) those of other, less blood-curdlingly-terrifying and slightly more verbally gifted and/or sane GOP options such as Rick Perry or Mitt Romney or RON PAUL (who I don’t dislike, I’ll admit – to my liberal friends, please do not kill me for this), I have to just post some of the crazy things she has said in public in recent years (from 2008 to the present).

Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit the following:

(Oh who am I kidding, only chicks read my blog.)

Interesting? No, what’s interesting is how you’ve made a feeble “connection,” which is to say not a connection at all, between Democrats and the Swine Flu. AND your dates are off. But nice logic.

Huh? I like dudes, but thanks.

Really? Man…9/11 is gonna be pissed you said that.

I want to add that everyone in the room laughed when she said this (YouTube it). But she’s right! Because when a power outage would cause your death, even though you’re technically already brain-dead, that’s basically the same as like, having the flu. Right? Oh wait…that’s not right, is it?

I have no words.

What? Okay, for starters, the message is not “I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay.” The message is “Who the heck cares that the person who wrote the music is gay, because the Lion King is AWESOME!” Who cares? Are you so bored with your own lame life that you have nobody better to pick on than gay people (clearly I must be a terrible person because I just don’t have time to pick on gay people). Why must that be your main mission in life, to attack and belittle people who are different than you? Good grief.

But…seriously, Michele. Clinton Kelly is better than you. And it might be because he’s gay (or just because he’s awesome), and therefore 10,000 times more fabulous than you. Sorry.

An aside: I just want to know where the heck some “Christians” sometimes get the idea that gay people are the last frontier of “wrong” that need to be “righted” somehow. Have you not noticed that we ALL suck at life? Worry about your own stuff and leave people alone about who they love. The bible is sort of straight up about the fact that judging people, in the realm of sins, is equal with murdering, lying, stealing, etc. – so why do people think they’re somehow exempt on the constant gay-bashing and judgment that they seem to yank out of their bag o’ tricks at any opportunity? Get a life and quit worrying about other peoples’ lives and business!

That said, I ask God to forgive me for sarcasm every day, as it is definitely my cross to bear.

The bible doesn’t say too much about calling a spade a spade. Or does it…? On we go.

What the…

How the…

Who would…

Are you SERIOUS?

Two weeks waiting tables at Ruby Tuesdays. I guarantee you she’d change her tune. Onward!

I like this one because Anderson Cooper is gay.

And also because I’d just die to be defined as 3/5 of a person. How flattering! Slavery? What is that?

Ah, and here is the one that got so much attention when I posted about it on Facepalm earlier this week. I was asked all kind of “hard-hitting” questions (that did not hit hard), and I stand resolute that this woman is a complete buffoon and legitimately, certifiably insane. Which, I guess neither is *that* bad, since we’ve already elected guys like, ya know, Warren Harding. Geez, what a screw up that guy was! But seriously, at least he was honest enough to admit that he was “not fit for this office and should never have been here.” The most you’d get out of Michele Bachmann in such a case is a proclamation that “there is absolutely no study to prove that the HPV vaccine does not make 12 year old girls suddenly and inexplicably mentally retarded,” which would be great, except that there are absolutely no studies that prove or even suggest that the HPV vaccine DOES anything except prevent young girls from contracting a sexually transmitted disease that could cause them to develop cervical cancer and DIE. DIE, folks. But I guess if you think like Michele Bachmann probably does, nobody has sex until they’re married. Nobody, I say!

*Edit: And for those who have a problem with it based simply upon the fact that it was “forced” on people, which in its original form, the order did not have the opt out clause – I agree with you. That said, the reason Michele Bachmann is yanking this out of her bag is for political gain only. And her comments about it causing mental retardation are completely unfounded and patently false. She has now publicly been challenged to produce the woman who told her this story. It’s a lie, folks. And she could be killing women with this kind of crap. Read the facts.*

And I’m not going to hand you all the answers here, because I’ve already researched them myself and frankly, you should, too. But Michele Bachmann’s spewing about the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is utter and completely baloney, political fear mongering that she is using to get a few approval points with people who don’t have the good sense to consult medical journals, articles, and other sources that will tell you the truth about the vaccine. And you can use Google to find out that Rick Perry’s “Executive Order” (it was not a bill, that was in South Carolina, get your facts straight) in Texas that would have teen girls getting the vaccine did have an opt-out clause for parents that did not want their children to have the vaccine. That’s common knowledge and openly available information, even for folks that live in big ol’ glass houses like Michele Bachmann. Well…that is, unless you’re content just repeating stuff that folks send you in email forwards.

Ugh, I’m tired. You should be, too (that wasn’t an apology). Anyway, if Michele Bachmann gets on the ballot for 2012, I might actually start to believe all that “End of the World’ hocus pocus the Mayans were going on about. I might also do a write-in vote for Charlie Sheen.

What? It can’t hurt to try.


STOP…Sappy Time!

Either I’m a bonafide mommy or I’m just the biggest sap in the world. Whatever the case, I simply cannot stop my mind from looking at the clock today and repeatedly asking myself what I was doing a year ago at that moment. So far, I’ve mentally made it through everything from the labor and birth, but at this point a year ago, I was only beginning to get to know my little boy. It’s been a fabulous year! As promised on the previous post, it’s picture time! Here we go – Russ, from the beginning up until his 1st birthday…

Russ is one (well, almost)

A year ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed at Greenville Memorial Hospital. I was watching the Weather Channel (yes, watching it, the way most people watch “Jersey Shore” – explanation in my previous post) and feeling like a real badass rebel for sneaking sips of ice water (WITH the water in it – not just the ice! So anti-establishment!) whenever our nurse left the room. Her name was Becca. I haven’t forgotten. I’ve actually not forgotten a lot of names of people who helped us or took care of me or Russ during that short stay. They were wonderful, fantastic people.

And tomorrow at 12:45 pm – not a moment sooner, dangit! – my Russ will be exactly one year old. How did that happen? People always told me “Oh, time flies when you have children, you just don’t even know…” and I sort of shrugged internally. Of course it flies, I’d think. When does time not fly? I’ll tell you when, from the hours of 2-5 pm when you work in Corporate America, that’s where. But you know…digressions and all. But anyhow, now I really, truly, fully GET what people meant. The time does fly. It flies in a way that defies all logic or understanding. It feels as if Russ should be just a few months old or something, that’s how fast it went. Whereas memories of a year are typically lacking vibrance, lacking depth, maybe a little fuzzy – everything about bringing this little guy into the world is so clear in my head. It could have all happened last month or even last week.

Tomorrow will mark one year since I began nursing, also, and though I honestly never, ever saw myself nursing until his 1st birthday – here we are! Now don’t go making jokes about him lifting up my shirt and asking for “Boobie,” because it’s just nothing like that at this point. He’s one…not four. That said, he’s down to just nursing in the morning and at night at this point, and we’ll probably nix the morning feeding pretty soon here. It’s bittersweet, because I was one of the lucky few women who had few serious challenges with nursing and who really enjoyed the whole process. But Russ is eating cut up pork chops, mashed potatoes, banana slices, and graham cracker pieces now, so it’s about time to be done. I’m hopeful that the process will be as easy and painless for him as possible. As the case has always been with nursing Russ, I am letting him lead and when he is ready to drop another feeding (most likely the morning one), I’ll know.

So yeah. Geez, what else is there to say? The words are impossible to find to say what this little guy means to me, but you all know that. That’s the thing, you all get it. You know what I’m saying. It has quite simply been the best, hardest, most rewarding, beautiful, soul-illuminating, sleepless, exhausting, wonderful, joyful, amazing year of my life. I am in awe of the year I’ve been given. I don’t deserve it. And the crazy part is that I’ve learned that, even if I don’t know exactly what they mean by it yet, people who have more or older kids aren’t kidding – it WILL get better. That’s amazing to me. I’m excited for what the future holds for our little family of three (and yes, it is and will remain a family of three for probably another year or two, unless I tell you otherwise).

So with that, we’re off to bed (and no crazy Ambien trips this year – wahoo!). Tomorrow I’m going to post a few pictures of Russ over the past year, kind of a “Watch Me Grow!” exhibit. You’d wonder what the heck I was feeding the kid, but I already spilled the beans on the pork chops. I mean, come on… he IS southern.

I love my life.

After 10 Years

So, I had posted something on Sunday in an effort to commemorate what happened on 9/11, or to make myself feel as if I’d addressed it in some appropriate way, etc. Any number of different drivers contributed to it, and it was a pretty basic, unspecial post.

And I didn’t feel any better for having written it, and I certainly didn’t feel any better for having posted it. I just kept feeling worse, more mopey and aimless than the day before. After discussing this with a few people who I really trust when it comes to these kinds of things, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have exhausted myself and this topic of 9/11.

I am just about out of crap to say about it.

It. Freaking. Sucks. Obviously, I wish it had never happened, I wish the world could be different, I wish soldiers didn’t fight and die in the resulting war, etc. Obviously. I was a kid when this happened. Yeah, I was 17, but think about who you were at 17. We were kids. And maybe stuff that happens right on the cusp of childhood and adulthood really affects us that much more. Who knows? I don’t think I have ever claimed to be the most mature or stable or even coherent individual, and therefore, you may draw any conclusions you want.

I sort of figured that by yesterday morning, all the 24-7, re-saturation coverage of the anniversary would be over, but turns out I was wrong. So I just turned on DVR episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba for Russ to watch while I cleaned house and made some food for a friend with a new baby, because honestly, it was the only way to start climbing out of the hole I’d dug myself into. When it’s on every channel, it’s hard to skip it all and watch the Weather Channel, but that’s sort of what I had to do yesterday. Which makes sense, because it was this side of a year ago that I was in the hospital in labor, asking Jonathan to keep it on The Weather Channel. When he asked me why on earth I’d want to watch – like, just sit and WATCH – The Weather Channel, in all my Ambien-induced super-honesty, my answer was blunt and of two parts: Jim Cantore is kinda hot, and Weather Channel music is extremely soothing to me. I blame it on growing up in Hurricane Alley.

In any case, I’m over it. It’s done. There is not going back and undoing it, no matter how we relive it, no matter how we try to understand it. There won’t ever be understanding for what happened on that really, really, really, horrendously s***ty day (and I’m sorry for cussing, but seriously, to call that day “crappy” just wouldn’t quite be adequate). At least, not in my mind. You can have all your understanding, if you’re that on top of things – good for ya. I’m not, and I can’t change it. So this is what you get with me and 9/11 – a whole lot of sadness, sleeplessness, and chocolate cravings. Weird? Yes. Never said I was anything but.

As my friend put it, the whole point of getting past these events in life, especially when it comes to terrorism, is to continue living our lives. If we keep replaying the images, reabsorbing the pain and ugliness of it, etc. – we’re just letting those people continue to have the exact result they were seeking on the very Tuesday it all began. So next year, I’m not going to do this again. Next year, I’m going to simply remember fondly the fact that on 9/11/10, I was due with my first child. And that my friends Jade and Emily were born. And plenty more babies were born, all sharing that same “nasty” date that came in like Courtney Love at a Sweet Sixteen party and just vomited on everything. A lot of good things have happened on that day, too – and next year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to turn off the TV, get out of the house, hug my kid, kiss my husband, and think about what a lucky girl I am.

"Becky has no filter."

Over the long weekend, we spent some time down at the lake with my parents and aunt, and for some reason, I couldn’t get Nick Drake’s “River Man” out of my head.

Two years ago, I began a collection of chapters, dubbed with the working title “Nelson’s Cut,” after the shallow, swampy cut-through that connects Potato Creek to the main “Big Water” section of Lake Marion. The mouth of the cut is directly across from our dock there, where I sat and typed out the opening chapter or two of the thing. Was it destined to be a book? I’m not exactly sure – but I am sure that plug-ins on a dock are a fabulous idea for those with horribly abbreviated computer battery life. So I sat there in a lawn-chair with a glass of iced tea and wrote, stopping momentarily to look around and try to glean some creativity from the view. It felt relatively successful, if for no other reason than that I actually wrote something for the first time in a few years. But then I got pregnant and my whole life just sort of revolved around baby everything, and alas, “Nelson’s Cut” is not only unfinished, but has yet to even evolve from the state it was in at this time two years ago. But “River Man” was my writing song. It practically birthed one of the characters in the brief couple of chapters I wrote, and it certainly was the soundtrack for the keys clacking along on the end of that dock. I’m taking its constant spinning in my head these past few days as a clear sign that it’s time to get back to it. So add that to the list of 183 things I want to do when it comes to writing. Sigh.

It was kind of a frustrating weekend. Have you ever kept quiet for years at a time in a situation, only to accidentally let it slip how you really feel about something? And then suddenly, you’re the bad guy. Hasn’t everyone been in that situation before? That said, it never gets any less aggravating to sit in a crowd of people, be told that the grass is purple, look around, be the lone voice saying “Um…looks kinda green to me,” and then get glares and accusations of “Geez, Becky! Way to Go! Now you’ve pissed him off!”

I’ve had more than a few people tell me that I “have no filter.” That’s a load of crap. I’m just telling you right now, if I said even 30% of what pops into my head, I would have a huge cheering squad on one hand and a gaggle of people ready to kill me on the other hand. Honesty can be a little polarizing, I guess? Maybe it would make people feel better if I just buried my head in the sand, so as not to make anyone uncomfortable?

That is not how I function, at least not in my personal life. In my professional life, I’ll keep relatively silent because, well…it turns out that my silence can be bought – imagine that!  But on the personal front is really what I’m referring to here, and I’m still not sure why my stance in these situations bothers some people so deeply. Don’t assume too much. I get it. I get the red you see when someone tries to blow down that sand house you’re building, fast as you can scoop it up. I’ve definitely had situations in my life where I’ve spent years lying to myself. The eating disorder thing – making sure I spent an extra 30-45 minutes on the treadmill every time I went over my allotted daily calories of 1200. Fabulous years (sarcasm, guys). The selfishness I exhibited during the first year or so of my marriage. I’m still not sure why Jonathan stuck around. I wish I could go back and change those things and a few more. I wish I could go back and be some better version of me.

My life wasn’t changed by the people who acted like they didn’t know what was going on and I’m sorry, but I’m not impressed with the silent approach. Change in my life was never a magical realization spurned on by some moment of clarity, driven by nothing. My life wasn’t changed by a lack of responsibility, the implied permission to do anything I wanted. It was changed by realism, and the realization that there was something to lose, some consequence for a choice I was making. Change came in part from the people who got right up in my face, literally and figuratively, who challenged me and tested me and told me what I was doing wasn’t going to cut it and that they knew I had better within me. They knew I had good within me.

And geez, y’all – I wasn’t even that screwed up. Yet.