Let me tell you about some bullshit.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably remember that Penelope was hospitalized a few months after she was born and blah blah blah, a kidney thing. A year or so later, she ended up having surgery to resolve the defect. However, during that year in between, we had to be on ridiculously vigilant watch for UTIs. Not that all parents shouldn’t keep an eye out for UTIs. But the structure of her body made it so that the infected urine from the bladder would be able to travel backward – something that should not and does not usually happen – to her kidneys and damage them before we’d know what was happening. We actually don’t know the extent of kidney damage she might have suffered from the first incident, but that’s something for future Kelly to worry about. Anyway, any fever over 100 degrees – even if she was clearly otherwise ill – required an immediate trip to the emergency room for her to be catheterized to get a urine sample, just to make sure. Fortunately, we only had to do that twice.
After her surgery, I think it was another year or so of watching, though the fever threshold got raised to 101. And then after that, a couple last tests and she was released from her urologist’s care entirely. Of course we still have to watch for UTIs, because UTIs are no good, but no more than any other parent. A UTI is no longer an emergency. Still, you also remember the kidney lady?
Okay, if you don’t, this is a story. I got a UTI, and I knew I had a UTI, but it kind of went away? I don’t know, I was stupid. I thought it was gone, but it wasn’t. It went underground for a few days, and then I was sick. I was so sick. I was so sick that when Phil and I decided to get married, one of the things I made him promise me was that as a married lady, he’d never let me sleep with my own puke bucket, because I was so sick all I could do was lean over and throw up and I couldn’t even remove my bucket from the bed. Like almost 105 fever, thought for certain I was going to die kind of sick. Anyway, it was a kidney infection, because of course that UTI didn’t just go away, you absolute walnut (me, not you). I got some crazy antibiotics and it took a while, but eventually I got better. And it took a long time for me to tell this one particular story about that incident, because it was embarrassing, so it took me a while to be able to tell it in such a way that it was kind of funny (but it was not actually funny). On my first day back to work after being sick, the medicine was still messing up my stomach pretty badly, and I was stuck in traffic at the 270 split in Maryland, and I had to get out of my car to throw up, and I only made it as far as the hood of the car before I leaned over to puke so hard I wet my pants. And I was still STUCK IN TRAFFIC, so I then had to get back in my car with all the same cars who were right there the WHOLE TIME all around me.
So I tell this story, and one of the comments I get is something like, “Hey, be glad you can even wet your pants. Some of us would love to wet our pants, but we don’t even have functioning kidneys.”
And. I just.
So if you see someone bellowing at someone else in my general circle of interaction on Twitter, “AT LEAST YOU HAVE KIDNEYS,” that is why that happens.
Oh, wait, here you go – I forgot for a minute the other site still exists and I can just take things from it whenever I want.
Needless to say, even though Penelope is cleared by her surgeon to not worry about UTIs as much, we still take them very seriously in this house. So when she was up and down every 10 minutes all night long to use the bathroom on Friday night, frustrated that she wasn’t actually peeing, and saying when she did pee that it was hot and “shocked” her, we knew we’d be going to urgent care first thing Saturday because no, we are not messing around with that shit. I mean, her kidneys may possibly be damaged, but at least she HAS some, and I have be soundly scolded by a random stranger on the Internet for taking that for granted one time when I was telling what was actually a really kind of sad story.
I will spare you the details about trying to get a urine sample out of a five year old who can only pee a drop at a time but wants to attempt it every seven minutes.
We go into the exam room, we go over her history with the VUR, the surgery, etc. Kind of irrelevant but also relevant, because you never know. We go over the symptoms – classic UTI stuff, minus any kind of fever, but then, when she was first hospitalized with a kidney infection as an infant, we had no idea what was going on, because she had no fever. It was kind of her UTI MO. So the doctor checks her out, basic exam, looks everywhere.
“I think she’s got strep.”
The fuck you say?
The doctor even had me look down Penny’s throat to see her tonsils, enormous and red and angry. She said it definitely looked like strep. But but but. No sore throat, I said. No fever. No nothing. Just the UTI. The doctor said, well, strep’s been a little weird this year. I’ll do a rapid test.
She does, and takes the test out of the room, telling us it will be five minutes, and the door swings RIGHT back open, and she shows it to me, explaining the clear positive that came up in like, 30 seconds. STREP.
Okay, I’m thinking, she’s got a UTI and we also found out she’s coming down with strep, coincidentally. NOPE. Zero sign of infection in her urine sample. NOTHING. She only has strep.
What, may I ask, the fuck?
And the doctor tells us, strep has been weird this year. They’ve had an epidemic not just of strep, but WEIRD strep. A kid came in with knee pain, walked out with a diagnosis of strep. Back pain, strep. Three people had been in THAT WEEK with UTI-like symptoms, no UTI, but a positive strep test. Penelope got one of their last two rapid strep tests. There’s no more left in the county at the moment. Five day courses of antibiotics haven’t been treating this well, so she was prescribed a 10 day course, and the pharmacy could only give us enough to get us through until today, because they were totally out. (They’ll get more today.)
I guess a lot of the cases the doctor was talking about could be coincidence. Maybe a kid did hurt his knee, and while there, they discovered strep. But three others with UTI symptoms and no UTI? And she also told us that in a ton of the cases they were finding, they were like Penelope – no fever, no sore throat, no signs of strep at all until you look down at the tonsils and then, hey, there you go.
So how many kids did Penelope take down with her, since she was in school all last week, since SHE WASN’T SICK as far as we knew? How many kids are walking around with this stealthy strep right now, passing it around and around, with no earthly idea it’s happening?
Having a kid is hard for a lot of reasons, because you know nothing and everything changes all the time, but you’re supposed to be able to COUNT ON STREP. Annoying, painful, yes. Basic childhood illness? Also yes. It sucks, it turns around within a couple of doses of antibiotics, and it’s a generally predictable and standard part of childhood.
IN A WORLD WHERE WE CAN COUNT ON NOTHING, I THOUGHT WE STILL AT LEAST HAD STREP THROAT.
In conclusion, this goddamn giraffe better make with a giant giraffe baby already.
I don’t know what to tell you. Things are kind of terrible right now. I don’t feel like talking about it because self-pity makes me want to slap myself and my face hurts.
Dumbass things I said to my kid recently
So the other day, “other day” being a placeholder term for “a while ago but I don’t remember when,” Penelope was telling me about a kid at her daycare who is mean. Actually, this had to be quite a while ago, since Penelope no longer goes to daycare, since I had to quit my job for health reasons, which is a whole thing that falls under the “I don’t feel like talking about it” heading. Anyway, she said he’s mean because “he repeats what you say but in a mean voice.” And I told her, “Well, that’s what people do when they’re not smart enough to come up with good jokes.”
I regret that one.
Then yesterday, and I know it was yesterday because the cinnamon rolls were no good today so I fed her donuts, she says to me when I came downstairs in the morning, “I’m going to have a piece of candy, because I was supposed to have one after dinner last night but I didn’t, so I’ll have it now.”
And I told her “No, you can’t have candy for breakfast. Eat your cinnamon roll.”
“But the cinnamon roll has sugar, too.”
“Yeah, but… that’s… breakfast sugar. It’s different. Eat your cinnamon roll.”
A problem with telling the Internet things I like
Sometimes I just want to tell the Internet about a thing I bought that I like, and there is always a person who wants to shoot it down. Yeah, but it has X feature/drawback, therefore it wouldn’t work for me, therefore it’s no good.
That’s… not a thing. That’s not what I’m doing when I tell you a thing I like. I’m not reviewing shit for you like a professional… reviewest of some sort. You know, with obligations to be unbiased and think about how everyone may or may not like a thing. I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to do shit. There’s no law.
And sometimes it’s even more weird, when someone knows I own something and they’re thinking about buying a similar something or something in the same category and ask me what I think of mine, and I tell them, and then they shoot that down, or, ever weirder, tell me, “well, I’ll have to think about it,” and then I’m standing there like some kind of awkward sales person. I didn’t even know I was trying to make a sale. I was just telling you about a thing.
Relatedly, this is why I sometimes struggle with GoodReads and leaving reviews for books, because sometimes I really love something that I know, objectively, is very terrible. And sometimes I hate something that I absolutely know for sure is a good book. Just not for me. And I have to pep talk myself when I’m leaving a review sometimes, like tell myself this is not my job, this is not the NY Times. It’s a social site. People who follow me either do so because they have similar tastes or completely opposite tastes, and they want to know what I think of a book personally, because if we generally like the same books, maybe they will read it, and if they hate everything I love, then they know not to read it, and I have no actual responsibility toward the greater GoodReads audience other than to just say what I think about my personal feelings about the book. Which are sometimes – oftentimes, lately – very angry.
And while I’m talking about GoodReads, can we talk about the difference between a book review and a book report? We can all read the blurb. Just tell me what you thought about the stupid thing without giving me a plot rundown. This is not the 7th grade. I’m not going to whip out a rubric and subtract points for your inability to write a summary and note all the symbolism. Tell me: good or bad? Then I will read or not read the book, and from there, I will find out the plot points and – wait a second, I’m going to go back up to the top of this and put GoodReads in as its own heading because I have a couple more things to say. Done. Anyway. If your review starts with “Character A is a small town –” I’m already deaf. I’ve gone deaf from how bad you are at this. Internet deaf, anyway, which is probably more like blind, but not actually blind, because I still need to find the back button to nope the fuck out of what you’ve got going on here. Your review-report will make me Internet deaf. I just had to invent a thing for how much I hate review-reports.
And and and the morality police in book reviews. I think – I hope – by now, at this age, we can all understand the value of an unlikable character. I mean, there’s a line, but a character written in such a way that they’re kind of just an awful person, well. That’s a thing that books do and you don’t have to like the character for it still to be a good book. There’s that line, sure, when a character is tropey and sucky and lazily written, but that’s bad writing. A bad character is different. Same thing with questionable subject matter – you know the stuff. Just horrible things people do to each other, ugly ways people behave, things that are clearly Just Not Cool to Do in real life – all those things often go in books, too. And some people don’t enjoy those kind of things. Like you know what’s a big one on GoodReads? Cheating. A lot of people don’t like cheating in books. Even as a plot device. Even when a character is shitty and does shitty things as part of his or her clearly defined shitty character. And it’s fine to write your review and say, I didn’t like this book because I don’t generally enjoy cheating in a story line and it really ruined it for me, and that’s fine. But say you pick up some horrible thing, and the synopsis says, “Okay so there’s this dude and he kidnaps a girl off the street and he locks her up and makes her into a sex slave and he beats her every day and he’s real mean but their relationship is complex.” And you pick it up and you READ IT and then you write a review that says, “THIS BOOK WAS TERRIBLE BECAUSE THIS TERRIBLE MAN BEAT THIS GIRL AND THEN SHE LOVED HIM IN THE END WHAT EVEN THE FUCK ZERO STARS.” Excuse me ma’am what did you think you were about to read?
Or or or take my second favorite trope – obsessive romance between kind of shitty damaged people. (My first favorite trope of all time is the standard Harlequin romance “there’s a misunderstanding that could be explained in five minutes but the noble lady refuses to explain to save face and lets the dude go on with his misconceptions and they break up and she keeps her chin up bravely but then he finds out he was wrong and there’s a triumphant tearful reunion” and I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING I WILL READ THAT SHIT TIL THE END OF TIME.) One of my favorite books in this second favorite trope is called Beautiful Disaster. And so many of the reviews harp on how terrible it is that these two are so obsessed with each other, what a sign of danger it is that the dude loses his shit when he thinks she left him, how irresponsible of the author to write such terrible role models and whoa hold up. You’re going to give a book a negative review not because you didn’t enjoy it – which, fine, if you didn’t, BUT YOU’RE WRONG TRAVIS MADDOX IS THE BEST – but because you feel the author has somehow failed in her duty to the youth of America? That’s not… that’s not a thing. It’s your job as an adult in a young person’s life to make sure they understand the difference between fact and fiction, between enjoying entertainment and living it out, between right and wrong, between being a decent human being and someone who writes shitty reviews on GoodReads. That’s on you. Not the author.
LEAVE THE AUTHORS OF OBSESSIVE ROMANCE ALONE. THEY HAVE BOOKS TO WRITE. FOR ME.
And lastly. ARCs. Can you people not with this shit. We all know by now that we have to take paid reviews with a grain of salt. People are either reluctant to say negative things when they’re being paid, banned from saying negative things when they’re being paid, or too afraid of never being paid again to say negative things. And it has finally hit GoodReads HARD. ARCs are going out all over the place, all the time, and a lot – a lot of them – are for the shitty Kindle books that cost like $2.99 and are never even whole books, just one regular sized book chopped awkwardly into a trilogy so they can charge you three times. And they’re shitty. So shitty. SO many of them are so, so shitty. But I read a lot of Kindle freebies, because what else am I doing with my life, and I review them, and then I look at other reviews, and they’re all gushing BOLD CAPS LOTS OF GIFS FIVE STARS!!! reviews and I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS and then I see “this book was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review.” And there’s so so so many. I get it. You want to keep the free book train rolling, so you’re willing to salt this author’s GoodReads reviews with 5 stars just so you’ll keep getting books to review, but you should know that you’re terrible and no one likes you except maybe the author, but who cares because the author is also terrible and maybe you two should take a vacation together to terrible island, and when you get bored, the writer can tell you poorly thought-out stories about half an idea she had one time and started writing down with no idea where it was going to go and just hoped she’d get there by the end but never did and then maybe you’ll just WALK INTO THE SEA.
Going back to that thing about stuff I bought.
Here’s some stuff I bought recently that I like.
I got a Loopy Case for my phone. I reluctantly switched back to the iPhone almost a year ago now, and I don’t care what Apple is saying about their super special porn star dick hard glass, I have shattered the fucking thing three damn times. I have never shattered a phone in my LIFE. I use a case. I use the useless protective glass cover, which is stupid, because the shape of the iPhone glass is stupid and no one can cover it properly. After this last shattering, I ordered a Loopy case and I like it. It’s a phone case with… a loop on the back. And you can slide your finger through it and hold your phone better.
They say it allows you to use your phone with one hand, but I’m never going to be a one hand phone user. I got on board with the smart phones pretty much as soon as they were a thing, but still too old to adapt to new ways of doing things, I guess. I ordered a left-handed Loopy even though I’m right handed (the difference is very subtle and you can still easily use it with either hand with no discomfort), because I hold my phone in my left hand and poke at it with my right. I am a phone poker. I am not a thumber. So that feature doesn’t apply so much to me. But I very quickly took to always having my finger through the loop, and it’s much easier to carry in general, like flipped around to the back of my hand when I’m carrying a lot of things, and really, it just gives me peace of mind. Also, the case it comes with is one that wraps all the way around and has a lip at the front, so it’s quite protective as well.
Things you might notice about it: It’s got a big old loop at the back, which might make it hard to slide into your pocket or phone slot in a bag. Also, the loop causes a bump in the back of the case itself. Some might find that bothersome. I do have a rebuttal for both of those: I don’t care. Buy it or don’t. I like it. You might not. That’s a you thing. That is not a “I find these things displeasing therefore the case wouldn’t work for me therefore the case is bad and by association you are also bad” thing.
Other thing I got recently: I made an extremely ill-advised basically spur of the moment trip to Dallas to surprise Bagel for her 30th birthday. Her sister came from Alaska. It was a whole thing. It was a dumb, dumb, dumb thing for me to do, but I did it and we had a lot of fun. We had breakfast for birthday dinner, ate like 6000 red bean buns (ok, just me), and watched a rack of episodes of the kdrama Goblin, which I would love to talk with you about, at great length.
We also went to Sam’s Club, and Beth directed me toward these two packs of wireless bras – Bali Comfort Revolution bras. I spend a lot of time in my house now, and I don’t generally like to wear a bra in the house, because the industrial strength bras I wear are fine but not “I’ll wear this for funsies” kind of fine. Also, I can’t sleep in my industrial strength bras and lately I’ve kind of wanted to sleep in bras because everything is everywhere. Anyway, Beth suggested these as a good idea.
I was hesitant because I’ve never been able to buy a bra that comes in sizes like M, L, XL, but I looked at the size charts and went with a large anyway, and what do you know, they fit. They’re not flattering bras – not something I’d wear to… anything. Except, like, to get the mail? Or a drive through? Or actually I’ve worn them on a couple long (ill-advised) drives. And they do exactly what I want them to. They keep everything from wilding around without the full on rigging necessary for actual participation in real life. I especially like them because most of the time at home I wear my comfort suit, which is onesie pajamas, and I just really, really hate the feeling of being braless in onesie pajamas for some reason, worse than I hate it in anything else. I’d wear a regular bra with my suit during the day, but to be honest I kind of fall asleep at random wherever I am, so I like to be prepared to nap at any moment.
Also, there’s the whole sort of FlyLady thing – did you ever do FlyLady? I should do that. She’s got this thing where every morning, you get dressed all the way down to your shoes, because shoes mean you are Doing Shit, and it’s a mindset thing. It’s kind of the same as going braless. I can wander around my house braless, and lay on the couch braless, and nap braless, but I cannot do things braless. I am not suited up for any sort of activity. Not because it would be too uncomfortable to bend down and pick a sock up off the floor without a bra, but just because, hey, I have no bra on. I am not in action mode. The Bali Comfort Revolution Bras are a nice middle ground because not only am I set to nap whenever the mood strikes me, but I could also pick up that sock and all the other socks if I felt like it. I am not prepared to accomplish anything bra-free. I don’t think Penelope was even conceived bra-free. I need a bra to be in the mindset to Do Things, but I don’t want to wear a capital B-R-A BRA. So that’s why I like those.
All right, good talk.