Author: clairedunderman

There are Good People in This World and They Ride the W Train

My heart plummeted even further when I looked out of the train window.

Exchange Place? Damn it, I got on the wrong train.

I exhaled a short, sharp breath, already upset by the argument that had been taking place with my friend. I have never been one for discord and any sort of disagreement can overwhelm me.

Unfortunately, I was already past my breaking point. My mind that morning was full of bills to pay and juggling responsibilities, so it didn’t help my mind that this unplanned argument was taking place via text. And text arguments are the worst because there’s a coldness to them, a lack of any empathy in the words presented. I went to my normal state of anxious-yet-functioning to volatile-and-about-to-cry.

I knew I was volatile because I never mistakenly get on the wrong train. There are only two trains on the line – 33rd Street and World Trade Center. It’s not too hard to mix that up. At least I went on the train on the right side.

Calm down, calm down, calm down, I chanted to myself. I put headphones in and started to listen to the bouncy rhythms of Los Campesinos!, hoping the music would distract me from my sadness.

The train let out at World Trade Center and I started to walk to the R/W, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Still walking, I sobbed in the middle of the Oculus, as if I was in a soap opera. I tried stifling it, since normally I can hold back tears to a silent stream if I’m in public. It was no use. I let go. I was crying obnoxiously and there was no point to think that people hadn’t seen me.

I walked through the glass doors and up the steps to the platform. I got on the W train, thinking that maybe sitting would help relax me.

Nope, I still was ugly crying, my tears traveling from the Oculus to a subway car. At least I was able to make myself a little quieter, but it was still obvious that I was upset.

After a few stations of struggling, the car jolted to a stop at 14th Street. I looked up and a woman was offering me her tissues. I paused the music and gulped a few breaths, struggling to find my voice.

“Thank you so much,” I finally said.

“I’m so sorry sweetie,” she said, and she went back to her seat. Her eyes were a little teary herself.

She sat back down, and the man sitting next to me looked my way.

“Is there anyone I need to beat up,” he said, cracking a small smile.

I laughed between gulps.

“No, I’m good!”

“Is it a man? Oh, I’ll go after him. I’m not good for much, but I’m good for something!” he said. He looked over to the woman who gave me tissues. She was now dabbing her eyes as well.

“Are you okay??” he asked.

“Oh yes, I was just crying because she was crying!” she said, chuckling a bit.

“Seriously, I will go after him for you if you need me to,” he said to me.

“No, it’s okay, it’s just an argument with one of my girl friends. I’ll be alright though!” I said. I was smiling now and the sobs and gulps had stopped. Tears were still coming down my face, but I felt lighter.

“Okay, well, you sure you’ll be alright?” he said as he stood up and got ready to leave at the next stop. The tissue woman was getting ready to leave as well.

“I promise I will be.” I said, and this time my smile was full.

The two of them left, on their separate ways. I stayed on for the rest of the ride for my own separate way.

When I left the train, I walked out of the station with a bounce in my step. I looked up at the buildings and I put my headphones back in. I felt so connected, I felt so protected, even though I couldn’t possibly personally know everyone in this city.

God, I love New York, I thought, and I walked into work ready to start the day.


The Red Door and the Drunk Toilet

Let’s state the obvious here: I’m not someone who’s known for sitting through a horror film unfazed. I also am not someone who’s known for handling a variety of liquor too well. Lastly, as this whole blog can attest to, I very easily cry.

With the three of these elements combined, you have an old-fashioned-Claire style emotional hurricane on the horizon.

Well, such was a day late in September. My boyfriend and I went to a benefit concert for cancer awareness in the early afternoon. Given the stories being told and reflecting on my own family connections to cancer, it was impossible not to cry throughout the whole experience.

Then the liquor started. And it wasn’t just a friendly rum and Coke. It was Jell-O shots, whiskey shots, beer, and I even tossed some rosé wine in there. This happened within a three-hour span.

I thought to myself, Well, it’s not red wine, so I shouldn’t get too sick. Somehow, I thought that red wine would be the culprit of any stomach trouble, not the varietal concoctions of hard alcohol.

My boyfriend also noticed my intake. “Claire, try sticking with the beer,” he encouraged. But the deed had already been done. I had effectively mixed.

When we left, I initially expected the commute back to take two hours. But, smart or not, we got an Uber. We were back at our apartment in a matter of 20 minutes.

The night was young! It was merely 5pm! And my boyfriend and I are festive people, so we knew just how to spend our time for the evening. Looking ahead to the next month, we wanted to celebrate Halloween early.

Shall we watch Beetlejuice? No. Shall we watch The Babadook? No, we already watched that on a flight recently.

Shall we watch one of the most visually disturbing films of the past 10 years, Insidious?

Yes, that one!

Now, I had not nearly begun to sober up and I was already feeling a range of vulnerable emotions. I was so inebriated that my normal emotional defense mechanisms were shut off. Shields were down, Enterprise style. Sober Claire would be too scared. Drunk Claire was more cavalier than that.

Since I’m still drunk, I won’t remember it and I’ll be able to handle the scares, I thought.

I was right in one aspect – I only remember portions of Insidious. We were flipping channels a few weeks later and Spike was playing it. The scene was when one of the ghost hunters – whose face was NOT familiar to me in any form – was looking in a hallway and found some paranormal sisters. Needless to say, I ran out of the room as if I’d never seen it before.

When we started the movie, it was around 5:30pm. I was starting to feel a little queasy, but I attributed it to a normal reaction to the alcohol.

If I drink more, the feeling will go away, I thought. That’s what we always tell ourselves when we’re drunk. We’re like alcohol conmen and we’re our own targets.

In addition to the queasiness, that tight, uneasy sensation I get with horror films started as well. It’s the same feeling I get when I read Adam Ellis’ Dear David thread, it’s the same feeling I get when I read about a creepypasta or when I played Slenderman for the first time. That element of suspense. Waiting for the horror was the horror itself.

Now, I normally dull the horror for myself since I cover my eyes a lot. When we watched The Babadook on a flight, it was probably the most enjoyable horror film experience I have had: not only could I hardly hear the film over the engines, I could barely see it because of the glare of the lights and windows! It was a scaredy cat’s dream.

This time, I thought that the alcohol I had consumed would dull the horror of Insidious. I was gravely mistaken.

Despite the initial start of the film, the first 45 minutes of the movie was fine. My plan was working as I intended – I didn’t really process what was going on screen, so I wasn’t really remembering what was happening.

However, I started to surface from the inebriation right around the scene where Rose Bryne first realizes that something weird keeps happening at night. She kept getting up and down from the bed and the dread started to permeate my dreamlike state. Oh god, I thought, this is when things are going to start to get scary.

The absence of music and space between action acted as all too familiar paranoia. My stomach started to churn in fear.

But, unfortunately, there was more than fear that was churning.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I breathed, and I sprinted to the toilet. The horror of the unseen demon, the quiet dark nights, the alcohol. Everything had to be purged. Just like the demon had to be purged from the comatose demon-possessed boy.

For the rest of the movie, I was in a hellish haze of fear, paranoia, and nausea. Sometimes the fear distracted me from the nausea. Sometimes the nausea distracted me from the horrors of the film. Either way, I was caught in the middle of a horrific bender and my emotional reaction was only making it worse.

Did I stop? Did I cave in? Did I at least lie down after the third time I threw up? No. No I didn’t. Because that would be giving up. I had to prove to myself that I could do this, that I could watch a normal scary movie like every other normal person. I had to overcome two of my greatest fears: demons and vomiting.

My boyfriend insisted on helping and making sure that I was okay. I persisted and told him to not stop the movie. We were going to finish this.

By the end of the movie, I was an absolute mess. But I demanded that we finish; I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m pretty sure the scene in the kitchen with Patrick Wilson took us 30 minutes to watch.

But, at long last, we finished the movie. I did it!! I made it!!

Needless to say, the puking portion of the night was not close to being done.

I woke up with a nasty hangover the next morning, but at least I had an accomplished hangover. It was a productive intoxication.

Once I finally managed to get out of bed, my boyfriend and I sat down on the couch. He turned to me and said, “We’ll definitely have to watch the sequel at some point.”

Hearing that, my stomach turned a little, almost Pavlovian.

“Maybe later,” I said.

Sunset Years

April 20, 2017: 
I took Coco out last night at my parents’ apartment in Queens. 

New York was once my dream city and now I work here. I am 23-years-old and I am in a good place right now. I have achieved things in my life that I always dreamed about as a kid. I am fulfilling career goals by working in television. I found a stable place to live in New Jersey with my boyfriend who loves to have as much fun as I do. I am maintaining relationships with friends and new acquaintances. 

Walking along the river and looking at the skyline of Manhattan, I felt like it represented my current state in life.

But I didn’t think about that for long. All I could do is look down at the pug. In that moment, all of the love that I had in my heart was focused on the small animal that sat patiently in her stroller. My thoughts cleared from my normally noisy mind. All that mattered was setting her gently on the grass, clipping on her leash, and meandering across the small patch that we found. Together, we slowly walked with the lights of the city guiding our way.


July 9, 2017:
I am filled with a heaviness in my heart.

The first thing that I thought when I got the news two nights ago was, “but I just want to hold her one more time.” I literally felt like I had been hit with a bag of bricks. I sunk to my knees and sat on the floor. My brother Grant couldn’t even say it either. “It’s done, now,” is all he could say over the phone. “It’s done now.”

My dad was the one that took her to the hospital. My mom and Grant are in Chicago this weekend. Mom was able to see my sister Lucy this weekend, too, down in Champaign. I haven’t seen Dad in Long Island City yet, but I will soon. It’s a very palpable sense of grieving between us, even though my family is physically apart.

I’m on the train from Jersey now, going to the apartment. It’s going to feel weird without her there.


The last time that I took her out was at the end of May, when I stayed with the whole family for the weekend. I saw her for the last time this past Tuesday, but at that point, Mom and Dad were doing everything for her.

The last picture I have of her is “looking” out on the balcony, to the river. She’s sitting upright, mouth open in a smile. It was the strongest she had looked in a long time.


August 2, 2017:
It’s been nearly a month now and I still am hurting from it. Not because I’m thinking of how she was at the end, but because I’m remembering her more clearly for who she was when she was younger.

Coco was the perfect dog, the dog that I dreamed about when I was little. The first thing that I ever looked up on a computer was “pug.” It was also near the beginning of Wikipedia, so back then, I basically memorized the whole article page. I memorized the different types of pugs, how much they weighed, how they interacted with other dogs, how they interacted with humans, how long they lived. I saved all the of the pictures from the article onto the family computer’s desktop.

This was when I was in elementary school. My fifth grade teacher also had a pug, so she received an onslaught of pug doodles. She thought I was trying to butter her up, convince her to give me better grades, but it’s just that I couldn’t think of much else. 

School aside, I had even started a comic book with my cousin. It was titled “Minnie and Wolfgang,” a series of adventures by a pug named Minnie (my character) and a wolf named Wolfgang (my cousin’s character). 

I can’t even begin to describe how many pug stuffed animals I had and all of their individual names. But at one point, I had that memorized.

Then when I was in sixth grade, my aunt and uncle got a pug. Now my wanting was palpable. There was an actual pug in the family and we didn’t have one yet!!

My dad found a breeder and, despite the creepy interactions between the grandma pug and the litter, we deemed him to be a respectable pug owner. (Grandma seemed to get a little too close to the puppies).

I initially wanted the runt of the litter, but after the first time we met the breeder, she was taken. The only other girl pug was available to be adopted. When it was time to pick her up, I remember walking in the tiny house, looking over a kiddie pool where the pug puppies were scampering about. They had speckled black flecks across their tan coats, running around and licking each other. Their tails wagged as fast as a heartbeat. My parents gave the breeder his money and one of the tiny puppies was now ours.

On the ride home, I came up with the name “Coco” because of her black flecks on her back. She looked like cocoa.

The name lended itself to a great deal of nicknames over the years, including “Coco Pug,” “Coco Dog,” and “Cococococo,” (in honor of the Foster’s Home character, “Coco”). She was officially named “Coco Dunderman,” born May 1st, 2004.

There is a fantastic, lost picture of my siblings and I in the car right after we picked her up. I am wearing a pug t-shirt that I bought in Gulf Shores, my name airbrushed on the front. Lucy, Grant and I are sitting in a row with our new pug in my lap. At long last.

She had entered our life for good.

August 6, 2017:
It’s been a full month since Coco’s been gone. Although, if the story I am about to write ended differently, it would’ve been a lot longer of an absence.

The incident occurred when we decided to bring her to our family in Indiana for the first time. She sat in between Lucy and I. Grant sat in the backseat. Our usual places. She was surprisingly calm and contained during the car ride, the worst of her behavior being needy barking for Mom sitting up front. She always favored Lucy’s lap instead of my lap or her designated seat. Later in her life when we got a new car, she went to the back with Grant, the two travel buddies content on just relaxing. 

The problem arouse when we came to a rest stop. There was a grassy ditch alongside the highway that stretched out far and narrow. 

Lucy and I went to the bathroom first as Dad took her out. When we returned, we saw Mom with a panic in her eyes. 

“Coco just took off,” she said, as we walked closer to a group of onlookers near our car. “Dad and Grant started after her,” and then she left too. 

Lucy and I were shaken; we climbed into the car already crying. We closed the door and both sobbed in our seats. It was a foggy, hazy day, so we couldn’t see how far they had gone down the ditch. All we could do was look out at the cloudy day and cry.

“We lost our dog,” we said in between tears. “We lost Coco.”

It felt like an eternity before we saw them come back. Twenty minutes later, Dad was cradling Coco in his arms. Lucy and I began to cry out of relief.

Apparently, the ditch ended about a half mile away. Coco, with her abundant energy, ran the whole way to the end. She stopped, confused as to what to do, and one of the people from the rest stop who ran after her scooped her up in the knick of time.

We cried and hugged her the whole way to Indiana. She panted and whined for Mom, unfazed by the situation. 

Up until her last days, we always put a leash on her after that. 

October 5, 2017:
So, it’s been several months now. I have procrastinated with writing about her, not wanting to say goodbye.

But I need to say it. It may be rambling, but I must say it.

Goodbye, Coco. 

You were a member of the family. Not just a pet, not just a dog. You were our family. 

We’d always look at each other whenever it was the six of us all in a room, knowing that we all were here. It was a sense of home, completion, when everyone was sitting in the family room, watching a movie.

If Mom had made nachos, you’d be the first to reach for them. You’d jump up, perch your front paws on the edge of the coffee table and sniff intently. When you were a puppy, you quickly learned how to jump onto the chair and onto the table. Older, you were wiser. You learned the ways of begging. 

We’d always give you a stocking at Christmas and a special treat for you on your birthday. Boy, did you love your bacon. You’d get a bacon after we’d take you out, too.

I always complained about taking you out when I was younger, but the older we got, the less I complained. (You were adorable sitting in that stroller). Mom and Dad always teased me, mocked me saying, “oh, I always wanted a pug!!” I’d take you out immediately after, realizing my teenage angst.

It was the worst to take you out in the winter, I have to admit, because you’d take forever to poop. There were some nights when I think I waited a half hour. You’d be too busy sniffing the neighbor’s fence and jumping through the snow.

In those first, vibrant years, you’d yank hard on the leash if you saw another dog. Your strength was surprising; I’d have to hold you back as you did your half-bark-half-growl to the other doggie passerby. 

Even though I complained about taking you out to go potty, I never hesitated from a walk on a nice day. We’d normally just walk around the whole block. I’d talk to you as if you knew what I was saying. You were a friend to listen.

We only took you to the Dancing-in-the-Streets fest in our town’s little downtown once. You didn’t really have a lot of fun since it was too loud. But you always did love riding in the car. You could do it for hours and hours and hours. 

Everyone loved you when someone would come over to the house. And if we were ever holding a little band group party, we’d try to section you off sometimes, but you’d always manage to scamper down the stairs and join the fun.

You were always hilarious to hold. You squirmed after three seconds being off the ground. And you fit into our arms awkwardly like a honey baked ham.

In addition to the squirming, you also hated any form of dog clothing. Halloween costume? Forget about it. That’s why when I see some of the Doug the Pug posts, I get sad. Not because I miss you (I do), but because Doug probably squirmed just as much as you. We never really wanted to make you feel forced.

You were a little plump, but not a fat pug. You were stocky and muscular with a beautiful smooth coat. I’d always brag saying you could’ve been a pug in one of my calendars.

I’d sometimes draw cartoons of you during school.

You were one of those pugs that had a burst of energy once in a blue moon. The “pug sprint,” as some people call it. You’d do this in the family room, you’d do this when we’d go to the pond house in Indiana, jubilantly running in circles if you touched the slightest bit of water.

Annie the pug (my uncle and aunt’s pug) always loved seeing you, and the two of you would walk side by side the whole time that we’d stay in Indy. Sometimes the two of you would eat too much of each other’s food.

When you were both old and grey, you’d still be side by side, sleeping in your respective beds.

I think one of the hardest things to watch in those lost last few months was you walking slowly, limping in your step. 

I’m happy that I dog sat you during this past spring. Two separate weeks of time just with you. It was difficult the second time. You weren’t really okay. I remember taking you to the vet thinking, “God, please don’t let me be the one to have to do this.” 

When you did pass, one of the doorman asked about you. He hadn’t seen you for awhile. Everyone knew you from your doggy stroller. The kids that’d get in the elevator with us would be so excited that a puppy was in the stroller! You made people happy right until the end.

When I was in high school, I felt guilty about leaving you all day. But, as a pug, you seemed happy in your sleep. 

You’d sleep anywhere, often on top of the sofa cushions. The funniest is when you and Dad would sleep the same way on the couch, often in front of the TV playing a movie. 

It was just so nice to pet you. It was nice to see you smile, even though I knew it was just you panting. It was so animated, the way you’d look at people. And you’d wag your tail only if you were really happy, so it always felt special. You made us feel good.

If I ever came home from school distraught and crying, you always knew. You always knew if I was having a bad day.

I’d walk in the front door and set down my backpack, exhausted from the day. I needed to cry. I just needed a hug.

You’d pitter patter over and sit in front of me, and I’d sit down. You didn’t normally lick people (instead, you sneezed in people’s faces), but if I was sad, you’d lick my face. You’d let me hug you lightly and I’d cry into your fur. I would instantly feel better.

You lived in New York for about a year before you passed away. I got into the mindset of getting excited to visit my parents in Queens, thinking, “and I get to see Coco!” I still have those thoughts. 

Each person in the family had their own interaction with you. Everybody was different. Everybody was special. But you were forever Mom’s “baby.” 

I remember being worried at the end of high school about if you would pass on while I was in college. But I’m so happy we were able to have those last months with you in Queens. 

You were part of our home. You are the home in our hearts.

One my favorite last memories of you was one of the times that I took you out in Queens. There was sunset and the sky was a canvas filled with colors. It was breathtaking. I wheeled the stroller over to a patch of grass and sat you down. When you were old, you didn’t take long to go potty. But I always liked staying out there a little longer with you. 

I was looking at the Manhattan skyline across the river and you were sitting on the sidewalk. You seemed at peace, not whimpering, not panting. Just sitting and looking at the sunset. Well, most of your eyesight was gone at that point, but I knew that you could still see the different shades of light. 

I realized that you were in your sunset years, and in that moment, you seemed perfectly fine with it.

That moment brings me peace.

I think about when I was a kid and how I wanted a pug so badly. And you ended up being part of how we turned out as people.

Goodbye, Coco. Thank you. We love you.

Declare the pennies on your (crying) eyes

People have a lot of gripes about growing up, but something that you really have to experience for yourself is how routine your life becomes once you graduate college. If you have a job and a lease, then there isn’t really any drastic fluctuation, unless a huge life-altering event happens. This is contrasted by college, where a best friend getting a boyfriend could alter the course of your bar-hopping scene.

With adult life, this is not so much the case. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half, but even when I was single and employed, I quickly realized how little I was seeing my friends compared to college life. Even when I was an intern, I would see my friends almost every day in the city. 

But it’s just that. We were interns. Interns have programs and have their hands held. When you have a job, you need to figure shit out. Not everyone, unfortunately, that you hold dear is going to stay near. People will live in different boroughs, different states, different parts of the country. Or, even if they live a town over, their lives could be on a completely different schedule than yours.

Another part of this increasingly sense of established routine is that my crying outbursts have, well, been not as eventful. Or if I do cry, it’s about something legitimate, which, for writing purposes, is boring if it isn’t a tragic event. Crying about trying to work out a new lease? An understandable thing to be stressed about, but who wants to read about signing forms and going to the bank for a cashier’s check? It’s just not as fun as a dog eating my muffing during class.

But, saying that, despite the “adultness” surrounding my life, the flame of innocent hysteria has never gone out (ask my boyfriend or my family). I still have my eccentric thought process and racing mind. I still intake stimulus very fully and react just as equally fully. And, sometimes, like last night, I revert to an emotionally younger sense of self.

This year was the first year that I at least participated in my taxes. My dad always did them, but I marked “doing your taxes” as the final stage to becoming an adult (hence the hesitation, I didn’t want to give up my youthful sensibility). But, now that I am living a more adult experience (still am on my parent’s health care, though), I figured, “Hey, now is the time to do it, right?”

Dad walked me through the process, which was surprisingly not too overwhelming. We used Turbo Tax and the step-by-step program was easy to navigate. I plugged in the info and after about a half hour, we were done! There! I did it! I was now officially an adult (kinda)!

I forgot about it for a week and then last night, in bed, my eyes flew open and there I was, my mind going a million miles an hour 

I had committed tax fraud.

I had committed tax fraud.

I must’ve forgotten some detail. I was sure if it. I couldn’t think of anything, but I probably did something wrong.  

There was no way around it. I was going to get audited. Kyle’s best friend did audits and he probably would think that it was fraud too. I was living a lie. My parents would have to deal with the horrors of me behind bars. I had failed them.

I immediately called my brother.

Who was younger than me and had never done taxes.

“Claire… the IRS isn’t going to care if your forgot a small thing. You did your taxes with Dad. You’re okay, you need to sleep.”

It didn’t matter that it was my brother. At this point, people who know me well enough have adapted to my Mom’s Narrative. This is the line of sayings one needs to iterate to me when I am having a patented Claire Moment. Grant took on the role of Mom in that moment.

“You’re fine.”

“Claire. You’re fine,” is what people sequentially said to me the next day when they woke up to my frantic texts.

When the anxiety dust settled, I had to laugh at myself. In a strange way, I was relieved. I thought that now that I was an adult, my worrying was now all legitimate and I had no safety net. But asking your brother about your taxes that your dad helped you to complete? I realized that the safety net was still there. Not everything I worry about is going to make or break me. The situations were just a little different.

Sarcastic diagnosis and emotional growth

The time had come for me to get a checkup. These past recent months I had been having anxiety symptoms manifest themselves as physical symptoms, such as tingling.
As I walked into the doctor’s office, I was handed a form that was a packet of questions about my health. There were checkboxes and lines for listing symptoms and I was in heaven. At last I was going to get it all out, to release my inner demons onto page instead of in a text that would surely get the response: “No, Claire, it’s not a blood clot.”
I felt like I was back in high school filling out my European AP written exam – everyone else hated it, but I relished it. I wrote side comments to the checkboxes and questions in the comments section. I went to town.
After forty minutes of scribbling my symptoms away, I waited and eventually got called to go in the room.
You can imagine the appointment being a fairly regular experience. I was nervous but I kept my cool, and I talked a mile a minute listing off everything that had been worrying me.
My doctor, like everyone else, rolled her eyes at me.
“You’re twenty-two,” she said in her Eastern European accent. “You can handle everything. I wish I was feeling what you’re feeling.”
But, she wasn’t cold with me as she explained the ways I could reduce stress in my life.
“If you drink a lot, maybe your body doesn’t like alcohol,” she said. “Then just stop drinking, it’s okay.”
Obviously she had just met me.
As I was finishing my checkup, she told me that I was going to get my blood drawn. I tensed up, thinking about the incident with the IV. She left the room and I waited, controlling my breathing and sitting. My memory of waiting for the IV to be inserted and then my crying and the oral doctor getting angry at me only was beginning to manifest as the medical assistant came into the room.
“Hi, I just want you to know that I get nervous with things like this,” I said immediately.
She played along with making small talk about the city and even though I kept my focus on the ceiling, I looked down at her getting the kit ready.
“I’m not going to look,” I said.
“No, don’t look,” she said.
As she put the needle in, I stopped mid-sentence, feeling elated and my smile spreading across my face.
“I’m doing it!” I exclaimed. “Oh this is such a big thing for me, I had a panic attack when I tried getting my wisdom teeth out last year and this means that I can do it!”
I was getting choked up with hope and pride, feeling as if I could conquer the world.
“That’s very good,” the medical assistant said motherly.
Once she finished up I did feel a bit light-headed (getting worked up over my medical accomplishments) and as I put my head down on the cot, I laughed and giggled and breathed easier and deeper, relief allowing me to relax my muscles and mind.
I signed out and left the building, knowing that I had done something that everyone has to do, and something that was very easy to do. But the mind can trick us into thinking there’s some dark narrative about to be written about our lives. Today I wasn’t reading that book.

Winning the heart of a cat and memories of the stalking squirrel

I went to meet my new feline companion the other day. After moving into this new apartment, I set a goal for myself to befriend my new roommate’s cat. The cat, named Chloe, esteemed with the long fifteen years she has achieved, approached me. Her wizened, stoic face looked up at me.

This is my chance, I thought. I can become part of your world. I can show you that I belong.

I stuck out my hand, my fingers lingering in front of her nose.

Chloe, however, is no curious puppy. Nay, not even a lazy pug. She did not like this foreign object.

She looked me in my eyes, furious. She pawed my hand away, her disgust thick in a raspy hiss.

I was fortunate that she had been declawed some time ago, but I was stunned. Here I was, thinking I was making considerable progress. But no, she just wanted a reason to hate me and I gave it to her.

Fortunately, this was not the worst attack I have suffered. The greatest feat I dealt with was when I was in Alaska on a summer family trip during my middle school years.

The day felt brisk – we had spent the day hiking in Juneau. We were finishing up our tour of the nature with sifting for gold. There was a gift shop next to our sifting station. After the reenactment activities, the rest of my family went inside the shop. I lingered outside and looked up at the sky, brilliantly blue and clear.

I did not realize, however, that my presence severely pissed off a local rodent resident.

I looked down to my right and saw the squirrel that still haunts my nightmares. On its hind legs, its bulging and black eyes looked into mine and it started walking towards me.

I took a step back, but the squirrel’s intentions were cruel and understood perfectly. I started to back away faster, but it gained momentum. I began to feel a numb dread, my chest weighing heavily. I started to run to the gift shop door. It ran as well, gaining ground.

Fortunately, I reached inside before the rabies-filled stalker put its grubby paws on me.

Shaken up and beginning to tear up, I grabbed my dad and told him of the horrors of the rogue squirrel. Of course, my brother and sister walked by and thought this was oh so funny, but they didn’t have to endure the horrors I did.

When we left, I walked closely behind my dad, watching the bushes intently for the evil squirrel. Thankfully, I was spared another horrific interaction. To this day, however, I speed up a little when I see one of those damned creatures on the sidewalk.

Now when I see Chloe, I feel grateful that it was merely a soft punch of stuffed-animal-like creature rather than a disgusting rat-thing. I nod to her as she remains curled on the couch, the legend herself bathing in sunlight.

I will respect you, cat. I think to her. And maybe one day you will respect me.

There’s No Crying in Baseball! And probably not bleeding.

This past spring, I had this weird thing with my allergies. Also, I’m one now of those people that can say that, “I have allergies.” I was one of those golden children that grew up having nothing to worry about when pollen hit the air. My brother, on the other hand, had a very difficult time when spring came around. He had to get through spring, man.

Regardless, I blame Los Angeles. I never had any allergies. Then I spent that semester there and notonly did I have strep throat for about a month (partially my fault because it wasn’t until week two when I thought, “oh! Let’s stop by Minute Clinic” and then finally checked up on myself), but I also had allergies. My God, it was hard to breathe in the city of perpetual spring. Was this what I had been missing my whole life? Please, I don’t need to start now.

But it had started. A year later, despite being back on the East Coast, the dreaded nasal drudgery followed me into March and April.

It followed me right up until I found out about my current position at the MLB Network.

When I got the phone call that informed me that I would be joining the department, I, of course, immediately called home after I had heard the news. I had only a brief window of time, though, considering I got the call about the position seconds before entering the Delta Kappa Alpha last event of the year. There were people in that room that I might (and some I will not, probably) ever see again. Hahahaha, I thought. Oh God. Oh God the emotions.

Indeed, the emotions was right. I was overwhelmed and sick and couldn’t quite breathe through my nose. I had gotten a nosebleed earlier that day, but so far my nose had been reaching normalcy.

When I entered the room for the event, I set down my bags, tears starting to form in my eyes. If you know me personally, you know that I work myself to the bone. Work is my main focus in life and I don’t try to hide that part of me. Rather, it is what keeps me going. Eh, call me a workaholic. I like it. So, for this to happen, it was so overwhelmingly gratifying and humbling all at once.

My friends in the fraternity were noticing my latest charade of emotions, not knowing that this time there was a deeper reasoning behind them rather than, “I think I cut my hand on a tiny rusty nail so now I think I’m going to get gangrene.”

One of them came over and asked how I was and I started to cry. Shocker.

“Oh, oh my God, Claire,” she said. “Your nose – it’s bleeding!”

Actually a shocker.

I went to the bathroom and cleaned off for the time being, flabbergasted by the events. Baseball, blood, goodbye to people forever, adulthood, graduation. And here I was in the bathroom, once again, a grown woman, crying and just bleeding.

The second time that I got a nosebleed during the event, I went to the bathroom and I called my mom, hearing her say the familiar rational sequence of events of how to handle the situation. There was just so much blood and everything changing so quickly.

I had to calm myself down, though. I needed to say goodbye without holding a tissue to my face.

And I did. There were people that I hugged knowing I would become distant from them. There were people I stood next to wondering how they would shape my future. And then there was the fact that everyone in that room had helped me along the way, just part of the path that we all were taking at the time. I would enjoy the next time I would see these people again, and I felt fulfilled at the end of the event.

But I didn’t cry this time. Because if I did, God damn it, I’d have another nose bleed.

Trumpet stage fright and boys that know too much.

I am one that does not shy away from the dramatics or from performing. Rather, I love the limelight, the spotlight, the attention.

I bask in it… in the theatrical sense.

When it comes to reality, my awkwardness still hasn’t ebbed away, even after all of this hard work. If I know how to handle a social situation, sure, I will be little miss performer. But when it starts to go south – and oh, if you don’t know me very well yet, it will – I’ll blubber and blurt things out and spend three days analyzing why, oh why, did I read a poem to that guy? Or why did I show him a story that I wrote three years ago? I mean come on, old, nostalgic writing? That’s almost as bad as serenading “Wonderwall” on the Quad. I didn’t even mean for it to come off like that, I just wanted to read this really cool thing but now he’s probably afraid that I’m going to fall in love regardless of the test of time or some shit like that – I read you my favorite vignette, NOW WE ARE DESTINED TO BE TOGETHER. 

However, something I was always terrified to do was perform a trumpet solo. In high school, we did this absolutely horrid solo contest that was part of our honors credit or something or other. The schools in the area always came together for this. Anyway, because I am the shameless overachiever that I am, I always did this solo contest. It was for the state of Illinois and some of my friends were really good, and, maybe I’m okay in a full band setting, but I was the saddest thing you ever did see when it came to soloing.

I attribute this to when I had my Whiplash moment during my freshman year of high school. No, fortunately, I did not have a band director that shouted obscenities to my face (thanks for that, Mr. K). It was that moment, you know what I’m talking about, when (SPOILER) Miles Teller goes on stage and they’re playing “Upswingin'” because Fletcher totally wants to tank Andrew’s career and Miles just is miserable on stage playing whatever he could.

My moment like that came when I had a three note solo my freshman year in some piece I can’t remember the name of, but it was famous, like, where I feel like I discredited the composer with this botched note. It was in front of the whole auditorium, too, for the spring concert. It was loud and it was wrong. I cried right there in my seat for the rest of the concert – why hide the atrocity that I had just committed? The audience was now publicly privy to my horror and shame.

Since then, whenever some hopeful soul looks me in the eyes as I start to play alone, I almost wish that I had a written apology that I could just hand to them. It’s like when people want me to sing and I say “No, you don’t want to hear that.” They laugh and they tease because they know that I am sensitive, but then I look them straight in the eye and say, “No, really, it’s just going to make everyone feel uncomfortable and bad.” Then their smile starts to wane and they don’t know whether to half-heartedly laugh or look away in discomfort.

The worst, however, was when my high school hosted the solo contest. Or it was like something where Mr. K felt the need that we had to have our own solo contest…? There were like two contests per year or something… this like at least six years ago since I think it was my sophomore year, so my brain is a little fuzzy on the details. Point being, it was at our school. We had to perform in front of a few judges and anyone else who wanted to watch. I needed to find a piano accompanist. I decided to go against my previous choice of the choir director since she was my accompanist for my painfully terrible rendition of “I Enjoy Being A Girl” as my audition piece for the musical. (Fun fact, I was never in the musical despite another try two years later, singing “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” as my audition piece. I was, however, in pit for three years). After that shameful performance, I couldn’t bring myself to ask her.

So, I decided to ask the most talented kid in school. Let’s call him Shawn.

I have known Shawn since Kindergarten and he is this day and age’s Leonardo DaVinci. He can do everything. Draw? Perfect renditions of cats that he would give to my AP Euro teacher. Sports? Any and all of them, especially baseball while babysitting my teacher’s kids. Smart? A 95% would have been mediocre to him. Attractive? Had the biceps of one of Michaelangelo’s angels and fiery red hair… that he managed to make look Godly.

I never really had a full blown crush on Shawn, though, despite the fact that I get a crush on about 98% of the men I end up becoming friends with (so if you ever get confused at my behavior, new guy friend, please just know that I am going through my weird… motions in my head. Don’t worry, I’ll stop telling you to listen to this one song soon enough). Sure, I found him attractive. Sure, I had imagined getting a pizza date with him. But… eh. I viewed him as competition. That was a more pressing matter to me rather than ooh! A BOY!

So, because he was the perfect, celestial-like candidate for my gleaming rendition of whatever solo it was that year that I decided to choose, I mustered up the courage and asked him. He, of course, being the suave gentleman that he was, agreed to do it. He respected our history, and for that, I commend him.

I respect him even further for how he handled my behavior when the doom-filled day came.

My solo was so bad that I didn’t even finish it. My notes were shaky, my pulse sweaty, I felt like I was going to PASS OUT. I sobbed and heaved and I RUINED my chance to show to Shawn that, yes, I could be more TALENTED than him. It was a mind game that I had created, and I ruined it for myself.

For the rest of high school, despite knowing him since elementary school, whenever I passed him in the halls, I looked down and shuffled and thought of all of those years of building up to some contest that was never going to happen. Instead, I imagined that he saw the gross, over-exaggeratory side of me that all too many have seen.

The point of it, though (and now only in hindsight I see this), is that there was never a competition between Shawn and I. I had built it up in my mind because I couldn’t stand the thought of having someone – especially a boy – be smarter or more talented than me. Well, let me ring up the Doctor in the TARDIS and travel me back through space and time to visit myself because, kid, there will be people who are better at things than you. That does not mean that you’re not worthy, though.

So, now whenever I find my match, my competitive equal, my rival in abilities, I do my best not to cry. Maybe I get close, maybe I get high-strung. Maybe it’s while I’m filming or I’m trouble-shooting in the editing labs. I’ll subconsciously go back in my mind to that time when I embarrassed myself gloriously in front of Shawn with my shaky trumpet notes. I’ve come to find that I feel like this when it’s during things that I think are important with people that I value. And then I’ll remember that at least, thank God, I’m not trying to do a two-minute trumpet solo in front of people I don’t know. I’m just trying to white balance with a new camera, and sometimes you have to swallow your pride and ask.

5 Things Claire Won’t Tell You About Flirting (But You Need To Know)


From my scandalous “Our Town” high school theater days.

So Daily Dot has these two little articles, another one of those online lists about men and women and sex and what not. What do men not know about lady sex? Men and sex, what do women not know? That’s the whole deal.

Now, since my grandma (hi Grandma Mickie!) reads my blog, I am going to refrain from going into the gory details of my… interesting… love life (or many times, lack thereof). However, in the spirit of singlehood and the fact that it is Valentine’s Day and all that romantic stuff, here is another guide to the workings of my brain and my easily flustered heart if I should ever flirt with you.

  • We probably know each other (and we’re probably friends or acquaintances).

This is a habit that I picked up from high school when I first was becoming less afraid of actually talking to guys. I was swimming in a sea of testosterone whenever I went to band and took my place in the trumpet section, so I had to learn to become comfortable with the male presence. I grew to like having a lot of guy friends.

With that, and the nature of my easily-won-over heart, I have become enamored with a series of guy friends over the years. It’s not even that I think that you’re flirting with me. It’s that we had COFFEE or did some ACTIVITY together and WOW you’re a COOL HUMAN that’s a male and ATTRACTIVE and wouldn’t it be nice if we held hands and watched Star Trek together??

I’ll try to hide it as much as I can, but the descent into my self-conscious worrying will overtake my interaction with you…

  • If I am feeling awkward, I will do one of two things: become professional or pet you (fortunately, I no longer will punch you).

So at this point, I have told at least fifteen of my other friends, “Oh my GOSH I think I TOTALLY have a thing for [insert guy friend’s name here]!!” More likely than not, I can hear people sighing and saying, “That’s nice, Claire” through the words on the screen of my phone.

“Poor [so-and-so’s name]…” my mom will sometimes say.

Not that she doesn’t want me to pursue anyone. It’s that she knows what this particular guy is unknowingly in for.

I’ll try to play it cool really really hard with you. I’ll reward myself for every evenly spoken sentence or “haha” in my texts to you instead of “oh haha, how wonderfully droll!!”

But then my mind with begin to atrophy with worry. Why did I say that his shirt clung well? I think to myself after a conversation. That’s totally too noticeable. I can’t afford to be noticeable.

I am notoriously very obvious when I like you. So I try so hard to not be obvious.

What will end up happening is that if you say a cute or funny or nice or flirty thing to me, I’ll laugh, bury my hands in my face, hyperventilate a little, and then pet you. Yes, pet you. Normally on the back or the shoulder. Sometimes I won’t even touch you; it’ll be like air pats near your skin because if I actually do touch you, then I’ll explode or something.

The opposite of what happens, however, is just as bad. I’ll treat you like a fellow colleague in a fictionalized work environment. This is because while growing up, whenever social interaction terrified me, I would retreat to academia.

I’ll ask you about the weather and your family and your homework like we might as well be talking in a cubicle. My texts to you might as well have a letterhead. The worst, however, is if I shake your hand like we just make a business transaction. That’s when I know in my heart that I really can’t overcome my own flustered nature, so why not shake your hand?

I used to be a bit rougher than I am now and would actually punch crushes or shove them out of chairs. It was like I was enacting some elementary school playground routine that I didn’t live out until I was sixteen.

  • Words don’t really work too well. And my texts to you become weird.

I touched on this slightly in the previous blurb, but this awkwardness becomes more prevalent as time goes on. I eventually will start my “double-texting” paranoia and I will soliloquy whenever I see you. I’ll cater my ranting to something that you’re interested in, like Star Wars or Arcade Fire or some form of sports and I’ll leave no space for you to respond since, well, I figure that if I do the talking for the both of us, then I don’t need to worry about what I’ve said and what you will say since I must’ve said something embarrassing anyway.

  • I will actually face plant on the floor and crawl away if it isn’t going to well.

God forbid I actually tell you how I feel about you. If you should ever reach this point with me, then I apologize. I apologize to those who have experienced this.

I’ll make sure to do this in person because if I do this in a text, it will be in the form of a fifteen-paragraph essay, many of it trying to explain my neuroses.

I will say at least five times, “Let me know if you feel uncomfortable! And it’s okay if you don’t feel the same way!” because I really don’t want you to feel off-put by me, even though it would probably be best if I said it once and didn’t keep bringing up being uncomfortable.

When I do actually tell you that I like you, I’ll whisper it or I won’t actually say it because I don’t want to believe that I am exposing myself the way that I am. I want to pretend like if I can’t hear myself say it, then you never will know what I am even saying.

Normally, I’ll joke about it and say some silly thing and most of the time you’ll be really understanding and tell me that either you’re interested or that you aren’t for different sorts of reasons.

My reactions range from being bashful and giggly to asking you why or why not so that I can add to my mental list of my social behavior to falling on the floor and crawling away. I will just go down like a tree being chopped. It doesn’t matter where – it could be in a normal room or somewhere as public as a bar. And this will be the one time where I actually am not thinking of the sanitary texture of the floor.

  • I will friendzone myself, but in the end, I am okay with this (and a lot of the time, it’s what I want anyway).

Normally after these experiences, I will give myself some time to cool down. I’ll back off for your sake or for my sake or for both of our sakes. I’ll focus on my life with my friends and family and school and work and go back into a normal sort of routine. I have a lot going on, so it’s easy for my mind to swim around with all of the things of life, man.

And then, happily more times than not, we’ll circle back around. We’ll laugh it off or we won’t even bring it up. We’ll catch up and we’ll have a good time talking. A lot of the time, we’ll become friends, the kind of friend that knows that even if you go into my heart and I become flustered, I won’t get you out of my mind. Because you’ll be important to me regardless of what happens.

I freaked out at the oral surgeon. Sorry Mom.

This past summer, I was supposed to get my wisdom teeth out. That didn’t happen.

Instead, I yelled at my oral surgeon and had to get taken out of the room.

It’s moments like these that are a constant reminder that no matter how much better I think I am, friends, no, I still don’t have it all together.

For this experience, though, I was set up for failure. The stars had been misaligned for what was going to come. For starters, I had been worrying the past few days about the procedure. I was drinking heavily that weekend and was worrying that I didn’t have enough water in my system. Also I didn’t like the idea of someone inducing that kind of a feeling in me. I didn’t want to feel incapacitated unless I made myself incapacitated. Also, I watched my siblings go through the experience a few months before and my sister didn’t have as good of a time as my brother.

The cherry on top was that I couldn’t get the scene from Ghost Town out of my head. You know, when Ricky Gervais goes back to the hospital and freaks out because he “died just a little.”

“You’ll be fine Claire!” my siblings said the night before the surgery. “They give you laughing gas. It’s really fun! Just like having a few beers… which we know you like!” They smirked as they walked up the stairs to go to bed.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world,” my mom consoled. “Just like having a cavity filled. You’ve done this before.”

She went out the day before and bought all of the soft foods – ice cream, soup, jello. She picked up my antibiotics. I was set. All I had to do was sit in a chair for an hour.

I’ll be totally fine. I thought. Just a few days of TV and then I’m back to it. It’ll be nice to just sit and watch TV.

Although it’ll be different when I actually am there to get them taken out.

Unfortunately, I know myself all too well. Mom was parking the car as I walked into the surgeon’s office with its sticky, old, leather chairs and dim lighting.

“You here for your appointment?” the receptionist asked, her head just barely making the viewing window.

“Y-yes…” I said. “I just need to have my mom bring the consent form.”

“Okay,” the receptionist said, rolling her eyes. I know, lady, I should act older for my age too.

“Is she coming in?” the nurse asked, popping in like a cartoon.

“No… she’s waiting for her mom to bring her consent form.”

What is this, the mean girls from high school?

“Okay Claire, well, we’ll tell your mom where you are. If you could just walk down to the end of the hall and it’s the door on the furthest left.

I walked in and there was the chair. The chair.

I had to get some minor oral surgery (stuff that mainly required some numbing) done a few years ago and in that scenario, it was a comical set up. There were way too many machines for a simple procedure and it made me happily think of the birthing scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. There was even a machine that went “Ping!”

This chair, however, was something out of Brazil. It had the small, black side table with devilish metal instruments and a bizarre small TV placed squarely in front of the set-up. The chair was sort of elevated off of the ground and was a pasty color of pink. It was Hell in furniture form.

“Alright Claire, just take a seat, okay,” the nurse said.

Yeah… and then Michael Palin’s going to torture me in a baby mask, I thought.

I was already on edge walking in by myself but I was even more edgy considering I could hear them talking to my mom outside. I just wanted her in here.

Mind you, I am someone that has taken many modes of transportation by myself. I am someone that has no qualms walking alone in a random city for eight hours at a time. I can proudly handle myself in different adult tasks.

But in that moment, there was no one else that I wanted in that room more than my mom.

The oral surgeon came in and, grossly mistaking me as a normal person that would have a nonchalant reaction, made an offhand comment on my breathing state.

“Oh, it sounds like you have a cold,” he said. “We might have to postpone this.”

A COLD? A goddamn COLD? Since when did I have a COLD? Was I willing myself to get stuffy so I wouldn’t have to go through with this? Was I purposefully creating mucus so I could avoid a procedure that 16-year-olds go through?

He took a look inside my mouth and I tried to think of a way to explain for my body.

“Yeah, your throat’s just a little red,” he said.

Verification! My body failed him!

“Well I just, I mean, I just don’t know,” I said, crying already.

“Oh, see, well, we can’t do it now since you’re really stuffed up,” the surgeon said, his tone akin to that of a disappointed uncle.

“Hey Claire, how’s it going?”

Thank goodness, Mom walked into the room at that moment.

“Yeah, we’re thinking that she might have a cold so it would be better to do the procedure later,” the surgeon said, happy to have a real adult in his presence.

“I mean, I know that Lucy and Grant had colds, so maybe I got it from them,” I said, garbling my words and clutching my cheeks. “Lucy has a little bit of a sore throat too.”

“Oh yeah, they were all at Lollapalooza together, so that’s probably where she got it!” my mom said, making sure that her voice was chipper. She does this so I can feel like the situation is not as big of a deal as it is.

“Here’s a tissue box,” the randomly appearing nurse said, reusing her skill but this time with Kleenex.

I took a few minutes to breathe in and out, in and out. I acted out my non-stuffy breathing state multiple times to prove that I was surgery-worthy.

“Okay, yes, it sounds good,” the surgeon sighed.

“We need to have you sign these forms, just these worst case scenario stuff,” the nurse said. I took the clipboard and I must have looked like a ghost.

“You know, just so you can do the surgery,” she reaffirmed.

I’m literally signing my life away. This is it. This really is the end. I really am Ricky Gervais.

“Alright, Claire, they’re going to start now,” Mom said, heading out of the room.

My eyes must have been maniacal because she called out before they closed the door:

“Just don’t think Claire, don’t think about anything.”

That’s the root of it really, I just overthink everything. “Just don’t think so much” is a common phrase from everybody, including myself. That’s why I really like “Breakers” by Local Natives. I should have just played that song in my mind considering I’ve listened to it hundreds of times at this point.

Instead, they were starting up all the horrid machines and my normal go-to memories of happiness weren’t working. The nose mask being placed on my face and the arm pump taking my blood pressure interrupted my reveries of my best concert experiences.

I closed my eyes.

Just don’t think. Just don’t think.

In my mind, Spoon’s “Inside Out” started to play. This helped a little bit. I could feel the psychedelic melody in my brain and I thought of the soothing vocals at the start of the song…

“Okay Claire, we’re going to start to give you oxygen.”

Instead of this statement helping matters, this just brought me back to an incredibly painful experience that I had during a family vacation while skiing in Breckenridge. I got altitude sickness, had to get steroid shots and got very slightly addicted to my handy dandy little oxygen machine that the house doctor gave me for the weekend.

No, no, Claire, this is the good part of Breckenridge, I thought. This is when you got the oxygen. This is happy Breckenridge. Enjoy the oxygen – it’s free!

But the memory of the shots became more prevalent as the surgeon said the most horrifying words:

“Ok, we’re going to look for the place to put the IV in.”

I don’t know why the idea of an IV literally makes me want to crawl out of my skull. I guess maybe it’s because arms are just so fleshy and sensitive and I don’t want some jangling thing sticking out of mine. I hoped that it’d be in my hand or something, a little less intrusive.

“We just need you to dangle your arm.”


“Oh… um… okay,” I breathed.

The surgeon tightly tied a band around my arm, pulling it so hard that I couldn’t concentrate on the gas anymore.

This is what they do to people who are about to get their limbs amputated!!! OR WHEN YOU’RE A HEROIN ADDICT!

My fear turned into an unpleasant combination of annoyance, anger and hysteria as the surgeon started hitting my hand and probing my arm.

“I thought that there wasn’t going to be a needle in the arm,” I barked.

“Well, we just want to make sure we use the right vein,” he said, his patience with me obviously waning thin.

I started to wiggle around in my seat, re-shifting to try to make my arm feel less wooden and stiff. The nurse cooed me to sit still, attempting to calm me down.

“I just want to let you know that I get very nervous with needles,” I said, my senses starting to tingle. When I actually remembered to breathe, I’d been taking short, deep breaths of the gas.

I should have given this information sooner. Why hasn’t the gas fully knocked me out yet? No. I must stay competent to let them know how I feel.

“I don’t think I can do this,” I shouted, not daring to look at anyone in the room.

“Come on, you can do this,” he said.

“No, I don’t think I can, not yet! I CAN’T DO IT YET.”

I was yelling, full freak-out mode. I was having a panic attack and I felt chained to the horrid, horrid chair.

“Nope, you’re right. We, can’t do it,” and the surgeon wheeled his chair away in one aggressive motion. He stood up and strode out of the room.

“No… no wait, I’m sorry,” I said between sobs. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

But my powers of emotional persuasion were too great. I got what I wanted… but it wasn’t really what I wanted.

I remained motionless in my chair as the nurse opened the door. Mom was talking to the surgeon, calm and logical, her voice even and unsurprised.

At least she knows what I get like.

The surgeon, however, with his hands on his hips and shoulders occasionaly heaving from heavy sighs, was just introduced to my nature.

“Come on Claire, it’s okay. You’ll be able to have it done at the hospital,” the nurse said.

I got up and stood for a minute. My feelings crashed down on me, my body seeped into the floor. Slowly, I shuffled over to where everyone was standing.

“We’re going to have it done like the other procedure,” Mom said. “It’ll be at the other place too. Just like before.”

“We’ll get you in there for Winter Break,” the surgeon said, relieved he could pass me off to someone else.

And with that, Mom and I left the building. We walked out into the cold, grey day. We drove to McDonalds and, despite the fact that yes, I still cry as hard as a two-year-old in some scenarios, I can make things more difficult for myself and that yes, 16-year-olds have gone through that experience before, I still got to have ice cream with my Mom.