self-deprecating humor

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.”

DANGLE my ARM? That’s what DEAD PEOPLE IN HOSPITALS DO.

“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.

 

 

10 Signs You’re Dating a Claire, Not a Woman, Not a Girl

 

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This article on Elite Daily made me angry.

So did this article.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the most timely of responses since it was posted a few months ago. Regardless, if you would so indulge me for a second, I would like to briefly get on my high horse and hope that it doesn’t gallop off into an open grassy area surrounded by a forest, which is what happened to me in elementary school at a Girl Scout camp. Anyway, aside from emotionally scarring animal stories, I will say that I like sharing and bookmarking fun articles. Who doesn’t? This article, however, I would not include in that collection.

This particular article goes further than, say, quirky seasonal accessories or the best beers to find in Greenwich. When an article on a website criticizes people for just being people, it just becomes a breeding ground for over-generalized comments and perpetuates this idea for the search of utter perfection. Even more than that, these articles can reemphasize gender stereotypes that are already ever so prevalent in media and society.

Also, in simpler terms, I was miffed at reading something like that, especially since it was written by a dude. So what if I eat a salad every now and then and then eat Cheez-Its at home? So what if I have a night where I drink a little too much and think that I became best friends with the bartender? So what if I watch reruns of The Bachelor? Personally, I think that Juan Pablo is a cretin.

So, I’ve come up with a list of my own.

“1. Girls like to dress in revealing clothes because they think they look sexy – women know they look sexy no matter what they wear.”

Claire just doesn’t know when she looks sexy and it’s probably better if you don’t tell her if she does happen to look sexy.

I mean, I know I have curves. And I like funky shawls and boots. Those are fashionable things. I used to not be fashionable at all (ask my sister). But if you tell me that I look hot, it’s likely that it won’t even register. Especially if you are an attractive man. It’ll be overload for me. I already know I look nice for myself, which is a huge personal accomplishment for me to actually like my appearance since I used to have serious confidence issues about my physicality. So if you tell me that I look nice then you’re going to ruin everything. What will happen is that I’m going to have to then deal with my emotions of me feeling good about looking nice and then I have to take into account that you have a standard for me looking nice and that it is probably making you think happy and sexy thoughts of me. Which is too much. I need to deal with my own happy emotions; you just keep it to yourself.

“2. Girls expect their men to know how they feel and what they’re thinking – women use their words.”

Claire expects you to know how she’s feeling and she uses a lot of words. And then Claire cries.

There is a select few of you that, unfortunately, know the depth of my rare confrontational skills. It involves me questioning what you are doing while simultaneously me questioning what I am doing. Then I explain the entire situation, pretty much more to myself rather than you after awhile so I can make sure that I am understanding what I am actually saying. Then I’ll realize that it probably wasn’t even that big of a deal anyway and I’ll cry for feeling bad that I put both of us through twenty minutes of me frustratedly talking to myself.

“3. Girls expect you to pay the tab – women are financially independent.”

Claire will either mooch off of you like a leech or offer literally everything to you such as water from her water bottle that’s two days old.

Listen, we all like free meals, right? We all like free rides to places, right? Free stuff is free stuff. If you offer me pie, I’m going to eat pie. If you offer to buy me a burrito, of course I’m going to eat a burrito.

At the same time, I enjoy being obnoxiously generous. Please, take my day-old cheeseburger. I don’t want you to be hungry. I want you to be well-fed. Eat it. Eat it now.

“4. Girls go out and get wasted – women can hold their liquor and know their limits.”

Claire should probably just stick to beer.

I like going out and about. I will be messy sometimes. I will be classy at other points. We can all agree that I should mainly stick to my beer snobbery and indulge in craft ales and lagers. If I venture into the tempting realm of whiskey, it is not uncommon to see me cry during various experiences. These range from being overwhelmed by too many people at a party to explaining why Arcade Fire means so much to me, man.

“5. Girls can’t wait to update their Facebook status to “In a relationship” – women forget they have a Facebook.”

Claire will post pictures of all of her pseudo-boyfriends regardless.

I have a boyfriend. His name is Leo. He’s so handsome and has amazing dancing skills and is willing to let loose and play with water guns during the summertime. There’s something I haven’t told him, though. He doesn’t know about Key… or Corey… or Dev or Dan or Benedict. I did tell him that it was an open relationship, though, so he shouldn’t be too upset…

“6. Girls watch junk TV – women read.”

If you talk about a book or a television show to Claire then she will dissect every element of the story so you won’t ever want to hear the words “Sherlock Holmes” or “Ex-Parrot” ever again.

When I’m in my happy place, I’m in my happy place and I will bring you there. Other trigger words include “Heisenberg,” “Santaland,”and “MeowMeowBeenz.”

“7. Girls talk about trivial matters – women know how to hold a stimulating conversation.”

You don’t even need to be there for Claire to have a conversation.

There’s home video footage of my mom trying to talk to me while I’m playing with my Babe stuffed animal. In it, she’s trying to ask me what I’m doing, etc. All I am doing is quietly talking to myself, to Babe, and responding to myself as Babe. Ranging from excitedly listing out songs to put on my next playlist while walking around campus to chastising myself for forgetting to get milk while leaving the grocery store, things haven’t changed much since then.

“Claire… I just sometimes hear you randomly talk,” my sister will say.

“Yeah, like you’re in the bathroom washing your hands or something and I’ll wonder who else is in there,” my brother will say.

I’m not talking to anyone else… except for Tony.

“8. Girls eat salads – women eat whatever the hell they want.”

Claire likes eating pizza and will lose respect for you if you diss deep dish pizza.

It’s a meal, people. It’s supposed to have substance. That’s what food is, isn’t it? Not just a snack that you eat in two minutes, you know? Not that I don’t like New York-style, I do, I really do, and yeah, it’s more popularly seen throughout the country. But that’s the beauty of Chicago-style pizza, my friends. You want to have something that is unique to a region? You go anywhere outside of the city or the suburbs and it’s going to go downhill from there.

“9. Girls stick to what they know – women are always searching to widen their horizons.”

Claire knows everything.

Be afraid.

“10. Girls need guardians – women don’t need anybody but themselves.”

Claire likes people but there are some that are just cumbersome and aren’t worth trying to understand. So whenever those people give her trouble, she just watches a show or a film and pretends that she’s Claire Underwood or Amy Dunne or Mindy and becomes friends with these characters in her mind.

I have my family, my friends and then my characters. It’s a pretty good support system.