Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shit I Learned From 20 Years of Wedded Bliss

Twenty years. Twenty years.  Let me say that one more time. TWENTY YEARS!    Do you people have any idea how long that is?  Let me tell you.  It's a long damn time! During the last twenty years we have collectively experienced  Forrest Gump,  Hurricane Katrina, OJ Simpson, Monica (Lewinsky and Geller), five Summer and six Winter Olympic Games, the war on terror, the new millennium, American Idol, and Harry Potter.  Not as universal an experience but just as noteworthy is that it has been  twenty years since I married my husband. My Hero. My stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking nerfherder.  He is every bit a scoundrel and a saint and I wouldn't have him any other way.  Some days (weeks, months, years) have been the very definition of "wedded bliss". Some have been, in a word, notsomuch. But they've all been worth it. Because I have a great life, an amazing kid, and a lot of experiences and memories that have created and transformed me.   I also have a shit ton of very good advice for anyone thinking about signing on for the long haul.

1). Pick a good one. Seriously. If you love travel, steak dinners and hiking, it's a good idea to avoid choosing your life partner from a pool of agoraphobic vegans with hay fever.  Also, if you like having a HOME and maybe the occasional FOOD, I recommend eliminating any potential love interests without a plan, a decent work ethic, or a willingness to be a grown-up.

2). Be aware of the "Suck-It-Up" gene.  It's real.  Some people are born with the ability to go with the flow.  They know instinctively that being cooperative and humble is not the same as being a doormat. And then some people are not.  If you have this gene, congratulations. You more than likely have a successful career, a good group of friends, and normal blood pressure.  If you don't have this gene, seek coping strategies NOW.  Do not attempt to embark on this journey without some way of compensating for your debilitating mutation.  Learn to suck it up. You won't have to be the one to do it every time. But you will not HAVE very many times at all if you can't.

3). Dance the Dance -- in other words, rock the mother-in-law tango.   This is your partner's MOM. It is very, very dangerous to ignore this fact.  Go above and beyond to show kindness, consideration, and most importantly, respect, to your MIL.  This is not always easy but it IS always important.  She can and will use her power for evil if provoked. Of course, mine personally has obviously never done so, but I've heard of some that do.  Do you have a particularly wicked MIL?  See paragraph above.

4). Expect to hate his/her fucking guts some days. I'm not gonna lie to you. This happens. It is normal. It is as normal as puking after eating too much guacamole.  You may grow quite weary of guacamole. You may LOATHE guacamole for a while. But don't give up on the guacamole. Just because it makes you sick today doesn't mean you won't wake up craving it tomorrow.   Don't assume a temporary distaste for the guacamole is equivalent to life threatening guacamole allergies.  Your partner is GOING to piss you off. I promise.  And you will piss him or her off. I promise.  But that doesn't mean you quit.

5).  The number one way to be disappointed by your partner is to expect him/her to react in any given situation the same way you would.

So that's the shit I've learned from twenty years of wedded bliss.  There is more, of course. Little things that are just as important. Laugh a lot and laugh often.  Be each other's biggest fan.   Don't lose who you are as in individual outside of who you are as a couple.  Close the bathroom door while you're in there. Most of all, fall in love all over again every day.  To my nerfherder, thank you for twenty unforgettable years of intergalactic adventure and joy. I love you. You know.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Real Challenge

Just putting this out there.... ALS is without a doubt one of the crappiest diagnoses out there. Not to minimize anybody else's experience, just making an observation. In working in neurology, I met several ALS patients and  their selfless caregivers. This shit sucks. Hard. 

Imagine Han Solo stuck in the carbonite --  his thoughts, emotions, anxieties all still perfectly functioning but nothing else. Even if he could force a scream nobody would hear it. That's everyday for the thousands of people living with AND dying from this under acknowledged, under funded disease.  Every. Single. Day. 

I didn't get the "ice bucket challenge" at first. It seemed like a chance to look good on Facebook and avoid donating money which felt weird to me. But then I realized it's not just about the money. My kid asked "what the heck IS ALS anyway?" And I told her. Now I get it. 

Don't get me wrong. The money is important. So so important. Nothing can change without money. Research. Treatment. Cure. Support. All of this depends on money. And the ice bucket challenge HAS raised money. Lots of it. Which is good. 

But what the ice bucket challenge has really raised is awareness.  It has opened a dialogue. Sure the videos are fun. And funny. But the real challenge here has been getting people to make themselves mildly uncomfortable just long enough to think about how lucky they are. To get people to get it. We can shake off that ice water, wrap up in a towel, post it on Facebook and feel all proud  for being so compassionate and generous.  People with ALS can't. And no Princess Leia is going to be able to change that. 

So I'd like to add to the challenge. Don't forget.  Don't forget what it's about. Don't forget why it matters. You may have taken on the challenge because someone "nominated" you or "called you out" and if that's what it took that's great.  But now you know. Now you know how it feels to have your nerves jolted and ignited.  You know how it feels to be Han Solo, if just for a few seconds.  You know how it feels to be "frozen."  Don't let it go.