How to Know if You’re a Dog Person or a Cat Person

How to Know if You’re a Dog Person or a Cat Person

Okay, friends, I know writing about the differences between cats and dogs is a little overdone. But I can’t bring myself to write about the things that actually weigh on my mind just yet. I feel afraid about the state of our country, and I am disgusted anytime I read the news. I become physically nauseated when i realize that a friend or family member is still wholeheartedly supporting The Orange One. But maybe you feel just as hopeless as I do, and maybe you’re considering the adoption of a dog or cat to bring you comfort in these terrifying times. If you are a rational human being who isn’t clinging stubbornly to the crumbling facade of an uneducated vote, then congratulations! I will assume you’ve thought this whole pet thing through, and I can definitely help you decide which type of fur is  best for you to cry into. Because I have some of both living in my house. And I spend a lot of time studying both dogs and cats, and taking a lot of photos of them, and attributing them with witty conversational asides that their tiny brains really aren’t capable of creating.

My dog Lana, who did not pick this costume but is obviously overjoyed that it makes me happy

They (They = scientist types) say that dogs have evolved to be our companions over the course of thousands of years, but that keeping house cats is a relatively new phenomenon. Cats just haven’t changed much since they were giant prowly beasts in the wilderness. They’re just… smaller prowly beasts now. They look and act exactly like tiny lions, which is part of what makes them so interesting and insane. Like how we saw a stray cat carrying a squirrel across the street in its mouth the other day. No joke. And cats are a mystery so much of the time. These alleged “cat experts” don’t even know exactly why cats purr. I’m serious. They aren’t sure. (Side note, I feel like if I was a “cat expert” I would make it a point to figure this one out. It’s kind of a big one. I’d be like, there’s a major gap in Cat Knowledge and I’m on it, because you dorks are clearly more interested in Candy Crush than doing your homework.)

Dogs on the other hand are so basic. They don’t even need more than a couple sentences. They certainly require lots of time and attention as you learn to care for them, and some have unique issues that need extra care, but ultimately, they adore their human companions and subsist on giving and receiving love and attention more than anything else. They have evolved to be our best friends. Whereas cats are bizarre exhibits of raw wild animal instinct living in your house. They probably think they’re actually panthers trapped in hellish nightmare in which they are miniature, impotent versions of themselves.

“I dislike this moment just as I dislike most moments that involve you, Human. Even though my white whiskers and eyelashes are so adorbs”

With that, to help you decide which type of pet is best for you, I’d like to list some common household scenarios and explain how a cat might respond, and then how a dog might respond.

When I come home after an absence of several hours

From her position on the arm of the couch, Cat wakes from her nap, opening one eye to appraise me. She is slightly irritated because she does not remember inviting me into her home, but quickly falls back into a deep sleep. She will consider how to punish me at a later time, when she finally gets the opposable thumbs she deserves.

Dog behaves as though this is the best moment of her entire life, and is a wagging, licking, wiggling ball of visible pleasure. She can’t remember ever feeling this many emotions. She wonders how she survived without me for that… ten minutes? Ten days? She is not sure how long I’ve been gone, but it doesn’t matter because her life is complete and she loves me so much and we will surely be together forever.

At every single mealtime

Cat rushes over and examines the freshly-poured kibble, glancing at me skeptically, worried I might touch her. Decides to eat seven pieces. Naps for four hours. Eats nine more pieces and suddenly glimpses a flash of white bowl peeking out from under the remaining 94 kibbles. Panics. Spends the next two hours trying to alert me as to the inevitability of her starvation by bolting over to stand next to her dish anytime I am nearby. Frustrated, she eventually eats four more kibbles to stave off malnutrition, cautiously avoiding any broken pieces, and vows to dispose of me as soon as she figures out how to do so. She woefully reviews the conditions of her will, just in case she doesn’t survive this ordeal. Idiot Humans get nothing. Cat decides that she should really procure some sort of a grateful heir, at her earliest convenience. Updated items in will: 94 kibbles. Box of sand for pooping. Dog. Pile of clean laundry for napping.

Cat wishing she had human thumbs

Dog looks surprised and pleased that I have blessed her with many Foods again, looks at me adoringly, and immediately eats every bite. Is delighted with the state of her life and is already looking forward to the next Food Time.

When there is a small piece of paper on the floor

Cat, who is on her way to monitor the level of kibble in her dwindling food supply once more, catches sight of a small piece of paper in her peripheral vision. Startled, she freezes mid-stride, eyeing the Potentially Suspicious Item as her pupils dilate until she looks like a Japanese anime cat. She is now obligated to investigate, and drops into a stalking position two inches from the floor, crawling slowly over to the Definitely Suspicious Item. After several tense seconds of virtually imperceptible movement, Cat comes close enough to stretch out one paw and gingerly taptaptap at the Highly Suspicious Item. She thinks maybe it moves a little and flinches dramatically, before tapping at it once more. She watches it carefully. When it does not respond, Cat sniffs it at close range to make sure she has killed it.

Dog sniffs the small piece of paper quickly to make sure it is not a Food, hoping in particular for a Cheese, which would be fabulous, then is indifferent when she realizes it smells exactly like a small piece of paper.

Yes, it’s the exact same expression from the pirate photo. Bless her heart

Hopefully this has helped to shed some light on the inherent differences between cats and dogs, for those of you who were uninformed. Please consider adopting one, so I can see fewer sad and lonely animals in my Facebook news feed. A dog is typically a sweet, reliable simpleton. She will tend to make you feel better when you’re sad, whereas a cat might hiss at you for no reason and run away. A cat is good if you want a real emotional challenge, and a dog will gladly give you back what you bring to the relationship. Personally, I recommend living with both beasts. You get so much from each. And let’s be honest. Since you’re not talking to half your family anymore, you have plenty of time to care for a dog AND a cat.

Brainstorming Plans for a Time Travel Genie 

Brainstorming Plans for a Time Travel Genie 

I always say that if I had a super power granted to me by a genie, it would be time travel. Or if the genie came to me and granted me any wish, it would probably be related to visiting prior eras and places… with the assurance that I wouldn’t get smallpox or be burned as a witch or something. Guys, I don’t know why a genie would come to me with these gifts, but I have to be ready just in case. These kinds of thoughts lead me to consider other genie-related time travel scenarios I may be presented with, such as which past era I’d like to go back and live in. Obviously I would have a lot of questions for the genie before I signed anything, like can I pick a new city or am I stuck where I am, or can I change any of my characteristics to increase my chances of survival in The Past. Or would I still know the things I know from 2017, when I live in The Past.

Okay but if THIS was my genie, I would spray him with mace and report him to the police. With his four fingers and his shiny black eyes


When I start to think about different times and places in history where I’d potentially live, I strike out left and right, if I can’t change anything about myself. I’m what they call the weakest link. Or… much helped by modern conveniences. Basically I really think I would struggle in The Past.

1717, Colonial America. Let me set the ugly scene for you. I have terrible vision, and in 1717 Colonial America I am pretty sure I couldn’t get my hands on my beloved super-strength Acuvues. So I’d be insanely nearsighted and tripping constantly over wild animals, stumbling upon annoyed Native Americans, and wandering off into unruly wild terrain. Sure, if I had enough support from my friends and family I could be like that girl in The Village, sweet and loving and full of personality. Except that I would never look that cute, because in their pre-orthodontia state, my teeth were gnarly. Now, I know there were far more men than women around here back then, tending fields and whatnot, but I think my parents would have a hell of a time finding a guy willing to take on a blind girl with bad teeth and no access to Aveda hair products. Not that I’d ever make it that long. I’d sit quietly and safely in a corner of my parents’ cabin for a few years, and I wouldn’t be able to draw or learn to read or darn socks or do much of anything useful. Circumstances of Death: Wild boar carries me off into the woods at nine years of age. Family is amazed that I lived until nine and grateful that they don’t have to try to marry me off in a couple years.

“Ma, Pa! That boar is still right outside so I’ll just stay in this corner and imagine what it’s like to be able to see and have normal teeth.”


1817, America. Uh…Yeah… Okay, not much has really changed since the last scenario. I would still probably die of blindness and boredom. But let’s give me some slightly better odds. If I could somehow procure some spectacles, which is unlikely, I might be able to dodge the wild boar and while away some years sitting quietly in that corner of my parents’ house reading The Bible for like the hundredth time because it would be the only book available to me. I could possibly find a mate, because a man may be slightly more likely to marry me and my teeth if I could see. Plus, I’d be a champ at knitting and sewing and stuff. But he’d be so disappointed to learn that I can’t cook for shit. I’d be burning his porridge constantly, and I’d live long enough to begin enjoying my depression and anxiety that no drugs would exist to fix. Circumstances of Death: Irritated and hungry husband invites wild boar over for burnt porridge. Wild boar carries me off into the woods. Family is astonished that I made it to age 19.

“Dang. Blindness has foiled my attempt to go to the store AGAIN.”

1867, Victorian London. Let’s leap ahead 50 more years, give me vast wealth, and try a complete change of scenery. Maybe I’d be born into money and a kind soul would procure for me a charming little looking glass so I could see my many books, my art supplies for my painting lessons, and my embroidery projects. What more would I need? Sure, my teeth would still be jacked up and I’d still be less-than-desirous as a marital prospect because of my “nervous condition,” but I feel like I could completely slay it in 1867, if I was a woman of means. I could become educated, stay indoors to avoid the diseases I’d otherwise catch for sure, judge everyone, and ultimately become a quirky spinster. No one would ever expect me to be athletic or cook anything. Circumstances of Death: Die of natural causes at the ripe old age of 53 after enjoying a life of relative peace and contentment. Never know the love of a man but know many fine cats. Family is relieved that I am finally dead.

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 3: Baby Girl Names to Consider

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 3: Baby Girl Names to Consider

I’m not a parent, but as you know by now, I don’t let that stop me from having shockingly insightful opinions on parenting strategy, which I enjoy distributing freely to the world. For the record, I’d also do it if I was paid to do it, but for now, I do it freely. And I also really want more blog traffic, and parenting is a topic where I can get maximum value out of very few key words because parents are naturally anxious and tired creatures who seem to be constantly looking on the internet for things to help them parent.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, I won’t come right out and make fun of modern baby names I think are dumb publicly (making fun is always available upon request in a private setting), but I do want to make some gentle suggestions about unusual baby names you would-be parents might consider, if you want your kid to stand out. Because retro baby names are so popular these days, here are some types of retro baby girl names I think we’re all missing out on. (Yes, I have so many brilliant ideas about what you should call your child that I can only address one sex at a time.)

Stripper Names of Yore. Remember back in the 90’s when you’d kick back and relax at a low-class strip club? Me neither, but I’m told it was a real blast. Hop in your time machine and consider names like Tawny, or Tiffany. These are real classics, in their own way. No one says how retro you need to go. Who needs Sophia when you can have a baby girl named Crystal? And you’re really setting your little Brandy up for a lifetime of exceptional individuality. Her name will be unusual in this day and age, and plus, she’s going to make so much money giving lap dances when she’s older. Just kidding. Maybe. I mean, her name is Brandy.

But look how much she enjoys her job!

Legit Grandma Names. People are starting to choose pseudo-grandma names for their little girls, but like what they wish their grandma’s name was. Names like Elaine, Harriett, and Nora are truly beautiful, but you know your grandma’s name is actually Ethel. It’s time to stop pretending, and just go ahead and name your baby girl Doris after your Mamaw. It’ll make her so happy! Embrace the monikers of the blue haired in your life. There won’t be another little Agatha in her kindergarten class, I can assure you.

Grandma needs all the cheering up she can get 

Still not retro enough for you? If your baby name list still says

  1. Amelia
  2. Harper

Then I have one more idea that may help you through this.

Names of Things in Your House. Take it back to how Native Americans used to do it. Pick something you can see, maybe in your kitchen, and lock it in like it means something really important to you. Name your little girl Paprika. Commit to it and act confident, and little Paprikas, Avocados, and Tofurkeys will be popping up left and right in a few years. Just walk around your house and make a list of possibilities. Little Ibuprofen might be frustrated when she can’t find a souvenir keychain with her name on it, but she’ll thank you later in life. Again, this may seem absurd, but all you need to do is hold your head high and set the trend… and maybe teach your child how to defend herself.

Inspiring, no?
Ten Steps to Success: Getting Fewer Emails

Ten Steps to Success: Getting Fewer Emails

There are certain job titles that include words like “coordinator” and “director” and “doormat” that ensure that you receive a crap-ton of emails. Perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “I wish there was a practical way I could cut down on the volume of email I receive! How will I ever get myself out of this mess?! Is there some redheaded goddess out there who might be able to help me?!” Don’t worry. I’m here.*

  1. Incorporate excessive punctuation when emailing coworkers to ask for anything you may need, whether it’s a substantial need or a very minor need. You might feel inclined to type something cheerful like, “Happy Friday! Can you please give me an update on the documents you’re preparing for me? There’s no rush. Just checking in. Thanks!” But that friendly attitude is why you get so many damn emails, sucker! Instead, demand to know, “Are the documents ready yet???!!!” This line of aggressive questioning offends people and makes them not want to email you when they need things.
  2. Experiment with the aforementioned excessive punctuation. Push people to blow past feeling vaguely offended and urge them to explore new levels of annoyance with you. For instance, when a statement calls for a single period, choose to go with four question marks instead. Say, “I’m very busy filing right now???” And “You told me you were off today??????” Annoyance is a great deterrent, so be creative!
  3. Pit people against each other. If your coworker Jane emails you something sensitive in nature, such as a complaint about Joe taking forever to get her something she needs, reply and add Joe and all of his superiors to the CC list. In the email’s body, say something that appears to be helpful, like, “Joe, can you help Jane resolve this?” No one can really get mad at you for trying to facilitate office communication, but IRL what you did is annoying as hell and Jane will probably never email you again. Neither will Joe. Or Joe’s superiors.
    A photo I took of Jane the other day
  4. Has your email volume decreased yet? Not enough to suit you? Ugh, you’re so needy. Okay, time for the big guns.
  5. Always, always choose ‘reply all.’ A more sure-fire and simple email-reducer there never was.
  6. Select ‘request read receipt’ on every email you send, even if it’s something mundane. This will make you come across as a self-important ass. Don’t ever wonder if you should… you should. Even when someone asks you a simple yes or no question, and your reply contains a single word, just go on ahead and request that read receipt. People will start to avoid opening your emails, and subsequently reply to you less and less.
  7. End each and every email with “I will call to discuss,” no matter how straightforward your email was. For example, email Joe and say, “Someone left a letter on my desk, but it’s for you, not me. I will call to discuss.” And then either a) never call them, effectively ruining their day because they’ve been sitting there dreading your call because they’re starting to hate you, or b) call them 2 seconds after you send the email, ensuring that they haven’t had a chance to read it.
    How you want people to react when they realize they have to email you for something
  8. Abbreviate words that are already very easy to type, such as transforming “Thanks” to “Thx” or even worse, “Tks.” In fact, remove letters from already-short words anytime you feel inspired to do so. Reply to emails with things like, “Trd to call to dscss. Pls call me bck whn pssble, tks.” People who get emails like this will become so physically ill trying to decipher what you’re saying that they will avoid emailing you whenever they can.
  9. When people email you three or four simple questions within one email, answer just one of them, and then never respond to any emails that person sends you again. Even better, reply with just “No.” For example, say you get an email that asks you if you followed up with Jane on the due date for that client’s document, what the due date was, and if Joe had any concerns about Section 3A. You should reply simply, “no.” Bonus If you reply, “no?????” Bonus bonus if you say “No??? Wll cll to dscss” and then never call.
  10. Reply to emails with passive-aggressive comments, or with vaguely hostile comments accompanied by a friendly emoticon. (This requires some practice, but you’re becoming an expert under my tutelage so I’m confident that you can handle it.) This is a great tactic because it makes people doubt themselves, and causes general confusion and stress that deters them from sending future emails. So when you get an email that says something like, “Hi there! I saw you’re on the phone. Can you please come by my office when you have a chance?” you should respond with, “As you saw, I’m on the phone :)” They’re all, “didn’t she see that I already acknowledged that she was on the phone?! Is she pissed? What’s with the emoticon? What does it all mean? Emailing her was a bad idea.” Yes. Yes it was.


How I wish I got all my correspondence
So how’s that inbox looking? Did you just see a tumbleweed blow by? Great! When people start to get pushy and email you again, which they will, just repeat a few of these tricks until they go away again. I would say email me and let me know how things are going for you, but I really hate when you do that.

*Items 1-10 above are really just as likely to increase your email volume, and also get you fired, so if I were you, I’d ignore this entire post and try a different list.

Types of People Who Park at Target

Types of People Who Park at Target

I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to work at home most days, and when I do need to go into the office, it’s just a quick fifteen minute drive away. I get to avoid a lot of the road rage that other people are stuck with Monday through Friday, week after week. I have precious (okay, terrible) memories of my years as a commuter to share with you eventually–try to be patient, I know it’s exciting–but today I would like to share some insight about the drivers I do still encounter regularly. I’m talking about the types of people I see in the parking lot at Target. There are three primary offenders I’ve identified so far, in my travels.

  1. Slow Backer: This is a tiny woman in a giant SUV, who is finished shopping and is  easing out of a Target parking space with so much care that it takes a full ten seconds, and usually involves a lot of dramatic head turning and twisting of her body in order to peer behind her as she inches backward. Ten seconds might not sound at first like a lot of seconds in the great scheme of things, but go ahead and count to ten and see how long it is… 3, 4, yep, keep going, 5, 6, 7… and now it’s basically been an hour since we last spoke. How’ve you been? But seriously, what could that Slow Backer possibly be looking for? Are those four rows of seats obstructing her line of sight that much? Or is she concerned about running over tiny invisible insects? I personally think she lost the right to care about the environment when she got that enormous SUV. Today’s Target purchases: Set of useless antique candle holderswomen’s multivitamins.
  2. Back-In-Er: A guy who holds up all other cars to stop and ease back into an open Target parking space instead of just parking front-ways like a normal person, presumably to save himself the two precious seconds it takes to back out when he’s ready to head over to GNC for his protein shake supplements. And even though you know this guy backs into every space everywhere, because he’s a giant douche, it always feels like this is the first time he’s attempted to be a Back-In-Er, because of how much he sucks at it. He tries to back in, fails to line himself up properly, pauses for a few seconds, slowly inches forward, tries again, and then keeps at it while a dozen cars wait on him to get over himself already. Today’s purchases: These sunglassessome red and black mandals, this bottle of Impression of Calvin Klein’s Eternity by Perfect Scents.
    At the moment he realizes mandals impede his driving abilities. Or maybe he’s realizing he doesn’t have any fingernails. 
  3. Parking Spot Shopper: A person who will sneak up on you, because anyone could be a Parking Spot Shopper. Often, you’ll be accompanying a perfectly sane friend to Target in their car and realize that they are a major Parking Spot Shopper. This is the man or woman who circles the parking lot again and again at 2 miles per hour, their hands firmly positioned at 10 and 2, mouth set in a firm line of determination, as they look for any sign of a car near the store’s entrance that may be leaving so they can swoop in. They will not settle for a spot in the back of the parking lot, or even in the middle of the parking lot. They will do anything to avoid walking that additional 20 feet, even if it takes an extra five minutes to find that perfect spot. Today’s purchases: a shit ton of Diet Coke, expensive yoga mat because the doctor said to exercise. Note: When a Parking Spot Shopper is cosmically paired with a Slow Backer, you will want to kill yourself. When a Parking Spot Shopper also happens to be a Back-In-Er, just go ahead and leave Target, and try your luck at Wal-Mart.

Honorable Mentions: On-the-Phone Ignorers. I Think I’ll Proudly Let My Toddler Take Ten Minutes to Walk to the Entrance Instead of Carrying Him Quickly-Ers.

We all need to go to Target from time to time, or in my case, three times each week. Because sometimes you need wine and cat litter on Monday, vegetarian chicken nuggets on Thursday, and more wine cat litter on Friday. So try to be more of a Swift Trunk Loader or a Generous Lane Sharer. Or maybe (we all will thank you) an Amazon Primer.

How I would prefer to arrive at Target at all times
Here’s What Happened After Surgery

Here’s What Happened After Surgery

Okay, so here’s the story of what happened with Matt’s surgery. I write about this with a bit of hesitation, because I worry that I am tempting fate to wreak more havoc in our lives. Fate, if you’re listening, back off. Just enjoy the story and relish your successful infliction of stress, okay?

Before I regale you with my tale, I have a few disclaimers: We are very fortunate to have good insurance that allows us to have all the free operations we want. We are also very fortunate to have flexible work schedules and unbelievable friends that afford us the luxury of recovering comfortably from a pretty intense surgery and anything else life throws at us, like a surprise Sunday trip to the emergency vet (more on that later). Not everyone is as lucky as us. Well… if we were super lucky, we would have avoided all this in the first place, so I guess some people are definitely more lucky than us, but you get my point.

Matt and I decided to have his ankle reconstruction surgery done by an amazing surgeon at Duke Sports Medicine in Durham, NC. We live a couple of hours away, in Charlotte, so we knew this would pose a few challenges for us, logistically. But a couple hours after Matt had been wheeled back for surgery, I felt like things were going really well so far. Jimmy Johns had delivered a delicious sandwich to comfort me over lunch while I waited, and I had an emergency Xanax in my pocket just in case the sandwich didn’t offer enough support (it did offer enough support). When the surgeon came to the waiting area at last and told me that everything had gone very well, I tried to ignore the giant splatter of (presumably Matt’s) blood on his medical clog while he gestured at his own ankle and cheerfully explained what he’d done to my husband’s insides. (For the record, I feel like having a nurse or someone look you over for signs of gore would be nice, before you mingle with the folks waiting to make sure their loved ones remain living.) The surgeon said proudly, “I think he’ll be really pleased with his ankle” in the same way people say “I think you’ll be really pleased with your new Hyundai” as you sign the paperwork. I was optimistic that the worst part was over. Oh, Past Courtney. You moron.

This is just to give you an idea of what the pre-op scene may have looked like, except 1) Matt does not have as much hair as this man and 2) this man is definitely wearing his surgical cap incorrectly. I am not even sure how it’s staying on his head 

We were told we should stay the night in Durham, which we were happy to do because Matt was worried about the pain that would be headed his way. We’d been told that the surgery would lead to a painful recovery, so we felt safer knowing that he’d be surrounded by doting nurses armed with good drugs. The next day, we were sent home with something called a peripheral nerve catheter (Matt: “Hold on, did you just say ‘catheter?’) He had gotten a similar nerve block before, with a previous ankle surgery, in the form of a shot given to him to numb his entire leg for 24 hours. When that nerve block wore off suddenly, he was in a lot of pain, so he was a bit gun shy about the whole post-surgery process this time around. This gadget, said our army of nurses, was much better: a small portable container that gradually pumped pain medicine into Matt’s thigh by way of what looked like a little fishing line. They told us that the catheter would keep his ankle 30-90% numb for several days. I’d just like to say to the scientists who created this handy device… 30% and 90% are pretty far apart. We can grow an ear on a mouse’s back these days. I saw photos on the internet. Why not shoot for a 90%-100% success rate with the peripheral nerve catheter? Just saying.

When we got back to Charlotte, Matt was starting to complain that he was uncomfortable, but I was so relieved we were safely at home that I didn’t have room to feel worry or any other emotions. Matt hates being a passenger in a car, preferring to be the driver whenever possible. Unfortunately, driving was not possible immediately following ankle surgery, and he did not take my offer to crouch under the dash and work the pedals for him while he steered very seriously, even though we’d both have been a lot less anxious. So the drive had been stressful. We’d encountered downpours, which really helped the tense passenger/driver relationship, and had needed to stop to fill his prescription for oxycodone at a drugstore along the way because he was in pain. But no matter! Now that we were finally home, the worst part was over. Ah, those were more simple times.

Once Matt was settled, I left to go pick up our dinner. As soon as I left, a home inspector stopped by (we just finished a big renovation on the house) and banged on the door incessantly. She must have had hired help parked at all entrances of the neighborhood with walkie talkies, poised to alert her the very instant my bed-ridden, doped-up husband was alone so that she could make a stressful situation even more stressful. When it was clear that the knocking inspector wasn’t going anywhere, Matt somehow managed to crutch downstairs to let her in. She was sorry… A sorry excuse for a human.

Matt’s preferred dinner: Pain relief

The surprise home inspector made Matt very tired and cranky. Then, the nerve block stopped working. When I got home with our dinner, Matt said he could feel his entire leg, and wiggled his toes for me. This was alarming to us both, since we were assured that he would be 30%-90% numb for at least a couple days. The pamphlet we’d been sent home with, Going Home with a Peripheral Nerve Catheter, mostly consisted of large photos of all of the various catheter parts and detailed instructions for removing the catheter once you’re finished with it, which are quite possibly the least useful pieces of information for a person in major pain. He proceeded to descend into a state of utter agony in a matter of two or three hours. This state of agony continued for a day and a half, and no one would help us.

I’ll say it again: no one would help us. While watching your spouse writhe in sobbing misery can be an interesting change of pace, it also kind of sucks. His pain was so bad, we discussed going to the emergency room more than once, and I even had a bag packed for us. But he wasn’t sure he could make it to the car, much less wait to be seen for hours in a packed ER. I made calls and left several Terms-of-Endearment-style messages that evening and the next morning, begging various answering machines for a new medicine to try. Duke was no help, as they were in another city and getting a new pain medication required a paper prescription. Matt’s primary care doctor didn’t get back to me for the longest time, but she finally did prescribe something… more of the exact same useless medicine we already had. I was so desperate I even tried asking Matt’s former surgeon’s office for help, since they were local and could easily prescribe something new to try, and after explaining the entire harrowing tale of what was going on and why we needed help, the lady replied, “Yeah, we don’t do that. We won’t be able to give you any drugs, ma’am.” Translation: nice try, Nurse Jackie. I wasn’t born yesterday. Clearly this insane story is completely made up because how could this scenario ever happen.

After a total of about 36 hours of what can only be described as utter trauma for both of us, we had a breakthrough and Matt’s pain went from level “Maxed Out” to level “I Guess I Don’t Want to Die Anymore but God This is Still so Terrible I Can Barely Stand It.”

As we were rejoicing in this progress (Matt rejoiced by writhing in agony some more, and I rejoiced with the unused Xanax and a comforting sandwich), our contractor from the renovation stopped by without warning, because apparently those in the home improvement industry really have a knack for showing up at the worst possible times. Unwashed, jumpy, and in my pajamas, I opened the door and let him in, listening cautiously as he asked how Matt was doing. Relieved that he didn’t appear to plan on adding to my stress level, I explained that Matt wouldn’t be able to come downstairs and say hello because he was busy processing how it might have felt to recover from surgery two hundred years ago. The contractor said, “oh wow, that’s too bad! Anyway, I need to get the final payment from you. Could you get me a check?”

My preferred dinner: sandwich. I like this image because you get a surgery vibe alongside a sandwich vibe. And even though this is a super weird sandwich idea in my opinion, it looks pretty delicious

We’d been trying to get our contractor to wrap up the work on our house for about two weeks, so that we wouldn’t have to deal with any of this post-surgery, and the contractor had been told he wouldn’t get the final check until all items had been taken care of. So I was immediately uncomfortable about being asked for a check. But then I was pissed. I said, “We’ve been advised that Matt shouldn’t sign anything until he is off of the narcotic pain medication, lest he be taken advantage of. You can come back next week.”

Then one evening after we’d been home a few days, I thought, we did it. We have a routine, and we are tough, and the worst is over. Everyone’s fine. And we lived happily ever after eating soothing sandwiches from Jimmy Johns like we didn’t have a care in the world. Oh, wait, that’s not what happened. What happened was that all of our cats got into a huge bar room brawl out of nowhere. Matt was selfish and did not even offer to get up and help, so I took a bleeding, screaming fur child to the emergency vet (because of course it was a Sunday night, not a weekday during regular business hours) to hand over all my money and the last shred of my sanity in exchange for eight paw stitches and one cone of shame.

A week later, things have settled down and we are hanging in there. Cats and husbands are mending and we have to just laugh at this whole ordeal. I’m frustrated that we fell through the cracks of our healthcare system and Matt had to suffer needlessly that couple of days, but I’m so glad he feels better now, and glad I can see some humor in everything. I’m still eating a lot of soothing sandwiches, but I’m calling doctors and leaving frantic messages less. Which I’m sure they appreciate.

What several members of our household look like these days
Ten Steps to Success: How to Escape Athletic Achievement

Ten Steps to Success: How to Escape Athletic Achievement

You know how sometimes, you’re just really great at something? Let’s dive right in.

  1. Get started down the right path at a very young age. You can take a stand against athletic achievement before you can even talk. Don’t succumb to peer pressure when a grownup first tries to trick you into sportsing by tossing you that innocent-looking plush ball. Frown at every single tricycle. Flunk out of several YMCA swim classes during your preschool years, refusing to get wet at all and leading instructors to write things like “Courtney needs to work on her confidence” on your progress report.
    An early example of escaping athletic achievement, despite having selected the exact right shoes and socks for the job
  2. Delay those inevitable athletic developments that we all must achieve, eventually. Wait until you are at least 10 years old to learn how to ride a bike or swim. Be diligent in resisting skills like these for as long as you can, because they are marketed to kids as vital to self-improvement and traditional rites of passage but we all know they are actually just sports.
  3. Display extreme caution when practicing these inevitable athletic developments. This will ensure that you fail to improve, and will make the desired impression on any hopeful adults who may be watching you. For example, when you eventually learn to ride a bike, you’ll want to stick to riding very slowly on flat and vacant surfaces near your home. If you find yourself near another cyclist, a pedestrian, or a mailbox, be sure to weave around erratically in quick jerking motions before tipping slowly over and landing on your side. Cry for several minutes to express the sincere trauma that you feel. Read quietly indoors for the remainder of the day.
    Batman shirt + acid wash shorts + Barbie bike + fake smile = the tools for success
  4. In situations of organized group games in elementary school P.E. class, let your panic take over. Embrace it. It will help you shift your focus toward thinking of ways to avoid playing, which will assist you in your failure to learn even the most basic rules to kickball, basketball, and soccer. Explain to your P.E. teacher that time spent walking safely around the perimeter of sports activities by yourself is a very healthful activity. Reassure her that you are a real “team player” in art class. This will work approximately one in every ten times you try it.
  5. If absolutely forced to play an organized group game, attempt to use the powers of your mind to keep the ball from coming anywhere near you. This will work approximately zero in every ten times, so when the ball does inevitably come to you, hold it gingerly in outstretched arms as if it is a bomb that might explode at any moment. Walk over and hand it to whichever person is screaming at you the loudest, regardless of teaming arrangements. Excuse yourself to the restroom to ugly cry.
    You can pose a girl with a baseball all day long, but it does not make her capable of scoring a field goal. – Me
  6. As you transition to the middle grades, push yourself to fail in new ways. In seventh grade, when all your friends are playing sports after school and on weekends, consider that maybe you have been all wrong about this, and that maybe you could be a killer basketball player who just never realized her true potential. Try out for the seventh grade girls’ basketball team. Feel hopeful when your stepfather tells you everyone makes the seventh grade girls’ basketball team.
  7. Do not make the seventh grade girls’ basketball team. Sob loudly in the bathroom, ensuring that your lying stepfather can hear you.
  8. Continue to reach for impossible athletic achievements. In eighth grade, consider that maybe you could be a killer track star who never realized her true potential. Try out for the eighth grade girls’ track team.
  9. Do not make the eighth grade girls’ track team. Decide that the track coach doesn’t like you and that must definitely be the reason you didn’t make the team.
  10. Really push yourself to explore the depths of your nonexistent skills, even when you feel that your status as a non-athlete is set in stone. Opt to take the loophole “Introduction to Dance” class instead of P.E. in high school. Discover that you are also terrible at dancing, which is really just walking athletically. Explain to your dance teacher that time spent walking safely around the perimeter of the dance activities by yourself is a very healthful activity.
    Forget the 10 steps. Just look like this, and you’ll be all set.

If you follow my example, you too can enjoy a carefree life based on a complete lack of athletic achievement. I’m living the dream. But don’t ever get too comfortable. Sure, situations involving group games and individual athletic endeavors aren’t as common when you’re an adult, but you’ll still always have that one friend who is forever trying to get you to sign up for a 5k that involves drinking as much beer as possible, and begs you to go with them to a $49 workout class at 5:00 AM that seems to be centered around  medieval torture tactics.

So don’t ever catch the keys that are tossed to you. Run from any child who hands you a ball. And whatever you do, please remember to maintain a lifestyle that includes sporadic, low-impact exercise, because… well, heart disease is a silent killer.