So I Had A Vaccine Reaction

When Lovebug was very small, Hot Guy had to bring him in for a vaccine while I was at work. When I got home, I was regaled with the story of how traumatic it had been for him, for Lovebug and for Ironflower. Apparently Ironflower was really mad at the doctor for hurting her brother. And Lovebug was mad. And there was much screaming. It's possible that toddler Ironflower hit the doctor.

And my first question was, "Did he get all the vaccines he needed, though?"

That's how pro-vaccine I am.

So when my GI doctor said he wanted to put me on Humira and that I would need to get a flu vaccine and Hepatitis A & B vaccines, I was all over it. I'd already had my flu shot for the year (I've gotten a flu shot every year since 1994, when a bunch of med students were giving them to seniors at the community center where I was teaching preschool and had leftovers for staff members. Those of us that got it avoided a horrible flu that went around the center.) but I figured I'd get the HepA&B vaccine the next time I was at the primary care office.

There are actually 3 shots until you are fully vaccinated against Hep A & B, fyi. The first 2 are a month apart, the next one is 5 months later.

I've recently learned that my insurance won't pay for Humira at this time (and, at $5000 a month, I kinda don't blame them for wanting me to try some other meds first), but since I had already started the Hep vaccines last month, I got my second dose Friday because otherwise I'd have to start all over again when I finally get the Humira.

And I realized that last month's reaction was real, because I had the exact same reaction this time - nauseous, dizzy, exhausted and just generally terrible. Last month I thought it might be stress or that I might be coming down with a virus, because I haven't ever had a vaccine reaction. But this time, at the suggestion of my wise husband, I took an hour long nap after I had the reaction.

And then I was fine.

I would like to say that after having this reaction, or that time Zoe almost fainted after her first HPV vaccination, made me more sympathetic to people who are against vaccines.

But it didn't.

Don't get me wrong, I get where they're coming from. Doctors can be assholes, the medical establishment can sometimes be wrong, it sucks to listen to your baby scream his head off because you're letting someone stick it with a needle full of chemicals you can't pronounce. 

But the science doesn't care how much it sucks to know your consent to a vaccine made your kid faint; the science wants to eliminate cervical cancer. 

I had an anti-vaxxer tell me that cervical cancer is easily curable. First of all, tell that to the 4000 women who died from it  in 2016. Second of all, I'd rather my kid faint than have to go through cancer treatment someday. Curing any kind of cancer is not fun like curing scurvy. 

People die from the flu. They die from measles. They die from cervical cancer. 

They don't die from vaccines. Really, they don't. No matter what you read on Facebook. No matter that you heard your neighbor's cousin's daughter died from the HPV vaccine.  No matter that there is a reporting system and a compensation system (which literally pays out 1 time per million doses of vaccine given. You can read all about how these safety guidelines are regularly exploited by anti-vax proponents here). And don't get me started on VAERS - the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System - which should be a good thing, but since anyone can report to it, also includes vaccine 'deaths' that are from car accidents within a month of a person getting the vaccine.

In summation, get vaccinated. Get your kids vaccinated. But maybe leave some time for a nap after.


Coming Back

I don't know where to start.

I mean that quite literally.

I think I have 10 drafts from the last several months that all start out so horribly that I can't manage to finish any of them.

And yet I miss blogging so very much and want to get back to it here as well as on my new education site (which is not even close to finished but will eventually be parked at jenzimm.com) that I've just decided to write the worst blog ever written and post it anyway.

Hot Guy went into the hospital with super high blood pressure a bit after my last post. Now, he's had high blood pressure and diabetes for a while - but he's also had trouble sticking to his meds. So the trip to the hospital was supposed to be a med tune up, not some horrible disaster.

And yet, while he was there they discovered that his kidneys had basically stopped working. And on Halloween we learned that they're not going to get better. So he's going to go on dialysis and the transplant list.

And I cannot begin to describe how much it sucks.

Really, I can't.

Yet I've lost two high school classmates to cancer this year. And their families would much rather be dealing with dialysis than death, I'm sure.

Perspective is fucking everything.

So while my anxiety goes off the charts, my professional endeavors flail and my ulcerative colitis tortures me, as my kids grow ever more independent (which is great, but sometimes I really miss them) and as Trump attempts to decimate America. . . I'm trying to look for the good. For the things I like.

And so I think I'm back to blogging.


The 5 Worst Things About Perimenopause So Far

As I've said before, I'm in the throes of perimenopause.  Still.

And I've been told that it will get worse before it gets better. I'm not sure which symptom I fear getting worse the most.

1. Sometimes, it's the sweaty hot flashes.

2. Other times, it's the insomnia.

3. But you can't forget the rage. I mean, you really, really, can't. Especially with the orange one in office. 

4. Unless you catch me when I'm sobbing uncontrollably over a commercial. 

5. And yet, that dark (red) horse that still shows up every month is also disturbing. I'm anemic now, no joke. 

Of course, I hear that urinary incontinence and migraines can also crop up in perimenopause so. . . I've probably just jinxed myself. 


Entitled Little Shits

I've had it with people blaming video games and mental illness for mass shootings.

First of all, literally every other first world country also has video games, high divorce rates and mental illness and yet they do not have even close to as many mass shootings.

Second of all, in the United States, young women also must cope with video games, mental illness and lack of prayer in schools. Yet how many of them are shooting up churches/historic districts/Walmarts/concerts and movie theaters? How many??????????

THREE since 1982. 

And while I believe in stricter background check laws and bringing back the assault weapons ban (it lowered casualty rates, at least), I would argue that the biggest reason for our mass shooting exceptionality is our entitled little shits problem.

And I don't mean people feeling entitled to be called by their preferred pronoun or to attend schools not named after Confederate, slave owning generals.

I mean people who feel entitled to other people's bodies. You know, those guys who assume that because a woman dresses a certain way or walks down a street alone, he is entitled to her body.

I mean people who feel entitled to get whatever they want, whenever they want without a thought for others. You know, those guys who lose their shit when they get turned down in any situation.

I mean people who feel entitled to kill children because they're suicidal.

It's not unique to America, but it's somehow uniquely American. It's an extremely pathological version of that same American entitlement that lets us travel the world and be appalled when not everyone speaks English or has air conditioning.

I think that sense of entitlement is also a key factor in developing the pathological hate needed to carry out a mass shooting. If you feel entitled to women's bodies, or the best job or whatnot and you're not getting them, you're going to need someone to blame. And if you grew up without empathy or accountability, you're not going to blame yourself. You're going to find some group to blame in some online group or in some politician's words, and then the hate will take over.

Growing up without empathy or accountability, growing up believing that your wants are more important that other people's needs or rights, that's the kind of entitlement I'm talking about. And if I thought for one second that the people blaming shootings on mental health were talking about prioritizing mental health services for children and families, and valuing parent education and early childhood education as the ways to raise children with accountability and empathy, I would be in total agreement.

But they're not.

They can't even stand up to the NRA and its rabid fans over background checks and assault weapons bans; there's no way in hell they're ever going to talk about pathological entitlement.

But the rest of us should.


Perfect Is The Enemy Of. . . .

Good, or so the quote goes.

But it's also the enemy of happiness, gratitude, progress, productivity and change.

As anyone who has ever met me or read this blog can tell you, I'm not a perfectionist. I don't believe in perfect . . . but I have a problem with perfecting. I have an unflinching belief that I can solve all problems just by trying harder and finding the perfect system.

I almost ordered this bag a few months ago. Not because I needed a new bag, but because I just thought if I found the perfect way to organize all my crap for literacy coaching job, I would solve the problem of hating the job.

(Ok, I also love bags. And that one is cute, right?)

Spoiler alert: I re-organized everything, found a great system. . .and still hated the job.

This is probably a lesson I should have remembered from my first husband; I turned myself into Suzy homemaker (while subbing every day and tutoring most nights) and he was still a raging, narcissistic asshole. You cannot perfect your way out of something inherently dysfunctional.

And it's probably inherently dysfunctional of me to think I have to perfect everything; some of which isn't even an actual problem. And that's what I mean about perfection being the enemy of happiness and progress. It's harder to enjoy your kids when you're worried about perfecting them; it's harder to enjoy a walk when you're obsessing over being in the optimal beats per minutes range.

And yet, by walking, you're doing a good thing for your body - whether it's in the optimal beats per minute range or not. So why can't we (me) celebrate that? Why can't I celebrate how awesome my kids are, instead of worrying that they're not at academic enrichment camps this summer?

I mean, I could celebrate these things. I could. If I just had a system for how to let go of perfecting things. . . .


Webinar Poisoning

So I just sat through a webinar and I learned something really important.

I fucking hate webinars.

Luckily it was a free webinar because paying for it would have been as bad as that time I paid for a dinner that gave me food poisoning.

Reasons I Fucking Hate Webinars, An Annotated List

  • You can't pause them. I like to control my experience. It's why I like road trips more than flying. You can't pause a flight, either. 
  • The learning never surpasses the bullshit. There's always some kind of sales BS and there's always more of that than helpful information. 
  • You can't use it as a reference. I mean, I know I can use my notes. I know that I survived college and grad school with live webinars (aka 'classes') only. But those classes had textbooks. 
  • Funny people don't make webinars. This was going to say "Nobody is interesting after 30 minutes straight" but that's not true. Great stand-up comics and actors are. But they don't making fucking webinars. 
  • I hate knowing something is a sales tactic before it even starts. And you know there is no other reason to do a webinar besides sales. It's 2019, for fuck's sake. 
Right now you might be questioning why in the hell I sat through the damn webinar and honestly I don't have a good answer. There was a promise of a free workbook at the end. Also, I did want to learn about the topic and I was under the impression that the dude was an expert in it. 

This impression was wrong, by the way. Pretty sure the guy's expertise is in sales. In fact, I started taking notes on sales tactics about halfway through - when I wasn't checking my email, looking at Facebook and doing research. 

Apparently I should have been researching how not to get suckered in by free webinars. 

I was thinking about signing up for an online course or two but now I'm afraid it'll just be a webinar that I can pause. 

God, I miss learning from regular books. #cronethoughts


I Secretly Love Having Teenagers

Okay, I've only had 2 teenagers for 4 months.

And I've only had any teenagers at all for 19 months. (Though Ironflower started acting like a teenager when she was like 10, so I think I deserve some credit for those years)

But I feel super comfortable saying that I do love having teenagers in a way that I did not love having preschoolers - even though I actually love preschoolers. (In small doses. When I'm well-rested.) In fact, until fairly recently, I would have told you that I love children 0-11 way more than I love teenagers.

I would have been lying about the toddlers, though. Toddlers are assholes. Adorable assholes. 

I would have told you that I was dreading having teenagers and that I wished all my kids could stay kids forever. Even though Lois Duncan wrote a captivating book about why that's a bad idea. I must have reread that book 10 times when I was 13 or so. Because 13 is the worst.

But since I remember that feeling so vividly - in a way I do not remember being 2 and feeling like I would die if I couldn't wear my blue dress - it's so much easier for me to empathize with my teenagers than it ever was with my toddlers/preschoolers/elementary schoolers.

I mean, I always tried to lead with empathy and talk about feelings but. . .I had 3 kids in 4 years and not one of those kids could have ever been described as mellow or easygoing. Sometimes survival took on a great importance than empathy. Now that someone isn't always in danger of running into traffic and/or throwing a tantrum, it's a lot easier to be empathetic.

But as much as I would love to attribute enjoying my teens so much to my greater empathy and subsequent closeness, that's not the bulk of it.

The bulk is that my teenagers share my sense of humor. My really inappropriate, snarky and filled with fucks sense of humor. I'm sure it will get them into trouble some day if it hasn't already, but I'm genuinely okay with that. I love it when they make me laugh and I also love the fact that I no longer have to censor myself around them. That's what I secretly love about having teenagers.

The fact that I can leave them home alone, or make them run into the store for me or reach things out of the tall cabinets are just bonuses, I swear.


Racism Is a Choice

(Reminder: You can't be for Trump but against his racism.)

This line from the awesome Dave Pell hit me like a ton of bricks today. Not that I've ever been for Trump, but I genuinely like some people who are. 

And yet. 

Racism is a choice. It's a choice that Trump continually makes. And by supporting him, these people I like are making that choice too. 

This is not like accepting your cousin's love of country music, or a friend's weird taste in shoes. This is accepting that the purported leader of the free world doesn't think brown people are real Americans. This is accepting that his extensive history of racism is ok

This is changing the definition of racist to mean that hiring someone of color for the occasional job absolves of you of all racism. (Just a little FYI, it does not. Check the Jim Crow era South for more info.

There is no Trump without the (old-fashioned definition of) racism. There is no fired up base without blaming people for applying for asylum (which is totally legal, by the way) for all the problems in our country. 

"Love the sinner, hate the sin!" is a common refrain I hear from some Trump supporters. (More FYI, they do not say this about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez or any other sinners they disagree with.

First of all, loving the sinner doesn't meant excusing or denying everything s/he does. Second of all, which sin do you hate? Is the sin you're referring to the womanizing? Or the tax cheating? Or the cheating on the wives? Or the lying? Or the praising dictators who had American citizens killed? 

Because I don't hear these Trump supporters hating the racism like Lindsey Graham once did. Maybe they're not the ones excusing putting children of color in cages because their families sought asylum. Maybe they're not the ones complaining about a black Ariel and talking about how embarrassed they were by a black president. 

Maybe they're just the ones who aren't saying anything. 
  1. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. (Desmond Tutu)
  2. Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor (Ginette Sagan)