Wildflower Center

Today, we all went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is a nice botanic garden that primarily features the titular wildflowers, but has other kinds of grasses and vegetation for this time of year, plus they had an exhibit of different kinds of forts.

Today was chilly and overcast, but the center was still pretty crowded since I guess a lot of people thought to go on the day after Thanksgiving. My friend told me that Lady Bird Johnson was “Lady Bird” because LBJ, being a horrifying narcissist, insisted that everyone in his family be “LBJ.” Both his daughters were named L and B names. I didn’t know that before, but having learned it, I noted that none of the many signs and placards about her at the wildflower center (“Who was Lady Bird Johnson?” and etc.) actually mentioned her real name. I googled it — it was Claudia. She is widely known for her highway beautification act, and she did a lot of other things for the environment and public landscapes, one of the more effective and fondly remembered First Ladies.

At the center, there’s a “Hall of Texas Heroes” — a circle of oak trees, each one commemorating a Texas hero. I was prepared for a lot of placards about white guys but it turns out all the “heroes” were famous Texas oak trees, so these were trees honoring other trees, which I found delightful and bizarre.

Edith was pretty blasé about the wildflower center, but she seemed to mildly enjoy herself.

Thanksgiving

I have so many things to be thankful for this year that it would sound like uncouth bragging to enumerate them. Thanks to all of you who are a part of my lovely life, and thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog and has been encouraging about it. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it.

Doctors

I went to the doctor today. I was talking to some friends once about visiting the doctor, and one of them made a joke about how you always lie when the doctor asks how much you drink. I asked if people actually do this, and it subsequently became clear that most people significantly underestimate the extent to which they indulge in various vices in their intake questions.

I never have! I’ve gone through periods of drinking way too much, and I always just…said how much I was drinking. I did the same when I smoked, and I’m also honest about my (completely shitty) diet. It never even occurred to me to lie about it; they’re the doctor so they should know what bad behaviors of mine they need to be adjusting for in screening for whatever I’m doing to myself or whatever. And I’ve never felt embarrassed about it because it’s a clinical setting.

I’ve also mostly seen male gynecologists. Again, it simply never occurred to me to be embarrassed or weirded out by this. But all my girlfriends think this is bonkers.

It’s not that I’m hard to embarrass generally; I wish that were the case! I’ve spent most of my life in a fog of utter humiliation, and I feel great shame about any number of things. But it’s never occurred to me to be embarrassed about anything that happens at the doctor — it’s not like I have an ongoing relationship with my medical providers or encounter them in social settings. You go into a sterile office once a year and sure, they look at your bits, but they don’t register them. It’s like taking a dump in front of a dog — there’s just no meaning attached to it that would cause it to be embarrassing.

There are so many of these things where I’m just out of step with what everyone else is doing without even realizing it. Like, I had no idea that other people peed in the shower until I was like 30 and a group of girlfriends started talking about it and they all did. It blew my mind! Why would anyone do this? Why is it semi-acceptable to people to just randomly stop being continent in only this one setting? It was like suddenly finding out that everyone but you actually wears a diaper on the bus and just pees in it. Do you all? Maybe you do, I wouldn’t know! I know Sonja Morgan does.

Prompt 2

Slow day today, so time for another prompt! Today’s is:

What are you passionate about?

I HATE this question. At some point in the last five years, everybody started asking this question constantly and talking about what they’re “passionate” about, and expecting to be “passionate” about whatever work they do or whatever. Where did this come from? Why did everyone all of a sudden start expecting to feel passion on a daily basis? I mean, I think feeling contentment on a daily basis is a much more reasonable goal. Feeling passionate is a pretty high bar! I’m not sure I’ve experienced passion even once in my whole life; I sure as shit don’t experience it in my daily work.

The first definition of “passion” is “strong and barely controllable emotion.” So the question at hand is “what makes you so extremely emotional you can hardly control it?”

(Interesting sidenote: the definition of euphoria is “a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness.” I would have thought euphoria is a more extreme emotional state than passion but the dictionary definitions indicate the opposite — that passion is “barely controllable,” whereas euphoria is intense, but one would assume manageable.)

What a weird question for one’s HR department to be constantly asking! You’d think they’d want you to avoid work that causes this, not seek it out! It’s almost like this is a completely empty watered-down platitude that actually means nothing at all! That when we talk about being “passionate” about something, what we really mean is something like “this is what I’d like to do with my time if I could, that I suspect I could also make a reasonable income at.”

But these days, the Lords of Capital are not longer content with us merely having work ethic. They want us to convince them that we experience transportive and uncontrollable love and desire for our work, that we’re carried away by it, that we fantasize about it in our beds at night.

Anyway, if I take the question at face value, as “what makes you lose control of yourself” I’d have to say…nothing. I’m not an especially emotional person, and I’m pretty in control of myself at all times. I experience depression that I can’t control sometimes, but that’s more the absence of all emotion than strong and uncontrollable emotion. I experience some uncontrollable worry and anxiety, but although this particular definition doesn’t make this explicit, passion is generally understood to indicate a positive emotion.

So. Do I ever experience nearly uncontrollable positive emotions?

No.

So the answer to this prompt is: Nothing.

Prompts

I have now been blogging for 144 days straight. Why? I don’t know. I just started doing it. It’s satisfying, though — a small thing I can check off a to-do list every day that makes me feel like I’m still using my brain even though I spend most of my time crawling around on the ground after an infant.

But today, it finally happened. I opened up the new post window, and I had nothing to say. That’s not true — I have a lot to say. But the things I have to say are long, complex topics that would take me much time and mental energy to write, which is entirely contrary to the purpose of this daily posting activity — a quick burst of creativity I don’t have to think too much about.

Fortunately, I saw this coming some time ago, and downloaded a free ebook called “100 Days of Self-Exploration,” a “Self Discovery Journal.” It being free, I don’t expect much, but I figure it could be a useful jumping off point for those rare days when Edith hasn’t done anything new worth talking about.

So here we go, the first prompt:

Who are you?

Well. This seems like a gimme. I’m Elizabeth Urello. Not an especially deep prompt, but I guess this is like putting your name at the top of the paper, an easy intro to the subject at hand.

I hope it’s been as fun for all of you as it has been for me!

Burping

I don’t burp. I couldn’t burp when I was a baby, and I never really have since. Or at least, I thought I didn’t, until I read this. I realized I do burp sometimes, a little bit. But I’ve never had one of those big, loud burps that teenage boys are constantly demonstrating. I have tried, but it’s just not something I’m able to do.

However, it’s never occurred to me to bring this up with a doctor or to attempt to resolve this discomfort in any way. I don’t actually even notice it that much. I recall at some point talking to a friend of mine who had lactose intolerance about her constant bloating which led to her self-diagnosis, and it only just occurred to me while she was talking that being painfully bloated all the time wasn’t just…what being a person feels like.

I come from a relatively stoic line of people who don’t really believe in being happy or comfortable, and I’ve very much internalized that. I’m constantly realizing that some type of misery or other that I simply live with is something that other people actively seek to alleviate. Sometimes I find myself feeling a little resentful about it, like a Boomer dad. “Why do you think you’re so special that you need to feel good and enjoy your life?” I’ll bark aloud, alone, in my office, at my Twitter feed. Since I manage other people, this can cause some problems with my empathy. This is probably by design — the stolidity of my ancestors was bred of the demands of capitalism. We are all very good employees.

I seem to have wandered a bit from the point.

Anyway, I can’t really burp and apparently there’s a cure for this. But I probably won’t bother with it; I have other more significant health problems I’m ignoring that I would likely tackle first, if I were ever to start taking care of myself, which I won’t. If I started trying to fix shit like this, where would it all end? I mean, there’s always some other thing that could work better, and I don’t want to spend all my time tinkering with my aging cage like it’s an antique car or something. It’s fine, farting is fine.

Jeans

I put on jeans Monday for the first time in well over a year. I felt so dressed! It was a pretty great feeling, really. I felt very together and kempt like a white lady in a TV show. I did not look well put together; I looked like someone who had gone through fertility struggles, a global pandemic and year plus of quarantine, deep isolation, and depression, major work stress, a pregnancy, a difficult birth, a move, and raising a newborn, all lubricated by phases of compulsive eating. That is, I looked like someone not at all used to being at the weight they are now, and extremely uncomfortable in their own skin.

But I felt more put together than I usually am, is what I’m saying.

I got stretch jeans. I didn’t mean to, necessarily — I didn’t know they were stretch until they arrived. But when I tried them on, they seemed like a good idea for my new body, but it was a mistake, because I forgot that stretch jeans bag out and fall down after you wear them for fifteen minutes. Remember that phase we went through when all jeans were stretch jeans, and then we realized they were stupid? I had to hitch my jeans up all day, which really undercut my feeling of being a fully dressed and put together grown-up Lady.

I always feel more productive on the five days per year I actually get dressed and then I think I should do it every day, but I don’t, because I always wear workout clothes all day because my idea is I will use my treadmill under my desk. I do maybe half the time? This week, I’ve only used it two days. But it’s like how they say if you want to write, you have to sit down at your computer every day just in case the muse shows up. You have to wear athleisure every day, just in case you somehow summon the energy to move your fat ass a little bit.

I’ve always wanted to be the person who gets up early enough to work out hard for like an hour, then shower and get fully dressed before work, and I have been that person for the odd month here or there throughout my life. It felt good, sort of, except that it also (and primarily) felt fucking awful. I could never maintain it very long because I value sleep and a forgiving waistband too much, and now it’s fully off the table now at least until Edith is able to take care of herself for an hour or so, so I am off the hook. Maybe when Edith has left for the big city and I am all alone and still working because I will never be able to afford to retire, I will finally get fully dressed every day.

Hell, maybe at that point, I’ll wear a cocktail dress and pearls to work every day, go fucking all in, why not.

Vinny Thomas

Recently, an endangered California condor somehow fertilized her own eggs. One of my favorite Twitter follows made a video about it:

There are some…unflattering parallels here.

I have long enjoyed Thomas’s videos. Here is one of his most popular:

And then there’s this one, which I have probably watched a thousand times:

Never in front of company!

Die Young

I sing this to Edith all the time as a lullaby:

Also, do we think people tell Amelia Meath all the time that she looks like Olivia Colman?

Vaccinations

Recently, I was looking up quotes from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, trying to find a passage about a sour pickle, and I didn’t find that, but I did find this one:

Before school, there had to be vaccination. That was the law. How it was dreaded! When the health authorities tried to explain to the poor and illiterate that vaccination was a giving of the harmless form of smallpox to work up immunity against the deadly form, the parents didn’t believe it. All they got out of the explanation was that germs would be put into a healthy child’s body. Some foreign-born parents refused to permit their children to be vaccinated. They were not allowed to enter school. Then the law got after them for keeping the children out of school. A free country? they asked. You should live so long. What’s free about it, they reasoned, when the law forces you to educate your children and then endangers their lives to get them into school?

Maybe these times aren’t as unprecedented as we tend to think.