Before you delve in, you should know that I am going to discuss some topics that could be difficult for some to read. You know — those things we (whoever “we” is supposed to mean…) do not discuss. Those things that are “best kept quiet” and kept to yourself because they are things of which we are supposed to be ashamed and/or not push on other people. Scary things like mental health, physical health, addiction, flirting, and bigotry. All of these are on my mind tonight because all of these things made up most of my day.
I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor this morning and since he had insisted on my keeping it, I caught the bus shortly after 8 a.m. Having had little sleep last night and gasp forgotten to buy coffee yesterday, I was tired and quite honestly, feeling irritated that I had to talk to my doctor at all. It was going to be a waste of time.
Surprisingly, my commute to the clinic was uneventful. On the bus, off the bus, walk a while, there. I was half an hour early and being so tired, I fell asleep in a hard waiting room chair, elbows on my knees, head in hands.
The appointment was typical. He asked a few questions, I answered, and then he told me why it was so important that I be there today.
- My TSH levels have been elevated the last couple of times I’ve been tested. I need another blood test.
- My medication for my bipolar issue was causing side effects such as insomnia, teeth grinding, which can be a real problem in the long term. It might have been the cause of my last seizure. It had to be changed. I am now on Prozac.
- My chest x-ray from months ago at the E.R. showed a nodule on my right lung. It is more likely to be benign than cancerous, but he doesn’t like the placement and size. I need another x-ray.
- Half of a pack of cigarettes is considered heavy smoking and I need to quit.
He asked me why I smoke cigarettes. I laughed and answered, “Uh, gee – maybe because I’m addicted”.
I told him I wanted to quit cold turkey. He looked confused.
“You have strange cravings for cold turkey? Wha…what?”
He didn’t know the phrase. I explained it to him.
Really? How could he not know the phrase?
As I stepped out into the fresh air and headed for the bus stop, I couldn’t wait to smoke the cigarette I had in my purse. I had a lot on my mind. I considered the nodule on my lung as I inhaled and exhaled. I recognized the irony and let out a short laugh to myself. The cop in the parking lot heard me. I had to smile at that, too. Let him think I’m crazy. It’s not a crime to be a little crazy.
A man at the bus stop asked if I had another cigarette. I didn’t. I had purposely brought just one. The wait was short and before I knew it, I was boarding and scanning my bus pass.
A man’s voice: You sure do have beautiful red hair. Is that natural curl?
I told him that it is because it is.
He asked the bus driver. “Doesn’t she have beautiful hair?” The bus driver nodded.
I sat down, feeling tired, overwhelmed, and a little flattered.
The flirty stranger sat down a couple of seats away and leaned around to tell me about my eyes, my smile… and then noticed the wedding ring on the hand I had purposely brought into full view. He silenced himself. I still felt flattered.
I had gotten off the bus and started down the sidewalk toward my apartments when the passenger of a passing car leaned out and shouted. I jumped at her loud screech.
I was less hurt than amazed. I had never been called a cracker before. At least not to my face – so to speak.
I considered the reasons behind that screaming comment. I know the word is meant to be the answer to the nasty word I never use, of course. I marveled at that hatred. I thought of the pain and bigotry she must have dealt with, her insecurities, her need to strike out at a stranger… and hey, where did the term “cracker” come from anyway?
I walked through my front door and placed my purse on the table. I thought of a good comeback.
“Oh yeah? Well your boyfriend likes the cracker. He told me so last night.”
Of course I would not have said that to her, even if I’d have thought of it at the time. That was probably a good thing, anyway. She sounded like she would have kicked my cracker ass.
I took a two hour nap.
I would think about my lung, but my youngest daughter and her husband (I have yet to meet him in person) are landing in Phoenix as I write. I am ecstatic! It is almost 2 am and I can’t sleep, but I’m smiling.
I sit here smoking another cigarette.
Why do I smoke cigarettes?
I suppose it is better than drinking.