Individually wrapped, single-serving portions o’ life…
We’ve now been living in Utah for about two months. It has taken these two months to feel completely moved over. We got our Utah bank accounts, our kids have started school (see below), Melanie has a local job (also see below), our address is updated with everybody who matters, we have Utah voter cards, driver licenses, library cards, primary care physicians, etc. This week we put the finishing touches on our move by affixing a new set of Utah license plates to our vehicle. I think that was the last thing that needed to be done, and we’re now as Utahan as you can get. It’s almost as though we never left. It may seem silly, but seeing our car with Utah license plates really did feel like the icing on the cake (or the nail in the coffin, depending on how you look at it). It’s a bit surreal, and it really does make things feel more official. However, the thing I’m most excited about is probably the library cards. As I’ve said a few times before, Utah has a couple of great library systems (both city and county), and I feel so empowered to have a library card here. I kind of feel like I just inherited thousands of books. It’s awesome.
That’s What Friends Are For
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to see some good friends that I haven’t seen in years. Last week, Chad (a great friend for about 16 years now) and his wife Crystal (also a wonderful person), along with their three sons (fine blokes, all of them), met up with Melanie (my beautiful bride) and me (that’s myself) and our three sons (delightful little tikes) at Liberty Park (Salt Lake City’s approximation of Central Park). They—that is, Chad and Crystal—even brought us Chinese food. Super nice and super yummy—that is, Chad and Crystal, and the Chinese food, respectively. These guys have been absolutely angelic with us in the past. They are kind and generous and sincere, and it’s humbling to have such wonderful people in my life. We had great and meaningful conversation, not just idle chit chat and whatever. What a treasure. I very much enjoyed my time and am glad I now live where I can see these people with relative ease. Then, this week, I saw one of my best buddies from high school, Jonathan (that’s the name of the friend, not the high school). It’s probably been seven years since I’ve seen Jonathan, but he’s a good guy. He also fed me good food. (How lucky am I?) He took me to Red Rock, a microbrewery that I’ve heretofore patronized only in his company. It was delicious. We caught up on each other’s life and then brainstormed all of our mutual acquaintances from high school to see who knew what about whom. More than one has died, one is in prison. It’s crazy. I was amazed how naturally profanity became a part of my vocabulary in Jonathan’s presence. It wasn’t purposeful, and it wasn’t his “bad influence” because I’ve been around other people who swear more than I do and it hasn’t affected me. It must just be conditioning from when I hung out with him in the past, when indeed I was a much more profane fellow. I’m just surprised that even though three-quarters of a decade have passed since I’ve talked with him, I would so effortlessly and non-consciously revert to old my old ways. But, you know, it was kind of nice, because it just didn’t matter. Friendships like that are hard to come by in these parts.
The Schooling Continues
The school year has started. Most days, I walk Eddie and Peter to school. Usually, Beegy comes with me. I think Eddie and Peter are adjusting fairly well, considering they are both rather shy and anxiety-prone. It’s hard to get much out of them about what happens at school, but I remain optimistic. Melanie, meanwhile, has started her job as a Kindergarten Teaching Assistant. Today was only the second day of normal school for her kindergarteners, but I think Melanie is quite happy. It feels good to her to be back in that environment, and the kids already adore her. She’s been told as much by at least a kid or two. It’s really great to see Melanie so happy with how things are going. Meanwhile, my schooling remains a somewhat nebulous notion. What the hell do I mean by that, you ask? I don’t know. It just seems not quite real, and it is not well-defined at this point how exactly I even relate to my PhD program. Not that my plans have changed. I’m still going to work on my dissertation, but I’m not officially enrolled as a student anymore. I guess it’s just such a change that it feels kind of bizarre. My reasons for not officially enrolling as a student are numerous, but the one that seals the deal is that I don’t have the money to pay for it. So, quite honestly, there isn’t much of an option. All that really matters, though, is that I’ll continue to work on my dissertation and then reapply to school before I need to defend. That should suffice. In the meantime, I’m spending my mornings with Beegy. I feel bad for the boy because he has lost his two brothers (and his mom for part of the day) to school and it’s a monumental change for him. On the first day of school, after we dropped Eddie and Peter off, Beegy began sobbing. It was a different kind of cry than I’ve usually seen from him, and it was clear that it was purely because it had hit him that his brothers were gone. It was heartbreaking. He’s adjusted pretty well since, but I’m no match for his brothers. And it’s hard to remain patient, sadly. I feel like I spend four hours of my day just staring at whatever Beegy is telling me to look at. I can’t divert my eyes for even a second without him snapping at me to keep watching this or looking at that. I feel like a robot, like I can’t even think my own thoughts for those four hours. Sigh. I need to figure something out.
My Hands, AKA The Living Dead
Two months in Utah means it’s also been two months of carpal tunnel. I had an EMG earlier this week, a procedure in which they hook your fingertips up to some machine that monitors the electro-activity in your nerves and then proceed to shock you with a cattle prod at various places on your arm. It actually wasn’t that bad, and the testing was done within a literally literal 10 minutes. The worst part was the hair-thin needles they had to poke into my arm (and neck) to “listen” to my muscle activity. (I used scare quotes, but it was a rather literal listening to, as it was a tiny microphone inserted into my skin that captured noise whenever I’d use my muscles.) The EMG doctor told me I had “moderate” carpal tunnel, just on the cusp of getting to the bad stage. He said that despite feeling much more numb in my right hand, my two hands are basically on par with each other. He made surgery sound like something I should be doing soon, but apparently for him that means “within the next year.” So, I went to my normal carpal tunnel doctor today to discuss the results of my EMG test. We didn’t really do that. Instead, he gave me a steroid shot directly into my wrist (I could barely feel it, thankfully) and I got scheduled for surgery three-and-a-half weeks from now. This doctor told me I had “severe” carpal tunnel and didn’t make me feel quite as optimistic as the EMG guy, but who knows. I was also told my hand might be fine within a couple of days of having the surgery, unlike the three-to-four weeks I’d heard from others. I wish I felt more confident about what exactly is going on, but you know how doctors are. You feel like they are rushing whenever they come in, and it feels like you’re interrupting them if you ask questions. I was confused about the purpose of my steroid shot today. The doctor said it was for my relief, but he also said it would tell us about how well I was likely to respond to surgery. But then I wasn’t scheduled for a follow-up appointment before the surgery, and I was told I’d need the surgery no matter how I responded to the shot. So I just don’t know. I guess you just trust people and let them cut you open if they say it’s going to be good for you. That’s basically my plan for now.