Monday, August 31, 2009
Life as a middle school English teacher has once again intruded on my life. I say 'intruded' because it doesn't really commandeer my life nor is it just a nuisance: It's this thing I've got to do. It's that same feeling you get working a 9-5, low-wage job (I've sooooo been there) of "let me get through this and life can start back up" but instead of 8 hours it's 9 and 1/2 months...ish. My instinct is to compare it to pregnancy: it takes up your whole life for 9 months. Not that you can't still have some time for yourself or even have a good time with the whole experience, but it's pretty damn time-consuming in and of itself, even when you don't feel that you are actually doing anything (worn out because your body has been creating life all day v/s sitting through another training about finding educational websites...at least creating life is noble)
Of course, teaching is a bit like being a surrogate because at the end of that 9 months you pass the kids off to someone else.
...okay, so honestly, teaching isn't that similar to parenthood, pregnancy, or even surrogacy, at least not in those beautiful ways. I think maybe it's a bit more like being the high-functioning alcoholic ex-step-parent w/ partial custody the spews out cliche words of encouragement for an hour, buys the kid a so-so lunch and then sends them back to whoever gets to collect a check on them. Not that I am cynical about my position, or that I don't like what I do (captive audiences are awesome!) , or even think that I'm unimportant to my students; I mean, hell, I've always looked up to the alcoholics in my life.
Teachers, and I don't mean just anyone who fills that job title, but teachers, the tried and true folks that are still effective after years in the trenches (and the people out there that teach us things, but don't have a classroom), perform a delicate balancing act. It's a great mixture of individual personality, bluntness, tact, hope, realism and knowledge...and a million other things, all shifting every 45-55 minutes. Working with kids takes a lot more than the "open heart" to call a group of strangers "your kids".
I don't particularly know that a classroom is where I'll be for the rest of my life, and I'm certainly not saying that I'm one of those great balancers, but I recognize it, respect it, and bow to it.
There's my ramble for today. Gotta keep this thing moving.
Friday, August 21, 2009
But you knew that already.
At this point, I am about 90% recovered and 2 weeks post-op ( I'll explain that 10% in a bit). It was actually my wife that reminded me, as I sat in the living room wishing I had something to do, that I had yet to tell the tale of my vasectomy reversal. All this build up and no pay off?? That's no way for a "pleaser" to act!
Don't worry, all you co-workers and relatives (yes, I know you're out there) here to try and figure out "what is wrong with that Culver boy", genital mutilation is not it.
But yes, it was in fact an enjoyable trip. Do I wish it didn't have to happen? Well, of course I do, but like I keep saying, we make the best of it. And since there are no original ideas left, in honor of our good friend, supporter and fellow blogger Liz , I present "Eating through a vasectomy reversal"
Why aren't you excited? OH ... no, no, not pictures of that (or should I say those...?) pictures of myself with various food items which were, besides my pre-op cocktail of meds, the highlight of the trip. (where did you think I got the title eating through a vasectomy reversal??)
We dropped Jules off at his grandparents a bit before noon and hit the road for our wonderful pilgrimage to Burlington, NC to see Dr. Daniel. We had reserved a room for the next two nights since it was a 5+ hour drive and my consult was at 9am with surgery following and a night of rest needed after that.
On the trip down, we began our culinary escapades in Beckley, WV. Why Beckley? Well, we were hungry by that point, and when in the southern part of the state, we always try to make a stop at Macado's.
Not familiar with Macado's? Well, with locations mainly in Virginia, around Roanoke and Blacksburg, I'm not surprised. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I have yet to find a better menu of sandwiches. Although, I personally would suggest making your way to Bluefield because I always thought their Macado's was higher quality. Of course you would never know it is there because anything worth checking out in Bluefield (quit laughing) isn't advertised alongside the interstate!
Then when you take the exit, you find yourself on what is primarily an empty road, except for the old Wisdom Channel studios, but unless you're some kind of whacked-out hippie, that holds no appeal. That road takes a couple miles before you hit what appears to be another empty road, but left or right at that point, you'll hit something... I'd be specific, but at that point you're just glad to find civilzation again. (macado's, and the 3/4 empty mall, are to the right)
Our journey to Burlington was quiet and uneventful, except for my wife cowering like a bunny as we went through East River and Big Walker Mountain tunnels. Oh, well we did get kinda lost when we were right on top of Burlington. I blame Yahoo! maps because, well, they're horrible and have always sent me on crazy routes, but Jess uses Yahoo! like an old man uses the same mechanic that keeps cheating him. ( love you , dear)
Our first order of business, after finding the hotel, which both yahoo and google thought was on a different part of the road than it was, was to hunt down Red Robin. We'd always been interested in going to a Red Robin, but it became a priority after we saw it on Top Chef (new season just started! Wed @ 10 on Bravo..WATCH IT!( ...if I had more readers, I'd start charging for all these plugs... Anyway, gourmet burgers is their specialty, but the fact that they had Guinness on tap made my day. 'Tis a rare gem to enjoy a Guinness from the tap, at least in WV.
Don't worry, I only had one. But of course we went for the burgers (although the bottomless steak fries were spiffy too) and while they may not have been the greatest chunks of meat we'd had, the toppings were good. I had the royal (I believe...) with a fried egg on it. You cringe, but it was tasty!
So after an evening of exploring the area, we settled in and rested up for the big day.
I was a little nervous going into the consultation. Worried they might decide it was a wasted trip for some wild reason. "I'm sorry sir, you're belly button is too low for us to perform this procedure." !?!?!
But it went really well. Dr. Daniel and his staff were all really pleasant. Like, really. I'm a bit standoffish myself, and really don't like overly nice people, but I wanted to hang out with these folks! Dr. Daniel himself was pretty straightforward about everything, as well as being very confident in his skill, but without making me think some high school football star was working on my fellas.
He even joked with us about a few things, including some of the various doctors we'd researched, and even made a few dinner suggestions! But before we get to that, we have the best "meal" of all: the pre-op cocktail. Dr. Daniel explained that 1)to keep costs down [no anesthesiologist] and 2) to avoid any of the complications and weirdness of intravenous drugs, he has his patients take a selection of meds about 1/2 hour before the operation. This only included a couple of painkillers, and mostly items to help avoid infection, keep me sleepy, and deter any side effects of other drugs (like benadryl for itchiness).
So we headed to the local Target, which was AWESOME...made our Target at home look like a Big Lots. (Starting to feel like the Beverly Hillbillies here.) So we picked up my drugs and a converter for the X-box so we'd have something to do while I rest.
We also, conveniently, got a preview of what my recovery would be like...
The fact of the matter is that I've never really had reason to be on any kind of major painkillers or prescription drugs, period. Even with the vasectomy I only took a few tylenol w/ codine, and the painkillers I was prescribed for my wisdom teeth removal were apparently for us to make a mortgage payment because I never really needed them. Well, from the time I took this cocktail, with a side of McDonalds, at 12:10, to the time we were at the doc's office at 12:25, I thought I was back in college.
What felt like 10 minutes later, Dr. Daniel was turning off his ipod stereo thing (I can't remember what music it was, but I remember enjoying it) and telling me I could get dressed. With my years of experience maneuvering while intoxicated, and judging from the look on the doctor and my wife's faces, I made my way back to the waiting area much quicker than expected. Apparently things went very well from Dr. Daniel's viewpoint and he was very happy with the procedure...except, of course, for my legendary snoring (probably should've warned him).
After this I was fairly coherent for the ride back to the hotel. I even hooked up the X-Box converter and after a bit tried to play. Instead I just kept waking up with my character facing a corner ala Blair Witch. From there, things are hazy, but I do remember a few things:
Remember Dr. Daniel suggested some fine local eateries? Well, we opted for The Village Grill, which specializes in a 'key lime chicken' that they use in various dishes.
Here's how I remember it: BEST. FUCKING. CHICKEN. EVER. Yes, the "fucking" was absolutely necessary. I remember being very thankful that Jess went out and got it, but also having a flash of anger that she didn't buy more. Then I passed out again.
Feeling guilty that I was spending our "romantic getaway" half-passed out and trying to play X-box, I got Jess to make some coffee for me. Little known fact: I love cheap hotel coffee.
See? I told you so. Even better was that on her next trip to the ice machine for me, Jess made another stop:
Where she bought the, you guessed it, BEST. FUCKING. SNICKERS. EVER.
I'm sorry that this blog is turning into an endorsement for taking percasets before your meals, but honestly, it was like tasting food for the first time!
Alas, we finally gave into sleep and rested for the night. I penguin-walked my way downstairs for breakfast in the morning (I just can't pass up the free continentals) where everyone thought I was the guy that left the Natural Light case out in the hallway. What can I say, I looked the part.
Armed with a couple of instant-cold packs, I bravely took the wheel and started us on the drive home. Here's a tip: instant-cold packs don't stay nearly cold enough long enough for this kind of operation. Those suckers were gone fast. Luckily, we were hungry and stopped at a Hardees for lunch and then Jess took over driving duties while I enjoyed the BEST. FUCKING. CUP-of-ICE. EVER.
So, that is the story of my vasectomy reversal, of which I mainly remember the food. Lucky for you, the wife and I are tag-teaming this one, so she'll have an whole other take on it which I'm sure you'll enjoy (there's a porn store in her story!)
On a final note, my apologies if you came here looking for serious information about vasectomy reversals. Search through the rest of our 'quest' and it's there, you just have to dig through my bad jokes. But hey, I've never tried to say that I wasn't
Thursday, August 20, 2009
im⋅po⋅tence/ˈɪmpətəns/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [im-puh-tuhns] –noun
|1.||the condition or quality of being impotent; weakness.|
|2.||chronic inability to attain or sustain an erection for the performance of a sexual act.|
|3.||sterility, esp. in the male.|
Generally, the idea of impotence, as I've perceived it at least, is the inability of a man to, well, be a man. Not just being unable to create life, but being unable to protect, to care for his wife, to provide for his family, you know, to be a man. ( save the commentary on gender stereotypes for another day)
Knowing your son is gone and never even having the opportunity to do something, to protect him, to save him... well, that is beyond impotence. It is far beyond being a man. It is the indescribable feeling of being snatched up by a piece of your soul and feeling it's thin substance pinched between two awful claws of fate, leaving you dangling in the wind as that piece, that small but important piece, rips away, and all you can do is fall.
Waking up back on the ground, the change isn't always obvious. I mean, you constantly feel the absence, but the things around you, your interactions, seem roughly the same. But then there's the impotence, the kind that there is no procedure to reverse.
Watching the wife you cannot comfort, knowing her pain, but not really knowing her pain...standing in a doorway, watching her in her pajamas, moving with grace and beauty and heartache and pain.
You want to hold her, to help her, to take away her despair... and all you can do is stand because what comfort can you truly offer?
complete and utter impotence.
Friday, August 14, 2009
One that won't make me sick.
One that might make you smile
Won't make me feel three feet thick.
Ah, Huey Lewis...how you sing right to the soul of this world.
Okay, so maybe Huey Lewis isn't the Walt Whitman of his generation, but really, who doesn't like Huey Lewis and the News??
So with all the hub-bub and hulabaloo of my family situation (or dissolution thereof) I've had quite a bit on my mind. To perhaps put it in the simplest terms (and so I don't post another Lifetime movie of a blog-post), I think of the allegory of the cave: we -- my family and I-- all live in a cave, sitting there watching the shadows on the wall. The shadows are all we know: they are our reality. As things have happened, I've started wondering what makes those shadows, and I've turned and started looking for the light source. My family seems content with the shadows, wondering why we just couldn't leave well enough alone. Doesn't mean everything about my family's lives is a lie or something like that. I mean, the shadows are real I suppose...
I could keep going, expanding and explaining, but ah hell, who wants to read that? And, personally, I'm tired of it myself. Time to focus on actually walking around outside the cave, living my own life, with my own family, out in the sun.
In other news, I'll have a 'Quest' update very soon (I'd do it here, but I like to keep those separate).
Also, I start back to work soon. My goal is to not allow work to keep me from posting regularly while simultaneously not allowing posting to keep me from doing things for work...and doing work for my grad classes. But don't worry, work comes first! ( I say since my boss might be reading this...)
One final thing today, for those of you that haven't quite got enough of my family drama (*updated*). Originally, I posted a link to a favorite message board where you could read a copy of my Uncle's email along with some reactions and suggested options for myself. I suppose really there's no harm there, considering my blog tracker says at least 4 of you followed that link before I decided to change it (I had no idea I was that popular). Still, I decided to opt out of linking to the site because, I dunno, maybe the board deserves to remain it's own little corner of the Internet, safe and sound.
Plus I thought it would be more fun to just post a screenshot of the actual email...
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Then something else in me asks, "Is it really destruction if you are tearing it down in hopes of rebuilding it?"
Lots of time alone in ratty apartments can certainly be unhealthy, but it does allow one a lot of time to examine one's own character. Amongst a myriad of observations, I did come to understand one thing about myself, my personality, and perhaps most importantly, my relationships. See, I came to recognize that I don't have much of a backbone. Lots of thoughts, opinions and snazzy words, but never really the willpower or courage to do something about much of anything.
I used to reason to myself that it wasn't a lack of backbone that made me a man of inaction, but that I was reasonable and often saw the multiple sides of an argument or situation. I still think I have a knack for understanding opposing views, but honestly, I know that I just never wanted to step on any toes or make anyone unhappy. I was a "pleaser": a lot of things to a lot of people, but not really much of any one particular thing. ( Except 'a clown', which kinda works into that whole 'pleaser' thing....and 'one helluva lay', also in the pleaser category.... sorry Ladies, taken)
I looked back at my relatively short adult life and saw a series of moments where I wouldn't even stand up for what I wanted because I didn't want to disappoint. ( On the upside, I did see a lot of great self-depricating humor sprout from the demotion of my own wants and needs. ) Let's just put it out there, I enjoy teaching, but the only reason I went that route is because I didn't want to be some disappointing "dream chaser" or some such shit; I had to do something practical. It isn't necessarily something I regret, but hey, I'm being honest here, right?
There was one thing I always wanted that I never downplayed; maybe because it is a simple, practical dream, or maybe because it is one of the first things I can ever remember wanting: a family of my own. A wife, a kid or three...pets, oh..a house too. I also dreamt of being a super-hero, so don't get too worried about my childhood, okay?
That dream came true for me, and I built it with my best friend: a woman that share's my horrible sense of humor, oft-bad timing, and self-important need to write about our feelings. She also has a backbone. Honestly, she has enough for both of us...and all of you reading this.
Really, it seems like a bad combination, doesn't it? A man who seeks to please and a woman who bows to no-one: let's watch Adam get abused! But I'd actually already went through that relationship 5 years before. My wife, strong-willed as she is, wouldn't let me be 'the pleaser'. Sure, she enjoyed some perks, but generally she saw right through it and would call me out on it. She wanted a husband she could respect, not one she just bossed around ( although, you know, that still kinda happens... stupid 'foot rubbings' )
So, why all this exposition? What, my dear Culver, set you on this line of thought? Well, this apparently has just been the prologue. Geez, maybe I should break this into a series??
Well, this week I stood up for myself and my family. Okay, so maybe it isn't the first time I've spoken up or defended myself, but I put my foot down in a pretty big way.
Originally I wasn't going to blog about this; I thought, "this...this I will keep to myself" because honestly (there's that word again) I didn't quite know how I felt about it. Over the past few years, I've been at odds with my parents about, primarily, my wife. In actuality, we were at odds over how I'd changed, but the real problem, the reason I was speaking up, was how it materialized in their treatment of my wife. It was clear that while their problem was with me, they squarely blamed her.
I've already explained how I think I've changed. For them, I guess when 'the pleaser' isn't always trying to please anymore he is considered "stuck-up, too good for his family, etc." I remember seeing it flash across my mother's eye in the dim evening light when on vacation, on a beach-house deck, I told her of my intention to graduate college then move to Boston to try and be a comic with my friend. I really don't even know what the hell thats supposed to mean. Like, how is that being such a bad guy? Stupid? sure. Crazy? probably. But c'mon, at least just tell me, "but Adam, you're really not that funny" instead of a dead look of "where is my son?"
So when I got married, they had their outlet. They had found what must have changed me. Since I've already written a lot, I'll skip the details and say that during the 3+ years we've been together, there have been a lot of shitty moments on the part of my family. Plenty of arguments where I would plead the case for them to just be nice. Even more times where she was just ignored; treated as a second-class citizen. This was never acceptable, but I suppose at least bearable until we had a child.
How could we stand to let our son grow up seeing his mother treated this way? Thinking it was okay to treat her this way? Ignored, set aside, scoffed at. So I fought harder to fix things. The harder I fought, the more they resisted. The more they resented the fact that I stood up to them when we'd never had a cross word in the past. ( we had crosswords, lots of puzzles actually, but no arguments... )
As time went on, we didn't see much of one another. We all regretted that, but hell, if they couldn't play nice... you know? Then the time came that we found out we would have a second child. I think I've noted their reaction before, but if not: they weren't happy. They didn't hide it. In fact, my father went so far as to say, "it's like he isn't even part of the family." We basically quit speaking after that. Some lame attempts at communication, but my parents still never asked about how my second child, their third grandchild, was progressing. Didn't ask if it was a boy or girl. Didn't ask what the due date was. They did not care.
Eventually, Joel died. Born without a heartbeat on May 28, 2009. I spoke to my parents for the first time in a while on May 26, when we found out we would not be bringing Joel happily into this world.
Through the time at the hospital, the days waiting until the memorial, then through and after the memorial itself, my parents never apologized for not being there through the pregnancy. They never apologized for the pain. In fact, they seemed to expect things to magically be better between all of us. Except for when they would become stand-offish and visibily uncomfortable (to the point of rudeness) in the presence of my in-laws, making the death of our son even more painful and uncomfortable; placing more pressure and work upon myself and my wife, trying to keep the peace. I had thought, for a time, that that was all there was to it.
Since then I have learned that my father, on the day of our son's memorial, was busy taking calls from his renters, and took offense when my father-in-law disapproved. My mother, whom I saw clutching the piece of paper with my mother-in-law's phone number, left it crumpled in their driveway when they left. But to top it all off, I found out that at the hospital, while my wife lay in a bed laboring to deliver our dead son, my father spoke to my mother-in-law, stating that he and my mother had had to “drop” me because of a blow-up we'd had, and how he and my mother never approved of this midwife, going on to insinuate that my wife's decision to use a midwife was the cause of our son's death.
I put my foot down. For my son, and for the family I've built, I put my foot down.
I sent an open letter to my family. Emailed, actually, after a converstaion with my sister ended with her critiquing my wife's behavior on the day of our son's memorial, saying that she ought to have been more social.
I don't feel bad sending that letter because the conversation with my sister confirmed a lot of things I had feared. Basically, that every conversation and argument I'd had with my parents to try and make things better had been ignored. It was a retrospective of every complaint my parents ever laid out, that I had explained and apologized for, put out there as if it were brand new. I had never had any impact on my family's perspective; my words and time had been meaningless.
Two days after sending that open letter, where I also call out my Uncle Steven Tibbs for being a jerk at our son's memorial, I received an email from my uncle. He really let me know that I had made the right decision in sending out that letter. He bombarded me with some amazingly juvenile insults (he called me a candyass... really??? 50 odd years on this planet, and 'candyass' is the best you can do?) He insulted my wife and prophesized the end of our marriage (something he has experience with). But worst of all, he openly mocked Joel's death and our memorial for him.
There are really no words to describe just how I felt when I awoke from napping with my son to be told about that email by my wife (he wrote his and hers emails. very considerate). I have, however, thought of sending him a Thank You letter. Thanking him for justifying my decision to separate myself from that part of my family. I haven't decided what to send with that Thank You, but you can help me decide! Eventually, I'll send it to him at this address, Steve Tibbs
120 Summers Street Bluefield, WV 24701. No particular reason I made his address available to the Internet... no reason at all.
My uncle opened his email by referring to me as a 'formerly Culver'. Hell, even Jess and I joked about changing the last name ourselves, out of shame, but I've always been very proud of my name. At this point, I don't know what might remain of my ties to the family I grew up with, but I know I've smashed it up what good. The name 'Culver' is soiled. Myself, I feel a bit pathetic that it took my son's death to finally make me stand up for something. Now that I'm up, I have more to do. For the grandmother that taught me what love and care really are, for the woman I made take the name, and most of all for my sons, I'll make it a name worth having again. My son, Joel, was very very real. His was a life of consequence; as short as it was, it meant something and it made an impact. I hope to do the same with my time.
self-destructive? No, no... just laying some foundation.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
But here we are, doing some late night packing in preparation for the 5+ hours journey to my "reactivation". All the phone calls and research finally paying off! I guess from here on it's just crossed-fingers and silent prayers. ... well, okay, something else will come into play at some point, but I'm not allowed to even think about that for at least a month after surgery. a month!
If you've been reading, thanks for the support. If you haven't been, well, I find it odd that you are reading now, but hey, whatever; glad you're here. Hopefully you've got a chuckle or two out of all of this; I know we certainly try to make all of this as entertaining for ourselves as possible. Just a way to make it bearable since there are obviously other things we would rather be doing, but this is what we have to do.
So often my thoughts are on what Joel would be doing now; what he would be like. When we are doing something (shopping, eating, whatever) I think about how it might differ having both our sons with us. The same thing goes for when we are around the house. So today was odd for me, as we prepared for this trip; as we prepare to leave Jules with his grandparents for 2 nights, I started to think, "I don't know that I could leave our 2 month old." Then I realized, we wouldn't. There would be no trip, no packing, no VCR, no 'quest'... there would be so much more. So very much more.
So, we try to make it entertaining, so that it is bearable.
Wish me luck.