Monday, May 28, 2012

Woohoo! Summer's Here.......Or Is It?

Ah, it's Memorial Day...the so-called official start of summer. Granted, its original purpose was to remember with gratitude our fallen US soldiers, and you do. But, you've also taken the patio furniture and cushions out of storage. You've unpacked your shorts and flip-flops and put away your heavy sweaters (or at least shoved them into a to-be-drycleaned pile someplace where you'll probably forget about them until around mid-August). You've planted seasonal flowers, and some have even survived both the roaming deer and the dog's muddy Digging for Heaven Knows What Expedition 2012. 

The bright, warm sunshine and the sizzle of the grill beckon you to toss all pressing matters aside. Even the air conditioner lulls you into a state of relaxation with its telltale hum. In your mind, you're already reclining on a deck chair with a favorite book and sipping a tall glass of iced tea, complete with fragrant lemon wedge artfully placed on its rim. It's picture perfect. Well, except for the ice cubes being some weird whitish half-moon shape your freezer produces instead of the more aesthetically pleasing crystal clear blocks.

But the funny thing about Memorial Day is, it's NOT technically summer, not yet.  At least not here in the Northeast. The next day, it's back to the harsh reality of your regularly scheduled daily grind.

Memorial Day is just a mirage of summer yet to come. It's nothing but a tease. It's that cute guy who flirted just long enough to induce your daydreaming about the date he eluded to, right before you never hear from him again...or at least not for another four weeks or so.

So while your brain has checked out and transported itself permanently to *insert favorite beach here*, you, my friend, are still physically stuck in the reality of Spring-Summer Limbo.

If you're a parent, that means the holiday itself is also a School Night...with the accompanying flurry of quickly fitting in the kids' post-barbeque baths (the dog isn't the only one who finds dirt fun). Ditto for removing any sand they've encountered during a trip to the beach. But because it's NOT summer, there's the added pressure of doing it rapidly enough so they get to bed at a reasonable hour despite still being hyped up on ice pops. Plus there's the homework they had all weekend to do but suddenly remember at 8:40 pm. That's certainly not very summer-like. Worst of all? You still have to plan and pack school lunches daily...for WEEKS. (Are you crying yet?)

And speaking of homework, Memorial Day wrongly leads you to believe because it's summer (again, it's technically not...don't be fooled), teachers will let up a bit on the kids' workload. Instead, it's crunch time for cumulative tests. It's also when they assign final projects which count as a major component of the overall grade. Yup, have fun dreaming about that iced tea while you figure out how to build a simple machine from exactly 22.5 inches of string, a cardboard wrapping paper roll, four paper plates, a shirt box and a broomstick handle (none of which you have in the house, by the just used the last of the plates for the barbeque).

Memorial Day also gives the impression that once it makes its calendar appearance, your planned vacation must be near. Nope. The holiday has yet again manipulated the space-time continuum. You've still got a good six week wait if you go away in July, even longer if not till August.

You may tell yourself, well, even if the days are still busy, at least I can unwind outdoors during the warm evenings. Wrong. The beginning of June is notorious for filling your calendar with nighttime events at rapid speed. There are school plays, concerts and ceremonies; dance rehearsals and recitals; and don't forget Little League baseball play-offs. Yeah, you and that lounge chair aren't going to be seeing each other anytime soon, day or night.

Also disappointing because you were tricked into believing it's summer? (Darn you, Memorial Day). You might think you can stop by an ice cream place after one of those evening events. Not on a weeknight. They, too, know school is still in session and therefore, continue to close on the early side until summer really begins and they start their open-till-midnight hours. 

But lest this post leave you wanting to impale yourself with a beach umbrella, there's actually a bright side to it not being summer just yet. Think about it. When you dug out your shorts, surely you also came across that summer horror of horrors: the swimsuits.  If it were summer, you would be required to wear one often, possibly even daily......and most likely, in PUBLIC. Or worse, you might have discovered you no longer fit into any of them and will have to go...<<<<<gulp>>>>>...swimsuit shopping.

Maybe it's best that Memorial Day doesn't send everyone rushing headlong into summer after all. Try to enjoy these last few weeks of spring and take advantage of the fact you can still use clothing to camouflage any bodily imperfections, if you so desire.

Actual Number of Days 'Til Summer Begins at 7:09 PM EDT on 6/20:  23 
Real Feel:  too long to bear
Minimum Number of Swimsuits Tried on Before Leaving House on Any Given Summer Day:  3
Number of Swimsuits Tried on When Shopping for Single Swimsuit:  72 

TALK TO ME:  What aspect of summer are you most looking forward to this know, besides getting the whole swimsuit hurdle out of the way?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Computer, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

There comes a time when even the best of relationships is put to the test. You just never thought it would happen to the two of you after devoting so much time to each other day after day. But one morning (aka last Thursday), you greet your beloved computer only to find the Blue Screen of Death or some other such error where it can't boot up or function in any capacity. Your stuff is pretty much toast, so you're understandably paralyzed with grief.

Most therapists say a good way to heal from loss is to write your thoughts down in a letter. So I took pen in hand each day until I was back up and running this week. (By the way, for those of you under age 25, pens are these stick-like tubes filled with ink once used for correspondence before they invented the QUERTY keyboard. Some pens even clicked!)

Also, please note names have been changed. It would be wrong to cite a particular brand or in any way purposely reveal the faulty computer's parent company.

DAY ONE     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

Dearest Dill Computer,

Why did you suddenly break off our relationship like this? I thought we were happy. I input stuff, you compute and store it = bliss. I've tried everything to get you back. I've hit Control Alt Delete multiple times. I've shut you down, unplugged and restarted you. I've visited the Dill support forums via another device (and no, that is NOT the equivalent of cheating on you while you're in some kind of coma...or worse, on your death bed).

I refuse to believe you're gone...not now, not this night, and certainly not while you still currently house a good 10,000 of my photos including the kids' births. And what about my saved emails? My bookmarks to various sites? My Photoshop software. My Pinterest "Pinmarklet" browser button! If you had to go down, did you have to take all of them with you?

I'm going to unplug you overnight and hope tomorrow you'll be back. I will not lose faith in you!

All My Love,

DAY TWO    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

Dear Dill,

Maybe you've forgotten I have a website I need to keep updated. I have online responsibilities. I've got an audience. I can't let down the whole three people who read this blog!  I also can't type HTML on my mobile devices. Yeah, yeah, there's probably an app for that, but I hadn't gotten around to researching one well enough yet....because I wasn't planning on creating blog posts on anyone but you. That's how loyal I was. And THIS is how you repay me? 

I can't eat. I can't sleep. Everything reminds me of you. So please.....restart already!

Still yours (cause I kinda have no choice),

DAY THREE     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     


I'm trying to be patient and understanding. Sure there were signs you were ill. That whole weird situation with the SVChost whereas the referenced memory could not be read. That crazy javascript void. The time you told me a fatal exception error had occurred, and I needed to terminate the current application. Those inconvenient notes from the web browser, typically when I was right in the middle of something important, where it suddenly encountered a problem and needed to close. Or how about when my program was accused of performing an illegal operation and would consequently be shut down? And of course, the repeated difficulty loading assorted things like Windows\System32\suwajibo.dll whereas the specified module could not be found.

Wait a minute...What does any of that terminology even mean? Who writes that stuff? Is it even English? Why don't you phrase errors so the average person knows what the freak is wrong and can possibly attempt to fix it?

Until just now, I didn't realize how much crap I was putting up with or just how faulty you are even when you do work.

On my last nerve here,

DAY FOUR     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

You Dumb Dill-headed Dork of a PC,

You know what? Good riddance!  I'm going to go out and find a better computer, one that's reliable, one with errors that at least make sense. You think you're so special? You're all, "Oh, I'm this amazing big flat box that layers windows on a screen. Everybody wants to read and type on me." Like that's something so original. Like that's not something everyone and their brother can do without you. Okay, well, I really don't know how to do it, but still.......You think there aren't 50 other computers interested in working with me, other companies just waiting to dig deep into my shallow pockets? I've got options, you know. Big, juicy options. Yeah, that's right......I'm talking FRUIT. You know the kind. Rhymes with Mapple and/or Nac.

So go ahead and never come back to life. I'll just blow right through what little we had saved for the kids' college years, extract all my personal stuff from your hard drive and transfer it to the new one. Sure, it will take me months of time I don't have. But I still win in the end because at least I will rid myself of YOU, whom I have probably on some level always despised. So, forget you and the motherboard who birthed you!

Vowing to never interface with you again,

DAY FIVE     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

Hey Dill, old buddy and PC pal~

Remember all that babble about not wanting to work with you anymore? Haha, funny story. See, I didn't realize it was something as simple as your power supply overheating. I also didn't realize I'd only have to shell out $68 to replace it, as opposed to trying to come up with the $$$$ for a new computer.
Sooooooo......we're still good, right?

Your BFF,

Actual Time Spent without Working PC:  134 hours
Real Feel:  Four score and seven years
Chance PC Errors Will Pop Up in Next 24 Hours:  100%
Likelihood Computer Knows the Horrible Things I Said and Secretly Plots Revenge:  Very

TALK TO ME:  Which do you think is better....Mac or PC?  I obviously may be in the market for one or the other sooner than I'd like and would appreciate your feedback!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SHE VS. HIM: Ready, Set...Nope, Still Stuck on the Getting Ready Part

You wake up, stretch, and smile, embracing the new day.....Yeah right, and little birds help you get dressed while you whistle a merry tune, too. It's more like you begrudgingly drag your sorry, tired self out of your warm, comfy bed and hope you don't misjudge the door frame like you did that one time when you really whacked your shoulder (the expletives used would've given those little birds a coronary). 

Actually it's not just the getting up, it's the whole process involved in getting ready in the morning that you find challenging. Whether you're male or female, you somehow need to make the transformation from Puffy-Eyed Bed Head Creature to Human Who Is Presentable Enough to Appear in Public. The difference between the genders is in how you get the job done.......and of course, how long it takes you.

How SHE Gets Ready:
You stand zombie-like under the warm mist, waiting for the soap to kick in and make you as alert and invigorated as the perky people in the Irish Spring commercials. No such luck.

While applying shampoo, you hear a bloodcurdling scream from one of your offspring downstairs. You've aren't too shaken by this common occurrence, although you had asked your eldest to please keep an eye on the younger siblings. As usual, his effectiveness is inversely proportionate to how engrossed he is in today's episode of Phineas & Ferb.

Continue to lather up through detecting a few more screams, followed by a crash, and then crying. Now you immediately have to throw on a towel and paddle dripping wet down the hall to investigate. Once you assure no sibling has caused himself, another sibling or the flat screen TV bodily harm, you return your shivering self to the shower.

Soon a small shadowy apparition appears behind the blurry glass. Your youngest has arrived to pepper your shower with the typical rapid-fire questions about what's taking so long, what's the pink thing you're using on your legs, why do you have to shave your legs, does Daddy shave his legs, why don't boys have to shave their legs, how old will she have to be to start shaving her own legs, how much longer till she is that age, and when are you going to be done. She almost distracts you enough from noticing yet another new varicose vein behind your knee.

Hear the toilet flush. Leap out of the stream before it zaps from Comfortable Temperature to Ice Glacier to Third Degree Burns in a mere quarter of a second. Daughter lectures that you really shouldn't be jumping in there because the bathroom is NOT a place to fool around or you could crack your skull. After the sting of hearing you quoted back to you subsides, bribe her to go choose a book with the promise you'll read to her when you're done.

No sooner have you applied conditioner than there is incessant banging. Thankfully, your older son is respectful enough not to barge into the bathroom. He will instead bellow unintelligible jargon from behind the closed door. You shout back how you can't understand him because the shower is too loud and ask if it could wait five minutes until you're done.

Apparently, it cannot wait because the door is now open several inches, just enough so that an icy cold gust of air assaults you. He reports he just saw the commercial he loves with the talking turtles. Also just in from the Breaking News Desk, he no longer wants the Star Wars LEGO he originally put on his birthday wish list as he has replaced it with a Harry Potter video game. Tell him you'll make a note of his request and to please shut the door. He does, but then pops it back open long enough to complain how he almost slipped because someone got water all over the floor in the hallway.

Once you've toweled off and applied moisturizers, struggle to pull on a stubborn pair of jeans. You just wore these a few days ago, but for some unknown reason, your stomach has bloated out as if you're three months pregnant. Your options are to suffer constricted all day long or find a different pair, which means you probably can't wear the top you'd chosen specifically because of how fabulous it looks with said jeans. Slip into the top and alternately squeeze yourself into the straight leg, the bootcut and even the pair of skinny ones knowing full well they'll be too painful. None of them are the right shade of denim anyway.

But wait, it's warm enough out where you could use the comfy capri jeans instead. Oh, but those shoes don't go with capris. Try a different style of shoe. Does the wedge make the capris too short? It's too early in the season for the thong sandals. Maybe the ballerina flats. No, those won't work because they're the ones that rub your bunions the wrong way, and you'll be on your feet too long today to bear it.

You'll also have to change the belt and some of the jewelry you had originally planned. Decide on a pleasing combination of accessories, but then develop the sinking feeling you may have worn this top with these capris the last time you saw the very same people you'll see today.  Remove the entire outfit just in case and start again. Repeat.

After plucking stray eyebrow hairs and applying various acne and wrinkle prevention products, decide that today doesn't warrant a "full" make-up session. Limit yourself to concealer to cover blemishes and minimize the Samsonite luggage under your eyes along with some mascara and lipstick. Try three different shades before you hit upon the one that coordinates best with the outfit without calling too much attention to the sallow, pasty glow of your complexion.

Your daughter returns requesting your follow through on the story promised, so you attempt to read while simultaneously detangling your hair. You have to hurry because there's a narrow window between when your hair is too wet vs. too dry to straighten and style. She shrewdly notices when you paraphrase the part about the pumpkin turning into a coach and the dog turning into the footman and makes you go back to reread it word-for-word.

Afterwards, battle your hair into behaving temporarily. It still looks awful. Try putting it up. Spend five full minutes twisting your hair into a casual bun, where loose tendrils are supposed to give it that carefree "I just grabbed a clip and effortlessly twirled this together in all of three seconds" look. Yours seems to say "I was attacked by bats."

Comb it back down into your usual nondescript style, and go out into the world looking like a haggard woman with Bed Head who can't be bothered with spending time on her appearance.

What Getting Ready Entails for HIM:
Take 10 minute, uninterrupted shower.
Choose whatever shirt is on top of the "clean" pile.
Run fingers through hair.
WEEKEND OPTION:  Skip running fingers through hair and apply baseball cap.

Actual Time She Spends Getting Ready:  1 hour, 45 minutes 
How Long She Thinks It Takes Her:  35 minutes
How Long She Seems to Take as Witnessed by Him:  4 hours
His Simple Solution to Speed Her Along:  Lock the door while getting ready.
The Real Solution:  Let's face it, there isn't one. Sorry if I got your hopes up.

TALK TO ME:  How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? Who takes the longest at your house?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mom Minutes

Being a mom is one of the greatest joys in the world. However, it's also a bit time-consuming. In honor of Mother's Day, let's consider (and hopefully appreciate...ahem) how moms spend their time, examining how it differs relative to the ages and stages of their offspring.

I've illustrated this via pie charts because nothing goes together better than good ol' mom and apple pie. Well, except that these have no apples. Or cinnamon. Or cloves. Yup, it's just the charts. Definitely shaped like pies though. Also missing: crumbs, which moms would normally get stuck cleaning up. A Happy Mother's Day indeed.

TALK TO ME: What else do you find time-consuming as a mom or for a mom you know?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Walk into a Restaurant

As far as timesucks go, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest are probably the top three substitutions for spending time with actual humans. It's almost as if those websites are your best friends, there for you whenever you want, even after midnight, when it's generally frowned upon to phone your human friends.

So imagine if the Techies That Be who update technology faster than you can say "iPad 4" eventually found a way to make social media sites BECOME human. Would they remain your ideal companions.......or would spending merely one lunch hour with their human incarnations make you want to throw yourself in front of a bus, preferably one with no brakes?

Here's how it would probably go down:

You've just spent the morning squabbling with your boss (let's call him Mr. Worddoc) over his unwillingness to accept the fact that "google" is a real word and can be used as a verb, even if his insipid twit of a secretary, Ms. Spellgrammacheck keeps flagging it. And that sentence fragment?  It's called creative license! Needless to say, you're not exactly in a great mood.

"Lunchtime!" Twitter chirps brightly in front of your desk, offering you your handbag so you two can begin walking to a nearby restaurant. "So, I just heard your friend Becca got ANOTHER paper cut 5 seconds ago, Maureen still can't figure out why her checkbook won't balance, and Suzanne's currently debating whether to pack her wrap dress or the floral skirt for her trip to Maui!" 

You put your hand up to halt her. "Listen, I really don't need the play-by-play of what other friends are doing at this very second, okay?"

"How about some news then? Gas prices are skyrocketing, none of the people running for president are qualified for the job, a tornado just leveled a trailer park in Oklahoma, and the beef you cooked for dinner last night may or may not have been tainted with E.Coli."

"Twitter, please. Enough about the nation's problems," you say, skimming a text message from Facebook saying she's running a little late due to working out some new kinks.

"Entertainment update," Twitter says, unfaltering. "Will Ferrell returns to host this week's Saturday Night Live...and get this, they suspect Kate Middleton might be preggers! Another heir to the throne...couldn't you just die? Do you think it'll be a boy or a girl? I'll submit your vote to the #RoyalBunInTheOven hashtag."

You try to feign interest while opening the door to the restaurant. "Yeah, that's really...something."

Twitter grows impatient. "C'mon, vote! Boy or girl for Kate & Wills? Hurry up....54,023 people just tweeted theirs already. No, make that 54,146. Now it's 55,218. C'mon, you've gotta get in on this!"

"Look, I don't want to ruffle your feathers or anything, but---"

"Another bird reference? Really?" Twitter huffs.

Pinterest waves frantically across the room. "Yooohooo! I got us a table over here. Wait till you see what's on the menu. Not only that, but LOOK at the menu itself. It's hand-lettered in olde world calligraphy! And did you check out the window treatments in this place? They'd be fab in your dining room. I'll add it to your pinboard."

After you exchange an air kiss, Pinterest holds up the centerpiece. "See this? Hand-crafted. You just dip the candle yourself and then decorate this little shade with ribbon. Voila...instant tea light! So easy! You should totally make one."

Twitter takes out her camera. "Hold that up so I can share it with my new BFF, Instagram!"

Another group of women enters searching for an available table. Pinterest ushers them away. "Sorry, but this section is invite only. Move along."

"That wasn't very social of you," you say.

"Wait till you see the granite counters and pewter faucets in the Ladies' Room. Plus, it's the perfect color scheme for your master bath. Follow me, and I'll show you."

"Newsflash," Twitter interjects. "Snooki apparently said something stupid again, and it's so going viral right now."

You get up to follow Pinterest just as Facebook enters the restaurant. At least you think it's Facebook. Her new look stops you in your tracks. You slowly sit back down.

"Hi all," she says, hesitantly taking a seat at your table.

Everyone is dumbfounded by her appearance. You don't want to stare, so you focus on the basket the waitress just brought to the table.

Pinterest takes a piece of bread and whispers, "Someone just gave me the recipe for these oatmeal sourdough rolls. Want a copy?"

"I'm really swamped right now," you respond. "I can't fathom baking anything from scratch."

"I'm merely showing you what others, who are perhaps more efficient with their time, are accomplishing," Pinterest says. "Maybe if you better organized your schedule, you could fit mor---"

Twitter interrupts, "Todd's currently pondering what kind of impact having Mariano Rivera on the DL will have on the Yankees this season."

Facebook hands you a stack of 150 folders. "Here are those status updates you wanted. Overall, things have been very positive. Read quickly though because they'll all need updating in about 62 seconds."

You take the folders without making any eye contact.

"I also wanted to remind you it's your neighbor's cousin's birthday," Facebook says. "Should we write your good wishes now or later?"

"Neil Patrick Harris just made a witty remark," Twitter announces. "Wanna share it with all your followers?"

"No, that's okay," you say.  Overwhelmed, you start flipping through the folders.

Facebook continues nervously, "I included some new photos in there I thought you might like to, um, 'like.'"

She waits expectantly for your reaction, but you can't bring yourself to look her way.

Facebook takes a sip of wine. "Pinterest, Twitter, charming to see you as always."

Twitter taps you on the shoulder, "Kim's waiting for her boys' swim lessons to end and can't figure out why their instructor never lets them out on time."

"Speaking of time," Pinterest says. "'I've collected a whole bunch of hair-straightening ideas you could try when you get a second. You know, to do something about all that frizz."

"Thanks," you say. "I think."

Twitter smirks, "It's true. I could totally put up your pic at #BadHairDay." She and Pinterest share a laugh.

"I have bad photos of her, too," Facebook tries to chime in with them. "You should see what her friends from high school are tagging. I'll give you a hint...her hair actually looks BETTER now."

No one acknowledges the comment.

Facebook slams her wine glass on the table. "Is it THAT bad?  You all won't even look at me?"

You have to look now, but you really don't want to tell her how her new Timeline is the most hideous, unintelligent thing you've ever seen her wear. The whole composition doesn't even make sense. The eye can't navigate it freely.  You stammer for something, anything, positive to say. "Well, it certainly is ....different."

Twitter and Pinterest snicker.

"Different doesn't have to mean bad," Facebook says. "If I don't change, how will I stay relevant?"

Twitter taps her fork against a glass. "This just in...Kate Middleton? NOT pregnant."

"OMG, Twitter!" Facebook shouts. "Can you censor the random blather for five seconds and maybe attempt to focus on the conversation at hand for once?"

"You're just jealous because my style is always relevant and on trend," Twitter retorts. "By the way, your newsfeed ticker? A total rip-off of mine."

"Oh yes, I'm totally copying you. We all wish we could have a goofy Fail Whale, too, sure," Facebook scoffs.

Pinterest chimes in, "You can create adorable swim party invitations with little blue whales on them."

"Do you guys think I WANT to look like this?" Facebook shrieks. "I didn't have a CHOICE!"

You try to hush Facebook. "Please, you're making a scene."

"We were told this is the new required profile style," she cries. "But don't you see it's still me underneath?"

"Of course, we do." You pat her on the arm unconvincingly.

"You can't even make eye contact with me anymore, can you? Just say it. I'm so....I'm so..." She starts to cry. "Uugggglyyyyyy!"

"Actually, there's a hashtag about how much everyone loathes your new style," Twitter attempts to take her photo.

"You wench!" Facebook slaps the camera away, accidentally shattering a wineglass. She begins sobbing uncontrollably.

Twitter takes her photo anyway. "I'm sending this out to #AttentionWhoreDramaQueen." 

Pinterest examines the pieces of broken glass. "We could make wonderful mosaics with these."

"Now trending: Facebook Timeline Sucks," Twitter adds as Facebook lets out an ear-splitting whail.

You finally can't take it anymore and have to intercede.  "Twitter, for the love of all that's holy, shut up!  Facebook, get your act together and stop trying to reinvent yourself all the time. We liked you the way you were! And Pinterest, NO ONE is EVER going to have time to recreate any of the crafts, home decor designs or recipes you flaunt! We just like to look and dream, okay?"

Now you've done it. You've hurt all of their feelings. Everyone in the restaurant is silent, giving your table a disapproving look.

"Look, I'm sorry," you say to your friends. "I just think maybe it's time we all take a little break from each other for a day or two. I have to get out of here."

You pick up your purse, and head out the door. You don't need this aggravation. You have plenty of other friends.

You make it approximately five steps before turning around to go back inside. The girls beam as you reenter the dining room.

"You're back," Twitter says. "Everyone, she returned! #WelcomeBack!"

"You'll get used to my new look, really, I know you will," Facebook sniffles as she presents a stack of updated status folders.

Pinterest offers her a hankie. "By the way, did any of you ever attempt sewing one of these? I had the diagram with instructions up last week..."

TALK TO ME:  Which social media site takes up the most of your time? Do you find any aspects of these sites frustrating?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

That Strange New Pain...and Other Reasons to Avoid Googling Symptoms

It starts in the center of your lower abdomen. You've never felt a pain like this before, and now it's starting to radiate. Radiate! Pace around waiting for it to pass. After an hour, you begin to sweat and become slightly lightheaded. This could be caused by the pain or possibly from the anxiety of not knowing what it is. 

Attempt to do other tasks, but it's still there, throbbing. If it's just indigestion, why would it throb? You know what you have to do. You know you shouldn't, but you feel compelled.

Type your symptoms into the computer.

Google pulls up 2,358,905,001 results for "throbbing lower abdominal pain+radiates." You realize you have to tread carefully and ignore the disarming amount of times the word "cancer" appears.  Not that you're a hypochondriac, but there was one time when you had a shooting pain in your left arm and were convinced it was a opposed to the simple nerve compression and muscle strain anyone would acquire after an hour of holding a child on one hip while vacuuming.

You do hope it's not cancer though. You hate your hair, but you really don't want to lose it. Picture anxiously awaiting biopsy results and how you'd just know as soon as the doctor came into the room with the solemn I've-Got-Bad-News Face. Imagine how terrifying it must be to receive a fatal diagnosis. When you think of all the cancer patients who have been informed of that very fate, you feel even queasier. What made you think it wouldn't be you? What made you think it only happens to other people?

Immediately picture every person you've heard about dying young from cancer. Please don't let it be you. Not haven't even taken the kids to Disney yet!

Remind yourself that even if it were cancer (God forbid!), some people do survive. Oh, but the radiation! The chemo! To think this morning you had woken up annoyed because of your burgeoning to-do list, when you should've been thankful it was just an ordinary day and you were all healthy. Or so you thought.

Clutch your stomach. Scroll through other ailments it could be. Kidney stones, yikes. Oh my, what exactly is an abdominal aortic aneurysm? Appendicitis has also appeared in a lot of the results. But it can't be because that's a pain on the right side. Yours is in the middle. Feel compelled to read the appendicitis results anyway. And what's this?  It CAN start out in the middle and then, gulp, "radiate" toward the right later on? Oh my gosh, it COULD be appendicitis! 

Your heart races as you read things you can do to verify the diagnosis. Okay, you don't have a fever, but does it hurt to raise your right leg? Leap out of the chair to test this. Never mind how ridiculous you look standing in front of the desk like a soldier mid-march. Okay, that did hurt, but it wasn't excruciating. Maybe it's not appendicitis. You don't really have all the symptoms. But as you Google further, you discover you CAN have some but not all the symptoms and still have appendicitis! Oh why, did this have to happen to you? You're minding your own business, and suddenly there's a pain and you're screwed.

Would this mean surgery? You believe it's the only known cure for appendicitis. You don't have time to be hospitalized. You're supposed to help out at your daughter's school tomorrow, and you have an article deadline to meet. Then there's all the chauffeuring the kids need.  Picture being wheeled into surgery in agony gasping "" between breaths.

What if you die under anesthesia? You suppose it would be peaceful at least. The thought of inheriting your grandfather's Alzheimer's Disease and not remembering your loved ones has always shaken you to the core. Enjoy a moment of temporary relief in thinking if this pain kills you now, you'll never get Alzheimer's.

Research how many bouts of appendicitis you can have before it ruptures. What's this? Some people have several, but some have only one, arrive at the hospital too late, and DIE!  Start picturing what your last moments would look like. Sure, you'd like to go peacefully in your sleep, with your family all around you. Ideally, a poetic farewell in your own bed, surrounded by lots of flowers as you take your last breaths beneath the framed covers of the 37 best-selling novels you've written...

Or wait, would that be too hard for the kids to bear? Seeing you like that?  Oh my gosh, the kids will be motherless! Your daughter's only a preschooler. Will she even remember you? Frantically wrack your brain for your earliest memories. You can sorta recall your kindergarten teacher playing piano while the class sang. That's it?  That's all you're going to be to your daughter? Some vague vision of a disheveled woman handing her a bagel for breakfast? You'll never get to be Mother of the Bride either. All because of this stupid, stupid pain.

What will become of your husband? He's such a good guy. You don't want him to be alone. Think about who he might hook up with when you're gone.  Who would you pick for him? Certainly not her. No, not that one either. She'd talk him to death, and he'd hate it. Not too young because that's just a slap in the face. I mean really, he couldn't turn into the mid-life-crisis-cruising-in-a-convertible-with-blond-chickadee cliche. Or could he? 

No, he should find someone around his age who's attractive and smart, and good with the kids, of course. Although not too attractive and not too good with the kids. Perhaps slightly overweight and dumpy. Perhaps with a hideous third eye. The truth is, you want to be unforgettable. You want him to look at her with respect, and yet always feel just a teensy bit of longing because you're just so damn irreplaceable.  

As you prod your abdomen for tumors, think about some of the women already in his life. Wonder which one he'd choose. Yeah, you think you know. Didn't his voice light up a little bit when talking about her that one time? 

You will never forgive Ms. X for this now, for moving in on your husband and taking total advantage of him in his all-encompassing grief.  But no, that's not right. If you're no longer here and she's the one he really wanted to be with, he could do worse. You'll allow it. You will not haunt him from the grave. You do want him to be happy. You're so's such a shame you have to die.

But life will have to go on without you. You'll insist on him keeping at least one photo of you on display, preferably one of the two in your lifetime where your hair didn't appear limp and frizzy. Just one photo, for the kids' sake. That's all you ask. Eternal flame candle and shrine optional. Does he even know where you keep the photos though? You hope Ms. X at least has the decency to help him find one.

Your daughter approaches to request a cookie. Normally you'd say no because she hasn't had lunch yet, but today you relent and offer her two.  Poor kid could be motherless soon and doesn't even know it. When you give her the cookies, lean down right into her face to assure yours makes a lasting imprint on her memory. Start pleading with heaven above that if you could just live through this to see your children grow up, you'd never complain again ever.

The pain is suddenly more intense. It's stabbing you now. Maybe you should call 911 and get it all over with already. Fight back a tear on the way to the phone. Stop to go to the bathroom. 

When you're through, the pain has disappeared altogether. You feel 100% better. All those search results, and not ONE said "indigestion" or "temporary." Well, maybe one did, but it certainly wasn't in the top results. Shame on Google for listing the scariest results first. It's entirely to blame for the mental anguish that just ensued. Although....maybe you should Google to research whether pain like yours that goes away could come back...

Next time you see Ms. X, glower and stare her down just a little bit.

Actual Time Spent in Pain:  Intermittently spread out over 2 hours 
Time Wasted Researching & Panicking:  3 hours non-stop 
Real Feel:  14 hours 
Chance Your Husband & Children Would Ever Build a Shrine to You:  Fat 

TALK TO ME:  Have you ever researched medical symptoms online? Do you sometimes worry about something bad happening to you whereas you wouldn't be around for your children?

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