Tag Archives: personal story

Recounting The Dumbest Health Scare I Ever Had

Everybody makes a fool of themselves at some point in their lives. It’s inevitable. Like traffic, taxes, and boredom at a doctor’s office, it’s an ever-present prospect. You’re going to do something stupid at some point. No matter how much time passes, you’re going to look back and cringe. You’ll feel so stupid at that moment that you’ll wonder how you ever managed put your pants on that day.

Some people have more moments than others. The capable people learn and grow from them. The idiots and narcissists never learn, but make endless excuses. I don’t deny I’ve had a number of those moments in my life. Some are more foolish than others. A few are things I’m not comfortable sharing. I will, however, share one that still makes me cringe and laugh with distressing regularity.

It involves a health scare that I had a while back. Don’t worry. It’s quite possibly the dumbest health scare you’ll ever hear about that doesn’t involve a hang nail or something a kid learned in sex ed. If anyone has anything stupider, I’d love to hear it.

Before I get into detail, I need to note the context of this scare. I’m not making excuses. I’m just highlighting that it didn’t come out of nowhere. This happened shortly after a close relative began undergoing cancer treatments. On top of that, heart disease ran in my family. I had a valid reason for being overly cautious about my health.

That didn’t make what happened any less stupid.

It happened one day when I was trimming my beard. I noticed a strange bump on my lower-right chin. It didn’t feel like anything I’d felt before. I tried to look closer. I couldn’t tell what it was through my facial hair. It didn’t feel like a bruise or an ingrown hair. It just felt like a regular bump.

At first, I shrug it off. Then, I start picking at it, as people tend to do with things they don’t understand. Naturally, it starts growing. At some point, it gets a little sore. I can feel it when I chew. That’s when my mind starts racing.

What if it’s a tumor?

What if it’s some malignant cyst?

What if it’s some crazy condition I don’t even know about?

I’m not going to lie. I did start anxiously browsing WebMD for information, which you should definitely not do. Browsing WebMD in hopes of determining how sick you are is like watching old cop movies to learn how to defuse a bomb. You’re only going to make it worse.

It’s because of that I seriously considered going to my doctor. I even promised myself that, if it still hurt after a week, I would make an appointment. Thankfully, it never came to that because I soon found out what it was in the dumbest way possible.

It was a goddamn pimple.

That’s it. That’s all it was. It was just a pimple that had somehow formed in my beard and got irritated, probably because I kept picking at it. I only confirmed it was a pimple when it randomly popped. Again, I was picking at it. Having had serious acne problems since I was a teenager, I knew what pimples looked like when they popped. This just happened to be a particularly large one that my beard hid.

I wish I could say it was a relief, but I just felt so stupid at the moment that I would’ve preferred something worse. I vividly remember looking at myself in my bathroom mirror with this deadpanned expression, as though I’d just tried to cut a steak with a soup spoon. I would’ve laughed if it weren’t so pathetic.

There’s a time and a place to worry about your health. A global pandemic is bound to put everyone on edge and for wholly valid reasons. However, you don’t do yourself any favors by being stupid. If anything, you’ll only find creative ways to make it worse.

I’ve had plenty of other moments in my life when I’ve felt dumb. Given current events, I thought I’d share one about my health at a time when we’re all a little extra health conscious. No matter the situation, we’re all vulnerable to doing stupid things. We just need to be a lot more careful during a pandemic.

If anyone else has a story about moments when they felt dumb, please share them in the comments. As long as we’re all stuck at home, we might as well use it as an opportunity for extra introspection.

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The Moment I Knew Puberty Began For Me

In life, there are certain moments when you know you’ve reached a certain milestone. Sometimes, it’s obvious. From the first time you drive a car to the first time you kiss someone who isn’t your mother, they stand out in your memory. It’s not always pleasant. Some moments are more awkward than others, but they mark a major change in your life.

Going through puberty is one of those things that generates more awkward moments than most. I challenge anyone to recount their transformation from kid to adult without at least one part being awkward. I’ve shared a few stories from my youth, some being a lot more awkward than others. I can laugh about them now, but they marked critical points in my life that have only become more relevant as I’ve gotten older.

For most of us, there’s no one single point when we know we’ve entered puberty. You don’t just wake up one day and know that you’re a teenager now. All those crazy mental and physical changes don’t happen all at once. If they did, few of us would survive the process with our sanity intact.

That said, there are some moments that, in hindsight, mark a particular point in your life when you realize that this transformation has become. You’ve crossed the point of no return. You’re becoming a teenager now. Eventually, you’ll become an adult. It can be daunting, but it’s a part of life.

In that spirit, I’d like to share a particular moment that still stands out to me after all these years. It’s a moment in which I realized that I wasn’t a kid anymore. Puberty has begun and there’s no going back. At that moment, it was just a strange realization that I discounted. However, over time, it became a turning point.

It happened while I was in the fifth grade. It was late spring. We had just come back from Spring Break. The weather had finally gotten nice enough to enjoy recess without heavy jackets. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I was just glad I could stop dressing in layers.

On this particular day, though, it was very humid. Coming back from recess, everyone was a lot sweatier than usual. Being kids, we didn’t care. We were just glad to get outside and away from book reports. I don’t remember much else about what happened that day, but I can vividly recall what happened the moment we returned to class.

As soon as we sat down at our tests and my teacher got to the front of the room, she made an impromptu announcement that will forever echo in my memory.

“You all, stink.”

I swear I’m not paraphrasing. That’s exactly what my teacher told us. She was an credibly blunt, straightforward woman. She didn’t mince words and this was one instance in which they couldn’t be sugarcoated.

She took a good five minutes of class time to give an impromptu lecture on how much we smell. She wasn’t polite about it. She just said in every possible way that we really smell and we need to start using deodorant. Past teachers have told us we smelled before, but never like this. It was the first time in which I became mindful of body odor.

I was really taken aback by this, as were plenty of classmates. Keep in mind, we’re all just 5th graders. We still see ourselves as kids and not teenagers. Some were more mature than others, but we were still kids at heart. I certainly felt that way. After this, however, that changed.

When I left class that day, it started to sink in. I was going through puberty. At that point, I knew what it was. I’d taken a health class. My parents also told me about it, too. I just didn’t think it would happen for another couple years. When I looked in the mirror, I still saw a kid. Now, I took note of some very real changes.

Body odor was just one. At the same time, I started noticing acne and body hair. It was very subtle. It didn’t happen all at once, but after that day, I became much more aware of it. By the time I got to middle school, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I was a teenager at that point. That fateful day in the 5th grade was just the first time I realized it.

I’ve come to appreciate that moment more and more over the years. I still had many difficulties, as most kids do when they become teenagers. Some were more manageable than others. I probably could’ve handled it better, in hindsight. However, it’s still remarkable to think that it all began with that one fateful day.

Do you have a day like that? Is there one particular moment in which you realized puberty had begun for you? If so, please share it in the comments.

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Cutting My Own Hair: My Experience (And Mishaps)

These are strange, difficult, and incredibly frustrating times. The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined many big things in our world, from major sporting events to movie releases. Between that and the egregious death toll, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the big effects of this pandemic. However, sometimes it’s the little things can be just as impactful.

Just recently, I experienced one of those little impacts. For the first time in my life, I gave myself a haircut. I want to say I’m proud of it. I wish I could say it turned out just fine. Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to be that dishonest with the fine people who read this blog.

It’s true, though. I did cut my own hair this past weekend. I’d genuinely hoped I wouldn’t have to, but my timing with respect to haircuts couldn’t have been worse. I typically get my hair cut every two months. It’s nothing fancy. I just get an overall trim that insures my hair looks neat, classy, and well-kept. It’s rarely that much of a hassle.

Then, the mass shut-down came and every barber shop within a 100 mile radius was closed. At that point, I was well past due for a haircut and it showed. My hair started looking less and less kept. I learned back in college that if I don’t cut my hair regularly, I end up looking like an extra in a grunge band from 1993. If I let my beard grow, I’d look like a mountain man with dandruff.

I really resisted the inclination to cut my hair on my own. Finally, after waking up one morning and seeing my hair in the mirror, I decided it was time. I didn’t have much to go on, so I just bought a cheap pair of clippers from Walmart, put a paper towel over my sink, and went through with it.

I wish I could say it was simple. I’d hoped it would be simple. It wasn’t. In fact, it took longer to cut my own hair than it would have if I’d gone to a barber shop. That’s because cheap clippers and messy, oily hair don’t exactly complement one another. I had to keep buzzing over the same areas on my head multiple times because the clippers always seemed to miss something. It got so tedious my arms got tired.

Eventually, I cut my hair to a point where it’s at least somewhat presentable. I wish I could describe it. I’ll just say it’s somewhere between a crew cut and a buzz cut, but with some messy spots in the middle. Just getting it even was way harder than it should’ve been. It’s still not even, but at least it’s manageable.

I won’t say it looks ugly, but it’s not exactly flattering, nor is it professional. If I walked into a job interview with this haircut, I’d probably get docked a few points. It was enough to make me hope I don’t have to cut my hair again. It also gave me much more appreciation for the barbers and stylists of this world.

Seriously, we miss you. My hair misses you. I hope this quarantine ends soon so you can get back to making us all look good.

For those of you in my position who badly need a haircut, do yourself a favor. Either find someone else who can cut it or use videos like this one to make sure you still look presentable.

 

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Weddings, Alcohol, And A Story About Me Dancing (Badly)

I’m good at a lot of things. I take pride in the skills and talents I have. I’m also self-aware enough to know when I’m genuinely bad at something, no matter how hard I try. With that, I’d like to openly admit one of my major shortcomings.

I can’t dance.

I know that’s not the worst shortcoming a man can have, but it’s not just that I’m lacking in talent when it comes to dancing. I’m genuinely bad at it, often to a hilarious degree. Any friend or relative who has been with me to a party will attest to that.

As bad a dancer I am, though, I don’t let that stop me from enjoying a major celebration and making it special. Sometimes, that requires some minor alcohol intake, but that can actually make it even more memorable. I know because I have a personal story that definitively proves that. In the interest of giving everyone something fun and uplifting to read, I’d like to share it.

This story actually took place fairly recently. A close relative of mine was getting married in upstate New York. It made for one of the largest family gatherings we had in years. People I hadn’t seen in a long time had gathered in this beautiful old church that the wedding planners turned into a perfect party venue. It was an amazing setup for a beautiful wedding.

Being a fan of romance, I already have an inherent love of weddings. I’m also a fan of big family gatherings because my family knows how to throw an awesome party. In essence, this wedding had everything necessary to have a good time. I certainly did, as did everyone who attended.

There were so many wonderful moments at this wedding. Granted, most came from the bride and groom, but there were a few others that stood out. I like to think I was one of them and this is where my terrible dancing skills come in.

Now, I need to add a little context here with respect to my dance style. Most of the time, I avoid it because I’d rather not make a fool of myself or anyone nearby. However, this wedding had an ample supply of free beer and beer tends to effect my willingness to make a fool of myself, among other things.

I don’t consider myself a big drinker, but I’m very aware of what I’m like when I get a little tipsy. I’m a very happy, affectionate drunk. I’ll hug random strangers and laugh for no reason. I’ll also start randomly dancing, even when there’s no music. At a wedding where music is constantly playing, I need even less incentive.

I don’t recall having more than two beers before my usual reservations went out the window. After all the romance and festivities from earlier, everyone was in a jovial mood. I certainly shared that mood. The beer was just the catalyst that accelerated the reaction.

As the sun is setting, I make my way to the dance floor. I’m moving and grooving with the grace of a headless chicken, but that doesn’t stop me. I’m having too good a time and I’m too intoxicated to care. I remember more than a few relatives laughing. I’m not sure if they were laughing at my dance skills or if they were drunk too. It was probably a combination of the two.

It all eventually culminated in a moment that I hope the bride and groom remember fondly for years to come. It happened near the end of the reception. The song “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi was playing. For reasons I still don’t understand, my brother and I jump up on an empty table and start dancing to the song.

We dance fairly poorly. We almost fall off a few times, but that doesn’t stop us. Then, people started cheering. That just makes us dance even more.

I’m fairly confident we both made fools of ourselves. I’m just as certain that we didn’t care and neither did anyone else. We had fun. For a brief moment, we were the stars of the post-wedding celebration. My mother still can’t recall that story without laughing and I don’t blame her in the slightest.

It was a brief, but memorable moment from a day that many in my family still cherish. I certainly will. While it didn’t make me a better dancer, it showed that I didn’t have to be in order to make fond memories with the people I love.

During times of crisis, having memories like that are both powerful and therapeutic. If you have some you’d like to share yourself, please do so in the comments.

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Recounting My Fondest Easter Memories

As a holiday, Easter tends to be somewhat forgettable. Unless you’re a member of a religious sect that really emphasizes the religious aspects of Easter, it’s probably not on your list of favorite holidays. It’s on a Sunday, which means nobody gets a day off school. It doesn’t involve fancy presents or decorations, either. I imagine some people didn’t even realize that Easter is tomorrow.

That’s understandable. I certainly don’t fault anyone who only knows Easter as the holiday that inspires egg-shaped candy. For me, however, Easter has a more personal meaning. It’s not for any religious or cultural reasons. It has everything to do with how I experienced it with my family.

As I’ve noted before, and will likely note many times over, my family is awesome. It would take days on end to list all the reasons why, but Easter is among the more unique reasons. That’s because my family rarely needs a major excuse to throw a party.

Whether it’s a holiday, a major life event, or a combination of the two, we jump at the chance to make it into a formal get-together. Even after various family members have moved away for one reason or another, we still make an effort to come together and enjoy each other’s company. Easter was just one of them.

With that in mind, I’d like to share one particular Easter memory that has always stood out for me. It happened when I was a young, overly energetic kid. At the time, everything was still new to me and I didn’t entirely understand the Easter holiday. I just knew that it involved going to my grandmother’s house and having a big dinner with my many relatives.

That may not sound like much, but trust me. For a kid, it meant a lot. That’s because my grandmother was an incredible cook. She took to cooking Easter dinner the same way most take to cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a football team. From the crack of dawn to sunset, she was in the kitchen, cooking up something delicious. Some were entrees and other were deserts. No matter what it was, I just remember it being delicious.

It eventually culminated around dinner time in the mid to late afternoon. Once my father made the announcement, the rush was on. The food was ready and by then, everyone was starving. I certainly was.

However, there was no way my grandmother’s kitchen table was big enough to handle all the food. Instead, my dad and other relatives set up a this big buffet table in the basement of her house. It was like a shrine to my grandmother’s cooking prowess and everyone congregated to admire its splendor.

To this day, I still remember the amazing smell of that buffet. I can close my eyes and remember the smell of meatballs, ham, ravioli, and sweet potatoes. Beyond the quality of the food, I also remember how happy everyone was as they fixed their plate, found a place to sit, and just hung out to enjoy each other’s company.

It might not sound like much, but as a kid, it left an impression. It showed how powerful it was for family to come together, catch up, and enjoy some great food. You could feel the love, the bonds, and the connections that spanned multiple generations. The fact that people would drive hundreds of miles just to taste my grandmother’s cooking certainly helped.

That Easter really set the tone for how great a family gathering could be. It gave me a lasting impression of who my family was and why the bonds we forged matter so much. I don’t remember much else from that part of my life, but I’ll always remember that Easter.

Sadly, my grandmother is no longer with us. I miss her every day, but I miss her even more whenever Easter comes around. I can’t speak for everyone in my family, but I bet they’d agree that she made every Easter special. Some were just more special than others.

I know this year might feel like a lost year for Easter, but that only makes those bonds we cherish more precious. Even if we can’t come together in a formal gathering, we can still connect. Whether it’s just for a ham dinner or for hiding Easter Eggs for the kids, it’s a chance to come together and it’s a chance worth taking.

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Recalling (And Thanking) My Favorite Teacher In High School

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I’ve made no secret of how much I hated high school. I’ve also made no secret of how miserable I was as a teenagers. I know most teenagers are inherently moody. It’s as unavoidable as acne, body hair, and homework. I was just a lot moodier than most teens and for piss poor reasons.

However, my teenage years and high school experience weren’t all purified misery. There were indeed a few notable bright spots. Since this is the time of year when high school students are preparing for their last round of tests or planning for college, I thought it would be a good time to share one of those bright spots.

It’s not a single event, moment, or achievement. It’s a person. Specifically, he was my favorite teacher out of every teacher I had up to that point in school.

Out of respect for my teacher’s privacy, I won’t use his real name. I’ll just call him Mr. Lee. If I were to list all the things that made Mr. Lee such a great teacher, it would take me all week and that’s if I skipped meals. There are some teachers who just read from books and assign homework. There are also teachers who genuinely care and genuinely love to teach. Mr. Lee was the latter.

I had him for two classes. First, I had him for a computer science class. Then, I had him for AP Calculus. In both classes, his skill and passion for teaching shined. That’s not easy to do when you’re teaching something like calculus to a bunch of hormonal teenagers, but the man made it look easy. He even seemed to have fun while doing it.

It probably helped that Mr. Lee was incredibly smart. By that, I don’t just mean he was qualified to teach those subject. Mr. Lee graduated from Harvard with honors. He had a masters degree in computer engineering. He could’ve easily gotten a job at a big tech company and earned six figures by the time he was 30. Instead, he decided to teach immature teenagers how to write computer code and do calculus.

That, alone, speaks to the kind of character this man had. He was the kind of teacher who had an answer for every question and he never needed to check a book, phone, or computer. When you asked him something, he wouldn’t just give you an answer. He’d give you a damn good reason as to why it’s the right answer.

Despite how smart he was, Mr. Lee still carried himself with uncanny humility. He never acted like he was better than everyone else for being so smart. He was actually very approachable. You could talk to the man about anything. I once had a 10 minute conversation with him about how to make the perfect pizza. I still smile whenever I recall him explaining how carefully he spread the cheese on every pie.

Mr. Lee didn’t just demand your respect. He earned it. More importantly, and this is what set him apart, he made you want to earn his respect. Nobody slouched in his class. Nobody disrespected him or tried to nap through a lesson. That was the one class you really couldn’t sleep through because Mr. Lee made every lesson so engaging.

Again, this man taught AP Calculus. That’s not an easy subject to make engaging.

He still found a way. He always found a way to make a concept easy to understand. It’s because of him that I passed every exam, including the notoriously difficult AP Calculus exam that every student dreaded. I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident taking a test that didn’t involve an essay question.

I owe that success to Mr. Lee. Without him, I would’ve been even more miserable in high school. His classes, as difficult as they were, made me feel like I was learning something valuable. I still appreciate that value to this day.

You don’t always know which teacher will impact you the most over the course of your life, but when they do, it’s worth cherishing. I doubt Mr. Lee will ever read this or remember me, but during a less-than-pleasant time in my life, he was a breath of fresh air. For that, I sincerely thank him.

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A Rant About Going To The Dentist

I hate going to the dentist.

I know that’s not a very controversial statement. Most people who go the dentist don’t go because they want to. They go because they have to. It’s about as fun as getting a colonoscopy, although I would argue a colonoscopy is preferable. At least you’re not expected to undergo that literal shit show at least twice a year.

I say this after having just come back from my latest six-month checkup. While going to the dentist has never been an overly pleasant experience, this was more frustrating than usual. It’s not just because it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, and distressing, although that is a big part of it. This trip was a special kind of annoying.

It’s an annoyance that has been building and compounding over the past several years. In the past, going to the dentist was just a formality. I’d go, get my teeth cleaned, and make an appointment for six months later. It’s still never a pleasant feeling, having a hygienist poke your teeth with metal for a half-hour. It was still bearable, at the very least.

These past few trips have changed things up and not in a good way. Now, every time I go, both the dentist and the hygienist seem to find something wrong with my teeth or come up with some new, exceedingly uncomfortable procedure.

Last time, it was X-rays. I’ve had them done before, but something must have changed because I swear the hygienist tried to X-ray every individual tooth. Doing so required me to bite down on this uncomfortable contraption that made my mouth feel like someone was punching it from the inside. It didn’t help that the hygienist seemed unfamiliar with the technology.

Then, there was the exam itself. For the past several years, this dentist has been telling me to do all these elaborate things to prevent cavities, tooth decay, and gum recession. As a result, I’ve tried to be responsible and follow his professional recommendations. That includes the following:

  • Buying an expensive electronic toothbrush that has equally expensive replacement heads
  • Switching toothpaste to a pricier brand
  • Flossing more regularly, both with regular floss and an expensive water floss pick
  • Regularly using special mouth wash to prevent cavities
  • Undergoing gum graft surgery that was so uncomfortable that I would not wish it on my worst enemy

I did all of this over the span of the past five years. I’ve invested time and money to ensure that I maintain proper dental care, just as he asked. It should pay off, shouldn’t it?

Apparently, all that money and time was totally wasted. At my last appointment, the dentist tells me I still got a cavity. On top of that, he didn’t even make clear that it was a cavity.

He used some weird dentist jargon that I didn’t understand. He never even told me I had to come back into the office, get my mouth numbed up again, and have it filled in a procedure that ruins at least half of your day. I didn’t find out until the receptionist asked when I wanted to schedule a filling.

I was pissed, to say the least. It took a great deal of restraint to keep myself from yelling at her and my dentist. At this point, it feels like they’re just plundering my dental insurance and seeing how much I can endure hours in an uncomfortable dental chair. I don’t know if it’s just my dentist, but if I keep having experiences like this, I’m going to find someone else.

I know it’s impossible to get around.

I know dental hygiene is important.

Even so, I’ll say it again.

I hate going to the dentist.

Fuck going to the dentist.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

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