I'm Still Alive!

I think!

Hey folks!

I know I’ve been remiss in my newsletters! This last year has been…well, you know what it’s been.

I’ve definitely found this newsletter form extra challenging during the pandemic and everything else that’s happening. I’m not an expert in epidemiology, or critical race theory, or insurrection, and I prefer to take a backseat to experts rather than shoot off opinions on stuff. Part of that is, I think, common sense, and part of it is also probably a little imposter syndrome. Anyway, I’m always like “well I can talk about banana bread but there was just a coup so maybe I’ll listen to some experts in politics.”

Srsly though banana bread is delicious, and here are my go to recipes:

This one is just good banana bread, and these banana muffins are pure indulgence.

The other thing that kinda got in the way of my newsletter was I was in the hospital for a solid week and had to have a bunch of procedures. Not related to Covid, luckily—my gallbladder decided to shit the bed. On September 11th I went in to UC because I’d turned bright yellow, and didn’t leave for seven days. I was pretty sick around all of that, but it was, weirdly, a rather nice vacation. Only during after months of social distancing is a hospital stay a relief—I got to meet new people, talk to other humans, etc. And I was so sick that it just felt good to be taken care of—I’m normally a NIGHTMARE of a sick person, like a toddler declaring I CAN DO IT even when it’s obvious I can’t do it. But I was so sick I was happy to lay there and watch endless HGTV, until they ripped the offending organ from my body.

I’ve learned a few things from that experience that I’d like to share. If you still have a gallbladder, know that they are traitorous fuckers. And word on the street is that even though GI doctors are the first to say “it’s probably our gallbladder,” EVERY OTHER MEDICAL PERSON ON EARTH is going to tell you it’s anything BUT your gallbladder, even if you know damned well it’s your gallbladder, because the same thing happened to your mother and grandmother and aunties, etc. They will tell you it’s gas, or cramps, or ulcers, for YEARS (yes, I’m bitter) until your gallbladder is a festering stone factory actively trying to kill you. Then they’ll be like “you know what, maybe it’s your gallbladder” and then the GI doctor will say “obviously it was your gallbladder from the beginning, it’s always the gallbladder” in the same voice detectives say “it’s always the husband.”

So if you have gallbladder symptoms, scream it’s your gallbladder until they CT scan you, before you turn yellow and have to have a bunch of endoscopies chasing stones around your system.

All of this assumes you have health insurance, of course, which is the other thing I’m extremely aware of right now. When I went to UC, they took one look at me and were like “no ma’am,” and insisted I RIDE IN AN AMBULANCE from Shadyside UC to Shadyside ER, which are ACROSS THE STREET FROM EACH OTHER. This magical 3-minute ride cost my insurance around $1500 dollars, and that was only the tip of what I can only imagine was an obscenely expensive iceberg.

So #medicareforall, because your gallbladder is just WAITING to get you, don’t think it’s not plotting your demise, and nobody can afford this shit.

The OTHER excuse I’m going to make is that even though I wasn’t writing this newsletter and was consuming ridiculous amounts of podcasts (please expert tell me what is happening) and having organs ripped out of me, I DID write a book. God bless him, Tony Norman, the beloved Pittsburgh writer, totally bollocked me in a Zoom meeting. He’s writing like crazy and I was like “how are you doing this? I can’t write shit” and he was like “YOU COULD DIE NICOLE” and then he had us do an exercise where we wrote about what we’d write if we knew we were dying in 3 months. Needless to say, this rather existential question takes on a special frisson during a pandemic, and during that exercise I came up with an idea and I wrote the idea.

Is the idea good? I have no idea. I just gave it a slapdash revision and sent it to a friend to tell me if it’s just me making a speech or if it’s a novel, something I have serious doubts about. But I wrote it, and it took a lot of time, what with the figuring out teaching during a pandemic and turning yellow and everything else, and I am not about to overwork myself, because I have boundaries I’ve painstakingly constructed after years of therapy, so this newsletter was what got the chop.

I’m sorry for that. I actually enjoy writing it, and I know many of you and love many of you. Some of you are strangers, who are like “what the hell, she promised newsletters” so this is also my moment to warn you that I am a horrible, fickle, newsletter provider. Sometimes I’m on the ball, sometimes I drop the ball and disappear.

I’m sure none of you really care, because the other thing therapy has taught me is it’s really not about me. SO I need to make this about takeaways, and here are your takeaways:

  • Banana bread for everyday, banana muffins for special occasions

  • Your gallbladder is probably, right now, even as you read this, trying to kill you

  • #medicareforall

  • and you could die at any moment so think about what you want to do with your time.

I hope the wait was worth it. xoxoxoxoxo

Nicole