I haven’t written a post in 14 months, so I was going to make a joke about still being alive, but that’s not funny during a pandemic, is it? However, I am alive, grateful to be so, and fully vaxxed and boosted so I can continue my 15,040-day living streak. Here’s a round-up of the year’s highlights, because I am for-real getting old now and need to write things down or I will forget them.
When I turned 40 last year, I was bummed that it put me in a more deadly COVID-19 cohort. Instead, my advanced age was good for my mortality because it made me eligible to get my shot two weeks earlier than if I’d been born five months later. I had to wait for the 40-45-year-olds window to open up at 8am on March 22 to schedule an appointment and I was on top of that game like a bot scooping up Taylor Swift tickets. As of May 12, 2021, I was fully vaxxed! Yay!
I still think Indiana should have let obese people jump the line instead of focusing mostly on age groups, but if they’d done that more than a third of the state would have been eligible at once. No, that’s not a joke. We’re number 5! (Thank goodness for Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, and Louisiana!) However, we’re also ranked 43rd in total vaccination rates, so I guess demand wasn’t that high after all.
I found great joy crossing off items on my “Post-Vaccination To-Do list” which, yes, I really did write out on an orange index card.
I visited a dentist for the first time in two years and miraculously had no cavities. (Flossing daily works, y’all!) I switched to Verizon because Sprint got bought by T-Mobile who kept dropping my calls like it was the 90’s. I got the skid plate on my car reattached. And I finally got a haircut after 22 months. Yes, I did look like a cave woman!
The best moment was hugging my mom after 14 months of “air hugs” where we’d make hugging gestures from across the room like we were auditioning for mime school. The second best thing was no more 8am grocery store trips. I’d been going every two weeks at the least busy time, but the disruption to my sleep routine would trigger my headache and make me useless for the rest of the day. I also don’t miss the time it took to arrange my grocery list by aisle so I could swoop in and out as soon as possible. Ultimately though, making the grocery store a dangerous place to visit was one of the best things to happen to me since it basically forced me into food rehab, so I can’t be all that bitter about it.
When you turn 40, the warranty on your body expires
As soon as my inner odometer rolled over to forty, everything started to break. There were minor things, like varicose veins rising on my legs and my left thumb occasionally locking up. I’m also becoming far-sighted, so anything closer than eight inches from my face is blurry now, which is hilarious because before I got LASIK anything farther away from my face than eight inches was blurry. My field of vision has completely inverted!
My hair is thinning, which no one warned me it was going to do! And it looks gray in some photos depending on the lighting and what I’m wearing. I still have far more brown hairs than white ones, but they are slowly getting turned, like zombies. It’s Night of the Living Dead in my scalp, y’all.
Then there were more serious issues like the time I threw my back out, collapsed on the kitchen floor, and realized we shouldn’t have been laughing at the lady in the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” ads back in the 90’s. That was serious! I’m so sorry, Mrs. Fletcher!
I managed to slide my way across the kitchen linoleum, take a hard left through the bathroom, and then drag myself across the bedroom carpet until I reached my cell phone. I called my Mom who unlocked the door so the firemen could get me up, which took them all of 30 seconds. Thank you, fire department! I feel like I really got my tax money’s worth this year!
I then stared at the ceiling in my bedroom for four days because I for-real couldn’t get up. I even launched a web site from bed, which sounds like a fun way to do your job, but was just nerve-wracking because so many things could have gone wrong.
No more mini-marathons
The worst health news this year involved the intermittent knee pain I’d developed in October 2020, but had tolerated for seven months as I remained locked down in my hovel in fear of other people’s respiratory particles. When I finally went to the doctor in May, I was hoping she’d tell me it was runner’s knee since I’d started walking regularly after the pandemic hit. But nope, I have osteoarthritis! No, you don’t usually get that when you’re 39 and 11 months old. Yes, I think the chronic obesity had something to do with it.
Basically, the cartilage in my knees is wearing down and it doesn’t grow back. This is REALLY, REALLY, painful! The only worse pain I’ve experienced is my nine-hour gallbladder attack. There were nights in October and November when I took some tramadol leftover from a root canal so I could get to sleep.
I saw a physical therapist (though I never saw the bottom of her face) and she showed me exercises to strengthen my leg muscles to better support my knee. I haven’t had pain lately, but I’m also not walking as much as I was in 2020. Either way, my running days are over, under medical orders, which makes me a bit sad. I’m glad I completed the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon back in 2008, because that sure as hell isn’t happening again.
Java Bean is fine, but we thought he had cancer!
Visiting the vet during a pandemic sucks in general because you have to wait in the parking lot while they exam your pet inside, but I doubt it gets much worse than learning over the phone that your cat might have jaw cancer and then sobbing in your car next to three other parked people who can most definitely see you through their windshields. Thankfully, they were all distracted by their phones or pretended to be and kept any possible COVID particles in their cars instead of trying to comfort me.
In July, Java Bean had some loose teeth that had to be pulled during his dental cleaning, and the x-ray revealed what looked like cancer. During the ten days it took to get the biopsy back, I gave Java Bean as many treats as he wanted, fed him the non-diet cat food he prefers, and bought a little memorial kit to make clay imprints of his paws. I’d even selected the photo I was going to put next to it and done my best to smudge out my rosacea in PhotoShop:
Then the vet called and told me Java Bean has 18 lives instead of 9 because it wasn’t cancer after all! In the 20 years he’s been practicing, this was the first time an x-ray like that hadn’t been cancer. It was reactive bone growth which can be caused by an infection, trauma to the jaw, or also cancer, but Java Bean is still breathing and nagging me for dinner as I write this in December, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have cancer. Yay! (I also had to put him back on the prescription cat food, which he was less than thrilled about.)
Social media: Well, that was a horrible 14-year experiment!
Do you remember what is was like when social media was new and it was fun to find old high school friends on Facebook and watch William Shatner tweet at astronauts on the international space station? Then suddenly the Russians were using it to manipulate our elections and the Facebook algorithm promoted viral posts about virus misinformation that have probably killed tens of thousands of people. Like, damn, it went from high school reunion to mass-casualty event really quickly.
Social media was an interesting 14-year experiment, but I’ve decided it’s over now. The results: social media is awful! It does bad things to our brains and our self-esteem! Doom scrolling is bad for your mental health and doesn’t make anything better! Any positive effects are far outweighed by the bad. I am not going to swim through a river of shit to eat a delicious Krispy Kreme donut on the other side. It’s not worth it.
I’ve been slowly withdrawing from social media since December 2017 when I first removed the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, and this year I can say I’m 90% off it entirely. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to 100% since I still wish people Happy Birthday on Facebook and tweets are sometimes embedded in newspaper articles. I can’t seem to totally kick the habit of complaining about things on Twitter either, even though I stopped reading my feed two years ago. And of course, I posted links to this blog entry there because I know most people abandoned feed readers years ago.
To supplement my scrolling urgers, I’ve started spending 2-3 hours a week perusing Instagram like it’s social media methadone. It’s the kindest of the social media networks because it’s also the fakest one. The weirdest thing is that at least 15% of the posts are screenshots of tweets (but only the funny and nice ones), as if all the social media networks have started bleeding into each other.
Overall, this has been great for my mental health. I no longer get stressed out by whatever terrible things people are tweeting about that day. It’s a bummer that I don’t know as much about what’s going on with my friends and family, but if my friends insist on hanging out in the smoker’s lounge, I’m not meeting them there. Maybe we should all go back to blogging?
Closing another year on COVID
As the year comes to a close, the Omicron variant is eating its way through the country and slamming the healthcare system, which is depressing because I thought the worst of it had hit the hospitals last year, but no, right now appears to be the worst of it for our medical professionals. Please, please, please don’t let 2022 prove me wrong on this.
Only 8.9% of Indiana’s ICU beds are available right now, and it’s disconcerting to know that the hospital that accepts my health insurance is on diversion and my plan has no out-of-network coverage, which means if I trip over another space heater, I would be lucky to get treated at all, and I would probably end up at a place where I would be paying 100% of the bills myself, which would mean bankruptcy. Literal bankruptcy, where you have to find an attorney and file papers. Thanks, Amuricah! Maybe we should rethink this whole Capitalism thing? Like social media, it was an interesting experiment, but there must be a better way to structure society. I don’t know exactly how, but I’m open to suggestions.
That other thing
As such, I’m trying to stay healthy and accident free until the anti-vaxxers work their way out of the system and open up beds for the rest of us. The pandemic has put my health into prominent focus more than any other event in my life. When we first went into lockdown, I realized that if I got infected, obesity wasn’t going to kill me 20 years from now, it was going to kill me 20 days from now. I have obliquely referenced my weight in certain places, but to put it transparently, I’ve lost 105 pounds since the pandemic began. (The fact that I’m comfortable posting pictures of myself again should have been the clear giveaway.)
I’ve been hesitant to talk about it because I specifically left my PastaQueen site behind because I don’t want my online identity to be focused around weight anymore. I don’t want to reverse that position, but it seems weird not to mention it at all. It’s been different losing over a hundred pounds the second time than it was the first time, particularly because I felt stuck for so long and began to doubt it would ever happen. If people want me to write about this in more depth, let me know and I’ll consider it, since it’s an angle of weight loss I haven’t tackled before. That said, maybe no one cares about my ass any more, Half-Assed or not!
Here’s to 2022!
Good luck to everybody as we tackle 2022 together! I will try to blog more than once a year next time, so keep your feed readers open and for God’s sake, stop using Facebook!
Ahoy! I’ve been reading your blog for a loooong time (plus both books) and would LOVE to read more about your pandemic weight loss. Very happy to hear about Java Bean’s additional lives. I wonder if Office Krupke would have been happy about the West Side Story remake.
Meeee tooooo!!! Long time reader of blogs and books and get excited whenever you update. Would love to hear how weightloss was the second time around, especially as someone who also feels stuck. Aw, Officer Krupke!!!
I very much enjoyed this recap, Jennette! I, for one, still use a feed reader and you did pop up there. 🙂
I would be interested in hearing how losing so much weight was different for you the second time around. Mostly I want to hear about it because it means we’ll get another blog post and I’ve always enjoyed your writing! I haven’t done an annual recap in several years myself; maybe I’ll sit down and actually put something together.
I’m so glad you came back for 2021 recap! I loved this. I also got a MASSIVE post-vaccination haircut and it felt so GOOD.
I always love to read your writing! And it sounds like you are navigating Covid and life quite well. Happy to hear it. And remember, life really DOES begin at 40!
I care about your ass! I’m happy to read this recap after not hearing from you for so long! What good news about the bean!
I still have a feed reader and glad to see your post pop up! Not many blogs are around these days – I hope blogging returns so I can stay away from FB and Insta!!
Thanks for the nice update. Your haircut photos are the perfect before and after ad! The shorter hair is much more flattering – I think mostly because it frames your face nicely and your neck is visible. I’ve found this works better for me too, even with a 65 yr old chicken skin neck! But I really like to put my hair in a ponytail, so will be growing mine back out for summer.
Just wait until you hit 60…. then 65… when your body just can’t do all the things like you used to…ask me how I know! ugh
Jean Roberts says
Even if you have a health plan that doesn’t have out-of-network coverage, usually they allow you to be treated in a none network facility if it’s an emergency. It’s something you can check out by calling your health plan’s customer service. The hassle is worth the potential peace of mind.
Please write more often. I enjoy your posts no matter what the subject.
As for passing 40 and how that has influenced your health, I had to chuckle just a little bit. I will be 70 in April and nothing brought the implications of that more than a recent conversation I had with my electrophysiological (think of him as my heart’s electrician.) He’s about my son’s age and cute and I worked for him back before the powers that be fired me for being a disease.
We were discussing a procedure I had heard about that would eliminate the need for me to take blood thinners. He was not in favor of the procedure and started to explain why by saying…if you were my friend…and then paused and started again with if you were my aunt. Ouch.
Anyway Happy New Year to anyone who might still be reading this. I am celebrating properly in my pajamas and 3 kitties as is most proper for a widow pushing 70.
ANGELINE GULLETT says
You are the same age now that I was when I first started reading your blog. Time marches on. I was unpleasantly surprised by the hair thinning thing, too.
Robin A Jankiewicz says
I loved both Half-Assed and Chocolate and Vicodin. I’m currently fighting to lose weight, and I’m really fascinated by how societal changes alter the way we look at weight, or how we think about losing it. I was in high school in the eighties, when working out was considered the only reliable way to lose weight. I was drinking the kool-aid!
It would be great to hear your point of view on many issues during the pandemic, including weight loss. In case you haven’t heard this from any of the other comments: write that book! I will buy it and I will read it, and my friends will, too!
Kathy Gallagher says
So great to get a post from you! I am a long time follower and have read both your books. I really enjoy your writing. Yes, please share about your recent weight loss. I lost over 100 lbs. 13 years ago and managed to put more than half of it back on. And I just can’t imagine I could lose it again. Please share your story to give me some hope! Happy New Year to you and let’s hope 2022 is a much better year.
Yay, you are back writing and sharing. I applaud you for cutting down on FB. I wonder if between FB and Fox news (and other entities like that) what the U.S. will be like in 5-10 years. Because of the misinformation about the election and the pandemic, neither of my adult kids use FB anymore- now they are instagrammers, which is basically an app to watch hilarious cat videos. Happy to hear your Mom is doing well and you continue to be self employed and insured. What a great country this would be if we had universal health care and you weren’t tied to your job like the threat of losing health care shackles so many people. Happy New Year and may the year of the tiger bring us all peace, love and chocolate.
Cathy H-S says
I would like to know your thoughts about losing weight this recent time, as compared to the chronicle in Half-Assed. But I am happy to read anything you write. Happy New Year! And thanks for the recap.
I’ve been a reader of your blog(s) for so many years, and I am always thrilled when there is a new post. It’s odd when people on the internet “go missing”, I feel like a very strange stalker when I worry about their absence, so relieved to find you here still!
Been ~working on my health~ myself for 3 years and got extra inspired during the pandemic to get my ass into gear, so I always enjoy reading about others’ ~journeys~
Wishing you a happy new year, and hoping to read more about your adventures in 2022.
Great to see a new post from you. I for one miss the old blog days. I would love to hear a new perspective on your weight loss journey as I feel that each time I have to go through the process again myself I learn something new.
Sarah Wolfe says
Hello! Glad to hear from you. I’m also slowly stepping away from social media, at least in some ways. I am 100% still using my feed reader though so blog away! I’d definitely be interested in hearing about your second big weight loss. I’m 35 and getting to where I *need* to make big changes instead of just *know I should*. Best wishes for a safe and healthy 2022 as we all go in with teeth gritted, collectively mourning Betty White.
I’d read about the new angle. A friend introduced me to your blog in grad school and your words were much needed. Will be turning 40 soon and it would be an awesome full circle moment for myself and my thinning hair 🙂
I’ve read your blog and books for many years and it’s good to hear from you. I’m glad you’re doing well — or as OK as any of us can do during this time — and hope you have a happy, HEALTHY 2022. Thank you for the update!
Susan Halla says
Happy New Year, Jeanette! Your post is like hearing from an old friend. I’ve been around for a long, long, time, and I still check your blog at least once a week to see if there’s anything new. (It’s listed under my “everyday websites” tab which I open up with regularity.)
I, for one, would love anything you’d like to write. The current weight loss can be part of that, but don’t think you need to discuss it if you don’t want to. Your weight does not define you. (I know you know that). I once lost a lot of weight and made it to my “goal” (whatever THAT is) and afterward gained it all back and then some. Now, in my 50s (ugh) it IS so much harder (or so it seems) to lose weight, and I’m not motivated to pay as much attention to it as I had to when I lost all the weight before. So many more pressing things in life.
Stay safe and well in this new year. You are amazing.
I was so happy you popped up on my reader list this morning! I love your blog. I am glad you and your sweet cat are still alive!
Also, I like to think as the grey hairs popping up all over my head as glitter. Or there is a new tinsel trend, basically we are getting it for free!
If you want to blog more, I will read it. If not, see you next year 🙂
Air hugs from an internet stranger.
Hi! So happy that you’re alive and blogging!
I love reading whatever you write, so if you happen to spend a year just cat-watching and write about the experience, I’ll read that too.
Also super interested in your experience of pandemic-second-time-weight-loss, and generally, what you’ve been up to. As far as I remember them, your blogs have nearly never been *only* about weight loss, and I don’t think you’d pigeonhole yourself if you did write about it again. We just walk around in bodies, that have weights, and we do or do not exercise, and we eat! It’s part of everyone’s life, and always interesting to read about.
I kind of “grew up” with your blog since I was around 19, when the weight loss stuff clicked, all the way to my super early professional life in tech in my 20s (when your work life clicked), and it’s nice to see your blog still out there (now in my 30s). Feels like checking in on an old friend and seeing what she’s been up to.
All the best from an internet stranger 🙂
Jennette Fulda says
Thank you for all the kind words, everybody! It’s nice to know there are still people out there checking for my transmissions. Enough people have expressed an interest in the weight stuff that I’ll probably write an entry about that eventually, though I don’t know exactly when. I will try to blog more than once a year this time!
Jennifer H. says
Hey! Wait, people don’t use feed readers anymore????? Then how do they keep track of all the cool places to read about cool people? (Like you, in case that wasn’t obvious.)
I’m more than happy to read anything you write. You have such a calm, friendly voice in your writing. I’ve followed from old PQ days, like many others, but mostly I’m just cheering on a fellow human in this weird and often overwhelming world.
Also, yay for Java Bean!
Alex Dai says
Seeing you speak of turning 40 made me miss the fact that you lost your other half of ass. You have been so missed. Come back to us.,..we are wondering if was Keto or Carnivore or raw or pandemic anxiety. Welcome home
Susan M. says
You’re such a talented, funny writer that it’s great to hear from you annually or often. Whatever floats your boat! Hope you have a great year!!
Susan McMillan says
I’m so happy to hear from you again. Your perspective on life is hilarious, but also thoughtful and generous. I’d be interested in how your weight loss was different this time, but I’m happy to read whatever you wish to share with us. Reading your posts is like meeting for coffee with an old friend.
Add me to the list of people interested in pandemic weight loss! I’m about your age and really got into a good exercise routine during lockdown because I had health concerns (similar to the ones you mentioned) but it’s been hard. I’m healthier but haven’t lost significant weight. Really interested to hear your thought process and what was different this time around.
I’d love to read anything you’d like to write about – weight loss and getting more mature really resonate with me!
Mary Feeney says
You popped into my mind and I googled you. Glad to see this post. I always enjoyed your funny, matter-of-fact style. I’d very much like to hear how you navigated weight loss 2.0. I’ve yo-yo’d over the years and now am just stuck at the top. What had you learned before that helped? What new things (besides FOGS–fear of grocery stores–proved instrumental? Happy New Year, Jennette. PS When did you move back to IN? I missed that.
Rebecca (in SoCal) says
It’s lovely to see a post from you! I am another who has been reading you since PQ days. I’m in my sixties, which gives me much more leeway to do what I like, never mind trends. I also have a feed reader.
Java Bean: I remember the time when you had a count for how many days since he broke a glass! I notice that he has some silver, too. I’m glad for you that he will get more.
I’m happy to see anything from you. If you want that to include weight loss again, it sounds interesting.
This reminds me of a blogger from London who hasn’t posted in months! It is very concerning, but I don’t know if I can find her last name. Covid sucks (for anyone who hadn’t noticed).
I’m also a long time reader, and I miss your blog posts, and other people that lost a ton of weight but no longer talk about it on their website. I fully understand. That’s yours and their prerogative. But I’m always interested in the long term. And I would love to hear about your second go around with weight loss. Hopefully it’ll inspire me to do the same. And I’m so glad your kitty cat did not have cancer. My two are doing fine. The oldest is 20 now!
Took a trip through my “inactive blogs” folder and was happy to see your post! I do miss seeing what’s up in your world and I think of Java Bean and wonder how his not-breaking-things streak is going. It was a bit of an eye-opener to read that you’re 40 because I started reading your stuff when you were 20 years younger than me, so that makes me…hmm, carry the 2, um…OLD! Grateful to have survived this far into the pandemic and that you and your family have as well.
Sheryl P. says
I’d be interested in your weight loss details. I didn’t gain any so far during the pandemic, but, I also didn’t lose any of what I need to lose.
Nice to read something from you again — I always looked forward to your blog entries.