Be Good. Then Be Better.

What a couple of weeks, y’all! In this post you’re about to get a twofer, because you do not need an entire TMI post on my surgery and its aftermath, so instead you’re going to get a quickie followed by a real post.

My last post covered the week of January 29, which was quite some time ago if you’re paying attention. The reason for the long delay in between these posts is that, as I mentioned, I had surgery. Long story short, last summer my OBGYN found an endometrial polyp, which are almost always pretty harmless. Six months later, the fucker had nearly quadrupled and my doctor was like, “LOL THAT’S NOT HARMLESS GET IT THE FUCK OUT.” So on Tuesday, February 6, that’s exactly what happened.

My doctor also wanted to explore a bit to see if maybe I also had endometriosis, and if they found tissue, they’d remove it. Turns out my doc had great instincts and not only found endometriosis, but a fuckton of it! (Actual medical terminology.) These procedures are fairly non-invasive, as far as surgeries go, but I was struggling days afterward. Mostly I was having issues breathing. Usually breathing issues post-surgery are caused by the leftover CO2 in the abdomen that is used by surgeons to puff up one’s body to make it easier to root around in there. This gas is supposed to eventually be absorbed as you walk around and do normal things. However, in rare cases, the inability to breathe could be a sign of something much more serious, specifically a blood clot.

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Saturday night at the ER was actually pretty fucking boring.

Five days later, I was still unable to walk from the car to a restaurant without being so out of breath I felt dizzy. My wife, my doctor, a nurse I called at my OBGYN’s office, my nurse friend, and the R.N. at urgent care were all like, “LOL GO TO THE FUCKING ER, IDIOT.” So I did, and while that was an eventful way to spend a Saturday night, I’d like to avoid ever doing it again. Bonus: I didn’t have a blood clot. It was just all that leftover stupid CO2 pressing on my diaphragm. But it’s way better to be safe than sorry, because, as my friend said, “We’d be pretty pissed if you were dead.”

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I stared at this dumb chart for hours.

Now that I’ve got all of that boring health stuff out of the way, let’s chat about the incredible long weekend I just spent in Portland! It involves being wet (not in the good way), endlessly discussing marriage (way better than it sounds), and naked people (now you’re hooked, right?).

Way back in October, when I decided on the whole run-a-race-every-month-of-2018 idea, I decided that I wanted to do my February race out of town. I am one of the lucky teachers who works in a district that has a unicorn break called “mid-winter break.” I get an entire week off in the middle of February! For no reason! So every year I try to use this special, magical time to get the hell out of dodge.

I did some research on February races and saw that there was a brewery running series in Portland, which is right up my alley, and they had a February race based out of a popular brewery and tap house we’d been to and enjoyed in the past. Since it was still more than three months away, they hadn’t yet put up the 2018 race registration for the Rogue Brewing 5k, but I went ahead and booked an AirBnB for that weekend anyway. That was a bit premature, I realized later, when the race was finally put up and was no longer in the Portland neighborhood we would be staying in, but rather 30 minutes away in a town called Tualatin at a brewery I’d never heard of. Then, two months after I’d made all of these plans, I found out I’d be having surgery a week and a half before the race. NEAT!

Needless to say, “racing” isn’t what I was capable of doing on Saturday. I would most definitely need to walk the 5k, and since I’d be walking, the quick 30-minute jaunt around Tualatin would most certainly turn into 45 minutes, maybe even an hour. Because my wife is the best wife to ever wife, she agreed to walk it with me.

Unfortunately for her, she agreed to do this white knight deed the morning of the race, and therefore had not packed appropriate clothing. Instead, for three miles, my wife trudged through sideways rain on a balmy 40 degree February morning…in JEANS. By the end of the walk, her pants were sopping wet, and we discovered her rain jacket wasn’t entirely waterproof anymore. If that doesn’t say true love, I don’t know what does. Incidentally, she did win a door prize that included a water bottle that said, “I sweat IPA,” which is pretty accurate.

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When we made our plans to head over to Portland for the long weekend, we also decided that we’d wing it. Normally I plan our trips to death, but there wasn’t a reason to do that this time. We’ve been to Portland many times, we’ve done lots of tourist-y things there, and we’ve gone brewery hopping all over the city, so this time we wanted to explore the city the way a local might.

On Saturday night we meandered to Cascade Brewing Barrel House to try some terrific sours, then walked to Montage, a restaurant we were told would “change our lives” (it did not, though the food was decent), and then we decided to check out a queer bar. We found one not too far from the area we were in called Crush.

When we got there, there was a short line. It was cold out, but not Spokane cold, so we agreed to hang out in line for a bit. Eventually we discovered that there was a Valentine’s Day Led Zeppelin-themed burlesque show happening (Portland, never change). While we sat in the bar area sipping bourbon, we heard the whoops and hollers of the audience watching the show in the adjacent room. In order to get to the bathroom, you had to walk through the performance space, so we each peeked at what was going on as we walked by. We decided that we’d most definitely attend the second show.

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Solid gold, baby!

I’ve been to burlesque shows before, though it’s been at least a decade. Abbie, on the other hand, had never been to one. What made this one especially unique was that it was a body positive show that featured both male and female dancers. That I’d never seen.

I’m sorry to say that I do not have photos from the actual performances. At the request of the emcee, guests were not to take photos during the show (we were allowed to take a group photo afterwards, though). Friends, suffice to say, it was a blast, and I’m very glad we stumbled into something so absolutely invigorating and fun. Also, the biggest surprise of the night was probably that my favorite dancer was the male one. He was a lithe young man playing the part of a matador in an elaborately bedazzled robin’s egg blue suit. Let’s just say he knew how to use that cape.

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Go to a body positive, all-inclusive burlesque show. Do it! NOW!

The only part of our Portland trip that was planned, besides the race, was a date with a few of our friends on Sunday night. Jaime and Becky used to live in Spokane, and we all knew each other through the MFA program, either as fellow students or as partners of students in the program. Now they both live in Portland and their friendship has weathered the storms of relocation, divorces, and the changing status of potential parenthood. A year in the making, Jaime and Becky are now the hosts of their own podcast. The Marriage Question attempts to scratch at the surface of what marriage is, why people enter into it, why some marriages are “successes” and some are “failures,” and why society puts so much weight behind the institution.

My wife and I were invited to come onto the podcast not just to talk about our marriage, but also so I could discuss my previous marriage to a man and how they differed. Our interview ended up taking two hours and traversed the emotional hills and mountains of our individual lives and that of our marriage. In some ways the discussion was cathartic, and it reminded me why I love my wife so much and why we’ve stayed together through some truly terrible times.

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Abbie and I aren’t experts on marriage. We’re just two people who have been able to spend a decade together and are still enthusiastically looking forward to the next one. Some parts of our marriage take a lot of work–usually that work involves being introspective and self-critical today to come up with a way to be better for each other tomorrow. Some parts of our marriage don’t take any work–even on the worst days, even when I am angry as hell at her, I still want to come home to her. I still want to hear her laugh, and I want to be the reason she’s smiling. I still want her body and admire her mind. And I know these feelings are mutual.

I’m never bored or restless in our marriage. Our relationship is exciting and challenging; my wife is smart and adventurous and stubborn and kind and patient and infuriating and sexy and frustrating and tiresome and funny and industrious and talented and open and I am a better version of myself every day I’m in this marriage because I want to be the kind of woman who grows alongside her and appreciates her faults and uplifts her strengths.

This is marriage. It is beautiful and terrifying and difficult. It’s not for everyone. Our marriage has saved my life and broken me into pieces more than once. But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Find yourself a partner that you can spend twelve hours in a car with who will still be excited to explore a city with you. Find yourself a partner who’ll walk next to you for 3.1 miles in driving wind and rain, who’ll put up with spending two hours afterward drinking beer in cold, wet jeans, because she knows it’ll make the miles go faster for both of you if you do them together. And then find a way to be just as good to her in all the ways she needs you to be. That’s it. That’s our secret. Be good. Then be better.

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