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Sign in. Log into your account. The magazine was still open to the quiz on the couch beside me. Do you sometimes take more than the amount prescribed? Not always, but sometimes. Have you gotten intoxicated on alcohol or drugs more than two times in the past year?
This was a tricky one. With painkillers, you did not slur or get sloppy. A couple of Vicodin and I could function just fine. The worst things that had happened were the few times Dave had accused me of being out of it. Some days, I had that interest. Not one thing, but dozens of them, piling up against one another until the pills became less a luxury than a necessity for getting myself through the day and falling asleep at night.
She handed me the phone and had the iPad out of my hands before I could blink. When she was little, and tormented by colic and eczema, and she hardly ever slept, I would drive around in my little blue Honda, with Ellie strapped into her car seat and cast recordings from Guys and Dolls and Rent and West Side Story and Urinetown playing.
Sensitive was what Dr. McCarthy told us. Extremely sensitive, said Dr. Instead of remembering that Ellie was wired differently than other kids, that she cried and threw tantrums because she was uncomfortable or anxious or stressed, I sometimes found myself thinking of her as just bratty, or going out of her way to be difficult.
The woman beside me nodded at her son, who seemed to be about eight. He had a Band-Aid on his forehead, and he was making loud rumbling noises as he hunched over a handheld video game. Which are eight bucks a pop. I felt my face heat up. Eight-dollar bath bombs were an indulgence for a grown-up.
This, of course, had not been part of our plan. Dave was supposed to be the successful one. The series had won prizes and the attention of a few literary agents, one of whom had gotten him a book deal and a hefty advance. Haverford was lovely, with leafy trees and manicured lawns. Then, and only then, did he usher me to the car and drive me out past the airport, off the highway, and into the center of town.
The sun had been setting, gilding the trees and rooftops, and the crisp autumnal air was full of the sounds of children playing a rowdy game of tag. When he pulled up in front of a Colonial-style house with a FOR SALE sign on the lawn, I could hear the voices of children playing in the cul-de-sac, and smell barbecuing steaks.
His eyes were shining; his whole face was lit up. Dave and I had both grown up in decent-sized places in the suburbs, but the Haverford house had rooms upon rooms, some of which seemed to have no discernible function. Upstairs there were no fewer than five bedrooms and five full bathrooms. The basement was partially finished, with space for a home gym, and out back a screened-in porch overlooked the gentle slope of the lawn.
The table that had fit perfectly in our Philadelphia row house was dwarfed by the soaring ceilings and spaciousness of the Haverford dining room.
Our queen-sized bed looked like a crouton floating in a giant bowl of soup in the master bedroom, and our combined wardrobes barely filled a third of the shelves and hanging space in the spacious walk-in closet. But when it came time to actually buy something—the dining-room table we obviously needed, beds for the empty guest rooms, towels to stock the shelves in the guest bathrooms—I would go into vapor lock.
Four months after Dave had signed his advance, another book came out, this one based on a series that had run in one of the New York City papers, about a homeless little girl and the constellation of grown-ups—parents, teachers, caseworkers, politicians—who touched her life. The series had gotten over a million clicks, but the book failed to attract more than a thousand readers its first month on sale. His agent had tried but had been unable to get another publisher to pick up the project.
Not with so many readers struggling to manage their own finances and hang on to their own jobs. Once I started working, I had no more time to fuss with furniture. Just finding clean clothes in the morning and something for us all to eat at night was challenge enough. Ellie was engrossed in an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! Then he jumped up from the sofa, rolled his shoulders, shook out his arms, and cracked a few knuckles, loudly, like he was getting ready to enter a boxing ring.
His lip had curled. Dave was tall, broad-shouldered, and slim-hipped, with thick black hair, deep-set brown eyes, and a receding hairline he disguised by wearing baseball caps whenever he could. Later, I learned that silence did not necessarily guarantee depth. Other times, the answer would involve his ongoing attempt to rank his five favorite 76ers. Still, there was no one I wanted to be with more than Dave. He could be considerate, loving, and sweet.
The morning I suggested therapy, he was none of those things. He went stalking down to the basement without a word of farewell. A minute later, the treadmill whirred to life. While the treadmill churned away in the basement, I got to my feet, sighing, as the weight of the day settled around my shoulders. Ellie was still standing at the sink, dreamily rubbing liquid soap into her hands. And maybe it will DROP! I loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the counters, and swept the kitchen floor.
I put the milk and juice and butter back in the fridge and the flour and sugar back in the pantry. The day had stretched endlessly before me—weepy daughter, angry husband, piles of laundry, messy bedroom, a blog post to write, and probably dozens of angry commenters lined up to tell me I was a no-talent hack and a fat, stupid whore.
I need this, I thought, letting the bitterness dissolve on my tongue. It had been, I remembered, not even nine a. Have you ever felt like you should cut down on your drinking or drug use? Feeling suddenly queasy, I lifted my head and looked around the waiting room again to see if anyone had noticed that I was taking this quiz seriously. Did I think about cutting down? More and more often I had the nagging feeling that things were getting out of control.
The pills helped me manage everything I needed to manage. Have other people criticized your drinking or drug use, or been annoyed by it? Good manners and good grammar, in addition to an MRI that showed bulging discs or an x-ray with impacted molars, could get you pretty much anything you wanted. With refills. Pain was impossible to see, hard to quantify, and I knew the words to use, the gestures to make, how to sit and stand as if every breath was agony.
It was my little secret, and I intended to keep it that way. I wanted a pill. I wanted to slip into my medicated bubble, where I was safe, where I was happy, where nothing could hurt me. As soon as this is over, I told myself, and imagined sitting behind the wheel once the doctor had let us go and swallowing a white oval-shaped pill while Ellie fussed with her seat belt.
With that picture firmly in mind, I reached out my hand for my daughter. You SAID! Ellie crossed her arms over her chest and stood there, forty-three pounds of fury in a flowered Hanna Andersson dress, matching socks and cardigan, and zip-up leopard-print high-top sneakers. Her fine brown hair hung in braided pigtails, tied with purple elastic bands, and she had a stretchy flowered headband wrapped, hippie-style, around her forehead. The nurse gave me a smile that was both sympathetic and weary, as I half walked, half dragged my daughter off to the scales and blood-pressure cuffs.
Eloise whined and balked and winced as she was weighed and measured. The nurse took her blood pressure and temperature. Then the two of us were left to wait in an exam room. Ellie pinched the gown between two fingertips.
I watched as she eased each zipper on her high-tops down, slid her foot out of her right shoe, pulled off her pink sock, and laid it carefully on top of the sneaker. Off came the left shoe.
Off came the left sock. I sat down in the plastic chair as Ellie moved on to her cardigan. I had never mistreated her while under the influence. It was the opposite. The pills calmed me down. They gave me a sense of peace. When I swallowed them, I felt like I could accomplish anything, whether it was writing a post about the rising costs of fertility treatments or getting my daughter to school on time.
I held open the gown. She made a face. She retrieved my iPad and cued up Les Miz. I went back to my quiz. Have you ever used more than you could afford? My doctors would write me prescriptions.
My copay was fifteen dollars a bottle. Have you ever planned not to use that day but done it anyway? I had thought about stopping. I had tried, a few times, and managed, for a few days.This wallpaper is gorgeous! This was my first time using wallpaper so i was pleased that I went with peel and stick, but it was a little harder than I anticipated. Overall though it turned out wonderful!. Melanie. Baton Rouge, LA.