Happy New Year or not, 2021 can rest in shit! I’m speaking generally, of course. I was fortunate enough last year to experience an abundance of joy, both personally and professionally: I moved into an apartment that I still can’t believe I call home; I signed with my dream literary agent; I launched this newsletter at the end of July, which, not even half a year later, is slowly approaching 1,000 subscribers—which was my original one-year-goal of writing this thing. I don’t know why so many of you choose to willingly sacrifice thousands of brain cells to my unhinged nonsense every week, but I’m all the more grateful for it. Thank you.
And that’s a wrap on sincerity! Back to the gutter we go.
While I’ve enjoyed many a magical moment in 2021, I can’t say for certain that, if given the chance to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t My Year of Rest and Relaxation that shit. I’m strongly considering this approach for 2022, considering how it’s going so far, which is that I’ve been in head-to-toe fibro pain since Christmas Eve.
Fibromyalgia is not new to me. While I was officially diagnosed in 2021, it’s been something that I’ve been living with for five years now, and, like a toxic ex or a hemorrhoid, it occasionally shows up bearing the full force of inconvenience. In this case: holiday festivities looked (even more) a little different for me this year. And then some.
After canceling all of my plans and sitting at home for twelve days, trying to avoid omicron as it swept through New York City, I went down to New Jersey—with a rapid test in my bag, swag—to spend a quiet and lazy Christmas with my close family, all of whom tested negative moments before getting together. I was elated! I was finally going to be reunited with my cousins after not seeing each other for Christmas last year! But smooth sailing? LOL, I DON’T—NOR WILL I EVER—KNOW HER.
Here’s the thing: I feel shitty usually all of the time???? It’s just a matter of how shitty. I woke up on Christmas Eve feeling a little shittier than usual, so, of course, I panicked and did two rapid tests back-to-back even though I can usually differentiate the different types of pain in my body, and what I felt was just my usual fibro, but at a seven on a scale of ten. After both tests came back negative, I took my pain meds, slammed back some Advil as a cherry on top, and tried to go about my day, so determined was I for a little holiday cheer! I even forced myself to shower and get dolled up!
Our tradition is this: my brother and I eat Christmas Eve dinner with our parents, and then we drive up to my aunt and uncle’s house, which is located forty-five minutes away in the hills near the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for champagne and dessert while my parents stay behind because they’re exhausted from what I assume is another year of continued mortification over what I have posted online. By dinner, my pain level was at a nine. But I was still determined to make this work!!!! I was hellbent on feeling Christmas-y even though this past year's Christmas felt about as Christmas-y as a Tuesday in February. I had eaten an edible earlier in the day when I had started to feel worse, then, instead of eating half an edible to help continue managing the pain, I just ate another whole one. Mind you, the dosage of THC in my edibles is…high. (I’m so sorry.)
Stoned and resolute on becoming the first person to overdose on pierogis, I had managed to forget one tiny yet critical detail: my brother, who was recovering from a minor surgery the day before, would not be driving up to hang out with our cousins with me. LMAO WHO TF WAS GONNA DRIVE??????? I haven’t driven with regularity in almost nine years, and I still can’t say for certain whether my aunt and uncle’s house is in NJ or PA. And it’s not like I could call an Uber because those whores live in the middle of nowhere!
Cut to: me, with an entire Ferrero Rocher pyramid up my ass (I take my duty as The Gay Cousin very seriously!), stoned and driving a car that I am unfamiliar with through the Blair Witch’s backyard, using both my iPhone and the car’s built-in GPS, and still getting lost on roads like this:
In case you ever doubted the existence of a Christmas miracle, I am living proof—emphasis on “living”—that they do exist, because I somehow managed to show up at my aunt and uncle’s house in one piece after almost ending up in several ditches, ravines, and other death-traps that awaited me in the wild. Champagne was popped, another reason to celebrate had.
Despite how much pain I was in, I still managed to enjoy a warm and cozy Christmas Eve surrounded by loved ones.
Until my cousin’s girlfriend was like, “What is that sound????”
Immediately I threw down the plate of biscotti I was munching on and was like, “DEBORAH LOGAN.”
(I had just watched the movie, The Taking of Deborah Logan, the week before, which is about an elderly woman battling what was previously thought to be Alzheimer’s, only she's actually been possessed by an evil spirit. Also, NINETY PERCENT OF THE MOVIE TAKES PLACE IN THE WOODS, WHICH IS WHERE I WAS, SINCE ALL WOODS ARE THE SAME.)
Listen, that movie scared the shit out of me, and I knew not to fuck with Deb! Especially not after seeing what she can do with a trowel. But it turns out that the sound my cousin’s girlfriend was referring to was my jaw.
My jaw is known to occasionally click when I chew, but recently that shit has started to sound like someone repeatedly firing a BB gun, sometimes accompanied by mild pain. But it has gotten worse—and louder—recently, and I’ve been avoiding it because the last thing I want, especially after almost two years of going from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, is to visit yet another specialist. Besides, I have my mom’s expert medical advice, which is: if my jaw ever locks up while I’m chewing, repeatedly punch myself in the face until it goes back into place.
Catch me in the club, punching myself in the face!
Unfortunately, I can’t avoid it much longer, because imagine trying to be sexy over a romantic meal and having your jaw sound like an entire old house settling in it. And do I even need to make a bedroom joke here? It basically already wrote itself. It’s not sustainable! And if others can hear it over Mariah Carey singing “O Holy Night,” that means a nice quiet dinner will definitely be punctuated by my janky-ass jaw.
After doing some research (googling “clicky jaw” and reading exactly one thing, on WebMD), I am fairly certain I have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), which is basically a syndrome that affects the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull, resulting in pain, discomfort, clicking, and the locking of the jawbone. It’s not too uncommon; some estimates suggest it affects around ten million Americans, and your boy, I’m sure.
So, here's to a new year, and a new specialist. But first, let me take a picture with the family dog.
Cover art by: James Jeffers
Editorial assistant: Jesse Adele