Welcome to Wheel Life

I once took an interior design class with a final project to design a 6’x12’ living space. Some people would view this a prison cell, but I threw myself into it, adding a loft bed, storage sofa, fold-down tables, even a garden window. My design never came to fruition, but by then I was hooked on tiny homes.   Some go small by necessity, others feel freedom in paring belongings down to what really matters; I guess I craved a vague togetherness and simple life. When we started a family, I sometimes fantasized about couples vacations, date nights now and then, even a lock on the bathroom door, but feared that our kids would someday drift away. Heck, more like scurry away with their cell phones whenever we entered a room. I wanted to always interact with them, even if it meant forcing them into a confined space with us on occasional weekends.

Our house at the time looked like BabysRUs and ToysRUs threw up all over it. Yes, I suppose we could have decluttered, just like we could have subsisted on my fantasy window garden or run a sub 3-hour marathon. I needed to live tiny, even part-time, so began considering RVs.  My Dear Husband, God bless him, is a cautious man. He keeps me on the straight and narrow, and usually reacts to my schemes with a weary “Uh-uh”. So I did the sensible thing, and didn’t tell him about my plan to start researching RVTrader.com (kind of like a Match.com for RV buyers) and visiting dealerships.  The field research was a lot of fun.  It was a bit strange entering small enclosures, lying on mattresses, flushing toilets, and standing in shower stalls in front of strangers, but as a parent of young children I had already lost my dignity.

It was a tough decision. First, (stereotyping here) I didn’t picture ourselves as typical RVers: Empty nesters whose chicks have long left the nest, following the sun in a giant rig, burning the competition at shuffleboard and square dancing, possibly wearing matching captains’ hats.  And then there was the thought of throwing away my life savings for a camper on steroids that we may or may not use. The research continued, and I feared DH was starting to suspect I was conducting an affair when I hurried off my laptop as he walked in, or told hopeful salesmen– who called at all hours– that it ‘wasn’t a good time to talk’.

Finally, I heard a late model, smallish Class C (cab over drivers seat, gas powered, truck chassis) calling to me from sunny Florida.  I broke the news to DH at our anniversary dinner, hoping that he was feeling love for me and confident that the venue was too public for an ugly scene.   He was intrigued, if for no other reason telling his friends and co-workers that he was driving a Ford F-450.   Soon, we were flying down to pick up our new tiny home on wheels. They say that you can gauge the health of your relationship by going on a long road trip with your beloved. Does the same hold true for a family and pets?


On Eyebrows and Epidurals

My eyebrows seem to have disappeared over time, so I decided to have them ‘microbladed’ this week.  Any term with the word ‘blade’ suggests pain, and although described as similar to playful kitten scratches, it felt more like a mauling. Part of it is my sissy-low pain threshold but I didn’t expect to be writhing like a landed fish while enduring threats from my aesthetician that the pain was in my head and my eyebrows would looks like a roadmap if I didn’t sit still.  She also noted that my face is ‘large’, (I hope that at least meant I have high cheekbones), and ‘expressive’, and demanded that I stop moving my entire big face while I was at it. Trying to add a some levity, get my mind off the torture, and make her like me a little more, I changed the subject to the fail-safe topic of kids.  I learned that she has two, just like me, but our paths to motherhood diverged greatly with our second children.

I was one of those women who thought carefully about natural childbirth– and the joys of going through that beautiful, meaningful process with nothing but a mantra, stress ball, ice chips, and hand-wringing partner– and then said nah, give me the damn epidural…NOW.  It worked splendidly, and child number two was delivered via emergency c-section, in which case there was no option but to bring on the anesthesia.  In sum, my babies were delivered with good care, minimal pain, and at a bargain price due to good insurance coverage.

My aesthetician, on the other hand– a small business owner and child of Vietnamese immigrants– lost her insurance after her first child was born, and had to max out her credit card to pay the $5,000 fee to deliver her second child.  The epidural was an expensive luxury that she could no longer afford, so she suffered through a prolonged labor and painful birth, coached on by a husband who helpfully shouted at her to ‘be quiet and calm down’.  The doctors hurried the delivery and put the baby at risk of a blood infection, so the child was sent to intensive care for two days, which added another $7,200 to the tab.  She thought about suing her doctors but gave up, knowing it would cost even more, with no clear result.  She told me that having her children made it all worthwhile, but I can’t imagine what she had to endure, and the crushing debt she took on.  Not to mention no paid leave or sick days.
Meeting someone like this makes me feel fortunate for what I have, and wish that everyone could have access to affordable insurance.  I realize Obamacare wasn’t perfect, but I’m not convinced its replacement is better.  We will have to see how the latest iteration of health care reform plays out, but it is starting to look more and more like the land of ‘haves’ and have nots’, especially for womens’ reproductive rights. I hope to follow the plight of this woman, and see if she manages to find decent insurance in this brave new world, if I have the courage to return.
My second, lesser point is to never, ever have a major new body procedure done before a big event.  Ideally, clear your schedule, jet off to a sunny place, and come back when you’re damn well ready. Most of us can’t afford such a luxury, so my only advice is to plan carefully.  I imagined efficiently attending our son’s concert, our daughter’s ballet, a baby shower, and entertaining family, all in the same week, with fierce new eyebrows.  But, instead of Karlie Kloss, I got Groucho Marx.  It will heal and supposedly look better in time, but I am spending this very hectic week skulking around in Jackie O sunglasses like a fool and wishing I had left well enough alone.