Karen Rivers

expecting everything.

Karen Rivers

I have always lived my life with the fundamental understanding that the one thing that you do not expect is the one thing that is going to happen.  

For example, I did not expect to write this blog post, get pinged on IM, flip screens, and have the entire blog post delete itself somehow during the screen flip.   I DID NOT EXPECT THAT, SQUARESPACE.  

Thus making this a sort of meta post that proves itself.

Because I feel this way, I SHOULD just give up on expecting things at all because then I won't rule out all of the good stuff right off the bat.   (After all, by envisioning a possibly HAPPY outcome, I also prevent it from happening, according to the theory that the thing that will happen is what you DIDN'T envision.)    Mostly what I try to do is envision every possible bad thing in the entire realm of possibility.   You know, to rule those out right away.   Envisioning good stuff is sort of an accident, like trying not to think about the elephant in the room.

So if someone asks me to do something, like, say, bungee jumping (though why anyone would ask me to do that is INSANE because the answer is NO NO NO a THOUSAND TIMES NO), instead of just doing it, I sit down and immediately start watching a mental film reel of What Might Happen that goes something like this:

I say YES to bungee jumping!

I die when I hang up the phone due to an electrical short triggered by lightning!

On the way to the bungee place, I die in a horrific car crash!

I die AT the bungee jumping place of cardiac failure while on my way to the jump site!

I faint at the bungee jumping place out of fear and the kids running the show think that I've had a cardiac arrest and accidentally kill me with the CPR paddle things!

I actually get to the jump site and faint during the harness attachment and fall to my death!

The harness doesn't fit!

The kid attaching the harness does it wrong and it falls off!

The kid forgets to attach the harness at the bridge side!

I am so scared while I'm jumping that I throw up a bit into my mouth!

I am so scared while I'm jumping that I throw up a bit into my mouth and then choke to death on it!

The harness is not properly attached and instead of sproinging back up again, I am smashed to smithereens on the riverbottom!

The rope is too long and I drown in the river!

I bounce funny and break my back and neck in seven places and never walk again!

I scream so hard on the way down, I rupture an organ and/or my eyeballs!

I am blind for the rest of my life!

I bounce back up so high that I crack my head open like an egg on the underside of the bridge!


This kind of film can be very long.   Usually it takes SO long that I never do the thing anyway because by the time I've made up my mind to do it, the person who has asked has already been to the Bungee Zone, jumped, gone home, had dinner, taken a bath, and given themselves a full mani/pedi, read a book, cured cancer, and lived a full and exciting life.

So two weeks ago, I had some surgery, which I may or may not have mentioned 292x prior to this.   Sorry.   But, you know.   It's on my mind.   This is surgery I had to have, not for survival, but so that I could basically move about the building like a sort of normal person without repurcussions.    

I did not want to have the surgery.

Naturally, as soon as I was given a surgery date, I kicked off my boots, climbed into a Snuggie, made a big bowl of popcorn, and sat down on my favourite couch to enjoy Mental Madness, Karen's Surgery Edition.   It went something like this:

I die on the way to the hospital in a cab-driver-gone-crazy-type accident!

The cab driver turns out to be a homicidal maniac and kills me!

I die at the hospital of cardiac failure!  

I die from the anaesthetic!

I die during the surgery when the surgeon trips and falls, scalpal in hand, and accidentally cuts my throat!

I die during the surgery because the surgeons got mixed up due to a fire-drill mid-operation and I have my heart transplanted instead of having an organ removed!

The surgeon removes the wrong organ!

The surgeon goes crazy and removes ALL MY ORGANS!

I die after surgery due to some kind of undiagnosed sleep apnea that is exacerbated by the anaesthetic!

I die after the surgery due to a wound-invasion by antibiotic resistant bacteria that crawl around the hospital just waiting for someone like me to show up!

I die three days later when the hospital accidentally serves me up seafood pie and I'm too drowsy to notice!


I don't die!

And my mum is right!

The hospital stay is like a vacation that features nurses and bad food instead of tropical beaches and mai tais!  

I catch up on my sleep!  I am well rested and alert!   I enjoy smuggled chocolate and bonbons!  I read many brilliant novels while lying in bed!   I watch the entire Season 1 of Arrested Development on my iPad!

I throw a clot and die!


I thought I pretty much had it covered.

So, naturally, what happened, was this:

I did not die during or right after surgery!

I did not get to lie around in the hospital for many days!

I got sent home almost immediately!

There was a freak snow storm!

I immediately developed chills and a fever!

I found out that you can't drive after this operation for three weeks!

The chills and fever turned into a terrifying cough!

And chest pain!

I had to be checked for pulmonary emboli!   

I was diagnosed with pneumonia!

The antibiotics tore my stomach to bits!   

I still cannot move very far away from a bathroom!

I am coughing so hard that I've cracked/bruised a rib!

I have not caught up on my reading or my work OR ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT SEASON 1!

I have coughed my back into spasm!

Everything hurts!

I can't breathe!


So, there's THAT.   I like to call it "proof".

And then, of course, there's the part about how I wrote this post -- and believe me, like all my posts, it was better in first draft form until my computer ate the first draft, burped, and then threw it up on my shoe, all mangled and gooey and unrecognizable -- and then I had to write it again.

I mean, if I'd expected it, it wouldn't have happened.


You know that expression, "Expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed"?   That's ridiculous.   I hate that quote.   Expect EVERYTHING.   Expect everything, and then you'll never be surprised.

But actually, you still will be.   Because it's the one thing out of 29,999,088 possibilities that didn't occur to you, that's the thing that will happen.   

But still.   This post almost certainly has an excellent moral and I'll be able to figure out what it is as soon as I stop coughing up old socks and missing keys.   Until then, I'll be over here on the couch reading THE PASSAGE, a book that I expected that I wouldn't like.