Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Distraction

I think many bloggers are wannabe novelists. Or at least I am. I have a couple of novels in the works...both of which I've been working on for so long I can't even remember what the hell is going on. I like to think of myself as a writer, but I tend to lose interest too quickly, and then when I'm working on something, I'm always ashamed to be caught "writing". There's always so many other things I should be doing. Laundry, dinner, cleaning, work, homework, parenting, Facebook...

I feel guilty when I'm caught.
"Whatcha working on?"
I slam the computer shut.
"Nothing! I swear. I was just...looking at porn!"

If I'm getting paid, of course, it's different. (The guilt part anyway.) I've had several paying freelance jobs over the years where people actually gave me real money to write things for them. But even then I jump from one thing to the next. My steadiest job was writing copy about towns I had never seen for real estate brochures...but after a few years I was fired. Because I'm not really good with that whole "deadline" thing. I've written how-to articles on breastfeeding, ("You put that baby to your boob, and you feed the damn thing"), on the shelf life of spices (I've had spices in my cabinet for 15 years, so I'm probably not the best person for that), Polynesian culture (I was in Tahiti once, so I am an expert there), etc. Basically I produced articles that prove that information obtained through the internet cannot be trusted.
I'll be selling this antique on Ebay.
At one time, I wrote reviews for a local dinner theater and got paid in food. I was once a "haunted place expert" and contacted by a radio station to talk about ghosts for a Halloween show they were doing. I had to admit that I was a fraud, and convinced them that they didn't want me. But my crowning moment came when I won $200 in a Cracked.com photoplasty contest. Which didn't actually involve writing at all, but still my most impressive feat.

But my own stuff...I have a hard time justifying the time I should be dedicating to it. I manage to trudge through short stories now and then, but I've received enough rejection slips to wallpaper a room. Except they're usually through email, so I'd have to print them first, but then I could wallpaper a room. It's like being fired over and over again for a job you can't get in the first place. It's kind of depressing. I'm awesome at starting projects, but I don't seem to have the discipline to follow through. I took a test on my attention level once, and I scored 17 out of 100. I think that was lower than the squirrel! dog on the movie Up. I've heard that drinking water is supposed to improve your attention span, and wiggling your toes is also supposed to combat distraction. Seriously. I read that on the internet. So it's true. (And now you're wiggling your toes aren't you? Admit it.) Prioritizing and list making are supposed to be helpful, and maybe it would be if I didn't constantly lose the lists. Exercise, sleep...all supposed to help, but maybe I'm doing it wrong because it has yet to work. Any tricks to remain focused? Because I'm open to suggestion.

Just talk fast, before I lose interest.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oh my GOD! Why did I just write that??

Sometimes I read a post I've written and think "Oh my GOD! Why did I just write that??" Does anyone really want to know about my pubic hair? Apparently, yes. It's my most popular post, by a long shot. A long, long shot. Much like the hair. My second most read post is the one on Lexapro and Wellbutrin, and my insanity. Two of my most revealing posts are actually the most popular, so I guess people like crazy, hairy people. Or at least making fun of them. So, in the theme of raw, ugly honesty I have another brutal post to present. I reread the aforementioned post about the medication and realized how much had changed in the 5 years since I wrote it. Aside from the sex change.

I've been holding onto this post for quite awhile, not sure if I should hit the publish button. Then I got a message (that made me cry) from someone who said she was going through similar things and my blog was actually a help to her. So, even if one person finds something of value in my posts, even if one person finds it helpful enough to write to me and let me know...that means this whole blog is worthwhile.

When you've been on countless antidepressants for over 15 years and you're still suicidal and cutting the hell out of your arms with a box cutter, you begin to doubt a lot of things. Your sanity. Your worth as a person. The fucking point of anything. You lose faith in doctors and psychiatrists and all the homeopathic remedies you've tried. You begin to realize that there is no hope... that there is nothing left. Your family, your kids...they'd all be better off without you. You honestly believe that; it's not just a cliche. They wouldn't have to worry about your tantrums, your freak outs, your silence. There are plenty of articles that tell you how great you'll feel after you start antidepressants; I have yet to read any that tell you what to do when every one of them has failed.

An accurate portrayal of my existence and the state of my house. Photo credit.
I spent nearly 3 months on the sofa, face towards the wall. I built myself a cave, wrapping a heavy, ugly blanket around me, no matter the temperature, with only my eyes visible. I let my children fend for themselves entirely to often; a thought that now makes me cringe with guilt. I was angry and violent; I destroyed cabinets, doors, clothes (one of which was a  pair of pajamas that I mourn to this day), the linoleum on the kitchen floor. I drank. A lot. And lied about it. A lot. I made a lot of really, really stupid decisions. I charged stuff I didn't need and didn't even really want, on credit cards. I blacked out, in non-drinking related incidences, for hours at a time. I'd suddenly come back, not being able to remember what I'd been doing. I came to once, sitting on the kitchen floor in a panic. (Apparently, I called my best friend and she was there shortly after, helping me and putting the kids to bed. She just sat there with me. No judgement, no advice. Just company.) I got mad at my husband one morning for breaking the bathroom door; turns out I did it, and just couldn't remember.  I was taking a walk one night, to clear my head, and sitting on the sidewalk in front of me was a woman who looked just like the girl from The Ring. I took off running, as fast as I could. I had never seen anything so terrifying in my life.

Like this, but not dressed as nice. Photo credit
When I got home (and double and triple checked the locks on all the doors) I realized how implausible it really was. But either way, it was real to me and that was enough. I found myself sitting in a new doctor's office. I ended up going through several doctors and psychiatrists, one of which had me on 8 different drugs at one time and I took them, because so what. I wanted to die anyway. I was finally referred to a depression/bipolar specialist. He sat behind his desk, a small man with red hair, pale skin and a gap between his teeth. He made me think of St. Patrick's Day. We talked, and after about an hour, the little leprechaun diagnosed me as having bipolar. I laughed, because what the hell would a tiny, mythical creature know about mental illness? But then I realized that if anyone was an expert on mental illness, it would be a tiny, mythical creature.
Only it's filled with lithium. Photo credit.
So, I humored him and took his prescriptions and the name of a therapist and went on my merry way. I started the prescriptions... Lamictal and Lithium, and set up an appointment with the therapist. During the first session, the therapist charged me $5 for her personal CD of affirmations ("I am worthy, I am beautiful, I am amazing, I am blah, blah, blah."). And then I gained a lot of weight and found out I had lithium induced hypothyroidism.   I was put on a medication for that. Then I decided it was a bunch of crap and stopped taking everything.

Of course, that didn't work out well for me and I ended up back in his office. This time he tried Nuvigil, which is approved for sleeping disorders, with an off-label use for bipolar. And it's a stimulant. And holy hell, did it stimulate. It made my heart palpitate, and gave me headaches, but I was awake. I was always awake. I may have still been miserable, but damn it, I was going to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while wallowing in my misery. And the most interesting part was the side effects: "Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, extreme increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems" (www.nuvigil.com) Maybe the leprechaun thought the new symptoms would cancel out my existing symptoms... Either way, it didn't last because when I went to pick up my refill, the total came to $453. For a month. Instead, I opted to buy food for my children.

To make a long story, well, not as long, I ended up on Lamictal again. Aside from a few annoying side effects, so far so good. I'm supposed to go back in and start Risperdal, but I may or I may not. Time will tell. But I'm sure I'll tell you all about it.

I've done things I wish I hadn't done, I have scars I wish I didn't have, I've said things I wish I hadn't said, I take medications I wish I didn't have to take...but here I am. And I'm thankful for a forgiving husband who bought a book on bipolar, to learn more about the disorder, to try and understand. I'm thankful for my children, whom I love more than anything in the world; they are my biggest motivation. I'm thankful for a supportive family, and non-judgmental friends. And I'm thankful for the people who read this blog...it's always nice to know you're not alone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Food Quirks

We all have our eating quirks, right?  Some of us don't like to eat in public. Some people don't like their food to touch. Some people don't like to eat at the Y. We all have our thing.

As a child I'd have to count how many times I chewed, because I just knew that I was going to choke and die and then I'd be forever known as the girl who choked and died on her chicken noodle soup/tacos/ice cubes/toothpaste/whatever.
Because we all know what they say about Mama Cass...

It would take me so long to eat that after several weeks of this, the rest of the family stopped waiting for me. They'd leave the table and shut the light out. I'd sit there in the dark, counting, and crushing every tiny potential choking hazard to mush. And looky there...I didn't choke. Doesn't sound so ridiculous now, does it?

But my youngest son...oh, he takes quirky eating to a new level. I think he has a lot of the typical 5 year old eating issues...his sandwich has to be cut right, his waffle has to have the exact right amount of syrup, his crackers cannot be broken, etc. etc. The breaking of these unofficial food rules will result in hysteria and tears. But I think that's pretty normal. Because kids are manipulative bastards.

But then we have his other issues, which appear and disappear, and are completely unpredictable. An innocent word can be said at the dinner table, maybe something like "feet", and he suddenly collapses onto the floor screaming about how he can't eat now. His brother and sister are the cultured variety of hellion, and they apparently like dinner and a show. So they start listing all the gross things they can think of.  "Toenails!" "Armpit!" "POOP!"  "Fart!" "Nick's face!" "Delaney's...um...socks!" "I hate you!" "Shut up!" "MOM!" But by then, the initial damage has been done, and he usually will refuse to eat.
Admittedly, her socks could be used in chemical warfare. Photo credit

Once he saw a dead bird, and wouldn't eat ground meat for a week.We had soup the other night and god forbid, I put pepper in it.
"Mom! There's a bug in here," he yells.
"No, it's just pepper."
"But it looks like a bug!"
"But it's pepper."
"But it looks like a bug. I CAN'T EAT NOW!"

Cue hysteria and tears.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Conversation Candy Heart Complex

Ah...Valentine's Day. One of my favorite times of the year; but not because of the cupids and the love and the obligatory sex. No. It's the only time of the year that you can buy candy conversation hearts. And I love candy conversation hearts. A lot. (But they have to be the Brachs brand. But not the pink ones. Those are just gross.) I've gone through seven (yes, seven) bags since they came out. It's gotten to the point that my son has threatened to hide them from me. I'm very health conscious, so I don't allow my kids to eat too many. All that sugar and chemicals and dyes? No way. If I have to sacrifice my health for my children, I'll do that, no hesitation. Because that's what a mom does. It's been suggested that if I lack the will power to not eat them all, then maybe I should just not buy them. But that's ridiculous. I have the entire rest of the year to not buy them.

Oh, I do. I really, really do. Photo Credit


In elementary/middle school, when I'd get them for Valentine's, I'd stare at them, trying to decipher any hidden messages. "Sweet"...what does that mean? Does that mean that he thinks I'm sweet? Or is he just referring the the general state of the candy? "Be good"...well, what? What does that mean? I'm always good. He may have well just called me boring. "So fine"...oh, he thinks I'm fine? Like fine in cute, or fine, as in just OK? "Crazy for U"...he likes me, he really likes me! Or do I annoy him so much, it makes him crazy? "You rock"...I knew it. I knew I rocked. "No way"...wait, does that mean no way? Like no way? "LYLAS"...love you like a SISTER??  Hmph. He didn't look at these at all, did he?! He just dumped them in the bag! I knew he didn't really like me. His mom probably made him give Valentine's candy to everyone...and so on, and so forth. It's the only candy in existence that can give a girl an anxiety attack.  (I actually still have a bag that I kept from a middle school boyfriend. I'm still looking for the hidden message. And also, because I'm a hoarder.)

Now, they say things like "text me", "LOL", and "OMG".  The romance is gone. Of course, now that I'm an adult and more mature, the sayings no longer matter. I eat them so fast that I really don't have to time to read each one.





Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Week Without Computers: Not for the faint of heart

"Are you guys hungry? Should we eat now, or wait awhile?" I ask the kids.
"Yeah."
"Yeah what?"
"What?"
"Do you want to eat now or later?"
"Yeah."
"Ooohh kaaay...tacos sound good?"
"Yeah."
"How about ice cream? Should we just have ice cream for dinner?"
"Yeah."
"Kittens? Maybe I should fry up some cute, cuddly baby kittens and serve them with soy sauce. Or mustard. Mustard would be good."
"Yeah..."
                                 Also tasty with ketchup. (Photo credit)

I go into the living room and all three kids are on the sofa, various tablets/computer/phones in hand, the light from the devices casting a sickly light on their zombie-like, expressionless faces.
"Hey, guys? Yoou whooo!"
They look at me, without a trace of recognition in their eyes.

So, I did the one thing I knew would make them hate me forever. Well, they would as soon as they could remember where they'd seen me before.

I took away the internet.

For a week.

This decision was met with a tiny amount of resistance.

                   Like this. Times three.    (Photo credit)

The drama was no less impressive than that of a Spanish soap opera. There was fainting, and moaning, and anguished crying. There was rolling around on the floor, pulling hair, and wailing (and it wasn't me, like it usually is). There was screaming, and fire breathing. (And with time my eyebrows will grow back. Until then, I can use a Sharpie.) I had ruined their life, and they told me that in exactly those words. I wanted to start in with the "When I was your age all I had to play with was poison ivy and roadkill...", conversation, but instead I took the high road and yelled obscenities at them, then took away the items in question.

I slept with my Kevlar vest on, but the next morning the kids were surprisingly...not mad. My oldest actually told me that he thought it was a good idea. Then I promptly locked him in the closet while I searched for the real Nick. And we stuck with it. Almost. 6 days is close enough.

We only had one slip up...about four days in, the boys got up earlier than usual, and since I like to sleep in, I made them take the puppy out and watch him, while my husband and I got a little more time. As long as I could hear them fighting with each other, I knew all was well. But then...it got really quiet. My husband called them...no answer. Got up and searched the usual rooms, nothing. He found them locked in the bathroom, with the dog and the tablet perched precariously on the toilet. Hey, when you need a hit, you need a hit.
Minecraft addicts are looking at that picture, and mentally rearranging the pills to make trees and sheep. (Photo credit)

While I didn't completely give it up, I did cut my computer use in half. My house has never been cleaner. I actually read a few real books. (The Dresden Files...fun reads, by the way.) The kids and I played games at night, and my daughter and I put a few puzzles together. Nick and I drew together, and Sam and I read all about dinosaurs. Over and over. And over. (I know now how to pronounce Quetzalcoatlas.) We don't have TV, but we bonded over reruns of "My Babysitter is a Vampire" on Netflix. We pretended to be zombies. We played Barbies. We tried to teach the dog tricks. Nick wrote a story. Attitudes improved.

I'm definitely implementing a stricter schedule when it comes to computer/tablet/whatever time. It was a worthwhile experiment, and we will do it again. But maybe only a few days at a time, and I'll give the kids more notice, so they have time to mourn properly.





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vodka in my Orange Juice

I've never featured food in any of my posts. There are so many great blogs dedicated solely to recipes, and my flaky, disorganized method of cooking would add nothing of value to anyone. I'm the person that stands in front of the refrigerator at 6:00pm, wondering why the kids have to eat everyday, trying to come up with something to feed them. Not because I don't like to cook; I actually like it a lot, and before I had kids (who have very "sophisticated" palates) I made some pretty creative dishes. But I never write down my recipes and they're never the same twice. I don't measure anything, and I don't taste anything as I cook, I judge what it needs by smell. That tends to be hard to explain in a recipe. "Add salt, pepper and basil until it, uh... smells right." Yeah. Doesn't really work. Nor are the kids impressed with my impressive sensory feats, and the past several years meals have basically consisted of about 10 recipes, rotated over and over. The kids do not deal well with change.
"Mom! There's something GREEN on my spaghetti! Get it off! Why do you always have to ruin my life??"
 But today! Today I was a regular domestic dervish, whirling around the kitchen in a flurry of productivity. I was planning and chopping (no broccoli, however) and marinating. I was cooking. And I hadn't even finished my morning coffee yet. By the time the kids got home from school, I had ten dinners and two pans of lasagna in the freezer. I prepped veggies for several more dinners.
You can't expect me to organize, too.

And, and, and! I made a batch of oatmeal/peanut butter "energy bites" and 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies.
I had to memorialize the occasion with pictures, because it's very possible that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  

My kitchen saw so much action today it had to go out and smoke a cigarette. I even wore an apron. However, I don't have photographic evidence so you'll just have to take my word for it. I also managed to take the puppy for two walks and did several loads of laundry. And get this...I even folded it. Well, some of it.

Turns out that vodka in my orange juice was an excellent idea.





Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Makeup, tiaras, and self-doubt (plus a picture of long toenails)

Once upon a time, I considered entering my daughter in pageants. (Yes, I know. This was before I googled Honey Boo Boo.) I was painfully shy as a child, and lacked even basic social skills. If someone dared to say hi to me I'd stare blankly at them before running away screaming. Maybe that was why I didn't have very many friends...

I didn't want that for my daughter, and I thought that maybe pageants would be a good way to build her self-confidence.  I went as far looking into a few local events. For those who know me in real life, that is the antithesis of who I am. But for my daughter I thought I might be able to keep the gagging to myself, and encourage her to be the social butterfly I never was.
Because this a not-scary-at-all picture of well-adjusted little girl. (Photo courtesy of yooand.com)


Around this same time, I fell into a few "modeling" jobs; since I always pictured myself as the awkward girl that everyone laughed at, this surprised me. But yes, it did a lot for my self-esteem. I was picked for a brochure shoot for Jayco RVs, and I made really good money. Then I wasn't picked for a skiing shoot, and a whole new level of self-doubt crept in. "What is wrong with me? Why didn't they want me? Am I too fat? Are my teeth too yellow? It's my nose, isn't it? I know it's my nose. And my horrible teeth." And so I spend $75 on a teeth whitening kit, and stop eating Oreos in bulk.

Yeah, I'm kind of famous.
I also had another job as a promo model. Pretty glamorous, really. I stood around liquor stores, in shoes that made my feet whimper in pain, smiling, flirting and hand selling (that's not as obscene as it sounds) the product. Then one day a store employee came up to me and said "A bunch of the  guys and I voted, and we decided that even though you're the oldest, you're the hottest." And while I think it was meant as a compliment, I didn't like the idea of being "voted" on in a liquor store stockroom. Then I focused on the old part. "Oh God. I am old. I am too old. What am I doing, who do I think I am? I have gray hair, don't I? I am horrible looking. How can people even stand to look at me and my wrinkled, hideous face?" And I realized that I didn't want my daughter to ever feel that kind of self- hatred. If she fails, I want it to be because she didn't try hard enough, not because someone didn't like her face, or her hair, or her big toe.
Unless it looks like this. Then she's fair game.

So I quit. It was doing more harm than good. I'd leave each job feeling more insecure than I felt when I went in. I debated it for awhile...money is good. Especially when my hourly pay was triple anything I'd ever made at any other job. But the stress and anxiety and doubt wasn't worth it. And what would a pageant do? Expose a child to the same kind of anxiety and self-doubt. Those little girls can put on a good front, but inside, every time they don't win, they're doing an internal inventory on every tiny thing they think could be wrong with them. That's not healthy.

My daughter will never be in a pageant. It doesn't matter if she's not a social butterfly. Or class president. And so what if she dresses like Punky Brewster? She's awesome.


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