Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Held Hostage September 15, 2012

I cried in the middle of CVS the other day. But what’s important is not that I cried, but that I only cried a little bit, and not for very long, and there was no screaming or throwing of products up and down the aisles.

Because given the circumstances, that’s super impressive.

Chris and I were in CVS because we were waiting for his prescription of Oxy-codone, because he’d just gotten out of the hospital after having surgery on his shoulder for the second time. Only this time, they also did a bone graft from his leg. So he has double the pain, and double the difficulty getting around. We’d arrived at the hospital the day before at 10:30am, and now at 6pm the following day, all we wanted was to get his pain meds and go home and forget the laundry list of frustrations and indignities he’d been subjected to (including waiting in pre-op for 4 hours because his surgeon was late, having a random part of his leg (not near the incision) shaved with what I can only assume was a dull butter knife, being catheterized, having to ask for hours for ice for his leg, and being forced to eat hospital food, to name only a few).

For my part, I’d been at the hospital the day before from 10:30 am until 11pm, and then gone to work the next morning and then to the hospital at 3 where I sat with him until he was discharged at 4:30. We got lost getting out of the hospital, (completely my fault. I suck at being in charge), and it meant he had to walk really far on his bad leg. Now we were at our second CVS because the first didn’t have any Oxy in stock, and now there was a problem with the DEA number on the prescription that the intern had written. We’d been in this CVS for over an hour, I was freezing, and hungry and losing patience with the entire medical system in this country. Chris’s pain was etched all over his face and for the millionth time in the last two days I had to see that and know there was nothing I could do about it.

As we stood in the middle of the store trying to find something to distract him from his pain induced nausea, I kept thinking “We’re hostages. Hostages of the medical system.”

That’s when I wanted to start screaming, like an actual hostage would, in the hope that someone would hear and be able to rescue us.

Because it wasn’t just Chris who was captured in the system and divorced from all agency and recourse. I was trapped too.

And not just because I am Chris’s partner. I have my own medical dramas going on.

See, about 6 weeks ago, I found a lump in my breast. I’d had a benign lump removed about three years ago, so I assumed it was scar tissue.

After seeing my doctor, and getting a referral to the Breast Diagnostic Center where I had my first mammogram (a story for another blog post), and an ultrasound, I was scheduled for a biopsy. And around then finally accepted that it wasn’t scar tissue.

After the biopsy, the radiologist decided I actually had two lumps, and she’d only biopsied one of them, but needed me to have a breast MRI so she could better visualize the second lump before doing another biopsy.

So I made an appointment for the MRI. All of this took place in the span of about 2.5 weeks. Everyone I interacted with from schedulers, to techs, to the doctors themselves were helpful, warm, pleasant and reassuring. I felt confident that the lumps were nothing, and that everything would be sorted out and it would all be a distant memory by Thanksgiving.  I was really calm and remarkably unstressed out. For me, anyway. I mean, I was still a gigantic baby about the biopsy and acted like I’d had a piece of my boob removed with a hunting knife, but for ME, that counts as being a trooper.

Then, the day before the MRI was scheduled, I got a call from the Breast Diagnostic Center that they had to cancel it because my insurance company declined to pay for it.

Cue screeching record sound.

There were a lot of calls and messages back and forth between me and the radiologist, the radiologist and my primary and my primary and me. At the end of the first week, the theory was that only my primary could sort it out.  I talked to her and she promised to handle it and to stay in touch and that if she didn’t follow-up, that I should call her. In the week that followed I left two more messages and she hasn’t called me back yet. Which seems out of character for her, and so my theory is that the women who answer the phones aren’t giving her the messages because they always seem super annoyed that I insist on talking directly to the doctor instead of leaving a message in the physician’s assistant’s voice mail.

The last message I left her was right after they took Chris into surgery, and I’d been waiting on pins and needles for her to call me back.  I was really  needed to have an update, some information, so I could have a sense of agency, of control,  over this one part of my life, since I had no control over anything happening to Chris.

But no. No call back. No information. No forward motion. Also, I’ve become convinced that in the downtime since the MRI was canceled the lumps have tripled in size. Like they know they’re unsupervised and are running rampant.

And there’s nothing I can do. Again. I’m a hostage of a medical system that lets insurance companies make decisions about care, and receptionists that think they know everything.

I want to scream, and tear things off the shelves in this CVS, and kick and scream until someone hears. Until someone rescues us.

But really, I know that’s not going to do anything but get me arrested. And that would definitely be a step backward in this whole quest to be in control thing.

So instead I cry. (But JUST for a minute or two.) And Chris shifts into the position of caretaker, gently hugging me with his one good arm.  And I’m aware that I’m supposed to be taking care of him, not the other way around, and I start to cry more because I feel like a terrible girlfriend/person. But then I think, “Who am I kidding?” because these are the roles we’re most comfortable in anyway. Chris is a caretaker to his core, and I’m constantly in need of care, and I think this is a big part of why we work.

Once I stop crying I can tell Chris’s energy has shifted, and he’s gone from withdrawn and cranky to  cheerful (albeit forced), and when the pharmacist calls his name, he acts like a man receiving a prize as he limps up toward the counter, like he’s not at all frustrated, or in overwhelming pain, and I can’t help but smile.

So fine. I’m being held hostage.  But if I’m going go through this, at least I’m going through it with him.

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New Year’s Resolutions Progress Report July 2, 2012

Remember back at the beginning of the year when my bossy know it all, very wise BFF, over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for me? Well, since we’re about half way through the year, we thought it was time for a progress report.

I have to admit, I took these resolutions much more seriously than I’ve ever taken any of the resolutions I’ve ever written for myself. I’m not saying my success rate will be any higher, but I definitely thought about them a lot more and have more guilt over the ones I ignored failed to achieve. Although, the year isn’t over yet, and like in grade school, a progress report is nothing more than a heads up to get your act together. I expect to report nothing different great things at the end of the year. And also like  school progress reports and professional performance evaluations, I’m full up on defensiveness an creative explanations.

Behold:

1) Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Technically, I didn’t do this. BUT, I would like to encourage a more liberal than literal interpretation, in which case I’m not doing too bad.  I moved out of the crazy place I was living in, and into a (so far)  nice normal place, and I like the room very much and feel more comfortable and more at home there than I ever did in my last place. And Chris gave me a key to his place, which made me feel more at home there as well, so I think if you add up my place and his place, I’m at least more settled and anchored than I was when this was written. Grade: B-, and I suggest that it get carried over for next year. Bonus Points: my room is actually quite neat and orderly, which I’ll bet no one saw coming:

2) Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

I do a pretty good job of this although, in all honestly I could probably be a little better. Grade: B+. Bonus Points:  I NEVER talk while I’m driving without my hands free device.

3) Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

I’d like to say I thought about this resolution a lot, but really, any achievements I’ve made on this point are coincidence. But that still totally counts. So, I got back into Pilates, and its made a huge difference in how my body and I get along.  Chris and I have also made an effort to be active as much as possible on the weekends, and I can now hike 3 miles without wanting to stab him in the eye, so that’s something. We also joined a gym (that’s technically still under construction, but whatever) but I’m very excited for their big indoor pool and Pilates/yoga room. OH, and I’ve also gotten really good at following my new low sugar, gluten-free diet and have learned more about what my body responds best too.  Most significantly I’ve learned that if I under-eat by even a few hundred calories a day, my body will retaliate by swelling up like a water balloon. So I don’t do that anymore. Grade: A. Bonus Points: I’ve taught myself to like buckwheat granola. Its got all kinds of raw, and “sprouted seeds” in it, which are super healthy (apparently) but taste suspiciously like dirt.

4) Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

I totally get a pass on this one because it would be weird if I had decorated a Christmas tree between January and July. Ohhhh, but if I was smart, I totally would have gotten a tree and decorated it, just so I could get an A+ on this one. Damnit. Grade: N/A.

5) Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Ummm, well. Ok, here’s the thing. I have written a couple of essays that would go with the book, but then I started rethinking the focus of the book, and then I got caught up in learning how to publish books, which is totally going to help us when we do finish this book. And that is taking up every minute of my free time right now, so… technically, the book hasn’t moved forward. BUT because I’m becoming an expert at publishing and promotion, once we do finish the book, everything else will go so much faster. Grade: C++

6) Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

I think I’ve made some progress here. I’m much more comfortable with the whole “grown up relationship” thing than I was this time last year, or even six months ago. I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m actually pretty impressed with myself. Most of the time. Grade: A- (But maybe I should actually have Chris grade me on this one?)

7) On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

I’m working on it, and as I said above, I’m getting better. But I still have attacks of insecurity that make me ask, in all seriousness, if the fact that I don’t like roller coasters will one day make him feel like he settled. I see now the absurdity of that question, but at the time, it felt really reasonable. And I’m totally better at the planning for the future thing. I mean, I signed a year contract at the same gym as him for Pete’s sake.   Grade: B- Bonus Points: For doing this.

8) Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on YouTube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

I’m assuming you define “keep storytelling” as getting on stage and telling stories. Which I did. Once this year. BUT, if we define “keep storytelling” as “stay a part of the community, keep learning about the craft, keep finding new ways to stretch myself creatively” then I’m rocking this. So far this year I’ve: taught one class and one boot camp, directed my first show, started writing a weekly column for the SpeakeasyDC blog, which, by the way I also started and am the Managing Editor of, so…  Grade: A-.

9) Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

I wish! I want a kitten so bad. One that will cuddle with me, and chase imaginary bugs along the wall, and let me make funny YouTube videos of her…but kittens aren’t allowed at either of the places where I live. So really I’ve made the responsible choice in not following this resolution. Grade: A Bonus Points: I haven’t bought a stuffed kitten yet that I pretend is real.

10) Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

I have plans. It’s not time for this yet, but I have plans. Grade: C+

11) Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

I think about, and reference this resolution ALL THE TIME.  Usually when I’m crying incoherently. I think I’ve made some progress… Ok, so I WAS crying when I asked Chris about feeling like he’s settled for me over the roller coaster thing, BUT I was not crying incoherently. Grade: C-

12) Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

This might not happen. I was going to go to Denmark again this summer, but the discount airline stopped flying from the US, and as of now I can’t afford to pay normal airline prices to go to Europe. Plus, it ate up a lot of my vacation time last year and I’m kind of liking the idea of having flexibility for more domestic travel, like, ahem, trips to Charlotte, NC. For example. Grade: N/A Bonus Points: we could decide go to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when we go visit my parents in August.

13) Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

I think I’ve figured it out. I’m not ready to lay it out for public inspection yet, but I’ve got the makings of a plan and I think it’s a really good one. And might happen in less than three years. Grade: A+

14) Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Did we miss this? Because I’m totally in. Grade: N/A

15) Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

I was totally going to do a 5K run thingy, but it sold out before I could register. But, I did go to a giant amusement park and rode several rides, including a roller coaster, which was WAY outside my comfort zone, (and technically required the use of my body – there was a lot of walking and climbing into and out of seats. Fun Fact: I’m super uncoordinated when it comes to climbing into and out of rides) and I’m going to go back and do it again at least two more times this summer. I’m also going to go kayaking more than once this year, maybe one time in a solo kayak even, and that is definitely outside my comfort zone and requires physical exertion.  Grade: B

16) Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

False. I AM a grouchy misanthrope, and my co-workers and anyone who calls my office will back me up on this. Grade: F

17) And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

Since I don’t like people very much its very easy for me to walk away from people who don’t find me hilarious. Not that that’s ever happened, mind you, but if it did, they’d be history in a nano second. Grade: A


You can go read her progress report on the resolutions I wrote for her, here. And I just want to say its totally not a competition.

(But if it were, I’d totally win.)

 

This Side of Normal February 8, 2012

You know what’s normal? Having a romantic relationship last a year.

You know what’s NOT normal?

This girl.

This is me. Crazy eyes.


See, Chris and I celebrated our one year anniversary this week. And unlike our 6 month anniversary, I was totally calm leading up to this milestone. I wasn’t even a little bit superstitious, afraid of jinxing it, or even particularly emotional.

See how much progress I’m making?

Yeah, don’t get too excited…

Our anniversary technically fell on a Sunday, which I think we can all agree is the least romantic day of the week, plus I was going to be gone at rehearsal for the show I’m co-directing from 1:30-5:30, so I suggested we deputize Saturday for purposes of celebration. But we didn’t really plan anything specific because it came at the end of a long and stressful week for Chris and so the most appealing option for both of us was just having a quiet weekend together.

Saturday morning we decided we’d take a trip to a brand new gluten free bakery for treats, and as we were leaving the bakery we decided to stop in at a coffee shop, sample our GF confections and do some people watching. It was perfect.

But as we walked back to the car through cold rain we started to rethink our plan of dinner in Old Town, and opted instead for Cheesecake Factory where we had our second date.

Traffic was terrible and it was a stressful drive. We waited for more than an hour to be seated, and…well, all I’m going to say about the actual dining experience was that Cheesecake Factor hates people with gluten allergies.

But returning home to the leftover GF chocolate chip cookie lifted the mood considerably.

Sunday morning we made breakfast together and slow danced in the kitchen to “If It’s Love” by Train while the sausage was browning.

And then I used the sausage to make a frittata. Which I may or may not have burned. (But the burned part stuck to the pan and the part you could actually scoop out was delicious, thank you very much).

Chris made dinner while I was at rehearsal, and we had a relaxed and intimate evening where we ate, watched most of the Super Bowl and ate our dessert of strawberries with cheesecake and whip cream in bed before exchanging sappy cards and going to sleep early, our stomachs bursting from the cheesecake and whip cream. (Ok, the truth is, I was the only one bursting from the whip cream. I kept overfilling my mouth when I sprayed it in).

It was a really, really, great weekend.

And yet…

That night as I tried to fall asleep, some weird thoughts started poking my brain.

Things like:

It WAS a great weekend. I love the fact that an afternoon spent in a coffee shop feels special when I do it with Chris.

And while things didn’t go perfectly (bad traffic, bad dinner, burnt Frittata etc.) it didn’t matter, and that is something special. I like that we’re past a point where I need to pretend his driving doesn’t stress me out, and we hardly notice a burnt frittata.

BUT at the same time, it could have been any weekend. Does that mean something?

I mean, there really wasn’t any sparkle in the weekend. You know that little bit of fairy dust that seems to cover all parts of a new relationship, when you go out of your way to surprise and wow each other? That’s sparkle.

At first, I was fine with a sparkle free anniversary weekend, in part because I still find comfortable and familiar to be novel and exciting.

Until I started worrying there would never be sparkle again.

Were we already in a rut? Is that what happens at the one year mark? Because seriously, I have no idea what happens at the one year mark. I’m so far into unfamiliar territory I feel like I should have a passport.

This makes me panicky.

Suddenly I have perfect recall of every episode of shows like According to Jim, ‘Till Death, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Shows where wives are always nagging their husbands to be romantic and the husbands are forever rolling their eyes and reluctantly agreeing while clearly resenting every minute. Shows where the comedy comes from a premise that romance and long term relationships are mutually exclusive.

Is it funny because its true? This is what I’m trying to decide at 2am.

I’m scared that, by no choice or effort of my own I will become one of those sparkle starved nagging women and Chris will become one of those lazy, anti-sparkle guys.

What if that’s as unavoidable a law of nature as the ones that make it so your boobs eventually rest on your belt, reality TV seems disgusting, and driving faster than 30mph always feels excessive?

.

In the light of day I struggled for perspective.

I tried reminding myself of the facts because I like to believe this will help to quiet the crazy.

Fact. I have hit the jackpot with Chris, of this I am sure, and for the last year every day with him has felt above average and full of sparkle, so it was silly to get worked up because a weekend – which just happened to be one year from the day of our first date – had only the same amount of sparkle that every other day had.

Fact. I’m not the type of girl who needs lots of sparkle. I’m low maintenance. I like the steak more than the sizzle.

Fact. A good bra will always keep the girls in place.

This never works to quiet the crazy. I seriously don’t know why I bother.

.

Part of the problem is that I’d been focused on the one year milestone for 364 days.

Every milestone I invented between days 1 and 365 were like a relationship advent calendar meant to break up the days and distract me with treats until the big day.

Getting to the one year mark represented achieving normal. It meant not being the girl whose relationship history consisted of crazy stories and responses like “Where do you keep finding those douchebags?”

I told myself that at one year I’d be able to trust that he wasn’t too good to be true and that I’d have figured out how to do the whole functional relationship thing and I could stop worrying I was going to ruin it by saying the wrong thing.

.

And all of that happened, but it actually happened somewhere around the 10 month mark. At some point I just started to relax, feeling confident I was going to glide over that finish line.

Which I did. And then sailed right past it.

Into…whatever comes after one year.

I had no new goal to focus my anxieties on. No new advent calendar to start to break up the time and distract myself with chocolate.

I felt unmooered.

I felt like I was flying without a net.

.

Which is why the night after our anniversary was spent with me randomly dissolving into tears.

Each time Chris would calmly wipe away a tear or hug me and ask me what was on my mind. And I would say I didn’t know while crying harder, and he would say “Ok, well, whenever you figure it out I’ll be here to listen.”

Which, to be fair, is a conversation we have about once a month. Sometimes the crazy just builds up to the point where tears are the only way to release the pressure. True story.

.

Anyway, in the past it could sometimes take many hours before I could talk to him about whatever had fermented the crazy that time.

But on this night, I thought about the New Year’s Resolution that I was given to use my words more than my tears, and I worked really hard to find words sooner than later.

After only about an hour of off and on again crying, I managed something along the lines of “What about the sparkle?” And somehow Chris understood exactly what I meant, and we were able to have a good talk about feelings. And I have to say, words really are SO much more useful than tears. Who knew?

.

We talked about the appropriate application of sparkle in a relationship that already feels above average.

I agreed to stop pretending I’m low maintenance, and to own the fact that I need a little sparkle now and again.

Chris explained the difference between TV and real life, and how we can decide what kind of couple we are. And also that we’ll always enjoy reality TV together.

I promised to keep working toward being able to have feelings conversations that involved more words than snot.

As I started to feel better I tried to explain a little about my unmoored feeling.

“I’m just not sure what to do on this side of…”

“This side of normal?” Chris asked with a smile.

Yes! Exactly. A relationship that lasts more than a year is normal. Being happy and secure in a mutually rewarding relationship is normal…and that’s where we live now.

.

I’m so screwed.

Anniversary Self Portrait

 

Guest Post: 2012 New Year’s Resolutions for Me. January 24, 2012

Please welcome Tara from DoTheseKidsMakeMeLookCrazy. She let me write out her New Year’s Resolutions for her, which was way fun because I enjoy telling people what to do. Then I let her write out mine.

Now she thinks she’s the boss of me.

.

But that might be ok.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mer and I have been friends for 23 years.

That’s longer than twice the length of my marriage.

It’s nearly four times the age of my youngest child.

It’s over five times the amount of time I’ve lived in my current home.

I totally wrote all those statistical-sounding facts because math confuses Mer and I want to remind her that I’m smarter than her.

Why is it important that I appear to be smarter?

So she’ll let me control her, err, make decisions for her.

Kind of like how Britney Spears’ dad gets to spend all of Britney’s money because she shaves her head and drinks a lot of alcohol when she gets sad.

But Mer, regrettably, does not have a lot of money. And she has a freakish amount of hair that she only rarely brushes, let alone shaves.

Therefore, I have to assert my influence over her via less, um, dramatic ways.

I’m writing her New Year’s resolutions.

Me. Divorced, broke, questionably employed, chronically hungry, mother of two.

Don’t worry, I’ve totally got this.

I learned it from watching her.

Are you ready, Mer? Listen up, girl.

Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on youtube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

I love you. Now go kick 2012’s ass.

Tara

 

Its Gonna Be a Bright, Bright, Sun-shiney Day September 15, 2011

For the past several months, I haven’t been feeling myself. Maybe as long as a year, but its hard to say really.

A year ago this month I was in a car accident that had me in physical therapy and doctors offices for 6 months, and I was exhausted and cranky all the time because of the pain, and any odd things happening in my body were chalked up to the stress and trauma.

It wasn’t until April that I started noticing issues with my body that didn’t seem associated with the accident, and a new round of doctor’s visits ensued.

The majority of my complaints were anecdotal and subjective:

I’m tired all the time

I cry alot

I have cramps all the time

I’m irritable for no reason

As I mentioned in my birthday post, those symptoms along with a few other specific ones I won’t share here for the sake of my dad and brothers who read this blog, led my doctor to decide I had endometriosis. A scary diagnosis at 35 years old.

No blood work was done, no more investigation than a simple exam occurred, and I was handed a prescription for birth control and sent on my way.

But the pill didn’t help. I was still tired, moody, and having painful cramps all the time. And I was gaining weight at an alarming rate. I looked like someone had stuck an air hose in my butt.

When I went back to ask for a different pill, I was threatened with surgery, or chemical menopause if this new pill didn’t fix me.

Chemical menopause. At 35. For real.

Well, with that kind of incentive, I was determined to have the pill fix me.

And it did, sort of. My mood swings got a little better, my cramps went away, and the weight started to come off…

Mostly because my appetite largely disappeared.

But I was still exhausted all the time. I was still generally grumpy about most things and unmotivated.

My drive that had kept me going to the gym at 5 am the year before was gone, and sometimes it was all I could do to go on a walk with Chris.

I slept a lot, but not particularly well, in part because I was plagued with crazy dreams that had me waking up confused about the separation between reality and dream states.

At work, and when I was trying to write, my brain felt foggy, cloudy, like parts of it had been shut down with out my permission.

But I ignored all of it, because I was tired of doctors, tired of threats of major interventions, and I just wanted to be left alone.

But I spent a lot of time secretly worried.

I worried something was seriously wrong with me.

I worried that Chris was going to get tired of having a slug for a girlfriend.

I worried that I’d never be me again.

Then I decided to give it one more try. I found a new doctor. A holistic doctor.

We talked about my eating habits, and how I am rarely hungry and often remember to eat only when I’m light-headed or cranky, and how I eat soup for lunch every day because it’s the only thing appealing.

He told me I had to eat more, maybe a sandwich, and I made a face. “I don’t like sandwiches lately, I can’t get myself to eat one anymore.”

And he said words that I’ve come to think of as magic. “Maybe you have a gluten allergy and your body is trying to protect you.”

Huh, well that’s an idea. We did some tests for that and some other possibilities but while waiting for the results, I just decided to try a gluten-free diet and see what happened.

What happened was AMAZING.

I literally felt improvement within 24 hours. A little more energy, a little more cheerful.

It’s now been almost 4 days with only one slip on the first day, and HOL-Y CRAP! I’m almost afraid to trust it, but…

I’ve been reborn people!

My energy level has been steadily climbing and today its off the charts. Which for most people would probably be considered a normal energy level, but since I’m starting from such a low bar, this feels super charged.

And my mood! My god, my mood. I’m cheerful! Well, cheerful for me, I’m still don’t seem myself being nice to people on the phone or anything, I mean I haven’t had a brain transplant, but I’m not mopey and resentful at being anywhere other than a bed or couch.

I’m sleeping better. I still had some crazy dreams last night, but when I woke up my heart wasn’t racing, I wasn’t confused about what was real, and I didn’t fear going back to sleep. I actually thought “hmm, that was a weird dream,” and fell back to sleep. This has never happened before.

The fog has been blown out of my brain. I can apply problem solving skills, and abstract thinking and deductive reasoning to problems again. That was the hardest symptom of my unraveling that was hardest to explain or quantify. But now its back! I have my brain back!And the energy to use it.

I can’t help but think that part of the improvement is the result of shifting from feeling like a helpless victim of my body’s whims and malfunctions to feeling hopeful and back in control, but whatever. Who cares, because I’m back baby. I’m back!

.

And if you haven’t been keeping track, almost all of these symptoms are the same ones used to make my diagnosis of endometriosis. My new doctor has ordered extensive blood work to make sure there isn’t anything else going on that contributed to the symptoms or the sudden development of the allergy, but so far even money is on it just being a gluten allergy.

Chemical menopause indeed.

.

One of the more interesting changes I’m starting to observe though, is a type of emotional re-engagement with my friends. For the last few months any emotional energy I had went to Chris and worrying about what was wrong with me, and there wasn’t much left over for other people. I’d listen to their troubles, their drama, their challenges as if from a distance. I kept quiet when I might otherwise have intervened, or if I offered advice, I drop it quickly if I felt resistance where before I would have pushed through.

But now…the fire to tell other people how to live their lives is back. I’m once again freely and passionately offering opinions and advice on things that I may or may not know anything about.

I know right? I’m sooooo BACK!

And today specifically I find myself getting reacquainted with my traditionally fierce desire to cause harm to people who hurt my friends.

I can’t get this image out of my mind of going out and rounding up all the men who’ve hurt my friends in the past year while I’ve been “away” and forcing them with cattle prods into extended rituals of public ridicule, humiliation and penance.

The phrase “feminist jihad” may or may not be running on a loop in my head. (And the political scientist in me can’t help mentioning that I know that jihad technically refers to a religiously motivated attack, but I argue that feminism IS a religion…)

I’ve got a few logistics to work out yet on that, but that’s OK, because I have nothing but energy and mental acuity to burn right now.

I think shit’s about to get real y’all…

 

The Top 10 Reasons Why Mer Would Make a Spectacularly Awful Super Hero August 11, 2011

Remember a few weeks ago when I was all “I’m a guest blogger!” ? over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? (Btw, the answer is, “li’l bit”)

So now its Tara’s turn to be a guest blogger on my page.  And she’s not holding back.

But before you read it, I’d just like to say that while I know its hilarious, and hilarious always equals “totally true”, there are a few things I would just like to comment on before you start reading why I’d make a terrible super hero.

First of all, I did not watch every episode of 90210. I totally missed like at least half of the final season because I was in college with my own “for real” drama, which it turns out is way more interesting than TV drama. (But only because they didn’t have reality TV back then, cause that shit beats real life every time.) However, Luke Perry is probably at least 70% to blame for me failing 9th grade math.

Second, yes my boyfriend is super cute, isn’t he? (But um, pssst, Tara? Even though I love you like a sister and I’d do anything for you, get too friendly with him and I’ll cut you and not feel bad.  Just sayin’).

Third, I would argue that points 4 and 9 actually are super powers, not anti-super powers, as Tara believes.

Here’s why: #4 keeps people off-balance and often leads to great spontaneous comedic moments. Especially when small children repeat me. And funny is always good.

Always.

And worth corrupting minors and offending grandmothers and priests for.

As for #9 – this pretty much means I get whatever I want. In high school I had a TV and VCR,  in my room, along with a phone and a double bed that was perfect for sleep overs. Tara was always jealous of my sweet set up (made more sweet, I like to believe, by the gray and pink early 90’s inspired design elements), but did she ever think to wonder how I got all that? And all the traffic tickets I’ve gotten out of, the jobs I’ve kept despite gross incompetence? You’d be surprised what a few tears can do…they even led to Eunice Kennedy Shriver being nice to me for 5 whole minutes.  If that’s not a super power, I don’t know what is…

Anyway…I’ll let you all read her post and see what you think, because now that she’s reminded me about the squirrels, I have to figure out where the bathroom is in my office building (again), so I cry in private.

————

Remember a few weeks ago, when Mer was a guest contributor on my blog?  She was all, “Tara almost starved her children because she’d rather see their cold, dead, emaciated bodies lying on the floor than crack an egg or risk getting burned on the stove top.  So I had to drive down there just to make those sweet babies some pancakes and rice krispie treats.”

Um, that was an exaggeration.  They’re not that sweet.  And they’re no longer babies who can be fed via my breastmilk, fully saturated with chocolate and caffeine, which is why they are in a constant state of near malnutrition.  Finally, they certainly weren’t near death, as several friends had dropped off some treats in the last month or so and we hadn’t even resorted to picking the last of the strawberries out of my neighbor’s garden.

So don’t go thinking Mer’s some sort of superhero or anything.

Truly, she’d make the worst superhero ever.   I mean, sure, she could rock a pair of thigh-high boots and her cleavage would look majestic in a sequined spandex top.  But that’s where the likeness ends, folks.

And because she was so focused on bragging about how she can melt butter and marshmallows together in a single pot, she didn’t stop to think about how I know approximately 134,577 secrets about her.  I’ve known her since we were twelve years old and we’re now, like, 100. I know that she once owned a Thighmaster.  I know that if a clown even looks at her, she’ll cry. I know that she’s watched every single episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and lusted after Dylan McKay and his scarred eyebrow so hard that she almost failed ninth grade math.  I even know how and with whom she lost her virginity.  The first, second, and third time, mind you.

(Dry spells that last longer than 1 year = renewed virginity, y’all.)

See, she forgot about my extraordinary knowledge base in her quest to showcase her ability to hypnotize my hungry children with her fancy pancake shaper-thingies and a liberal use of sprinkles.  She also failed to consider that I have an underdeveloped conscience, a verbal filter that crapped out on me the day my husband ran for the hills, and an active aversion to the delete key on my laptop.

As an additional factor, she’s got this really cute boyfriend whom she’s still trying to impress.

(Hiiiiiii, Chris.)

Anyway, let’s talk about the Top 10 Reasons Why Mer Would Make a Spectacularly Awful Superhero:

1)      She has absolutely no sense of direction.  None.  I’m not just talking about east vs. west.  No, I mean left/right and up/down, too.

2)      She has no pain tolerance.  Like, she can barely handle a hang nail without excessive whining, an unveiling of her wound as though she’s displaying a newborn baby, and at least three phone calls to her mom, who studied homeopathic medicine for this very reason.

3)      She loses stuff.  Aside from obvious stuff, like her virginity and self-control around M&Ms, she has also lost tickets to an awesome concert, at least 50 dollars in cash, all her tax records from 2008 and 2009, and the left shoe from a pair of kick-ass heels that she once wore to an event attended by the Kennedy family.

4)      She really enjoys using the word “f*ck”.  In front of children, preferably.  And it’s done in a sneaky, non-angry way, so you don’t even have any warning.

5)      She absolutely falls apart when she’s around someone who is in a crisis situation.  Like, if you are ever in a life-threatening situation, please understand that you will die.  And as you are taking your final breath, there’s a decent chance she might reach out to you for comfort, as watching you die is obviously very traumatizing and will linger in her mind long after your wretched death.

6)      She doesn’t like being too hot.  Or too cold.  Or wet.  Basically, she really can’t handle the elements.  Like, if she could fly, instead of being all, “Omg, I can fly”, she’d just get super pissed if a bug flew in her mouth or she got sunburn.   Oh, and “camping” is not a term that she’s ever going to look favorably upon, no matter what she tells her ex-military boyfriend.

7)      She’s not brave.  At all.  Once she became nearly catatonic for several hours after watching a momma squirrel eat her baby squirrels on her back porch.  We were all super worried about her and ended up having to stop making little baby-squirrel-screaming noises every time she walked into the room.

8)      I can’t even bear to discuss the concept of “Mer” and “weapons” in the same sentence.

9)      She’s a crier.  Big time.  She tries to normalize it by saying that my ability to hold my shit together when I watch the final scene in romantic comedies means I’m “dead inside”, but my extensive experience as her friend tells me that this girl is a crier who can be tipped into hysterics about as quickly as it takes a momma squirrel to eat her first baby.

10)   She’s a little bit racist, so she’d probably only be willing to save white people or Asian babies. Okay, that’s a lie.  She’s not racist at all and she has no particular affinity toward Asian babies.  But when she read this, she was probably like, “What the f*ck?  If I could stop crying long enough to find my left shoe and figure out which way was south, I’d totally kick her ass.”

There.  You see?

I’m super confident that this list has thoroughly convinced you that Mer should never, ever, EVER be considered a superhero.  Well, not for the general public anyway.

The thing is . . . she’s kind of my superhero.  Sure, she might not be brave, or organized, or particularly good at problem-solving in a crisis, but she is stellar at feeding my little ones, driving seven hours in order to spend New Year’s Eve making me margaritas and watching Redbox movies, reading all the drivel I write on the internet, listening to me whine about my failed marriage, lending me her Thighmaster, letting me making fun of her guest post on her blog, and agreeing that I’m smarter and prettier.

Okay, I may have made that last part up.

Regardless, she’s mine.  So, hands off.

 

Keys to Sanity May 27, 2011

I moved about two months ago. I went from renting the second bedroom in a two bedroom, one level, condo with a female friend, to renting one of three bedrooms in a town house with a male stranger. It happens.

I like my new place a lot, the room gets lots of natural light, and I can open the windows for fresh air, and I have my own bathroom. The laundry room is right next to my room, so its super easy for me to do this unpleasant chore, but the room is totally insulated so I don’t hear anything when other people do laundry.

My roommate/landlord is pretty chill, although I think he’d like it if I were more social. But I pay my rent on time and leave a rather small footprint across the house, so I figure he’s got little to complain about.

As with any move, I had a lot of things to adjust to: new routines/schedules/habits…you know, the usual.  

For example, in my old place I hung my keys on a hook near the front door. It became a habit really quickly to leave the keys there when I came in, and grab them on my way out. Hardly had to give it any thought at all.

In my new place, I set the keys on top of my dresser in my bedroom. It’s a habit that developed in the early days when the room was a chaos of boxes and random pieces of electronics and I just didn’t want to lose them. Which is to say, it wasn’t a carefully thought out choice about where best to keep my keys when I’m not using them.

One routine that didn’t change was my date nights with Chris. On those nights, I generally go home after work and spend a couple of hours doing chores/getting ready, and then Chris comes to pick me up. Pretty much every time I’ve gone out with Chris, my roommate has been home, and often the front door has been open. In other words, on date nights, I’m neither driving nor locking any doors.

.

On at least four occasions (but possibly more because I’ve stopped counting) I’ve left the house without my keys.

I always realize this oversight in the form of a lightning flash of memory of NOT putting the keys in my purse, just as Chris is turning into my neighborhood at the end of the night. In a panic I grab my purse from where it sits at my feet and shake it, and then start rummaging madly, and fruitlessly, through it.

The first two times this occurred, Chris asked what I was doing. When I said “I don’t have my keys”, he’d mirror my panicked look, and say something to effect of “What are you talking about? How can you not have your keys?! What the hell?”

By the third time, he didn’t ask what I was doing when I grabbed my purse but instead said “Are you kidding? Who leaves the house without keys?!”

Well, me. Clearly.

Duh.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the end of the world. My roommate is always home. I could just bang on the door or call his cell to let me in. This isn’t a situation where I’m going to be sleeping on the sidewalk.

But I really, really don’t want to wake my roommate up to let me in. 

Each time I’ve forgotten my keys, we’ve turned into my street and to my enormous relief found the front door of the house open. 

But then as I’d sit in the car saying goodbye to Chris, I’d become obsessed with the idea that the door could close while we’re sitting there saying (kissing) goodbye.

Which, again, is not the end of the world. To a rational person.

But we’re talking about me here.

So I usually end up offering a rushed “Ihadagreattimetonightthankstalktoyoutomorrow”, going in for a kiss that barely makes contact and then jumping out of the car and speed walking to the front door, and only relaxing when I’m through the door and standing on the landing.

He deserves more than that. We both do.

The whole routine is so ridiculous and traumatic, that after the third time I was sure it would be enough to train me to double-check that I had my keys on future date nights.

And it did.

For about a week.

Last Sunday night we were coming home from my birthday party around 10pm. It had been a great night, at the end of a great week in which Chris had reached new levels of awesome. As we turned into my neighborhood, I immediately knew I didn’t have my keys. As the usual panicked routine set in, I also knew that now the end of the night was about to be ruined and so when Chris offered his usual line: “How can you not have your keys!?” Instead of my normal response of: “I don’t know!!” I started to cry.

There’s clearly way too much emotion involved in this one flakey behavior. I know this. It seems to be the result of a deep-set desire NOT to have to get my roommate to let me in. Which is weird. I know this too.

Maybe its because I don’t want to add another level to the humiliation I already feel at forgetting my keys. Its bad enough Chris has to know about this, I don’t need my roommate to know too.

Maybe my irrational and yet powerful fear that not having my keys means that I WILL be sleeping on the sidewalk, forever, is really just a manifestation of an untapped reservoir of emotion and feelings of insecurity that are a natural by-product of a major life change like a move.

.

I’m pretty sure its the embarassed thing.

.

This week’s date night was to go to Home Depot and get two copies of my house key made. One copy lives in Chris’s car. One key is hidden.

Problem solved.

To quote Chris as I was checking out: “Two copies of your key: $3.26. Peace of Mind: Priceless.”

Indeed.

 

 
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