Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Ambien Post

Just for kicks, let's see what the ambien dazed mind can come up with tonight.

Before I took those supposed knock out pills, I was putting a list together of my top ten of various things. (Does the fact that I've had a typo in every single word in this sentence mean I should quit while I am ahead? Probably.)

Tonight's top ten turned into more like a top 30. I have no idea if you will find it interesting, but these are the top 30 (or so) books I have in my bookshelves that I would never give away. So, here goes:

1. Gone With The Wind
2. The Stand
3. The Red Tent
4. Pillars of the Earth
5. To Kill a Mockingbird
6. Girl Interrupted
7. Clan of the Cave Bear
8. Marley & Me
9. The Five People You Meet in Heaven
10. The Notebook
11. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King (7 books really)
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Good Earth
14. His Bright Light
15. On Agate Hill
16. A Christmas Carol
17. The Harry Potter Series (again, 7 books)
18. Cold Mountain
19. The Scarlet Letter
20. A Dog's Purpose
21. Into the Wild
22. Forever
23. The Memory Keeper's Daughter
24. The Time Traveler's Wife
25. The Kite Runner
26. A Friend Like Henry
27. Emergence Labeled Autism
28. Plain Truth
29. Something Borrowed
30. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

And since I apparently can't count:

31. The Bridges of Madison County
32. The Hobbit
33. Follow the River (Except I don't actually have this one. I borrowed it from the library. Put it on my wish list!)
34. The Help (Borrowed from a friend. Put it on the wish list.)

Since I am constantly trying to get book lists from my friends, I figured I'd give you one of my own with a bunch of favorites. There aren't any from the kindle because I can never remember what I've read that's on there. I think there's something to be said for having a book with the title and author emblazoned all over the front cover the entire time you read it. Maybe amazon should consider adding that at the top of each "page" of their device...if that shows up in the new one, I'm suing for something. That one's mine!

Okay, I think a little coma inducing sitcoms are in order...maybe I'll get to bed by 12:30

It's always so much fun to wake up and discover that I already wrote a post for today! And to try to figure out what I ate from the dishes in the sink. I feel completely lucid, but have been informed that this part of my brain operates on kind of an automatic pilot and that I'm actually in some way asleep...that could be scary. Thank God I've never felt the desire or the need to drive!

Sweet dreams...



Check It Out!!!

Great news! My first article is up over at Motherhood Uncovered!!!!

I have written six or seven posts that are all cued up and waiting to go and the majority of them are humorous. But my editor and I decided to go with something a little more serious for my first post. If you know anyone who has a special needs child, I encourage you to pass this site along, as I will be writing about my very own special needs child over there, along with some humorous anecdotes about my f*@!$ed up life, and maybe a few things about being a mom and a wife with not one, but two freaking chronic illnesses.

Anyway, I'm keeping this one short, because I'd way rather you go check out the new site.

Plus, I'm up to my ass in alligators today with boys who didn't do what they were supposed to do yesterday, laundry that smells like it came out of a professional football team member's jock strap, and orthodontia.

After you read mine, read the others. I promise you at least a few chuckles.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How I'm Going to Kill Myself With Cleaning

Courtesy Google Images

Oh my goodness! I think I'm trying to create a fibro flare! Today I:

Cleaned the blinds on the big kitchen windows.

Washed the kitchen windows - two full sized and two half sized, inside and out.

Cleaned that icky place between the panes and the screen - you know, down at the bottom where the dirt, crud, dead flies, and moths go to torture you. Well, on the half windows. I forgot about the full sized windows. Justin said to forget about those, but if I'm going to commit to this cleaning thing, I don't want to do a half-assed job, so I have to go back and do those tomorrow.

Changed the cat litter. Picked up some trash I noticed lying around in the basement while I was down there, cause I figure I can take 6 years worth of junk out one armful at a time, and brought it up and put it in the trash can in the garage.

Took out the kitchen trash.

Unloaded the dishwasher.

Swept the stairs leading to the basement, which had collected approximately 50 pounds of dog and cat hair since I last did it. I think I swept up a puppy.

Walked the dog, made the salads, set the dinner table, and did the dinner dishes.

If you really think about, that's not that much. It really isn't. But now I'm hurting like I got run over by a truck. I begged Jamie if we couldn't go to Best Buy to get his earbuds for his iPod on Thursday, since I have to take him to the orthodontist that day anyway. (By the way, he walked right by the trash bag full of dirty cat litter twice and didn't take it out. Maybe I should make him pay for his own earbuds. And braces. And drive himself when he turns 16 in 2012.)

Fibro is a bitch. And because I've been sitting around on my butt ever since my surgery in April 2010, any exertion at all has me panting, moaning, and groaning like I've just run the Boston Marathon. Except those runners probably can go the 26 miles and not be breathing as hard as I was.

I have committed to doing one room's windows each day that I am home for any extended period of time. That was the agreement I made with myself when I decided that Facebook was eating too much of my time. I made a compromise that if I would do those windows (and then branch out from there), I could check Facebook a couple of times a day. Twice, max.

The problem is that now that I've awoken from my Facebook induced, hypnotic trance, I am noticing so much dirt in so many places that I don't pay to have cleaned every other week. Baseboards, woodwork, windows, chandeliers...oh, wow! Is my house dirty!

And now I'm going to rest for awhile. Tomorrow I will go back and do those two whatever you call them spots on the bottom of those windows (flies, moths, and all) and then I will clean the dining room windows. And maybe take out another armload of trash from the basement after they pick up last week's trash. Because it's time for fall cleaning.


(Update: I wrote this yesterday. Last night I only slept five hours (which is about half of what I need with the fibro to stay functional and today I have one of those headaches where even the light from behind the closed blinds hurts my eyes. I have no idea if yesterday's "cleaning frenzy" of four whole windows had anything to do with the sleep problem or the eye headache, but maybe I should slow down even farther? But wouldn't I then be a snail?)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Agoraphobe Goes to Market

Yesterday, when my sore, red throat with white spots failed to impress Justin (who believes that if I plan a trip to go somewhere, the morning of the trip I will inevitably become deathly ill, just to get out of it), I went off with Ben to have lunch and then to see my mom. I insisted to Justin that my throat really, really hurt and just look at the spots at the back of it! What if I have strep? I simply cannot be around my mother with strep throat! She could catch it!!!! He just gave me the look and said, "You do this every time you plan to go out. I could have told you yesterday that you would be sick this morning."

I'm not kidding. My throat really was sore, red, and had white spots on it. Three of them. I saw them in the mirror. Actually, Justin even saw them, although he claimed it was probably drainage from all this pollen stuff we have going on here in Virginia. What. Ever.

So off I went to this little restaurant downtown with my oldest son, thinking that if I still felt punky at the end of the lunch, I would give my mom the choice of did she want me to come out or not. First, let's discuss lunch.

When I had the displeasure of working for that one year of my life that I am attempting very hard, with a good dose of PTSD, to forget, I took Justin to lunch a couple of times at an Italian restaurant down near my prison office. It was a pretty good little place to eat and we always went into the left side of the restaurant for some reason. The food was good, fast, and reasonably priced. Apparently, we were sitting in the non-smoking section of the restaurant.

Yesterday, Ben and I decided to go down to that particular restaurant because we could easily hop onto the road that turns into the road that goes right to Grandmother's house...oops. Sorry. I got caught up in the fact that my countdown to iPad is t-minus something like 58 days away.


So I park the car about a foot away from the curb (because my car is freaking huge I can't drive) and Ben holds open the door to the right side of the restaurant for me. We go into this little, dingy, disgusting place with a bunch of empty booths and a couple of guys who looked like they should have been caught in the drug sting they did here a couple of months ago sitting at the bar.

We grab a booth, a pleasant guy comes over with menus, and I notice that it isn't the same restaurant name (because I'm obviously mentally deficient and didn't notice the sign had changed out front). Oh and that the guys at the bar are smoking...except it took until we got our meals for that one to click. Because in Virginia, you can't be a restaurant owner who allows smoking at the bar unless it is in a ventilated, separate know...that room on the other side that Justin and I used to to go into? I just assumed that any restaurant I went into would not have smoking because it's been so long since I've been in one that actually had that separate ventilated room. I got complacent.

So, my throat is getting more raw by the minute as I tried to make conversation with my son, whose still waters run extremely deep...or maybe he just doesn't have anything to say to his boring, middle-aged mom. I try to ignore the smokers, although come to think of it we could have asked to be put into the other room, but at that point I just want to finish the meal and get out of there because my voice was getting tired and it's hard to hold up a one sided conversation with an almost 20 year old who used to think the universe revolved around me, but is now secretly stealing peeks every minute or so at the texts he is receiving on his phone in his pants pocket.

So, off to Grandmother's house we went...(oops, sorry, iPad) and I got a mask to wear while we were there After my mom told Ben the story of how I ruined my dad's favorite shoes when I was a teenager by trying to polish them because they were way past the stage where they could have been polished, my dad talked for awhile about how stupid Facebook is. Because it is so difficult to use that he can't figure it out and why can't you just go to to get a tutorial because it will take you directly to your Facebook page? I suggested that if he just would log out of his page, he might be able to get to and said I could teach him, since I'm the resident Facebook expert in every house in my family.

He said, "I do not want to have someone come to my house who has spent the last two years with too much time on their hands figuring out how to use Facebook (no, I don't mean you) to come teach it to me. I want to sit in my man cave and go onto my computer and find a freaking tutorial that will take me through the steps of using Facebook all on my own." My dad's kind of a loner like that. And I was totally not offended because I have spent most of the last two years staring at the screen displaying my Facebook page and figuring out how it works...until last week when they blew it up and even I was finally totally disenchanted and realized my windows were filthy.

After about an hour of wearing the hot mask that kept fogging my glasses to keep my mom from catching whatever deathly illness I swore I was coming down with, she got tired and Ben and I got up to leave. The really sucky part about thinking maybe I might be getting sick when I visit my mother is that I can't hug her right now, so whether my illness is real or imagined, I have to wear a mask and let my son hug her for me. That just hurts.

But I digress...

On the way home, I saw the sign for the Virginia Farm Market and remembered that Justin had been saying he wanted to go again. There is a cider that he loves called Cherry Apple Cider and that market is the only place he can get it. He had invited me to go a couple of weeks ago, but I was deathly ill and couldn't make it.

I said to Ben, "Look. There's a sign for the farmer's market. We should go." Ben: "Do you want to? We should go. Let's go." At this point, I was already out, so it was safe for me to keep being out (don't ask, I have no idea how this agoraphobia thing works), so I said okay. I was driving and I saw the turn coming up, and I started slowing down. But since I thought the turn was at the light and it was actually before the light, I kind of took it a little bit hard and scared the crap out of Ben taking the turn and pulling into the parking place like someone was trying to steal it from me. Which I know because he said, calmly, "No, Mom, I don't think the car is still moving." To which I replied, "Oh. It felt like back when we had the earthquake last month."

We went in and I was in shopper's heaven. We strolled around the aisles and I found all sorts of gifts for Justin. There was his cider, those peanuts he likes, a dutch apple pie, the homemade jam we all I came home with this:

No, I did not come home with too much. I was getting stuff for my husband...oh, I forgot this:

When I buy for other people, I tend to go a little bit overboard. Justin said, "How much cider did you think I could actually drink?" To which Ben replied, "I told her to stop and get some vodka to go with it." I should have gotten the vodka. Apparently, that is way too much cider. And the bill for everything you see above was over $48, which could buy an awful lot of processed crap at the grocery store. Hey, those peaches are Amish. That means they're good. (I'm not sure how good, because the receipt only lists each item as "food," so I'm not sure which item was $12 and which item was $6. They have kind of a funny labeling system, not to mention they are still using one of those dial up credit card processing machines. We'd gone back in time!

The jam was apparently mis-marked, because the last time Justin bought it for me, it was $6.99, not $9.99. That's a lot for 20 ounces of jam. The reason I know this is because:

The jam broke my toe last night.

See that swollen middle toe with the black mark at the bottom? The 20 ounce jar of jam fell on it when I went to get a new jar of peanut butter out to make Joey's dinner. 20 ounces of jam is a lot of jam when it hits your toe. I mean, seriously, it's got to be 20 ounces of jam, plus about 3 pounds for the glass jar. When it hits your foot after falling from the fourth shelf up in the pantry...well, I wasn't much on science in school. Let's just say that hurt like a motherf*!&%r! I'm pretty sure the toe is broken, because I can't bend it. Funnily enough, it doesn't hurt today. I just can't bend it and it's still black where the jar hit it. Luckily, as you can see, no damage was done to the jam.

I would tell you how dinner disintegrated from that point, but I think I always write more than people have the time or patience or attention span to read. So let's just say that dinner was a complete disaster, Justin ended up having a turkey sandwich and a double bourbon while he watched the Redskins game, and I snuck a look on Facebook to see if anyone misses me.

I really need a 12 step program. Except that with the writing for the new site, I kind of have to maintain a presence there...but I'm rationalizing.

So I'll leave you with the vision of my version of grocery shopping, the fact that the apple pie was awesome, and the fact that my toe won't bend. All in all, it was a good day. Because I got to see my mom.

And yes, my throat still hurts. I'm positive it's strep, but I don't want to go out to the doctor, so I'm going to ignore it.



Monday, September 26, 2011

It's HERE!!!!

Today's the day! It's finally here!

The tag line has changed, cause originally we didn't know what the holy hell we're doing either...and then it was the naked truth...and it may be changing once again, so I'm just showing you the image for the site. Tag line soon to follow.

Elle David over at This is Mommyhood decided that it would be really fun to do a blog with a bunch of different women bloggers contributing and now we are so ecstatic to introduce Motherhood Uncovered. This is not the sunshine and kittens blog that you go to for feel good moments about your cooing little one. This is the ripped open, totally honest, kick you in the pants, tell it like it is blog about what it's like to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a daughter-in-law, name it. We're gonna be talking about it over there. If you want sunshine and kittens, you're going to have to look somewhere else. If you want the truth, check it out.

I am so freaking excited to be a part of this blog. In fact, I got so over the top in love with it that I already wrote my first six blog posts. Number 1 will be posted on Thursday (yes, I got my days straight) and I will link you there, I promise.

Please like us on Facebook, Twitter, or where ever it is that you go for your social interaction these days. We have an amazing group of writers and you will be getting something fresh and new every day. And when we really get rolling, maybe even twice! Trust me, it's gonna way more consistent than anything else in your life.

Oh, and I'm a little back on Facebook myself, y'all. I missed you guys lots. I'm going to try to spend a few more of my waking moments not on Facebook so that the house doesn't deteriorate into this unbelievable state of disgusting dirt on my windows again. And I'm working on finding a position that will allow me to keep sewing too. So, basically, everything except what you've read here today might be a lie. It's possible.

Yeah. I'm a little giddy. This is just totally awesome...More Awesome Than the Zombie Apocalypse...Wait, What?



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Announcement!!!!

(Update: Apparently, I have a hard time putting dates together with days. The calendar informs me that my first post will actually go up on Thursday on the new site. Not Wednesday. I apologize for the misinformation, but I promise you will be very happy to read all of the other wonderful authors over there!)

Okay, I've been saying it a little on my Facebook page for a couple of days now, but I am so excited to announce that I will soon be writing for (wait for it!):


I am so excited that Elle from This is Mommyhood is allowing me to contribute to this brand new website and can't wait for my first post to get started.

You can check out the new website here:  Motherhood Uncovered. They've got it up and running and are just making some last minute changes before they roll out the official grand opening tomorrow.

My first post will be on Wednesday, so I promise to link you all in. (Let's make that Thursday, folks, since apparently I can't keep track of what day it is!)

Quite honestly, I wasn't sure whether I was going to write as myself over there or incognito, because it's all of the stuff about being a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, etc., etc. that isn't so much fun. Don't expect everything there to be all sunshine and kittens, cause it ain't gonna be! It's the unvarnished truth about our lives, mostly as moms, and all the reasons why we wish we had really gone to France when we were 17 and lived in a little villa on the sea somewhere instead of ending up responsible for, well, all of this.

So hold onto your hats and check us out! There are already plenty of really funny stories over there. And you can find me there on the 29th. I already have written 5 posts and I'm pretty excited about it.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

Courtesy Google Images

Ever since Facebook rolled out their major changes on Wednesday and I got so turned off to the whole design and that annoying scrolling ticker that was giving me a migraine, I feel like a haze has been lifted. Suddenly, I am aware that I have been spending the past 18 months (or more) sitting in front of my computer screen and my body, my family, and my home have been suffering for it.

Justin has been telling me for years that my inactivity was going to kill me and I'm starting to believe that he might have been right. Because I spent this morning and early afternoon trying to make a small dent in the filth that has been covering my windows, my blinds, my floors...and now I am completely wiped out. Even trying to pace myself and taking numerous breaks, I am starting to feel as if I have been hit by a truck and I know it's time to stop, even if I know I am nowhere near done.

It's amazing how hypnotized we have become as a society by our technology. And Facebook is leading the way in attempting to keep us in front of our computer screens. How is this even remotely a good thing? What I have been noticing lately is that very few people post actual status updates anymore. Mostly it is links to songs they are listening to, other people's blog entries, articles they found interesting, etc. I have been totally guilty of this myself. After all, if I post a new blog entry and you "liked" me at some point, my new post will show up in your feed. Just click to connect.

I fiddled around with Google+ yesterday and when I clicked on the upper left hand corner of my iGoogle, I discovered what appears to be a Facebook like feed without all of the advertisements and clutter. It's simple and looks like it might be fairly easy to use. But what I have to decide is whether or not I want to dive into yet another social networking site. Don't get me wrong. I am entirely pro-social networking. I just want my old Facebook back. And I am not in any way interested in their new design changes. In fact, it has put me off so much that I can hardly bear to even go into it to see what my friends are up to.

It's not a secret that I got really into playing Words with Friends and I was having a wonderful time with it. I was playing games with people I had never met and people I've known almost all of my life that live across the country. But the problem was that every time I wanted to make a move or see if it was my turn, I had to turn off my secure connection and allow the Facebook gods that be access to all of my private and personal information. Does anyone else have a problem with this? It seems like a bad idea to give anyone unlimited access to anything in my computer at any time. Isn't that where the really smart 18 year old hackers get into your computer and start messing with you, just because they can?

I have to believe that there is a way to play interactive computer games like Words (Scrabble) online without jeopardizing my secure connection and all of my information. But apparently, it isn't going to be through Facebook. Nor are they going to change back to the familiar Facebook just because people are screaming about how much they don't like the scrolling ticker or the fact that Facebook now decides what updates you see for you. Am I the only one that thinks that Facebook is getting just a little too controlling?

Of course, no matter how loud I or anyone else screams about the changes, what will happen is what always happens. They roll out major changes, people yell and get upset about them for awhile, and then they get used to it and keep their Facebook pages. But I think I reached my limit on Wednesday. I can't say why this particular set of changes was the breaking point for me, but it seems like technology has just gotten to the point where I can't even understand my familiar and favorite social networking site.

I made a unilateral decision on Thursday that it was time to open my eyes and realize how much I had been neglecting my life. I had known it on some level and it had been pointed out to me on several occasions. I just wasn't quite ready to hear it. Facebook actually is what pushed me into understanding that I had a problem and the problem was that I never, ever turned off my computer screen or my Facebook feed.

In this society we live in, it's hard to separate what we need/have to do by computer online and what is just for fun. At the end of every advertisement on television, there is a "like" our Facebook page. I was listening to the radio on the way to an appointment on Thursday and the DJ was talking about a question he had put on his Facebook page and reading some of the comments. Where does it end? Are we now a society that has to be constantly connected to everything and everyone 24/7? Or was it just me?

Obviously, with my wanting to become at least a little bit popular as a blogger and writer, I am going to have to utilize Facebook and other forms of social media. I think that the new site I will be writing for is probably going to drag me kicking and screaming onto Twitter, something I have managed to avoid up until now. My ADHD is so bad that just the new ticker on the Facebook screen has me in total panic mode as I scroll for the elusive status updates amongst the "shared" blogs, articles, and youtube videos. I can stand only about 5 or 10 minutes of it before I am signing out feeling anxious. I will say this for the new changes - they are not good for anyone who suffers from any kind of anxiety disorder.

And so, after Wednesday, I woke up. Wide awake to the fact that my relationships and my home, my primary jobs in life, were greatly suffering because I couldn't tear myself away from my Facebook feed. I was putting more value on interaction with people I had never even met in person than I was on my marriage and my children and my commitment to taking care of those relationships.

I don't mean to devalue online friendships because I would not have made it through my surgery last year and subsequent year long recuperation without the people I met through Facebook. And I don't believe it's really true that you can't make friends online, even if you have never met them. But I think you have to strike a balance between real life and life online and I wasn't doing that in any way. Maybe it was the changes to Facebook. Maybe it was my mom's cancer coming back. Maybe it was a combination of both. But for whatever reason, my eyes are wide open now and I don't think I'll be spending much time on Facebook anymore.

In fact, I think I am going to ask my mother if we can have the old family Scrabble board game. What better way to actually spend time with my kids than playing the game that I was so enamored with that was opening my computer up to hackers on a regular basis. In real life.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Three Weeks and Still No Pajama Jeans

Courtesy Google Images

On September 3rd, I discovered that had finally come out with a "skinny" jean look and I was all over that. I had been holding off on buying until they provided a different option than the flared at the bottom of the legs because that look is so 1970's...not exactly sure why this look has made a comeback, but let's just say it's not a good look on me.

So on September 3rd, I placed my order. When I got to the shipping part of the checkout, it asked if I wanted expedited shipping (at approximately $15 or regular shipping at about $7). Since I was already making an investment approximately equal to a semester of my oldest's son's tuition for one pair of pants and the "free" t-shirt that they were throwing in as a "gift," I did not want to pay $15 for shipping. And since I have never had trouble in the past with shipping, I figured it would take a week to ten days, tops, for the package to arrive.

Two weeks went by and no package. I finally send a message to their customer service department, who sent me a tracking number but not the method by which they had shipped my much anticipated comfy pants. I tried all of the various shipping methods and none of them came up with that as a valid tracking message. Finally, in frustration at the length of time it was taking for me to get my one pair of pajama jeans, I wrote a rather snippy message saying, "Hey, could you please tell me how you are shipping my package so I can track it? I'm getting frustrated with the amount of time it is taking for my order to get here." This is the message I got back:

Thank you for contacting customer service.

Below is the tracking information and as it states on the tracking information the package was shipped out by Streamlite and then it will be transferred to USPS for delivery.

Pajama Jeans Customer Service 
First of all, the tracking information was not included in the bottom portion of the message. Just the tracking number again. And second of all, what the hell is Streamlite???? Has anyone ever heard of Streamlite as a shipping method? And why are they shipping by Streamlite only to transfer it to the postal service?
Today I got my credit card bill in the mail. Although I had placed my order on September 3rd, the order was not processed until September 15th. I have checked the USPS tracking site and they have no record of my package. Justin says I should contact the credit card company and complain that I still do not have the package and they should not pay the pajama jean people. The problem is that I really want to see if the pajama jeans are actually truly pajama jeans. I mean, like pajama bottoms that look like jeans that I can wear out of the house.
So, if you are planning a pajama jean order, I would suggest that if you are committed to receiving your order, opt for the more expensive method of shipping. That is, if you want to get the item in less than a month. Because I am still here, with no pants.
I will keep you updated on whether or not I actually receive my pajama jeans. And I can say with conviction that it is very hard to endorse a product that takes a month to arrive. I am patient to a point with my online delivery, because it saves me having to leave the house and actually go to a store where a panic attack might develop. But a month? It's looking like that's about what it's going to be, since the postal service still has no record of my order. The last Streamlite (Streamlite?) updated, my pajama jeans were somewhere near Santa Fe, New Mexico. About 2500 miles or so away from their destination. I figure another week, at least.
In the meantime, I may just be at the point of doing what the woman in the photo above is doing - going out in my actual pajama bottoms. I really am that desperate.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Not Me...It's YOU

Courtesy Google Images
It's not me, Facebook...It's you.

Yesterday, Facebook rolled out a series of major changes about which users immediately started screaming.

First, let me address the fact that I know this is a free service and I understand that when you are using a free service, you aren't really in a position to make demands. But people have pretty intimate relationships with their Facebook pages these days. I don't know many people who aren't on Facebook. When my oldest son was asked in one of his college courses how many people in the class were on Facebook, only he and one other person raised their hands to say they weren't on Facebook. That's a pretty significant minority we're talking about.

I read today that 750,000,000 people - that's right - 750 million people are on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank. I picture the Facebook office as a Dilbert type of world where computer geeks sit in cubicles and talk back and forth all day long about how they can change Facebook to make it less and less easy for the users to comprehend. Just when we get used to one set of changes, they roll out some more. I have a feeling that they were all laughing pretty hard at the screaming that was going on yesterday when that Twitter-like, privacy invading "ticker" showed up at the top right hand corner, causing all of us ordinary people to scream and sign out because our poor, technology overloaded brains simply couldn't handle a rolling status update as we tried to find our feed and read what our friends had to say.

Oh and now Facebook is deciding for you who you are going to interact with on your page, based on who you've been interacting with the most. So I'm guessing that means that for those of us who are not very computer savvy or technological, we will only see what Facebook wants us to see because we can't figure out how to change the settings to allow us to see all of our friends' updates.

But here's the thing though. Facebook did me a huge favor yesterday by changing the site so completely as to send my brain into complete overload and outrage. It also woke me up, like somebody had slapped me, to the fact that I am a Facebook addict.

Isn't the first step in that 12-step program admitting you have a problem? I'll say it again:

I have a problem with Facebook.

In that, I am totally addicted to Facebook.

The old Facebook.

This new animal is something I can't even begin to fathom. I feel as if someone stole my credit card and used it for the luxury trip to Hawaii that I have always wanted to take. I actually feel violated by the assumptions that Facebook is making about how I want to interact on their site.

And I'm not buying it.

So, here's the deal.

I have spent way too much of my precious time in the last two or more years checking my Facebook feed. When I discovered that a friend just left her feed open all day, I was vaulted even higher into the stratosphere and started to leave my feed up all day long. I would jump back and forth between Facebook and whatever else I was doing on the computer. I would sign out, only to sign back in. I started playing Words with Friends, which is an insecure application where you have to agree that anyone can access your Facebook information anytime they want, if you don't find the settings that won't allow anyone to access your information. Even then, there are limits to how much you can restrict their access. I was giving my phone number out, texting, and talking to people I've never met in person. And started to neglect my actual, real life relationships.

Oh, it's just so easy to get sucked into Facebook. Especially if you have an addictive personality, which I readily admit I do. I justified all of this non-writing related Facebook activity by telling myself and everyone else around me that I was using it to promote my writing. Which was true. Except when I wasn't using it to promote my writing, which was most of the time.

I read at some point about a woman who had her children taken away from her because she couldn't stop playing Farmville long enough to attend to their needs. At the time, I thought oh my God, how on earth could she be so addicted to a computer game that she wouldn't even stop to change her kid's diaper or feed him?

Suddenly, I'm understanding it a little bit better. Thank God all of my kids are older, because there, but for the grace of God, go I.

So, today, I am saying no to you Facebook. I am tired of you ruling my life. I am tired of all of my human interaction being through the computer. And I am tired of staring at my computer screen every minute that I'm awake.

Thank you, Facebook, so much for making such huge changes that I snapped awake and realized that I was neglecting to come to dinner (which most of the time Justin is making - like 99%), telling my kids I couldn't do things with them because I was playing your addictive games, and ignoring my real life relationships in favor of cyber people whom I've never even met.

I can appreciate that people with disabilities (and I am one of them) might have limited access to social interaction. And that sometimes you can meet social interaction needs by using social media. But somewhere in the back of my brain is that study they did with those cute little baby monkeys where they replaced their real mamas with a cloth doll and how those poor little monkeys had no idea how to interact with other real monkeys after not too much time had passed.

I was becoming one of those monkeys. But you, Facebook, have snapped me out of my hypnotic trance and made me fall out of love with you. I am breaking up with you Facebook. And I suspect that my life is going to be more full of rewarding experiences that I can write about than it was just on Tuesday, before you decided to completely change your interface.

Yes, you can still "like" me on Facebook, or any of the other places you see that you can click on. And hopefully if you have "liked" me, Facebook will not decide to stop letting you read what I post. But if it does, I think I can live with that. Because what I'm going to do now, instead of signing in to my Facebook feed to make sure my blog entry has posted and getting caught up in the world that time forgot, is change the laundry, finish sweeping the floor, and maybe take a nap. Or read a book. Or watch a movie. Or have a conversation with a real, live person. Remember those?



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm Trying To Get Out of Bed These Days

Courtesy Google Images

I will admit it. I'm not in a very good place right now.

Although I have a new and exciting opportunity to write for a brand new website that I am very psyched about, the rest of my life is pretty much in the crapper at the moment.

And, when my life goes in the crapper, I have a hard time just getting myself out of bed and showered and down the stairs in the morning. It's all I can do to read my Facebook feed (which was just made a lot harder by the Facebook drones, thank you so much for fixing something that wasn't broken) and catch up on my words with friends games.

Yesterday morning, I laid in bed when I woke up and cried for 20 minutes. Then I called my mother and told her I didn't think it was a good idea for me to come out to see her until I was in a better place, because she needs all the positivity she can get right now. And then I cried about the fact that I couldn't get myself into a place where I could go see her and be strong and positive. And then I called back and asked if I could come out anyway.

This week's depression is brought to you by my completely snapping on Monday and having a total meltdown. Unfortunately, some people I really care about got caught in the crossfire.

I've heard it said that the underlying cause of depression is anger. And boy, am I angry. Angry at something over which I have absolutely no control. Angry over something that shouldn't even be an issue anymore, but yet it's here and it's not going away.

I'm angry at cancer. That word should have big, black, squiggly lines and be surrounded by thunder and lightning and the devil. It's an evil word. And it's attacking the people I love, which is making me So. Angry.

I never thought in my entire 47 years that I would ever be completely surrounded by cancer. So much that it's like it's eating into the soul of my very being. I need a 12 step program to remove myself from this situation, because it's becoming toxic to my ability to cope. I am seeing the ravages of cancer up close and personal and I just can't keep on going like nothing is happening in my life. Because people I love are fighting with everything they have to beat this devil. And I am convinced that the people that mean the most to me who are fighting so hard are going to win because this devil cannot possibly take another person away from me. God couldn't be that cruel...assuming there is a God, which I'm not sure I believe based on what I am watching everyone I love go through.

So, I'm writing about it today. I'm exposing how hard it is for me to deal with this thing that has forced its way into my life and is hurting people I love so much.

It must be horrific to be the person who has cancer and I can't imagine how hard it is to fight when you feel like absolute shit. The treatment is almost worse than the disease. They have to almost kill you to save your life. I know they are doing research on how to fix this, but they aren't doing it fast enough and people are suffering. People I love. People who I need in my life. People who I can't stand to watch suffer anymore.

And as hard as it is to have cancer, it's hard also to watch someone you love have cancer. I was talking to my best friend yesterday and telling her how angry I was about her cancer and my mom's and Juliana's and Peter's and Kathy's and she said she didn't understand the anger that people who loved her had when she was going through treatment, but she kind of understands it now. I guess when you are focusing so much on recovery, you can't focus on being angry because it's such a negative emotion. And it's been proven that a positive attitude can be the difference between living and dying. So, I'm trying. But...

After Juliana passed away from leukemia last year, I was angry. I was horribly sad, but I was also horribly angry. And then Malea's cancer came back, only this time it was ovarian cancer. And then the breast cancer came back. And then the ultimate insult. Cancer found my mother. The person who I have an unerasable bond with. The person who I was once physically connected to. The person who means something to me that I can never, ever put into words. The only person in the world who holds this one incredibly important connection to me is now fighting this cancer and I want to grab hold of this thing and rip it out of her and stab it until it's lying on the floor, bleeding out, and no one is calling 911 for it.

It's enough, God, okay? It's not even remotely funny and if you are doing it for your amusement, you have a sick sense of humor.

I know my mom will beat this cancer. Because I know that this cancer does not understand who it is dealing with. My mom will kick cancer's ass for me without my having to do a thing. But in the meantime, it's going to be a long, hard fight and it's wearing her out. So, God, if you're up there and you're listening, it's enough, okay?

I will continue to be positive. I will continue to be strong. I will continue to be supportive. And I will hopefully be the person who helps the people I love kick cancer's ass. Because cancer can't win.

We need to Stand Up 2 Cancer. Really stand up and find a cure. I don't care what these researchers need to do. Just do it already.



Monday, September 19, 2011

Apparently Bipolar Still Means Crazy

Today could easily be chalked up to one of the worst days I have had since we had the funeral for Justin's dad and we found out that my mom's cancer had spread to her lungs - yep, same day.

Handling bipolar under the best of circumstances means having little to no stress in your life, taking all medications as prescribed, getting into see your therapist and psychiatrist on a regularly scheduled basis, and being self-aware enough to know when something isn't quite right and having the guts to tell someone that you are feeling afraid of how you are feeling about yourself at that moment.

Or, there's just my personality.

Where do I, as a "real person" leave off and that "bipolar person" begin?

When I start to doubt my own thinking process, to wonder if the fact that I all of a sudden I feel that I am being "handled" because of the fear of how I am going to react, I know (I know!) that it's probably the bipolar disorder. And there's a part of me just screaming in agony because I know that I have a valid point, if I can just get past the drama of being so upset about it to try to have a rational conversation.

Today I had four extremely unhappy conversations with four people who were very unhappy with me. Well, I take that back. One person is trying to just stay out of it and let things fall where they may. I have to start asking myself when it is everyone else telling me I am (in so many words) being difficult and that I can't see any viewpoint but my own, that maybe, maybe it really is me.

And then I get so sad. I am sad for the person who I believe myself to be. I am sad for the person I am trying so hard to be. And I am sad for the person inside of me who has a valid point, god damn it, and if you could just past the whole bipolar/anxiety disorder thing and listen to me for one minute, you might discover that underneath whatever it is that is making you so upset with me and not wanting to deal with me might have just a nugget in there somewhere of truth.

I get sad when I feel that my opinion doesn't matter, that my suggestions don't have value, or, on the other side of the spectrum, when I work my butt off for something and then my creativity is rewarded with a "No thank you. You're just making us too anxious to continue to work with."

I'd like to think that with the wisdom of 47 years and a lot of those spent in therapy trying to figure out how to behave in the "real world" that I am presenting a fairly stable version of myself to the world.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world~William Butler Yeats

I first read these words as a quote one of the government guys who had let loose the strain of the flu that would go on to kill 99.4% of the world's population in Stephen King's The there was a guy who knew when he had screwed up.

My screw ups are certainly not on the level of the guy from the book, but they usually feel about on that scale. I read another word on a blog that I read today and she said that she was "catostrophizing." This is not a recognized dictionary word, but I thought it summed up how I exist in a nutshell.

My husband always says hope for the best and plan for the worst. Some people might call me a pessimist. Some people call me negative. I call myself a realist. Whichever one it is, I tend to be the most prepared in any state of slight disaster. I'm the one who remembers the drinks, the snacks, the medications, the sun block, the beach towels for a five minute trip to the pool. I'm also the one who remembers when the kids' appointments are due, when the medications are running low and need refilling, that my kids look at me when they walk in the door and see that I am crying, stop dead to find out why mom is actually falling apart because surprisingly enough, it really doesn't happen all that often.

Today was a day for falling apart, which I did repeatedly. It didn't start out to be a bad day. But it ended up with my being unable to sleep trying to decide exactly what it was that made everyone so angry. Because when everyone else is getting mad at you, don't you have to start believing it's really your problem?

And now that I have thoroughly confused you through my ambien induced haze, I am going to attempt to quit crying and watch television until I can't think anymore.

Hopefully, we will be back to humor and sarcasm shortly.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's Semi-Official

What a bummer. I think it's semi-official.

I tried cross-stitching yesterday after a week's break. My hand was feeling fine and the shooting pains in my shoulder that made me want to screech like a hoot owl at midnight were pretty much over with.

After stitching two rows, the feeling that someone was stabbing me in the hand was back. I soldiered on, but my shoulder started that ominous throbbing again. I set the project aside and contemplated asking my husband to smother me with a pillow. Then I went and played more Words with Friends.

I titled this "Semi-Official" because I can't bring myself to say I will never cross-stitch again. I can't imagine that I will never cross-stitch again. This is beyond my wildest nightmare.

Sewing is more than a hobby for me. It's creating something of beauty. It's creating something that people stop short in front of and say "Wow! Did you make that?" It's creating things like this:

This is one of the last pieces I completed about two years or so ago. It was a gift for Justin for Christmas. We had said these words when we renewed our vows on December 24, 2000. It's the Apache Marriage Blessing and, even though Justin is not of Apache heritage, it meant a lot to us to have something Native American as a part of the ceremony. I ordered the kit shortly after we renewed our vows, but it took me until two or three years ago to get serious about it and finish it.

I'm still in disbelief that I won't might not be able to finish the Celtic Princesses. Even if I can do only two rows a night and it takes 25 years, I am insisting that I will be able to do this. With a heating pad behind my shoulder and a pillow propping up my arm...and maybe a wrist brace...



Friday, September 16, 2011

30 Things About Me - Blogging for Invisible Illness Week

Courtesy Google Images
In honor of invisible illness week (geez, I almost missed it!), here are the 30 things I would like to share with you about what I live with every day:

1. The illness I live with is: Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Sciatica, Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia. And gastroesophageal reflux disease, but even though it's fairly severe, it's not on my top ten list of things that bother me every day.

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia sometime before 2001. It was confirmed by a rheumatologist, along with the arthritis in 2006. The sciatica was diagnosed this year. The bipolar disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia were diagnosed in 2000. The reflux was diagnosed in 2007 or 2008, after I felt such bad chest pain that I thought I was having a heart attack.

3. But I had symptoms since: I've had physical symptoms of fibromyalgia since I was 19. I've had arthritis and sciatic symptoms since at least 2006 and maybe before that. I suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation from the time I was 13 years old. The mania part of the bipolar disorder started in my mid to late 20's.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Pacing myself. I used to be a Type A personality and it really stresses me out when I have to make sure I don't schedule more than one or two things per day that involve going out, or that I sometimes might have to come home before I really want to. I also have to force myself to be a listener, because when you are manic, no one can get a word in edgewise. With the agoraphobia, I've had to severely adjust just going out, because the fear of having a panic attack can make me cancel and reschedule until I can't possibly reschedule anymore. While it used to be easy to just jump in the car and go, now I have to plan it as far ahead as possible, make sure I have all of my medications with me in case I am out longer than I expected to be, and sometimes I simply can't go out the door, no matter how much I want to. I think the hardest adjustment is living with the fear of going out.

5. Most people assume: That I'm lazy. Okay, I may be projecting on this one, but I feel like since I do a lot of lying around because the fibro is exhausting and causes me chronic pain, I must look like the laziest person on the planet. More realistically, people probably assume there is nothing wrong with me or that I am a hypochondriac because I look healthy.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: That they exist. I suffer from insomnia, either from the fibro, the bipolar, or both. I have always had a very difficult time going to sleep at night and mornings are when my pain is at its highest level. I have had to adjust my schedule to go with my body's needs and that does not always coincide with my family's needs. I still have two children in the public school system and getting up at 6:30 to help my youngest out the door is hard. I always go back to bed once Justin takes him to the bus stop. Justin also has to walk the dog in the morning because I just can't. Also, sometimes people get irritated with me that I will no longer schedule anything in the mornings, but I am beginning to insist on it because mornings are so hard for me.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. I love that he is always diagnosing something really strange and rare and then coming up with a cure, all within an hour. I wish I had a real life House who could fix me, but I'm pretty lucky in the doctor department.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My computer. It's almost my entire social life. Because of my illnesses, I don't have a lot of "real life" friends, so the connections I've made through Facebook and blogging are very important to me. I'm also very attached to my kindle and probably couldn't live without it.

9. The hardest part about nights are: Going to sleep. But I have finally gotten into a routine and figured out the best time to take my medications so that I can maximize my sleep time. This said, there are still a lot of nights when I have to get up and try again later.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) 26. If it's a bad pain day, more. These are not all pain pills, as I have multiple illnesses and conditions.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: I have tried acupuncture (which went just horribly), chiropractic care, massage, and warm water therapy. The most helpful alternative treatments are massage and the hot tub my parents were generous enough to give us when they decided to sell their house. I would probably live in the hot tub if they came up with a water proof computer.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Visible. I get tired of knowing that no one can see the illnesses and thinking that I'm fine and if I would just "suck it up," I could do anything I wanted to. At least with a visible illness, you are treated as if your illness is legitimate.

13. Regarding working and career: I worked as a legal assistant for ten years before I became too disabled to work. I miss being vitally important to someone else's work and knowing that I am accomplishing something and doing a good job. I was out of the work force for 12 years, went back for a year, and that year was hell on earth for multiple reasons. I miss working, but I am happy with what I am doing now. It would be nice to get paid for it though.

14. People would be surprised to know: I'm really happy to be the age that I am and that my kids are no longer cuddly babies. I feel that I am a much more mature person than I was even ten years ago and that I have learned a lot from my illnesses. I also have figured out that you can't tell what is going on with someone else just by looking at them, so always give the benefit of the doubt.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: That I might have to give up a hobby that I have been doing for over 30 years. I recently realized that my cross stitching was flaring my fibro pain and I had some agonizing mental moments because I cannot imagine not having sewing in my life. I have still not accepted that I am going to have to give it up and I am trying to figure out a way I can keep doing it, even if I have to scale back.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Go back to work for a year. I wouldn't want to do it again.

17. The commercials about my illness: I am happy to see that fibromyalgia is getting some commercials from the company that produces lyrica, because most people don't know what the illness is. The commercial gives a pretty good explanation, but it could take it further. Fibromyalgia is an actual change to the central nervous system and once those neural pathways have been altered, there is no going back. I hate the commercials for the mental illness drugs. They seem to be pushing extremely dangerous drugs for things like depression. Anti-psychotics are not the same as anti-depressants and it disturbs me that the drug companies think it's okay for patients to go in and tell their doctors that they need them.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Being a morning person. I used to be the first one in to the office and usually had a head start on my day. Now, I have to sleep so much that I usually don't get really rolling on my day until lunchtime.

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Being able to travel. I never traveled much, but I now have to limit any trips I take to two hours away maximum. It scares me that my parents are planning to move to South Carolina, because I know that trip is going to be stretching my physical limits, even if I fly down.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging and writing for a couple of websites. I've always loved to write and it's a perfect job for me, since I can work when I feel up to it and not work when I don't. It would be nice if the hobby turned into a paying job someday.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I'm not sure what "normal" feels like, so I don't really know the answer to this question. I might want to spend the day with my husband doing something I normally am not physically able to do that he would enjoy. But not golfing.

22. My illness has taught me: More patience, to be kind to myself, not to rush to judgments about what other people say because I don't know what they might be going through that isn't showing.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Are you taking your medication? Conversely, what did you take?

24. But I love it when people: Read my blog and comment. Or offer to do something for me that is hard to do myself.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: This too shall pass.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: I've been there and you can talk to me if you need someone to talk to.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That so many people are also living with an illness. Or multiple illnesses.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: After my hysterectomy in 2009, the neighbors all got together and made dinners for us for a week after the surgery. This really took the burden off of Justin. Also, I can't leave out that Justin does a lot of things so that I don't have to. I really couldn't handle these illnesses without him.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I want people to know that just because a person looks fine, it doesn't mean that they are. And if you know someone has an illness, please don't pretend it doesn't exist and that they can do what you want them to do if they just will force themselves to do it. Just because I don't look sick does not mean I'm okay or feeling good or can do what you are asking me to do.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Validated. Thank you so much for reading.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Help Me Rearrange!

Here's your chance to be interactive on my blog!

I got a comment from Selena, a new reader, suggesting that I use a recliner for my sewing. What a fantastic idea and we just happen to have two recliners along with our couch in the family room. The problem is that no matter how we arrange the furniture, we can't get both recliners facing the television. Maybe you can help. Here is what we are dealing with:

Facing the Television Wall - 14 1/2 Feet Wide

Window Wall - 11 1/2 Feet Long

Couch Wall - 11 1/2 Feet Long

Wet Bar Wall - Throughway Between Front Door and Kitchen

So help us out! How do we rearrange without blocking the windows with the couch, but having both recliners facing the television on the wall?

And of course, Jack had to get his big butt into the picture. He just loves it when I get my camera out. So Jack says hi. If you look at my laptop closely enough, maybe you can make my next move in Words with Friends.



Holy Crap, Are His Feet THAT Big????

Why are Joey's socks on my feet?

Today, it seemed like fall might actually be coming. It is the middle of September, after all, and it seems like a good time for the temperatures to drop. The weatherman said on the news this morning (as I was cuddling on the couch with Joey under a quilt, waiting for it to be time for his bus) that the high tomorrow would only be 62.


I love Fall. It's the season I fell in love with Justin. It's a beautiful season in Virginia. The trees turn amazing colors, the air is clear, the sky is deep blue, and the leaves crunch under your feet as you walk. You can smell burning leaves if you go outside (most likely because we live about 300 miles from nowhere; if you get three local women in the same room, it's probable that they won't boast a full set of teeth between them). The red maples seem to actually glow against the blue sky. In case you didn't get it, I love Fall. I don't necessarily love where we live, but Fall in Virginia has to be experienced at least once in your life.

Of course, I'm fighting the battle of the jeans right now, so wardrobe issues are a challenge. I've resorted to pants that are elastic waisted because I just haven't found that rockin' pair of "mom" jeans. I still want to shop in the juniors section, even though I haven't qualified as a "junior" in at least twenty years (okay, twenty-five). I've gotten to the point of being willing to go into the "women's" section if it means finding a pair of pants that fit. No luck.

I posted up on Facebook recently, asking "Is it wrong that I just ordered a pair of pajama jeans?" I got an unequivocal "NO!" Apparently, a lot of people are with me on "I can't find a pair of comfortable pants!" I am still waiting on delivery of those pajama jeans, which I ordered September 3rd. I realize normal shipping can take a week to ten days, but come on!

So, I have a pants deficiency and it cannot be corrected with vitamin therapy. This is a problem if the temperature is only going up to 62 tomorrow.

But apparently, my youngest son and I wear the same size of socks.

I came out of the bedroom with a pair of socks in my hand this morning. I usually don't wear shoes or socks in the house because I prefer to be barefoot, but I was going out, so I decided to wear my almost never used walking shoes and I needed socks for that. I pulled on the first one and realized, "Oh. This isn't my sock. It's Joey's." And immediately on the heels of that thought was this one: "Oh my God. My youngest child has the same size feet I do." My baby has the same size feet as me. My baby.

My kids are growing up. I know it. It's happening all around me, although a lot of the time I don't notice it until someone who hasn't seen them in awhile comments on the fact that Jamie is now taller than I am or I make Joey try on last year's pants and they are clearly going to come in handy if we have a flood but he won't be able to unzip them.

I'm sad that my kids are no longer babies. My youngest will still snuggle on the couch with me in the morning for a few minutes before the bus comes. He even pulls the quilt up over me before he crawls under and then pats the side of the couch to get the cat to jump up on top of us and purr. But that is about the sum total of physical affection I am getting from my kids these days. My oldest two will still hug me, mostly briefly, but it's awkward for adolescent boys to know what to do with a show of physical affection for their mother, so mostly they don't. I miss the days of sticky kisses and being plowed into from behind by a chubby body wrapping his arms around me.

But, then again, it's kind of nice that they can get their own food, unload the dishwasher, and don't require constant supervision. They don't even require entertainment anymore. Teenagers are, by definition, self-sufficient. They don't want my help anymore.

It's kind of nice. But it's kind of sad.



Monday, September 12, 2011

Giving Up Something You Love

Courtesy Google Images

There are many things that I enjoy doing, but the top two would be reading and cross stitch. I will never give up reading unless I can no longer see the print and even then I may learn Braille or use that text voice thingie that translates words into something you can hear and follow along with. Reading was my first love from the time my mother could hold me on her lap and read my favorite Dr. Seuss book. It was The Cat In the Hat II, by the way. And apparently, I threw up all over it when I got sick and it had to be trashed.

The point is that as far as reading goes, they will have to pry my Kindle or iPad with Kindle app or whatever they come up with that's even better by the time I die out of my cold, stiff hand. I will go to heaven reading a book about it.

Right behind reading comes my love of cross stitch. I have been cross stitching since I was a teenager (so over 30 years) and I have always used it as a means of having something to do so I don't look lazy while watching television. It also has meant that I have created beautiful things over the years and that I have had a hobby that calms me down but doesn't require rehab.

The piece that I am most proud of was a treble clef made up of flowers, with two little butterflies and it was made in about a month.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the finished piece, but this was after I finished the cross stitch part of it.

If I am onto a project I love, I will work on it non-stop and this one I absolutely loved. I decided in a fit of generosity to give it to my brother's live-in girlfriend and had my mother quilt a frame for it. I didn't take a picture of the finished piece (why????) before I wrapped it up and sent it out to California. I never got an acknowledgment and last year, my brother and his girlfriend broke up and she moved out.

I had asked my mom to look around discreetly when she and my dad went out there a couple of Thanksgivings ago to see if they had displayed it anywhere, but she said she didn't see it. Then again, she said there wasn't much on the walls, so it could have been in a closet. The point is that the one piece I did that was my all time favorite may be lost to posterity. It either went with her when she moved or has been lost in clutter somewhere. What I make generally means more to me than it does to anyone I give it to who does not do some kind of craft making as a gift.

When Justin and I first got married, I was working on one of those old fashioned samplers with the alphabets and all the numbers. It was a replica of the samplers that girls used to work on as their first sewing projects back when sewing was how you made clothes and bedding and all things the family needed. You know, before you could buy something online for your home or your body with the click of a mouse. I had it framed and gave it to my in-laws, who were nice enough to display it for years in their kitchen. After they moved, it kind of got lost in the shuffle, but I am positive my mother-in-law has it in a box somewhere that never got unpacked. She appreciated the time and effort put into the gift, leading me to believe there was some kind of sewing in her background.

Another favorite project was this one I did for my mother:

This project took many months and quite a bit of research. I was able to trace my grandmother's genealogy back to 1742 with a little work. I discovered that John Musselman was one of 17 children (kids tended to die young back then and there was no birth control - not to state the obvious). In the Civil War generation, there was one son who enlisted as a private for the Confederacy. Unfortunately, I was unable to ascertain what happened to him. My youngest son is named after my great-grandfather, which is so cool. I think there were also Josephs and James and Benjamins on my husband's side of the family, but I found out when I was doing this research that every single one of my kids has a family name from my mom's side.

It was  interesting working in different shades of the same color for several months and I can remember getting kind of sick of green, but in the end, it was beautiful and my mom hung it where everyone who comes into her house can see it. She still gets compliments on it.

I don't want to bore you too much, so I will just put one more up with its story.

This Celtic princess is one of four in a set. I do not have any idea why I chose to do Winter first, but it might have been because I love the colors of the other three so much that I wanted to get this more drab one out of the way. I have the other three patterns and fabric, thanks to my mom who gave them to me for Christmas several years ago, and I ordered the beads and thread to complete each season. I had begun on Spring and then set it aside to work on a couple of other projects, which are still sitting unfinished.

Quite awhile ago, I went to my doctor and told him I thought I needed occupational therapy on my hand because I had strained something while cross stitching. It took two visits for him to take me seriously, but he did end up sending me to a person who helps you figure out how to limit the pain and get your mobility back. I had several kinds of interesting sculpted hand braces that were custom made so that I could stitch with as little pain as possible. Back then, I was stitching up to 8 or 9 hours a day, maybe more. It made me feel useful and I was creating things that made lovely gifts or that would leave a legacy behind for my grandchildren (since I figure boys have no interest in this type of thing).

Cross stitch was not ever something I considered that I might have to give up because of my fibromyalgia. It just wasn't a possibility. I gave up working. I gave up being active. I gave up sleeping only 7-8 hours a night. I gave up being able to attend my kids' events on occasions when I was in a bad flare. I gave up a lot for fibromyalgia. But I never thought that sewing was going to be something I would even consider giving up. I thought I had mourned for the things I had lost. I was wrong.

The day before yesterday, I decided that I really needed to finish the projects I have sitting around so that I can order some more projects. I got Spring out and started working on her, since that was the one I had decided to do second and had made some inroads on it back a couple of years ago. I figured it was good to finish something I had already started. And then the pain came back.

I remember this pain.

It's in my hand.

It's in my arm.

It's in my neck.

It's in my shoulder.

It's made worse by sewing. I had forgotten or never admitted to the fact that when I cross stitch, it causes a fibro flare. Because if I admitted to that, I would be considering giving up something that I had looked forward to a lifetime of being able to do.

I set the piece down after an hour or two and realized that I was in more pain than I usually am. I put it out of my mind and refused to deal with it. I have enough going on that I can't even being to consider that I might have to give up a hobby that helps me get through rough times in my life, calms me down when I am manic, makes me feel productive even when I don't go anywhere, and produces things that other people think are beautiful.

I picked the piece back up again yesterday when Justin was watching the football game because I felt like I had been playing words with friends on Facebook way too much lately and I needed to turn my dazed mind to something else. Something in the real world.

And that's when it hit me. Sewing hurts. It really, really hurts. I'm still sore from the first day I tried it - three days ago. I have stabbing, shooting pains in my shoulder and neck. My hand is sore and I am having trouble bending my fingers. My arm feels like I strained something.

Sewing makes my pain worse. Cross stitch makes my pain worse. Something I love and that I've been doing longer than marriage hurts.

How is this even possible? In a year when I've lost so much, when so many things are falling down around me, when things have happened that I never thought were even remotely possible are here and making themselves known in terribly awful ways, I am going to have to consider giving up this hobby that I love so much.

Is it that big a deal in the grand scheme of things? No. But to me, this is something that I had never even considered and am still in a lot of denial about. I keep thinking well, if I limit the amount of time that I spend; if I take days off; if I hold the needle more loosely...

Was there ever anything you were forced to give up that you loved? Something that made you feel as if you were contributing but you could no longer do physically? How did you handle it?



Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/11 Ten Years and One Tattoo Later

Last night at 8:30, I mentioned to Justin that we needed a flag. We did not have a flag and tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 and we need an American flag and we need it tonight. I was so moved by the fact that the last flag we had got shredded by the weather awhile back and we hadn't gotten around to replacing it that I (yes, me, the agoraphobe) drove in the dark to the local Lowe's and walked in, thinking the flags would either be sold out or right up front. When I walked into the store, I didn't see a flag display, so I asked the woman standing at customer service, who pointed me down an aisle. As I was walking down the aisle, another employee asked if he could help me. I replied, "Yes. I need a big-ass American flag." "Oh, right this way. They're right around this corner."

He took me around the corner of the aisle and sure enough. There were the American flags. Flags alone, flags with flagpoles...a selection of flags.

This brought back a painful memory of how badly I wanted to show my patriotism ten years ago. Although I did not lose anyone I loved on September 11, 2001, I was in mourning with the rest of our country. And there were no flags to be had, not even on EBay. I finally found one that attached to the window of my car and flapped and got destroyed after about two days of driving that I paid $50 for. The patriotism of our nation burst forth from a stunned people, momentarily united despite of their party affiliation, in anger and mourning. Flags appeared on every front porch across America shortly after that fateful day.

A month later, I was still seething with anger that someone had had the audacity to attack us, the United States, the bravest and strongest nation on earth. Someone was going to pay. Someone needed to pay. The entire nation wanted to go to war against whoever it was who had so brazenly attacked us.

I wanted to show my patriotism not just in owning an American flag. I needed something more permanent, something that wouldn't get beaten up by the weather or disappear over time. And so I did this:

This is on the outside of my right ankle. I went into the tattoo parlor not knowing what I wanted until I got there. And then I realized that I needed a way to commemorate the events that changed us forever on that crystal clear fall day ten years ago. And it is by far my favorite of the four tattoos I am sporting now at the age of 47. I wonder sometimes what the employees of the nursing home will think about my tattoos when I am 87 and drooling, but what the hell. Maybe they'll just think I'm patriotic. And remember.

It took ten years, but our Navy Seals once again went in and did the job they are so good at and executed the man behind the attacks. And I would be lying if I didn't say it felt good when I heard it.

Today we mourn the loss of men, women, and children from countries all over the world because of some extremists' hatred of America. It makes me mad that they died knowing they had succeeded in their mission and I really hope that when they got to hell, the devil had 72 virgins with leprosy waiting for them. Virgins who were not of the same sexual orientation.

We teach our children that it is wrong to hate. But hate I did. I have no problem with organized religion. This wasn't organized religion and we know it doesn't represent all Muslims. It was perpetrated by a few zealots who took their religious teachings to an extreme and decided that they hated Americans and we must die. I think what made me (and so many others) so angry is that it didn't matter what Americans died, as long as a whole bunch did.

I am a proponent of peace and I hate war. But when my son told me he wants to fly helicopters for the Army, my first reaction was, "Hell, yeah!" If he decides that is what he really wants to do, there will of course be the mom part of me that worries and wants to keep him from going. But there will also be that American part of me that is super proud that one of my kids wants to be a part of our incredible military and serve his country.

So, today, we remember. We vow to always remember. Today I am proud to be a tattooed mama of 47.



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why Am I Afraid to Leave?

Saturday Morning At My House
First Load Started
And this is just since Thursday. Seriously. There's another pile of whites over there by the wall that is just barely showing. The first load is in the washer. I took out the trash, which was overflowing, I took the dog out to go potty, and I put the dishes into the dishwasher. Yesterday, I vacuumed up approximately 9 pounds of cat and dog hair from the main level (excluding the dining room), made the bed, and cleaned the banisters, baseboards, and window sills. I started cleaning and one thing led to another led to another dirty paw print. I would still be cleaning, but my hips started to hurt and I was hunched over like that guy from Notre Dame Cathedral. Did I mention I did the dinner dishes? (There weren't many, since we had takeout, but still. Since Justin usually cooks, I almost always do the dishes. It's only fair. For some reason, utensils are not considered dishes in my house and everyone puts their other dishes in the dishwasher and I end up with a sink full of knives covered in butter and peanut butter.)

I have three theories as to why I do not want to leave my house:

1. I have agoraphobia.

2. I am an eccentric and a recluse.

3. I am lazy.

Let's take those in reverse order:

Number 3. I am lazy. I think we can agree from the pictures above, the manual labor I did in the last two days (in between writing blog entries, interacting with my children, trying to figure out whether or not my middle son had the right clothes, shoes, socks, and cell phone with him for the first home football game he was marching in, and whether or not my youngest son has homework this weekend), and my fibromyalgia that I am not particularly lazy. Sometimes it takes me a while to get going, but once I do, things eventually get done. I can always be counted on to assist in planning the school project and help get it done, make sure the kids have clothes that fit them for that last minute event, and sweep up the animal hair at least once a week.

Despite the fact that my ever expanding butt seems to spend a lot of time on the couch, if someone needs something, I'm on it. I make the appointments, pay the bills, balance the checkbook, and keep track of who needs to be where and when. I am the official secretary and chief operating officer, pet caretaker, dishwasher, and laundress. I make sure that my almost 20 year old son's work clothes are clean so that he doesn't have to and that my 12 year old's gym uniform that gets forgotten in his backpack every Friday gets washed in a separate, tiny load on Sunday night.

So, lazy? I don't think so. I'm just working on being more of a type B personality. I don't stress about crap as much as I used to, although my kids might argue with that when I am yelling at them that they shouldn't have waited until 9:00 the night before the project was due to tell me about it.

Number 2. I'm an eccentric recluse. Eccentric: deviating from the recognized or customary practice; irregular; erratic; peculiar; odd. Definitely no argument there. I've been deviating from society's norm for my entire life. I locked myself into my bedroom for my entire adolescence. I would also not argue erratic, peculiar, or odd. I don't fit in when we go to social functions and I never am quite sure why. At the banquet we went to in August, I spent a good 10-15 minutes hyperventilating in the bathroom. (Note to self. Next time bring alcohol to the bathroom.) Recluse: a person who lives apart from society, often for religious meditation. Okay, I'm doing my best to live apart from society, but it's not a religious thing. It's more of an I can't stand the idea of going out thing. Which leads to...

1. I am agoraphobic. Agoraphobia: an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! I think we have a winner.

I recently requested all of my psychiatric records from the time I got my bipolar diagnosis because I had this idea that I might add a book about my experience with the disorder to the myriad of books that are already out there and actually grab the interest of a publisher (silly me). What made me think this was a unique idea? There are a multitude of books by famous people already out there about the disorder, along with a slew of other books chronicling every other person's life who ever had the disease and was able to cash in on it by putting together a coherent account of something that is completely incoherent most of the time. Must have been a manic moment.

But my point is that even the psychiatrists noted that I had agoraphobia as far back as 2001. I apparently talked about my unwillingness to leave my house and the panic attacks that hit me when I did so as far back as ten years ago. I suspect that if I had been in treatment before that, I would have been talking about it as far back as when I was a teenager.

New situations scare the living shit out of me.

When I was about 15, my mother got kind of concerned about my anxiety and, wanting to help me relax a little, signed me up for a yoga class at the local YMCA. I went to the first class (terrified not very happy about it), worrying for days before it started about the fact that I didn't know anyone in the class and I didn't know what to do when I got there or whether there were certain clothes that I needed and whether people would stare at me. As with most things, when I got there I was welcomed and I figured out what I was supposed to do without too much trouble. We went through the exercises and I got so relaxed that when she said it was time to sit up, I didn't hear her. I was still lying on my mat while everyone around me had sat up and was staring at me (I thought). The teacher made some snarky kind remark about the class being over and I was mortified. I never went back. My mother was frustrated.

If I go somewhere new, my stomach is in knots for days beforehand. I worry about getting lost, even if my husband programs the GPS for me. I'm still using the GPS to get to my doctor's office, even though I've been there approximately 25 times. I cancel and reschedule things. I promise my kids I am going to take them somewhere and then get mad when they remind me and find reasons why I can't go.

Last night, while relaxing in the hot tub with Joey, we had a very serious conversation about irrational fears. He is afraid of insects (especially the ones that move) and that a baselisk is somehow going to come out of his closet. He understands the baselisk fear isn't realistic, but it still lingers in his mind. The insects continue to be a problem and, during the summer, Justin and I are constantly having to get up and go up to his room to kill a bug that "was on the wall, Mom, I swear! It was there a minute ago! Where are you goooiiinnngggg???"

I told him that Mom has irrational fears too. This was a novel concept to him and he looked at me like I was an interesting new species of animal he had just discovered. Mom? Afraid? Is that even possible?

Oh yeah. Mom is afraid. Of leaving the safety inside of the house. Once I get out, I'm just fine. I can get what I need to do done and usually within a reasonable amount of time. Usually without a panic attack. Usually. But when I have the panic attacks, it's not good when the kids are there because they can see that Mom is not handling the situation (which seems like a perfectly normal situation to them) very well and is getting irritable, cranky, and upset. And Mom just wants to go home.

The problem is that I never know if I am going to have a panic attack when I go out, so I limit the going out as much as I possibly can. If I have to run an errand, like picking up my anti-anxiety medication, I put it off until I can't put it off anymore. I am procrastination personified if it means leaving the house and actually going somewhere.

As usual, the boys grew since last year and needed new clothing for the fall. I decided it would be a good idea to wait until after Labor Day because Virginia doesn't get chilly until at least October and I was figuring that the retailers would be desperate to move merchandise between Labor Day and the Christmas rush, so there would be good sales. It also sounded like a logical excuse reason to not go out. And then Labor Day came and went.

I had the opportunity last weekend to take them out shopping for jeans and thought, "Eh. It's still early in September. What are the chances that it will be chilly enough for them to need jeans that fit? And they can always squeeze into the jeans they wore last year." (Um, they're teenage boys. Did I really believe that? No. I just didn't want to go anywhere.)

On Thursday, I came down with whatever the stomach virus was that Justin had on Wednesday. I was honest to God sick and all I wanted to do was lie on the bed with three pillows, emitting the occasional groan and making sure I was near the bathroom. And then Jamie came home from school with a note from the band director saying that the kids would be marching on Friday night in jeans because of the "inclement weather." So I sent Jamie into his room to try on his jeans from last year. Which would not zip. He couldn't breathe. I'm familiar with this problem. I've written about it extensively. I would never force a child to wear clothes that are too tight.

It would have been nice if his band director had sent home the dress code for Friday night a little earlier in the week. I mean, who expects parents to go out and buy their kids school clothes before school starts?

So, on Thursday, I dragged myself out of bed, plunked Jamie into the car, drove to Old Navy in the pouring rain, and took him shopping for clothes. Did you know that 4:30 on a Thursday in the pouring rain is actually a pretty good time to go clothes shopping for your teenager for jeans? There was no one in the store but us. That's the kind of environment I can only pray for. By the way, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and looked for what I know is going to be Joey's jeans size this year and Old Navy has decided not to carry them. Meaning another trip to a different store, next time in the mall.

Long story short (you're welcome), we bought Jamie two pairs of jeans, the sweatshirt he's been asking for, and a really cool Army camouflage cap, just because he wanted it and was such a good sport about trying on the jeans for me. He took everything he needed for the game to school yesterday and the game was postponed until this afternoon because of flooding and they aren't performing. I went out when I was sick with a stomach bug in the pouring rain and bought my son jeans that I should have gotten him weeks ago that he ended up not needing yet. He will probably grow out of them by October.

Do I have agoraphobia? Oh, definitely. Can I force myself out in spite of it? Absolutely, if my children need something. Otherwise, it's online shopping, which may explain why I don't have a pair of pants myself that fits.

I still need to take Joey to the mall. Maybe tomorrow.