They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today is the anniversary of the day of my birth, better known as my birthday. I sat down to write this post in order to reflect on my thoughts and feelings about the turning of another year in my life. But … I dunno. As soon as I started typing, I realized I don’t really know how I feel about today. Or about the year that has just passed.

I don’t feel bad about it. Not really. At the same time, I don’t feel fantastic about it, either. Like many things in my life right now, I feel kind of “meh” about the whole thing. It’s sweet to be remembered by my dearest friends and my beloved family. That part is always great. I love feeling loved. Dessert is good, too. I don’t let myself have dessert very often, but I splurged a little bit today. There was also my favorite dinner at my favorite restaurant. This was good.

But how do I feel about life? About my life? That is the tough question, isn’t it? I think that’s the question that has kept me up for the last two nights, tossing and turning while my family sleeps.

flowers-vase-shelf-sm

If I’m being honest with myself … And, really, I should be honest with myself at least once a year, right? So, if I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit I’m not where I would like to be in my life. There. I said it.

I am not where I would like to be with regard to my weight and weight loss. At this time last year, I felt pretty good about my weight. Well, that’s not true. At this time last year, I was stuck in the midst of trying to help my husband recover from his heart attack and surgery. So I have to go back a few months before this time last year — to November or December. At that time, I felt pretty good about my weight and weight loss goals. I had lost quite a bit of weight (almost 50 pounds!), and I felt optimistic about things. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I could at least see that goal and a clear path toward it.

And then, the heart attack happened. My life has been in a constant state of stress ever since then. We went from panic and stress and anxiety over the heart attack and surgery to panic and stress and anxiety over my husband’s work situation, as well as panic and stress and anxiety over my daughter’s school situation. I am ashamed to say this, but I gained back a lot of the weight I previously lost. Not quite all of it, but enough to make me feel as if I am starting over again, from Square One. It’s … frustrating. And disheartening.

It doesn’t help that I’m stuck in this darn boot. It hurts my back, and I can’t exercise. This contributes to my frustration. Even with the high pollen counts wreaking havoc on my allergies, I want to be outside walking for an hour a day. I am mentally ready to try and get back to normal, to the extent I can. I am mentally ready to throw myself back into exercise as a stress relief. But it seems my body and mind aren’t quite in synch at the moment.

jamesavery-sorrentoring-book-IG-sm

And then, there is the other horrible sink-hole in my life: my writing. Or, should I say “lack thereof”? I am nowhere near my writing goals. I’m so far away from them that it sometimes feels as if I am going backward. I can’t see a light at the end of this tunnel. I can’t even see the tunnel.

My creativity is … stuck, for lack of a better word. Or, maybe that’s the perfect word. It’s what it feels like most of the time. I have all these ideas and thoughts and THINGS inside my head, wanting to get out. Begging and screaming to get out. But when I sit down to let them out, nothing happens. It’s uncomfortable and horrible and scary — a constipation of the creative part of my brain. The ideas are there, but they are mired down in a flood of anger and frustration and guilt. Plus, there’s all this emotional baggage from my childhood, and there are all these secrets. Secrets I’ve kept my entire life in order to protect others. But it seems like, the harder I have to hold on to these things, the less room I have in my head for creative stuff.

I’m sure the constant state of stress in my life isn’t helping. I keep waiting for things to settle down, but I am beginning to think this isn’t going to happen. My husband is mad at me over the writing thing. I am mad at me over the writing thing. It’s just not a good situation. I’m not sure how else to explain it.

29494415964_85fa47e293

And there you have it. The state of my union, or something like that. I feel like my life is topsy-turvy and constantly whirling out of control. I feel confused about this a lot of the time. I can’t figure out how or when this happened. It seems like, one day, I had everything figured out and under control. And then, the next day, it all went to heck. Maybe my husband’s heart attack was the downturn. Or maybe everything was a mess even before that, but I didn’t realize it. It’s funny how fragile life can be, how one thing can turn everything on its head.

Here’s what I know. I can’t control the things around me. I can’t control my daughter’s annoyingly inconsistent teachers. I can’t control the stress and worry around my husband’s job and our living situation. I can’t go back in time and make the heart attack never happen. But I can control myself. I can make a plan, and I can do my best to get my own mind back on track.

Hopefully, I will be out of the boot and into a brace this Thursday. If so, then it’s time to get moving again. I will have to be patient with it, but I am determined to work my way back to a good exercise routine. I am researching different strength-training exercises, and I plan to incorporate those into my routine, too. I know from experience that this won’t be easy. It is hard to stay motivated and in motion when sitting still is easier. Well, it’s physically easier. I need to remind myself that it’s not mentally easier.

And I’ve decided to start journaling again. I need a quiet space where I can let go of thoughts and feelings and secrets I’ve kept inside myself for far too long. When I started this blog, I intended to talk about them in here. I quickly realized that was not going to be possible. Maybe it will be one day, but it’s not possible for me right now. I’m too afraid of offending people I love. Not that any of them pay a bit of attention to my blog. But it would be just my luck they would stumble into one of the posts where I talked about my childhood and my feelings and emotions surrounding it. But I still need to let these things go. I need to release them into the ether so I can make room for newer, better things.

It’s time to make a move and see what the coming year will bring.

Advertisements

The Saga of My Ankle

I have my first broken bone. I am firmly ensconced in the latter part of my second twenties, and I have my first broken bone. When you’re a kid, you expect to break a bone here and there. The world expects this, too. It’s a badge of honor, in a way. When I was a kid, I kind of wanted to break something. I realize now how macabre this sounds. And how stupid. But I was a kid. I was the definition of stupid innocence, as we all are when we’re kids. I was a quiet kid, and I tended to be invisible most of the time. You know … out of sight, out of mind. There was a part of me that thought the attention would be kind of great. I wanted a cast everyone could sign. Maybe they would write messages on there or draw cute little pictures. It would almost seem like I had real friends. It would almost seem like I was a real person, just for a little while.

But let me tell you this: Having your first broken bone in your second twenties is not any of those things. It’s not expected. Or neat. Or cool. It is attention-grabbing, but, as an adult, you are pretty much past wanting this kind of attention. Or any attention, unless you are a reality TV star or internet celebrity. There’s something that feels slightly sad and a little bit pitiful about having one’s first broken bone in the twilight of one’s middle age. This is probably just me. I feel there is something poetic about having my first broken bone a scant two years before I’m eligible for AARP membership. And by poetic, I mean slightly terrifying, a little bit confusing, and, yes … also kinda funny.

Is there anything that can make us feel our own mortality faster than breaking something on our bodies? I’m not sure, because that’s how I’m feeling right now: old. And mortal. And old. And fragile. And mortal. And old. Did I mention mortal and old?

patti-ankleboot-march2018-sm

The other really bad thing about breaking a bone in one’s youngish “old age” is that people always want to hear your story. They see a cast or, in my case, a boot, and they want to know what happened. And how it happened. They want all the gritty details.

When you’re ten or twelve or some other “kid” sort of age, there is usually a good story. It is a story of adventure and excitement and good intentions gone bad. It is a story of trying new things, and, maybe, failing at it. But the point is in the trying. That’s hero territory. It is a story of epic proportions and, most importantly, fun.

I feel this is generally not the case once you pass a certain point in adulthood. Once you’ve passed a certain age, any broken bone story is going to be boring at best. Mostly, it’s going to be ridiculous. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself here. Because my broken bone story is just that. If you looked up “ridiculous” in the dictionary, I’m pretty certain my broken bone story is in there, somewhere. Looking ridiculous. But, of course, I’m going to tell it to you. I realize you are likely dreading it, but I’ve typed this much of an entry already. You have to know you’re not going to get away without having to hear it. Because it might be ridiculous. But it is my story.

dogs-with-bandanas-march2018-sm

And, like most of the slightly ridiculous incidents in my life, this one started with my dogs. Oh, how I love my dogs. They always make life a little more interesting, don’t you think? My life would be a lot more boring and a lot less muddy without these fuzzy goofballs.

My Springer Spaniel was the key player this time. He likes to charge the door when he’s excited. He has developed a particularly bad habit of trying to do this when we leave our house through the garage. I have worked with him on this. And I continue to work with him. We are making slow progress.  So, a few weeks ago, our neighborhood’s lawn care people were outside our house, on the front lawn. My boy, always excitable, was even more interested in getting outside to say hello to all these strangers. I was backing out of the house, telling him to stay, and I tripped over the step down from our house into our garage. And then, I tripped over our vacuum cleaner, too. Because we are silly humans, and we store our vacuum cleaner right next to the step into the garage. In retrospect, this is probably not a great idea. I came down, hard, with my right ankle twisted under me. All of my weight on one spindly, twisted ankle.

It all happened so fast. That’s the funny thing about it. In a moment or two, I managed to pull ligaments and put a hairline fracture into my ankle. I earned myself a few weeks in a lovely boot for my trouble. All of this, of course, after I walked around on it for a couple of weeks, trying to pretend everything was fine. I come from (fool)hardy people, what can I say?

But that’s it. The long, the short, and the painful truth of it all. I’m 48 years old. I tripped over a step and a vacuum. And I broke myself. I have to go now. I think I hear old age calling, and she wants to have a chat with me about my careless habits.

Christmas Is Over

I know what you’re thinking. You just read my post title and thought, “Well, duh! It’s been over for months, Crazy Lady.” Perhaps you also gave your computer screen the stinky fish-eye, just for a moment. It’s okay if you did. We all do it, from time to time. Only our pets know, but they won’t tell anyone. Probably. Well, I’m confident the dogs won’t, because of the whole loyalty thing. And I’m pretty sure the cats can be bribed into silence.

Remember how I posted, sometime in January, about keeping my Christmas tree up for the duration of that long and dreary month? I did exactly that. I kept the tree up for the whole month. I even turned it on every single day in January. I hate January. But that’s not the point.

It is now mid-March. And my Christmas tree is still standing proud in my living room. I still turn it on, too. I know this seems crazy, but it is more of a joke between my husband and me at this point. The tree has served its purpose. It celebrated a joyful Christmas with us. It got me through my January doldrums with its cheerful ornaments and colorful lights. In a month of gloom and doom and gray, rainy days, the Christmas tree gave me a glimmer of hope and happiness. If it was up to me, I think the tree would stay put all year long. I have a problem, guys. And yet, I don’t see it as a problem. Which probably makes it more of a problem than I realize. Or something like that.

fae-santahat-sm

But here’s the thing. All good things must come to an end. The Christmas tree is special. Putting it up each year is an occasion of joy and celebration. If it stayed up all year long, it would stop being a special thing. I know this in my head, even if I don’t know it in my heart. The truth is this: I’m not strong enough to put the tree away. Because I like it too much. And I want to continue liking it for always. But too much of a good thing is still too much.

Luckily for me, my sweet husband understands this in his head and his heart. He is sweet enough to humor me through January by leaving the tree up and lit. But today, he decided to draw his line in the sand, daring my insanity to step over it. He got the ornament boxes out of the garage. And he is downstairs right now, stripping ornaments and lights from the tree.

I, of course, am up here in my office like the coward I am. Christmas is over. But I don’t have to show it to the door. Thankfully, there are stronger people in my house for that task. Good-bye, Christmas Tree. For now. I shall eagerly await your arrival next year.

Hello, Monday

Mondays, in general, aren’t great days. I don’t know of anyone who looks forward to Monday. I’ve never met anyone who feels excited at the prospect of returning to the drudgery of work or school or whatever else the week may hold in store. The worst Monday of the year is the Monday after the start of Daylight Savings Time. That Monday right after you “spring forward” is a killer. I don’t have any hard scientific evidence to back this up. But I feel it in my heart. There are some things you just know, on a gut level. And this is one of them.

In general, I don’t hate on Mondays. I don’t love them. I don’t enjoy knowing I have to get back into a productive routine and get stuff done after a weekend of family time and relaxation. At the same time, I’ve never particularly dreaded them, either. I guess I didn’t feel one way or another about them. They were just there, like a flu shot or a trip to the doctor: a necessary evil, or something like that. Oddly enough, I’ve always harbored a big hate for Wednesday. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something about being in the middle. Today was almost enough to make me change my mind about Mondays. Because today was a banner day. And I don’t mean that in a good way. It pretty much sucked, all around.

I started off with the not-quite-put-together feeling that happens every year when we spring forward. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed or how much sleep I get, it’s never going to be enough to overcome the uneasy feeling in my brain that tells me time has gone completely off the rails. I spent the whole day feeling tired, run-down, and generally annoyed with life. The Monday after Daylight Savings Time always makes me feel like I’m stuck in a world that has suddenly grown too small. Or maybe that I’m just out of whack. Or something. I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say nothing fits together the way it should.

shiner-kittybed1-sm

My daughter has been fighting a sinus infection. I took her to the pediatrician last week, and they told us to use over the counter allergy meds to make it go away instead of prescribing antibiotics. I’m all for using as few antibiotics as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in this instance. She woke up this morning feeling worse than ever, with even more sinus pain and pressure, a fever, and a sore throat. It seemed a visit to the pediatrician was in order. We managed to get an appointment for noon. I made the mistake of getting there early — silly me.

Long story short: We ended up waiting for over an hour. We were slightly early, but the doctor took us back over 40 minutes after our scheduled appointment. This is bad enough, but the waiting room turned into a horror show of annoyance and frustration. Our pediatrician’s office is divided into two waiting rooms: a sick side and a well side. We were on the sick side (of course). There were a lot of other kids on the sick side, too. After we had been waiting for a few minutes, this boy — probably around 10 or 11 years old — came jumping down the hallway from the well side, looking for the bathroom. The floor is mostly white tile, but there are red and blue tiles spaced evenly along it, and he was entertaining himself by jumping from colored square to colored square. He ran into the sick waiting room. He made all kinds of noise. He jumped from square to square in there. He banged all the toys. I think every parent in the sick waiting room breathed a sigh of relief when he and his sister finally got called back for their appointment.

Sadly, our relief was short-lived. Once their appointment was done, the entire family came into the sick waiting room, which was already full. I have no idea what they were waiting for, but the two kids continued to make noise and rattle and bang on toys and jump from square to square on the tile floor. Their parents busied themselves on their phones. I thought about telling them they were sitting in a room stuffed full of sick kids. But then I decided to keep it to myself. If anyone ever deserved to get sick … Well, I’m not proud of the thought. But there you go.

Finally, after our hour wait, we got to see the doctor. As expected, he said my daughter has a sinus infection, and he prescribed antibiotics. We went on our merry way, ate lunch, and then went to the drug store to get this medication. There was no prescription ready for my daughter. There was no prescription in the system for my daughter. I realized, with a sinking feeling of dread, that this meant I would have to call the doctor’s office to find out what had happened.

I hate calling the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office phone system is the third circle of hell. I am sure of this. Again, I have no scientific proof, but I feel it. I feel it right in my gut. It feels a lot like acid reflux, but it just keeps going and going and going. It is impossible to find a live person on the other end of the phone. You have to sit and listen to a recorded message that is, I swear, five minutes long. And then, you have to try and figure out which option will give you what you need. But here’s the thing: none of the options fit. Ever. And Heaven help you if you push the wrong option, because you can’t back out and try again. No. You have to start all over. I know this because I did it three times today. And I still never got a live person.

rose-waterdrops2-sm

After the drugstore, where we weren’t able to get my daughter’s prescription, I decided to drop her off at our house while I ran a couple of errands. I had a coupon, and I had to go inside to get it. My dogs, of course, went absolutely nuts. After all, I had been gone for three hours by this time. Clearly, they thought I was never coming back. I grabbed my coupon and headed back out the door.

Unfortunately, Monday is also lawn day for our neighborhood. The lawn guys were out there, next to our house, with their leaf blowers and rakes and mulching things. My Springer has a habit of trying to dart out of the door before you can get it closed. The urge is particularly strong when there are strange people in our front yard. As I backed out of the house, all the while pushing the dog away from the door, I tripped. There is a step down into our garage from the house, and I managed to trip over this and come down with all of my weight on my bent/twisted ankle. It hurt like a … Well, something that hurts a lot.

But I’m a tough person. At least, this is what I tell myself. So I sucked it up, limped to the car, and decided I would run my errands, anyhow. I had a coupon! It needed to be used! And off I went. At this point, I still had no news regarding my daughter’s prescription. What else could go wrong?

Well, I’ll tell you. My ankle throbbed and ached the whole time. I went to two stores, and nearly got run over in the parking lot of each one because I couldn’t manage to hobble out of the way fast enough. The first store didn’t want to take my coupon, which led to an extended wait as the cashier tried to figure out how to key in the entire code. And I got all the way back home and into my driveway before I was able to call the pharmacy again about the stupid prescription that started this whole mess. It turned out the doctor actually “called in” the prescription by leaving a voice mail on the pharmacy phone, instead of sending it electronically. And, of course, no one had checked the message. I had to turn the car around and head out into the world once more, limping and cursing the whole way. But I managed to get the damn prescription. Finally. Victory!!

jamesavery-sorrentoring-book-IG-sm

And so, here I am. Monday is over. It’s not official for another couple of hours, but I’m calling it done. My ankle hurts and has started to swell. Hauling one’s posterior up three flights of stairs on a throbbing ankle is no picnic. Neither is standing in the kitchen and cooking dinner. I learned both of these things the hard way this afternoon and evening. I still need to straighten my house before the cleaning ladies come tomorrow, but I really can’t handle any more trips up and down the stairs. I asked my family for help with it, but that hasn’t materialized. I have a sinus headache and have used up a box and a half of tissues, which tells me the allergy attack that started three weeks ago has probably morphed into a sinus infection for me, too. I’m just … done. I’m ready to climb into bed with a book for a couple of hours of quiet time.

Tomorrow is another day. For some reason, the thought of it makes me very afraid.

 

Rain Boots

Last weekend, I got new boots. These are my first rain boots. Ever. That’s right. I’m 48 years old, and I’ve never had rain boots before. I have waterproof hiking boots and waterproof walking shoes. I’ve trotted both of these out on walks through many a rainy day. But I’ve never had an actual, honest-to-goodness pair of rain boots. I never needed them growing up. I’m from S. Texas, and it doesn’t rain there very much or very often. Now, I live in Virginia. It rains a lot here. But, in the 15 years I’ve lived here, I still never bought a pair of rain boots. I guess it never occurred to me that I might need them.

Several months ago, when we were waiting for Winter to make its first chilly appearance, it seemed like all the almanacs and weather gurus were forecasting snow for us. Lots and lots of snow. I love snow, so I was pretty stoked about this possibility. Sadly, most of our lovely snow has come in the form of rain. Still precipitation, but not nearly as fluffy or pleasant. My yard is a mess. No, it’s beyond a mess. It’s a swamp, and the fact that I have two active dogs doesn’t help matters one bit.

I have a couple of pairs of rubber boots to use for yard work when necessary. These are not nice boots. They are yellow and cheap and coming apart at the seams. They are too big for me to wear with just my sock feet, but they are too small to wear with shoes inside of them. Every time I have to use them, my feet ache, both from the cold that seeps through the bottoms of the boots and because there is no support. Usually, this isn’t a big deal. We will get a little rainy weather, followed by enough sunny days to dry out the yard. Not this year. This year, there has been rain followed by rain and then some ice, which melts into water, and then a little more rain. It became obvious I needed better boots.

patti-stripedrainboots-sm

Enter my new rain boots! My husband found them on sale through REI’s website. This is the second pair we ordered. The first pair wasn’t comfortable or tall enough. But this pair fits like a glove. And look! They’re blue! Not just blue, but two colors of blue. What could be better? I mean, maybe if they also had flowers or something on them. I’m partial to daisies and roses, after all. That might be a good addition. Otherwise, I think they are pretty darn perfect.

The weekend my boots arrived, we had rain. (Of course!) And I wore my new boots out into the thick of it. Is there anything as magical, glorious, or just downright fun as a new pair of rain boots? I splished. I splashed. I jumped into puddles with joyful exuberance. I laughed. I can’t explain it, but there is something freaking amazing about jumping into a puddle. I felt like a kid again. Or, considering I never had a pair of rain boots before, maybe I felt like a kid for the first time.

I went home from my day out in the rain. I dried off my boots and put them away. And then, I told my husband the truth: These boots are much too nice and fun for my swampy, muddy yard. My husband laughed and shook his head. “I guess we’re back to square one, then. You need some boots to work in the  yard.”

Um. Yep. I guess that’s right.

The Life-Rut

Have you ever been in a life-rut? It’s a time when everything around you feels too big and too small all at the same time. You know you need to move forward. You want to move forward. And yet, somehow, you remain in the same spot. It’s frustrating. And maddening. It makes you want to throw your arms open to the universe and scream at the top of your lungs. Not that this would change anything at all, but the scream would be something different. And, at the point where you hit that great wall of frustration, anything different is a good thing. Even if it’s only a scream that hurtles out into the uncaring universe, never to be heard by anyone else.

I’m there. It’s time to admit this to myself. I am in a life-rut, and I don’t like it one bit. It sounds silly to say this, but I’m not sure just how I ended up here. The life-rut feels familiar to me. I’ve been here before, but I thought I was over and done with this. It seems that is not the case. It seems the life-rut has, once again, snuck up on me. I wasn’t expecting this at all, which, I suppose, is the purpose of sneaking. Well played, life-rut. Well played.

pish-bookshelves3-jan2018-sm

A little over a year ago, I was in a good place. I was eating healthy. I was working out every day and loving it. I had worked through a lot of my childhood issues, putting me in a good mental place. I had lost quite a bit of weight. It had taken an effort on my part, I’m not going to lie. I’m not a person who can just cut back on eating and drop 20 pounds like it’s nothing. I’m not a person who can mentally walk away from my past, my own self-hatred, and my perceived failures. Oh, how I wish I was one of those people. I would be living the dream. But I had put in the effort, and I was finally seeing some rewards. I was (dare I type it out loud?) happy. Things weren’t perfect. I still wasn’t writing. But, overall, I felt good about myself.

I’m not in that place today. Today, as I think back, that time seems tinged in golden light. Because, today, I am stuck. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m just … stuck. It doesn’t feel dangerous or even terrible or anything. I guess that’s the thing: it doesn’t much feel like anything. And yet, I hate it. I feel smothered and suffocated by my own mind, life, and fears. I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel much of anything at all. A general feeling of malaise has settled over my life, leaving me wondering most mornings whether it’s even worth it to get out of bed for the day.

Is this Depression, once again rearing its ugly head in my life? Yes. If I’m being honest and rational with myself, I would have to say this is exactly how Depression feels. I mean, I have been here before. This is a well-traveled road for me and my mind. It feels so … awful. That word doesn’t seem to come close to describing things, and yet, it is the only word for it. It feels awful, all the way down into the very pit of my soul. Maybe it feels even worse this time than the last time things got this bad. Because this time, it feels like I have lost all the progress I made before. It feels like Life and Depression have ganged up together to shove me hundreds and thousands of steps backward.

shiner-window-nov2017-sm

What happened to all that progress? What happened to all that happiness and certainty and positivity? I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about it this week, and the simple answer is that my husband had a heart attack. This is a simple answer and a not-so-simple one, all rolled together. My husband had a heart attack last January (2017). I thought he was going to die. I really thought he was going to die. And yet, I couldn’t let myself dwell on that at the time. There was too much to do. There were too many other things that had to happen, so I stuffed those emotions away.

If he gets better, I thought, everything will be okay. If he gets better, everything will go back to the way it was. This is what I told myself so that I could get through having to tell my daughter that her father’s heart wasn’t working. So I could get through having to wait for days until they could do the surgery. So I could get through a day of waiting while they did the surgery. So I could get through medication interactions and my husband not being able to hold down food and puking and pain. So I could get through two ER visits and being readmitted to the cardiac wing. So I could cheer him on as he worked up to walking and bathing himself. So I could guard against infection until his surgical wounds healed.

And, somewhere along the way, I guess I forgot about my feelings. Because there was just too much to do. Because I had to be strong and just get on with things. Because that’s just what you do.

dc-bench1-2014-sm

My husband recovered. Thanks be to God, he made a full recovery, even surpassing his doctors’ expectations. A year and, almost, a month out from his surgery, he is healed and healthy and doing fantastic. Everything is back to normal.

Except, it isn’t. Nothing is normal. Nothing can be normal again, not like it was before. This doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means that what we had before is gone. It’s just … gone. And now we have to figure out a new normal. Somehow. In some way.

But I find myself grieving the loss of our “normal” life from before the heart attack. Or, maybe I am grieving the loss of the life I expected to have. I’m not sure. It is as if I have been shoved into a stranger’s life, and I find myself standing here, holding all of these feelings — the fear, the anger, the sadness, the uncertainty — clutched in my arms. And I’m not sure exactly how I ended up in this unexpected place. It’s all over. The surgery went well; the recovery was bumpy, but, overall, went well. People keep on telling me it’s all over and done. They tell me I should be happy about that. I should be happy about how lucky we were. And you know what? I am happy. I am. Really. But I still have all these other feelings, too. I don’t know what to do with them.

My husband has recovered. And my heart is full. And we were lucky. But, in many ways, I have yet to recover. My emotions are full, too. My fear is full. My anxiety is full. My sadness is full. My anger is full. And I have to figure out how to move forward. A step at a time.

A Day of Checking Out

Sometimes, you make plans. You lay in bed at night, thinking about all the things you need to do and all the things you want to do in the coming day. And you organize and categorize and plan through how you’re going to get all of it done. Or a majority of it done. Or, maybe you know you’ll never get it all done, but you make a mini list of things you feel you can accomplish in the space of the coming day. It feels good to plan. There is something about sitting down (or lying in bed at night) and thinking through a plan, with steps you feel you can easily accomplish. It breaks something huge and uncontrollable down into little bits that feel easier to manage. It makes you feel like you have control over your life, in a way. Maybe, if you can come up with a plan and follow through on all the steps and accomplish this task, you can also grab hold of bigger things in your life, like your insecurities and fears and uncertainties. Maybe you can conquer those, as well.

Perhaps this is just me. I used to be extra-organized. I’m not that person any more. I daydream more. I can’t find things in my house. I’m always losing my keys. Or my phone. Or my glasses. I don’t pay attention to my calendar, even though I know I should. But even I enjoy the feeling of invincibility that comes with knowing I have managed to think up the perfect plan that will allow me to accomplish all the stuff everyone thinks I need to be doing. However fleeting, it is a true “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” feeling. And it is FABULOUS.

double-rainbow1-sm

The funny thing is that we really aren’t in control at all. Maybe we can fool ourselves into thinking we have some say in what happens to us. Or that we have the ability to make things go one way or another in our lives. We can accomplish one task or one set of tasks, but there is going to be something else down the road, just around the next corner. And, sometimes, the universe gets in the way. You might think everything is going to go one way, but the universe likes to step in and say, “Um … No. I don’t think so.”

Today was one of those days. I went to bed last night thinking about which errands I needed to run today. I needed to return some things at a local craft store. I needed to return some things at Target. I needed to purchase some things at Target. I needed to make a run to my local Sally’s for nail polish remover. I wanted to go to a certain place for lunch. I needed to do laundry. I wanted to make this blog post. I wanted to do some pictures for my nail polish blog. I had it all planned out, particularly because my daughter was scheduled to stay after school for a couple of extracurricular activities. I had all this extra time. It was a gift! A gift of “here-I-am-doing-all-the-things”. I was going to be so accomplished. It was going to be incredible, and I was going to roar my amazingness out into the ether like a boss. Rawr!!

shiner-window-nov2017-sm

But the universe said no. We had low freezing temperatures last night, along with a wintery mix of snow and ice. We woke up to a day full of cold and dreary rain, all of which seemed to be freezing up on the sidewalks and less-traveled side streets. The main streets around our house seemed okay because they were treated, and because there is a lot of traffic on them throughout the day and night. My daughter’s school was closed today due to the weather. Clearly, it was not a day for going out.

And so, we checked out for the day. My husband worked from home. We cooked breakfast. We played with the dogs. Basically, other than a quick run out for lunch, we cocooned. My daughter and I spent the whole afternoon watching anime. I finally got to introduce her to one of my very favorite shows. We laughed and joked and talked about anything and everything.

Did I get any of my planned tasks done? Nope. And I’m totally okay with that. Because I ended up with extra time that was a gift I didn’t even know I needed.

Fae’s Ribbon

I’ve written in here before about my rescue dog, Fae. I’ve had her since she was nine weeks old. She is a boxer-hound mix of some sort. She is, as they say, “of unknown parentage”. No bloodlines or registration or fancy, long names for this gal! Fae is a mutt, through and through. She has a body that looks like a perfect combination of boxer and hound: long legs, thinned down waist, big torso and chest. She has, in comparison to her body, a teeny, coyote-looking head. She has an incredibly squirrelly personality. I think of her as my mutt-boxer-hound-coyote-squirrel mix dog.

I realize this description may come across as less than flattering. But know that I type these words with love. There are parts of Fae that are beautiful, even if, taken as a whole, she is a little odd in appearance. She is sweet and loving. She is the gentlest dog I have ever owned. She is a little crazy, but in a good way. In short, I love Fae. She is an interesting creature in a world of boring. She is an unknown in a world of “everything has to be the same”. She is a mystery, running around on four very long legs. She is an amazing runner, by the way. I’ve always wished I could take her coursing, just to let her loose and watch her really stretch out and run. But I’m sure it would scare her to death.

Because that’s the thing about Fae. She doesn’t like most things. She doesn’t like rain. Or the dark. Or strange noises. Or cats. Or leaves that blow. Or bugs. Or strangers. Or other dogs, except for Shiner (our Springer, who she has known since his puppyhood). Or car rides. Or walks. Or having her picture taken. Or … Well, the list could go on and on and on. Basically, Fae doesn’t like the world. It is as if she doesn’t know how to interact with it and doesn’t know what to expect from it. In short, the outside world scares her to bits.

dec2016-2dogswalkig-sm

So, imagine my surprise a few days ago when Fae discovered the ribbon. The ribbon came off a package of granola. It is a spring green with darker polka-dots on it, and it was used over the twist tie on the granola package. You know … to give it a homey, pretty look. I opened the granola and put the ribbon on the counter.

Immediately, Fae came over to investigate. Here’s the thing about having a long-legged dog: No counter is safe or sacred. Fae is a professional counter-surfer. She is so good at it that she passed this skill along to Shiner. I know I should have put a stop to this, but the idea that Fae — my sweet, shy, timid, scared-of-it-all Fae — had wisdom she could pass on to someone else warmed my heart. Everyone needs a moment. And, I think this was hers.

Anyhow, the ribbon ended up going from the counter to the floor in short order. Fae sniffed it. She licked it. She carried it around for a very short distance. She looked at it in a way I can only describe as “admiring”. Once I finished putting away the granola, I went looking for the ribbon. I figured she was only interested in it because it smelled like granola. Fae is very food-driven. She is one of those dogs who acts like they are constantly starving.

jan2017-fae2-sm

As I went to put the ribbon into the trash, Fae followed me. She stood on the other side of the trash can, watching as I opened the lid and prepared to drop the ribbon inside. As my hand lowered the ribbon into the trash, Fae reached out and, ever so gently, grabbed the ribbon’s free end in her mouth, just before it hit the trash. Our eyes met. Her tail began to wag.

“Fae,” I asked, “Is this your ribbon? Do you love it?”

She continued to stand there, staring at me with her beautiful, slightly mournful brown eyes. This surprised me. It really did. Because Fae doesn’t love very many tings. She doesn’t even like very many things. And so, I did the only thing I could do. I tied the ribbon onto her collar. The ribbon isn’t very big. It’s just big enough that I can tie it around her collar and make a small bow with the free ends. It doesn’t really show. You kind of have to know it’s there in order to see it.

But none of that matters. Fae knows it’s there, and it appears that, indeed, she loves it. She stood very still as I tied it. Three days later, it’s still there — a small bit of fancy on an unfancy dog. When it comes untied, I will say, “Oh, Fae. Your ribbon came untied.” And she comes to me and stands very still as I tie the bow once more. After that, she goes on her merry way, tail wagging. Perhaps I was wrong. It seems there’s a bit of fancy in my sweet girl, after all.

I Think I Hate High School, part 2

So I’m going to cut to the chase and post the spoiler alert-type thingy right up front. I pretty much still hate High School. In particular, I pretty much still hate my daughter’s High School. But … I am feeling more hopeful that we might all survive with our sanity intact. I suppose I should dial that back and say I’m feeling hopeful we will survive freshman year with our sanity intact. To apply this to all four years might be too much of a reach at this point.

When last we parted, my husband and I were scheduled to meet with one of the principals regarding her biology teacher. I didn’t go into detail about what precipitated this meeting, because my last post on this was already long. But here’s the skinny … which, hopefully, I can keep fairly brief. This is not always my strong point. You guys know this about me.

pish-bookshelves1-jan2018-sm

My daughter had to participate in the school science fair. She is not normally gung-ho about things like this. If left on her own, she would have chosen not to participate, but it was a requirement for her biology class. She had trouble finding an experiment, because her teacher didn’t approve anything she brought to him. She went through several rounds of meeting with him to discuss experiments before she finally found one he would approve. He gave her no guidance on what he wanted out of her project, or of what he would approve. Each time she met with him, she was basically shooting in the dark. He’s a moody person, and a lot of this seems to depend on his mood at the particular time a student comes to see him.

To register for the fair, my daughter had to fill out a crap-ton of information on this form/database program called Scienteer. She didn’t have a choice as to whether she would use this or not. Everyone has to use this, school-wide. It’s probably county-wide, too. This program is NOT user friendly. My daughter struggled with it during Winter Break. She wasn’t able to get registered, and she told her biology teacher about this when she went back to class after break ended. This was about two weeks before the final registration was due.

Skip forward to a couple of Fridays ago, January 19. This was the last day for kids to register for the fair. Through a string of mishaps and mistakes and miscommunications, my daughter wasn’t registered. Her teacher had told her to put another teacher down as the sponsor of her project, so my daughter ended up falling through the cracks. She didn’t show up on her bio teacher’s list of kids. And the teacher she put as her sponsor didn’t recognize her as one of his students. With good reason, as she isn’t. This is what my husband was there to meet with the bio teacher about on Friday. Because we needed to figure out this program and get our daughter registered. But the bio teacher wasn’t there.

In the end, we got everything figured out, thanks to one of the teachers running the science fair. But it was a mess all the way through. We continued to have problems with the program. The science fair sponsor put herself as my daughter’s experiment sponsor. And she, literally, stayed by her computer and hung in with us ALL NIGHT LONG on Friday. We finally got my daughter’s registration finished at midnight. The biology teacher, of course, was not there for any of this.

My daughter ended up winning Honorable Mention with her project. This was awesome and exciting. She is eligible to go on to the Regional Science Fair, but we aren’t sure yet if there will be a spot for her.

pish-bookshelves2-jan2018-sm

Okay … on to the meeting from last week. My husband and I show up at school. My daughter meets us at the front door. We really didn’t know what to expect from the meeting. It turned out the principal wanted our daughter in the meeting, and she wanted the biology teacher, too. I was a little thrown by this, but only because I wasn’t expecting it. Overall, it wasn’t a bad thing.

The meeting was … frustrating. Most of what has happened between my daughter and the biology teacher is “he said – she said”. For example, there were two times when the teacher was supposed to meet with my daughter, and he managed to wriggle out of responsibility for both of those. He said he never told my daughter to put a different teacher down as her science fair sponsor. He said he wouldn’t have been able to help us with the registration process, anyhow, so none of that was his fault, either. This conveniently glosses over the fact that he never tried to help her, but whatever. He blamed my daughter for the string of miscommunications that led to her having to struggle through the science fair registration at, literally, the eleventh hour. He flat-out said she never told him she had registration problems at all, which I know isn’t true. I know she told him. But how can I prove it? I can’t.

Needless to say, the biology teacher, had answers for everything. Nothing was his fault. He kept pointing out reasons why all the things that happened were my daughter’s fault. But then, when I called him on it, he said he wasn’t putting the blame on her. So … you get the idea of how it went, right? It was back and forth like that: us bringing up different points, the bio teacher denying them or putting the fault off on our daughter. And he kept wanting to tell us what a great teacher he is, how long he’s been teaching, how much he loves teaching, and so on.

I was a little hostile. I’m not proud of that, but it is what it is. His attitude made me angry. And trying to converse with someone who constantly talks in circles and only wants to tell you how fabulous they are frustrates the hell out of me. I finally cut him off and told him I was sure he was a terrific teacher for some of his students. But that I didn’t feel he was a good teacher for my daughter. Because he was too erratic, because his instructions were too unclear, and because my daughter never knew what to expect in his class. It’s too stressful for her, and it makes her migraines worse.

shiner-window-nov2017-sm

In the end, once the principal dismissed the biology teacher from the meeting, she told us she had already talked to him about the main issues we raised. She had some of the email correspondence, and she was able to see some of our problems, just from that. She said they were already taking steps to make sure there were no more missed meetings. And she told us she believed that our daughter had gone to the teacher about her log-in problems with the science fair software. All of this makes me feel hopeful. We didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked, but at least we found someone who listened. And who believed our daughter. And who also saw there are problems with this teacher. The principal said we could switch our daughter to another class.

But, we only get one class switch. ONE — for the whole four years of high school. What if we end up with a teacher who is truly psycho, and we’ve used up our switch on this biology teacher who, while admittedly not a great teacher, is at least mostly sane? My daughter decided to stay in the class. She didn’t want to waste her one switch on this guy. My husband and I supported her choice. But we both told her to be more careful about documenting important conversations. In the event we have to go to the principal again, we want some kind of email chain in our favor, at the very least.

While we were there, I expressed my overall disappointment in my daughter’s school. And I complained about her other jerk teachers, too. Not that I really expect it to do much good. But it felt great to get it all out of my system. I guess that has to count for something.

 

 

Folding the Sheets

I can’t fold the sheets. I have a king size bed, and I dread having to wash our sheets. It’s not that I don’t enjoy having clean sheets. I do. I enjoy that very much. It’s because I can’t fold them. I’ve tried so many methods. I’ve tried so many tactics. I’ve failed — again and again and again.

We use cotton sheets, of course. I mean, cotton is the fabric of our lives, right? All that advertising can’t be wrong. Plus, cotton sheets feel nice and soft and comfy. But they wrinkle like gangbusters in the dryer. My mom always tells me I should iron my sheets. Because, you know, they are cotton. And they wrinkle. If I had a dime for every time she commented, in that off-hand way of hers, that she doesn’t know how I can manage to sleep on sheets that are wrinkled … Well, I would have a lot of dimes. I sleep fine on my wrinkled sheets, by the way. I think the idea that I spent time ironing them, when we are just going to get into bed and rumple them all around, would be enough to keep me awake.

4949674054_c37b5a8f86

My husband can fold the sheets. Usually, once I pull them out of the dryer, I sweet talk him into “helping” me fold them. I say “helping”, but what I really mean is that I sit there and watch as he works his magic. I try to console myself with the fact that he is much taller than me. And his arms are longer. So, of course, it’s easier for him to wrestle a king-size sheet into submission. I mean, more height … more arm length … It’s logical, right? This makes me feel a little better.

But then, I remember my mom. Who is barely five feet tall. Who has the arm length of a five-foot tall person. And guess what? My mom can also fold the sheets. My mom can fold the sheets even better than my husband. When my mom folds them, the sheets look brand new. They look like we just pulled them out of the packaging for the first time. They have crisp corners and sharp folds. They are folded down to where they are about the size of a large hardback book. It’s like there are infinite folds. Or like my mom somehow managed to bend the time-space continuum in order to fit the sheets into the teeniest possible amount of space in our linen closet. I don’t understand how this works. When I lamented my inability to fold the sheets to my mom, her response was less than helpful. “You could fold them, if you cared enough. You just don’t care.”

This made me feel pretty bad. I mean, here I was, pouring out my heart about my domestic failures … hoping for some first-class mentoring or Jedi-master level mind tricks or mother-daughter bonding or something … and all I got was that I didn’t care enough. It lasted for about thirty minutes. It was not a good time for me. But then I concluded my mom was probably right, in some respects. I mean, I would love to fold the sheets. I would love to wrangle them into submission until they were folded down into infinite folds of cottony-soft goodness. I think this would give me a great deal of personal satisfaction. But I’m never going to iron them. They will always be wrinkled. And, maybe this means I don’t care. Maybe the sheets know this. Maybe they behave accordingly.

jan2017-fae2-sm

In my defense, I do okay with the flat sheet. I can get that one folded down to a decent size. And it ends up looking pretty even and overall nice. But the fitted sheet. The fitted sheet is my nemesis. The fitted sheet is my hell. I can never fold it. In my hands, the corners never fit together. There are suddenly twice as many of them. And way too much elastic. There are always parts and bits that are inside out or hanging out around the edges.

My sweet dog Fae loves to nest. If she finds blankets or towels or anything relatively soft, she will dig in it and push it around and pile it up until it’s a big, lumpy mess of soft, lumpy messiness. And then, she will lie down in it. That’s what the fitted sheets look like when I fold them. They look like Fae has been nesting in them. Tonight, as I struggled with the fitted sheets, I turned around and caught Fae watching me. She was standing out in the hall, looking longingly at the mess I was making. She probably thought I was building the perfect nest, just for her. And she probably had loving doggie thoughts that made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

As I shoved my now-folded sheets into the linen closet, quickly slamming the door before anything could tumble down onto the floor, I heard Fae sigh. She had a disappointed look on her face — the kind of sad, pathetic look only a dog can manage. What could I tell her? How could I explain? It wasn’t that I wanted to deprive her of the perfect, messy nest. It’s just that I don’t have whatever gene it is that allows one to fold the sheets perfectly. Whatever gene that is skipped me entirely.

But I can manage to find the stash of dog cookies, each and every time. So I did that. And Fae was okay with it.