Monday, December 22, 2014

Where was it you wanted him kept?

Before I get into the heart of this post, I'm going to say that this may be one of "the icky, cream-filled ones". It could possibly be classified under "how to lose friends and infuriate people."

Between police involved shootings and the report on the CIA torturing prisoners, this holiday season has been difficult for keeping hope alive. Throw social media into the mix and a hot mess just gets hotter and messier. I've tried to keep from posting anything that may cause too heated a comment battle. Following that same mentality, I've bitten the proverbial tongue by keeping my own comments on the posts of others to a minimum. I have been one for getting into pissing matches via comment sections in the past. It really ends in my getting riled up and nothing productive coming from it.

Though I do not follow any religion, I do have many friends who identify themselves as one Christian denomination or other. My feed on Facebook will often contain religious themed quotes; updates on what he/she is doing with his/her particular church group; religious news or pictures, etc. I usually scroll through these things without much thought or analysis since it's really not my thing.

Lately, though, I've been paying closer attention to my feed because I can't believe some of what I've seen. When the CIA shit hit the fan, it hit my news feed as well. Pictures of the events of 9/11/01 were being shared with messages about how the events of that day make the CIA justified in the use of various forms of torture -- the very types of torture most would be enraged over if done to "our" prisoners. There was also a picture floating around of "The Elf on a Shelf" doll being water boarded by a "G.I. Joe" doll who is trying to get information on where the toys are hidden. I decided that was too much for me to handle in my feed so I un-friended or un-followed some people...Christian people.

Then, there are the police shootings and racial tensions that have escalated. Again, I tried to keep from battling folks in cyberspace, including those I actually know in person. One post I did make was to share a statement from Cleveland Browns player, Andrew Hawkins about his choice to wear a t-shirt at a game that was in protest of two police shootings of black people in Ohio. I felt his point-of-view was well stated and I could relate to his anger being at individuals not the police as a whole. When I posted this, someone disagreed with what I posted. I simply said that we were most likely not going to change each other's minds, so we should leave it at that. Somehow, this meant that I was in favor of what a group of protesters had been chanting about killing cops. Wait, what? No. I don't know how that leap was made, but that is not at all anything with which I agree. My agreement with Hawkins' statement is that it is possible to be outraged by the behavior of individuals while supporting the job of police officers in general.

Just like other issues of discrimination, the tensions arise because behaviors of a person or minority of persons belonging to a group are seen as the norm for the group as a whole -- be this religion, gender, sexuality, race, and, now, a profession. This kind of generalizing is like living out synecdoche as more than a simple figure of speech for dramatic effect.

From what I've read and heard of Christ, I don't see how torture of or blanket support of or overwhelming hatred of a group fits into being a follower of a religion based on his teachings. I certainly do not question all Christians. I'm trying to understand how such duality can exist in some individuals.

In the end, I just wonder if some individuals should be less concerned about keeping Christ in CHRISTmas and maybe think more about keeping Christ in CHRISTian.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Tis the Season

This isn't the entry I have been planning to write. That will have to wait for another day soon. I had a moment this morning while reading my Facebook News Feed that got me thinking and I decided to throw the thoughts out to the gaping maw of the bottomless pit which is cyberspace.

The stretch of time between the U.S.'s Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, you know, when different groups celebrate different things while wrapping  up one year and looking to the next. Grumpiness, Bah Humbugs, and Grinch-like behavior sometimes peep through, even from the holliest and jolliest of folks. But, there are some things that I don't see as worth getting your Burgermeister Meisterburger up in arms over.

I fall into the category of a "Happy Holidays" wisher, for the most part. You may find that offensive, put me in my proverbial place, delete me from social media, never read my blog again, and go off to commiserate with Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the War on Christmas protesters. (If saying, "Happy Holidays" is an act of war, I don't know what is going on in the Middle East!) Anyway, you can take that approach, as is your right.

Or, may I suggest an alternative? You can smile, say "Thank You!", maybe a "Merry Christmas" in return if that is your preferred greeting to use. You can be gracious and accept the greeting, as generic or blanket statement-like as you feel it is, in the spirit with which it is most likely intended. It is not a dig at those celebrating Christmas. It is not a bleeding heart conspiracy term meant to start a war. It is a pleasantry akin to "Have a nice day" or "I hope all is well." If someone were to say to me, "Happy Hanukkah (or Chanukah or Chanukkah)!" I would not be offended because, in that moment of well wishing, it is not about the holiday celebrated or the religion practiced. It's a simple exchange of greetings which takes a few seconds out of our chaotic lives to just be kind to one another.

During a time when faces are buried in smart phones, lines are long, people are running ragged, even a smile and a nod with no words at all is a breath of fresh air. Winter is gray, day light is with us for a shorter amount of time, and some are going through the worst times of their lives. This stretch of time for Thanksgiving through New Year's Day is so often associated with giving. The giving doesn't have to be materialistic. A week ago, I was in line behind a man at Target. During his transaction, the chit-chat between he and the cashier revealed that it was his birthday. When he was done, he went to the in-store Starbucks. As I was leaving the checkout, I went to the Starbucks and offered to buy his coffee. He turned me down, but while doing so said, "No, but thank you. That is the best gift I've received." So, my point is, just being kind in action or in words captures the spirit of the season.

My wish for all, as Blues Traveler sings, is:
And everybody sings
If it's Chanukah or Kwanza
Solstice, harvest or December twenty-fifth
Peace on earth to everyone
And abundance to everyone you're with.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Take time for a moment of kindness

I'm going to resist the temptation to go on some kind of rant about the events in Ferguson, Missouri or Cleveland, Ohio. It is so easy for me to get worked up and focus on the negatives of this world. Even without the disturbing events in the news, I get down in the dumps this time of year for a few reasons.

A few months ago, life, both personal and the world in general, were bringing me down. I made a conscious effort to find something positive, even uplifting, you might say. There was this thing going around Facebook that really was all about kindness. I posted on my page that I would do something nice for the first 5 people to say that they would be in and would do something for 5 people. It was about paying kindness forward. Obviously, we should be kind to people as a general rule for life, but this just served to bring it to the forefront of one's mind.

I finished my list of five. The last two haven't gotten theirs yet. I need to get them shipped. The list was an interesting combo of people because some of them were people I knew pretty well and some that I haven't seen for years or don't know them all that well outside of Facebook. This made me have to put more thought into what I did. I had to use Facebook and sometimes other social media sites to get an idea about the person in order to figure out what might be a nice surprise. From the responses of some who got their gifts already, I felt pretty good about what I decided to do for them.  Maybe "Friends" was right about good deeds.

 One response along with a photo of the items popped up on my Facebook feed:
So I had a really bad day today, then my son got the mail and there was a package from Colorado from my old grade school friend, Meg. See I wrote on her pay it forward status and she sent me MINIONS!!!! She also sent me a magnet with one of my favorite quotes on it... "One person can make a difference, and everyone should try." JFK. In fact I had used this quote today at work arguing a point I was trying to make. And did I mention the minions?
Another person also posted a picture of the gift and messages on two different days:
There are some days that I feel like I'm just "not going to make it through the day" today was getting to be one of those days. Then the mail came. Meg this "pay it forward" is literally the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. I am speechless. You changed my life this afternoon, I can't thank you enough. Even more awesome, you captured the spirit in each of my kids with the pictures you chose and, you don't even know them. You are awesome
and:
I just want you to know, my pay it forward gift is also getting me through this day. This day has been a really crappy one I read your card again and I can breathe. Faith restored in people because of you, Thank you! Some people suck but not everyone sucks!!!
I really felt good after reading the posts. They gave me a boost of happy in my day. It's weird for me to post this because it makes me feel like I'm bragging. While at my therapist's around the time of those Facebook messages, I said, "Okay, I'm going to stop talking now because I'm starting to sound..." She cut me off and said, "No, no you don't. You are not tooting your own horn. Even if you think you are, it would only be a very quiet, "toot, toot." She knew where I was going in my head before I even finished talking. UGH! Maybe that horn is getting louder now. I'm sorry.

Now, it's not just my own kindnesses that got me all warm and fuzzy, so let me make up for my bragging. Seeing others being treated with kindness and complimented makes me feel good, too.

Almost 2 months ago, my parents were involved in a car accident that could have been much worse, but still landed them in the hospital. They both had broken vertebrae and left the hospital wearing braces. One of my brothers and his family took them in because my mom and dad weren't going to be able to manage on their own at their own house. After about a month and a half, they are back at their own house.

Anyway, the outpouring of support and generosity shown toward them from so many people was heartwarming. It helped put me at some ease since I live 1,300-ish miles away. There were cards, flowers, and visits. And, some went beyond that by running errands, bringing them Communion (they are Catholic), making them meals and much more. It is just nice to know that such kindness exists in what can be such a fucked up world.

Another thing going on that brings a lump to my throat has to do with my father-in-law, Jerry. Over this last year, he and my husband have been working on publishing his rodeo photography into a hard cover book. When the idea for doing this came about, Jerry joined Facebook. It gave him the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and people from his days on the rodeo circuit. The kind words, deep respect, and memories people have shown toward him are so touching to read. He, in turn, has shared wonderful words about Shawn and his involvement in the process. It is beautiful to witness.

So, I guess I'm really just trying to point out the importance to, as Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of her show, "be kind to one another."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Doggy & Me

Perhaps this is a kind of bitchy post, but it is my blog and I can bitch if I want to, so there!

Even before I knew I couldn't have kids of my own, the idea of joining a group like MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) or going to Mommy-and-Me classes seemed like the last thing I would do if I had a baby. There were groups of moms who would bring their kids to story time at the bookstore where I worked. They would sit around in the store's cafe and go on and on about their kids. It was like a one-up competition when you listened in on them. It would be nice to be friends with my child's friends' parents, but that doesn't always happen.

This morning, Shawn and I took Jarvis to the dog park we regularly take him to. It was unusually crowded. I really started to feel like it was similar to what I would have experienced hanging out with other moms at the playground with our kids.

There was this group of people who seemed to be related to each other. There were small children with them, including a baby. This alone makes me nervous at the dog park. Dogs don't pay attention to things like people standing in their way when they are deep in the fun of playing and chasing. I've seen people almost get knocked over on more than one occasion. So, grandma holding baby, for example, could be disastrous.

On top of those concerns, I also realized that being witness to other people's parenting, not only of children, but also of dogs, can be so frustrating. One of the woman had a dog who was a humper. Yeah, most people would prefer their dogs not do this kind of thing. Her dog was smaller than Jarvis and some of the other dogs. He was desperate to show the others he was boss despite his size. She was yelling and yelling at him to stop. But, what she yelled was more ridiculous than anything. When they were all getting ready to leave, her dog went in for one last hump of Jarvis. It seems that this was the last straw for Jarvis, who had been pretty good about shrugging him off most of the time. Jarvis turned and growled and barked at him. The lady called her dog. He came over to her and when she moved a step, he cowered as she went on a rant at him about how she wouldn't feel bad if Jarvis bit him; how she hoped Jarvis would "bite [his] face off." She said something about how he'd get his face ripped off and she would cut it up in small pieces and feed it to Jarvis. WTF???

She apologizes to us and to Jarvis for her dog's behavior. And, as she holds the baby, she says to us that the behavior bothers her and maybe it's because she's a mother now. She said that her child doesn't need to see such violent behavior. WHAT THE FUCK????!!!! First, they are dogs, humping happens and testing each other's boundaries happens. It never really escalated to a giant, dog fighting disaster. Second, children are going to pick-up on the behavior of their parents than they are the behavior of the family dog. This woman should be more concerned about the violent language, the cussing out, and overall obnoxiousness that she is carrying out in front of her child than she should be about the dogs.

I kind of had the urge to rip her face off, but Jarvis need not be witness to that kind of violent behavior.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#itskindofajokebutiamthispathetic

While I was recovering from surgery this summer, I discovered a whole new world that exists after 9 p.m. Not having to get up at 4 a.m. allowed me to screw up my sleep schedule in all kinds of ways -- it was AWESOME! There were even times when Shawn and I actually went to bed at the same time (not for sexytime, surgery put the kibosh on that for a while).

With this awakening {BA DUM TSS}, I was able to watch "@midnight" on Comedy Central which actually comes on at 10 p.m. here; when you leave in Mountain Time, you learn that television is pretty East-ocentric. I was awed by the humor the internets could provide on a "game" show like this one. My favorite part of the whole thing was #hashtagwars. I swear, that segment taught me my life's purpose in the Twitter-verse, of which I never fully felt a part. It's an audience-plays-along-at-home thing. Oh, when the topic of the war was revealed, I would take to the keyboard.

Some night's I would get on an amazing roll of profound wit and punnery. I was gaining followers; my tweet counter was rapidly rising; I was being re-tweeted; and favorites of my tweets were reaching new levels. Oh, the high I felt was inspiring. People liked "me," they really liked "me!" One night, even the show re-tweeted me!!! I made it on to it's Top 10 list for that particular hashtag (#WorseCollegeMascots, about which I tweeted, UNLV Pawnbrokers). This meant that I could possibly have my tweet broadcast on the next episode of the show! My husband shared this accomplishment on his own social media pages. He was proud of me and wanted people to know it. Everything seemed so fulfilling!

Then...my six weeks of recovery were up. I was only going to be able to play if I didn't have to work the next morning and if I wasn't too tired. The realization of what I was missing out on by regularly having an early bedtime just made thoughts of my return to work that much more gut-wrenching.

It sucks to only be an occasional participant. The worst is when I see a hashtag from a night I couldn't play and I know I would have been able to create a million tweets about it. Then, on nights when I can stay awake, the topics are sometimes about something that I'm not too up on and clever. Without being able to saturate Twitter with my good and bad jokes, my stats numbers aren't reaching the levels they did before my return to work.

Now, as someone who measures her self-worth in qualitative things such as Facebook likes and shares; blog views and comments; Twitter followers, favorites, and re-tweets; and any other measurable social media activity, this is quite a blow. I have hit a low. Did I peak too soon? Am I the Halle Berry of #hashtagwars; getting my version of an Oscar and now being on a network T.V. series (which I'm not even sure if it has succeeded to stay on the air)? She actually won and wasn't just a nominee. Being on the Top 10 list is probably more like a nomination. I guess I may be more like the Haley Joel Osment, getting a nomination early on and not doing much since.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sundry

It's been awhile since the last post. I've avoided writing because I was waiting for something on the lighter, brighter, more entertaining side of life about which to document here. This is going to just turn into a list of rants, so here it goes.

  1. You CANNOT drink and still be considered an addict in recovery. Quitting one drug doesn't mean you can just go on to something else.
  2. If you are a raging, nasty, fight-picking asshole when you are drunk, it's because you are an asshole.
  3. If none of your friends and loved ones want to be around your significant other; if they don't want that person in their homes; if your boss even has said things indicating they know the person is no good; then you should probably get out, completely out, of that relationship.
  4. If you are announcing on FB, Twitter, etc, where alcohol checkpoints are going to be on a given night, I consider you to be part of the drunk driving problem. Why are you sharing that info? It would be kind of ironic if you gave your friend a heads up about an area they should avoid when they are driving under the influence (and "just buzzed" counts) so that they don't get pulled over and arrested only for them to then kill you or someone you love.
    In my ever so not-humble opinion on the matter, I see this kind of "knowledge sharing" on the same level of giving someone a detailed layout of a building for another to go in to commit a crime.
  5. Freedom of Speech has to do with the government not restraining or limiting you. A private sector company firing you or suspending you for something you said on air is not a violation of your free speech. You were free to say it and they were free to not like it and not support it.
  6. Freedom of Religion is kind of similar. The idea here is that government entities cannot force a religious practice or doctrine on anyone. So, a public school cannot organize and mandate prayer. If some kids feel the need to pray, have at it. I would not be okay with them getting up and disrupting class the same way I wouldn't find it appropriate for someone to disrupt class with any other behavior. 
  7. My anxiety is at a new high and I actually use my "as needed" Ativan daily, sometimes even maxing out my prescribed daily allowance.
  8. I have considered blogging an anxiety attack to try to give people a sense of it. The thing is, when I'm in the midst of one, sitting at my laptop is not top on the list of places to be. The other thing is that if I'm trying to describe it, I almost risk going in to one and they happen enough on their own.
  9. My sleep is beyond fucked up and that is an added bonus of anxiety and depression.
  10. I'm working with a therapist and I see a psychiatrist, so, yeah, not looking for nor asking for anyone's advice on shit.  I'm merely just throwing this shit out here in the hopes that it will leave my head alone, at least for a little while.
  11. Please don't tell me that pot is the answer to all my life's problems. Frankly, it isn't and I'm just not that into it. I don't get major satisfaction from it, so, yeah, not the cure for what ails me.
  12. I've discovered I admire a lot of people and a lot of them are a lot younger than me.
Well, that's enough random shit for now. I have to get up early for work.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

We're all just different colors on the ribbon rainbow

So many things going through my mind lately; Robin Williams' suicide; ALS Ice Bucket Challenges; and my cousin, Celina's battle with Crohn's Disease are all part of that. All of these things got me thinking about "raising awareness" about so many things people face every day.

If you think about it, the next time you are out-and-about, pay attention to awareness "ribbons" or other car decor to see what is important to that car owner. My prediction is that you will see a lot of pink; some yellow ribbon shaped magnets; and, on occasion, a multi-colored puzzle "ribbon." You would know right away that people feel passionate about breast cancer, supporting U.S. troops, and autism. Then, if I asked you what a red ribbon would signify, you may be able to recall that it was for HIV/AIDS awareness. Of those colors/patterns, a simple Google search seems to reveal that breast cancer has exclusive rights to pink. Most of the other colors/patterns seem to be sharing a color. 

In my case, I could have a yellow ribbon for endometriosis awareness. After Robin Williams' death, quite a few ribbons could be used for raising awareness because you might want to do it with a general mental health color, suicide-prevention color, depression, or drug dependency, for examples. ALS awareness seems like it may have its very own pattern of navy blue and white pin-stripes. This pattern is an homage to Lou Gehrig's Yankees' uniform. Purple seems to be the main color for Crohn's, but I did find some lists with Crohn's being blue.

I kind of want to say, "Fuck the ribbons!" I've become aware of so many important things that so many people struggle with on a daily basis that keeping up with ribbons would lead to needing more cars or just an entire outfit. With some colors having a list of various things associated with them, they're not going to do as well as something like pink and breast cancer. Those things get lost in the shuffle. They also may be the issues no one wants to talk about. But, they are important things.

Maybe we can stop making sufferers of different diseases and/or social issues feel like they need to hide what they face each day. Let's not feel shame, but start to share with one another. Talk, tweet, post wherever you can to get the word out to others. Let's educate each other. We may not have the same struggle, but we are the same in that we each struggle in some way. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How low can you go?

The subject line has nothing to with doing the Limbo...

I've been having some of my lowest days lately - I cry, I veg, I take care of the dog, I sleep. Next week, I will add my early morning job back into the mix. This is my life.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Essay: What I Did Over The Summer

I went to Arizona with my parents. We went to a place called, "Bullets and Burgers." They let me shoot an Uzi. I did a good job in "single shot" mode. Then Mr. Instructor put the Uzi in "fully-automatic" mode. I learned about a thing called "recoil" because I killed Mr. Instructor. It was scary, but the burgers were good.
Yes, I got a bit dark writing that little story. Sadly, however, there is a little girl who could write a very similar essay about her vacation. 

I don't give a shit what your stance on gun control is or if you have an NRA membership. This is some serious bullshit pulled by the adults in this girl's life. If you can't see that, then I don't know what the fuck else we have to talk about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Picture this

A few months back, I was headed into the building where my psychiatrist has his office. On the walkway to the building, I stopped and took a picture of something that struck me funny on one of the benches. Saved the picture to post later with some funny caption.

Later, I was listening to NPR and this episode of All Things Considered was playing. Listening to the idea that taking pictures so often and so readily may be creating false memories got me thinking.

There was a time when I really wrote more than #hashtags and 140 characters and snarky comments. When I first moved to Colorado in 2005, I would write emails to folks back home about my new life. They would be detailed tales of adventure...well, maybe adventure is a bit dramatic.  Anyway, people would respond with compliments on how they could envision everything I said because of the way I wrote it.

What does this have to do with memories and pictures and a shrink's office and a radio show?

When I was writing those emails, I had to draw from my memory. I didn't have a smart phone and couldn't send emails, texts, or post to Twitter and/or Facebook in the moment. It wasn't until I got to the computer that I could get the experiences out to others. This all made memory so important.

Then, I got MySpace and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and an iPhone and whatever the hell else made me able to just post crap at will. I'd take a picture, write a caption, post it. What more do you need? No taking time to absorb details; to make a mental image; to then translate to words for others to read.

So, back to the picture I snapped outside of my sanity-meds-prescriber's office. I deleted it, but I haven't forgotten it.

A few months back, I was headed into the building where my psychiatrist has his office. On the walkway to the building, I caught a glimpse of something that made me chuckle. A few concrete benches are around the outside of the building. On one of the benches was a small container of Activa yogurt. It was opened and had a metal spoon with it and sitting with the sun shining upon it. I know, YUM! I laughed because in my mind I was coming up with an explanation for why it had been abandoned. As we've all come to learn from Jamie Lee Curtis, Activa aids in digestion, helps make you regular. Well, perhaps a little Activa went a long way for the person who left it on the bench.

As I walked in the building and passed the hallway to the restrooms, I thought of the poor soul who must have been in one of the stalls.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I will love you wearing socks

Six years ago, Shawn and I had our wedding. And, I can honestly say it was ours. We did it the way we wanted and that made it great.

The official state paperwork was done some time in July before we left for Cleveland and what we consider our actual wedding. It's pretty easy to get married in Colorado. Go to the license bureau, get the marriage license, sign it and BOOM! You don't need a witness or a JP. We had a very fancy signing of ours at our dining room table. We even let my then 13-year-old step-daughter sign it as a witness just for the fun of it.

Cleveland was the real deal with family and friends and fun! There were Mad Libs and Dr. Seuss inspired vows. We committed to each other and partied and danced among dinosaurs. The food was great and the cake was amazing in it's lemoniness (this is my blog and I can make-up that word if I want to)! We had a blast and, I think, others did, too.

Best of all, I got to show my family and friends the awesomeness of Shawn and why I love him.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The right thing sometimes sucks

Today was my 2 week post-op check-up. Physically, things are looking pretty good. Emotionally, that's for different doctors.

Since I was pretty drugged when I saw my doctor in the hospital, this was my first time talking to her about the surgery results and whatever. She said, after seeing everything, the surgery really was the right thing to do. The build-up of scar tissue from the endometriosis was really severe. Also, the left ovary absolutely had to come out; it was unbelievably damaged. With all of this, she said that it really was evident that getting pregnant without intervention would be impossible. And, even with intervention, as we learned during our IVF process, chances were quite slim.

The other good thing about having this appointment was that I was having some cramping and lower-back pain on the right side. This is the side that hadn't really been a problem for me and it still has an ovary. I told her that if I didn't know better, I would think I was going to be having my period. She told me that it isn't surprising to her. At this point, she's not concerned about it. She said that the amount of scar tissue and basically the settling of everything can cause it. Also, she said there is also a chance of phantom feelings taking place as happens with amputees. Finally, she said that that ovary is still producing hormones and will still ovulate, so I can expect those symptoms to remain until menopause. Good times ahead. ;-)

This sounds shitty and I am still emotionally fucked-up about it. However, it is good to have the reassurance that this was the right thing for my physical well-being.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

TwitterBookAGram

I've had this topic idling for a while now.

A little background, which maybe isn't needed, but what the heck. I have time and, well, more time.

When I was growing up, my dad's brother and his family lived in the same area of town. Also, my mom's sister and her family lived a couple of streets away. My younger brother and I are the youngest out of these cousins. The age differences were most significant when it came to my aunt's family. She had 10 kids and most of the older ones had started their adult lives before I could remember. They were having kids and I was in this awkward place of being too young to hang out with my cousins and too old to hang with their kids. I even was a babysitter for some of them. One of my cousins even flew me out to help her with her three boys over one summer. Anyway, all I'm getting at here is that even though we lived in close proximity, the age differences made things a little more complicated.

So, what the hell does this have to do with "TwitterBookAGram," I'll try to get there.

I've heard many times about how terrible social media can be in one way or another. Cyber-bullying seems to be one of the biggest negative uses. Other things come up like passing along misinformation on social issues. These things got me thinking about the opposite uses of social media.

Typically, I prefer to call myself a realist, but in most people's worldview, I'm simply a pessimist. Going against my nature, I have really been able to find the positive in social media. The biggest thing is just simply connecting with family and friends from all over the world from various stages of my life.

Not to minimize the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, I am really grateful for the chance to establish new relationships with family members. I've been fortunate to learn more about their lives and feel some level of family connection even if only in an internet world.

I have been able to share in the good, the bad, the ugly, and even, the uglier, and ugliest. All of these life moments are meaningful for me to see through the internet, especially since I have my own little family here, but none of my relatives.

There have been the beautiful moments with the pictures to go with them. I've been happy to share the happy moments. Some days, it could be a life event update on Facebook that's announcing a graduation or a new job. Other times, it may be a picture of an engagement ring or of a newborn baby posted on Instagram. All of it is wonderful.

The bad and ugly also comes about, too. Sometimes, it's a picture and event to celebrate the life of a loved one who died unexpectedly. There are those posts sharing links to a blog about the struggles of a chronic illness. There is some "good" to see about these things. That is the way it opens us up to each other to share love and support.

I'm a much bigger fan of using the web for good than for evil.

Now, I know I can be pretty good about relationships in a virtual way. When it comes to the next time I'm with everyone in the real world, I'm not sure I'll be as easy with conversation. I'll probably still be my awkward, dorky, anxiety ridden self. That doesn't change the way I really do feel about all of them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things still aren't how they were supposed to be

I honestly thought things would be different post-surgery. There was this idea floating around my head that this whole thing would be a fresh start. I'd come to in recovery with a positive outlook that would maybe even be enough to get me off of or at least a lower dose of head meds. I would say, "Okay, let's move on."

Having to have a hysterectomy was not a surprise. Once we knew IVF didn't work and that my egg reserve was pretty rotten (yes, went for the pun) we pretty much knew we were done trying. With that decision, we knew a hysterectomy was inevitable, but not an emergency. It was simply a matter of when I would decide to have it. Well, I started to develop some discomfort and knew that my left ovary was getting its ass kicked by endometriosis. Then, when getting that checked out, it was discovered that polyps were developing in my uterus. It simply made sense to move ahead with surgery.

Since I knew all of this, I really thought the surgery was just a technicality. I even thought that it would be the end of my struggle with infertility. It would seal the deal that I was 100% unable to carry a baby of my own; a piece of Shawn and me; an experience that real women get to have. When I woke up from it, I was supposed to do that hand clap thing that you do when you finish doing some dirty, dusty work.

It hasn't been that way at all and I can't seem to get myself there. Now that I'm not sleeping as much as I did the first couple of days, I've started to really feel the pain of it all. Not a pain that Percocet is intended to treat.

I'm overwhelmed and I'm sad and I'm mad and I'm empty and I'm lost.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thoughts-ectomy

So it's done.

Wednesday was my hysterectomy. It was all sort of surreal. I'm checking in with some lady who is certainly pleasant and gives well wishes for my recovery. She's an admin person who doesn't really get into all of the details of why you are there. I don't know if she even knew I was having a hysterectomy.  

Shawn, my mom, and I head to the waiting room for me to be called into pre-op. I have on my Zombicide t-shirt because I have to somehow hold on to something that is me. I'm also wearing an old pair of Shawn's shorts because they are loose with a drawstring to help make the change from gown to clothes more tolerable.

I'm called back while Shawn and my mom stay behind until all the pre-op crap is taken care of and they're allowed to wait with me again. This nurse is friendly -- like SOLID CAP-bold-underlined-italic FRIENDLY. I lost track of all the pet names she called me; "babe" was first and she finished off with "pumpkin." I played along with attempts at humor as she left me to strip, wipe down my body, and out on my gown. She did her nurse things; prepped my hands for IVs in each; asked all the usual questions. The extra IV was a nice bonus of having a robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy. The robot is so large and cumbersome that if something happened with the first IV it would be too much of a hassle to move everything to start another. 

At some point, Shawn and my mom are allowed back with me.

The anesthesiologist comes and gives his spiel and has me sign whatever other consent forms I haven't done yet. Other people come and introduce themselves. My doctor comes by and checks on me. This procedure should only be a couple hours and then another hour or so in recovery before I can see Shawn and my mom again.

Kisses are given and away I go. This is when pre-op nurse calls me "pumpkin." I don't remember much after that. I remember the hallway and entering the OR. I think I remember my doctor standing by my side.

I'm starting to come to and I'm groggy. A lady in the bay next to me is singing "The Goodship Lollipop." I desperately want to pee. It seems I took longer to come to than is typical. The post-op nurse grabs a bed pan. The sensation is strong, but nothing is happening. It can't be shyness because the urgency I feel is so strong. Well, here comes the Foley catheter. I had it for surgery, but it had been taken out already. So, here comes nurse "Nice-to-meet-you-I'm-here-to-shove-this-tube-in-you." Couldn't even remember her name if my life depended on it. But, my bladder didn't care who she was and we were grateful for the relief.

Eventually, a few hours after the original estimate, I'm taken to a room where Shawn and my mom are waiting. It's decided I'm staying the night and the Foley will, too. I'm only allowed to start with liquids because of my pee situation. Shawn feeds me broth and I had some applesauce. He and my mom leave a little later.

There I am. Alone. I was thankful for the single room (excuse me, suite), but if I had been there for childbirth, Shawn would be able to stay with me. Unlike childbirth, I imagine, hysterectomies are a lonely game.

Later in the night, I stand for the first time. I shuffle my way to the door like Tim Conway's old man character on "The Carol Burnett Show." That's about all I can manage. I try to just take prescription strength ibuprofen, but cave in to the idea of sleep that just a single Percocet  might bring. Later, I do another walk/shuffle; this time I get out into the hall some. It's looking promising that the Foley may part ways with me in a few more hours. 

The Foley is out, but I have to show that I can pee on my own twice with a certain amount allowed to stay in my bladder. The first trip is fine. Walking without the Foley is a relief. I work my way to a second trip and the abdominal scan passes again. I'll get to go home.

The first couple of days are mostly DVR emptying and napping and getting Jarvis to understand I can't be his playmate and walk partner.

***  
This brings us to tonight. I was trying to go to bed and became overwhelmed, for the first time since Wednesday, with sadness and anger.

I look at my disgusting, fat body with the bruises and incision sites and think about the uselessness of it all. Then, as I'm grossed out by the weight that I've allowed to come back on me, I think about that OR. The vulnerability of that room and how grossed out everyone must have been to have to deal with my fat rolls.

I get into bed and try to distract myself with the crossword puzzle app on my phone. I then think about what I am physically feeling. All that is left of my internal lady parts is an ovary; a right ovary that managed to hold itself together during all this time. But, even with that little hanger-on, the emptiness overwhelms me. It's weird, but I feel like I was scraped clean. It's how I imagine a pumpkin would feel as the guts of it are diligently removed to prep it for it's Halloween costume.

Then, there's the part of me that starts to think about the finality of my fertility. I just start to sob. I can't go back. This is 100% permanent. "You couldn't get pregnant anyway. This had to be done" is the mantra I try to use to calm myself down.

Shawn comes to bed. He caresses my arm. Being held closer would be comforting, but not yet. The wounds are still too sore. I think I'm talking physical wounds, but maybe it's more than that. He wants to help; he wants to fix it. I want him to help; I want him to fix it. But, we both know that he can't.

I then start to get angry -- not at him. So many people, well-meaning people who want to help. People trying to make you feel better. People sharing their stories of their hysterectomies. Telling me how much better I will feel after the recovery. I want to scream, "SHUT THE FUCK UP, MOTHER FUCKER!!! Don't you dare try to drive your story into mine! Your hysterectomy isn't the same. Those pictures of your kids, those babies you are raising just show that it's not the same. Take your mini-van life and stop telling me about the awesomeness I will feel once I'm recovered! The uterus you had taken in your surgery had been used, had served its purpose. Mine was just a nightmare!"

I know that is all very harsh and very angry, but I can't change it...at least not right now. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just to be clear, this may be TMI

I'm wrapping up my last period. The pun, initially, was not intended, but I guess it works. It's weird how getting a pad or a tampon out of the packaging goes from being an annoyance every month to an action you wish you weren't doing for the last time.

My hysterectomy is coming up in a couple weeks. I have this kind of guilt or perhaps regret that I ever spent so much time bitching about my period. How many times did I say things like, "I can't wait for menopause!" or, "I'm so ready to be done with having periods every month." When you aren't thinking about having kids, it's easy to not think about the importance and significance of that monthly cycle. It's easy to just get annoyed by it and wish it gone.

Now, I would take back all of that complaining if it would mean that everything would work correctly. If the cramps, the back pain, and the heaviness of the flow meant that my ovaries were doing everything they should and that my eggs were amazingly fertile and strong, I would take on periods for another 30 or so years.

I hated the "Have a happy period" ad campaign of one of the feminine product companies (and, I still think it's a ridiculous idea). However, looking back, I would have been happier about having a healthy period.

Friday, May 30, 2014

#Activism

I've heard a few criticisms of what some have labeled, "hashtag activism." It's centered around the belief that it is a passive, lazy way to do something about an issue. So, I started to think about it and come to my own conclusion about it.

For me, I find some Facebook status posts to "Raise Awareness About Breast Cancer" to be less awareness-raising than some hashtags I've followed on Twitter. When someone posts a color or a location on Facebook with no other explanation, I cringe. When the person is asked what it's about it turns out that it is the color of the bra being worn or where the purse is sitting, respectively. So, when the "WTF?s" start rolling in, the answer is something like, "It's a game for Breast Cancer Awareness and you post the color of your bra or the place you put your purse."

Um, and what is this really doing for cancer awareness? And, do people really need to be made "aware of breast cancer"? I mean, I'm pretty sure at this point in the game, people are in the know about it. Wouldn't posting reminders to friends to do monthly exams; to schedule mammograms; and to see the gynecologist for regular checks do more for awareness? Or, how about posting links to places to donate money to research? Maybe encourage friends to donate their hair from their next haircut to organizations who make wigs for patients? I even know people who participate in different fundraising activities like races and walks for which they collect sponsors, so there's another option.    

From what I've seen of hashtag use, it gets people thinking, talking, and/or researching the topic from the get-go. The hashtag isn't tweeted on it's own, with no other content like the bra color or the purse location. People usually make a statement on the topic. Sometimes a link accompanies it. But, if all goes right, the hashtag trends and brings the topic to more people, like #YesAllWomen did in light of the Santa Barbara shootings last weekend.

Hey, if someone like Rush Limbaugh criticizes it, I tend to think it must be something done right.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spinning my wheels

My husband and I just returned home after a visit to see my family in C-Town. This trip opened my eyes about some things and the return drive gave me more than enough time to think. A lot of time on the road turns into a lot of time in my head...A LOT OF TIME.

Here is a list:

  • It is hard for me to accept that my need to visit isn't always as important to those I would like to see. My youngest nieces still get excited about my visits. It's so awesome to pull in the driveway and have three little girls waiting up to see you. Some of the other kids are older and have really active lives so excitement about me coming has waned with time. I went out to eat with some of the family and one of the older kids didn't even say two words to me or Shawn. This was heartbreaking for me. 
  • The ache and longing for a child doesn't get easier. 
  • It was great to be able to see a different side of talent in one of my older nieces. We were able to see her perform with her a cappella group. My usually experience of her non-academic life is to see her play hockey and soccer.
  • I need to suck-it-up and schedule my hysterectomy. The discomfort from the endometrioma is becoming more frequent.
  • The full break-up with retail work needs to happen. 
  • I'm getting closer to 40 years old everyday and something's got to give. 
  • I love my family and friends and good food and laughter.
So, that's that and now back to my regularly scheduled schedule.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Attempting to explain the unexplainable

I haven't posted in awhile, but have thought about it many times. Many things have weighed on my mind, but I had no real words to put to all of them. However, life and all it's happenings have brought me to this point.

The month of May started off in a low place. Friday morning I got a call from my mom telling me that my cousin's ex-husband had committed suicide. It was quite surreal and stunned me. I immediately thought of his three sons and wishing it wasn't a part of life they now had to face.

In no way will I pretend to know what they are going through. Also, I wish not to speculate as to their father's reasons. I have brought up my thoughts on no one knowing the absolute truth of someone else's journey.

People have said that suicide is a selfish act and it leaves people behind with questions which cannot be answered. I can understand people having that perspective. Actually, I probably thought it at some point; and, if I was more closely connected to someone who committed suicide, I might have those thoughts again.

My own view of this comes from an understanding of the darkness. The darkness is not rational; it doesn't allow for clear answers to questions loved ones ask. When the darkness sets in, it creeps into the mind and then clouds its ability to see life clearly. It can make you feel like a burden to those around you; feel like your darkness is causing them pain, too.

Obviously, I'm alive to write this post. I have, so far, managed to keep my depression in check enough to not actually attempt anything. Others deserve the credit for that more then me; my mom saving me 11 years ago by making me get out of bed and taking me to see a psychiatrist; my medications; my psychiatrist; my therapist; and Shawn. However, even with all of those people and things, depression is very much a struggle I have to face.  I have feelings of failure and weakness because I haven't been able to conquer the monster of depression; haven't been able to come off meds; haven't figured out how to stave off anxiety attacks; haven't learned how to shut-off my mind. I have wished to no longer exist, I cannot deny that. For me, though, that has really been as far as it has gone.

I just feel like I can't judge those who commit suicide because I understand the darkness and despair that can overtake someone. I have learned not to expect rational answers to questions about what someone has done when he/she couldn't be further from a rational state-of-mind.



Friday, April 4, 2014

I'm not sure what to even call this

I haven't posted in a while. In my head, I have written quite a bit...or thought about writing quite a bit. I've been in a dark place and writing would probably have been a good outlet for working through it. But, a good outlet for me may not be a good read for some.

In the last few weeks, my anxiety has manifested more than usual. Sometimes I can tell if there is a potential for an anxiety attack to arise. Other times, it's like BAM! out of nowhere. One of the recent ones happened without a trigger that I can pinpoint. During my freak-out, Jarvis was on the couch next to me. As I'm sobbing and on the verge of hyperventilating, he lifts his head, looks at me, and starts to whimper. Seeing him respond this way made me feel bad on top of everything else. Ativan was a must to bring me back to some semblance of calm.

The day after that, I almost lost it out in public. How I managed to avoid being curled-up-in-a-ball-weeping-in-a-corner is still a mystery to me. I was at the post-office to send off some paperwork. I was addressing the envelope and when I went to put my address on it, I started writing but knew it wasn't right. I forgot my address! 39 years old and couldn't remember where I lived. This scared me; I couldn't figure out what was happening to me. What was I going to do? Where was I going to find my address? Would I have to call Shawn? That wouldn't be embarrassing at all; "Hi, how's your day going? So, can you tell me what our address is?" At no point did I think to look at the paperwork I was sending off which had my address on it. I did think about my wallet, but not my driver's license. My thought about my wallet was my credit cards, but, they don't have addresses on them. FINALLY, after running all these things through my mind, I remembered that my address was on my driver's license and my license was in my wallet. I'm sure this was all a matter of seconds, but it felt like forever!!! I could feel my heart racing and the beginnings of a lump in my throat, but I kept it together enough to not make a scene. Oh, by the way, I had the numbers of my address right, just not in the right order. It was all jumbled.

I didn't have a purse at the post office and didn't have any Ativan on me. I now have Ativan in a pillbox on my person if I'm not home. My therapist and psychiatrist both made a point of telling me to make sure I have some with me because an attack can happen anywhere.

In addition to realizing I should keep Ativan with me, I also know that not taking care of my thyroid can also contribute to my recent long-stretch of darkness. Long story short, I was out of thyroid meds and should have done something to take care of the situation, but I didn't take action soon enough. I ended up without my Synthroid for a month or so. So, even with a low dose of Synthroid and a borderline hypothyroidism, it was not okay to just stop the meds. I didn't think the result would be so dramatic and now I know.

And so that's how things have been.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"What's the matter with the clothes I'm wearing?"

Not that long ago, I heard a woman talking about her little girl. She was saying that her daughter had gotten a new hat. The hat had a flower on it and the little girl put it on with the flower on the left. It seems the woman told the little girl the flower was supposed to be on the right (I guess there was a tag and a seam that indicated this). The little girl said that she knew, but she liked it better her way.

I've been thinking about this scenario. Did it really matter if the flower was on the left or right? In the world we live in, this little girl will be trying to fit someone else's idea of fashion and style soon enough. So, why not just let her have this hat?

There's a Target next door to my work and I go with a co-worker for coffee at the Starbucks that is in it. Often, mothers come in with small children. Sometimes it brings a smile to my face when I see the kids who obviously were allowed to dress themselves. I want to give a shout-out to those moms because they are letting their kids be free. Now, I'm not saying they should have an anything-goes tolerance of the outfits chosen. If the temperature dictates a need for a coat or absolutely no need for a coat, they should step in or if the important parts aren't covered. You know, still fulfilling the role of responsible parent. But, if the flower is on the wrong side; the stripes clash with the polka dots; the bath towel needs to be pinned on as a cape; let it happen.

Maybe, just maybe, these kids will grow-up stronger and more self-assured. Perhaps they will continue to be free.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Will it ever stop hurting?

This weekend marks a year since discovering our IVF treatment didn't work.  I probably wouldn't be able to forget it, but given that it happened a few days before my birthday, I can't forget.  Just like, if it would have worked, the baby would have come around Christmas.  So, the gifts I wanted for 2013 didn't come, and won't come in 2014, or 2015, or...

I never have a day during which I don't think of my infertility at least once.  This dreaded anniversary has just made it more front and center.

This morning, I took Jarvis on a walk.  Shawn and I have come to refer to each other as mommy and daddy when we talk to him.  I said something like, "Jarvis, you need to listen to mommy when I tell you to drop it."  At that moment, I realized, I will never hear the voice of a small child call me "Mommy."

I have had so many thoughts about my infertility; so many moments of heartbreak.  Today's was just a new version.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Lovely Spaaam! Wonderful Spaaam!" *

I've been lax on blog posting, which makes me feel guilty, which gives me anxiety, which depresses me...Anyway, it's a whole messy cycle, so on to other things.

I got this in an email and it amused me, so here it is for all of you to enjoy:

!!! How To Get Your husband Back & Avoid Divorce !!!


Hello to every one out here,I am Latisha Allen,From united states of America.I will start by saying to all that have experience heart break and also cant do with out there lover should please stop here and read up my story, So as you will know how to go solving or getting your ex back from this spell caster..AND AGAIN I WILL WANT TO ALSO TELL ALL THAT THIS SPELL CASTER I WILL WANT TO TELL THE WHOLE WORLD ABOUT IS HARMLESS AND DO NOT HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECT, BUT TO RESTORE AND GIVE YOU BACK WHAT YOU DESERVE, COS WHEN I MEET WITH THIS SPELL CASTER THAT WAS INTRODUCED TO ME BY THE WIFE OF MY BOSS IN MY WORKING PLACE, HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE CAN CAST SPELL ON SO MANY OTHER PROBLEMS EXCEPT IN GETTING YOUR EX OR MAKING YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU MORE THAT WILL SUITE YOU. Last year December, My lover was cheating on me and was not also give me the attention that a man should give to a woman,And really that was troubling my mind and tearing my heart apart to the extent that i was not concentrating in the office the way i use to before the break up by my lover.And before that incident,I always see how my boss use to love his wife so much. I was binging to think that i was not doing the right thing to him that will make him love me forever,So i really gathered my courage and went to my boss wife office to ask her the secret that made her husband love her so dearly,In the first place she refused in telling me,She asked me why i am asking her such a question,That if is it not normal for every man to love his wife.I told her the reason that made me ask her about this question,That my lover started cheating on me lately,When i knelt down before her for her to see my seriousness in this issue that i went to ask her,She opened up to me by telling me that i should not tell anybody about what she want to tell me,The wife to my boss started to say to me that she used a very powerful spell on his husband to love her,And the spell that she used is harmless, But the spell is just to make him love her and never to look for any other woman except her. I QUICKLY ASK HER HOW DID SHE GET TO KNOW THIS GREAT,POWER,DURABLE AND PERFECT WORK SPELL CASTER,she said that a friend of hers also introduce her to him. Then i also ask her how i can meet with this spell caster.SHE SAID EVERYTHING TO ME,THAT THE NAME OF THIS SPELL CASTER IS Dr BRAVE.My next question to her was how can i get this wonderful spell caster,She said she is going to give me the email of the spell caster for me to contact him for my problem,Really she gave to me this spell caster email and i contacted him and explained all to him,And after every thing that needed to be done by the spell caster, In the next two days, My lover that hated me so much came to house begging for forgiveness and i was so glad that i have finally gotten my heart desire..I was so grateful to this spell caster for what he has done for my life.. So i made a promise to him that i will always continue telling the world about his wonderful work towards me and also to other that came to you before and also the people that will also get to you from my story that i narrated online now..I will want to say to the entire world that you should not cry over noting again, That there is a great man that has been helping individuals to restore there Joy and smile in there faces !! The direct email to get this man is bravespellcaster@gmail.com CONTACT HIM NOW THE BETTER FOR YOU TO GET QUICK SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS...


*Thank you, Monty Python, for the perfect lyrics to use as a title for this blog post.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lasting and laughing after 46 years!

February 24th, 1968
Forty-six years ago, my parents got married. 46 YEARS!!! I'm having a hard enough time believing I'll be 39 in a month, so 46 years of anything boggles my mind.

In an age when marriages don't last at a shocking rate, my parents have defied the odds. They made it to this anniversary that, unfortunately, many marriages never get to see. The 46 years of their marriage weren't easy. How could they be? I mean, that many years with no bumps in the road? Impossible.

Making it to their wedding day was a challenge of its own. The struggles and drama that led up to their wedding truly tested the mettle of their relationship. As heartbreaking as some of it may have been, it had to have given them the relationship skills to get to their 46th year of marriage.

Originally, they were set to get married the previous August. I believe there was even an announcement of it in the newspaper. But, it was not to be. My mother broke-up with my father; the wedding was off. It was a case of anxiety at its best (which, turns life to its worst). They went their separate ways; Mom to stay with her oldest brother's family in California; and, Dad, in his devastation, did his own travelling. These separate journeys needed to happen; lessons needed to be learned; hearts and minds needed to break and mend themselves the best they could.

They each returned to C-Town and eventually, to each other. However, it wasn't as easy as getting back together. My grandparents, my mom's parents weren't thrilled with my mom's decision. My parents weren't even certain that my grandparents would attend the wedding. My mom's oldest brother was willing to pinch-hit if needed. Another of my mom's relatives, my mom found out later in life, made a comment to others that her marriage to my dad wouldn't last.

After forty-six years, five kids, and all the joys and struggles that are part of the package, my parents are still together and get to have the last laugh.

I love you, Mom and Dad. I don't know how you did it, but I'm certainly glad you did.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Everyone's puzzle is different

This Google Doodle is beautiful to me. What a way to show support for the LGBTQ community when the Olympic Games are taking place in a country ruled by a horrifyingly, anti-LGBTQ leader. I would love to see the smug look wiped off Putin's face. AURGH!!! It is so frustrating to live in a time when there is still such hatred and discrimination.

I had such mixed feelings about these Olympic Games. On one hand, I do wish the U.S. would have chosen to boycott, to take a stand against such bigotry. But, I realize that isn't really an answer and I'm thinking any of the LGBTQ athletes would not like it. I'm guessing they would want to live the Olympic dream and give a giant STFU to Russia while doing so.

I guess I just don't understand such broad-brush hatred. I'd rather judge the assholery of an individual's character, or lack thereof than just have hatred because they fit in a specific category. I'm not claiming to be perfect at accepting everyone, but I try to be conscious of my shortcomings.

When thinking about the LGBTQ community, it helps me to put faces on those letters; to personalize it. I think about a lesbian friend who is raising a couple of really great kids. I don't dispute that, if she were straight, she could also be raising great kids. BUT, if she were straight, she wouldn't have THESE kids. One came into her life as a "step" child because he was her partner's son. She would not have been able to mold him into a fine young man and he would not have been able to mold her into a loving, patient mother if it weren't for her being in love with his mom.

Her wonderful, sensitive, beautiful, artistic daughter would not be growing to make her mark on the world in the way she is if her mother brought her about in a straight relationship because the daughter from the straight relationship would not be this specific girl. Yes, Kristen could have had an amazing daughter with a man she loved in a straight relationship, but that daughter would be different person, would have a different make-up, different talents, different ways of seeing the world. She wouldn't be J.

I'm not saying that Kristen being gay is better than a straight Kristen. I'm just saying that these particular kids and this particular mother wouldn't be who they are today because the pieces of the puzzle of their family would be taking a different shape, creating a different picture. How could anyone not want their family to be?

After all, aren't we all just trying to put our life's puzzle together a piece at a time?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

There must be someway out of here

Had my monthly med check-in with my psychiatrist yesterday. It's always a good time. We were talking about some med changes. Some drugs have multiple uses, so he may say something about a drug being an anti-psychotic or mood stabilizer. It's great to hear "psychotic" when you talk to your shrink. So, out of curiosity (and paranoia) I asked him what, exactly, are the labels he has assigned me. He responded with a nice list of panic attacks with agoraphobia; chronic depression; and, OCD. Impressive, I know, and a relief that the whole psychotic thing wasn't going on there.

When I heard "agoraphobia," I was thinking, "Um, what? I leave my house." It turns out that people keep using that word and it doesn't mean what they think it means. It is actually defined by the National Library of Medicine as, "Panic disorder with agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which a person has attacks of intense fear and anxiety. There is also a fear of being in places where it is hard to escape, or where help might not be available." Now that makes more sense to me.

Looking at my life from the point-of-view of this definition explains many things. As a little kid, I hated having to go in elevators and was more than okay with climbing the seven flights of stairs to my Grandma's apartment. I'm still not a huge fan of elevators, but I can suffer through it, especially if Shawn or other friends or family are with me.

Crowds are another issue for me. The idea of not being able to get through to an open area easily stresses me out. Also, getting separated from those I am with adds another component to the crowd anxiety. I get anxious just thinking about a concert I went and grabbing on to my step-daughter's shirt to make our way through. It was as much for my security as for hers.

The one thing that REALLY struck me when reading this definition is when it comes to seating at certain places, like movie theaters, reception halls, and restaurants. As for the restaurant part, it is mostly places without a windows or the windows are not really open for seeing outside. So, as a little kid, when I would feel like I was going to throw-up, it was probably an anxiety attack about this.

I can remember a time when I was older, not a little kid, when I thought I would have a panic attack. I was with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and one of my cousins. It was a bar & grille type of place. I'm pretty sure an Entertainment Book coupon was involved because it wasn't a place we had ever been. Also, my uncle must have been there because I distinctly remember 1,000 Island Dressing being ordered and the place didn't have it. Anyway, I distinctly remember getting to the table and the internal struggle over the seating options left to me. For a variety of reasons, I didn't request a change, one of which was embarrassment at admitting my panic, knowing there was a level of irrationality to needing an exit strategy for a meal at a restaurant.

These are my issues (well, some of them), these are a part of me. I need to be mindful of access to my meds to get through these moments. I still survey places for exit strategies. I'm not comfortable with the inside seat of a booth, or the chair next to the wall at a table. I can handle those seats if I have to. It is easier if Shawn is the one next to me. Along with my meds, he is my comfort, my sense of safety, and my calm.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Perfect harmony?

I've been experiencing a bit of blogger's block lately when, POOF, a soap box appears in front of me. Not being one to pass up a good soap box, I thought I would hop right on it in this post.

So, not being into football, I didn't watch the game, not even for the commercials. This probably makes me un-American to some before even reading the rest of my post. However, thanks to the internets, I'm able to read people's reactions to the game and its commercials (I didn't have to miss out on the commercials because the world-wide-webs lets me do that. Yeah, I got to see the adorable Budweiser commercial---too cute). Also, thanks to friends on Facebook, I was made aware of some controversy involving Coca-Cola.

Now, given some of Coke's history, it didn't shock me that something controversial would arise. What I didn't expect was that people were upset about the commercial that Coke put out for the Super Bowl! Take a look at the ad:



I know! HORRIBLY OFFENSIVE, isn't it? I mean, so unpatriotic and shameful. How could Coke allow our national anthem be sung in any language other than English!?!?

(Yes, some of those outraged citizens believe that "America the Beautiful" is the national anthem.)

Is the song about America? Yes. Do people consider it a patriotic song? Yes. Can non-English speakers appreciate the beauty it captures and share that in their own languages? Ye----oh, wait, I guess not.

The lyrics are from a poem written by Katherine Lee Bates 1893. She wrote the poem as she traveled up Pikes Peak and looked out from the mountain side to see the beautiful vista before her. I have been fortunate enough to experience this view many times. It is breathtaking and never gets old. In fact, in some ways, taking friends and family on the journey up the mountain for their first time lets me experience it anew through them. Anyone making the trip, English speakers and non-English speakers alike, can look out and appreciate the beauty and splendor Katherine Lee Bates captured in words all those many years ago.

So why is it so upsetting for a company, with a logo which is easily recognizable throughout the world, to have this song sung in various languages? I don't know. Isn't it in keeping with the spirit of this other Coca-Cola commercial:



Maybe the people getting their panties in a bunch are just a bunch of Pepsi drinkers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yeah, we had a burning river, let's move on

Cleveland's Terminal Tower
Cleveland has gotten a bad rap through the years. Not all of it undeserved. Have you seen the pro sports teams? Even with the shitty teams, Clevelanders stay loyal to them. But, really, Cleveland is pretty awesome.

When a Clevelander moves away, they may not realize how many things about Cleveland they had taken for granted. Obviously, I can't speak for all relocated Clevelanders, but here are some things about Cleveland I have come to appreciate now that I know how different things can be in other areas of the country. 

I live in the area of the foothills to the Rocky Mountains now. They are beautiful. Sunsets are amazing. Sometimes, though, I miss Lake Erie. Yes, even in all its gross, smelliness. It, too, is a spot for amazing sunsets.

The BIGGEST thing I realized when I moved was that C-Town is a cultural mecca of sorts. [DON'T YOU DARE LAUGH!]

If you are from Cleveland, you know the country of Slovenia (Republika Slovenija) exists. I have heard and read somewhere or other that Cleveland has the largest population of Slovenians outside of Slovenia. I'm not one, but some of my best friends are. The cultural impact this has made on the CLE is musical and epicurean. Musically we are known for Polka King, Frank Yankovic. When it comes to the food, I would say sausage is what people think of most. One popular spot for it is Raddell's Sausage Shop. Another food spot would have to be Sterle's. It brings polka and food together! I'm guessing the lady from the "Too Fat Polka" is the one "Who Stole the Kishka..."

This doesn't even show the outdoor produce stalls.
Food, food, food! There are so many options in the Cleveland area for people to experience cultures from all over the world. We're not talking Outback, Olive Garden, or P.F. Chang's. Restaurants, markets, and festivals provide opportunity after opportunity to "see" the world. It's like Epcot, but REAL. In order to make this entry shorter than it really could be, I'm going to have to name just one place where you can get the most-culturally-diverse-bang-for-your-buck, especially if your visit to the 216 (or the 330, or the 440) is a short one. The West Side Market. That's it. It's like mini-Cleveland. A place to bounce from culture to culture. Get a bratwurst sandwich, some cannoli, fresh pasta, spices, a gyro as big as your head, a lamb head, rabbit, cheeses and more as you go. I've even seen a butcher butchering right then and there.

I'll wrap things up with another area jamb-packed with amazing cultural experiences. Every visitor to the area should hit up University Circle. So much to do and see in this relatively small area of the city. Interests of all sorts can be met---history, science, nature, music, art, film, education, food, drink... My husband and I came to Cleveland to get married. We had our ceremony and reception at the Museum of Natural History. Another great spot in the area is the Cleveland Museum of Art.
No ticket required to see this guy and his friends.
It is one of the only FREE, yes, FREE art museums. The only time there is an entrance fee is for some of the special/traveling exhibits. Seriously, FREE access to art!

So much more can be written. If you haven't been to Cleveland, check it out. If you live there and haven't checked some of this out, DO IT! If you moved away, be grateful for the place from which you came.











Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In the TV viewing audience...

If there is a marathon of Law & Order, I am so easily sucked in, it is ridiculous!!! The only way I can walk away or turn the channel is if I do it right when I hear, "In the criminal justice system..." I'm partial to original recipe and also like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  In my humble opinion, Law & Order: Criminal Intent is crap and an embarrassment to the other two series.

Since I have such mad love, well, addiction for the series, I started to think of my favorite characters "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders." In the 20 years Law & Order was in production, many have filled these roles. I've come up with my list of who I think was the best in the main character roles. This is my list:

  • District Attorney -- Adam Schiff (Steven Hill)
  • Executive Assistant District Attorney -- Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston)
  • Assistant District Attorney -- Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy) [tough choice]
  • Detective -- Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) [not even a question that he had the best lines]
  • Detective -- Mike Logan (Chris Noth) [another tough choice, but his partnership with Briscoe was pretty great]
  • Lieutenant -- Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) [She was practically the only head of police, and Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) went to SVU, so he wasn't really lost]
And, that's the end of my case.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pipe dreams

Where does the term "pipe dream" come from? I think it's been around longer than the popularity of crack pipes. I just mean, I don't think it is talking about the dreams you might have in a drug induced state.

Anyway, already off topic and this post has only just begun.

I've been thinking about all different kinds of professions or things I dream would be professions.

I could:

  • Be a doctor. I would have to conquer my hyper-sensitive gag reflex when it comes to blood, guts, and odors, which is simple, right? Oh, and not pass-out.
  • Be a teacher. Now, I was on this path before and I'm not sure I could revisit it. See, to me, it resembles the stuff I hated about being a manager---discipline and performance reviews.
  • Write a book...that people would actually read. This means I'd have to fill more than a couple of pages. I think the longest thing I ever wrote was under 30 pages. It also included A LOT from source materials; was double spaced on 8 1/2" X 11" paper with 1 inch margins all around; and, was boring as hell (ok, hell probably isn't all that boring if it's filled with all the people who have been told to go there, but you get what I mean).
  • Open a business naming business. I've come up with some names that I think would be pretty clever names for businesses. However, are there enough businesses being created to make creating a business naming business worthwhile? 
  • Travel with my BFF Linda. We would go to quirky places, festivals, events that were specific to the area. I would write and she would take photos and it would be amazing. It would be our very own take on the British series, Two Fat Ladies. It would not be a cooking show, just an amazingly, snarky, and fun adventure with us in whatever our trademark vehicle turns out to be. This is probably the one I most wish would happen. This is the pipe dream; the one I would love to do if money were no object.

Well, in the meantime, I'll just blog along and try to get some work that IS NOT retail and/or management.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Check yourself before...

I originally wrote this back in March of 2013 and posted it on Facebook. I thought I'd post it here in case anyone out in internetland comes to this blog and isn't part of my Facebook friends:

March 26, 2013

Before I get to what I really want to say, really need to say, this is not a plea for sympathy, pity, reassurances, etc. As well intentioned as these things may be, it doesn't change the feelings I have to work through.

For three years, Shawn and I have been trying to have a baby. A very sensative and painful journey that ended today. This process led to the discovery of my pretty intense endometriosis. A diagnosis that shocked my ob/gyn as well as me. I didn't have symptoms that would make either of us think of this. Until my very painful cyst that acted up last summer. It was not a cyst, but a rather large sac of blood, an endometrinoma.

Along with this, my left ovary was pretty screwed up from the endometriosis. My ob/gyn said that it wasn't impossible, but highly unlikely that I could get pregnant without intervention. So, she recommended IVF and that's what we did. We made an appointment with a specialist and were on our way. Injections and transvaginal ultrasounds and trial transfers. Blood draws, patches, gels. Bills and bills.

Our last shot at me getting pregnant was March 15th. I didn't develop enough eggs to give us the greatest odds. Of the ones they did retrieve only 4 were showing any signs of strength. They were fertilized and watched. By the day of the transfer, only 3 were good enough quality for transfer. That left none to freeze for future attempt. This really was our last shot.

March 20th, I start to have some spotting. Shawn calls the doctor. Since it wasn't heavy bleeding, it wasn't out-of-the-ordinary. Okay, sigh of relief. Then, March 22nd, I wake up to blood. No pain, no cramps, but blood. Call the office and leave a message. Get a call back from the nurse who had been working with us throughout. Having gotten to know her, I could tell by her voice that things weren't good. But, we had to wait. Unless the blood was so heavy that I was going through multiple pads in an hour, there wasn't anything they could do or tell me at that point. I had to wait for the 26th, when it was time to do the pregnancy test. There would be nothing to detect until at least that day.

This was all going on over my birthday weekend. I wouldn't let Shawn and Conner acknowledge my birthday. There was nothing happy about it. The blood continued, I knew it was my period.

So, this morning, the blood draw for the pregnancy test was done. Then, more waiting. Finally the phone call I knew would come. It didn't work, I wasn't pregnant.

Each month, for the next few years, I will get a monthly bill for all of this. Another monthly reminder that I cannot get pregnant.

Well intentioned people will say things about adoption or other options. I would recommend against these comments if you encounter others in this situation. I know those things are said because people don't know what to say and/or don't understand that it isn't just about having someone to raise, someone to parent.

Some may see it as selfish, but for me, it was about other things. It was about loving Shawn so much that I wanted to create someone with him. I wanted us to do this amazing thing. But, I also physically wanted to carry a baby, grow a baby, do what a woman should be able to do. I wanted to know that the big thing that makes me a woman worked correctly. An "I am woman" kind of awesomeness. Some may find it ridiculous that infertility can make someone feel less of a woman...but, it can. I will not feel the life develop inside me, the kicking, the hiccups, the change in my body that marked the growth.

Here is what I want you to take away from this. You NEVER know what is going on inside another's life. The next time you want to ask a couple when they will have kids, jokingly or not, please don't. You don't know the pain that could trigger in them; you don't know their reasons. Whether they do not have children by choice or by some medical explanation, it is very personal and it's best to not say anything. I just want to save you and them the awkwardness of that moment. The moment of feeling on the spot. That moment of people trying to hold back tears because of what seems like a normal and innocent question. Just as you should avoid asking a woman if she is pregnant, you should skip asking when she's going to be, too.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Without a tether

Yesterday I had an appointment with my therapist, no different than any other Monday. Often, I ramble on like a trip down the stream of consciousness. I don't always know how we get from topic to topic and she can usually connect the dots for me, which is a pretty amazing skill.

At one point, in yesterday's appointment, I told her that I never saw myself getting to the age I am now. Not in a I'll-be-dead-before-I'm-forty kind of way. Really, it's just that I never saw that far ahead; never had a plan or vision of my life. As my 39th birthday approaches, I find myself less and less able to fathom I'm that old. It is beyond my mind's capacity to comprehend how I could possibly have friends that I've known for over 20 years. Seriously, how did that happen? My oldest brother just turned 45 and it totally blows my mind.

She was a bit surprised by what I was saying. She asked me questions about it. Couldn't really believe I never had visions of my adulthood when I was younger. As we continued on we talked about how my vision was always short term because it was about deadlines and milestones. Like I list to check off and move on to the next step. This worked for me for a long time. After college, when I still tried to not be an atheist and went into the convent, there were steps I was working toward. It would start with entrance as a candidate (aka postulant) for 1 to 2 years; moving on to the novitiate for another 2 years; then temporary profession for 3-6 years; and, lastly, final profession of vows for life.

Well, I didn't make it through candidacy before realizing these were not the deadlines I should be working toward. This really threw me off kilter. However, my job in publishing provided me with deadlines to keep me on my short-term way of looking at my life. Then I met Shawn and that brought another set of goals on which to focus. Things like next visits, moving, marriage, children, etc.

Now that the ability to have a child has proven not to be, I'm left without a focus. See, a baby would bring me a new set of deadlines and milestones to reach. My life had been tied to these very specific steps and goals. They were my tether, keeping me going, keeping me focused in very specific ways without a real need to look far ahead.

So, now we understand more about why I'm so overwhelmed, so full of anxiety, and feeling like I'm living without a tether.

And then, the hour was up.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I just can't see it

A few years back, Shawn and I went to see a performance of August: Osage County. We both loved it. I haven't seen many plays; most live theater I've gone to has been musical. This play moved me to laughter and to tears.

The set didn't change; in a way, making it a character all its own. It was a member of the dysfunctional family. The tension, humor, pain of it all held within it.

So when I first heard the play was being made into a movie, I couldn't imagine how it could be done any justice. I just didn't see it working the same way. It didn't matter to me who was to be cast in the movie. The idea of the movie version having the same poignancy as the play just seemed impossible.

I have seen the trailer for the movie and the cast is pretty star-studded. But, the previews come across as a potential feel-good-Hollywood-ending story. Even the amazingly talented Meryl Streep can't convince me to see the film; she can't draw me in to believe the play will be done any justice.

As much as I love to go to movies, this is one I will have to skip. Maybe I'm wrong to judge it so harshly, but I'd rather keep my experience of the play untouched.