Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I'm Wearing My Grumpy Pants

I am seriously grumpy today. I called in to work because I just couldn't face it. I'm counting on the assumption that if my absences become termination-worthy, someone will warn me and then I will have to start hauling my ass in even when I'm emotionally in the shitter.

I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think it's partly Christmas fallout. I woke up yesterday morning in good spirits, actually, and we had a fine present-opening with Bubba. with only a little bit of disappointment about the fact that my husband hadn't gotten me anything at all. I kind of expected it because he never has any money, but I figured maybe he could have found a little token something just so I'd have a present to open. It was a little bit sad when I gave J. the books I'd bought him, and the calendar with Bubba's picture and handprints that we'd made for him, and then Bubba said "Where's your present, Mommy?" and I had to say "I don't think I have one, honey." Sigh. J. said, "Mommy's going to get her present later. That's how it works sometimes." Yeah right. I don't even want the THING, whatever it is, I really just wanted to have something to open. Next year I'll buy myself a present to have under the tree, I guess.

Anyway, the plan was to do our little family Christmas and then head back to my parents' house (about an hour's drive) for the big family Christmas. There weren't any deadlines we had to meet, or so I thought--I just figured as long as we were back before noon things would be good. We all got cleaned up and loaded the car and dragged Bubba away from his V-Smile and were just about to get in the car at 10 a.m. when my sister called.

"Where are you?" was the first thing out of her mouth.
"Well, we're still at home," I said.
"Are you frickin' kidding me?" she says, and I didn't detect any kind of joking tone.
"Well, we had to do our Christmas here first," I said.
"Yeah, but Bubba gets up at 6 a.m. so you should have had plenty of time by now!" she says.
"Bubba didn't get up until 8:30," I reply. "We're just about ready to get in the car."
"Okay...well, Mom says the turkey will be done by noon. But don't speed to get here."

I got off the phone, and I felt like my Christmas mood had just been deflated like a popped balloon. I took my anxiety meds and we got in the car. About 15 minutes into the drive we realized we'd forgotten blankie and puppy, two critical items for both the drive there and back and for any hope of a nap for Bubba, so we had to go back, thus making us even later. We still got home by 11:15 because yes, we did speed--although J. does that regardless.

By the time we'd gotten there I was pretty mellowed out from my pill, and things went fairly well for most of the day, other than Bubba not taking a nap and his incessant neediness, which I feel bad complaining about but jesus, it's tiring. I was also a little disgruntled about how our family Christmas has devolved over the past several years to opening presents, eating, and then my husband and both my nieces playing video games all afternoon. I sat there yesterday wishing we could do something where we could actually connect as a family rather than just be stuck watching them play a game. Oh well!

At about 5 p.m. Bubba falls asleep so I have to wake him up so there will be a chance of him sleeping at night. I was cuddling with him on the couch and we were talking about "the sunshine song" that he likes me to sing to him. It's the "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine" song. I started singing it to him when he was a baby, only I could never make the "please don't take my sunshine away" part come out of my mouth because it always reminded me of Hope and how she had been taken away from me, so I changed the words to "and I know you'll never go away."

I said in passing to my mom and sister that I had changed the words and I sang my version to them. My sister, in one of her typically intense outbursts, says "Oh my God! When I said I would love for my children to live with me forever you were the one who told me I had to let them go and now this is what you're singing to your son!" Like I was some kind of hypocrite or something. I actually sat in silence for a moment wondering if I really wanted to drop the dead baby bomb and then decided fuck it, I'm telling her and I hope she feels bad about it. So I said, "I sing it that way because after Bubba was born it always reminded me of how one of my kids had already died and I didn't want another one to be taken from me." Then I got up and went to the other room, and was explaining the whole incident to J. when she came in and apologized and of course started crying. Her apology was genuine and I let it all go, but I really, really wish she would realize that she is very harsh sometimes and that the things she lets fly out of her mouth can really be hurtful. I don't suppose she will ever change, it's who she is...but in spite of all my therapy and drugs I just can't let it roll over me all the time.

So that incident got me sort of focused on Hope and remembering that first Christmas without her. I think of her every day, and especially on holidays, and in fact J. and I had gone to the cemetery earlier in the day to visit his parents' graves and we stopped by the baby section and I remembered Hope while looking at the stones of other little ones who were gone. So it wasn't like it was a shock or anything to be thinking of her, but usually I can remember her peacefully, and that incident with my sister got me thinking about the pain instead.

We headed back home about an hour later, and I sullenly sat in the car until I fell asleep, then grumpily hauled myself into the house and just went straight to bed, leaving J. to entertain Bubba who was oddly still awake. And I woke up today feeling pretty much the same way I did when I fell asleep. Now I am looking around my house at the post-Christmas disaster and dealing with mood where I just don't know what the hell I feel like doing because really, I just don't feel like doing anything, and yet I also don't feel like doing nothing.

God, it sucks being an emotional mess.

So that was Christmas. Thank god it's over! Hope you all had good ones, or if not, I hope you'll blog about the drama so that I can feel some cameraderie with you all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the Night Before That Crazy Man Breaks Into Our House Leaving Loud Toys We Don't Need And That Bubba Will Cry Over When We Have to Go to NaNa's

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
All the creatures were running from our child, the grouch.

The stockings were hung to be filled in the night,
While Bubba bawled at the table, refusing "just one bite."

Other children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While our precious son cried to "sleep in Dad's bed!"

And mamma with my Clonazepam and Daddy with his smokes,
Had just settled down for a long, calming toke,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I rose heavily from the porch to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I stumbled and crashed,
Tore open the shutters and threw down my stash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen ice, sleet and snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to all the stuff down below that we haven't picked up yet from summer.

When, what to my extremely dry eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in couple of minutes that it must be St. Nick.
(Either that or it was pharmaceuticals fucking with me).

More rapid than a mother trying to get her puking son to a toilet his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

Like dry heaves from your child makes you grab him and fly,
St. Nicholas and his deer quickly took to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of more noisy, lead-ridden toys (and St. Nicholas too).

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

Soon after, from the din, I heard my child rise,
Then I forced him to stay in bed so it "would be a surprise!"
As I finally got my kid asleep and unwound,
Through the open porch door St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot from all those richy houses that have fireplaces in their living rooms.

A bundle of toys he had flung in his sack,
That, hopefully we won't have to take back (because Nana already got it for our extremely spoiled son).

His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
He was smiling, actually, like a real psycho.

The stump of the pipe he held in his teeth so tight,
Smelled familiar, then I knew how he flew so damn high.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
He must have had the munchies, 'cause he emptied my shelf.

He winked his right eye, and for awhile he zoned,
Then I knew for sure good old Santa was stoned.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He snorted some horse and then finally arose.

He staggered to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas or whatever, and to all a mellow night!"

After he left, we finally rested our heads,
For about five minutes until Bubba started crying and climbed out of bed.

It was Christmas alright, there was nowhere to go,
Better wake up and face it. Ho ho fucking ho.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No butts about it, it's her birthday!

Hopefully she won't think I'm being cheeky, butt today is a special day--it is Best Friend Tingle's birthday!

Unfortunately, when I talked to her last night, she was in the throes of a bad stomach virus, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, the whole nine. I hope she feels better today!

Even though she never reads my blog anymore, I still wanted to publicly acknowledge the day of her birth. How happy I am that she is in the world, and how lucky I am to receive her gift of friendship.

Happy birthday, Tingle. I hope you get everything you wish for this year!

This moment is unveiling the divine

I just got back from my therapy appointment. I came away with a few good things that I want to note for future reference.

I told her I've been in a rut lately where I feel like I slog through 8 hours of work and then gear up for another shift at home. I told her how I tend to dread doing some of the things that make up our evening routine, like playing with Gary, until they're actually underway and then I usually find myself having at least some fun.

She said, "So what you're telling me is that you get to go home after work, lie on your bed and listen to your son talk about love? Boy, that sounds terrible!" She helped me look at it as a way to unwind rather than something I have to do (even though I do have to do it, because if I didn't, the resulting tantrum would be so not worth it). Truthfully, though, it's my attitude more than anything else that makes it seem like a chore.

Another thing she said really made an impression on me. She said that when Bubba wants me to play with Gary, or "crash cars," or whatever, that he's inviting me into his world, and that as much as I can, I should accept those invitations so that when he's 30 and out on his own with his own family he will still be inviting me in (she's really good at saying things that I know I know as soon as she says them, but that I hadn't really brought up to the conscious level). This really made a lot of sense to me.

The final nugget, one that I think I'm going to post on the wall in my house, is something along the lines of "This moment is unveiling the divine." Translation for those who aren't all Sufi like my therapist: this moment, no matter how challenging--in fact, the more challenging, the more powerful it is--is an opportunity to stretch yourself to see how patient, how loving, how merciful you can be, either to yourself or to the person you are with.

My homework is to dance at least once before our next meeting in January, and to try to think of things that I think are fun, because I told her how I was trying to think of ways to make our time at home more fun and I came up with a big blank space that scared me so I stopped thinking about it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Life as a Trichotillomaniac

So. I wanted to talk to you today about....trichotillomania, otherwise known as a "hair pulling disorder." I also want to give a shout out to Melissa, who bravely came out in the comments on my last post. Good for you!

I started pulling my hair in fifth grade. I remember the very first time I pulled out one of my own head hairs. I was in science class, and Mr. Hansen made everyone pull out a hair from their scalp and look at it under the microscope. I was fascinated by the root. It hurt, but not enough to prevent me from pulling out another one now and then to examine the root again. By the time I was in sixth grade, it had become a habit that I have lived with ever since. It didn't hurt anymore at all. I knew it was weird so I tried to hide it, but one day my mom found a huge pile of my long hair next to the chair where I used to sit and read. I told her what I was doing and she just told me to stop and seemed kind of disgusted, so after that I was more careful about cleaning up after myself.

I have always pulled from one primary location on my head, at the crown on my right side where I also have a cowlick. I also pull from the other side, but not as much. Throughout my school years, I don't remember it being so bad--I could do a comb-over and spray it with hairspray and it was pretty much undetectable. Now it's more noticeable, because along with adulthood has come more anxiety and thus, more pulling. I used to agonize over what I freak I was, try to stop, fail, and then feel even worse about myself. Now, I've kind of let myself go with it. Sometimes I still feel like a freak (like when I have to visit my stylist), but in general, I've kind of accepted it as part of who I am.

The only problem is that because I pull more, my bald spots are harder to hide. I now have long hair, so I'm able to pull it back into a barrette or put it up and hide the spot. I can never go out of the house with my hair down, because it would just be too apparent. Plus, because of the constant stress on those follicles, all the hair there is white.

So why do I do it? I tend to do it in two different situations: stressful ones, or times when I'm bored. I do it a lot at work. I do it a lot in the car when the drive is boring. There is a ritual to it: I feel for a hair that is particularly coarse, pull, examine it, and then usually chew on the root. I know, it's disgusting, but not that uncommon amongst those of us to have this disorder. It somehow relaxes me, even though there's still some residual shame that comes on after a big pulling binge.

You can read a lot about trichotillomania on the web. Some of the more interested tidbits to me are that the disorder is possibly related to Tourette's syndrome; some hypothesize that it's kind of an overexpression of normal self-grooming behaviors that our primate relatives engage in. There are also a couple of disorders related to trichotillomania including compulsive skin picking, which I also engage in, and obsessive compulsive disorder, one that I somehow escaped. While some think trichotillomania is or could be classified as OCD, right now it is labeled an "impulse control disorder." There's also a hereditary component, which I know is true in my case. My dad is a skin picker, and at my grandma's funeral I happened to catch one of my cousins pulling her hair out during the service.

The whole thing has given me a lot of angst in the past. The first person I ever really told was J., who probably knew already but still, reacted very supportively. Then I told LilCherie, and later on, Tingle. A few months ago my mother saw my bald spot and seemed completely shocked, even though I'd told her before that I do this. "What's this from?" she said sort of gaspy. "Mom, I told you--I pull my hair out," I said. I guess maybe she finally believes me!

By far the worst part of this disorder is--or I should say was--going to the hairdresser. They'd come across the bald spot and look troubled, then really examine it and say something like, "What's going on here?" or "What happened here?" I'd usually feign ignorance, like "I don't know, I just noticed it and I don't know how it happened." It was mortifying every time. I started seeing my current guy, Shawn, about 8 years ago. We were acquaintances already before he did my hair, so I felt a little more comfortable with him, but I gave him the same line or variations for several years. He is so cool, though, that I finally decided to just tell him. He didn't act like I was a freak at all. He asked me a few questions about it, like why I do it, but not maliciously. Then he just said "We all have our thing, you know?" Last week when I got my hair cut I came clean right away and told him I'd been pulling a lot, and he was totally cool. No big deal.

And this is going to sound minor but it does cause me a little bit of grief--I hate, hate, hate the saying "I was about ready to pull my hair out!" It's amazing how much people use this expression, which I'm sure I wouldn't notice if I didn't actually pull my hair out!

I have to say I feel much less stress about this part of my life since I've decided to be open about it with those who are close to me and my hair guy. It's easier to be myself when I don't have to worry about my bald spot showing. Nobody has acted like I'm a freak, which surprised me because I always felt like one. But really, is it that much different from chewing your lip or biting your fingernails, which people do all the time, openly?

I wish more people--hair stylists especially!--knew about this disorder and I wish it could be discussed more openly, because I think it's really sad that something that is such a minor quirk in the big scheme of things causes people so much angst and anxiety for years. It's so not worth it.

So, to all you closet pullers out there, my advice is: come out, accept yourself, and realize that it's just not that big of a deal. If you want to pull, pull, and don't beat yourself up about it. You're not a freak, you're not alone, and you're not crazy. It's okay. Like Shawn said, we all have our thing.

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about my disorder. Thank you. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Notes From My Life

Monday: During half-hour battle with 3-year-old son to get him to take Tylenol, he states with all the petulant, serious anger he has in his little body that the whole idea was "Tartar sauce!" (Toddler-friendly expletive courtesy of SpongeBob SquarePants).

Tuesday: Third ice storm of the month hits Iowa on the same day that Aunt Flo's Second Day Hemmorrhage floods my underpants. Bubba's still sick, so it's me and him, along with Manny, Sid and Diego (from Ice Age); Peter Pan, Wendy and "the Injuns" (have you watched this movie recently? Wow.); and SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and Gary for approximately 9 hours. Tree branch in backyard cracks just moments before my own sanity does same.

Wednesday: Morning with Bubba (still sick) and then on to the endodontist. LilCherie and I share the same endodontist who has a stunningly bad bedside manner but has the magic hands with the root canals. I am in his office for literally five minutes. He looks at the x-ray sent over by my dentist, puts an ice cube on my tooth, I say "Ow," and he says, "Yep, needs a root canal." For that, I am charged $60. If you break it down, he earned $12 for each minute I sat in his chair. I guess that's cheap compared to the approximately $40 per minute he gets for the actual root canal. Luckily the procedure can wait until after the first of the year, since I've already maxed out my dental coverage on this year's root canal/crown/pulp cap follies.

On my way back from that appointment, I stop at a convenience store for smokes. I am musing at the hillbilly who's ringing me up -- he's a hefty guy, with a lot of erratic facial hair and eyes that go in two different directions -- when suddenly one of his eyes seems to focus at something behind me and he says, "Hey. Ah laak that hat." I turn my head and there's an older guy behind me wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with a Confederate flag. "Yeah, me too," says the hat-wearer. "Ah'm a proud and true Tennessean!" Hillbilly cashier says, "Yep. Ah'm frum Kentucky." Luckily I get away before I overhear them talkin' 'bout the ole fashion lynchin' goin' on down at Redneck Corner at sundown! Christ!

Stay tuned for more excitement, as tonight I am going to my stylist for the first haircut I've had in about a year and a half or something like that. I've been putting it off because I have trichotillomania, and have been pulling a lot lately, leaving a couple of nasty bald spots on the top of my head. I've come clean with my guy, and he's really cool about it, but's like having someone examining your freakitude.

What a trip.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Regrets That Haunt Me.

Yesterday I read this story and it made me ask all those questions I periodically ask myself about Hope's birth and death, which are:

*What if I had ignored the doomsday scenario presented by my OB and just waited for nature to take its course? Maybe she would have hung out in there until at least 24 weeks. Bubba stayed put for a week even though I was 8 cm dilated and 100 percent effaced, and probably would have stayed in longer with the help of tocolytics but I refused them because of my feeling that he was better off outside of my body than in it at that point.

*What if I had DEMANDED tocolytics with Hope to stop my contractions and then just waited?

Both of these questions can be boiled down to one question: What if I hadn't given up? What I know now that I didn't know then is that doing something, anything, to try to save her, no matter how futile, would have at least assuaged the massive guilt I felt (feel) about her death. This is something my doctors didn't understand either, as they pushed me for a pitocin drip to just "get the inevitable over with." If I had done the two things mentioned above, I would at least have been able to say that I tried everything. As it is, I blindly followed my high-risk, cutting-edge university doctor's recommendations that I just give up. And just giving up is hard to live with after your baby dies.

For the most part, I live with these questions by reminding myself that I did the best I could at the time...but I'm still disappointed in myself, and stories like the one I linked to today bring it all back.

Next June it will be five years since I had Hope, and I know there are still parts of her life and death that are affecting me and that I haven't dealt with because I just don't want to feel the pain. Five years later, and holidays are still bittersweet because I think that I should have two kids decorating the Christmas tree. There hasn't been a Christmas yet when I don't think about that Christmas after she died, and the emptiness of her absence when she should have been there in her First Christmas outfit.

Five years on, and I still haven't addressed the massive anger I feel toward the medical people who were supposed to be caring for me and my baby. I know I need to delve into it and disassemble it in order to get it out of me, but I also know how much it will hurt and I just can't bring myself to go there. And that feels, in a way, like just another way I'm giving up on my daughter.

I know in my heart that I would never have chosen for things to turn out the way they did, and that if anyone else told me my own story I would hold them completely blameless and would shower them with compassion. It's just hard to do that for myself. Why is it so much easier to beat ourselves up than to support ourselves with love?

Here, for future reference in case the story I linked to comes down, is the story that prompted this entry.

It was to be the one and only cuddle Carolyn Isbister would have with her tiny, premature daughter.

Rachael had been born minutes before - weighing a mere 20oz - and had only minutes to live. Her heart was beating once every ten seconds and she was not breathing.

As doctors gave up, Miss Isbister lifted her baby out of her hospital blanket and placed her on her chest.

She said: "I didn't want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.

"It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment." Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother's skin kickstarted Rachael's heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

Miss Isbister said: "We couldn't believe it - and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.

"The doctors came in and said there was still no hope - but I wasn't letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away.

"But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pink colour began to return to her cheeks.

"She literally was turning from grey to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too."

Four months later, Rachael was allowed home weighing 8lb - the same as a newborn baby - and she has a healthy appetite.

Miss Isbister, a 36-year- old chemist from West Lothian, said: "Rachael has been such a little fighter - it is a miracle that she is here at all. When she was born the doctors told us that she would die within 20 minutes. But that one precious cuddle saved her life. I'll never forget it."

Miss Isbister and her partner David Elliott, 35, an electronics engineer, were thrilled when she became pregnant.

At the 20-week scan at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, doctors told them she was carrying a girl and they decided to name her Rachael.

But at 24 weeks a womb infection led to premature labour.

Miss Isbister, who also has two children Samuel, 10, and Kirsten, eight, from a previous marriage, said: "We were terrified we were going to lose her. I had suffered three miscarriages before, so we didn't think there was much hope." When Rachael was born she was grey and lifeless.

"The doctor just took one look at her and said no," said Miss Isbister.

"They didn't even try to help her with her breathing as they said it would just prolong her dying. Everyone just gave up on her."

Ian Laing, a consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said: "All the signs were that the little one was not going to make it and we took the decision to let mum have a cuddle as it was all we could do.

"Two hours later the wee thing was crying. This is indeed a miracle baby and I have seen nothing like it in my 27 years of practice. I have not the slightest doubt that mother's love saved her daughter."

Rachael was moved on to a ventilator where she continued to make steady progress.

Miss Isbister said: "The doctors said that she had proved she was a fighter and that she now deserved some intensive care as there was some hope.

"She had done it all on her own - without any medical intervention or drugs.

"She had clung on to life - and it was all because of that cuddle. It had warmed up her body enough for her to start fighting." Because Rachel had suffered from a lack of oxygen doctors said there was a high risk of damage to her brain. But a scan showed no evidence of any problems.

As the days passed, Rachael began to gain in strength and put on weight. She had laser treatment to save her sight because the blood vessels had not had a chance to develop properly in the womb. And she also had six blood transfusions.

"We couldn't believe that she was doing so well," her mother said.

"Her heart rate and breathing would suddenly sometimes drop without warning, but she just got stronger and stronger."

After five weeks she was taken off a ventilator and Miss Isbister was able to breastfeed her.

Then, after four months, the couple were allowed to take her home - a day they thought they would never see.

Miss Isbister said: "She is doing so well. When we finally brought her home, the doctors told us that she was a remarkable little girl.

"And most of all, she just loves her cuddles. She will sleep for hours, just curled into my chest.

"It was that first cuddle which saved her life - and I'm just so glad I trusted my instinct and picked her up when I did.

"Otherwise she wouldn't be here today."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Just a bunch of stuff

Health Update
Monday I went to the doc for my weekly sinus check. A cyst in my left sinus had reformed, so he had to go in and anesthetize the area and pull off a "chunk" of the cyst so that hopefully, it won't close up again. I also have to be on Bactrim for another two weeks (for a total of four weeks) because I'm still showing signs of infection, although it is getting better. In general, I'm feeling a lot better but not 100 percent.

A Very Special Christmas
Last weekend I hosted our Third Annual Girls' Night Christmas Party. It was a blast. Tingle made it in from Cleveland, and LilCherie and Pioneer Girl braved a major ice storm to get to my house. It was awesome. It started out a bit rocky as I was feeling crappy with what might have been a cold or could have just been sinus stuff, but as the evening wore on I felt better and it was amazing. To give my husband credit where credit is due, he kindly took Bubba and himself to his sister's house that afternoon so we could have the house to ourselves. We exchanged funny gifts and all wore our tree skirts (Pioneer Girl made all of them, and Tingle got one this year). My friends are the best!

Winter + Iowa = Pain in the Ass
The weather in Iowa has been challenging. The ice storm last weekend left a sheet of ice on our driveway and sidewalk that we haven't cleared yet. It's been very cold, snowed a bit on Tuesday, and now is snowing again with an expected 3 to 5 inches tonight. Then Saturday we are supposed to get more snow or possibly ice, which really pisses me off because I'm supposed to go see Oprah and Obama! I am really psyched up for this, so I can't miss it. I may have to leave for LilCherie's house at 10:30 in the morning like she did to come down to my house last weekend.

Ich bin sehr müde
I am so tired. I feel like Bancini in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Tired, tired, tired of everything. Tonight I have Bubba-duty and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm just not looking forward to it. Sometimes I can get myself kinda psyched up for my Bubba time and really enjoy myself, but other times, I feel like I'm leaving one job just to go to the next, and I know my day won't be over until I fall into a coma next to him as I put him to bed. The total lack of "me time" during a day puts me in a bad mood--I'm selfish that way. And it may happen again tomorrow night, as I've told J. to try to plan something fun for himself so that I won't have to feel too guilty about essentially spending the entire weekend at LilCherie's/seeing Oprah.

Lately Bubba has been very clingy and whiny, and his favorite activity is sitting on my bed and playing with the body pillow. It's "J" shaped and Bubba calls it Gary because he pretends it's Gary the Snail from SpongeBob. So we sit in there for half an hour or 45 minutes while Bubba pets Gary, makes me pet Gary, talks about how cute Gary is, hugs Gary, pretends to have Baby Garys in his hand, kisses Gary, etc. It's pretty cute--for the first five minutes, and after that it's honestly really boring. The only way I've found to spice it up is to have Gary ask Bubba about school, because Bubba will tell Gary more than he ever tells me or J. But even that only lasts for about three or four minutes before Bubba declares "That's enough talking."

Sometimes I feel like I am just Bubba's handmaiden. "Fetch me some milk, you lowly wench! Turn on the SpongeBob! Take off my socks! No, put them back on again, me feets has got the chill! I need to go to the potty throne! I want some more candy! I don't want to eat supper! I don't like to have lotion on! I don't want to go to bed! I want to read the only book in the house that you cannot find!" It's truly exhausting.

I really don't believe it when I hear stars say that they don't have nannies or cooks or anything like that. There's no way. If I were rich, I would totally employ a nanny, not to raise my kid or anything like that but to just do the scut work, like running back and forth to fill milk cups, changing the DVD at Bubba's whim, changing his clothes and doing The Lotioning and maybe giving a bath now and then. Hmmm. That pretty much covers most parenting duties, huh? (Aha Moment: Parenting IS scutwork!) I like to imagine that while the nanny is bustling about, Bubba and I are engaged in enriching play, because if I had a nanny I wouldn't be so damn tired. Maybe I'd just hire a maid and a cook so that I could redirect that energy to Bubba-related stuff. Or, maybe I'd be just as lazy but not have as good of an excuse!

Monday, November 19, 2007

I heard her complain, often and loudly

Today I dragged myself into work by 9:20 a.m. At approximately 9:35 a.m. I blew my nose. A big chunk came out; nothing new there, at least not since surgery almost a month ago now. Then watery fluid came pouring out of my right nostril, down onto my desk and onto the floor. With visions of a ruptured sinus and cerebrospinal fluid leak, I called J. for a ride, called my otolaryngologist’s office and started crying when she told me they didn’t have any doctors in the office at that time (what the fuck?) In a semi-hysterical state on the way to the car, I said “Well, do I go to the emergency room or what, because I’m sick and I’m scared and I need someone to look at me so you tell me where to go.” She sent me to the ER since my oto was there anyway in surgery, and he could see me in between cases.

Alas, no cerebrospinal fluid leak—but a CT showed that the fucking infection I’ve been fighting since the week after surgery is still there. It is now apparently invisible to the naked eye, since my oto thought everything looked good on Friday and again today when he looked before the CT. So is it in my bones now or what? I have to ask on Wednesday when I go back for my next follow-up. I got an IV infusion of antibiotics and a prescription for yet another one to take over the next week.

In the last two months, I’ve been on Amoxicillin for an unrelated respiratory infection; Levaquin for the sinus infection that broke the camel’s back and sent me to surgery; Ancef during surgery; Cephalexin prophylactically for the week after surgery; Augmentin for a week for the post-surgical infection, which I finished last Thursday; Rocephin today in the IV, and now Bactrim. As well as methylprednisolone prescribed last Friday for inflammation. And hydrocodone for pain, which I’m trying to limit but did take again today. Strangely, I still haven’t really lost faith in my doctor. I feel like his actions and recommendations have been rational and appropriate given the symptoms I’ve been exhibiting—they just aren’t helping so far. So I’m sticking with him, for now anyway.

I spent most of the six hours we were at the ER in tears. I am so, so very tired. We had to reschedule our marriage counseling appointment this afternoon, and we needed it. J. did come through pretty well at the hospital today, a real sacrifice for him I know since missing work is about his number one pet peeve. I feel like I’m trying to save my sanity, my health and my marriage all at once, and failing at all to various degrees.

I’ve been ordered off work for the rest of the week, which is only three days because of Thanksgiving. I have to give credit where it’s due and report that my Mom and Dad happily and cheerfully took Bubba on Sunday to Monday to give us a break, and then today volunteered to keep him over another night, which they are. So all I have to do tonight is rest…and for once, I just can’t. I’m lonely, but J. had to go back to work for the remaining two hours of the day, and then volunteer for a reception his workplace was hosting for a local athletic team. He is picking me up dinner on the way home so I guess I shouldn’t complain, but I sort of wish he would have just stayed home. Even though we don’t talk anyway. So scratch that. I don’t know what I wanted. Just to feel better, I guess.

I struggle with blaming myself for my bad health, but you know, I'm so tired of it all that I'm not even going to do the blame game. It's pointless. As Best Friend Tingle would say, it is what it is. I'm sick a lot. I've always been like this. What sucks is that I don't really have the mental stamina to deal with it. I've specifically instructed my loved ones that if I died from some kind of painful disease they are to make it known that I complained every chance I got. I hate it when i read about how "She had XYZ Most Horrible Painful Disease in the World but she never once complained." I mean, let's be real, people. Being sick sucks. And I complain about it, a lot, in real life and--so lucky for you--here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There are some good things in my life, too

I’ve been struggling with the fear that I’m alienating my few readers by posting things that are so damn depressing. Then, I remembered what I wrote when I started blogging again about how I really just had to blog for myself, not for anyone else, so I’m getting over it. It’s hard to remember, sometimes, that it’s not really about whether or not people are reading it—it’s more important that I’m getting it out. That said, I do appreciate those of you who still stop by, and I want you to know I’m reading your blogs even if I’m not commenting. I’m working up to it, I promise.

I stayed home sick again today. Called the doctor, talked to his nurse, who told me to “try to get up and around a little bit more to get your strength back” and to take Excedrin Migraine for my headaches. They just don’t get it. I’ve had enough bad infections in my life to know that there’s something going on. The exhaustion I am feeling is beyond just normal recovery. It is time for what my boss calls a “come to Jesus” meeting with my doc on Friday when I have my appointment.

I do want to write something a little more upbeat tonight, if for no other reason than to make myself feel better. First, the highlight of my day was talking to LilCherie, who called me on her way home from therapy. Lately I have been struck by what a lifeline LilCherie is for me. She is like a part of my body and my soul. I can’t imagine life without her. We met each other in second grade, so that was like what, 30 years ago? We became “best friends” in sixth grade, 24 years ago or something like that, and except for a brief two-year stint in college when we were stupid, we’ve been sharing laughter, secrets and tears ever since.

How lucky I am, not only to have her friendship, but to be able to see her at least once a week on our Girls’ Nights. I bitch about J. a lot here, but I have to say that a lot of husbands wouldn’t be so accommodating of that, and I am grateful. He knows my time with LilCherie is sacred and life-giving to me.

If LilCherie was my only friend, I’d still feel rich and blessed. But I have another soulmate: Tingle. Remember that cruel bitch Fate I was talking about yesterday? Well, she also brought me Tingle, right when I needed her the most. Tingle understands me in ways that nobody else can. She and I are so alike it is frightening at times, difficult at times, but mostly, reassuring and comforting.

I hate it that she is all the way in Cleveland, but one of the joys of our friendship is that even if our almost-nightly phone conversations consist mostly of “I’m tired” and “Me too,” there is never that awkward space between us that can happen in long-distance relationships. She is coming to see us later this month, to participate in our annual Pre-Holiday Girls’ Night celebration, and I am so excited to see her. I appreciate so much her efforts to visit and I hope she feels the same way about me. After this visit, I hope that the entire Depressionista clan can head out there, maybe in January if we have decent weather.

J. and I had our second marriage counseling session yesterday. Most of the hour was spent with me crying about my postpartum depression after having Bubba, but it was good to get it out. I think J. and I have isolated that time as when things really started falling apart for us. Yes, we had problems before, but it seems like that is when the anger really came down on us: he was angry and confused about my inability to be the mother he thought I would be, and I was angry and confused by his seemingly uncaring attitude toward it all. It was like that was just the final straw that made us give up, in a way, and we haven’t really had time to do any repair work on it, so here we are.

I think we both feel a little more hopeful just having started counseling. It’s not like the therapist is really doing anything spectacular…it’s more that we are just finally devoting an hour each week to talking about “the issues.” I told J. that I’m not sure we really even need counseling, per se, but rather just the time to talk about the big stuff. He wisely said that while I may be right, unless we are paying for it and actually going somewhere where we have to focus on that stuff, we just won’t do it, so it is good we are going. I agree. I think there is hope.

Another thing I realized after talking yesterday about that time when Bubba was an infant is how far I have come with him. I am truly enjoying being his mother right now. Things that others might take for granted, like missing their kid during the day or looking forward to seeing him at night, are somewhat new to me, as sad as that is to say. He is fun! He has such an amazing imagination right now, and we spend lots of time playing with pretend bunnies and baby Garys (the snail from SpongeBob). The funniest things come out of his mouth: last night, I told him I was going to make dinner, so I went and got things started in the kitchen and came out to find him already sitting at his little table in the living room (we are up and down with the “eating as a family” thing). He said, “Get back out there, Mama.” I looked at him, puzzled by what he meant, so he say, “Get back out in the kitchen and cook, Mommy.” It just cracked me up. Anyway, I’m grateful that at last, this parenthood thing is fun, and even more glad that Bubba and me seem to have a really strong, loving relationship right now—something I was afraid would never happen.

There are many things I have to be grateful for. It's hard to see them sometimes through a fog of pain and depression, but they are there, and I'm trying to remember that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


My life is not that bad.

My marriage is not that bad. Just bad enough to make me feel miserable, but not so bad that there’s a definable reason to call it quits, like abuse or alcoholism or anything like that.

My job is not that bad. Just bad enough to make me feel like my soul is dead, but not so bad that I can afford to sacrifice the benefits, flexibility and decent pay.

My health is not that bad. Just bad enough to keep me in pain most of the time, just bad enough to keep me from enjoying almost anything, just bad enough to keep me struggling to get to work for at least six hours a day, but not bad enough to get disability or a leave of absence.

I am struggling. I can barely get to work in the morning. Each day I struggle with myself about whether or not I can justify calling in sick yet again. It’s a combination of feeling like shit with my sinus pain, and depression from being in pain all the time and hating my job and not being satisfied in my marriage. I have not been sleeping well at night, even though I feel exhausted all day, and I don’t know if that’s because of the depression or because I force myself to make it through the day without taking a pain pill because I don’t want to get addicted and then finally, at 6 or 7 p.m., with my headache and facial pain in full swing, I take one so that I can at least deal with my three-year-old, and then I feel decent for a few hours so I take advantage of it and stay up later than I should. And then I wake up sluggish and tired and feeling like crap and the whole cycle starts over again.

I feel ungrateful for hating my job so much. It is a good job, a cushy job. I write articles for newsletters at a university. It’s pretty much brainless work, and generally there’s not much, if any, stress that goes along with it. I spend a good deal of the time here surfing the ‘net because I’m so painfully unmotivated to write yet another profile or story about the latest administrative changes or grant that’s been awarded. I’m left alone to do my stuff. I get paid more than my work is worth. I get more vacation and sick time than 90 percent of the working population. And yet every day, my soul cries out to me in protest. I can actually hear the words in my head: “You have to find a way out of this! This isn’t what your life is meant to be! You can’t stand this much longer! There’s got to be something else you can do!” And then I think about the benefits, and the subsidy I get for the university-owned daycare that Bubba goes to, and I realize I am stuck here, and I die a little more inside.

As I write this, I realize that much of the same could be said about my relationship with J. The two situations are more similar than I really realized before this moment. I am unmotivated, tired from the trying and the constant disappointments. I hear the same kinds of phrases in my head: “You have to find a way out of this! You need to leave. You need to realize it’s hopeless.” And then I think about how much debt we have and how difficult it would be to divide it and where would I live and how would we deal with custody arrangements. I think about how J. is really not that bad. He doesn’t drink, he holds a job, he doesn’t hit me or Bubba. Or I look at J. when he’s sleeping and my heart gets warm with the memory of how he used to be happy most of the time and how he made me laugh and I think of how much I want to work things out. Either way, I feel stuck here, too.

And that’s when I start thinking about jumping in the car and driving, just driving. Leaving all of it behind. But I can’t leave my Bubba. I have trapped myself in my own web of mediocrity without even trying (kind of ironic, isn’t it?) Is it a life full of “safe” choices that's brought me here? I look back on some of the decisions I’ve made and I see a pattern: I will study English because I’m not good at math. I will major in journalism because I have to earn a living. I will marry J. because who else would want to be with me, and this might be my only chance for any kind of love. I will work at this shitty job or that shitty job, because I have to get experience so I can get a better job (that I still hate). I have to, I have to, I have to. Rational. Practical.

The only big life decision that I can’t (or maybe don’t want to) put into the pattern is the decision to have children. I still haven’t figured out exactly why I did it…not sure if it was a response to a biological urge, or if it was because we’d been married for seven years and we were “supposed to,” or if I felt it was my duty as a woman, or if the more difficult it became to achieve it the more I wanted it. Probably all of those things. I strangely don’t remember much about really wanting to be a mother. I remember wanting a child, but not really thinking about being a mother. I never really looked too far beyond the mental image I had of contentedly nursing my newborn in the rocking chair, like something out of a commercial.

Sometimes I think maybe it’s time to stop the rationality, the practicality, the have to-s. To just say fuck it, quit my job, leave my husband, and start over. Try just having faith in the universe or whatever to carry me along and keep me afloat. As tantalizing as this is for a moment, I think about how royally the universe has screwed me over so far and I know this is a pipedream.

Fate hands some people in this world everything they could want or need. For others, fate’s hands are empty again and again, and they scrabble for a kernel of corn and a drink of water and watch their children starve. For the vast majority of us, though, it isn’t so black and white. I believe – and maybe this is where I’ve gone wrong all these years – that we have to play active part in steering our lives. I don’t have faith that if I just let go of the wheel, things will be okay. Maybe that lack of faith is the problem in my life…or maybe it’s what keeps me from being a homeless drunk. Who knows?

I don’t trust myself anymore.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In This Post, I Reveal My Real First Name

I called my sister tonight just to say hello. It was a pretty mundane conversation for the most part. Then, in typical fashion for my family, it all went to hell in about 20 seconds. Despite all my whining on here, I must have done some kind of healing or had some kind of personality development since I left home because it seems like the older I get, the more obviously dysfunctional the rest of my family is. I mean, I am too, but at least I'm aware of it!!!

Anyway, I was telling her about how much fun Bubba is right now, how incredibly cute he is and how much I'm enjoying it. I related to her about how when we get home from work/daycare, he says "I wanna cuddle you," and we sit on the couch and watch a DVD and love on each other. He'll say "You love me Mama?" and I'll smile and say "I love you SO much!" and then he'll say "I love you too Mama!" with a big smile on his face; sometimes he'll reach is hand up and stroke my cheek. It's enchanting and magical and it's like a big huge reward for all the struggling I've had in the past three years learning how to be somewhat comfortable with motherhood and learning how to enjoy my child rather than pretty much hating the whole thing.

Her response was this: "Oh my god, Sue, don't make him into a wuss! He's gonna be such a mama's boy!" This really pissed me off. Here I am, trying to relate something positive (at last) about my experience as a mother and she just stomps on it. Nevertheless, I tried to be rational so I said, "It's taken me so long finally enjoy something about having a kid and I'm going to revel in it and enjoy it as much as I can." She said she just thought it was "weird." I asked why, and I'm sure at this point she realized she'd pissed me off, so she said she didn't know and that she was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I tried to get off the phone but she said she didn't want us to get off the phone with me being mad. I told her I wasn't mad, just felt defeated. In all honesty, I didn't want it to be a big deal because I've learned from experience that it's just not worth it in my family. So I told her I was having a hard week and that it wasn't a big deal and let's just stop talking about it. We talked about some other stuff and got off the phone with our usual "I love yous."

My sister and I have a complicated relationship (do all sisters?) She's eight years older than me and very bossy. She's an elementary school teacher and her husband is very passive so she pretty much runs the show at work and at home and it spill over into every other relationship as well. I don't think she means to hurt people; I think she's just so used to pushing everyone around that she doesn't have a filter there that the rest of us do. I also recognize the occasional bitchy, uncalled-for comment as a family trait. Christ, I did it to LilCherie last night. Still, I at least TRY to rein it in.

Obligatory Disclaimer To Address My Guilt Issues: I love my sister dearly, and in many ways she's like another mother, which is comforting at times but difficult at others. I can say that she's always been there for me, with one exception that I'll talk about some other time, and she's incredibly loyal. Generally, she's really a good person.

Like the rest of my family, and myself although I 'm working on it, she has a unique ability to turn anything upside down and inside out to make it negative, or to point out the worst possible aspect of anything you share with her. I doubt she even realizes she's doing it.

The other day I went back to my hometown, where she lives as do my mom and dad, and we were talking at dinner about Bubba's sleep issues (one of us pretty much has to sleep with him in order for any of us to get any rest). She starts going on about how "He's three years old. He's old enough to be sleeping by himself. What's he going to do when he starts getting invited to people's houses for sleepovers?" I said something about how that was a long ways off and hopefully we'd have made some progress by then; right now we're just trying to relax about it and wait awhile until he's a little developmentally older and we're a little more ready to deal with it.

At some point in the conversation she makes sure to remind us all (as if we weren't there at the time) about how her girls never had any sleep issues. They both slept through the night at six weeks (they honestly really did) and they never had to sleep with them. That helps a lot! Thanks, Sis!

I am naturally a very open, honest person and I kind of like to just let things be out in the open. I guess that's why I have to keep learning the lesson over and over and over again to never discuss anything that's important or meaningful with any of my family members. But in my defense, I shared the Bubba cuddling story with her because I thought it was charming and sweet. It never even occurred to me that she could spin it negatively.

Personally, I think it's healthy that Bubba and I are able to be that lovey-dovey with one another and I hope that it is evidence that Bubba will grow up to be a little more in touch with his emotions than his father and most other men are. I love it and Bubba loves it so that's enough for me, but I'm curious...what do you guys think? Do you think it's "weird"?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I'm such a Debbie Downer.

I have to say that I am really touched by everyone's supportive comments on my last post, especially after my being gone for months and sinking into lurkdom on everyone else's blogs. This is the part of blogging that I really enjoy. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, because in a way, this is what brought me and Best Friend Tingle together--not blogging, but sharing our experiences on the SHARE message boards. Still, I appreciate it very much. Thank you!

It is so interesting to hear about everyone else's experiences. I was really intrigued, Aurelia, about your comment that people with ADD need their therapists to tell them what to do, but that if the spouse does that, it backfires. This struck me close to home because this is where a lot of stress in our relationship comes from--me asking J. to do something and him not doing it and then us fighting about it. Right now he is on Adderall, a fairly high dose I think. It doesn't seem to calm him down, however--I feel like it's made him more aggressive. He would disagree with me. He's seeing a therapist who specializes in adult ADD and we've heard good reports from several different people who have been treated by him...but I don't really know what they are working on in therapy because he "doesn't want to share." For all I know, J.'s spending his time there complaining about how stressed out he is at work or something.

Thrice, I go back and forth between thinking that therapy is really something that can help and then feeling like it's a con-job. I did have that thought today as I was sitting there listening to the therapist talk about how it's not surprising that J. doesn't do much around the house since in his "family of origin" the house was always a shithole. I sat there thinking "yeah, but we've been fighting about this for 14 years this point, his 'forgetting' to do anything I ask him to do around the house can't be blamed on his mother." I mean, I'm not expecting miracles--I just want him to take the fucking laundry to the basement. I would like to think that if it's a choice between hauling the laundry and saving the marriage or playing PlayStation, he'd do the laundry, but so far, that hasn't been the case.

After meeting with the therapist today, I'm still kind of neutral. I think she was fine, if a little bit touchy-feely for my tastes. More importantly, J. liked her and felt comfortable there, and I think that's a bigger hurdle to have cleared. Today's session was pretty much the get-acquainted appointment where we tell her our long tale of woe, which generally takes about the full hour. I suppose next week we'll get into the nitty gritty.

This last few weeks has been such a struggle. I have had a headache almost every day since my sinus surgery two weeks ago, and this week they seem worse. Not worse like I have an infection or a complication, just worse in that I feel more aware of my sinuses themselves and there's pain that's probably a normal part of the healing process but still severely limits my ability to function. Anyway, I felt like crap tonight and of course, tonight is J.'s softball night, but to give credit where credit is due, he went to the game, called me to check how I was feeling, and came home immediately afterward instead of going out with the guys. And didn't even guilt-trip me about it. That was nice. Still, it adds to that feeling of failure I've been carrying around lately.

Then while he was getting Bubba to sleep I talked to Best Friend LilCherie on the phone, sucking her into my vortex of pain and making an unintentional yet bitchy nonetheless comment about her husband. I apologized to her but still feel like I want to make a public acknowledgment of it and tell her again that I am sorry and that I appreciate how she's stuck by me through all my shit and how she lets things slide when I'm in this mode. She's a true friend in every sense of the word.

Wow, this is so uplifting, isn't it? I do have a happy post planned for sometime soon about how much I am really enjoying my kid right now, so it won't all be gloom and doom forever, I promise!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Marriage counseling again.

So much for NaBloPoMo, huh? I briefly thought about back-dating some posts but then decided to just say fuck it. Still, in the spirit of it, I'm going to at least try to post more often.

Tomorrow J. and I have an appointment with a new marriage counselor. We tried counseling a couple of years ago, and for various reasons it didn’t work out. I decided we needed to give it at least one more go before calling it quits, and he agreed.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain the deadness, the emptiness, and the anger that seems to define our relationship. Those who have known us for a long time will note that we’ve always had conflict in our relationship, and that’s true. Since high school we’ve been fighting and making up and fighting and making up. The difference is that back then, there was genuine affection between us during the good times, and we made real efforts to stop doing the things that pissed the other one off. Now, the “good” times are when we are pretty much ignoring each other but not actively pissed, or maybe sharing a joke or some small talk. It doesn’t go beyond that—there’s no intimacy, no cameraderie…it’s just not loving.

Sometimes it feels very much like we are coworkers, and our job is Bubba. I almost added “and the house” but I am the only one who does any housework, so I guess that’s my job alone. J. has generally been a very loving and involved dad, but lately I’ve noticed that even that seems to be sliding. Maybe it’s because I feel I’m doing a better job at being a mother, so now I notice his shortcomings as a father. I don’t know. J. is very good about taking Bubba out to the park, out to the mall to ride the carousel, things like that. But at home, he rarely does any kind of play with him that requires effort or attention. Usually they sit and watch cartoons together.

Every night, J. has to be reminded to brush Bubba’s teeth and give him his medicine. When I had my sinus surgery, Bubba didn’t get a bath all week because J. just couldn’t be bothered and I was too sick. He got one the day before I went for surgery and got his next one on the first day I was even semi-functional again. This morning, Bubba had to go potty and J. was in the shower. J. had locked the bathroom door because he didn’t want Bubba to open the door and possibly expose J. to my parents, who come out on Mondays to watch Bubba. Like that’s even a big deal anyway—it’s not like they’d be looking, you know?

Anyway, I went to take Bubba into the bathroom and encountered the locked door. Bubba was rattling the door pretty frantically trying to get in. “Bubba has to go potty,” I called into the bathroom. “Goddammit!!!” J. yelled. Then, in response to Bubba’s rattling, he yelled “Stop it!” so harshly I figured he was talking to me. “Bubba’s doing it,” I called back. “I know, I wanted him to stop,” he replied. I was really taken aback that he would yell at Bubba like that for something as innocent as that. It worries me to think of what it would be like if we were divorced. What would Bubba do when he visited Daddy? Just sit in front of TV all the time? Would I have to call every night to make sure he got his teeth brushed and his medicine taken and got bathed once in awhile? Would J. yell at him like that every time he was grumpy and tired from playing PlayStation until 2:30 in the morning (which is almost every night)?

What really got me motivated to make the counseling appointment was the love letter. On Oct. 14, I wrote J. a love letter. It was a page-and-a-half long, and I sent it through the mail for him because in the past he’d complained about never getting good mail. I started the letter out with the sentence “Warning: This is a love letter.”

Now, as mentioned above, I’ve not been really feeling the love lately, but the night I wrote this I was feeling optimistic and trying to count my blessings. This letter was my way of reaching out and trying to get things on the right track again. I sent it to him on Tuesday, and it arrived at our house on Wednesday.

He opened it right away, read the first sentence, smiled, then said he’d read it later. Sounded reasonable, since he’d just gotten home from work and was still in his work clothes and Bubba was being demanding, etc. But three days later, it was still where he’d left it. I picked it up and put it with my stuff. Two days after that, he noticed it was missing and asked for it back. At first I said no, but then I decided to try to be a better person than that, to try to be compassionate, etc., so I handed him back the letter and said “Even though it hurt my feelings that you haven’t read this yet, I still want you to have it because I still feel these things for you.” I handed it to him as he was playing Guitar Hero (he paused it for me—how sweet).

Two weeks go by. I hear nothing about the letter. J. spends his evenings spending hours playing Guitar Hero or indulging in his latest obsession with crossword puzzles. So finally I ask him one night, “Did you ever read that letter I gave you?”

Nope. He hadn’t read it. He knew he was in deep shit because he actually uttered the words “I’m sorry” but then told me he’d just forgotten it was there. I asked him where it was because I wanted it back for good this time. He wouldn’t tell me, so I started rifling through his stuff, for some reason thinking maybe it had actually made it all the way back to his nightstand or something. Finally, angrily, he went and got the letter—off the kitchen counter—and handed it to me, snarling at me that I should “cut him some slack” because it had been a “crazy couple of weeks” with his bad cold and my sinus surgery.

When I pointed out that he’d had plenty of time to play games or do crosswords, he didn’t say anything. Then I asked him how he would feel if he’d given me a present and I just left it on the counter unopened for two weeks. “That’s not the same thing,” he said. “This wasn’t a present.” That hurt me quite a bit, because I really do consider a love letter to be a gift, and one that’s way better than a popcorn popper. “Just because I didn’t go out and buy it at a store?” I replied. “Well, it wasn’t in a box, wrapped up in paper and with a bow on it,” he said. It just seems so cold and heartless and insulting to me. It seems like he really just doesn’t give a shit about me or us.

This weekend we went to LilCherie’s annual Halloween party, which is always a blast and which we always really get into. We’ve gone for 12 years or something like that and only missed one; we’ve had some awesome costumes. This year I decided to be Britney Spears, and had a hilarious costume that I’d spent a lot of time getting ready. J. didn’t know what to be, so I came up with some ideas and he picked one. While I was recovering from surgery, and still feeling pretty crappy, I went out and got him all the stuff he needed for his costume, going to three or four different stores and shelling out probably $30 to $40 bucks.

Saturday came around and by Saturday afternoon, J. was acting kind of mopey. When I asked what the problem was, he said he’d been invited to too many things that night, none of which he’d told me about. Apparently, another friend was having a party, and his sister was having a little get-together. I told him, nicely, to do whatever he wanted to do, to just be happy. He decided he would drop me off at LilCherie’s, go to his sister’s for awhile, then come back to the party. When he dropped me off at 4:30 p.m. he said, “I’ll be back in a little while.”

Somewhere around 11 p.m. he came back to the party, only I didn’t know it because I was in another room of the house and J. didn’t even bother to find me to say hello. He just went straight down to the basement so he could play PlayStation with some of the guys. I didn’t even know he was there until 12:30 or 1 a.m., and by that time I’d taken off my costume. He never even got to see me in it. And he never even took his costume out of the bag. Later on, I just said to him, “I wish you could have seen me in my costume. It was kick-ass.” He said, “Well, you can show me later.” I declined.

I don’t know what’s going on. He seems so uncaring and distant. He sits outside of work and smokes for half an hour before coming home, so he doesn’t get home now most days until 6:20 p.m. or so. We don’t have sex at all, haven’t for months. We don’t sleep in the same room. Our friends notice he’s moody. My parents think we should get divorced and are actively starting to get angry at how he treats me and how he doesn’t do jack shit around the house. I can’t hold it together much longer.

Some of you might be thinking, “It sounds like he’s depressed.” He is, I’m sure. We both are. He’s on antidepressants, and recently, got diagnosed with ADD so he’s also on meds for that, which, in my opinion, have just made things worse. He feels they are helping, though, so he won’t quit them. He does go to therapy sporadically, but “doesn’t feel like sharing” what he is working on. Maybe that’s because all he talked about with his previous counselor, whom he saw for about a year, was current events, movies, and music. Gee, I wonder why it didn’t help anything?

So that’s the story of why we’re going to marriage counseling. If this counselor can’t get to the bottom of things, then I really think it’s over. It’s just hard to make the move to actually get divorced. I wrote in my journal the other day that it's like doing CPR on someone who is clearly dead: You don't know if the very next breath you give might be the one that saves the life, so you don't know when to quit, but in the end, you're still stuck with a corpse. I am afraid of what my life will be like financially because we have a lot of debt, and I’m afraid of how it might screw Bubba up. But I think this situation could screw him up too, and I know I can’t live the rest of my life like this.

Today I walked back from lunch and it just hit me what a mess my life is. I hate my job, my marriage is essentially ending three years after we finally managed to bring a kid into the mess, I’m depressed and old and fat and my sinuses hurt and I’m in debt. How did I get here? I can’t believe I’ve failed so spectacularly. I have always tried to do the right thing and make the right decisions, and this is where I end up. It feels very overwhelming right now, like I’m buried under a pile of shit and I can only claw my way out turd by turd.

So how was your day?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Nov. 1: What Kind of a Parent Am I?

Tertia had an interesting meme/questionnaire on her site a couple days ago that I wanted to do, but since I got into so much trouble there the last time I posted, I'm going to just copy and paste here with my answers. As Tertia said on her blog, if you have kids, let me know what kind of a parent you are; if you don't have kids but hope to, let me know what kind of a parent you hope to be.

I would never:
Have another child. Does that count? If not, here's another: Hit or humiliate my son.

I always:
Tell him I love him and hug and kiss him about a million times a day.

I got an easy ride when it came to:
Potty training: it only took a week and wasn't that bad.

The part I dislike most about parenting is:
The constant worry and anxiety and guilt about everything related to my son and how I parent him; the comparison game with other parents; bedtime battles and middle-of-the-night wakings; never knowing whether you're doing the right thing or not; seeing all the bad parts of my mother come out in me when Bubba pisses me off.

The part I love most about parenting is:
Hugs, kisses, cuddling, hearing Bubba say "I love you," all the hilarious things he does every day.

My terrible parenting secret is:
Am I only allowed one? Probably would be that I smoked when I was pregnant. I will NEVER stop feeling bad about that one. There's also the time I left him alone in the car when I ran in to get a prescription. He was sick, sleeping, cool outside, and I knew it would only take about 60 second. Still, I used to say I'd never do that.

I would describe my approach to discipline as:
Good intentions, not so great on the follow-through. I give in too often when he cries because1) I hate it when he's sad and 2) I have a very low threshold for crying/tantrums.

My worst parenting habit:
Again, just one? Parking him in front of his DVDs to clean the house, take a shower, and smoke on the porch. God, I sound trashy!

The one thing I am really proud of is:
How hard I have worked to overcome postpartum depression, not be so angry, and be more in control when Bubba has a meltdown, and, going hand-in-hand with that, how Bubba and I have a really good, close relationship now.

I probably am too lenient when it comes to:
Letting him watch TV, letting him sleep with J. or me, and letting him eat sugary stuff.

I hope my kids inherit my:
Ability to feel and express emotion (I know, he's a's a long shot); empathy; willingness to be wacky sometimes.

I hope my kids don’t inherit my:
Mental health issues--the inability to be happy no matter what.

I love that my kids are:
Genuinely and intentionally funny--he's a little comedian and I love it; generally sweet and loving; social with other kids and adults.

The thing I miss most about my pre-mom days is:
The ability to be completely irresponsible sometimes. There's never really a "day off" because even when they're with someone else you trust, you still worry about him, think about him, talk about him, miss him.

Motherhood is:
Indescribable, in every sense of that word--the good, the bad, the ugly.


Okay, I did it. I signed up for the NaBloPoMo thing where you have to blog every day for the month of November or they cut your head off. No, really, it's one of those trendy blog-world things, but hell, I felt like doing it so there. I thought it might be good motivation to do it. We'll see if life allows it to happen!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Worst Excuse Ever.

Yesterday, my mother came out to my house (about an hour's drive for her) to take me to the doctor to get my nose sucked out and septum splints removed after my sinus surgery. Before we went to the doctor, we dropped Bubba off at daycare. He was not in the mood to go, and as I led him into school he looked woefully back at NaNa. When I returned, I mentioned to Mom that if she wanted to, she could pick Bubba up from daycare after my doctor's appointment and keep him for the night, and J. would pick him up the next day. I was thinking, oh, I don't know, that maybe it would be really nice to have a little break since I was still feeling Miserable with a capitol M and J. was dealing with either the fallout from last week's Cold From Hell or possibly a complication like bronchitis or something of that ilk. She seemed at least open to the idea and said "Let me think about it for a little bit." Seemed reasonable.

Well, after my doctor's appointment I asked if she had decided what she wanted to do and she replies, "I better not take him. I need to go shopping tomorrow for a new frying pan."

I was so drugged up on pain meds when this conversation occurred and the frying pan excuse was so shockingly bad that I’m still not sure if I made any kind of remark immediately after she said this, but after some uncomfortable silence I do remember saying “Okay. I don’t ever want you to feel pressured into watching my kid.” Then more uncomfortable silence, punctuated by a few small-talky comments we both made to just sort of ease the tension. I was pretty desperate for her to go home, however, so I sort of urged her to go home immediately by saying “I know you’ll want to be home for lunch with Dad.” Almost like the last turn of the knife, even though I know it was unintentional, she says to me as she’s walking out the door, “Well, I hope you feel better soon…let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” As long as it doesn’t involve watching my son, I guess.

Here is where I must give you some essential background.
*My Mom does help me, Bubba and J. out a lot. Really. She's generally a very good Mom and NaNa.
*She does watch Bubba one day every week and has since he was born. This was at her request because she wanted to make sure Bubba "knew her" and that she had a good relationship with him.
*Mom is 68 years old. She's in better physical shape than I am; still, I understand that caring for a young child is tiring.
*Mom has never worked outside of the home, so since she stopped babysitting for my nieces about 10 years ago, she's been "retired." Which means, theoretically at least, that urgent shopping trips for critical items like frying pans could be carried out any day of the week.
*Before Bubba was born, there were many comments from Mom about how much fun it would be to have Bubba "come and visit NaNa and PaPa for a week!" She and Dad have taken Bubba for many one- or two-night stays, and shared a six-day babysitting stint with my sister when we went to Amsterdam. There have not, however, been any spontaneous requests to have Bubba for a week, and only one or two to have him for a night or weekend.
*Finally, I feel a disclaimer is necessary: I know I am lucky to have a mother who loves me, my husband and our child, and that she is willing to take him at all, ever, and I am eternally grateful for those things. I am still, however, a little pissed about the frying pan incident. Okay. Now I can move on and really get into the bitching.

Here’s what bugs me about this whole thing. First, if she didn’t want to watch Bubba, I wish she could have just said “I’m sorry, Depressionista, but I just don’t feel up to it today,” or “It just really tires me out to have him overnight,” or something even closely resembling the truth. But having to shop for a new frying pan???? Jesus!

Secondly, I think about all the times she said (and even as recently as last week, says) she wants to have Bubba for a weekend or an overnight but then never carries through on it unless I specifically ask (beg). What happened to the woman who just couldn’t wait for me to procreate so she could have all this quality time with my child?

Third, it sparks off a smidge of paranoia in me that wow, my kid must really be a brat. Maybe I’m delusional but I really don’t think he is (at least not any more than any other three-year-old) but an excuse like having to go shopping for a frying pan makes you kind of think twice, you know? And if, in fact, she really doesn’t like watching him because he’s a terror, I’d rather have her be honest with me and maybe give me some useful information that I could work with than making up this ridiculously stupid excuse.

Finally…she had to go SHOPPING FOR A FRYING PAN??? This is the best she could come up with after three hours, including a half an hour with nothing to do but think while she waited for me to come out of the exam room? This excuse was so bad that it was almost impossible for either one of us to pretend that it was even remotely believable.

I so wanted to call her tonight and ask her if she had found the perfect frying pan and ask her to tell me all about it. “Tell me, Mom, is it stainless steel or Teflon-coated? A Calphalon, perhaps Farberware? Ten-inch or twelve-inch?” And, in my fantasy, this final question: “Was shopping for the frying pan more fulfilling than spending quality time with your grandson?”

I really do hope that at some point, she does ask me if she can have Bubba for a night or a weekend, and I hope I will have the guts (and not be so desperate to unload my kid) that I'll be able to say, "Gee, Mom, that would be great, but we're going shopping tomorrow for a new frying pan and Bubba's really excited about it so I think we'll have to make it some other time."

In reality, I'll have to just let this slide because I know I will at some point be desperate to unload my kid and I'll have to ask (beg) her to take him again, and because I know from experience that any kind of honesty surrounding this issue will just cause more trouble than it's worth. I don't want to deal with the crying and the hurt feelings and Dad telling me how much I've hurt my mother, yada yada blah blah blah. But last night, when I was feeling sick and feverish and wanting to cry but trying not to so I wouldn't drown my poor, ailing sinuses in mucus, and this morning when I sat in the living room and did cry in spite of everything, and in front of Bubba who then asked if I was sad and brought me a tissue to wipe my tears, and as I watched my sick husband take our son out to the mall because I was feeling so horrible, and as I looked at all the laundry that needs to be done because I can't do anything and J. is expending all of his meager store of energy on taking care of Bubba...I felt really alone. And sad.

Friday, October 26, 2007


And just like that, I'm blogging again. Hi! I decided that it really wasn't fair to my minions to deprive them of my witty observations. I decided that I really do have a duty to make sure my revelations and my daily trials, tribulations and triumphs are available to help others deal with their own life challenges. I mean, how can I, in good conscience, not share this wisdom with the world? We all have a responsibility to do our part, and if this is my calling, well, I just need to put my own wants and needs aside and make this sacrifice for the greater good. Thanks to Oprah for setting such a good example!

I've actually done a fair amount of thinking about blogging. I've decided that I like putting my "stuff" out there, but that I really need to just be myself and be true to my own voice, as cheesy as that sounds. I guess I realize that if I can blog without worrying about offending people or whether or not I have any readers, then it will be a more honest experience for me, and that's what I'm looking for. I may never have more than three readers (Tingle, LilCherie and Pioneer Girl, I'm counting on you). I may never go to BlogHer and therefore never have the requisite "I'm so nervous about going to BlogHer!" and "BlogHer was awesome!" posts (although against my better judgment, I might jump on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon because I always thought tht would be kinda cool). But I hope to have some fun and maybe work some shit out along the way. I have no idea if this even makes any sense. It's 1:30 a.m. and I'm recovering from sinus surgery and totally drugged out on hydrocodone.

So...sinus surgery. Don't ever, ever, do this unless you really have some major, horribly painful sinus issues that need to be dealt with. I thought I did, but, three days after surgery, I'm wondering if they were really that bad. Honestly. I've had surgeries that required me to pack a gaping, oozing wound right next to my clitoris for Christ's sake and still, not as bad as this. I'm just sayin'.

I have lots of things I want to blog about. Here, for future reference, and so I can remember them later when I'm not fogged out on pain meds, are a few:

*Blogs I Like and Blogs I Don't and Why. What I Want This Blog to Be and What I Don't Want It to Be.
*Celebrating the Vulva, or, Why It's Kind-Of Embarrassing to Say the Word "Vulva," Why It's Kind-Of Embarrassing to Discuss Medical Issues Pertaining to the Vulva, and Ways to Bring the Vulva Out of the Closet.
*Why Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Everything Related to It Kind-Of Pisses Me Off.
*My Consternation Over the Fact that My Neighbor is Building the World's Most Awesome "Play Structure" for Their Son While We Will Never Be Able to Afford Anything Close to That for Our Son and Whether or Not This Will Scar Him for Life and Why, WHY Am I Even Spending Time Thinking About This?
*Oprah. Yes, I've blogged about The Big O before but I don't feel I'm done with this issue. Especially not after catching it today, on a day when I felt especially shitty about my physical health/life/the world, and it was fucking Seal and Heidi Klum and their awesome fucking life together. PUKE!
*How Much the Viagra/Cialis Ads Gross Me Out and Why.
*My Life as a Trichotillomaniac.
*Notes From Daycare: How They Automatically Make You Feel Like a Failure as a Parent.
*The Places I'm Afraid to Go in Therapy.
*The Grossest Thing Your Body Has Ever Done/Produced. This will require reader participation, so I might have to save this one for later, when my readership has grown exponentially despite my complete disregard for whether or not anyone is reading me.

So. Here I go again. I'm already having fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Taking a break, and here's why.

So I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately: why I do it, why I haven't felt like it lately, what I get out of it, etc. An experience on another blog today illuminated it for me. My comments on Tertia's blog, So Close, apparently really pissed some people off.

Of course, at first I just wanted to bite back and try to defend myself and there was even a desire to really succumb to my base instincts and just hurl back my own insults. I'm glad that I didn't. Instead I just reiterated that I intendend no malice, and then I emailed Tertia privately to apologize for the firestorm.

It made me realize how absurd the whole "blogosphere" really is. There are several things that have been bothering me about it, which I will put in bullet points here for easy reading:

•People get personally, deeply offended by comments that are made about situations not involving them and by people they don't know.

•Blogs tend to have a couple different kinds of commenters: those who dissent and then get crucified for it, and those who support the blogger no matter what. "So you killed your mother? Well, I'm sure she deserved it because you are so great!!!!"-- that kind of post. Both of which equally bother me.

•I think at the beginning I got sucked into the blog world because I was reading other people's blogs and I really wanted to be in "the club." I wanted to belong. I wanted other people to link to me and leave comments. There's a whole high school mentality to it that was obscured to me by the technology and the coolness of anonymously posting my thoughts and ramblings.

•The high school mentality extends to situations like that in which I found myself today. The blog world is the perfect setting for backbiting, insults, in-fighting and exclusion, all done anonymously, behind a computer screen and a pseudonym.

•There's a selfishness to it that has been troubling me lately. Why should the world care about the minutae of my life?

I feel I MUST state that this is no comment on any of the wonderful blogs I often read or the (mostly) women who write them. I enjoy reading about other people's experiences and it is a way to connect as human beings. Sometimes, though, it seems like it's too easy, if that makes sense. There is no obligation to one another because most of us are anonymous and even if we aren't, chances are that without some major effort and planning, we'll never meet in real life. It almost gives people too much freedom, somehow.

I have "met" some great bloggers out there, and I've enjoyed this experience quite a bit most of the time. I've gotten a lot of support from those who have commented here, and I appreciate it. I love reading other people's blogs, and I can't say I will never leave a comment again. I also can't say I'll never blog again. My mind changes; I'm fickle. But for right now, I need to examine what I get out of blogging, and what that says about what I need in real life. Is it because I want to feel popular and accepted, and if so, what kind of insecurity does that reveal? Is it because I want someone to tell me how great/okay/normal I am, and if so, wouldn't it be better to work on feeling confident within myself? Is it because I just need to vent (and if that's the case, I'll probably be back!)

So....I'm taking a break. I don't know how long it will last. I'll still be lurking around on other people's sites, but probably quietly. Thanks to everyone who has reached out to me and read my words. Take care everyone, I wish you the best!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A quick note to say hi

Hello! Anybody still stopping by?

I don't have a reason for my absence, other than just not feeling the urge to post. I seem to go through some kind of cycle where I inexplicably need to take a break for awhile and just disappear.

And this won't be much of a post either, because I'm a little under the weather and still not sure if I'm in the blogging frame of mind. But I did want to just put a little feeler out there to say hi to people. I'm still reading people's blogs but am also finding it difficult to comment.

I have some things to write about when I'm feeling better. I hope you'll stop back again and not give up on me when I take my little breaks.

Take care, everyone, and hopefully I'll be back in a few days.

P.S. I'd love to hear from a couple of bloggers: Thrice, from "After All That," and Rosepetal from "Moksha." Both recently went password-protected and I miss reading if anyone knows how to get me in touch with either lovely lady, please email me.

Thanks friends!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The illusion of safety

Yesterday's shootings at Virginia Tech are on my mind. Like any normal human being, a tragedy like this shocks me, sickens me, angers me. Since the birth of my son, tragedies like this rock me at a deeper level. My first thought was of the parents of those students who were killed; I put myself in their place, receiving that phone call or waiting for hours and hours for the confirmation that their child was among the dead. It physically turns my stomach. The tears have been stinging my eyes since last night.

On November 1, 1991, I was a junior at the University of Iowa. It was a dreary, snowy Friday afternoon, and J. and I were preparing to go back to our hometown for the weekend. When he picked me up at my dorm, he told me about how he'd had to come a different route because there were all kinds of emergency vehicles and ambulances around the Pentacrest, the heart of our campus. Puzzled, but able to brush it aside in the way that narcissistic college students are able, we packed up the car and hit the road. We were no more than 20 miles out of town before announcers broke into the music and reported that several people on campus had been shot.

At first, the numbers that were reported were up to 25; later, it turned out that five people were killed, one person was critically injured, and the gunman had killed himself. We listened to the radio all the way home in shock. In the days before cell phones, there was no way to know if my brother and sister-in-law, who worked on campus, or any of our friends were among the victims; there was no way to call our parents to tell them we were okay. When we got to my parents' house, my mother's relief was palpable. Not sure when we'd left Iowa City, she'd tried repeatedly to call us, but the huge influx of calls from anxious parents and loved ones had jammed the lines.

After calling his parents, me, J., and my family sat in front of the NBC Nightly News, watching Tom Brokaw report on the "massacre" that had happened at our school. Eventually we were able to reach my brother and our friends and they were all okay. The details trickled in. The shooter was a graduate physics student from China. He was angry because his doctoral dissertation wasn't nominated for an honor. He killed the student who received it, along with three physics faculty members. He then walked across campus to an administrative building, killed the associate vice president for academic affairs, and seriously wounded a student employee, who survived but is now quadriplegic.

We returned on Sunday night to a quiet campus (in my insular world that revolved around myself, I didn't even about what it must have been like for my parents to send me back that Sunday night). Classes were cancelled the next day, and there was a memorial for the victims. Students stayed in their rooms, gathered with friends, processed the awful event. More than anything, I remember the quiet of that day and the days that followed. It seemed like time stopped for a little while. Even when classes resumed, people didn't talk much, and when they did, it was hushed.

The feeling I had then was remarkably similar to the one I have now. I felt stunned and deeply saddened, sick — but also felt as if I didn't really have a right to those feelings, because I didn't know any of the victims personally; I wasn't touched directly by the violence. Although I like to think that as a human being, we are all touched — injured — when something like this happens.

Last night I sat on my couch and watched the coverage while my two-and-a-half year old son lay sleeping quietly in our bedroom. He was there in our home, safe in our bed...but I didn't feel any reassurance. Watching the images of a bloody student being carried from a building, of the crackling of gunfire coming from a building on campus, a voice in my head said "This is the world you have brought your son into. This is the world you will send your son into. This is the world you DO send your son into."

Today, I feel a deep sense of guilt for that. That my selfishness, my desire for a child brought him here to this cruel, senseless, violent world — a world where college students are gunned down for no other reason than that they were there; a world where children are snatched from their beds, raped and murdered; a world where the president of our country talks about the tragic deaths of these college students while he sends other (often less-privileged) 19-year-olds to Iraq to be gunned down; a world where the president says that schools are supposed to be sanctuaries, while schoolchildren in Iraq face violence and death every day at his hands.

The hypocrisy of that is stunning to me. The words flying through the airwaves today are empty to me. "How can we stop this from happening again?" "Are schools in America safe?" "What needs to be done to increase security?"

The truth is that we cannot stop this from happening again. If we could, there would have been one school shooting in history and then no more. Schools in America are not safe. America is not safe. The world is not safe. Increased security will do nothing but add one more hurdle that a deranged murderer will not hesitate to overcome.

As I walked to the bus stop last night, on the same campus where I went to school and where I now work, I thought to myself how nothing really changed after the shooting in 1991. There's a memorial walkway, dedicated to one of the victims; there are anniversary remembrances and vigils that are more sparsely attended every year. But it's no more difficult for a disgruntled student with a gun to mow people down now than it was on October 31, 1991. How could it be? What, honestly, could be done?

The truth is that safety is a necessary illusion that we nurture in order to be able to function every day. When something like yesterday happens, it is momentarily shattered, and then the rationalization and the empty words and simply time and distance from the event let us build it up again. We need that illusion to prevent us from completely giving in to debauchery and instant self-gratification, to be productive, to raise our children as if, by some miracle, they will survive intact to live out their projected lifespan.

For breakfast this morning, I let my son have a cupcake, because the only words in my head that don't seem empty are these: enjoy today as much as you can.