Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We Interrupt Our Regular Programming For a Freaky Link

This is just creepy, right? In which case I'm guessing the fact that I really want one is even creepier.

(Thanks to my shopping-savvy friend Deb.)

Monday, January 26, 2009


My birthdays and N's have been and always will be intertwined for me, being that it was on my 37th birthday (January 24) that I began my prelabor with N, who was ultimately born on the 26th.

Today he is 8. That just floors me.

My BIL took us out last night for dinner to celebrate N's special day*; we went to a restaurant (diner, actually) of N's choosing. While there, Em started reminiscing about what was going on eight years earlier; she was 3-and-a-half, and clearly remembers a lot of the next few days, though mostly from that preschooler's perspective of all the presents she got, and how Uncle stayed with her while Baroy was with me in the hospital, and how Uncle introduced her to too-old-for-her cartoons on Nickelodeon, and how my friend Cara put French braids in her hair, which I could never do. Stuff like that.

Baroy and I added our own recollections; mine involved Ambre walking me around the Glendale Galleria on my birthday and feeding me spicy Thai food to try to get things going, and my friend Cara, who was to be my doula, being in the middle of an IEP for a child at her school (yes, I do recognize the irony) and begging me to hold on until she could get out of her meeting and drive the three hours to my house to help me through. I then moved on to memories of walking circuits around my house, trying to get through the contractions in the bathtub, the hellish ride to the hospital in full-on labor, oxygen tubes up my nose and an ungentle anesthesiologist.

Baroy's memory? The fact that my young, cute female obstetrician wore a thong under her scrubs, a fact that became glaringly obvious when she bent over to examine me. I can't say as I blame him; it's been an image burned into my memory ever since, even though I was on the other end. What freaks me out the most is that I can't remember her name, which is especially odd since I knew her for a while, and saw her a lot both as a patient and because I worked in PR at the university where she practiced, and we were on a first-name basis. When I say my memory is going, I do not kid.

And then there is today, the day he finally came out, an emergency c-section after a failed vbac, a couple of hours in the NICU due to some really crummy apgars, and then the World's Easiest Infant, who nursed like a champ, slept through the night at four months of age (and by through the night I mean falling asleep as soon as his body hit a mattress, and staying that way for seven-plus hours), and quietly smiled his way through his first 18 months. At which point something went off like a switch inside him, and he found his personality and became the amazing, quirky, challenging, adorable, absolutely unique kid he is today, the child who defines auditory sensory defensiveness--hiding under the table with his hands clamped over his ears when the waiters at the restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" while serving the cake my BIL had brought--but who later gave the same waiters a thumbs-up, saying, "Peace out, dude!" and leaving them all laughing and shaking their heads as he swaggered out the door.

That's my boy. That's my eight-year-old boy.

*FYI, in case you think I'm wholely selfless and have let my birthday be absorbed entirely by my son, I was duly feted on Saturday, the actual day of my birth, when we went out to dinner with a group of friends from our synagogue while the oldest child, who is 15, babysat the youngers, who are 7 and up; there were drinks and food even an awesomely cool present for me (mine's the Tie-dye-tini), which I totally wasn't expecting. It was much fun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Vacation, in Facebook Status Updates

I have nothing to say about the inauguration that hasn't already been said or will be said. (Well, except for this: He said "nuclear!" Like it's supposed to be said! I am almost dead with happiness.)

So, instead, I'm going to do something totally self-indulgent and unlikely to be of interest to anyone but the people involved: Recap my weekend vacation to Big Bear via the Facebook status updates of six of the eight adults who attended. Here's all you need to know; we had five laptops with us. (Oh, and we brought our kids, too, ranging in age from 11 down to 1. Crazy fun.)

January 14:

A is unhappy with the ongoing sinus problems she’s having in light of the trip to Big Bear coming up. (6:50 pm)

Baroy is looking forward to Big Bear. (7:33 pm)

January 15:

A is sad because Jo is crying about there not being any snow in Big Bear. (3:53 pm)

D hasn’t even left yet and already wishes her Big Bear trip wouldn’t end! (7:23 am)

January 16:

TC is counting the minutes ‘til she gets to head out for her weekend getaway! (9:43 am)

E & family are in Big Bear waiting for 3 other families to arrive. (12:55 pm)

TC is going to play REAL Scrabble this weekend. Like on a BOARD and everything. How 20th century of me! (3:14 pm)

Baroy is very happy to be in Big Bear for the weekend. (7:41 pm)

D is thrilled to be surrounded by SNOW! (8:42 pm)

A is happy because there is SNOW! (10:29 pm)

TC is wondering how many of us in this ‘getaway’ cabin are on Facebook at the same time. We’re pathetic. (10:50 pm)

January 17:

A is watching the kids play in the snow outside. (10:22 am)

Baroy is really pissed. He slipped on some ice and busted his camera. (12:15 pm)

TC's favorite Big Bear Quote of the day: “Jo, when you finish brushing your teeth, grab your gun!” (6:16 pm)

D had a great day wandering in the snow with the kids! (11:56 pm)

January 18:

D is happily watching the kids sled down an amazing sledding run… (9:53 am)

A is hoping to do nothing. (9:55 am)

A is eating parsnips. (11:42 am)

J is up in Big Bear. (2:48 pm)

TC is crying into her cranberry vodka because our Big Bear trip is almost over. (6:04 pm)

TC's favorite quote of the night from an adult playing Scrabble: “I have gonorrhea!” My reply, looking over her shoulder: “No, you have GONARIG.” (7:30 pm)

D is playing scrabble with the home girls and losing miserably!!! (8:25 pm)

A is busy doing the annual scary story. (9:03 pm)

TC is busy trying to avoid being part of the annual scary story. (9:05 pm)

D is having a great time on the last night in Big Bear! (9:17 pm)

TC is going back to her original idea for a post about wishing there was still more vacation time. (9:19 pm)

Baroy is tired of climbing in and out of windows and being a part of the annual scary event. (9:20 pm)

January 19:

D just overheard…"Brian may be a squirrel but he is more like a chicken." Scary! (8:45 am)

TC should probably just be happy she waited until the last two hours of her trip to throw out her back, right? (3:53 pm)

D is sad. The party is over. (2:11 pm)

A came home from a fabulous trip to Big Bear to find we’d lost our 16 year old kitty while we were gone. Godspeed, Ashley. (5:23 pm)

J is not up in Big Bear. (6:33 pm)

Friday, January 16, 2009

That'll Show Me

In my soul, I am a clutterer. I have never NOT been a clutterer. I have a lot of stuff, and I like having it near me, and I can't always find places to put it, so it just becomes...clutter. And I'm OK with that.

Except, I'm not OK, really. In my heart, I wish to be an unclutterer. I'm sometimes more than a little ashamed by how messy my desk and bedroom are, and I hate the way years go by without my even looking at some of the stuff I claim is so precious to me.

And so every now and then, I'll try to be an unclutterer. I'll go through stuff, and I'll be MERCILESS. Well, merciless for me. Which means throwing three things out from a pile of 57. But hey. That's three less than I started with.

I did that back in September with my 'walk-in' closet (which is only walk-in if you consider scuttling along sideways for about three feet 'walking'). I really needed extra storage space for clothes, so we bought some cool little storage bins from Ikea to put in my side of the closet, and in order to fit them in, I had to get stuff off the floor. Most of which I simply folded and then put into the storage bins, of course. But in my attempt to be a Good Girl and to Unclutter, I did manage to toss a few things into a bag for Goodwill. Like a pair of size 6 pants that I bought THREE YEARS AGO because I thought they were size 12 (no, I don't know how that happened) and never got around to returning. And a linen suit a friend handed down to me that was two sizes too big and wrinkled if you looked at it. And a pair of duck boots that I'd had in college (from which I graduated 22 years ago, people), and which were the size my feet were pre-kids, but nothing vaguely resembling the size they are today.

Yay for me, right?

So we've been getting ready for our annual Trip Up the Mountain with our posse, for three days of snow (except it's 80 degrees here, and maybe as low as 60 up there, so, um, sorry kids) and food and drinking and laughing (all of which can be done in warmer weather, so yay for the adults). And, just in case there actually are a few patches of the white stuff that haven't melted, we've been gathering up cold-weather gear, trying not to spend too much money on stuff that only gets used once a year, and maybe not even this year. I don't DO snow anymore, having had my fill of it in my first 29 years living on the east coast. But the kids live for it.

So, we found a really cute Lakers snow jacket for N (throwing out the one he wore up until last winter, which was a 3T. He's about to turn eight; it was time) and a pair of snow boots he can use for a couple of years, both at a consignment store. Score! Em will use my old winter jacket which is adorable on her, and...whoops. Her old boots don't fit any more? Of course not, she's growing like a weed! And the consignment store only has kids' stuff, and her feet are pretty close to adult size. So, off to Target, except no snow boots there. Or at Ross. Or at Payless.

And then I had a brainstorm. Oh! No problem! Her feet are almost as big as mine were pre-kids, so I'll just go get my

As god is my witness, I'll never throw anything out again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

IEP: The Long, Medium, and Short of It

The really long: Is too long to get into. I started, and then I gave up. There's too much background needed. If you don't really know what N's deal is, feel free to browse through some of the N-related categories (cleverly titled things like "N" and "IEP" and "school" because creativity is my middle name). But, really, it can be summed up like this: He's this awesome little boy who is, by turns, incredibly smart and funny and flirty and wonderful and then cripplingly anxious and shy and unsure and incapable of showing anyone what he knows and can do. And it's hard to know which child you're going to be dealing with on a given day...or in a given hour.

The still pretty long: This may just be the first time that I ever went into a meeting about my son--and there have been many of them over the past four years--where I learned something new about him, heard things that surprised me. Some of them were good, awesome even, like that he's finally agreeing to read to his teacher, and on the occasions where she has his cooperation, she's been able to ascertain for herself (if not via testing), that he is at LEAST on grade level with his reading. I knew he could read just fine, but I had no idea he'd broken through his inability to show it in school. And while I knew he was not a troublemaker in school, I had no idea that he is one of the kids the teacher can count on to do what he is told. He needs an inordinate amount of hand-holding, which was the key to a lot of the accommodations and other discussions we had, but he isn't mouthy, or nasty, and he never ever ever gets in any of his peers' faces. (The flip side of this being, of course, that he pretty much never ever ever interacts with his peers. Which is a big problem. But that's not news.)

Of course, there were some less happy surprises. If the lack of peer interaction isn't news, the level of continued deficit wasn't clear to me. See, last year, he had basically ZERO in-class interaction with other kids, at pretty much any time of the day. This year, people had been making a huge point of telling me how much better things were with him during recess, and he was telling me about things kids said to him in class, etc. Which I took to mean it was OK to stand down on the social stuff, but which really meant that he'd gone from zero to five, not zero to 100. I also heard about how, when stressed out by some new task or something he can't handle in the classroom, he's started reverting in his speech...not to baby talk, per se, but to very basic language, which is worse, because I don't think he knows he's doing it. (The example the teacher gave was of him coming to her with a project he was simply lost on, and saying, "No do." And when she pushed him, he finally said, "I do one part, then not do rest, OK?" Which is...disturbing.)

Now, see? I start writing them medium, and it turns into the medium-long, and soon it'll be the ridiculously long, and none of this is relevant to the basic outcome here. So, let me put on the reigns for a second and get down to the nitty gritty.

The medium: At last year's IEP, N qualified for special ed due to speech delays. They gave him 60 minutes of speech a week--30 minutes of group to work on pragmatics and social skills and such, and 30 minutes individual to work on more of the specifics. For the IEP-savvy, he had three goals, all of which he did well on, but only one of which he's officially met.

They also gave him 60 minutes of Occupational Therapy PER MONTH, 30 minutes in the classroom every other week. In OT, he had one very broad goal. I wasn't happy with that, but we were lucky he was getting any OT at all, since without an autism-spectrum or some other 'qualifying' diagnosis, it's hard to get into special ed. And it's been OK, because his speech therapist has pretty much understood from the outset that the social stuff and the speech are connected, so that their individual time together has often included a walk around campus where she's worked on having him greet adults and other children, down to rehearsing appropriate responses with him, etc. (Her comment to me at some point today: "And lately, he sometimes even does what I've asked him to do, rather than crawl under the table when someone new approaches!" Oy.) So things were being addressed to some degree, if not directly, at least in some way.

And while the amount of OT he was getting was pretty minor, I wasn't all that impressed with what his then-therapist was doing with him anyway, know. My concern was that, over the year, the academics were becoming a bigger and bigger issue, and I didn't know how to get them to attack that, because nobody seemed to understand it.

Fast forward to this year. His teacher is simply wonderful. Last year's teacher was great, but this woman is superlative. He has a new OT, with whom I hadn't been happy...until I met her today and realized that, even if she's been too busy to touch base with me with any frequency, she has it going ON. She gets him. She has ideas about what's going on with him to the degree that, as I alluded to above, I actually learned something new about him. She was talking about issues that I had never really considered other words, I hadn't LED her to any conclusions; she'd come on them on her own. A true first. And even better, she thinks he would benefit from MORE: more help, more time, more focus on what's really wrong here, more effort to make sure that this is what's indeed wrong.

The kinda short: When I walked into the IEP today, I was prepared for them to try to argue me into agreeing to take him out of special ed entirely and just work with the classroom accommodations we have, and considering the week I've had so far (it simply CAN'T only be Wednesday!) I was going to hurt someone if they even tried. (More likely, I'd have just started crying. Which would have been worse, in my eyes.) So I was revved up, wound up, tense as tense can be.

And it was obvious. I ran into the speech therapist on the way in and asked about whether another therapist I'd hoped would attend would be there. She said no, and when she saw me take a deep breath, said, "TC, trust me on this. We have a plan here, and it's one I think you're going to be very happy with."

She's right. By the end, I was ready to kiss all of them. Maybe even on the mouth.

They *are* cutting his speech--but they're cutting it BACK, not OUT--from an hour to a half hour once a week to continue work on "social pragmatics" in a group setting only, which is fine by me. Because here's the good stuff: They are increasing his OT from 60 minutes a MONTH to what will turn out to be 75 minutes a WEEK, by placing him in a socials skills group at a child-development facility near where I work. FINALLY. A social skills group. That's what I and many others have been saying he needed--but which we couldn't afford--since he was 4.

Of course, there's always a downside. But if there has to be one, I think this one's pretty minor: The district special ed guy was apparently annoyed by the request for him to go into the clinic every week--since that will cost them more and hey, did you hear? There's a recession going on and money is tight. So he insisted that the off-campus OT service be revisited in six months (early July) rather than the usual year from now. Which is fine by me; or, at least, I'll take it. Because I know these people will make the case for him if they think he needs to keep on keeping on in the social skills group.

Oh, and did I say? The OT thinks there's a very strong case to be made that the issues that are behind the social stuff--which she says involve praxis/motor planning and ideation and lots of other jargon that even went over my head but which, when explained, made sense--will address the classroom and academic issues. If she's right, I WILL kiss her. On the mouth for sure.

The very short: Yay! Now all I need is to keep my job, so we can stay in this school district. Because otherwise it would just be too...too. I don't even want to think about it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Trying to Get Through

It's not fair, to mention the meetings, then fall silent. But last night was a terrible night, because those meetings were terrible meetings, and because these are such terrible times. And so I kept quiet here, because there was so much to say to my husband and to my children--or at the least to Em, who hears and understands and feels everything so deeply.

Then, today, things were less terrible. But not good. It feels like they'll never be good again. More importantly, they're not settled. And so it didn't feel like it was time yet to say anything. Until now, when the house has fallen silent and it suddenly seems wrong not to. Despite my not having anything really to say.

In short: Yesterday, the president of the university where I work spoke to all the staff members, having spoken to faculty separately. He did a great job, but the bottom line was, in order to protect the university long-term, cuts have to made, and they have to be deep. And they have to hit hardest in the areas that don't directly impact the main functions of this university: academics and research. Layoffs, he said, are a definite. He promised they'd do them as quickly as possible, that we'd all know by the end of the month.

A couple of hours later, we had our 'division' meeting. Now, I should say that my boss's boss is a absolutely LOVELY man, just turned 70, snowy white hair (that which is left), apple cheeks, Boston Irish, great guy. He stood up there and his voice cracked throughout and there were tears in his eyes. It was a seriously sad moment, seriously painful, gut-wrenchingly painful. Just one look at him, and you knew it wasn't going to be good. And it wasn't. The bottom line: Our division is getting hit hard, and there is literally no way to do the cuts required of us without getting rid of people. A lot of people. Whole swathes of people. By the time we left the meeting, silent, mournful, unsure what to say to one another, who to walk with, who to look at, I'd have put my chances of surviving this cut at about 10 percent.

Today, I'd put it higher. I'd say it's 50-50 now. There were things said--and things not said--today that implied that, despite my being new and despite my being relatively expensive, there are people who recognize the value of what I do, and that if I can be saved, I will be saved. But it's not at all certain that I can be saved. And they were only implications, not statements, and certainly not promises. Which is better than yesterday, but still sort of sucks.

Here's what doesn't suck: My daughter. Oh, you guys, she is just so awesome. She'd overheard Baroy and me talking some of this through last night, deep-and-serious-voice discussions. We were discussing all the various contingency plans, and when we'd do this, and when we'd do that. She didn't hear details, but she knew what was going on. Finally, she came in and sat down with us, and asked a couple of questions, and started to cry. And then she turned to me and said, "If you get laid off, I'd like to try to help out. I could maybe babysit to make some money, or maybe I could help K at her vet's office..." My heart swelled and broke at the same time.

I told her that, for all the ways in which Baroy and I haven't exactly lived up to the financial goals we've set for ourselves, we have made sure that something like this does not bring us to our knees immediately, that we will have time to figure it all out, though during that time we'll have to keep things really, really tight, and there would be sacrifices, of course. And she started to cry, and I thought, "Ah, here it goes. Here's the self-centered child thing, worrying about whether she'll get a new Wii game any time soon. But, hey, she's done really well up until now."

But no. When I asked her what was upsetting her, she said, "Will we have to give Snug away?"

I was confused. "Do you mean if we have to sell the house? No, of course not. He's part of our family. We'll just find a place to live where we can have a dog."

But she shook her head. "No. I mean, it's expensive to feed a dog, and if we have to make sacrifices..."

This time, my heart only broke, into about a million pieces.

"Oh, honey, no. No. We will be able to feed our dog. Don't you worry."

And as she sobbed (with N, unable to process all of this but upset with the lack of drama surrounding HIM, suddenly climbing onto my lap and fake-sobbing right along with her...sigh...), Baroy and I held her, and told her we loved her, and told her that the only important thing was our family, and that we'd always have our family, and that everything would be fine, that maybe it would be hard, but it would be fine. I think she heard us, and I think she believed us.

Now if only we believed us, too.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How Obvious

There's a meeting at 10 am this morning with the university president, a sort of town-hall update thingy, which is obviously not going to be pretty, though I doubt it will include things like, "Everybody who still works for this university, raise your hand...Oh, not so fast, TC!"

There's a meeting at 2 pm this afternoon with our division head, a sort of debriefing from the town-hall update, which is obviously not going to be pretty. And while I doubt there'll be any "not so fast, TC" handraising there, either, it may give me a better idea about whether or not I should bother buying many university-logo-emblazoned sweatshirts in the near future, I'm thinking.

On Wednesday, we have N's IEP meeting. It's not going to be pretty. It's already involved several snippy phone calls and vague threats and tears...all coming from me.

All of which might explain the fact that, at 5:23 this morning, I woke up from the tail end of a nightmare in which a plane N and I were traveling on--me on the opposite side of the aisle from him--suddenly turned upside down, righted itself, and then begin to spin into the NYC skyline. All while I was trying to unbuckle my seatbelt to get over to him, but couldn't get it to release, and just kept screaming, "Oh god, oh god, oh godohgodohgod..."

I really do have the world's most disappointingly uncreative subconscious. I mean, COME ON. Couldn't it have tried to put SOMETHING in code? Maybe have us crash into a different city from the one we'd be most likely to flee to in a time of crisis? Or at least put Em on the plane with us, so that it wasn't quite so obvious which child I feel I can't quite reach?

Sheesh. I'd say I need a shrink, but I really don't. At least not to decipher my dreams for me, that's for sure. I do, however, need some sleep, because I never quite got back to it after that. And I obviously need some stress reduction. And maybe some booze. Which is the best form of stress reduction I know.

Not to mention it might not be the best idea for me to be reading the unbearably graphic Holocaust novel my book club chose right before bed. I'm betting that's not helping, either. Because I'm smaht like that.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Taking Up Space

I really haven't spent the last three days hyperventilating and tingling and jumping out of my skin; nor have I spent them drugged to the gills. In fact, the number of X*nax in my little bottle is exactly the same as it was last week.

That panic attack passed, as they usually do. It was a rather quick passage, to be honest, probably helped along by being forced to think about someone other than me--GASP! I know! What a concept! To be more specific, it was helped along by hearing about someone else's ongoing panic which made mine look like nuttin'. I wouldn't exactly call it schadenfreude,* but there is something liberating in knowing that not only are others going through what you're going through, but they need your help to get through it. If that makes any sense at all. (So thanks, you. And I hope you're feeling better.)

Now that I think about it, I wonder if that would work with physical illnesses as well? I mean, I've got this niggly little cold/sore throat combo thingy that's making me cranky. Anyone wanna call me and tell me about how you have the flu, to see if we can knock this thing right outta me? I'd definitely appreciate it!

*Avenue Q is definitely one of my all-time favorite shows. Ever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Anatomy of a Panic Attack

[You may recognize yourself in here, playing a role in my Bad Day. This is not meant to make you feel bad, in ANY way. This is my problem, my screwed up neurochemicals. You may have your own problems, and your own screwed-up neurochemicals, but you're not responsible for mine.]

I've been in an off mood. Re-entry into Real Life hasn't been easy. There are increasing layoff rumors at work, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't more than a little worried. (There's a campus-wide staff meeting scheduled for Monday, with the university president presiding. THAT can't be good.) The kids returned to school today...FINALLY...but both were complaining of aches and pains. My throat hurts, too.

In other words, I didn't start off with a particularly propitious baseline of mental health today.

Then I got to work. And got an email from a friend telling me about her Crazy Ex (who really makes all other Crazy Exes look very, very, very sane) and his latest legal/emotional torture tactics. In responding, I talked a little about similar issues we'd had regarding Stalker Girl. Really, I should have known better. Even six years down the road, I should have known that talk of Stalker Girl = Automatic Panic. But I wasn't paying attention. I did notice that my stomach was a little fluttery, though.

Then I read a blog entry from another friend, who is worried about her son's IEP. And responded with a note talking about N's IEP, scheduled for next week, and how scared I am about what will happen there. (Yes, I *do* make everything about me. This is a surprise? Have you not MET me? But I will say, in my defense, that these comments were at least vaguely relevant to the conversations at hand. That's not always the case.) After that, I noticed that my hands were a little shaky.

Then another friend emailed about our upcoming annual multi-family vacation plan. Yay, vacation! That couldn't possibly spike my panic, right? Oh, ye of little faith in my level of mental illness. In that email were not one, but TWO spiking comments. One was about our plans for N's birthday during our vacation. This shouldn't be an issue, but it is, because the whole subject of N's birthday is a stressful one right now. (I'd explain more, but it's all about guilt and overscheduling and money. And it's not even interesting.)

The other comment mentioned the traffic that's likely to occur on our way up to our vacation spot, and possible ways to get around it. Here's what you need to know regarding that: I get unbearably claustrophic in cars stuck in traffic. Especially cars stuck in traffic winding up a mountain on a road off of which there are no other routes. Guess what kind of road we'll be traveling? My level of claustropobia, by the way, is severe. Severe enough that I always spend the weeks leading up to our annual trip coming up with reasons why I shouldn't go. And, once there, I spend a lot of time trying NOT to spend a lot of time worrying about the trip home. (You can see why everyone should want me to come on their vacation with them, right? Because I DEFINE fun.)

So that was already there, in the back of my mind, fermenting. To add to it, I asked my boss yesterday about taking our travel day off, so that I could avoid the worst of the traffic. He said no...for valid reasons involving the fact that only one other person will be in our department of five people that day. He did say I could leave early-ish, but now I'm certain it won't be nearly early-ish enough, and it's going to be awful, and I'm going to completely freak out in the car, and...

Happy vacation to me!

So, perhaps it's no surprise that, after I read the email, I noticed that my heart was jumping around in my chest a little. I hit reply and then realized, hey, my chest feels a little tight, too.

Let's review: Jumpy stomach. Shaking hands. Fast-beating heart. Tight chest. That's a panic attack, all right. I'd call it full-blown if my cheeks were tingling, too. They're not, so it's only a minor one.

And so I closed the email window (I'll get back to you later, I promise, D! And remember what I said above. NOT YOUR FAULT OR YOUR PROBLEM) and opened this one, in the hopes that I can head the full-blown-ness off with a little blog therapy. And if not? That's why I've had a bottle of five or six Xanax on my person at all times for the last five years. There's a reason they call them rescue meds.

I'll have them in the car on the way to our vacation, too. For sure.

But, really, what I need is a new brain. With all its little neurotransmitters in the right places responding to the right chemicals at the right levels. Is that so much to ask?

Apparently, it is.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Be Good

I've decided I need to stop trying to do everything, and actually BE GOOD at one thing. Or maybe two.

It's the first day back in the office. It's too soon. Or maybe it's been too long. Somewhere, I've lost the thread of gratefulness--for a job, for a regular paycheck, for something interesting to do--and all I can see is where I'm not. Home. With my kids.

I spent entirely too much time this vacation on a freelance project for which I apparently underbid; it turned out to take up much more of my time than I'd assumed. It's because I can't do things halfway, which is a good thing, I know. Or at least I believe that to be the case. Or at least I need to believe that to be the case. But sitting here this morning, realizing how much of my vacation was consumed by that not-doing-things-halfway deal, I began to get a little sad. Which of course began to snowball into a lot of sad, since that's what sadness does. My little I-wasted-time sad became why-aren't-I-using-that-time-to-do-things-I-really-WANT-to-do sad (answer: because the things I want to do don't pay, or at least don't pay in time for the mortgage this month or next). Which quickly branched off into why-isn't-my-blog-what-I-want-it-to-be sad (answer: because I don't put enough time into it)
, and why-haven't-I-written-a-novel-yet sad (answer: see previous). Which sprouted a few even smaller branches of sadness, involving things I'd like to read, and crafts I'd like to do, and ways I'd like to be there for my children but am not. Each of them with their own version of sad.

And so I tweeted:
I've decided I need to stop trying to do everything, and actually BE GOOD at one thing. Or maybe two.

Which is all well and good, especially at this time of year. Sure, it's a few days late for resolutions and goals, but I'm well within the overall time frame. I could take this one on, make it my own, try to get rid of the sad by pursuing ways to be Not Sad.

Except even in my resolution, I'm wavering. One thing...or two. Truth is, I don't even know which one I want to do. And if I did, I'm not sure I have a clue as to how to do it. How DO you take a five-year-old blog (or at least a five-plus-year history of blogging) and make it stand out, make it work for you? How DO you find the time for a novel when all the other immediate needs crowd out any time you might be able to make for it? How DO you call yourself on your bullshit, knowing full well that plenty of people do what you can't seem to do?

Of course, all that negativity is the sad talking, methinks. I'll settle back into my new old routine in a week or two, and the sad will go away, and I'll figure it out. Or I'll keep on keeping on, but it won't make me sad.

But for now, I wallow. And try to figure out how to be good. At one thing. Or maybe two.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Books I Heard in 2009: A Spot of Bother

I'm going to try something different this year. Rather than open up a new Word doc and start listing and giving my impressions of the books I've read and/or listened to as I finish reading and/or listening to them, I'm just going to do that right here. Cut out the middle man, as it were.

And so, without further ado:

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

So, a few years ago, I read the novel that really put Haddon on the map, the one that made such a huge splash, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. And I was wholly and completely underwhelmed. (It's about the tenth one down, FYI.) So it was with some hesitancy that I picked this one up at our library. But I was running out of audiobooks, and there it was, and god forbid I ever have to take a walk without something to listen to, so...

Oh, wow. What a good book. What a good story. Nothing earthshattering or anything like that. But the whole thing, from opening to ending, felt real. Palpably real. A conceit that could have been cheesy (a family imploding around the occasion of one family member's wedding), and plot twists that could have been even cheesier, and yet I just didn't feel that way about it, at all. It was fun, and I liked these people, and I felt for them. Haddon totally redeemed himself in my book. (And I'm sure he's sleeping easier tonight knowing that, right?)